• Reading

    Thomas Hardy and American Literature

    I realized I dislike both Thomas Hardy novels and American classics for the same reason. Perfectly capable characters make mind bogglingly stupid choices over and over and over and over and over again and the record of the consequences is presented as a tragedy. No it ain’t, it’s a farce.
  • Reading

    My List for Classics Club Spin #29

    I’m joining in the Classics Club spin #29, here. I’ve not done great on this list, and I’m reeaaaallly not doing great on reading period, so we’ll see.

    1. Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
    2. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
    3. Cymbelline
    4. Henry VI, Part 1
    5. Henry VI, Part 2
    6. Henry VI, Part 3
    7. Henry VIII
    8. House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
    9. King John
    10. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
    11. Richard III
    12. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
    13. The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
    14. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
    15. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    16. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens
    17. The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
    18. The Scarlet Letter and/or The House with Seven Gables by Nathanial Hawthorne
    19. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
    20. Walden by Henry Thoreau
  • Reading

    A Literary Christmas

    I’m linking up here for A Literary Christmas. I think I’ll also make this list a page.

    Whew, this list took well, hours I think, because I wanted to format it, so that if I went to the library, I could find books faster. I also wanted plenty to choose from this year and beyond. It is composed of books from a least four lists with books that became Hallmark movies and other similar books for adults, adult classics, children’s classics, and illustrated children’s books. Some of the latter (maybe the last three) categories, I’d like to buy. From the rest, I ordered some from two libraries, hoping some will come in in time and of those I will like some.

