• Reading

    My Year in Books: Reading Year in Review

    Here is My Year in Books on Goodreads (I’m not sure its visible for everyone); not sure if the page number is accurate, I did read 140 which it shows at the bottom but not at the top.

    Goodreads numbers (factoring in the slim book that I didn’t list on Goodreads because it had to do with my geographic area, and supplementing the information with stats from My Books > Stats page).

    • 141 books (about 40 more than last year)
    • 39,576+ pages (almost 10,000 pages more than my previous record in 2014; also, see note above on re-reads)
    • Longest book: 908 pages (Brothers Karamazov)
    • Shortest book: 24 pages (the golden book Kitty’s New Doll, a childhood favorite, a Christmas theme this year, that my sister received for Christmas)
    • Average rating: 3.2 (I checked previous years, around 3 usually is my average)
    • Most popular: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
    • Least popular: Epidemics and Pandemics: Their Impacts on Human History by J.N. Hays
    • Approximately 25% was on my fantasy shelf
    • Around at least 12-15% was Agatha Christie
    • Most of my 5 star reads were re-reads
    • I had 6 one star reads

    Now, I started also tracking books in Excel. Later I discover that you can export your Goodreads information in an excel sheet, but when I tried for this year the most significant column (date read) didn’t properly transfer for me (less than 1/3 of books read in 2018 showed a date in Excel), so that was rather useless. I asked about this, so we’ll see if it’s corrected.

    Anyway from my 6 main categories (Re-reads, Literary Fiction, Light Fiction, Illustrated Books, Serious Nonfiction, and Popi for this year:

    • Re-reads: 35 (not including Illustrated);  13 Literary Fiction and 22 Light Fiction (last year I re-read around 12)
    • Literary Fiction: 14 (27 including re-reads)
    • Light Fiction: 58 (70 including re-reads)
    • Illustrated Books: 11 (at least 3 and up to 5 were re-reads from childhood)
    • Serious Nonfiction: 10
    • Popular Nonfiction: 13
    • Total nonfiction: 23 (last year I read at least 30)
  • Reading

    What I Read December 2018

    Nonfiction
    The Stories Behind the Best Loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins. I really, really enjoyed this at first. I didn’t appreciate the lack of sources, and I noticed he embellished his stories and spoke too firmly of things that maybe weren’t so factually provable, but I didn’t really pause until I came to the story of the 12 Days of Christmas. That song included an extremely far-fetched story about it being code for Catholic doctrines (besides the connection stretch the doctrines weren’t specifically Catholic, and Latin rather than English was significant in Catholic teaching at that period). I looked it up, its essentially an urban myth. So of course that gives me pause about the whole book. I know there is a more updated edition, perhaps this story (and other issues if any) are corrected in that. I still want to read his other books about Christmas, I just think I might be doing my own confirmation research

    Light Fiction
    15 books by Diana Wynne Jones. Howl’s Moving Castle at 4 stars is the highest rating I’ve given her books, I think. She has a lot of boring ones plus I find a lot of problematic elements in her works (dwimmer magic in Crestomanci gave me a twinge for example with the dead animals). I did put one book down (The Time of the the Ghost) which I definitely advise against (twisted, violent, occult, savage, old pagan), although I skimmed it (I need to stop that, not exactly consistent). My standards slipped I think both with morality and with quality because I wanted easy, and I wanted to finish my challenge.

    1. The Lives of Christopher Chant. Not my favorite Crestomanci; his and Millie’s backstory is fun though.
    2. The Islands of Chaldea. Her family should have left this unfinished.
    3. Dark Lord of Derkholm. Fun enough, tons of moral issues though.
    4. Year of the Griffin. Fun enough.
    5. Witch Week. Fun enough.
    6. A Tale Of Time City. Interesting.
    7. The Magicians of Caprona. Cute.
    8. Witch’s Business. Cute.
    9. The Ogre Downstairs. Funny a bit heartwarming at the end.
    10. Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories. Some good, some disturbing, some boring.
    11. Enchanted Glass. Interesting, totally repulsive “twist” at the end though, to me.
    12. The Homeward Bounders. I gave it a three, but drawing a blank about my impressions and the details.
    13. The Game. Boring.
    14. Earwig and the Witch. Bleh.
    15. Wild Robert. Funny.

