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Reading

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Blogs/Bookish Websites

I’m linking up here with The Artsy Read Girl for Top Ten Tuesday. I’m including blogs that I used to read that really helped encourage my reading, not only sites I use now, nor is this list comprehensive; I frequently find book lists on blogs or sites that I like that aren’t exclusively or mainly focused on reading which fact I love, I think I find a broader range of topics this way.

(1) My library site that allows me to order ridiculous amounts of books, suggest purchases, order interlibrary loans, and categorize my TBR lists.

(2) Goodreads. This site along with the book club that introduced me really helped spur my reading after my long slump.

Older blogs that aren’t being maintained regularly anymore including:

(3) Yet Another Period Drama Blog 

(4) Old-Fashioned Charm

(5) Classy with a Dash of Quirk

(6) Along the Brandywine

Blogs that I pull suggestions from now and/or have fun bookish posts such as:

(6) Elisabeth Grace Foley

(7) The Wilds of Wonder

(8) Both of Hamlette’s blogs: Hamlette’s Soliloquy and The Edge of the Precipice

(9) Coffee, Classics, and Craziness

(10) Random sources such as such the web; the Pulitzer, Bancroft, and Francis Parkman prizes for history; and random websites from others’ links or that I’m browsing while not looking for books particularly

What I Read in July

Fiction, Rereads

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Fiction, New to Me

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Little House in the Big Woods

A Place in Time: Twenty Stories of the Port William Membership by Wendell Berry

Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

At the beginning of the month I was still on my Agatha Christie kick and finished/read 9 more novels/collections: Nemesis, They Do It with Mirrors, Double Sin and Other StoriesAt Bertram’s Hotel, Postern of Fate, N or M?Partners in CrimeBy the Pricking of My Thumbs, and The Secret Adversary

Nonfiction

Epidemics and Pandemics: Their Impacts on Human History by J.N. Hays. This is an essential read for anyone who wants to understand history and the modern world. I would not stop here, but it is a great place to start as an overview of significant epidemics and plagues from ancient times until 2005 (when the book was published). A few notes although I would have a preferred a more updated version (obviously, the world has continuing outbreaks of the epidemics he mentions as still in force plus the Ebola epidemic and the Zika epidemic, just to name ones I know), this is still an excellent place to start on the study of the historical impact of disease. A few notes, I think a microbiology books would come in handy (he didn’t describe the modern understanding and remedies; I think a section for that on each epidemic/pandemic would have been helpful for connotation, and I think the author had a bit of a weird tone about modern medical science and sanitation in the more modern epidemics(or at least his tones was easily confused with the ideas of those about whom he was writing).

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Not what I was expecting, not sure what I was thinking, but it felt very stylized and impersonal. I think that is the style of personal writing then.

Vaccines: What Everyone Needs to Know by Kristen A. Feemster. An absolutely essential read for everyone. The author gives a brief history of vaccines, a brief explanation of vaccines, discussion on the development of vaccines and the usage and availability of vaccines within sections of society and the globe. She ends with a discussion of vaccine hesitancy (and there I do have a bit of a problem with her tone/take; as much as vaccine hesitant and anti-vaccine people infuriate me, her tone tends a bit authoritarian while the previous chapters were informative and persuasive; the people who infuriate me, I find aggravating because of deliberate ignorance/suspicion, not skepticism) I do think that some people may need a bit more explanation of vaccines, I don’t know how much everyone hears and remembers. I think this fit nicely with Epidemics and Pandemics, with the latter emphasizing the need for vaccines. And a good microbiology books would fit it quite well with these books also.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Read by the Pool or Beach

I’m linking up here.

Apparently, I keep mixing up the Top Ten Tuesday topic dates, oh, well.

I’m not going to make this a TBR list, because that isn’t how I read. I’m going to go by what I think are a good fit for summer.

Any sort of the feels summery, light, mild adventurous. Lots of middle-grade books, I think. Nothing too serious, magical, or dark.

  1. The Penderwicks (I’ve probably already re-read these and read the new one by the time this posts, sorry, not waiting for summer)
  2. A Bridge to Terabithia
  3. The Grandma’s Attic series
  4. The Borrowers series
  5. The Little House series
  6. Keeper of the Bees
  7. Any L.M. Montgomery, but Magic for Marigold is especially summery as are:
  8. Anne of Avonlea
  9. Rainbow Valley
  10. Jane of Lantern Hill

What I Read: June

I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit.

When one adds Agathe Christie to the months reading numbers, one looks like a prodigious reader. Of the 10 books I read last month, 6 were Agatha Christie’s. I’ve already read 10 books this month (again, thanks mainly to Agatha Christie novels).

