I read 15 books in March.
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. This was a reread. I’d conveniently rewritten out a significant and sad part of the plot in my head apparently. Also, hindsight is 20/20; I don’t think the thought is perhaps accurate to the time. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it, and it did help renew my interest in my country’s founding. At least I hope, I still have not picked up the book that has caused by (apparently many years long) study of U.S. to stall. Perhaps I need to revisit Liberty’s Kids?! Yes, that’s a good excuse.
Cotillion, Black Sheep, and Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer. These all got a 3 star from me. Cotillion was old rake free. The couple were both young, both had personalities, and it was funny and sweet. Back to regular scheduling of course with Black Sheep (as implied by the title), I still found this fun. Cotillion featured (for you know a little variety) a very young rake and his basically child-bride. She was more of a prop (why do her young heroines generally feature zero real personality?), but the “hero” and his coterie and the scrapes his bride get into and just the wit, and everything altogether is absolutely hysterical, this almost got a four.
Betsy-Tacy, Betsy-Tacy and Tib, Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, Winona’s Pony Cart, Heaven to Betsy, Betsy in Spite of Herself, Betsy Was a Junior, Betsy and Joe, Carney’s House Party, and Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace. These were not the classic sweet novels I was hoping for, they were rather flat and silly, except the Deep Valley ones (the ones that don’t feature Betsy in the title, but don’t unfortunately repeat the omission in the books), those were MUCH better although far from classic level excellent. I read them in the order listed as that was the recommended chronological order. After Carney’s House party were two more Betsy books, but when I picked them up, the quality, Betsy, and probably the contrast of Carney’s House party caused me to opt in disgust not finish those. Emily of Deep Valley, I think, fell before Carney’s House Party, but I’d saved it for last as it was supposed to be the best. It could’ve been but it wasn’t, it failed to live up to the dust jacket description. The pacing was poor on the plot and the depth increasingly shallow even though the subject matter deepens. I still enjoyed it though.
Random note, apparently there are people in the world who can pronounce February with that first “r.” Needless to say, I’m not one of them. I actually had to stop and think when I heard that (on Jeopardy) to make sure I knew how to spell it right, I do, it’s autopilot. Anyway.
Viruses: A Very Short Introduction. I’m going with the medical field to start off my reading through this Oxford University Press collection. A lot of this is beyond me (maybe I should start taking notes) as it’s very detailed, and I’m more, I don’t know big picture? Not cellular level definitely, I’m looking forward to epidemiology, pandemics, etc.
Off the Clock. I loved some of her ideas for memory making, but I have totally different personality (beach bum and rebellious type, lol) and perspective so overall this main points/aim aren’t/isn’t for me.
Thinking with Type. I read this as part of this self-directed “course” in graphic design. It seems rather abstract and esoteric in parts, but I will probably go back to it for the more practical aspects. I’m definitely analog here though, greatly prefer the ancient practice of calligraphy.
The Four Tendencies.
- I’d heard of this before but didn’t look into it very deeply as personality tests/typing can be really obnoxious in their unscientific, unrealistic claims. When MuchelleB mentioned it in one of her videos and mentioned that she was REBEL/Questioner, I thought that sounded like me (this explains why I find so much of her advice/tips so helpful, rather unusual for me), so I read the book. I’m definitely that type.
- I find this framework (it’s not a personality test ) extremely interesting and practically useful. I didn’t however, find it ground-breaking. Also, I’d already known much about my tendencies already, and I didn’t find what I wanted (job advice); actually beyond the initial explanations, I found much of the advice overly-generalized opinions, the Rebel section, especially.
- The author seemed to rely too much of the obvious cultural connotation/stereotypes of Rebels. For example, she mentions obeying speed laws and mentions Questioners and Rebels as resisting this. I don’t, in fact, I’m the strictest person I know on driving, and I know our speeding laws are lax (we have so many road deaths near us in perfectly good weather). But I think my reasons might be different than say her personal Upholder tendencies.
- Also, I think perhaps her being an Upholder affected her view. She seemed to say Upholder’s followed rules because they were rules. I don’t follow petty rules or say-so’s, but I consider morals, ethics, and laws paramount; I don’t even consider them as comparable with “rules.” This is a whole other topic I could chase.
