I’d read My Family and Other Animals but by the time I watched the show The Durrells, I didn’t remember much of the details of the stories, so I decided I wanted to reread it as well as the next two: Birds, Beasts and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods. I’d read that the show was fictionalized and I could tell Larry was greatly changed, and I felt that the tone and atmosphere of the TV show was waaaay more modern (stereotypically so and what they did to Leslie . . . urgh!) than the book. I remembered many of the main characters from the book, but I couldn’t remember the various stories and wanted to know how much was fictionalized.
I was absolutely correct about the tone and Larry plus the show writers, in addition to the bizarre modernization and adding of dysfunction (the family fought and all in the book, but the show added a level of something else) leached much of the humor and depth out of the episodes and replaced it with soap.
A lot of the more recurring or minor characters in the show were actually in the book, and in the book much better or quite different. Unfortunately though, with Captain
LechCreech, we got his whole, horrid self in both versions, although he just didn’t show up with quite the frequency in the book as in the show I think. And the tv show left out a highly entertaining character, the marvelous French count. I don’t see how they could have left out someone so hilarious, but then again, the show seemed to prefer soap to wit. Also, since the show writers apparently felt the need to reduce Leslie to the narrow-minded stereotype (understand that both ways if you please) the French count labelled him as being, they couldn’t very well appreciate the sarcasm.
There is a beeeyouteeeful several paragraphs about the Count which I had to shorten for space:
“Three days later the Count appeared. . . we soon found that the Count found himself so attractive he felt it necessary to change his clothes about eight times a day to do justice to himself. . . Combined with this narcissistic preoccupation with himself, the Count had other equally objectionable characteristics. . . His English was limited, but this did not prevent him from expounding on any subject with a sort of sneering dogmatism that made everyone’s hackles rise. His philosophy, if any, could be summed up in the phrase, ‘We do it better in France’, which he used repeatedly about everything. . . He arrived, unfortunately, in time for lunch, and by the end of the meal, without really trying, he had succeeded in alienating everybody including the dogs. It was, in its way, quite a tour de force to be able to irritate five people of such different character apparently without even being aware of doing so, inside two hours of arrival. . . To Leslie, he offered the information that anyone who was interested in hunting must assuredly have the instincts of a criminal. . . “
And then a bit later, this gem:
‘I’m not sure I shall last the course,’ said Larry. ‘So far about the only thing he hasn’t claimed for France is God.’ ‘Ah, but they probably believe in him better in France,’ Leslie pointed out.
But, then with the reaction to Emily of Paris, it does seem that some French don’t seem to understand that yes, you are on the same plan as us other peons, and if we can be teased and stereotyped and caricatured (Hello, have you met Hollywood? They would think I’m from Deliverance. Cah-rye me a river!). Maybe this section (of one person) is too demoralizing for those sorts.
“Like so many Americans, they were possessed of a charming naïveté and earnestness and these qualities, as far as Leslie was concerned at any rate, made them ideal subjects for practical jokes.”
And there is more in the same vein, I have so many quotes from these books. I highly, highly recommend the books, they are so atmospheric and unique and hilarious and perfectly Summer-y.
A classic heavy month. I didn’t read many books, but most of the ones I read or at least finished this month were classics.
Villette by Charlotte Brontë. I finished this this month. I enjoyed rereading this in a readalong well enough. But the self-indulgently emotionally tumultousness in this style of Romanticism (or maybe just Romanticism period) is not my thing. I was quite over Lucy’s frequently self-imposed (and seemingly rather enjoyed) sufferings and smugness.
And So I Began to Read: Books That Have Influenced Me by Faith Cook. A family friend gave this to me. I found it interesting, but she only mentioned religious books which I’ve little interest it, theological works I mean.
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot. I wrote my extremely flattering in this post.
Can You Forgive Her by Anthony Trollope. Definitely a Trollope fangirl. I though I might have enjoyed this more than some of the Barchester Chronicles. So now I have the luxury of enjoying the rest of the series.
Shirley by Charlotte Brontë. I started this as the next book in the same group as Villette. But oh, I forgot just how much I loved this, in the kind of love that makes me want to hold it close and not share too much. Someone in the group mentioned how Charlotte wrote more in the realism style rather than Romantic (Romantic proper, it is still romantic, of the still-waters run deep kind that I absolutely adore).
We are 1/4 to 1/3 into March and February feels SO far away. I read 13 books, yay me! (And if you didn’t read that in London Tipton’s voice, I don’t know what your problem is).