    Illustrated Books (oh, I know, scoff)
    Dorothy Kunhardt’s Kitty’s New Doll. A Golden book childhood favorite my sister received for Christmas. This one has the original illustrations (far more charming that the current ones, I need to get my own copy, why do publishers do this, if you want new, keep the old and have both!).
    The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Marla Frazee. A childhood favorite that I received for Christmas.
    Thumbelina by Hans Christian Anderson, illustrated by Adrienne Adams. Received for Christmas; I grew up on the movie, but I don’t think I’d read the original story.
    Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter. Part of my Christmas season reading.

    Rereads
    Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

    Knife (Spell Hunter), Rebel (Wayfarer), Arrow, Swift, and Nomad by R.J. Anderson. I love these painfully, just read them.

  • Reading

    A Literary Christmas Wrap Up

    I’m posting my wrap-up for A Literary Christmas, late of course, but I was only participating loosely since that tends to work best for me. Any reviews will be in November and December books read posts. Now, I need to peruse everyone’s links to find ideas for next Christmas.

    Juvenile Fiction
    The Holly and the Ivy Rumer Godden
    The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story Lemony Snicket
    Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story Cynthia Rylant
    The Christmas Day Kitten James Herriot
    The Lump of Coal Lemony Snicket
    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Barbara Robinson

    The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter. I added this.

    Grown-Up Fiction
    Christmas At Fairacre Miss Read. I guess I’ll try this next year.

    Christmas History
    Christmas In Williamsurg: 300 Years of Family Traditions K. M. Kostyal
    Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas Ace Collins. I loved this at first but had my confidence in his veracity shaken by one of the stories (see my review); however, I think that if the updated version has corrections, I want to buy it and the second one as well as his book of stories (which Sarah of Lilacs and Springtime mentioned, and which I then requested from the library, but it looks like it might have been lost or taken off the shelves since my request), and maybe read a story a day for a Christmas countdown next year.
    Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, And Rituals at The Origins of Yuletide Christian Rätsch. Yeah, um this was disturbing. Also, not quite honest. Seemed to not merely be a factual story but a promotion of ancient paganism and drug use. Also, you can’t separate the pagan aspects out from Christian aspects so easily. Christmas is more like spaghetti historically, and you won’t get an honest picture unless you look at all the parts with some organization, something these authors weren’t doing. I put down.
    Christmas Customs and Traditions, Their History and Significance by Clement A Miles. I added this but only got through a few chapters as it was written in 1912 and is a bit more scholarly than easy. I do want to get it again, but I think I will start over and read more carefully and take notes.

    Christmas Baking
    Scandikitchen Christmas: Recipes and Traditions from Scandinavia Brontë Aurell
    Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen Luisa Weiss
    Festive Baking: Holiday Classics in the Swiss, German, and Austrian Traditions Sarah Kelly Iaia

    I didn’t make anything this year except what Mom had already decided on. Maybe I’ll have more motivation next year. I own the last book already, but I’d like the other German baking book as well if not also the Scandinavian one.

  • Reading

    What I Read: November

    I determined to try and meet my 140 book goal despite my laziness previously. It helps that I got a lot of children’s illustrated Christmas books, lol. Obviously, that is not my ideal reading. I think they are excellent for relaxation from stress, but I’m not sure I would want to count them normally. Anyway, I read 21 books in November.