    Snow Queen Andersen, Hans Christian
    The Fir Tree Andersen, Hans Christian
    The Little Match Girl Andersen, Hans Christian
    The Steadfast Tin Soldier Andersen, Hans Christian
    The Santa Suit Andrews, Mary Kay
    Amazing Peace Angelou, Maya
    The Christmas Train Baldacci, David
    Madeline’s Christmas Bemelmans,Ludwig
    The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree Berenstain, Stan and Jan
    The Children of Green Knowe Boston, Lucy
    Gingerbread Baby Brett, Jan
    Jan Brett’s Christmas Treasury Brett, Jan
    The Wild Christmas Reindeer Brett, Jan
    Christmas Day in the Morning Buck, Pearl
    Snowmen at Christmas Buehner, Caralyn
    Little Lord Fauntleroy Burnett, Frances Hodgson
    Truman Capote Collection Capote, Truman
    Dream Snow Carle, Eric
    A Christmas by the Sea Carlson, Melody
    The Christmas Cottage Chase, Samantha
    Christmas Bells by Chiaverini, Jennifer
    Hercule Poirot’s Christmas Christie, Agatha
    Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus Church, Francis Pharcellus
    The Christmas Dress Cole, Courtney
    Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery Colgan, Jenny
    Christmas at the Island Hotel Colgan, Jenny
    The Christmas Bookshop Colgan, Jenny
    The Dark is Rising Cooper, Susan
    Miracle on 34th Street Davies, Valentine
    The Christmas Book: An Early American Christmas DePaola, Tomie
    Merry Christmas, Strega Nona DePaola, Tomie
    The First Christmas DePaola, Tomie
    The Legend of Old Befana DePaola, Tomie
    The Legend of the Poinsettia DePaola, Tommu
    A Christmas Carol/The Chimes/The Cricket on the Hearth Dickens, Charles
    What Christmas is as We Grow Older Dickens, Charles
    The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle Doyle, Arther Conan
    Deck the Halls with Buddy Holly: And Other Misheard Christmas Lyrics Edwards, Gavin
    A Winter Dream Evans, Richard Paul
    Grace Evans, Richard Paul
    The Christmas Box Trilogy (The Christmas Box, Timepiece, Letter) Evans, Richard Paul
    The Christmas List Evans, Richard Paul
    The Christmas Promise Evans, Richard Paul
    The Gift Evans, Richard Paul
    The Mistletoe Inn Evans, Richard Paul
    The Mistletoe Promise Evans, Richard Paul
    The Noel Diary Evans, Richard Paul
    A Redbird Christmas Flagg, Fannie
    Redbird Christmas Flagg, Fannie
    Christmas Trees Frost, Robert
    When Santa Fell to Earth Funke, Cornelia
    Last Christmas in Paris Gaynor, Hazel and Heather Webb
    I Saw Three Ships Goudge, Elizabeth
    The Elves and the Shoemaker Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm
    Skipping Christmas Grisham, John
    A Lighthouse Christmas Hale, Jenny
    We’ll Always Have Christmas Hale, Jenny
    Comfort and Joy Hannah Kristin
    A Cup of Christmas Tea Hegg, Tom
    Winter in Paradise Hilderbrand, Elin
    Winter Street Hilderbrand, Elin
    Winter Stroll Hilderbrand, Elin
    The Nutcracker Hoffman, ETA
    Seven Days of Us Hornak, Francesca
    Christmas at the Chalet Hughes, Anita
    Christmas in London Hughes, Anita
    Christmas in Vermont Hughes, Anita
    Magical New York Christmas Hughes, Anita
    A Prayer for Owen Meany Irving, John
    The Snow Child Ivey, Eowyn
    Moominland Midwinter Jansson, Tove
    Shepherds Abiding Karon, Jan
    The Little Drummer Boy Keats, Ezra Jack
    A Dog Named Christmas Kincaid, Greg
    The Bridge Kingsbury, Karen
    The Battered Bastards of Bastogne: The 101st Airborne and the Battle of the Bulge Koskimaki, George
    The Glorious Impossible L’Engle, Madeleine
    Christmas in Noisy Village Lindgren, Astrid
    The Crippled Lamb Lucado, Max
    Alaskan Holiday: A Novel Macomber, Debbie
    Dear Santa Macomber, Debbie
    Jingle All the Way Macomber, Debbie
    Merry and Bright Macomber, Debbie
    Hiddensee Maguire, Gregory
    Holly and Ivy Michaels, Fern
    The Christmas Sisters Morgan, Sarah
    The Christmas Escape Morgan, Sarah
    Christmas Joy Naigle, Nancy
    Dear Santa Naigle, Nancy
    If You Take a Mouse to the Movies Numeroff, Laura Joffe
    Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas O’Connor, Jane
    Christmas in Camelot Osborne, Mary Pope
    A Christmas Legacy Perry, Anne
    A Christmas Resolution Perry, Anne
    Winter Solstice Pilcher, Rosamunde
    The Trees of the Dancing Goats Polacco, Patricia
    Hogfather Pratchett, Terry
    Christmas at Fairacre Read, Miss
    The House Without a Christmas Tree Rock, Gail
    Norman Rockwell’s Christmas book Rockwell, Norman
    Christmas by the Book Ryan, Anne Marie
    Holidays on Ice Sedaris, David
    A Christmas Story Shepherd, Jean
    Mr. Dickens and His Carol Silva, Samantha
    The Man Who Invented Christmas Standiford, Les
    Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at The Winter Wonderland Swain, Heidi
    An Irish Country Christmas Taylor, Patrick
    The Littlest Angel Tazewell, Charles
    A Very Nantucket Christmas Thayer, Nancy
    Christmas at Holiday House Thayne, RaeAnne
    Season of Wonder Thayne, RaeAnne
    Sleigh Bells Ring Thayne, RaeAnne
    The Dolls’ Christmas Tudor, Tash
    Take Joy Tudor, Tasha
    A Letter from Santa Claus Twain, Mark
    The Greatest Gift Van Doren Stern, Philip
    The Christmas Blessing VanLiere, Donna
    The Christmas Hope VanLiere, Donna
    The Christmas Shoes VanLiere, Donna
    The Christmas Town VanLiere, Donna
    It’s a Wonderful Christmas: The Best of the Holidays 1940-1965 Waggoner
    A Treasury of Christmas Stories Webb, Garrison
    Silent Night: The Story of the WWI Christmas Truce Weintraub, Stanley
    The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey Wojciechowski, Susan
    The White Christmas Inn Wright, Colleen

    Christmas Storms and Sunshine Gaskell, Elizabeth
    Christmas at Thompson Hall Trollope, Anthony
    The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices Collins, Wilkie, and Charles Dickens

  • Reading

    My Classics Club Spin #12 is . . .

    Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Awesome, one I really didn’t want . . .

    I’m also going to see if I can read Cymbeline (my last spin pick), Dracula, The Moonstone, The Crucible and maybe Irish Faerie Tales and Turning of the Screw, since all these are very Autumnal and I’m quite behind on my Classics Club list. And I need to work on The Idiot (another spin pick).


  • Reading

    Classics Club Spin #28 List

    I’m going to attempt another spin. I had a play the last time which if I hadn’t essentially forgotten I could easily have read. I’ve put it on this list along with The Idiot and anything I felt was Autumnal feeling or at least not as Spring-y or Summer-y.