I finished my HP rereading with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
5 Nonfiction (!)
Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations by Garson O’Toole. Very interesting to see different quotations and the various ways they got to be misattributed, however, I thought it was too long.
Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria by Noo Saro-Wiwa. Absolutely fascinating. I love when nonfiction is so evocative and descriptive. However, sensitive people skip page 290 and all of 291.
Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts: A CBT-Based Guide to Getting Over Frightening, Obsessive, or Disturbing Thoughts by Sally M. Winston. Not as helpful as I was hoping, I think I’d arrived at some of the realizations already, and just the framing did not work for me, it wouldn’t have helped if I hadn’t found my own way, its just wasn’t in my “language.” I disagreed with parts, and so I felt like, ironically, a lot of it felt like false comfort. The tone felt like an adult talking to a young child, which maybe as a teen I’d find that comforting, maybe, but it felt not condescending, but I don’t know, made me feel childish?
OCD: Freedom for the Obsessive-Compulsive by Michael R. Emlet. I read phamplet to counter-act the parts of the above book I disagreed with. I think Overcoming was too amoral (not the word I want) and pseudo-psych-y while this book was too traditionally, not anti-medical just perhaps downplaying it too much. Anyway, each kind of balanced each other out, kind of both missed the mark.
Pomeranians by Joe Stahlkuppe.
5 New to Me Fiction Novels
Psmith, Journalist by PG Wodehouse. I feel like the first Psmith I read, I didn’t find super funny, but this one was loaded with hilarious bits, I’m devoting a post to some of the gems. It wasn’t the plot (the Jeeves and Woosters have hilarious plots, comments, etc.) just some of the asides and such and then Psmith is such a chatterbox.
Questless: In Which Molly Embarks on a Quest by Amanda Kastner. Whimsy and graphic novel, and oh, I can’t WAIT for the next installment. This reminded me of Howl’s Moving Castle a bit, just the art and the world. Which is funny because I first learned about Howl’s moving castle from posts with fanart and/or movies stills from the author’s sister’s blog years ago.
The Moorchild Eloise Jarvis McGraw. Whimsical, fey (literally) middle grade. I learned of more McGraw books (if you read any read Mara, Daughter of the Nile, that is an overlooked GEM) from this blog, and I’m determined to find them.
Airs Above the Ground by Mary Stewart. My last Stewart novel left I think. Not a tip top favorite, but middling top. It started out a bit ho, hum (because I’m easily fooled) and then came the, ah, yes, and here’s the fun.
Torch by R. J. Anderson. Waited 7 years, and I definitely should have reread at least Nomad. I think I’d read the first 4 three times maybe, I just think I forgot portions of Nomad, so I was disoriented. And well, I was disappointed (oh, no, nothing of the sacrilegious Penderwick sage variety). I think I’d conveniently or simply forgotten parts of Nomad that didn’t make sense, and I didn’t love as well. And Martin, well, he wasn’t quite the same, and there wasn’t enough of him. Nevertheless, I did manage to find some old style Martin-esque quotations to savor. My sisters and sister-in-law all queued up as soon as I told them I’d pre-ordered it, so once they’ve all read it, then I’m free to discuss it (I want their opinion, I tend to fly high on expectations and crash hard with reality, hence how it’s better for me to go into things blind).
I leave you with the Martin-isms to tantalize you.
” ‘All I know is that Broch showed up at the door tonight with your half-dead fiancé and begged me to let him in.’ ‘So you know about the-‘ She couldn’t even bring herself to say it. ‘How?’ ‘I pried it out of Broch, but it wasn’t all that surprising. I’d guessed your people would want a Jack to go with their Joan, and I knew you’d feel duty-bound to oblige them.’ He folded his arms. ‘He’s a good-looking fellow as piskeys go, and clearly cross-eyed with love for you, so why not?’ ” p. 123
“v’I like your Matt, too.’ He turned toward the barrow, a lean silhouette against the cloud-rumpled sky. ‘If I get myself inconveniently killed at some point, you might consider giving him another chance.’ ” p. 172
” ‘So by all means, let’s cause a scandal. If nothing else, it will give Dagger something new to take offense at.’ ” p. 180
I’m trying to go through my drafts again, especially since I’m seemingly devoid of many opinions or post ideas that aren’t complaining at the moment. This should have been finished last fall closer to when I finished rereading the last Narnia book.
I left a comment on a post somewhere that I thought would make a decent blog post draft, and I finally finished my rereading of Narnia. I wanted to measure what I used to think about the books vs. this reread.