    Children’s Christmas Books

    The Christmas Day Kitten by James Herriot. I love James Herriot, but this is a tear-jerker, and probably too sad for the intended age (we’re a leetle, read “a lot,” sensitive about animals in this family).
    Christmas in Williamsburg: 300 Years of Family Traditions by Karen Kostyal. I was just not impressed by this, it seemed rather incoherent (although I was a bit out of it when I read it).
    Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story by Cynthia Rylant. I got this because I remembered the silver packages from my childhood (which featured a lot of Cynthia Rylant books, my mom didn’t remember this one).
    The Lump of Coal by Lemony Snicket. Boring and unfunny.
    The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story by Lemony Snicket. Adorable illustrations and concept, too bad about the tone.
    A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. What on earth?
    Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco. My childhood featured several Patricia Polacco books, but I didn’t remember this one although my mom did. This one is bittersweet, featuring a couple separated during the Holocaust and reunited in old age, so caution for the sensitive.

    Light Fiction

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Um, so I don’t get the craze about this although it was funny (I’m NOT a sci-fi person, so I probably missed a lot of the poking fun).

    Hood by Stephen R. Lawhead. Um, quite a massive drop in quality from his Pendragon Cycle, and, I felt, in morality. I finished this one and started Scarlet which I eventually quit as it got worse. Bran’s no hero. Quite zero sum in a way that especially bothered me. Some very perverse, grotesque slaughters of animals and scare tactics (including horses, is this just an American thing to put horses on a higher plane? I guess I assumed it was British too, but maybe not for the time period, but its fantasy historical fiction). Unprovoked killing of men by “good” guys.

    Mixed Magics: Four Tales of Chrestomanci. The first two of these I enjoyed far more than I think Charmed Life, they are delightfully funny and charming (precious Cat in the second one). The third is eh, the fourth a bit better (some funny shots at Greek gods).

    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. I remember this from childhood, and my scandalized feelings about the Herdmans (clearly, I was a bit Alice-like). We even watched a play version. I read this hilarious and heartwarming books very quickly in one day, and since I’ve discovered it was a series, I think I’d like to try more (since I need tons of light stuff to get through more serious reading).

    The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones. This was such fun, except toward the end, I was hoping for something more upbeat, I’d preferred the Pinhoes to be more wholly good. Also, the power Chrestomanci has over his fellow magic people bothers me. There shouldn’t be one person with unilateral decision-making capacities. Particularly a person with magical abilities. I like Chrestomanci (Chrisopher Chant) himself, overall (athough I’d like him better if he felt he shouldn’t have that much power), but I don’t like the Chrestomanci position.

    A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich. Historical fiction, I was wondering how accurate this portrayal was, but it was written in the 1920’s, so she probably had access to people who were alive at the times about which she was writing, but still. I was rather annoyed by about every characters, but I did find the book interesting for a “light” read.

    Literary Fiction

    All Creatures Great and Small and All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot. I’d skimmed some of these stories as a child, but I didn’t remember anything to inspire me to pick them up quickly though I’d been meaning to do so. My mom borrowed a bunch of his works from the library, and when I worked a tedious job, I decided to get Playaways and got this one (narrated by Christopher Timothy). I was hooked right off. Little me clearly didn’t understand/appreciate British humor. I decided I wanted to try to read the second and quickly realized, no, I must listen, so I borrowed the second audio version. These are gems. The humor, the detail, the learning, the homeyness, the characters plus the narrator-actor’s brilliant reading and accents bring it quite alive. If blood and guts grosses you out, this isn’t for you. An be wary animal-lovers, there are some hard stories. I almost thought I couldn’t make it through a few.

    So Big by Edna Ferber. When I read A Lantern in Her Hand, I was reminded of this. So many of the same irritations. Rather depressing and yet at the same time rather fanciful. I know Ferber would’ve or could’ve known people like this, but it still had the sort of “poor hardworking hopeless people” attitude that someone who isn’t in that sphere uses. I definitely prefer Berry’s outlook toward farming even as I realize he usually has more more recent, more potentially prosperous (in soil and access geographically to other things) settings, and even as fanciful I think his outlook can be; he gives dignity not despair and pointlessness.