The Slight Edge. I found a lot of good ideas and took notes, but I definitely think that this could’ve been reduced by two-thirds.
Conrad’s Fate. This is the last of the Chrestomanci’s books (that I hadn’t read). Not my favorite (clearly, since I forgot what it was about and had to look on Goodreads).
The Golden Tresses of the Dead. These books have such a fun setting/tone, and there are some hilarious lines in almost all of them, and Flavia is quite a personality. However, I think that there is quite a bit in poor taste in all the books, some more than others. In this one, the mystery and ending was also sub-par compared to the rest.
Veiled Rose. After reading the first of the Tales of Goldstone Woods, I stalled on this the second. I almost didn’t finish it, I skimmed to see if it turned out like I wanted and discovered via the other books that this plot is strung out while new stories and characters were focused on with more and more books. That (and the fact that there was yet ANOTHER book my library didn’t have) killed my interest in the series for a time. I think maybe I will slowly work my way through them. These were surprisingly “good” from a Christian AND homeschool author (my indicators that books are going to be TERRIBLE since everyone in homeschool circles seems to think they are a writer and Christian Fiction is a ludicrously absurdly terrible genre). I don’t think the author should have strung out a series to be this long. I also think that if she worked and reworked her books she could have something of a much higher caliber (I think that is an issue in today’s writing, in part due to the publishing industry, this lack of time and extensive drafting of books and this push to churn out tons of works).
Frederica. I’m still on a Heyer kick, but I’m trying to space them out. Another middle-aged (okay, maybe not that old) rake again. Really, Heyer. The heroine has a brain and personality though (she gives all the on-the-shelf 28-ish ladies personalities and brains).
Sprig Muslin. Not a rake AND they are of close age. However, most of the book focuses on a really obnoxious silly, stupid young girl (the type the old rake usually marries, usually sans the obnoxiousness, that would indicate something of a personality, lol) that the hero has to babysit and that everyone of course thinks is his mistress.
I want to go to more places from this list, but I’m trying to find ones that have a distinct literary connection for me. Many books are set in places I want to visit, but the books themselves don’t inspire me with their descriptions or lack thereof. And then there are places for which I have no literary connotation, but perhaps a historical or movie or genealogical interest for me instead. Anyway, I just feel that some of my favorite books are all in one place and perhaps books I didn’t like so well had geographic interest (but I can’t remember them). And of course tons places in England will have literary connections for me, but I’m trying to find the ones that match with favorites or have a vivid literary connotation for me.
- Yorkshire Dales (James Herriot books)
- London (Lord Peter Wimsey novels)
- Wales (Rosemary Sutcliff books)
- Cornwall (Rosemary Sutcliff and Swift and Nomad)
- Hadrian’s Wall and the Antontine wall (Eagle of the Ninth)
- Prince Edward Island (L.M. Montgomery novels)
- Mackinaw Island (Once on this Island, Girl of the Limberlost)
- Switzerland (Little Women, Heidi, Treasures of the Snow)
- Egypt (well . . . specifically Ancient Egypt with Sheftu) (Mara, Daughter of the Nile)
- New Zealand (closest I can get to Middle Earth) (Lord of the Rings)
The Best School Year Ever by Barbara Robinson. I realized when reading this that I’d read this as a child. Funny enough I guess, but maybe not quite as much (nor as endearing) as the Christmas one.
Them: Why We Hate Each Other and How to Heal by Ben Sasse. He can be SO Luddite-sounding, even though he claims not to be. I had trouble with the first part of the book, I think he tries to reach everyone, but I don’t find it accurate, and I don’t think he should be making some of the claims he does without statistics. The end (the actionable part) is far more encouraging (similar to the other book, except that book was mainly actionable). One of the best parts (if not the best) is his highlighting and explaining the difference between civics and politics, something I hold to be highly important.
The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. This is good for motivation if you are in the right place for it. It could definitely lose some repetitiveness and be made into a booklet.
