I’m joining the It’s So Classic Blog Party here at Rebellious Writing.
I saw posts about this party, but wasn’t super interested (I really don’t have tons of mental energy right now, not really reading much) until I saw all the posts with this tag which were fun to read. I’m not going to tag anyway since a) I’m lazy and unmotivated, b) I’m just linking up to the source and c) Almost everyone whose blog I read and who still posts regularly about books has already been tagged.
What is one classic that hasn’t been made into a movie yet, but really needs to?
I’m scared when filmmakers get their hands on my favorites. I think I’m more wanting re-do’s at the moment.
What draws you to classics?
The feeling of erudition? The quality of timelessness in perception, prose, etc.
What is an underrated classic?
I think that the Charlotte Brontë’s less discussed books are better written than Jane Eyre. I adore Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries and KNOW they are far higher quality of books than the insanely popular Agatha Christie novels.
What is one classic that you didn’t expect to love, but ended up loving anyway?
I don’t know, maybe the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, I went in with total ignorance. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a book I was going to dislike or hate, just loved books I didn’t know much about. I enjoyed Dickens more than I thought, but I’m not sure “love” is appropriate, they are so long, and they don’t tend to be relaxing which is what I most want.
What is your most favorite and least favorite classics?
My favorites are many L.M. Montgomery novels. So many are just balm to my soul.
Frankenstein is an example of trash that is made famous when an untalented upper-class teen girl hangs around a group of famous actually talented rakes.
What is your favorite character from a classic? Or if that is too hard, one is your favorite classic character trope (e.g. strong and silent, quiet sidekick, etc.)
I’m a sucker for really snarky, witty, confident men (e.g. Lord Peter Wimsey).
What’s a popular classic that you felt wasn’t actually that great?
Other than Frankenstein which is the worst, Les Mis, Rebecca, and The Great Gatsby are WAY overrated.
Who is your favorite classic author?
In your opinion, what makes a classic a classic?
Brilliant writing (prose, insight, characterization, wit) and lasting through the ages. Unfortunately, I think that the latter is based on circumstances, not always on worth to talent ratio, meaning, I wonder if many books are lost that would be just as good if not better, simply because they didn’t catch the public’s whim at the right moment.
Relating to newer books, what attributes does a book need to have in order to be worthy of the title “classic”?
I think it should only be writing quality and not popularity but popularity can ensure that something will last.
I’m not going to do all the illustrated books (I think I might do that for a freebie). I’m picking books (mostly series) from when I was strongly reading on my own. I’m going with favorites then that I’d want my kids to read.
I guess my age was maybe 9 to early teens or maybe 9-12 for most of these? (And yeah, that’s childhood for me. I was a kid until maybe 14-15). Lot’s of historical fiction (although not the Historical Diaries or whatever they were called that my sisters and others loved, I think those were a little too realistic for me to handle then based on my memories of my unsuccessful attempts). My introduction to Rosemary Sutcliff came right on the heels of these age.
- The American Girls. Felicity, Josefina, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha, Molly at first, then later Kit, I was growing out of them a bit when Kaya arrived (and she’s the last of the quality ones in my opinion).
- The Little House books and the Caroline books (and the Charlotte ones I read when I was a bit older).
- Boxcar children (we were all obsessed with these).
- The Borrowers (The Borrowers, The Borrowers Afield, The Borrowers Afloat, The Borrowers Aloft, and The Borrowers Avenged) by Mary Norton.
- Grandma’s Attic series and Grandma’s Attic Novels (In Grandma’s Attic; More Stories from Grandma’s Attic; Still More Stories from Grandma’s Attic; Treasures from Grandma; Sixteen and Away from Home; Eighteen and on Her Own; Nineteen and Wedding Bells Ahead; At Home in North Branch; New Faces, New Friends) by Arleta Richardson. Our friends read these allowed while we sewed or whatever (I think I was bit older maybe preteens to early teens?).
- Narnia. My dad read these aloud to us twice.
- Sarah’s Journey Series (Home on Stoney Creek, Stranger in Williamsburg, Reunion in Kentucky, Whispers in Williamsburg, Shadows on Stoney Creek) by Wandra Luttrell (so, apparently these are middle-grade Christian fiction but I remember these being good, granted they were favorites).