My Dad read these twice to us when I was a child and preteen. I “think” I read all of them on my own as an adult.. So my favorites have to do with nostalgia and how I felt as a child as well. Dad read them, I think, in the order they were published? Anyway, he started with The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I loved it, and the Horse and His Boy. I hated Prince Caspian at first because everything was changed, but love The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The Silver Chair, The Last Battle, and The Magician’s Nephew freaked me out.
When I wrote the comment I mentioned my favorites are still The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I said that I’d warmed up to Prince Caspian since the first shock, and that I loved aspects of The Silver Chair, The Last Battle, and possibly The Magician’s Nephew, but I felt that they are “colder” and “darker” and that I thought this was partially the overall atmosphere/tone of the books and plot and partially the emphasis on fewer people.
Since then, I’ve read all the books in story chronological order (I think I may have done that a years back, but I’m not certain) in 2019-2020, and I feel that what I’ve always said about my favorites and least favorites is generally true, but I feel like the differences between are more extreme. Also, I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster recently, so this is based on my moods when reading.
I do have an absolute favorite: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I just felt my spirits soar and my heart sing when I read this book in a way the other couldn’t do. I think that I didn’t enjoy The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe as much, I certainly dragged on that one, perhaps its too familiar; I felt like I enjoyed Prince Caspian more! I know that The Horse and His Boy fell from being equal with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
I think that perhaps The Magician’s Nephew is less dislike and more apathy while I feel like I actively disliked The Silver Chair while still liking the characters Jill and Eustace. The book is just so dull, dark, and dreary. The Last Battle is just . . . sad, it’s just a sad book (does Narnia really have to end?) . . . and boring at the same time. But again, I like some of the characters, King Tirian and Jill and Eustace and the old favorites who show up. I think I’d have to say The Last Battle is my least favorite because is just so sad.
I’m thinking that next time I don’t want to reread my least favorites, maybe only reread my favorite 4 or maybe just the (in Narnia chronological order) the first 5, ending on a high note with my favorite rather than a low note with my two least favorites.
So after my most recent rereads my favorites list is something like this:
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Prince Caspian and The Horse and His Boy
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Magician’s Nephew
The Silver Chair
The Last Battle
I’m linking up here and the prompt is “New Beginnings.”
So, I’m in the middle of reading Harry Potter, and I am really feeling that suddenly waking up to find out that one is a wizard and then getting whisked off to a magical world out of mundane, tedious (and in Harry’s case horrible) reality would be quite a refreshing thing.
Can you imagine? Especially after all the build up, Harry has been living in dull misery then he finally gets a letter, something of his very own, but after tons of tries and sitting in a miserable shack with his crazy family, he still hasn’t read it. Then a giant bursts in and starts talking about his family, tells him he is a wizard and gives him a wondrous letter, now that is a key to a fabulous new existence.
I know none of us is living under a stairwell, but well with the dreariness of the world even for those of us not seriously affected, doesn’t a magical world opening up tantalizingly before our eyes sound wondrous?! Especially with such a start as a visit to Diagon Alley?
I’ve been reading my sister’s illustrated versions (she has 3 and I’m going to get her the 4th as a belated grad gift so I can read it, I’m going to wait for myself until they are all out). I think these really bring the magic of Harry Potter to life. And I really needed something soothing to read.
Narnia is so Christmassy, my sisters I think have made watching Narnia during Christmas a tradition.
Rating My Narnia Fanatic Level
1. Nostalgic Fanatic — you read the book and/or watched the movies as a child and the word Narnia gives you a warm feeling
2. Serious Fanatic — you rediscovered the wonder of Narnia after you were older and have read the books and watched the movies
3. Maniacal Fanatic — you have lived Narnia from childhood, hid in closets on more occasions than is healthy, have read and watched all the movies including the BBC version
I think I’m between Serious Fanatic and Maniacal Fanatic.
Dad read the books to us twice as children (with the full color illustrations from the church library very important, but when we later bought them we got the black and white illustrations, do you know how important knowing the children’s hair color is, I kid, sort of, the full color illustration bring Narnia to life)
Then we watched several or maybe all of the BBC movies.
Then we watched the three new movies.
Then I think I read some of the books as an adult.
Then I read them straight through a few years ago.
Then I reread them straight through beginning last December to this fall.
The Tag Questions:
1. Who’s your favorite Pevensie sibling?
Edmund. The bad boy became the deepest, truest, sweetest one. This happened with Eustace too.
