↷March Madness↶

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My days of basketball fandom may be dormant, but I celebrated March Madness this year in a slightly nerdier way. One of my resolutions for 2015 was to read at least 3 books per month. For the month of March, I felt a bit overwhelmed by job apps, interviews, adjusting, etcI hesitate to say I went crazy, but I will say I felt frenzied at points. As the month concludes today, I ask myself: why did I feel so swamped? Was it the fact that I am still transitioning back to life in LA or was it merely my reading choices for the month? Yup, you read that right: I celebrated March Madness 2015 with some madness-inducing literature. My picks for the month? Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (and Other Stores); Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar; W.F. Ryan's The Bathhouse at Midnight; and Leo Tolstoy's The Kreutzer Sonata.
Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite Disney movies, and I have always wanted to read the original story, so I figured March was the perfect month to read one of the founding classics of children's literature. This Barnes & Noble edition is lovely because it includes other stories like Through the Looking Glass, Bruno & Sylvie, and Phantasmagoria...with illustrations and gilded pages!
It was overall a delightful (if long) read; my favorite stories were definitely Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Phantasmagoria...both the concepts and prose were lovely and fascinating. The inner workings of Lewis Carroll's topsy-turvy, yet hugely mathematical, mind are groundbreaking for their time, and the fact that the book is tailored to children while still conveying some of the most metaphysically complex theories is incredible.
I'd always known of Sylvia Plath to be inspirational for many of my female friends, simply iconic. I absolutely loved The Bell Jar...her voice mesmerized me, as did the setting and time period. Hailed by many critics as the female equivalent to J.D. Salinger's Holden Cauffield in The Catcher in the Rye, I actually found Plath's Esther to be much more complex, eloquent, and (here comes my feminist rant) less entitled...more REAL/RAW as a character. The New England college, the magazine journalism internship in a once-romantic New York City, the mentally ill delusions, struck a note with me. I am so glad The Bell Jar was part of my March Madness.
W.F. Ryan's The Bathhouse at Midnight was a historical survey of magic and divination in Russia from the 5th to 18th century. While the content and style is certainly not everyone's cup of tea, as an aspiring fantasy novelist and Russian enthusiast, this book was very interesting, inspirational, and useful to me. It's pretty well-known that Russians are quite superstitious, folkloric, and "whimsical" (yes, also #darkwhimsical)-and learning the specifics of Russia's history of magic, witchcraft, divination, and late conversion to (Orthodox) Christianity tells a lot about modern Russian culture and even Communism. For anyone interested in the more "occult" theories, practices, even the "backwardness"/"otherness" of Russian culture, I recommend this book.
Last but not least, I took this month to re-read Tolstoy's classic short story, The Kreutzer Sonata, indefinitely a tale concerning "madness." A story "compartmentalized" (literally) on the railroad about marriage, supposed infidelity, music (yup, you guessed it, Beethoven's "Kretuzer Sonata"), and murder, the story is a classic Tolstoyan concoction that is as dark as it is absurd as it is fine-tuned and finely crafted to its time. Brilliant, brazen, and bombastically murderous, the story encapsulates March Madness in a wholly horrific, albeit, beautiful way. 
xo  SFB


  1. Love the Alice in Wonderland cover! I bought the 'To Kill A Mocking Bird' cover like this!


  2. Loving the Alice in Wonderland book !! nice blogg.

    PS: I am following you now :)


  3. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland looks awesome, I want to buy the book now because of the illustrations! ❤