I’m trying to go through my drafts again, especially since I’m seemingly devoid of many opinions or post ideas that aren’t complaining at the moment. This should have been finished last fall closer to when I finished rereading the last Narnia book.
I left a comment on a post somewhere that I thought would make a decent blog post draft, and I finally finished my rereading of Narnia. I wanted to measure what I used to think about the books vs. this reread.
My Dad read these twice to us when I was a child and preteen. I “think” I read all of them on my own as an adult.. So my favorites have to do with nostalgia and how I felt as a child as well. Dad read them, I think, in the order they were published? Anyway, he started with The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I loved it, and the Horse and His Boy. I hated Prince Caspian at first because everything was changed, but love The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The Silver Chair, The Last Battle, and The Magician’s Nephew freaked me out.
When I wrote the comment I mentioned my favorites are still The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I said that I’d warmed up to Prince Caspian since the first shock, and that I loved aspects of The Silver Chair, The Last Battle, and possibly The Magician’s Nephew, but I felt that they are “colder” and “darker” and that I thought this was partially the overall atmosphere/tone of the books and plot and partially the emphasis on fewer people.
Since then, I’ve read all the books in story chronological order (I think I may have done that a years back, but I’m not certain) in 2019-2020, and I feel that what I’ve always said about my favorites and least favorites is generally true, but I feel like the differences between are more extreme. Also, I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster recently, so this is based on my moods when reading.
I do have an absolute favorite: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I just felt my spirits soar and my heart sing when I read this book in a way the other couldn’t do. I think that I didn’t enjoy The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe as much, I certainly dragged on that one, perhaps its too familiar; I felt like I enjoyed Prince Caspian more! I know that The Horse and His Boy fell from being equal with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
I think that perhaps The Magician’s Nephew is less dislike and more apathy while I feel like I actively disliked The Silver Chair while still liking the characters Jill and Eustace. The book is just so dull, dark, and dreary. The Last Battle is just . . . sad, it’s just a sad book (does Narnia really have to end?) . . . and boring at the same time. But again, I like some of the characters, King Tirian and Jill and Eustace and the old favorites who show up. I think I’d have to say The Last Battle is my least favorite because is just so sad.
I’m thinking that next time I don’t want to reread my least favorites, maybe only reread my favorite 4 or maybe just the (in Narnia chronological order) the first 5, ending on a high note with my favorite rather than a low note with my two least favorites.
So after my most recent rereads my favorites list is something like this:
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Prince Caspian and The Horse and His Boy
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Magician’s Nephew
The Silver Chair
The Last Battle
When I watched The Plant Based Bride’s reading statistics, I was reminded how not great at data, Goodreads is (their Excel export function just doesn’t do the dates right, so I can’t reliably sort information by year plus lots of other data I want to track). So, I started (not optimistically) searching for an alternative. I stumbled upon a reddit on the same issue and found a link to a youtuber, Portal in the Pages, who created an awesome spreadsheet, the post was a few years ago, so I found the 2021 version.
Be sure and watch the videos for help editing. One thing I knew I wanted to edit was genres, so I searched for a list of total genres to put in the hidden tab. I deleted any I thought I wouldn’t read.
Lists of genres. I used this a base along with my library categories (categories that I’d used to divide my TBR on my library site) to create a fiction and nonfiction list of categories I usually read or think I would read or would like to read.
Here is my current iteration. I think once I’ve finally gotten access to Excel again (I’m hoping to transfer my programs from my old computer, so I don’t have to repurchase, and I will NOT subscribe, its been a bit of a headache), I will try to add back in more of the charts like she had originally, it was just working in Google sheets and after I changed all the first page (which would have been much easier in Excel), I’d have to do way more changing that would be less automatic in Google sheets.
I’m linking up here and the prompt is “New Beginnings.”
So, I’m in the middle of reading Harry Potter, and I am really feeling that suddenly waking up to find out that one is a wizard and then getting whisked off to a magical world out of mundane, tedious (and in Harry’s case horrible) reality would be quite a refreshing thing.
Can you imagine? Especially after all the build up, Harry has been living in dull misery then he finally gets a letter, something of his very own, but after tons of tries and sitting in a miserable shack with his crazy family, he still hasn’t read it. Then a giant bursts in and starts talking about his family, tells him he is a wizard and gives him a wondrous letter, now that is a key to a fabulous new existence.