The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish by Linda Przybyszewski. This had interesting information, but quite frankly, I’m not sure what her point ended up being. I think her thesis was that a group of home economics educators played a pivotal role in universal American stylishness in the 1930’s-1950’s, but I find that quite a stretch. She didn’t include readership statistics of their books or participation in their courses. And this was such a small period of American history. Also, most of it wasn’t really a historical treatise but rather focused more on the “Dress Doctors” programs and advice. She doesn’t address the past style of American women for context, nor does she give a reason for the overall lessening of formality (which also applies to Europe, but we declined into outright slobbishness and trends, at least per the average person or fashion site). Also, America is so widely different, even now, you can’t honestly lump everyone together. The rural states had less need and less access to fashion as more urban states with wildly different lifestyles and incomes. She mentions very briefly the divide of the deep South farm girls and the New York city girls, but not very comprehensively. And she focuses so much on urban working women and university women (the later an especially tiny minority) without acknowledging wide differences to or their relative significance to the broader picture.
Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout. I’m not crazy about these, so many ethical issues.
Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout. I decided to try one more, but no.
The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer. I’d read two Heyer’s before, but while I enjoyed parts, they seemed to drag (also, both were apparently her Georgian novels, this one is Regency, more on that below). I started Regency Buck but couldn’t get into it, and I meant to try again later (I still do, but now our library doesn’t have it anymore). However, this one starts fast and is almost constantly hilarious. My love was dampened by the death and the poor taste response to it though. I gave this four stars.
The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer. This also starts fast and is hilarious. It also seems deeper and better writing-wise than the above. I gave this four stars. This one is also Regency.
The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer. Hmm, I wanted to like this (there are some hilarious episodes), but Rule’s adultery. Pointless too, he didn’t care for the woman, he had no reason to be with her, and it’s especially awful that he is trying to woo his wife at. the. same. time. So many layers of NO. Also, as other reviewers pointed out, the heroine is blah. Which is too bad because she starts off so strong. The is Georgian, I could hardly bear the description of the ludicrous Georgian finery and silliness, and I know the period was decadent and immoral (the Regency and the Victorian periods were a reaction to it). One star for the adultery.
These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer. This is puke. Ugh. The age difference bothered me more here. Heightened by the constant epithet of “mon infant” and her servile, worshipful, constant “Monseigneur”-ing plus her overall worshipful attitude towards His Abominableness. More of the same Georgian decadence and shallowness. If I could give this less than one star and have it mean something, I would. Except heightened especially with being in France. I decided to take a Heyer break for a few weeks after this one.
Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Interesting and fairly unique (to me) fantasy. I disliked the silly, shallow heroine though.
Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright. Cute middle-grade story. Feels like The Boxcar Children.
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. The residents of an island slowly lose their legal ability to speak. This is funny, although I feel like I probably missed a lot of the jokes.
The White Stag by Kate Seredy. Um, no, I don’t want a stupid, contrived (felt very copy paste as did the illustrations which were an odd mix of old West, Greco-Roman, and who knows what else), fantasy story about an extremely violent historical person.
The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartín Fenollera. Interesting conception in parts, annoyingly stock Darcy/Knightly/Rochester trope. Silly heroine who doesn’t have any believable or developed change, much less awakening. Unexpectedly Christian.
I thought I wouldn’t have enough mental space to be able to participate in Cordy’s Lovely Blog Party, but I’d forgotten about the tag, and this year she made it so much more interesting, I can’t wait to see everyone’s answers!
Isn’t it romantic to be serenaded?
Depends on the situation, I can imagine some I’d love (whispering or softly singing a song that I like in a quiet moment), but quiet frankly, most of the times I’ve seen it or that people think it should be done . . . I’d either die of embarrassment or laugh in his face.
Isn’t it romantic to have pet names for each other?
Ugh, ugh, ugh. NO!
Edit: I’m assuming pet names such as “Benny-Boo-Boo” or whatever from How to Lose a Man in 10 Days (though this isn’t used seriously and so is absolutely hysterical) or “Molly-wobbles” from HP. NOT terms of endearments such as “my love” and “honey” and “my darling.” Those I do find romantic, unless of course they include, “mon infant” and “Monseigneur” used in such a way, UGH.
Isn’t it romantic if he wants you to look him in the eye?
Probably, and he will probably have to tell me. What is this referencing? “Look back at me?”
Isn’t it romantic to be carried across the threshold?
I guess it could be, it’s so overused though.
Isn’t it romantic to receive flowers and chocolates?
I love flowers and chocolate and will always take them, but I think the cliche takes away the romance, plus my mom gets us candy at every holiday, so its not only for romance.