The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence #1), The Thirteen Problems (Miss Marple, #2), The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side (Miss Marple, #9), The Pale Horse, A Pocket Full of Rye (Miss Marple #7), and Crooked House. These are just page-turners and most didn’t stand out much except the Crooked House which was the best mystery I think, but I almost cried at the end. The rest aren’t her most interesting.

Switzerland by Lura Rogers Seavey. This is a children’s Enchantment of the World series book. I think kids’ books are great for quick overviews of subjects, particularly for subjects I know very little about. I thought this was a solid source of beginning information on countries, and I plan on reading more of this series.

Outlaws of Time #3: The Last of the Lost Boys by N.D. Wilson. I’ve been less satisfied with most of his more recent writing, I feel like his unique voice is being drowned out or diluted. This novel was fast and forgettable and rather pointless I thought. This series is my least favorite.

Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson. I found parts of these books quite funny, but I think put together they were a bit repetitive, mundane, and tedious; the adults came across as spiteful (that ballgame section, ouch) and whiny especially since I was comparing my grandparents (who all were children in the 40’s like Jackson’s children) and their families’ to Jackson’s; I suppose the Northeast was quite a bit wealthier and more modern (e.g. my grandparents didn’t always have plumbing as children, I’d have to ask about a telephone, and I know my grandmother recently mentioned an aunt as having more money as the one with the camera) at that time period if this family was “tight” on money. Regional and historical differences like that are quite intriguing.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Throwback: Fictional Crushes

I wrote this and scheduled this months ago and apparently the topic was changed in the interim, but I’m still going to leave this.

I’m linking up here for Top Ten Tuesday

I’m a noodle is all I can say, I’m trying to remember by very early ones, when I really, seriously had a crush on a book character, not just theoretically.

  1. Henry from The Boxcar Children series
  2. Lewis from Little House Charlotte Years
  3. Ben from the Felicity books
  4. Drew from one of the Love Comes Softly books according to my sister (I was trying to remember all my childhood book crushes without much work, so I asked her); I don’t recall that name but I’m sure I had a least one crush from these books, I’d forgotten what I read then
  5. Laurie (of course!)
  6. Ethan from Calico Bush (Caleb was too young for my preteen/young teen self, lol)
  7. Sheftu from Mara, Daughter of the Nile
  8. Esca from Eagle of the Ninth (yeah, I liked him better than Marcus, at least in the old days
  9. Aquila from Lantern Bearers
  10. Mac from Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom

Book and Media Haul

Our city library system has regular sales, so I got a few items there. Plus I’ve been buying discounted Barnes and Noble giftcards and combining these with Barnes and Nobles coupons to buy books from Barnes and Noble. Finally, Half-Price had as store wide Memorial Day sale (I hope they have one for the 4th).

My library booksale haul. Suitably studious . . . now I just need to start those courses.

Barnes and Noble.

My Half Price haul. I think I buy beautiful books as idols or something since I’m afraid to actually touch and read them.

What I Read April and May

I’ve not read much or well lately, sticking to a too high percentage of re-reads.

Re-Reads

  • Dragon Spear by Jessica Day George. The last of this trilogy, and I didn’t like them half so well this time around. Not all middle-grade can last through all adulthood.
  • Laddie by Gene Stratton-Porter. I loved parts and some parts bored me or made me cringe (she does tend to be rather sanctimonious, in this book it is rather heaped unevenly at the end).
  • The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy; The Penderwicks on Gardam Street; The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall; and The Penderwicks in Spring. All of the Penderwicks I read in 2 days (how I love these; these DO last through adulthood), so I could read the newest one. Which I stopped and returned. Period.

New Reads

  • The Five Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird. This was my first speedy read through. I need to go back and read more slowly (the authors recommended three times). I think I’m going to buy this one. I might even order it today.
  • Perelandra by C.S. Lewis. Rather stranger and more uncomfortable than the first novel, plus really boring at the end.
  • That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis. Although much longer than the first two, this book wasn’t long, yet I spent a month on it . . . and it felt even longer. This felt so different, less sci-fi/interplanetary fiction and more dystopia (which isn’t my favorite, and I’m rather bored of now). Also, rather twisted and disturbing. I should like to know what N.D. Wilson and Jeanne Birdsall so love about it. I’m clearly missing something.

9 books in 2 months. Ouch. I think I may have finished one or both of the Shirley Jackson autobiographical books in May, but I’m not sure, so I will just include those next month.

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Worlds I’d Want/Never Want to Live In

I’m linking up here. I think I will do five for worlds I wouldn’t want to live in and five for worlds I might.