I know none of us is living under a stairwell, but well with the dreariness of the world even for those of us not seriously affected, doesn’t a magical world opening up tantalizingly before our eyes sound wondrous?! Especially with such a start as a visit to Diagon Alley?
I’ve been reading my sister’s illustrated versions (she has 3 and I’m going to get her the 4th as a belated grad gift so I can read it, I’m going to wait for myself until they are all out). I think these really bring the magic of Harry Potter to life. And I really needed something soothing to read.
My General Reading Goals (present to March 20)
- Try to keep my books borrowed from the library to 12. Try to keep any other borrowed books to far fewer.
- Join an online book group, I’d like to join The Enchanted Book Club deluxe, maybe in March, depends on what they are reading.
- Work through important to reads and long held borrowed books:
- The Idiot
- War and Peace
- Dune? Maybe, if the movie is coming out in September, perhaps I could wait to start until Spring, but knowing me, I might not finish it time, and who knows, they could bump up the movie, since clearly its done if it was supposed to be out LAST September.
- House of Mirth
- Looking for Transwonderland
- The Shadow of the Wind
- Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts
- Hemingway Didn’t Say That
- Wheel of Time
- I’d like to read one or two more classics besides those listed above from my Classics club list
- I’d also like to read one or two more books besides those listed above from another country, perhaps another mentioned on A Strong Sense of Place
- Fun potentials
- Ethel Lina White mysteries
- Mercedes Lackey fairytale retellings and fantasy
- Circe by Madeleine Miller
- Books to match my current study schedule (History, Logic, Geography, Civics, Christian Apologetics, World Religions). Genealogical reading should be on Ancestry.com, I don’t really need books for that subjects, its mainly to be building my tree.
These were my 2020 goals. ahahahahaha. Ouch.
I read 60 books or well, items, considering that I counted each Gail Carson Princess tale singly where we have two books with 3 each in them. And I read two plays but those are closer to books. Anyway. This was my worst reading year in terms of books and page counts since 2011 when I was in college and still struggling to recover from my reading breakdown (meaning I was still sounding out or mouthing the words). And I think then I wasn’t rereading the same amounts because I had less to choose from.
I was busier and had more brain fog/mental weariness this year, and I don’t think all of that was due to the pandemic situation although I’m sure it didn’t help. I’m going to be focusing more on present and forward thinking, so this will be a very short summary.
A full 40 of those were rereads: The Anne series, the first two Emily Series, most of Narnia (I’d started in December 2019), some fairytale retellings, The Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, the Grandma’s Attic Series.
Of the 20 left, 16 were fiction. I read 8 classics, 2 of which were plays, 2 of which were the James Herriot audiobooks. I read 2 Christian fiction (Mitford, I’d hardly class them with the trash that is most of Christian fiction, but that is the correct genre I believe), 2 fairytale retellings, 2 mysteries, and 2 romances.
Of the 4 (yikes!) nonfiction books I read 2 were history, 1 a memoir, and 1 pop psychology I suppose.
So, this is very late. I’d definitely skimmed or read the story version of this play as well. I wrote my notes as remarks, so I’m going to have to pull my brief reviews from these somewhat cryptic responses.
Ugh. There is a reason this one is not one of Shakespeare’s super popular plays. Coriolanus is arrogant, but its not played interestingly. And there are parts where he lies and flatters the people to obtain power I think, I preferred his open contempt. There isn’t much humor period.
And all things above, HIS MOTHER! Who can respect a man with a mother like that-she unmans him no matter what he does? Everyone is awful, but Mummy and the tribunes are the worst.
Ok, such was reading the play. Now for the Donmar Playhouse performance. I’d seen almost all the main actors is very different things and some of those roles were ludicrously different (while fitting the actors far better than the ones in this play) for example one tribune is Aunt Marge from Harry Potter and Volumnia is the silly Miss Phoebe Browning.
This play did great at showing how his relationship with his domineering mother pushed contrasted with his relationship with his weak wife.
I at least first thought that Tom Hiddleston played Coriolanus less hateful and arrogant and more honest and maybe he was playing Coriolanus somewhat self-deprecatingly, as having as sense of humor? I also thought he made Coriolanus more dignified (or tried), but he could not fully be so because I felt that I could see the flattery and sycophancy from everyone highlighted so much in the performance, and I was heartily sick of hearing of his wounds.
