So I did find Anne of Green Gables in print… and it’s pink

I’ve never seen Anne of Green Gables series in printed format, she said.

She was looking in the wrong section.

The other day I was in Waterstones, an incredibly wonderful UK bookstore, which also sells stationery and other cool silly stuff. While I was paying at the till, for one reason or another (I don’t know where I get the urge to talk to people these days, I never used to be like that), I asked the checkout guy if they ever had Anne of Green Gables in stock. He searched the database and confirmed they did have it–in the children’s 9-12 years section.

You know how much Anne means to me. So yesterday when I was in Waterstones again, I went to check the said section and indeed, there it was. I picked the hardback, because when it comes to physical books, I prefer them to paperbacks.

This is the treasure.

Actually… a few days before I bought it, I was in Paperchase (a mega cool stationery shop) just browsing around and I saw this same edition. They don’t normally sell books, so I thought it was some hipster thing and didn’t pick it up and open it. So when I saw it at Waterstones, I was like, OMG it’s real!

Can I just say… okay, I know nothing about categorising books, but it doesn’t seem right to me to have the Anne series in the children’s section. Little Women gets to be with the classics, yet has a similar theme. Anne is also far more fun, far less patronising, has better characters and the right people end up coupled at the end; as opposed to wrong people marrying the wrong people in Little Women. Maybe I shouldn’t be bothered about it, because after all, there is nothing wrong with children’s books, but why can’t it be in both sections at once? I spent ages desperately looking for Anne when I came to UK, in libraries and bookshops. When I couldn’t find any LM Montgomery books here, I concluded that she wasn’t as popular here as in Slovakia (where her books certainly aren’t in the children’s section). I know you think I could have just asked the staff in library or a bookshop, but well, I didn’t. I have social anxiety for one and I hate asking for help and then, I used to feel stupid about liking certain things. Like, nobody cared about Anne anymore after they’d finished all the books and I was the only one who did. Also, I could not have been sure what the book was called in English. Green Gables is translated into “green house” in my language. I don’t think we even have a word for “gable”, Anne’s room in east gable is translated as “east attic room”. Different countries, different architecture styles.

For the inside the book shot, I chose this unforgettable chapter, in which Anne and her friends Diana, Jane and Ruby decide to play out Elaine (I believe it’s the poem The Lady of Shallot by Alfred Tennyson) in real life and Anne nearly drowns in a pond. After this, she makes a sensible decision to not be romantic again. “It was probably easy enough in towered Camelot hundreds of years ago, but romance is not appreciated now,” she says to Marilla. This however saddens Matthew and he tells her:

Don’t give up all your romance, Anne. A little of it is a good thing–not too much, of course–but keep a little of it, Anne, keep a little of it.

Dear, dear Matthew Cuthbert. We need more like him.

Anne of Green Gables Photoshoot

If you’ve ever visited my blog, you might have noticed that I’m a fan of Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery. So it only made sense to dedicate a little photoshoot to the red-headed orphan that lived on Prince Edward Island.

I don’t own any of the books in physical format. As I said in my Kindle eBooks post, I have never seen them in print and downloaded them all from Gutenberg. (All of LM Montgomery’s work is in public domain, apart from The Blythes Are Quoted, which was released quite recenly–and which I very much recommend, it will surprise you!)

Well, apart from this very old falling-apart paperback copy that I found in a charity shop.

So for the photoshoot I used the doll of Anne that I got from Etsy and the book Anne of Green Gables Treasury by Carolyn Strom Collins and Christina Wyss Eriksson.

This book is such a delight! It is sort of a companion to the Anne books with lovely illustrations. It describes things from Anne’s time, such as tea parties, handwork, fashion and gardening, plus the timeline. I found out about the book thanks to Pinterest–someone pinned the cover image from a blog post of a reviewer. (Don’t ever tell me Pinterest isn’t useful.)

It wasn’t until I started thinking about it many years later that I realised what a great heroine Anne is. She constantly works to improve herself, she’s a good student and is always there for her friends. Despite being mistreated as an orphaned child, she remains kind (this she has in common with other popular fictional heroes, Jane Eyre and Harry Potter). She finds joy in everything around her and of course, has that famous unbeatable imagination. And not only does she find love with Marilla and Matthew, they learn from her too.