    Merlin by Stephen R. Lawhead. I enjoyed this one more than Taliesin. The feel is strikingly different. It’s also darker. I’ve thought a lot about bad content and tone toward content, but I guess didn’t think about emotions. I’m on Arthur now and started thinking about all the palpable hate. There are few acts of violence described, but not usually too graphically, and they fit with the historical (Saxon invasions) setting. The main characters are usually distinctly “good” characters in this series, but they are surrounded by so much hatred. It’s chilling and depressing, especially since the author is writing fantasy historical fiction. Much of what he writes rings similar to Sutcliff books, except darker; he’s done his research. Just bear all this in mind as it can be emotionally daunting or depressing. Thus far, I think it is definitely worth a read.

    Popular Nonfiction

    Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown. I don’t agree with his philosophy, but I do think there are things I could learn, so I might re-read.

    Accounting 101: From Calculating Revenues and Profits to Determining Assets and Liabilities, an Essential Guide to Accounting Basics by Michele Cagan. I’m planning on taking the accounting CLEP, so this was for that. It was written for prospective entrepreneurs and written to people who don’t know much about business, so I’m not sure how helpful it was for me. The writing seemed a bit, informal?

    Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success by Shawn Stevenson. A lot of this I’d heard before, but it puts ALL the aspects of sleep together along with tons of science plus stuff I’d not heard plus tips. All very organized (unlike the above sentence). I want to buy this.

    Scholarly Nonfiction

    Infectious Disease: A Very Short Introduction by Marta L. Wayne and Benjamin M. Bolker. I’m rather a germaphobe, so I like to know. Actually, I find epidemiology fascinating and it’s on my list of prospective majors (for when I’m rich and can just keep going to school for everything I find interesting). This had some very interesting information on the mathematics and statistics involved in tracking disease which is something I’d never heard or thought of, rather beyond me now, but definitely interesting. I’m interested in reading as many of these Very Short Introductions as I can (at least the more concrete ones, I’m not sure I could take the more abstract ones, like Consciousness and the like, I’ve little patience for that, but we’ll see how I like them), and have a whole batch to borrow next from the library.

     

  • Reading

    Top Ten Tuesday: Winter TBR (December 18)

    I want to finish the last three books of Stephen Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle (two of which have to be via interlibrary loans) and the last of Diana Wynne Jones’s Chrestomanci books (also interlibrary loans). I have a few other books currently borrowed or requested again that I want to get through, but I don’t have any I consider significant enough to fill 9 and 10, I might put re-reads in that, I’ve been starting to buy the Lord Peter Wimsey books to re-read, I’ve managed to push-off the re-read, but I think I’ll needed it for January. What a mostly dark list though! I need some happier stuff for winter.

    1. Arthur by Stephen Lawhead (I have to get most of this series via interlibrary loan, and I wasn’t given enough time)
    2. Pendragon by Stephen Lawhead (I have to get most of this series via interlibrary loan, and I wasn’t given enough time)
    3. Grail by Stephen Lawhead (why does my library have the LAST book as the only one of this series)
    4. The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones
    5. Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones
    6. On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books by Karen Swallow Prior (I had this but because I wasn’t motivated and couldn’t renew because others are waiting and it requires intense concentration, I didn’t get far into it; I may need to buy it in order to give it the attention that it deserves)
    7. Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (I think this is the last full-length Eliot novel I have left, I already started it, and it’s on my Classics Club list)
    8. All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot (I consider listening to the audiobook a necessary part of the Herriot experience, and our library doesn’t have this one, so I think I’ll be buying that)
    9. Maybe a Lord Peter Wimsey re-read or Anne of Green Gables re-read (or should I wait one more year?)
    10. Maybe a Lord Peter Wimsey re-read or Anne of Green Gables re-read (or should I wait one more year?)
  • Reading

    Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Gratitude

    I’m rather negative (cue laughter of my siblings at this gross understatement), and I tend to focus on negative (my reading breakdown of oh, half a decade; seeming dearth of good fiction I can love, etc.), so I’m going to try to point of 10 things I for which I ought to be grateful (and possible slip in a sociological study or two).