I didn’t care for the odd mixture of modern, and modern with historically inspired elements, AT ALL. I don’t think it was creative, I thought it reminded me of a small town community, high school theater that doesn’t have enough money. I found it distracting, and his wife is made to look even sillier with her entirely modern outfit (which granted might be a point but could have been made more creatively). Also, this is a very Roman play, some plays are more timeless and better lent to modernization or modern vs classic juxtaposition, for example, Romeo and Juliet. Coriolanus loses impact when this was done to it.
I felt that the flattery (oh, it was constant!) highlighted the relationship boundaries crossed, especially the mother-son boundary that Volumnia doesn’t appear to think exists. So the flattery is creeping and the relationships are all creepy (they added another relationship boundary busting bit between the tribunes). And then play takes these things further with T. Aufidius and grossed me out and made Coriolanus looks absolutely ludicrous. I think also that this was one way to make the play have more humor but it wasn’t clever, didn’t fit, and all attempts at humor felt forced. So I quite watching.
Again, I need to stop having high expectations, that guarantees that they will be dashed down.
McKayla tagged me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. And as usual, I’m quite timely.
What genre was the last movie you watched? What are your three favorite movies in said genre?
Hallmark, but I’m not going to count that. I think non-Hallmark is Princess Diaries which is I guess modern Rom-Com. At the moment, that is one of my three, Leap Year, and Clueless.
If you were to attend Hogwarts, which subject do you think you’d be best at?
I’m not sure. I’d like to be good at Charms, Potions, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. But I think I’m rather too impatient to have stable success in Potions (I’d probably do great one time and abysmal the next) and too chicken for Defense. I’d like to think I’d be great at Charms, but I’m a history person and major, so I’m guessing History of Magic. Fascinating skill, I know.
Would you play Quidditch? If so, what position?
Honestly, I think Quidditch, if we could get the hovercraft/flying thing down with science, would be a super cool game in actual fact. I think I could play any position. I’m thinking Beater although you don’t want me as one, I’d probably seriously hurt someone.
Favorite fantasy subgenre?
Low fantasy. By which I mean where there is a distinct real world and a distinct fantasy world. I consider magical realism as different, its a small level of magic in the real world.
What is a book that you think should have a movie adaptation?
I’m rather afraid of what Hollywood filmmakers do to stories. I used to trust BBC more, but lately they’ve been doing ludicrous things to film adaptations as well I feel. Also, I feel like a lot of my favorite authors have had a least one of their works turned into a movie. If a non-cheesy, non melodramatic (melodrama ruins dramatic effect) independent company could do a movie, I think Mara, Daughter of the Nile would make a good film.
What is a book that you think shouldn’t have had a movie adaptation?
The Eagle of the Ninth. In fact, I’m rather glad it’s forgettably bad. Stay away from Sutcliff all ye sacrilegious filmmaker story ruiners.
What is your favorite type of donut [man, now these are just getting weird]?
Chocolate glazed yeast doughnuts. Granulated sugar yeast doughnut twists are good to, as well as the boxed chocolate with sour cream cake doughnut holes.
Does Aaron Samuels’ hair look sexy pushed back?
I’ve not seen that movie, and that actor is gay, and he looks it, so he’s not attractive to me.
If you had to spend 24 hours locked in an elevator with three fictional characters to keep you company, which three characters would they be?
Jack Sparrow, Kusco, and Chandler. Can you imagine?!!!
Or maybe Chandler, Ross, and Joey just to listen to them and their responses to the situation.
If you could rule the world for enough time to make one law that everyone had to follow, what would that law be?
Something along the lines of mind your own business or leave everyone else alone. I think that should knock out quite a few of the worst evils (murdering or raping someone is about as much getting in their business as you can get) as well as the worst annoyances all at one blow.
What is your love language?
Quality time I think. Specifically, quality discussions.
I’m joining in with Tarissa’s A Literary Christmas like I did a couple times a few years ago. I looked, and I think I did NO Christmas posts last year. What?! I’m hoping for many Christmas posts this year.
I have struggled to find Christmas books for adults in past challenges (I mean sans Hallmark ones), but I think I’ve found some resources to draw from for this year and next year anyway. I am trying some Hallmark authors I think. This is more a potential list than a set in stone TBR, so we shall see.
Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire
Christmas in London by Anita Hughes
The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
Alaskan Holiday: A Novel by Debbie Macomber
It’s a Wonderful Christmas: The Best of the Holidays 1940-1965 by Susan Waggoner
Norman Rockwell’s Christmas book
Christmas at Fairacre by Miss Read
Christmas Treasury by Louisa May Alcott (I think a reread, I own this, and I think I read it years ago)
Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories by L.M. Montgomery (reread, if I can buy it in time, our library seems to no longer have it)
There are many characters who on the surface look the same, they are elegant, have high standards, popular, live a charmed life in many ways, but they get such different reactions from me. For example, Anne Shirley, who I like and would like to be more like, and Amy March who I resent.
The Amy characters seem to have everything handed to them (and are very spoiled) without, in my opinion being very interesting while I think Anne type characters earn their way far more often of the time.
Also, I feel like Amy was a “told” character rather than a “shown” character. And well, I don’t think she ever learned to laugh at herself. Anne did learn to laugh at herself. Anne had dignity and could be offended by presumption, but I always sided with Anne while I always thought Amy a spoiled snot.
However, I should note, that I feel that Anne turns into more of an Amy type in the later books when the focus is on her children, she’s not Anne Shirley any more who is hard working and earns her way, I feel like the writing portrays her more as a haughty lady of leisure, who sits above it all and offers judgement. Also, I don’t like Rilla very much at first, Rilla is very much an Amy March type character.
Narnia is so Christmassy, my sisters I think have made watching Narnia during Christmas a tradition.
Rating My Narnia Fanatic Level
1. Nostalgic Fanatic — you read the book and/or watched the movies as a child and the word Narnia gives you a warm feeling
2. Serious Fanatic — you rediscovered the wonder of Narnia after you were older and have read the books and watched the movies
3. Maniacal Fanatic — you have lived Narnia from childhood, hid in closets on more occasions than is healthy, have read and watched all the movies including the BBC version
I think I’m between Serious Fanatic and Maniacal Fanatic.
Dad read the books to us twice as children (with the full color illustrations from the church library very important, but when we later bought them we got the black and white illustrations, do you know how important knowing the children’s hair color is, I kid, sort of, the full color illustration bring Narnia to life)
Then we watched several or maybe all of the BBC movies.
Then we watched the three new movies.
Then I think I read some of the books as an adult.
Then I read them straight through a few years ago.
Then I reread them straight through beginning last December to this fall.
The Tag Questions:
1. Who’s your favorite Pevensie sibling?
Edmund. The bad boy became the deepest, truest, sweetest one. This happened with Eustace too.
2. What is the most underrated Narnia book?
Aren’t most of them underrated compared to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe? Probably The Horse and His Boy. Its not exactly part of the main story line, so I think it gets left out. But I like the unique look, and all the characters.
3. Who is your favorite Narnian king?
4. Who is your favorite Narnian queen?
5. Which non-human Narnian do you like best?
Hmm, maybe Reepicheep?
6. Which book deserves a movie?
Um, my least favorite? I dread book adaptations now. Filmmakers spoil things.
7. What is the one thing you did as a Narnia fan that you do not regret?
All of it!
I know lots of people discuss reading broader globally, moving about of Western Lit if they have thoroughly read Western Lit which doesn’t seem the case for most people, good and well. I however, don’t even read that broad. I’ve barely read my own nation’s literature, and what I’ve read . . . I . . . do not love.
I like some children’s/ya sort of literature (Alcott, To Kill a Mockingbird) and plenty of middle grade from the U.S. but most of my adult classic reading is British. I wouldn’t describe myself as an Anglophile in the way many people do, who seem to portray England exactly the same as during the heyday of the classics. I love the literature and the history, in part because well, like many Americans, it is my history and when it diverges, it is my cousin’s history so to speak. I’ve no desire to be British, nevertheless, I’m definitely rather an American’s American in many respects.
But I do not love our literature. Don’t misunderstand me, I do have some respect for it for some aspects of some of it (I think, perhaps the wordsmithery and that is it), but I don’t understand the tone of it at all. Its so incredibly depressing and fatalistic and that doesn’t seem to fit the overall tone of our nation throughout history. For example, I can understand that sort of tone in Russian Literature. I can’t find any bright spots or hopefulness ever in Russian history. But we at least have always acted like everything was hunky dory whether it was or not. And fatalism seems the opposite to our can do attitude for much of history. It is also, in my opinion extremely boring and depressing to read. And all the literature I’ve come across from America is fatalistic.