The adaptation with Megan Follows is a classic, but there is a new series on Netflix that started in 2017. I know not everyone likes that one, because it’s so dark, but in my opinion they got it exactly right. If you think about it, there is a lot of darkness in Montgomery’s work. See this excerpt from Anne of Green Gables Chapter 5Anne’s History, in which Anne narrates to Marilla how she was taken in by Mrs Thomas after the deaths of her parents and later lived with Mrs Hammond:

“Were those women—Mrs. Thomas and Mrs. Hammond—good to you?” asked Marilla, looking at Anne out of the corner of her eye.

“O-o-o-h,” faltered Anne. Her sensitive little face suddenly flushed scarlet and embarrassment sat on her brow. “Oh, they meant to be—I know they meant to be just as good and kind as possible. And when people mean to be good to you, you don’t mind very much when they’re not quite—always. They had a good deal to worry them, you know. It’s a very trying to have a drunken husband, you see; and it must be very trying to have twins three times in succession, don’t you think? But I feel sure they meant to be good to me.”

Marilla asked no more questions. Anne gave herself up to a silent rapture over the shore road and Marilla guided the sorrel abstractedly while she pondered deeply. Pity was suddenly stirring in her heart for the child. What a starved, unloved life she had had—a life of drudgery and poverty and neglect; for Marilla was shrewd enough to read between the lines of Anne’s history and divine the truth. No wonder she had been so delighted at the prospect of a real home. It was a pity she had to be sent back. What if she, Marilla, should indulge Matthew’s unaccountable whim and let her stay? He was set on it; and the child seemed a nice, teachable little thing.

In other words, it seems that some kind of child abuse happened. And that is just one example. At the end of Anne of Green Gables, Matthews dies and all their money is lost in a bank crash. It’s not all sunshine and roses. Not to mention people dying from tuberculosis and similar. And not many opportunities for women either.

I read about Lucy Maud’s life and apparently her husband suffered from mental illness and she wasn’t always that well herself. She had a child that was stillborn. I think the showrunners got the look and feel right. And because it’s the current year, they threw in extra LGBT representation and a bit of colour. (Though from what I read, it appears that Prince Edward Island really is that Scottish and that Presbyterian.) Also, the acting is absolute top and the series is worth watching for the scenery alone.

Now, I feel bad for talking about Anne so much when I enjoyed almost everything else LM wrote. Emily of New Moon series is just as good as Anne but my favourite book is The Blue Castle. I wonder if we ever get an adaptation of that one, but I’m not optimistic. It’s a bit like with Arthur Conan Doyle, there has been so many Sherlock Holmeses that people don’t even realise he wrote other books. Sigh

There is something I have to mention when talking about Montgomery’s work, which I think is important. She was, to put it bluntly, kinda racist. There is a short story in Further Chronicles of Avonlea collection titled Tannis of the Flats and it’s awful. Not because of the story–the story is great–but the prejudice, oh dear. It concerns Native Americans and it’s just… bad. That’s all. Yes, I know she lived in a different time and all that, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be acknowledged. So there.

Dear old world, you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.

I Like My Kindle eBooks

I’ve been thinking about doing this post for months. Initially I contemplated giving it some Buzzfeed-style catchy title (17 Ways My Kindle Makes My Life Worth Living) but in the end I opted for simple, what-it-says-on-the-tin title. So here it is.

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I’ve mentioned books on this blog here and there, mostly either LM Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables or Agatha Christie, or, if it’s a Gloomscapes post, a dystopian novel. This post not strictly about books, though, it’s about their format. The reason? Well, eBooks need some love. I’m fed up with the stupid comments about how eBooks will never be as good as “real books” and how you can’t really get immersed in an eBook and real books, nothing beats the smell of real books, realbooks, reAAAAALBOOKS waah waah waah! So, here I want to list my reasons why I LIKE eBooks.

However, this is not a physical books versus eBooks article. It’s not a war and it’s actually possible to like both. It’s an eBook appreciation piece—nothing more, nothing less.

Before I start, Disclaimer 1: I’m going to talk about Kindle eBooks, because that is the format I’m familiar with. Most of the main points should apply to other brands, but some of them may not.

Disclaimer 2: I do not work for Amazon and this post is not endorsed by Amazon.

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  • eReaders are compact – in a device the size of a paperback, you can store 1000s of books and carry them around with you wherever you go.
  • Speed – eBooks take seconds to download. Now this may sound lazy, I can hear those “instant gratification” comments already. But it’s more than that. People who may not have time to go to bookstores due to work and family commitments, people who live in remote locations with no bookstore in a reasonable distance, people who have disabilities that make going to a bookstore a difficult task.
  • RealBooks look better on the shelf!” they say. I’m sure that’s very nice, but… what if you don’t have a bookshelf? We live in hard times. Not everyone can afford to buy big houses with large rooms where you can dedicate multiple walls to bookshelves. A lot of people rent, a lot of people can only buy small abodes with little to no space for bookshelves. And if you’re still far from being settled down and know you’ll have to move several times, moving physical books just adds to your load.
  • In-built dictionary. May not seem that important, but if you’re not a native English speaker, it sure is useful. Highlight a word and a definition appears. Yes, yes, you can look up the word in a physical dictionary but you don’t always have one by hand. Or you’re reading on your lunch break at work, on a train or bus.