    1. An Anton Chekhov novel
    2. The Wimsey Papers by Dorothy Sayers
    3. A Good Man is Hard to Find or other Flannery O’Connor novel
    4. A Portrait of A Lady and/or Turning of the Screw by Henry James
    5. Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
    6. Cymbelline
    7. Dracula by Bram Stoker
    8. Irish Faerie Tales by William Butler Yeats
    9. House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
    10. King John
    11. Macbeth
    12. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
    13. Richard III
    14. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
    15. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    16. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens
    17. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
    18. The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
    19. The Scarlet Letter and/or The House with Seven Gables by Nathanial Hawthorne
    20. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Reading

    Bookish Sites and Such

    Every so often I look for Goodreads alternatives, if I knew they’ve been owned by Amazon for 8 years, I’d forgotten, that explains the monopoly. Their export option messes up read dates and doesn’t track rereads and doesn’t have enough data.

    In frustration I found the spreadsheet I mentioned in this post. But I’ve not kept up on that. Just too much manual work.

    I was watching a Ruby Granger vlog and she mentioned The Storygraph. So I cleaned up my Goodreads export as much as I could and transferred it, it doesn’t show my rereads, I’ll have to figure that one out. It’s got a much simpler look which I like, and I love the mood and categorization, seems pretty accurate to me. And they now have an app.

    And yet I still have been using Goodreads. I need to go back and look at the Storygraph again. I think maybe I need to find a Youtube video explaining it. I’m a very slow adapter. I might have to try and use both for awhile to really get a feel to see if I want to switch.

    Estimate how many books you can read in a year based on this test. Super cool

    How I Read Classics.

    Dear Authors . . . Redemption Arcs. Edmund and Eustace are good examples of believable redemption arcs. They #1 Didn’t do anything insanely criminal #2 They still felt the full weight of what they had done after they were redeemed.

    How I Annotate Books. I really need to work on my book notes. I do like that I can easily highlight and save notes when I’m reading in the Kindle. I just need to remember to write down my notes. I have reading journals that I inconsistently fill, and then I’ve compiled some of my digital notes into a Reading Notes Evernote notebook.

  • Reading

    What I Read: August 2021

    I read a lot, but not necessarily well, I wasn’t thrilled with a lot of my fiction, however, I think it again helped me to think about my fiction. And the two non-fiction books I read were EXCELLENT!


    Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling. A must read for everyone in the West! Gives a true perspective of how much even the “poor” (US “poverty” is not based on actually need but comparison) of the West are SO much better off than not just true poverty and past times, but level 3 (there are 4 levels, Westerners and some other nations like Japan are 4). And how much the overall world has improved (and I’m a history major, I knew we had it good in modern, but wow, I still didn’t know how bad it used to be for children, that is a hard, necessary section). Also, I’m trying to keep in mind that level 3 workers work I think calculated 90+ hours, so if I have to patch together a couple jobs that may not even add up to 40 (and that I can CHOOSE), I can get over myself a bit, it won’t kill me.

    I want to explore the authors’ site, especially the Dollar Street part to see all the different standards of living around the world. Reminds me of that Children Around the World book we had growing up. I want this in my library.

    On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser. I need to improve my writing but most of the writing books I came across were for fiction. This book benefits EVERY type of writer; it is excellent, truly emphasizing the importance of strong writing (which is rarely displayed in all the poorly written things published). I’ve definitely got this on my purchase list as well, I’ll need to review and review. I’m not trying to be a “writer” per se, I’m just trying to be more readable on my blog, to learn to express myself better and clearer. And maybe, maybe, if I go back to school someday for history, I won’t dread the reams of writing that will be necessary quite as much.


    Ashtown Burials series by N.D. Wilson (one of my favorite authors): The Dragon’s Tooth, The Drowned Vault, Empire of Bones, and part of The Silent Bells. I have 14 chapters from the serialized version the author is publishing which I’ve caught up on, I realized when starting them (and an earlier series mistake of not rereading the earlier ones) that I was going to have to reread since I’d forgotten. I’m so glad I did, I enjoyed these so much, I highly recommend, especially for a summer adventure vibe. Also, I’m going to have to get some of the merch too.