No:

  1. The future in The Time Machine. No words, there are no words.
  2. Alagaesia in the Inheritance Cycle. Why live in a Knock-off when you could like in the real Lord of the Rings (and whatever other worlds were copied).
  3. Panem. Because it is both disturbing and second-hand.
  4. the Harry Potter universe. Because, if you haven’t gotten the memo, I’m a scaredy-cat, and I would rather enjoy the stories from my own safe vantage point.
  5. I’d have to say Middle Earth because it is so dark and scary, unless I could live with the elves before they started dwindling or in Hobbiton. The orcs remain (thanks in part to the brilliant mind of Peter Jackson) one of the most believably and truly horrifying fictional creatures (I think in part because they, as I think was the intent, seem both so man-like and beast-like, as if to be what man at absolute depravity could be; also, I remember the shock of disgust and horror I felt when learning Morgoth bred them from elves which again, I think might have been the point; to see the contrast of what man in God’s image and under His sanctification can/ought to be and what he can be because of the fall).

Yes:

  1. Narnia, if I could freeze it only into the good times.
  2. I know Rosemary Sutcliff painted a romantic and for all its seeming darkness, a rather mild conception of the little-known, so old and odd as to seem unreal, Ancient Britain, but I would like to see it, if only briefly, and through Roman or Romanized eyes (yeah, not so interested in the more brutal reality of my more likely forbearers, sorry). I’ll take a ticket to and from, please and thank-you.
  3. The world of the Fairy Rebels and Swift and Nomad, but I’d have to replace Ivy in the books, because Martin is MINE.
  4. PEI in all the Montgomery books, with someone like Barney/Jingle/Uncle Klondike with maybe a touch of Walter and Jem Blythe, thanks.
  5. If the land of The Ordinary Princess is exactly like the land in the 2015 Cinderella, and I think it should be, then that land.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Character Names

I’m linking up with Top Ten Tuesday. These are more “unique names I’d name my kids” but I like or only know plainer names for boys.

1. Evelina from Frances Burney’s novel of same name
2. Camilla from Frances Burney’s novel of same name
3. Cecilia from Frances Burney’s novel of same name
4. Ileana from Wildwood Dancing
5. Tatiana from Wildwood Dancing
6. Jenica from Wildwood Dancing
7. Marguerite from Calico Bush and The Scarlet Pimpernel
8. Armand from The Scarlet Pimpernel
9. Percy from The Scarlet Pimpernel
10. Lila from Marilynne Robinson’s novel of the same name

Top Ten Tuesday Books I Disliked, but I’m Glad I Read for Bragging Rights

  1. Les Misérables. Um, yeah, you can tell when authors are writing serials and don’t have enough talent or story to fill them. Sorry, Hugo, I don’t want to read 40 pages each about a minor characters, a Napoleonic battle with the only connection a piece of thievery, and the Paris sewer system. I would like more developed characters. Oh, I grant that the story is epic, but for all those pages, not much seems to be said, developed, or completed.
  2. Brother Karamazov. A bunch of absurd, disjointed, irrational, sanctimonious philosophizing. The pathos builds and then falls flat (there isn’t a death sentence for one thing, and I got bored for another). I liked Alyosha the best, but Dostoevsky had to spoil him with some incongruous preaching at the end. No real love story. No real tragedy. No real story. Tons of awful characters. I liked all the legitimate broters, but all the women they loved were . . . I’ll go with harpies, to put it mildly.
  3. Plato’s Apology. Something for school. Don’t remember a bit.
  4. The Aeneid. Ugh, and overrated and boring. Sorry Virgil, you are no Homer.
  5. The Great Gatsby. Overrated in the extreme.
  6. The Time Machine. Horror.
  7. Into the Wild. Something for school. Bizarre, poorly written, and depressing.
  8. Cloud’s by Aristophanes. Something for school. Don’t remember a bit.
  9. We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I was disturbed by the book (at the end) and by my reaction (I was so fooled for one thing) . . . probably more by my reaction.
  10. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I liked this for the historical perspective, but I found most of the characters unlikeable, and the story featured some really freaky, vile episodes.

I’m linking up here for Top Ten Tuesday (late of course).

My Reading Systems

How I Find What to Read
o In the early stages I relied mainly on friends, family, pulling directly from shelves (VERY early), and homeschooling.

o Now, my main sources for fiction are other bloggers.

o My nonfiction is more of a mix; friends, websites (not usually bloggers), and my research.

o I’m not really an off-the-shelf reader because 1.) I almost always order my library books and 2.) I have trust issues. I don’t even always digitally pull off the shelf (although I do sometimes for nonfiction and reference); I always like to hop over to Amazon for a bit more information. I do think I need to try to pull off the shelves a bit more because I could be missing out on interesting books.