    1. I can read. Even though the statistics look excellent for the modern and the U.S. (Historical Rates for England & Global Literacy Rates), sometimes, they don’t really tell the whole story. I recently read a news article that my state reports a high level for high school graduation, but the system is graduating people who aren’t ready, who can’t read, etc. I’ve heard mention of illiterate kids at my siblings’ high school. I took a long time to learn to read, but I’m smart, and I read a ton now, reading late doesn’t mean a person is stupid, but it sure probably means someone or a lot of someones aren’t caring. I think it is cruel how kids are forced into cookie-cutter rates and shamed if they don’t fit. The main goals should be acquiring and using the ability, not meeting some superficial deadline.
    2. I do read. In 2013, almost one quarter of Americans didn’t read at all, and the overall average read per person was 12 (with a median of 5).
    3. I was raised to read. I grew up in a household where reading was both required and encouraged. My parents read aloud to us from childhood onward. We got those book and book on tape sets from the library (does anyone else remember those; there were in plastic bags with a hook and all hanged on a rod in the children’s section of the library?) this was a favorite activity, to pick our choices. We had shelves of books, we visited our library system, we visited our church library, we were given books as gifts. Much of my mom’s choice of homeschool curriculum focused on the “whole books” style of homeschooling. I think fostering a reading environment is a main part of what transforms “can” into “does.
    4. I have a family who reads. We received the fostering reading environment from readers (my parents) and we, siblings and in-laws are readers. My mom’s parents read as well, my grandfather especially, deeply with tons of history and biography. And potentially nieces and nephews, my baby niece already has a shelf full of books. We pass book ideas and thoughts back and forth; we speak the same or similar book language.
    5. I love the library. Besides knowing how to read and living in a reading environment accessing a library is a pretty significant help to bolster reading, yet in 2016, less than half Americans visited the library and almost 1/5 had never visited at all. Other than living in the boonies without a car, I can’t think of a reason why you couldn’t go. You pay taxes for this, why not use it (and it doesn’t only offer books!)?! Like I mentioned above, visiting libraries was a huge part of my childhood, and this shaped my love for them today.
    6. Growing up around readers. I was surrounded by readers for much of my life. Both churches we attended had libraries, I’m not sure that is the norm anymore. And almost a decade back, some of the young people formed a book club (now defunct) which helped propel me back into reading. The hostess’s made themed food and games, we picked solid books, we were introduced to Goodreads, and we had fun and interesting nerdy conversations.
    7. Beautiful books. I’m thankful for those who understand the importance of making the physical book beautiful from the illustrators of the gorgeous children’s books of my childhood, to the designers of Barnes and Noble and Penguin Clothbound classics. Two forms of art at once!
    8. Book ownership. Hardly anyone through time and place has had the physical and monetary access to books, yet now, here, we can easily build our own personal libraries.
    9. Goodreads. Enough said.
    10. Online reader-bloggers. I’m mainly indebted to the homeschool community, but I have appreciated some of the broader environment (such as TTT). I love having constant ability to continually build my TBR list; to discuss books online; to read reviews; and to participate in fun challenges, events, etc.
  • Reading

    What I’ve Read: October 2018

    Light Fiction

    The Minstrel and the Dragon Pup. Children’s illustrated book by Rosemary Sutcliff. Cute story, but I thought the illustrations lacking.

    The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Cute but definitely trying to hard to be whimsical.

    Simon. A Rosemary Sutcliff novel set in Civil War England. I enjoyed it, but I definitely prefer her more ancient settings (and those tend to be better written). This made me curious about the division of England, how and why? As far as I know my family was from the very far north. Puritanism was strongest in the lower east. But how much did actual Puritanism play as opposed to just plain anti-Catholic sentiment (and wasn’t the North more Catholic for a time or was that just more ancient? It wasn’t Catholics who emigrated in the particular wave from which I hail) or just plain anti-Charles I sentiment?

    Literary Fiction

    Frankenstein. I posted my review previously.