2. What is the most underrated Narnia book?
Aren’t most of them underrated compared to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe? Probably The Horse and His Boy. Its not exactly part of the main story line, so I think it gets left out. But I like the unique look, and all the characters.
3. Who is your favorite Narnian king?
4. Who is your favorite Narnian queen?
5. Which non-human Narnian do you like best?
Hmm, maybe Reepicheep?
6. Which book deserves a movie?
Um, my least favorite? I dread book adaptations now. Filmmakers spoil things.
7. What is the one thing you did as a Narnia fan that you do not regret?
All of it!
I read a whopping 3 books and two of those were rereads.
An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott. I just was not feeling the fiction I had from the library, and I really wanted a comfort read.
Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers. I dragged out this one since August. Not sure I was in the right frame of mind.
Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell. Not sure how to process this. The first story, didn’t make sense with the title, but the next explanation of his process and the next story, I started to think, “Ok, this is about how we don’t read people nearly as well as we thought.”
Eventually the stories started being about his analysis of the stories and what went wrong but wasn’t really tied to his point, and these stories were trigger warning crime scandals we’ve all heard of, so basically horrid events that I could see less and less a connection with his alleged thesis. And I don’t see how the suicide and coupling one had even the reading people aspect of it at.
Then I wasn’t so convinced of his alleged point, what even he meant By the end, I was wondering “What is this about, where is the point?” and feeling nasty for those stories. By the end of the book I’d forgotten the alleged thesis, it was so off track. He had a small section trying to tie his disparate side thesis or rather other peoples theses he had been exploring to the reading people bit, but it all felt random and nothing was really explained. So allegedly we misread people and don’t realize it, have a nice life. There was absolutely no hope or help besides the not really having a point most of the time
I had some perspectives/stats/theories (the drinking and suicide and coupling) that were interesting and good to learn, but know I don’t think I am convinced of all those (for this nondrinker the blackout stuff was enlightening), and again, those were side theories not the alleged main point of the book. I would not recommend. I think someone so high in esteem should write more responsibly about serious subjects. I was interested in reading more of his work, now I’m not going to.
One thing that really bugs me about the later Harry Potter books is how the trio doesn’t become the quad. That Ginny is unnaturally excluded or pushed to the side with people more naturally not part of the best-friends group. At the beginning it is completely understandable that Ginny isn’t part of “the” group. Towards the middle it looks like that is naturally changing, but then in the later books the progression stops and a weird barrier is put in place around the trio, as if it is more about the marketing idea of the trio than a realistic and satisfying portrayal.
Oh, bear in mind that I’m talking about book Ginny (Ginny in the movie is as much of a loser as movie Ron, don’t get me started on that subject).
Two young boys become best friends fairly easily as kids can do. Through unlikely circumstances they befriend a previously annoying young girl. They are all at an age when life is very boys vs girls, when a year’s difference in age is huge in their eyes, and when younger siblings are automatically annoying. So it totally makes sense when one boy’s kid sister isn’t included in their friend group. Add to that the fact that said kid sister has an awkward star struck crush on the other boy and it really makes including her unlikely. Since Hermione and Ginny get along and Hermione is around constantly, its pretty natural that those two become close.
In the middle books, when Ginny gets over her crush (or hides it well), when they are all at the age when boys and girls start becoming more interested in each other and co-ed stuff is more normal, and with the pattern of the four hanging out over the holidays plus many of the dark events affecting Ginny as much or more than the rest, Ginny is more included in things as expected. Obviously siblings in a friend group can cause some clash, as well as all the complex crush stuff, but she is more obviously in the midst of things.
Then Ginny is added to the Quidditch team, the DA is started, and Ginny and Harry are mutually interested in each other and then later, together. So it seems as if, with the four so close already, this would make Ginny their equal, right? Not in fossilized marketing fan driven writing land apparently (or whatever it was). No, the trio still have their inner circle catch ups that it makes no sense for Ginny not to be in, on no planet, no reality; she’s with them all the time, she’s sister to Ron, best friend to Hermione, girlfriend to Harry. She’s as smart as them all and braver than two.
The crowning insult is in The Deathly Hallows when the trio go off on their own, and independent Ginny is forced by Mum to go to school while the others are off on their own adventure, and Harry doesn’t do much to change that. She’s excluded from their plans for “safety” or whatever. She is just a year younger and acts older than Ron anyway. Its not merely that she doesn’t go with them, she is hardly in the book in that period, she’s not given as important a place, she’s just sort of “waiting” for Harry to appear like Prince Charming which is a role that doesn’t fit him or her at. all. Ginny Weasely meekly waiting?! As if.