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  • Free classics/public domain books. Books that are in public domain are available for free in multiple formats. Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson are just few examples. This is fantastic for lovers and students of classic literature, of course, and it also happens to be my favourite point, because this is how I was able to finally access all the LM Montgomery books after I moved to UK. Try as I might, I couldn’t find any of LM’s books in shops and libraries (I read somewhere that her books, or at least the Anne series, have never been out of print. I’ve never seen them in print!*) I still remember the feeling of absolute joy when I discovered her workon Gutenberg. Through a link on Wikipedia, no less. I downloaded all of them one by one and read them on my laptop, as this was before e-readers became mainstream. I was so, soooo happy to finally read all of LM Montgomery’s books in English! I can’t describe it to you how happy I was. (I soon found out how terribly bad the translations into my language were, but that’s another topic).
  • Highlights and notes – highlight passages and make notes as you want, without damaging the book. Because Goodreads is owned by Amazon, your Kindle notes and highlights will be saved there and you can choose to keep them private or make them public. Here are mine. Also, if you purchase a Kindle book on Amazon, you can highlight and share directly to Twitter or Facebook.
  • No need for bookmarks. The book stays where you left it. Of course, if you love bookmarks because they are art, that’s great. This is more for those people that always lose them and then have to resort to shoelaces, bus tickets, supermarket receipts and the like.
  • Accessibility. Size of font can be changed, perfect for people with visual impairment. On a different level, e-readers are also very light. I remember someone commenting on a Goodreads post that they appreciated Kindle when they broke both their wrists and books became too heavy to hold.

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Largest possible font

  • Prevent loss of books by backing them in a cloud. Books get lost. You move from home, to a different city, or a different country, can’t take your books with you. You settle in the new city/country, go back home to get your books, but those are nowhere to be found, because your family lost them and didn’t tell you and instead let you search desperately everywhere from floor to ceiling for them, not helping you search for them, repeating that they have no idea where those books could be, that they were right there last year. Until you realise that the books are gone forever and they won’t be so easy to obtain again because they are out of print. No such problems with eBooks. Even if some wicked person gets hold of your e-reader and deletes every book you have stored on it. I don’t know about other brands but with Amazon Kindle you keep all your purchases in your cloud; if this is not the case with whichever product you’re using, please make sure you back your eBooks up. This goes for all the digital content.
  • eBooks can’t be lent. “Can I borrow that book you talked about?” “No, it’s an eBook.” May sound mean, but come on, how many books have you lent to people, only for them to never be returned to you? Or returned in a terrible shape? EBooks beautifully eradicate that issue. Get your own copy, you thief.
  • Environment. No paper, no cutting of trees.
  • What about libraries? You love libraries, right? Let me tell you that they are not dying, because many of them offer eBook lending too.
  • Not sure if you want the world to know what you’re reading? No worries, nobody can see the cover, nobody will know.
  • Not books, but since we’re talking Kindle, you can get newspaper and magazine subscriptions in this format. And because they’re digital, they won’t clutter your space—and save the trees.
  • Last but not least, if you’re worried about staring at yet another screen, let me reassure you that eReaders don’t strain your eyes. It’s just like reading paper.

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Of course I realise eBooks also have downsides–I’m not an uncritical fanatic. Like, you can’t have a digital book signed by the author, should you ever meet them. And browsing a bookstore is a legitimate way to spend your Saturday. And not all the titles are available in this format, which is unfortunate. I do hope more and more books will be released as eBooks as time goes by. Remember my Isaac Asimov post? Well, his Foundation series, which then was not available in digital form, has since become available in digital form!

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So, what do you think, readers of WordPress and beyond? How do you consume literature? What about Audiobooks–are they your favourite format? Tell me in the comments!

Links:

Gutenberg

Open Culture

100 Legal Sites to Download Literature

Books in this post are: Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale (photoshoot with tulips), Agatha Christie’s Autobiography (dictionary shot), LM Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (large font), Sally Baumont’s Rebecca’s Tale (coffee shop pic) and finally, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation.

*To clarify, I found an old copy Anne of Green Gables in a charity shop. It’s a paperback from 1972 and barely holds together, with help of a lot of sellotape. So the point still stands because it’s an old edition, which you can’t find in shops anymore. I bought it after I already had the digital versions from Gutenberg. I’ve never seen any of the other Anne books, or any other LM Montgomery books, in a physical form.

A June Evening

The title of today’s post comes from–guess who–my favourite heroine, Anne Shirley aka Anne of Green Gables. A June Evening is a name of a chapter of the third book, Anne of the Island. Here I give you some of my photographs taken this month:

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Anne: “I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.”

Marilla: “You’d get tired of it.”

Anne: “I daresay, but just now I feel that it would take me a long time to get tired of it, if it were all as charming as today. Everything loves June.”

~LM Montgomery

I think it’s great that Anne has appreciation for living in a world where there are Junes as well as Octobers!

And how about you, dear reader? Do you also love the month of June and wish it went on for longer? Or do you prefer the cooler months? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Birches in March

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I snapped them during my walk last weekend. Aren’t they gorgeous? March isn’t really the best month to photograph anything in nature but birches look good any time of the year.

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That white birch you caught me kissing is a sister of mine. The only difference is, she’s a tree and I’m a girl, but that’s no real difference.

Anne Shirley, Anne of Avonlea by LM Montgomery

Love is Somewhere Around Me

For this Valentine’s Day, let me talk about about my favourite fictional couples (or, as is the fandom term these days “ships”).

Originally I was planning to post just one photo for Valentine’s–a shot of two figures from my favourite series with a simple card in the background–but a comment I made on this Goodreads Facebook post inspired me to expand it a bit more. At least this gives me an opportunity to blog about my favourite things.

The Couple That Gives Me All the Feels

“You’re mine,” she whispered. “Mine, as I’m yours. And if we die, we die. All men must die, Jon Snow. But first, we’ll live.”

Jon Snow and Ygritte (Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin). Equally good in books and in TV show. And the only love story that can truly melt my cold, cynical heart.

The series has a lot of memorable quotes, such as All Men Must Die (which inspired my blog’s tagline) and Winter is Coming and–You know nothing, Jon Snow. She’s the one with the common sense, he’s the one with the  formal education. She teaches him about the Wildling ways, he shows her castles.

If I could show her Winterfell… give her a flower from the glass gardens, feast her in the Great Hall and show her the stone kings on their thrones. We could bathe in the hot pools and love beneath the heart tree while the old gods watched over us.

~A Storm of Swords

It was not meant to be, but I like to think there is an alternate universe where they stayed in that cave. And there is–Kit Harington and Rose Leslie are dating in real life.

Here’s the photo that I mentioned earlier:

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Not Your Typical Couple

Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist from The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (the Millennium series). But not together as in together.

Lisbeth is one my most favourite fictional characters ever. She’s a brilliant hacker and she kicks ass. And she always look out for the vulnerable and the abused. I don’t ship her with Blomkvist in the normal way, instead I like to think of them as BFFs with benefits slash partners in crime. Besides, Blomkvist is a womaniser and Lisbeth is too much of a free spirit to settle down.

It was absurd to pretend that he did not exist. It no longer hurt her to see him. She opened the door wide and let him into her life again.  

~The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest

In the English version they are played by Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. I once saw a comment on YouTube video of the trailer saying “Lisbeth Salander is so badass, James Bond is her sidekick.

The Couple That Should Have Been

Jo March and Laurie, aka Teddy Lawrence from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, who ended up not together because the author threw a tantrum.

“O Jo, can’t you?”

“Teddy, dear, I wish I could!”

Then do, for god’s sake. Ugh.

I recently read Little Women for the first time in English. I love Jo, but I’m not a fan of the book. Some passages made me want to throw my (quite new) Kindle against the wall and it’s not because of the obvious mismatching of couples. It’s the constant preaching. Dog forbid you want to have fun once in a blue moon or a day off work… but I’m not here to talk about that.

If readers and Alcott’s publishers wanted Jo and Laurie to marry, there was a reason for it and that reason was that she wrote them that way. Apparently Alcott meant for Jo to remain single but the publisher was against it, so okay, 3/4 through he story Alcott introduces some German professor or other who would become Jo’s match but why, why oh why oh why OH WHY pair Laurie with Amy? Amy, that frivolous little shit that burned Jo’s book? Gosh, I hate her. She should have died instead of the loving, kind Beth.

Some fans say that Laurie was too immature for Jo. But he could have grown up, done something with his life and then come back and try asking her again. Like, character development, you know.

I can somewhat accept Jo with her professor but I will never be able to accept Laurie with Amy. Ah, what the hell, in my mind he never stopped loving Jo.

Forever and Ever and Ever…

Of course, it’s got to be them. The One True Pairing–OTP.

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Anne and Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables series.

Poor Gilbert, though. It took years of suffering and almost dying for her to finally realise he was the one for her. The romantic hero she had dreamed about since her childhood didn’t belong to her life the way Gil did… and turned out not to be very interesting after all. Gilbert may not have written poetry but he could make her laugh, he comforted her. He got her.

There was nobody else–there never could be anybody else for me but you. I’ve loved you ever since that day you broke your slate over my head in school.

~Anne of the Island

There was that time in Anne of the Island when Anne’s bosom friend Diana secretly entered Anne’s story into a competition for the best story featuring a baking powder Rollings. Diana simply took Anne’s story Averil’s Atonement, which failed to get published in magazines, added a line or two advertising the baking powder and sent it–and the story won the prize. Twenty-five dollars, which must have been a lot of money then. Anne felt very ashamed because she thought it meant, how we would say now, selling out. So when Gilbert came to congratulate her and she confided in him and told him she was afraid that her fellow students at Redmond will tease her for it, he had this to say:

The Reds will think just as I thought–that you, being like nine out of ten of us, not overburdened with worldly wealth, had taken this way of earning a honest penny to help yourself through the year. I don’t see that there’s anything low or unworthy about that, or anything ridiculous either. One would rather write masterpieces of literature no doubt–but meanwhile board and tuition fees have to be paid.

Contrast this with Jo March’s professor who got all superior over Jo’s silly stories. Jo wrote them to earn some money and thus help her family, the point that completely escaped the educated professor. (Maybe that’s why he’s penniless in his forties.) What’s interesting is, when Anne rejects Gilbert’s first proposal, her feelings are very similar to what Jo goes through when she says no to Laurie. At least one writer with initials LM knew how to satisfy her readers!

Boys Love Boys

Barca and Pietros from Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

I know Spartacus is not to everyone’s taste but I loved it. It has everything; profanity, violence, nudity, sex. It makes Game of Thrones look like a weak tea.

From what I’ve seen on Tumblr, another m/m couple from Spartacus: War of the Damned, Agron and Nasir seems to be the more popular one but I prefer these two. I was rooting for them so much and they had such a tragic end.

I do what I must, Pietros. I’ll return soon.

Girls Love Girls

Look who I just remembered:

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Image credit: IMDb

Xena and Gabrielle. Friends? Sure, they were friends. That’s how it started.

Quote by the Warrior Princess herself, Lucy Lawless:

Now it wasn’t just that Xena was bisexual and kinda liked her gal pal and they kind of fooled around sometimes, it was “Nope, they’re married, man.”

They were.

You know what, I changed my mind. I think Xena and Gabrielle are my OTP after all.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Solitude

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This is my kind of weekly photo challenge! I love being on my own (have you read my description?) I even love the word “solitude“. Introverts get exhausted when they spend too much time among people and recharge once they’re alone. It’s the other way round with extroverts.

I chose the above photograph because it’s one of my most recent ones and I like crows. There are endless possibilities with this challenge: landscapes, sunsets/sunrises, any lone animals, one candle, a single cup of coffee, a book or e-reader.

I’m reminded of a quote of one of my favourite authors, Lucy Maud Montgomery, from the book Anne of Windy Poplars, which is part of the Anne series (though I think the same one, or very similar, also appeared in one of the Emily of New Moon books):

I was alone but not lonely. I held a series of imaginary conversations with imaginary comrades and thought out so many epigrams that I was agreeably surprised at myself.

Anne was an orphan and it wasn’t until the age of eleven that she found a loving home. Her imagination that helped her survive the hard years of her early childhood.

Bonus

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The tree that marches to the beat of its own drum–see how it’s dancing without a care in the world?

 

Some October Park Shots

Most of the leaves are still green here, with bits of gold here and there. Well, it looks nice anyway, so enjoy:

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It has become my custom to visit Heaton Park always on the penultimate Saturday in October and that’s where today’s pictures are from.

You can never quote any Anne of Green Gables quote too much, especially not the one about Octobers.

Future

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When I left Queen’s my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder how the road beyond it goes—what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows—what new landscapes—what new beauties—what curves and hills and valleys further on.

LM Montgomery–Anne of Green Gables

Future