    Taliesin. Quite unique in conception I think, I of course, LOVED the Roman-Celtic Britain setting.

    An Episode of Sparrows. I got confused and posted about this for September, but I read it in October.

    Nonfiction

    A book on a county in my state.

     

     

  • Reading

    Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Items I Want to Own

    I’m linking up here with The Artsy Read Girl for Top Ten Tuesday.

    1. These book plates (plus several of the other designs)
    2. These book ends (or something similarly fanciful and elegant)
    3. Book sleeves similar to this for when I lend out books
    4. A page anchor or something similar
    5. Miniature classic favorite book necklace or classic book locket
    6. Something like this in silver for Captain Wentworth’s letter
    7. Nonspecific book locket
    8. Some bookish art
    9. A map or two or three of Narnia
    10. Some bookmarks featuring favorite books
  • Reading

    A Literary Christmas 2018

    I’m linking up here for A Literary Christmas again.

    I actually planned and researched better this time (I have a list for holiday books to choose from now), and below is my Christmas reading list; I’ve  ordered these already (because previous years I didn’t think, that you know, other people might have requested books near Christmas), and I should be able to put off reading them until December (or at least until after Thanksgiving) to read.

    I’ve used up my interlibrary loans for this month, but I think I might try to order some Christmas ones in December, we shall see.

    Most Christmas books I seemed to see are either kids books (I’ve included a few from my childhood), Hallmark style (I’ll stick to the movies), moralizing (no thanks), or Christmas histories. So most of my choices are kids books and histories of Christmas traditions, carols, etc.

    I’ve also included the Christmas baking books from the library I want to peruse along with the one I own for some Christmas goodies.

    Juvenile Fictions
    The Holly and the Ivy Rumer Godden
    The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story Lemony Snicket
    Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story Cynthia Rylant
    The Christmas Day Kitten James Herriot
    The Lump of Coal Lemony Snicket
    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Barbara Robinson

    Grown-Up Fiction
    Christmas At Fairacre Miss Read

    Christmas History
    Christmas In Williamsurg: 300 Years of Family Traditions K. M. Kostyal
    Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas Ace Collins (I didn’t get to finish this previously)
    Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, And Rituals at The Origins of Yuletide Christian Rätsch

    Christmas Baking
    Scandikitchen Christmas: Recipes and Traditions from Scandinavia Brontë Aurell
    Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen Luisa Weiss
    Festive Baking: Holiday Classics in the Swiss, German, and Austrian Traditions Sarah Kelly Iaia

  • Reading

    Review of Frankenstein

    I read Frankenstein this month for The Classics Club October Dare. I’m a procrastinator, so I’m really lucky that I have a review done at all; I’m actually proud of myself since I did think ahead, takes notes, and make an outline. I just didn’t leave myself enough time for a couple drafts. And I have more words on this book/the background than the close to 1,000 below.

    I’d never really wanted to read Frankenstein; I am not drawn to horror which is what I thought this book was. I procrastinated to start it, and then quickly realized that the book is incredibly dull, predictable rather than suspenseful and frightening. Then I procrastinated because of the tedious verbosity and dull, slow (because of said verbosity) plot. This book requires far too great a suspension of disbelief and not for creativity but for plot holes and devices. I knew some of the circumstances of the writing, written by a teenager during a sort of dare (although undergoing revisions, possibly with her eventually husband’s help). But because it was a classic I was expecting a solid story and prose vs obviously written in Romantic vein by uncontrolled, undisciplined teenager! I think it is famous for the barest plot concept that more recent portrayals have developed and that readers then insert into the story.

    This book features absolutely atrocious prose. I was gagging over the stock Romantic language and expression; the flowery verbosity and excessive, sanctimonious and fawning emotionalism and sentimentality. The author is tedious and repetitiveness with details that take away from the story rather than add to it. These fountains of extraneous detail fill in most of the story which would have little substance else because concepts pertinent to the plot are vague and general. And I didn’t find a hint of irony in all this language either.