Managing My TBR List
o TBR lists can be huge, so I prefer mine to be digital. I want to collect every book that someone recommends, so that I don’t forget about it plus I want to follow my own inclinations.

o I’m trying to only use the library site as much as possible; I sorted my library list into categories, and I’m trying to discipline myself to hop right over there when a blogger mentions a book instead of bookmarking and prolonging the process.

o I still need to streamline my interlibrary loan list for those books that aren’t available at my library; I think this needs to be an Excel file.

o I have a re-read list in my reading journal because this tends to be small and re-reads are often impulsive.

Obtaining the Books
o I almost NEVER buy books unread. I’ve purged many books of my own that I have read because of the quality of the physical book. Books are expensive and space consuming, and I’m really picky, so it is essential that I borrow.

o I live in a different county from my preferred library, so I like to order lots of books, so that I have a ton of options to last me for a few months. I’m still trying to perfect my system.

o For books that I plan to read in their entirety, I aim for these four categories: dense fiction, light fiction, scholarly nonfiction, popular nonfiction. I’ve also been gathering a random assortment of books to peruse for reference (cookbooks, historical fiction, craft books, etc.).

o We have the option to suggest a purchase which I like to use.

o We have an interlibrary loan system which allows 3 requests per months. I think it is hit and miss, but I need to utilize it better.

How I Read
o I have started to put sticky notes with chapters/sections broken down onto dense books, so that I can break down the reading a bit at a time and feel accomplished (sometimes I am able to get into the rhythm/discipline of reading after doing a few chapters or sections).

o I am a slow reader but for me at least, I think this helps my comprehension because when I’ve sped through things, I’ve noticed that I don’t absorb the information well.

o I dislike e-books; I have a Kindle app on my laptop with multiple books. I’d like to read some of them, but I don’t find this method of reading easy or comfortable, and I don’t feel that I absorb the content as well which is the most important part!

o I usually read in bed, probably should get some better habits going.

Reading Notes
o I’m hit and miss on this; I’m trying to discipline myself. I have done everything from written on scrap paper to typed in a document to written in a notebook.

o I recently page-numbered and added a “Contents” section to my reading notebook; I want to make that an early stop for notes; I can draw from these notes for posts and expanded thoughts.

o I have copied some work that I had on scrap paper into my reading journal, but sometimes, I think I may need to use scraps when I want to write an organized piece on a larger scale.

o I’ve also tried to start writing brief thoughts on books about which I don’t have much interest in analyzing deeply, so I can type up my monthly summaries quicker. I need to work on the content of these better, so that I can give other people more information.

o I have a separate quote book for quotes which I’ve been trying to use more; I think a digital source might be better, so I can find favorites again quickly.

My Reading Habits and Stratagies

I’m came across this post on ways to read more in college, and it got me thinking about what I do or need to do in order to read. I want to go through the aforementioned list with my thoughts, and then write another post on a few more actions I take that help me personally.

~Read one book at a time
I think that this is a personal thing. I can find it difficult to be motivated to read one book at a time when that one book is dense. Some books are hard to slog through but are worth it. And some are a bit more like candy. I could definitely be more disciplined in my reading, but I still think that having a few books in different categories (e.g. dense fiction, light fiction, scholarly nonfiction, popular nonfiction) is a helpful way to read widely and deeply.

~Read what makes you happy
I think this only applies to the light fiction category. I “need” this category to pull me away from the Internet, to help me stick to reading, to de-stress, etc. I oftentimes have a hard time finding enough of these books though, and so I turn to my small favorite reads; I LOVED how Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas called this concept having a “literary medicine cabinet.” 

~Take your book with you everywhere
This is a great idea, but one I still need to implement more consistently. I also like to bring my knitting everywhere, so I can be a bit of a crazy bag lady.

~Use reading as an incentive
I think this is more personal too. Again, this is where the multiple books come in for me. I kind of use the light books as a help to reading the heavy ones. I sometimes read, knit, repeat. But I think that I prefer reading my fun books straight and this would make my work slide (if you haven’t noticed discipline is a problem for moi).

~Don’t force yourself to read
I GREATLY disagree with this for everyone;  I think everyone should be reading hard books and most people don’t find those easy. Additionally, I don’t expect to desire to read period, I have to exert discipline. I think that is for these reasons: psychological reading issues, habitual lack of disciple (e.g. laziness), and computer addiction (e.g. lack of self-control).