- Annie Henry: Adventures in the American Revolution (Annie Henry and the Secret Mission, Annie Henry and the Birth of Liberty, Annie Henry and the Mysterious Stranger, Annie Henry and the Redcoats) by Susan Olasky
- Calico Bush by Rachel Field (Hitty is waaay more famous but this was the first one we read, and I’m not sure if I read Hitty at all, if so it was recently).
- Bobbsey twins (to round out the list, these were books I read at my grandparents). For some reason, I never got into the Nancy Drew books or the Hardy boys. I did look at Trixie Beldon, I think those are probably more interesting. I wish I’d read all these when I was younger, some books you can love only if you start young.
I don’t know if all of these are unpopular, they are just opinions/arguments (not the same thing) I rarely see expressed or are expressed and then scorned. But I have a limited exposure.
A lot of these are my ideals. I’m SUCH a mood reader. I feel like I need some escapist reading. I don’t read near enough deep books. But I do think that I should, I just have to have a lot of easy (but still quality) reading on hand, plus ways of planning and motivating myself.
- Show, don’t tell. If I feel like the author is telling me something, forcing something, rather than displaying it, then they’ve failed to convince me (ahem, Jo and Laurie). Books aren’t mere explanations, they are story, art (perfection, okay, maybe an exaggeration). A reason, I think for my avoidance of contemporary fiction.
- Prose, description, characterization, interpersonal relationships, wit, etc. are more important than plot to me, and, (I think) in terms of literary merit at least equal to plot. I feel that this is also why I dislike so much of contemporary writing.
- I dislike the didactic in all forms, and obvious preaching isn’t art, even though some obviously gifted people squeeze it into their books. This goes back to showing, not telling. Y’all, I could find a preacher for anything, but I don’t want preaching, thanks, there is far too much of it already. And I’ve had far too much of it already (and probably done too much of it . . . like now, lol). Again, another reason I tend to avoid contemporary fiction.
- I like my realism idealized (I’m wanting to explore this more later). Basically, when I’m reading a “real” life setting, I’d like it to be idealized, not perfect, just not sordid or mundane or petty.
- Gritty “true to life” isn’t an asset (and isn’t necessarily true to life). Dark doesn’t equal deep. “Realism” can be vicarious reading or voyeurism. I want to escape reality and/or have my mind, ideals, etc. uplifted.
- I like my fantasy realistic. I don’t even know how to describe what I mean about that, but maybe I just mean well-written? I guess I want believable circumstances in a fantasy world, exciting, fanciful, yes, but still “human” I guess? Actually, now that I’m thinking of it, I generally prefer, low fantasy, and this is probably part of why.
- Quality over quality. All books are NOT equally good, well-written, etc. Taste and comprehension are two different things. You can like different genres from other people. But sometimes one genre may be notorious for being shallow and silly.
- Reading is not a hobby. Everyone who can read is a reader. People who don’t regularly read are still readers. Everyone should read as a form of mental exercise, to learn, to be inspired, I think reading for entertainment is good, but that is not the sole purpose of reading, rather an additional purpose.
- Interpretation isn’t up to the readers. Reading comprehension matters, like listening matters. The author chose specific words, for specific reasons. Obviously, we are going to disagree, not understand, view things through our own lenses. But we should try to understand what the author is saying. And then form opinions on what is said, described, etc. Not the actual meanings.
- Reading well matters. Our brains are muscles, reading well is important to our personal development, to our knowledge, to our comprehension, to our families, to our culture, to society, to life. And I don’t mean “current” event copy+paste type reading. I mean read just a tad beyond your comprehension, and then when you get comfortable, a tad more beyond that.
Continuing on from earlier this year in children’s lighter classics that I didn’t read as a child.
Knight’s Castle by Edward Eager. I read Half-Magic ages ago but forgot everything about it. This is fun, I’m reading more of the series, but it’s not the most thrilling middle-grade lit for adults.
All-of-a-Kind Family, All-Of-A-Kind Family Downtown, More All-of-a-Kind Family, All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown by Sydney Taylor. These are okay, not the most interesting in tone and description, rather didactic, definitely a lower reading level than middle grade. I ended up DNF-ing the last book, a juvenile tone and writing style doesn’t work with adult life.
The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright. This is far closer to the sweet spot for excellent children’s literature, and I think I want to get more of these for vacation reading.
Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary. This is below middle-grade, definitely want future kids to read or to read aloud with them but just not inspiring enough/high enough grade level for an adult although I’d still like to try Ramona Quimby because I’ve heard those are more popular.
What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. I saw a gorgeously illustrated set of this series on a British Instagrammer’s page, it turns out they are American but for some reason I got the impression that they were less popular here, the reprint has a note from a British lady. I guess I thought that was odd, it feels like its usually the other way around usually? Also this kinda has that classic American North moralizing (the Northern authors moralize; the Southern authors write about crazy, and I mean CRAZY, people; and the Midwest authors manage to make everything banal, despairing, and demoralizing in my little, ironically, exposure to the grown-up American Classic scene) without the charm of better authors (think Alcott). At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to read more, but those covers! Maybe the others are better?
The Changeling, The Truce Of The Games, Shifting Sands by Rosemary Sutcliff. And now for the taste of genius. I’ve exhausted most of the best novels of Sutcliff and had been getting some of her less inspiring reads. But these short stories that are part of an older children’s collection, are the true Sutcliff storytelling magic. I think that she wrote more of these (they are published by or part of Antelope books and feature woodcut illustrations, I believe), but I’ve had to get them a few at a time through interlibrary loans.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. This, thanks to my more capable reading abilities plus age, is much shorter than my memory of it. Also, Puritan stereotypes are still annoying as heck. This is sheer historical ignorance, for example black was a GOOD color, a wealthy color for Puritans. Per David Hackett Fisher in my beloved Albion’s Seed Puritans were far more egalitarian (second to the Quakers who were the most) in gender roles and economics than the two Southern cultures (he divides early developing U.S. into four basic cultures coming from four in England) which would’ve have been more similar to Kit’s, I’d imagine, and she’s just used to being on the top too. So, a lot of this story is just nonsense. A lot of this just feels like modern projecting based on some dramatic events without any understanding of the overall times. Nat’s still awesome though.
My Escapist Reads
False Colours, Arabella by Georgette Heyer. These were both 3 stars for me, the first featured identical twins as hero and side character, one normal, one a rake. The second featured a girl with a brain . . . and a rake for a hero. Well you, know, that’s her favorite “hero.” I decided to take a break to keep any other Heyers in reserve.
So then, I started on Mary Stewart and MM Kaye and found another therapeutic reads, of course I’ve mostly exhausted Kaye as she didn’t write very many.
Death in Cyprus by MM Kaye and The Moon-Spinners and This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart which I read in that order and fairly close together (followed up by Death in Zanzibar), and I kind of started blending the author’s styles a bit, they are both British, suspense for the former, mystery for the latter; have a lot of similarity in the hero-types; and hilariously, were each set on an Island in the the eastern Mediterrean starting with a “c”: Cyprus (no, really?), Crete, and Corfu, respectively. I greatly enjoyed all three. I’m so glad I started both authors like this and read these books in this order, it just fit so well, and I highly recommended anyone new to these authors to do this.
The Ivy Tree (My least favorite Stewart, I preferred the villain, I kept hoping against hope he wasn’t the villain, I hate the inclusion of infidelity, that was the love story, also, just not a great love story, period, rather sickening.)
Wildfire at Midnight (Not super crazy about this one, also has a bit freaky stuff, again, cheaters. And the women are just supposed to ignore and forgive the not-truly-repentant cheaters to “keep” them. NO.)
Nine Coaches Waiting (I think my expectations were too high as I adore the first two I read, and this is the most famous and didn’t match those first two in tone for me.)
My Brother Michael (I really enjoyed parts, but kind of felt choppy in quality, also, be careful with this one, I feel like trigger warnings are needed, there is a psychopath here and some sexual stuff, one part is pretty awful, not rape although I thought for a bit it was implied in different episode which without the first I wouldn’t have thought at all, but then Simon and Camilla were too calm in their response, but it doesn’t stretch to the imagination that the villain would; anyhow, this is darker than the others.)
Madam Will You Talk? (This one was thrilling, for more overall evenly intriguing but still doesn’t come close to my original favs.)
Thunder on the Right (Eh, far more buildup than delivery.)
The Wind off the Small Isles (This was an enjoyable short story.)
All by Mary Stewart. A lot of my liking of these novels involves her evocative settings, so if I didn’t like the settings/her descriptions just didn’t match the atmosphere of previous ones, that fact was also mixed with any dislike of the story.