I’m linking up with Top Ten Tuesday. I had this in my drafts as a spin-off of an earlier TTT childhood favorites, I think I went more middle-grade/preteen on that first one.
In no particular order. A lot of these were from the Five and a Row Series based on the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling, definitely the ignition of our love of good books. I’d love to remember all my favorites, I know we loved lots of the little golden books (loved them to shreds), and my grandparents had lots of books we loved including Sesame Street ones that told other stories using Sesame Street characters. And then of course the illustrated series like the Francis books (which I bought my niece when she was born, I wanted to get her a black and white striped badger to go along with it, but I couldn’t find a cute one, I could barely find any badgers, and most were all grey or something), Frog and Toad, Mr. Putter and Tabby, Amelia Bedelia, and Henry and Mudge.
- Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall
- The Seven Silly Eaters (Mom gave me a copy of this for Christmas, she’s started to give us some of our childhood favorites for our own current or future children).
- Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
- The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
- Corduroy by Don Freeman
- Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews. I remember learning about color temperature in this book, this book features lots of cool colors.
- A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert
- Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. I vividly remember listening to this on tape, we would go to the library and pick the plastic bags that had little hangers attached to the top, in the bag was the book and the tape. We got this one so often I even remember the narrator’s voice reading it.
- Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
- Warm as Wool by Scott Russell Sanders
Also, I have a favorite that I’ve been searching to find ANY clue about, but I don’t think I’ve kept up on the posts I’ve made on various sites about it. I don’t know the title, the author, or the illustrator, but it was beach/ocean/island themed with gorgeous watercolor. It is a sort of Cinderella meets Princess and the Frog (except prince is a large turtle or tortoise in this story). I could have sworn I saw it featured on Reading Rainbow (another thing from the mists of memory), but any list of books featured on the show didn’t trigger any memories. It featured a stepmother/enchantress, I feel like stepsisters turned into birds, and something about a rainbow fish bridge, and the prince as a tortoise carries the princess or maiden, she may not be a princess, to an island somehow, from a ship maybe. I’m not crazy, the sister nearest in age remembers this book too!
Thinking about this after Katie’s comment on this post. But I’m due for rereads, so I may have to revisit this post. I know my top two. Also, movie portrayals matter, I watched many of the movies before reading and have watched the films many times sense. I think with many of the characters, the book leaves some openness in interpreting the characters (not all of them), actually, to me the some of the most famous (Darcy, Knightley, and Brandon) are that way. Because they are older/more reserved maybe?
- Captain Wentworth. Decisive, military, passionate, I do have to wonder though, how well this would work in reality. I mean does a Marianne-type character work with admittedly something of the male-equivalent in intensity.
Henry Tilney funny, kind, honorable. This I know would work for me in reality.
Now for the others. I do think I’d pick Mr. Knightley next (or would I?), but I’d prefer John Knightley from the 2008 Emma. That smart-aleck and family loyal character is absolutely my style. I’m not sure what I think of Knightly, I’m not sure he’s as clearly defined, all the movie versions are sort of accurate in a way, but also not. He can seem a bit too, puppy-dog, like trailing after Emma which I don’t like. So maybe I would pick Bingley next although. Bingley and Edward Ferrars I kind of group together. I have difficulty respecting them, and I’m afraid I’d steam role right over them, but I’d pick them over the melancholy Brandon, or the boring (!) Darcy.
Bingley, precious and sweet but too easily led. But he doesn’t do anything wrong, and he does come back without prompting, I think, although with some hints maybe, or encouragement after seeing Lizzie. My understanding was Darcy said something to him after he came back, but like I said I’m due for a reread.
Edward Ferrars. Grow a spine dude. It’s not honorable to love another and stay engaged, sorry, that isn’t actual faithfulness. However, he is funny.
Edmund Bertram. Ah, Edmund, I loved you so much until I despised you so much. And yet, I still think I’d want him before Colonel Brandon. I mean if Edmund hadn’t fallen for Mary, or at least for that long and so hard. Early Edmund would be closer to the top.
Darcy. I belong to the Darcy is overrated club.
Colonel Brandon. I’m afraid the unfairly ancient and/or slimy casting of Colonel Brandon has forever tainted him to me. If Matthew McFadyen had played him (ala Arthur Clennam) as I think would have been ideal. I think he needed to be brought to life in such a way as too make him appealing. He’s too melancholy a person for me ideally.
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.
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.