Tied to this fatalism and glumness is a total lack of humor/awareness/sense of the ludicrous. I think lots of people know that when you take everything as humor, nothing is serious, but I think that when everything is serious, nothing is. I don’t think that there needs to be objective humor per se, but there is a sort of connected attribute of self-awareness, a sense of the ludicrous, that without which, serious perspectives come across as bland and pompous and possibly ludicrous. Ethan Frome layers on so many tragedies of such a self-imposed type and in a way that by the end, I’m disgusted, not empathetic. And if that was all truly supposed to be serious, its absolutely a ludicrous story.
Earlier this year when I was bingeing the Speaking with Joy podcast, she had a quote by Chesterton. I believe it had to have been this one. I can’t verify that it was Chesterton, but all the same, whoever said it it sums this point up perfectly
“Humor can get in under the door while seriousness is still fumbling at the handle.”
American literature will never have my love, but I have felt that I needed to read more. You ought to read more than just what you love, and I am after all, American. So, I’ve put authors on my list. I’d read some short stories I found interesting by Faulkner and Hemingway. I picked up The Sound and The Fury. Yeah, that was a no. I did a bit of research on his other work and dropped Faulkner. Maybe the two short stories are enough. I then eventually picked up Hemingway, and slogged my way through two works and got mired in a third. I had thought that because they were so short, I would read all the fairly famous ones anyway. Mulling it over, I decided, that that was enough. I don’t enjoy his stories, nor do I think I need to dwell on them. All of his characters are sociopaths, anyone with feelings is portrayed as weak in addition to the fatalism. I don’t really think that that is a great thing to absorb in addition to my not enjoying them. I’ve had a taste. That is enough.
I then decided, that I’d try to try one of each fairly famous American author’s works. I don’t have to read all their works, I don’t even have to read the most famous of their works. Getting a taste of their work is good enough, perhaps in fact may be too much.
Recently my sister mentioned reading a Flannery O’Conner novel and feeling like she shouldn’t be reading it, it was something about a pastor who wasn’t a Christian but was still preaching. I feel like that is another aspect to Am Lit. That of focusing on really disturbing things and people. Or at least some of them like O’Conner (I’ve not read hers, that is the impression I’ve received from what little I’ve heard), Faulkner, and Hemingway. I remember in high school Am Lit that the focus was on short stories and they were all horrible, so I assumed all short stories were that way. Why is this such a focus?! And should I be reading this stuff? Maybe a short story is the only taste I should have, if any of such authors.
I guess, tread warily will be my goal.
Edit: I had this in my drafts since 2018 to link up with a potential top 1o freebie post after I read more, it was supposed to be various health topics, but since I read more in the epidemiology field since starting the draft and because of the pandemic and I only had one other book in a different health section, I decided to make this one an epidemiology/disease post. Up to the beginning of this year, I was seriously considering trying to get a masters in epidemiology and history with a focus on historical pandemics to help inform for vaccinations. And then this curve ball was thrown (actually I would argue two curve balls, the actual pandemic and then the handling of it, I still feel like I’m living in an alternate reality, I feel like misinformation has the upper hand, that journalists, politicians, and people twisting the facts of disease have the control and the loudest voices, the loudest voice in my family, is not anyone in the medical field or the CDC, to the point that I wonder, Has being informed helped me? Am I informed? What is information? What do I trust? What did I actually know? Anything? Nothing? Why? Wherefore? What? What on earth? Who am I?).
I’ve included the dates I read to point out how weirdly timed it all was. I mean I’ve always been obsessed with germs, and I took microbiology in college, but the fact I started reading these particularly apropos books started less than 2 years up to less than a year before the current pandemic!
- Vaccines: What Everyone Needs to Know by Kristen A. Feemster (finished reading in July 2018)
- Epidemics and Pandemics: Their Impacts on Human History by J. N. Hays (finished reading in July 2018, read my review)
- Viruses: A Very Short Introduction by Dorothy H. Crawford (finished reading in February 2019)
- Epidemiology: A Very Short Introduction by Rodolfo Saracci (finished reading in June 2019)
- Pandemics: A Very Short Introduction by Christian W. McMillen (finished reading in Jun 2019, read my review)
I had a couple more books on my TBR in the microbiology and epidemiology subject field that I wish I’d read before the pandemic which I requested now. It would have been interesting to have all these insights as well.
- Infectious Disease: A Very Short Introduction by Marta L. by Wayne,
- The End of Illness by David Angus
- Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen (I mean?!)
- I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong