Books That Have Influenced Me: Dracula

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I have ready many books over the course of my life, and books have become a central part of who I am. I read books for pleasure, for study, and for examination. I teach books in my literature classes, I write about them in scholarly work, and I write novels. As I was considering the topic for this post, I started to think about what books have influenced me the most in my life.

I do not mean that I want to explore what books are the most meaningful or the most important literature. That is a completely different discussion. Certainly there can be crossover in my choices, because I will not eliminate a text on its literary value, but I am interested now in which books had a part to play in my development as a human being, which ones helped to form me into the person I now am.

So many come to mind and are possibilities for discussion, especially when I think of some of the books I read as a youngster in high school. Among these novels are Dracula, The War of the Worlds, A Tale of Two Cities, Frankenstein, The Lord of the Rings and Fahrenheit 451.  Certainly, there were many more books that I read at that time, and I have always been a voracious reader, but these books, in a variety of ways help to shape my interests and some of my directions in life.

Today, I will focus on Dracula by Bram Stoker and what its influence on me was and is. This was one of the first Gothic novels I had read, and its power caught me immediately. I was drawn to the images of dark castles, terrible villains, and the supernatural. That I love Gothic is still clear, because not only do I teach Gothic literature, but also I write it.

Dracula, however, had a much deeper impact on me that simply the horror aspect; I was drawn to the idea of the need for good people to oppose evil.  It is a theme that, on the surface, might seem simplistic, but a person need only look at the history of the 20th Century into our contemporary time to see that evil does exist, especially in the form of people who would oppress, torment, exclude, and bully others. Of course, I am not making an argument that the supernatural evil in this novel exists, but that human evil certainly does.  The Nazis demonstrated that human horror in its full capacity.

In this book, a fellowship of human beings is created, and they decide to fight a creature that is far more powerful than anything they could have imagined, and they do so at the risk of their lives.  This act of defending others, even if the people do the battle are put at risk, became a central part of my ethos.  There will always be those who would bully and oppress others, and they must always be opposed.  While in early high school, Dracula helped to form that idea in my mind.

In the next entry in this series, I will discuss a book in which the idea of fellowship is a central theme.

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

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Available on Amazon

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Who Are Some of Your Favorite Victorian Writers?

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In the next entry in my series on favorite writers, I want to consider Victorian authors, with a time period defined as the time of Queen Victoria’s reign–1837-1901. This period has been filled with many excellent writers, and I will focus on only a few as my choices. I could, however, easily expand my list.

Without further discussion, here are three of my favorite Victorian writers:

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Charles Dickens

Dickens was an extraordinary success, both as a popular writer and with critics. His work is part of the body of literature, and he has touched much of the population of the world. Among his most important and well-known pieces are A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations.

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Thomas Hardy

He achieved much in fewer novels than Dickens. Among his novels are Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure, and Far From The Madding Crowd.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Emily Bronte

While writing only one novel, her extraordinary Gothic piece, Wuthering Heights, places her among the great Gothic writers.

 

So, I ask all of you, who are some of your favorite Victorian writers?

What Is A Sentence From a Book (or two) You Love?

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I was thinking recently of a variety of aspects of books that I love, including plot, theme, and character. As I was considering these elements, I realized that some books have extraordinary sentences. These lines might not encapsulate the entirety of those books, but they are beautiful and powerful.

I will offer two such quotations:

The first is the closing sentence from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, one of the most important novels ever written:

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known” (307).

The second offering is from A Soldier Of The Great War by Mark Helprin. This novel is, in my not too modest opinion, one of the absolute best novels ever written. With this book, Helprin takes his place among the pantheon of literary giants such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Cervantes, and Tolstoy.

“As a way to arrive at the truth, exactitude and methodology are, in the end, far inferior to vision and apotheosis” (30)

I am sure I will continue this idea as a series, but this little post will serve as a beginning.

So, now I ask everyone who reads this: what are some of the most beautiful and important sentences you have read in books?

Works Cited

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Wordworth Classics. 1993.

Helprin, Mark. A Soldier Of The Great War. Perennial. 2001.

Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings–Revisited

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This blogpost was written several years ago, but I thought it was worth revisiting, especially because I love to suggest books for people to read.

I had the good fortune this week of delivering a talk at the Muhlenberg College Board of Associates Meeting on the topic of Great Books.  I spoke with the audience for about 20-25 minutes about what I consider to be great books and why they matter. The main argument I made about the importance of books is that they connect us as people.  I am an unreserved humanist; I believe that human beings have the power to improve themselves, that education is crucial to develop of an informed  society, and that books allow readers to experience the worlds of others.

The audience was one of professionals from many fields but very few English Literature majors; however, their interest in reading and books was heartening for me.  They wanted to hear suggestions about what books I would recommend.

In my classes, I sometimes do something I call — Chuck’s recommended readings.  I ask the students to write the title and author and then tell them that what they do with that information is entirely up to them.  Since several of the attendees of this talk asked for further suggestions, I decided to put together a list, very abbreviated I admit, of books I would recommend.  Some of them I consider among the best and most important books ever written, and some I simply found to be wonderful and entertaining.

Now, the list:

Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings
Agee, James and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.

Brown, Larry. Fay.

Cervantes, Miguel De. Don Quixote.

Delaney, Frank. Ireland.

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities.

Doyle, Roddy. A Star Called Henry.

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose.

Gaiman, Neil. American Gods.

Grass, Günter. The Tin Drum.

Helprin, Mark. A Soldier of the Great War.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Pacific and Other Stories.

Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom The Bell Tolls.

Homer. The Iliad.

. . . . . . . The Odyssey.

King, Stephen. Hearts In Atlantis.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Stand.

Lee, Harper.  To Kill A Mockingbird.

Poe, Edgar Allan.  Complete Works.

Rice, Anne. Interview With the Vampire.

Rowling, J. K. The entire Harry Potter series.

Shakespeare, William. The Collected Works.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind.

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief.

I am certain there are many books I have forgotten to mention.  This is neither intended to be all-inclusive, nor is it meant to be authoritarian.  I hope that someone may find a book or books from this list, read them, and enjoy them.

Happy reading!

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(https://pixabay.com)

wp-1476386546701-maledicus

 

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

Beautiful Writing, Part 4: Charles Dickens

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Charles Dickens was one of the most prolific and important British writers of the 1800s. His works have been read by millions, and most people have been influenced by his writing, even if they have not read him. How many people are unaware of A Christmas Carol? This is just one of his many books and novellas. I will offer as an example of his beautiful writing part of the first page of A Tale of Two Cities, which I believe to be one of the best openings of a novel.

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(https://www.wikidata.org)

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it

was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it

was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,

it was the season of Light, it was the season of

Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of

despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing

before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were

all going direct the other way–in short, the period was

so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest

authorities insisted on its being received, for good or

for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

 

 

Dining With Authors: Part One

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I have written before about dining with characters, and I was thinking recently of what it would be like to do the same with authors. For this series, I will restrict the invitations to a maximum of three writers.  Any more than that, and the  conversation could be, well, difficult.

For this first gathering, I would invite the authors to join me in an old-fashioned pub, because they are from the 19th Century, and I would want them to be comfortable. They would be able to have beer, wine, tea, or coffee and order food with which they are familiar.

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My invitees are Samuel Clemens, otherwise known as Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and Charles Dickens. All of the writers are very well known in their time and have been firmly established in the canon of literature.

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These authors  created some of the most important works that have been written; among them: Leaves Of Grass, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and A Tale of Two Cities. These works are only a few of what would be a massive collection of writings from these authors, but they are a good representation of their creations.

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https://commons.wikimedia.org

I would hope that I could guide these creative and brilliant minds into a productive and exciting interchange of ideas and of a wide and innovative discussion of writing. I would like to ask them what they believed their major contributions to literature were and what pieces  they viewed as their best work. I would also ask what they would recommend for reading. This would be an extraordinary evening of conversation!

With which authors would you like to have dinner and a conversation?

Reading List

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I had the good fortune this week of delivering a talk at the Muhlenberg College Board of Associates Meeting on the topic of Great Books.  I spoke with the audience for about 20-25 minutes about what I consider to be great books and why they matter. The main argument I made about the importance of books is that they connect us as people.  I am an unreserved humanist; I believe that human beings have the power to improve themselves, that education is crucial to develop of an informed  society, and that books allow readers to experience the worlds of others.

The audience was one of professionals from many fields but very few English Literature majors; however, their interest in reading and books was heartening for me.  They wanted to hear suggestions about what books I would recommend.

In my classes, I sometimes do something I call — Chuck’s recommended readings.  I ask the students to write the title and author and then tell them that what they do with that information is entirely up to them.  Since several of the attendees of this talk asked for further suggestions, I decided to put together a list, very abbreviated I admit, of books I would recommend.  Some of them I consider among the best and most important books ever written, and some I simply found to be wonderful and entertaining.

Now, the list:

Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings
Agee, James and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.

Brown, Larry. Fay.

Cervantes, Miguel De. Don Quixote.

Delaney, Frank. Ireland.

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities.

Doyle, Roddy. A Star Called Henry.

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose.

Gaiman, Neil. American Gods.

Grass, Günter. The Tin Drum.

Helprin, Mark. A Soldier of the Great War.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Pacific and Other Stories.

Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom The Bell Tolls.

Homer. The Iliad.

. . . . . . . The Odyssey.

King, Stephen. Hearts In Atlantis.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Stand.

Lee, Harper.  To Kill A Mockingbird.

Poe, Edgar Allan.  Complete Works.

Rice, Anne. Interview With the Vampire.

Rowling, J. K. The entire Harry Potter series.

Shakespeare, William. The Collected Works.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind.

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief.

I am certain there are many books I have forgotten to mention.  This is neither intended to be all-inclusive, nor is it meant to be authoritarian.  I hope that someone may find a book or books from this list, read them, and enjoy them.

Happy reading!bookshelvesmagic