    Andy Catlett: Early Travels by Wendell Berry. I have loyalty-dislike relationship with Berry. This is my state’s best author, and I am near Henry county where his stories are set (although my family is mostly from the Western part of the state). He is our states greatest author I believe. And I appreciate aspects of his writing. However, I can’t stand the fatalistic tone (I’d have to say, very authentically Kentucky; if I have to hear “it is what it is” from people in real life I’ll scream) or his rather ahistorical romanticizing of agrarian life.

    Dune by Frank Herbert. I read this quite easily, although not super enjoyably. I just felt like this had so many plot holes or underdeveloped aspects, it just wasn’t satisfying or even as dramatic as the movie previews made it feel. I’m still interested (although less excited) in seeing it in theater though. I feel like sci-fi often has super interesting conceptions and plots, but falls short in the development. However, I need to read more sci-fi. Dad keeps bringing up Isaac Asimov (a blast from the past, Dad had a couple shelves of just Asimov, you know what, I think I need to do a post on our family’s book tastes . . .) and how he thinks every newer sci-fi author rips him off which may or may not be actually true. I think I’ll try Asimov’s Foundations series sometime.

    Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. Joy Clarkson picked this book for the readalong she hosts on her podcast Speaking with Joy. I felt it so mysterious and grand because of the beginning and the podcast, but yeah, the build up didn’t go anywhere and ultimately it felt very forgettable especially after the boring ending. Although this is shorter and different, I felt that way about her first book, especially since I usually forget I read that book and it was a TOME!

    Circe by Madeline. It held my attention mostly, but I sure got sick of the “problems” of a self-indulgent, self-absorbed goddess. Wow, your life is SO hard. Also there was a UGH, NOPE twist at the end that caused me to not finish the last bit. And also, some egregious ick and violence from the god world. Less than Ariadne (the gory part is just unbelievably violence voyeurism or something) which I very quickly put down. I just can’t justify reading gratuitous graphic violence and sexual choices in such mediocre form. I mean the myths are part of culture and yes, stuff happens (one of my professors said the gods had sex with everything, people, animals, plants), but these are grand stories, part of ancient culture, part of the world’s heritage. And I don’t recall such level of gruesome, wallowing vicarious detail. While the original myths add to culture, such muck in mediocre writing subtracts from self, I guess I’m saying. It’s hard to explain how to draw my lines morally and artistically, but I think that is what it is.

    The Coming Storm by Regina M. Hansen. Thriller/horror (not too bad or else I’d not have read). Again, I was left thinking, how did this benefit me? It wasn’t a clean happy bit of light reading. And it is shallow fluff intellectually.

    A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine. Silly bit of fluff. I was trying to find something light, but not to this level.

  • Reading

    The Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag

    I found this tag here on Maribeth’s blog. I’m going to try to exclude rereads from this mostly. I’m afraid I can’t keep duplicate answers off though.


    Best book you’ve read so far in 2021

    The best fiction is Gerald Durrell’s Corfu trilogy (the essence of summer in a set of books). And the best nonfiction is Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling.


    Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021

    The rest of the Corfu trilogy and what issues that I have of Silent Bells.


    New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

    I’m not into new releases much, I’m going to count the rest of the serial publication of N.D. Wilson’s Silent Bells, the last book in his Ashtown Burials series.


    Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

    Same as above.


    Biggest disappointment in 2021

    Torch, the last of R.J. Anderson’s Flight and Flame trilogy which follows the faerie rebels trilogy. I had too high expectations which never works for me AND I should have reread the previous trilogy and then the previous two novels. I don’t think I liked Nomad as much as I thought, and I forgot a huge amount.


    Biggest surprise in 2021

    I wasn’t expecting to like Amanda Kastner’s Questless as much as I did, I gave it 5 stars. I can’t wait for the next installment.


    Favorite new author in 2021

    I don’t know how any of her other books will stand up, but I enjoyed Greenwillow by B.J. Chute.


    Newest fictional crush/ship

    I mean I read a lot of Georgette Heyer’s which was fun. I liked the couple in The Blue Sword, but I’m not sure I’d call any of them favorite ships, but no really new ones that are crazy interesting.


    But I forgot just how much I loved Robert in Shirley and how much I shipped him and Caroline.


    Newest favorite character

    Nobody really stands out to make my absolute favorites list.


    Book that made you cry in 2021

    In Factfulness the section on what child mortality used to be like is pretty awful (but it needs to be known). I at least came close to tearing up.


    Book that made you happy in 2021

    Most of my rereads (L.M. Montgomery, N.D. Wilson, Shirley), especially Shirley. The Corfu trilogy. Georgette Heyer novels. Questless.