    In amidst all this fluff, some scatter trails of a plot float. With much unrelated verbosity we are get the story from various narrators in a general and literal way (and Frankenstein continually drops spoilers). Everything has told us by the author via her narrators rather than displayed via art; she gives no detail (regarding the actual plot), not from mystery, but from ignorance and lack of creativity. In addition to having a spare plot delivered literally, the plot has so many devices, holes, and implausible points. Shelley exhibits total unawareness of any other class than her own (and any other point of view than her coterie) and this leads to so many of the issues.

    Let’s start with Victor Frankenstein, who by the by is no doctor but a pedantic, spoiled, sheltered, young fool. Because of these things, I don’t see how he had: 1) the ability to pursue this creation; he very obviously isn’t the brightest, 2) the interest/passion to pursue such a thing (so little reason had he that I assumed his friend would die and he would revive him, nope, he is just playing around, and he didn’t seem to have passion for anything except whining and protestations, 3) the stomach for such a task; he was such a hypochondriac and always talking about his delicate sensibilities, and 4) the will for such a task; he is indecisive, passive, and lazy elsewhere in the story, dragging his feet at every turn.

    Now onto his implausibly created monster. He isn’t described and since the author doesn’t forget any other descriptions (however poor they are and however little they apply to the story), this doesn’t come across as mysterious but rather a lack of creativity. Everything about Frankenstein’s creation is implausible; he has a fully developed mind with the elasticity of a child’s brain with the thought processes of adults. His mind is full of Romantic sensibilities which he quickly taps into thanks to the improbably (and highly Romantic) circumstances of finding himself by educated people who coincidentally aid his learning. All of this is too convenient. He could have had the soul of a demon or another dead person or the mind of the person whose brain Frankenstein gave him. He could have truly come from nothing, truly a blank slate in which case he would have had the mind of an infant or an animal.

    In the same vein, a double-minded author doesn’t equal a truly conflicted villain; that requires insight and talent. He comes across as a psychopath; only when he gets what he wants does he act anything like appropriately, his manipulations and revenge, his complaints and reviling, his vicious triple murders (two of which were in cold-blood, the other a child murder) of innocent people to wreak personal revenge all point to psychopathy. His rage isn’t the bewildered, blind lashing out of the abused and abandoned by humanity (that is also implausible, no one gives him any aid at all?), it is very specific, clever revenge. He goes from zero to one hundred in this quite fast. Of course, there are inconsistencies here, sometimes he does rage against humanity (from his tiny experience).

    Overall the moral issues are grossly and falsely simplistic expressions of false choice moral “dilemmas”—more from inconsistent plot and lazy thinking, ignorant/irresponsible idle upper-class perspectives than from any understanding of the complexities of human nature and circumstances. All sorts of misunderstandings of duty and virtue. Virtue doesn’t turn to evil; doing good in good times doesn’t make one virtuous; the monster wasn’t ever virtuous, nor did he try. As to the idea that Frankenstein is the villain, I don’t think the story has the depth and irony; I don’t see any irony at all in Victor Frankenstein’s portrayal; I don’t think Romantics understood or appreciated in since they enacted in their own lives as well as in their stories such drama that is ludicrously ripe for satire). I think we can get deep discussion out of the plot and morals (or lack thereof) in the book, but that fact doesn’t make the novel itself deep.

    After reading, I immediately had to look and see what other reviewers thought on Goodreads. This review expresses my opinions (and I’m sure others) in a hysterical way.

  • Reading

    What I Read: September 2018

    I feel like I have a habit of slacking off and then reading a ton  . . . and then not keeping a good pace. I read 15 books this September. As of this writing, I’m 25 books behind my goal.

    Rereads (3)

    Magic for MarigoldPat of Silverbush, and Mistress Pat by L.M. Montgomery. Nothing like an L.M. Montgomery book for a soothing and beautiful read.

    Light Fiction (6)

    Murder is Easy, Towards Zero, Destination UnknownThe Secret of ChimneysThe Seven Dials Mystery, and Sparkling Cyanide. I needed some more easy reads, but of course I needed to save some of Agatha Christie, and I usually get a little freaked out after awhile.