Isn’t it romantic to get caught in the rain?
Maybe more funny or adventurous. But the funny and adventurous IS more my kinda romance.
Isn’t it romantic to dance?
It can be. I think this plus singing softly is the most traditionally romantic thing on the list for me.
Isn’t it romantic if he asks for your parent’s permission to marry you?
No, its more just the polite/correct thing to do.
Isn’t it romantic to be rescued?
Or its just chivalrous of him?
Isn’t it romantic to stargaze?
Maybe, maybe just more fun.
I looked at my laughably ambition 2018 goals, and I decided to modify them a bit.
I would like to read 100 new to me books this year. I decided to set that as a reasonable number and add more on as I re-read any or set a better pace or read anything too easy to count. After comparing last year’s reads with this year, I decided I needed to step up my goal for nonfiction and break it down into chunks. I think I want to average about 4 nonfiction books a month for about 48 total. I still need to work setting a note-taking habit.
- Continue on my U.S. history study. I read all of one, I believe towards that this year and that one was in the early part of the year.
- The Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge (since it’s smaller this year)
- A book you’ve been meaning to read
- A book about a topic that fascinates you
- A book in the backlist of a favorite author
- A book recommended by someone with great taste
- Three books by the same author
- A book you chose for the cover
- A book by an author who is new to you
- A book in translation
- A book outside your (genre) comfort zone
- A book published before you were born
- Read my borrowed books (in flux, but I think around 5 now) and unread owned physical books (mostly devotional types books, several of them gifts, I think around 30). I’d also like to read several of my ebooks.
- Classics Club: I’m working on War and Peace currently on Serial reader, so that should be finished this year. I’d like to read all the Shakespeare’s plays that I have listed, 10, I think. I’d like to finish the Ernest Hemingway novels, and try one C.S. Lewis, and maybe at least start Kristin Lavransdatter.
- I would like to read 2 poetry collections, 2 essay collections, 4 non Shakespearean plays, 4 autobiographies/memoirs/biographies, and 10 scholarly journal articles. I might look over the Pulitzer Prizes for some works.
- At least one book in each of these categories:
- World history
- Personal development
- Critical thinking
- Interpersonal communication
- Personal finance
- Science (non-medical)
- At least 4 fiction and 4 nonfiction from outside the U.S. and Europe
- My re-reading possibilities
- Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries
- Maybe Anne of Green Gables series
- Much Ado About Nothing
- To Have and To Hold
- The Tale of Two Cities
- Book of Walter Scott’s Poetry
- Aunt Jane’s Hero
- The Book Thief
- The Harvester
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)
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
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.
- The Lives of Christopher Chant. Not my favorite Crestomanci; his and Millie’s backstory is fun though.
- The Islands of Chaldea. Her family should have left this unfinished.
- Dark Lord of Derkholm. Fun enough, tons of moral issues though.
- Year of the Griffin. Fun enough.
- Witch Week. Fun enough.
- A Tale Of Time City. Interesting.
- The Magicians of Caprona. Cute.
- Witch’s Business. Cute.
- The Ogre Downstairs. Funny a bit heartwarming at the end.
- Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories. Some good, some disturbing, some boring.
- Enchanted Glass. Interesting, totally repulsive “twist” at the end though, to me.
- The Homeward Bounders. I gave it a three, but drawing a blank about my impressions and the details.
- The Game. Boring.
- Earwig and the Witch. Bleh.
- 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.
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.
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.
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 Gloucesterby Beatrix Potter. I added this.
Christmas At Fairacre Miss Read. I guess I’ll try this next year.
Christmas In Williamsurg: 300 Years of Family Traditions K. M. Kostyal
Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songsof 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Arthur by Stephen Lawhead (I have to get most of this series via interlibrary loan, and I wasn’t given enough time)
- Pendragon by Stephen Lawhead (I have to get most of this series via interlibrary loan, and I wasn’t given enough time)
- Grail by Stephen Lawhead (why does my library have the LAST book as the only one of this series)
- The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones
- Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- Maybe a Lord Peter Wimsey re-read or Anne of Green Gables re-read (or should I wait one more year?)
- Maybe a Lord Peter Wimsey re-read or Anne of Green Gables re-read (or should I wait one more year?)
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).
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Goodreads. Enough said.
- 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.