Death in Zanzibar, Death in Kashmir by MM Kaye. The former is up there with Death in Cyprus, the latter is enjoyable. I DNFed Death in Kenya. I think there is two that I have ordered/will order via interlibrary loan.
True Grit by Charles Portis. Eh.
Shane by Jack. Eh, but in the hands of a better author could’ve been awesome.
I’m going to keep trying, albeit slowly, on Westerns, though.
Arthur by Stephen R Lawhead. I have Pendragon (the 4th book), but I think I’m done with this series for now. I felt so lost and felt that the author was as well.
Outer Order Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin. This isn’t really a book, rather a collection of organizational/personal environment ideas. I felt it “spoke my language,” others may not feel so. I think motivational/self-help books are VERY specific to each person, I mean within the exact same topic, if one author doesn’t work for you, find another.
When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H Pink. Eh, considerably overstretched the “scientific” aspect, if you could even call it that; books like this and The Happiness Advantage (I DNF’ed for this reason, the lack of new concepts, and the tone) tend to stick “scientific” in quite too often and, I think, not very accurately. Sorry, not every scholarly study, undertaking, etc. is scientific. Also, protesting too much.
The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey. Overall, great basic money advice. As with everything can be tailored to personal situation (something I didn’t realize in my foolish youth with his first book). Don’t agree about no credit cards, nor about super specific budgets all the time, ain’t gonna happen for this girl. But all the way there for the emergency fund!!!
I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. He speaks my language, and I find him hilarious. He also writes more for my age and situation. I want to get the newer copy of this book for myself. I agree with more of what he had to say/the way he said it than Ramsey although, truly, the overall advice isn’t wildly different (no helpful financial advice is at bare bones). But I found Sethi’s breakdown extremely helpful to me.
5 Things You’ll Find in My Purse
I don’t think I have anything unusual in my purse, also, I have a smallish, crossbody since that seems to work best for my current situation, so not much will fit in, although I’ve managed to squeeze in a paperback before.
- Timecard for my temp job
- Various papers, cards, etc. related to my (will remain unnamed) side gig
- New sunglasses
- Tiny notepad
5 Things You’ll Find in My Bedroom
- A hoarder’s supply of yarn
- A hoarder’s supply of fabric
- A hoarder’s supply of toiletries
- Books including some of the 52 (the two interlibrary loans were allowed past the 50 limit) library books I have out. The rest are with me at my grandparents
- A budding collector’s supply of pens and markers (this is what happens when you watch bullet journal videos)
5 Things I’ve Always Wanted to Do
- Make a full regency outfit for the Jane Austen festival (I’m hoping I will manage that for this year)
- Go to England and Ireland (at least, I theoretically want to travel, but I can’t seem to make myself drive out of my city, or even really into it)
- Be fit
- Sew a considerable portion of my wardrobe (part of the hang-up here relates to 3)
- Be proficient in a multitude of art mediums and handicrafts (I’m learning to streamline this)
5 Things That Make Me Feel Happy
- Watching tv with my grandparents
- Holding my precious, baby niece
- Cuddling my sister’s precious mini cat (she looks like a kitten, courtesy of being a runt, but she’s grown)
- I have to steal Olivia’s because this is especially true for me this year, finishing a book and updating my Goodreads to reflect that. I then look at how I’m (currently) crushing my reading goals
- Similarly, using my mildliners to fill out the squares of my habit chart
5 Things I’m Currently/Was Recently Into (I feel like I’m in between things)
- Mary Stewart romantic suspense novels. I know I’ve not ranked some of them high, but that is because I didn’t like the romance part of these particular ones. When thinking over this, I realized I kind of have three separate rating systems/points: morality, quality, and likeability. I usually focus on the first two and usually the first two are what affects my liking or finishing the book or not. But occasionally I find book that meet these standards but not the last.
- M.M. Kaye mysteries (she only wrote a few, and I think I’ve exhausted all of them except the one I skipped and one our library doesn’t have). I was reading these few with the Mary Stewart novels and kind of got them mixed up although they are different genres. They both often have such exotic (to me) settings (Cyprus, Crete, Corfu).
- Watching Monk with my grandparents. Well, I was until Sharona was replaced. Everything changed. I would’ve been okay if no one was substituted in or a totally different side character (this woman is a caricature of Sharona’s role), but now I’m done. I want to watch the later ones (that round up the show) when she returns.
- Taylor Swift songs again. I don’t know how to explain how little of a music person I am. Everyone seems to have Spotify or Pandora, but to me it’s huge that I installed Spotify on my phone. And I really don’t like much music, and what I do like I really have to in the mood for. Taylor Swift seems to have a song for everything or that fits any period of life? I was trying to figure out why I liked her stuff overall while with other pop singers I only like a song or two. I think it’s because the music is important, I mean the instrumentals. It’s not just a stripped background accompaniment. And her vocals go well with the music, they fit in but don’t drown (as opposed to the songs that ARE the vocals, I don’t like those). I think the lack of this is part of why I tend to prefer instrumentals (I love the Piano Guys versions of everything), soundtracks, and more tradition/folk music (and Peter Hollen’s covers!). I just think pop is not really good, and now I think I’ve indentified (for a non-musical person), why I really don’t care for it. I prefer not to HAVE to focus on the lyrics. Her lyrics are less inane too. They are also quite . . . psychologically interesting? I can’t agree with much of the overall tendency, but yet it’s all sort of hilarious?
- Backing up my TBR list. I can place any orders I want directly from the library lists, so I’ve tried to clear up any other collections of books. I’ve never found the Goodreads TBR list particularly useful for me. I use it occasionally, but I’m trying to immediately add any books I read about straight to my library lists, so I’ve cleared out most of my Goodreads list (a couple times over the years). I also had a bad habit of just bookmarking blog posts and such instead of directly adding them to shelves. I cleared out that folder. I previously had a list on Amazon for interlibrary loans but transferred that a while back to an Excel workbook. I then realized that if anything happened to the library site or if I moved, I’d lose years worth of TBR collecting. So, I’ve been backing that up on a separate sheet of the Excel workbook. I will have to put items on both the library lists and the Excel one from now on, but I think it is worth it. I just need to brush up my lists (make the formatting match, clear out any duplicates, etc.). I’ve included all reference books, cookbooks, etc. on the list as well, anything I want to look at. The total of the interlibrary loan possibilities plus the regular list currently stands at 1960. I know I do have a few duplicates to clear out. Possibly also books I’ve read and haven’t removed or kept on the list to reread (not usual). Bear in mind that TBR to me means that to-possibly-read. So TPR, I guess.
5 Things on My To-Do List
- Find second job or a different one entirely
- Finish my second associate’s degree in about a year (possibly two)
- Get fit
- Complete my Regency/Federal outfit for Jane Austen festival
- Complete the art project I have in mind for a (very) late Mother’s Day present. In the interim I made her a smeared (as much as I’d love to blame being a leftie, I’m sure most of the blame is my impatience and carelessness) doodled calligraphy card. I used AmandaRachLee’s doodling tutorials for lavender and for butterflies (the tutorial starts at about 4:36).
I’m going to go mostly with what causes me to pick up a book I’ve borrowed from the library, not so much with what causes me to choose what book to add to my hundreds of titles long (I’ll have a better estimate eventually, I don’t think it’s 1000, but I might be wrong) TBR list or what causes me to choose which books off my TBR list.
- To get and stay off the web
- Comfort (escapism, avoidance)
- I know I will likely enjoy it (I’ve read other books by the same author)
- Contrariness (avoiding other books I think I *should* be reading)
- Determination (those books I *should* be reading)
- To learn/stay motivated
- Because I’ve exhausted my other book options
- Because I fell for the hype
I couldn’t figure out or did something wrong when trying to transfer my blogger blog posts over the first time. But for some reason, I only had to try one thing this time (pretty sure it was redoing what I did before), and it worked. So all the posts that I left on my old blog are available here now. I’ve also updated my template and added tags, so I’m pretty pleased with myself. I’ve also updated some of my pages as well.
I rejoined the Classics Club, so I will be writing more individual reviews, and I feel like I’m getting more motivation back to write more opinion posts. For awhile I was burned out and just burned on opinions (still don’t love rants and opinions-presented-as-sermons-or-facts . . . for obvious reasons). I think I’m better able to think through things and to write in a way that is perhaps less antagonizing? I want to try to utilize my book journal more (that makes it easier to write more thoughtful reviews and opinion posts) and just put more thought into things. I think I’ve been reading too passively and quickly recently.
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.
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.