    Literary Fiction (1)

    An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden. The beginning was slow, the middle beautiful, the ending rather slapdash and ludicrous and also made the beginning look silly too. I’ll still read more of Godden though for that middle goodness.

    Serious Nonfiction (2)

    Death by Living: Life is Meant to Be Spent by N.D. Wilson. I love his voice and his prose and his insight even if I’m estranged from his message.

    The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt. I think this straddles the below category because while the subject is serious, I think the treatment is deceptive it is “depth.” And I’ll leave it at that.

    Popular Nonfiction (3)

    Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life by Sarah Clarkson. I think this straddles the serious category because it is far deeper than the similar book below. So much in here struck a cord with me. I’ve experienced Sarah’s deep writing on her blog and her sister’s writing on her blog. I was sure enough on the depth of this book that I preordered it (I mean she promised extra reading lists and such for preorders too); I’m so glad I treated myself. This is something I will be going back to again and again. I had hardly started in before I was bursting into my sisters room raving about Sarah’s discussion of discernment (an opportune irony moment, my sister had a peculiar smile/smirk and when questioned, revealed the cover of the book she was reading, one of the Twilight books, ha, I’ve read them too, at I think the same age). I’ve since lent the book to another sister. This is just the deep discussion of humanities and taste of which I’ve felt a lack.

    I’ve already picked up one of her recommendations (one I’d heard of but wasn’t at our library, so I hadn’t pursued strongly). I’d read many recommendations, but she had plenty more, including some I’d heard of and thought I should try to pursue more seriously (most of the times I add books to my massive library TBR list and then randomly order them and possibly try them).  I since noticed that Joy, her sister, has started a podcast, so I’ve listened to a few of those, including one with her brother about heroes (go listen!). That family clearly knows how to discuss deeply. I know my mom had their mother’s books that I skimmed growing up, but I since I skimmed those ages back probably sort of pushed them all (unjustly) too close to those other Christian Mom type books (which can be really fluffy), but now I want to know pursue more of her work with her children.

    Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People by Vanessa Van Edwards. This was interesting book on interpersonal skills, more in my language than Crucial Conversations. Probably a book I need to own and reread.

    I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life Popular Nonfiction by Anne Bogel. This is superficial; this is from that group of readers who I just can’t relate to even if I technically agree with some of the words and opinions expressed, there is no real Kindred Spirit. I read it for contrast and to have quick read (cheap, I know) with Book Girl (publishers seem to have a theme going, I have my sights on another book in this category, probably more in the Book Girl league).

     

  • Reading

    Top Ten Tuesday: The Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

    I’m linking up here with The Artsy Read Girl for Top Ten Tuesday.

    To the best of my knowledge this are the longest books I’ve read (as of 9/2/18). I was relying on Goodreads, and editions vary because of size of pages, size of type, any extras (introductions), and anything else that may or may not affect actual page count or numbered page count.

    1. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: 908 pages. I’m glad to save I’ve read this, but if I read again it would be skimming or an abridged version and still not sure it would be worth it.
    2. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo: 1,463 pages. Um, overrated. Not literature-quality writing/prose, and much digging and parsing required to reach the literature/epic-quality plot.
    3. Camilla by Fanny Burney: 992 pages. 18th/19th century fluff reading, lol.
    4. Cecilia by Fanny Burney: 1056 pages. 18th/19th century fluff reading, lol.
    5. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens: 985 pages. I need to re-read, one of his best.
    6. Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens: 894 pages. Meh.
    7. Bleak House by Charles Dickens: 1,017 pages.I think this is supposed to be one of his best, but I didn’t like the characters much, and I don’t think I care enough for his prose and the plot.
    8. Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer: 972 pages. An excellent history.
    9. Middlemarch by George Eliot: 904 pages. Definitely worth a re-read.
    10. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke: 1006. Bizarre. Ended rather abruptly and confusingly.