    Favorite book-to-film adaption you saw in 2021

    I don’t know, I think that a lot of the vintage movies I watched may have been based on books, but I’ve never read them. As soap and inaccurate an adaptation as the Durrells was, I still enjoyed it and it inspired me to reread and read the Corfu trilogy.


    Favorite bookish post you’ve done so far in 2021

    It is a mess, but I like my Emma post, if only for nostalgia, it was so fun to watch and comment like we did.


    Most beautiful book you bought so far in 2021

    I can’t remember buying anything significant. But I just got A Tangled Web and Blue Castle from Sourcebooks Fire for my birthday.


    Books you need to read by the end of the year

    Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth (I’m at least halfway). And maybe a few others from Tim Challies’s list on understanding the times.


    Surely I can finish The Idiot.


    I missed reading my easy Classics Club spin pick, Cymbeline. So, I think I should do that. And maybe a few more plays and books on my Classics Club list.


    I’m working on reading more state history and authors from my state in preparation to see if I can volunteer at our state historical society, we’ll see.


    I’d also love for some atmospheric fall reads I’ve good on my fall mood and aesthetic list and any others that fall my way.


    And finally, pick up where I left off on my reading monographs through American history. Somehow in addition to dragging my feet per usual on anything that isn’t my type of happy read, I’d deleted my extensive and thought out original list somehow, and I found that disheartening. I don’t know how far I went to rebuild it. But maybe this should be a January thing. It sounds like a good academic winter pursuit.


    Also, consider yourself tagged if you want to do this.

  • Reading

    Reigniting Tolkien Nerdiness

    I watched these two Wired videos (here and here) in which a Tolkien expert answers a bunch of questions a couple months ago. It is a Tolkien nerd’s dream.

    And of course I’ve also gotten touches of Lord of the Rings when listening to The Friendship Onion as well.

    I’ve always wanted to reread The Silmarillion and the other works I missed, and now I’m definitely going to this year, and I want to read the books chronologically. I think they aren’t all quite chronological (as in the stories might jump around), so I might use this (awesomely nerdy) system

    I listened to this podcast awhile back regarding the accuracy of our understanding of Tolkien (particularly in his most famous biograph by Humphrey Carpenter who apparently had it out for Tolkien and so twisted the perspective at least). So I’d like to read the guest (Holly Ordway) author’s book, Tolkien’s Modern Reading as well. Along with maybe some of the books on the art of Middle Earth and anything extra like that.

    I wasn’t sure if this was going to happen this year, but it turns out Hamlette is still doing her Tolkien celebration blog event, so I think I’d like to start on my rereading soon!

    And maybe I can round it all out rewatching the movies? I’ve not seen the extended versions of the Hobbits and those films are SO not following the canon, so we’ll see.


  • Reading

    August 2021 Reading Goals

    I’d like to get a few of these crossed off, but I know some of these will be rolled over into August.

    Borrowed Physical Books
    • Factfulness from my dad
    • Read the state history I borrowed from Papau
    • The summer section from A Year in Mississippi from my sister
    • Possibly the state history I borrowed from the library
    • The Foxfire Book from the library
    • Wendell Berry Books from the library
    My Books
    • Reread the first three Ashtown Burial books, so I can read The Silent Bells by ND Wilson
    • Your Move: An Underdog’s Guide to Building Your Business. I may not want to keep this.
    • A Jane Austen Devotional. I’m not sure I want to keep this, I may pass around to my sisters afterwards.
    • Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth
    • On Writing Well
    • Classic Club spin pick, Cymbelline
    • Make inroads into The Idiot (aim for end of July)
    Other Fiction
    • Probably should have picked up Dune again earlier, but I forgot, so here we are.
    • Anything I want to read off my rereading list for summer for 2021.
  • Reading

    What I Watched July 2021

    I got so many great quotes from this month, so I’m going to be doing some separate posts.



    People will Talk. Another hilarious yet sweet Cary Grant film.

    Guys and Dolls. My first ever Marlon Brando movie. Loved the Sky and Sarah parts, skipped over a lot the Nathan and what’s her face parts.

    Bundle of Joy. Kinda cute, rather boring. Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.



    Community. It’s not brilliant but thus far it’s fun with some excellent sections of humor. There are some plot points I hate. Plus season 4 should never have happened. I thought I’d skip and go to season 5, but I’m not sure I’ll even make it that far.

    Troy and Annie can’t be together because you want Troy and Abed to be friends? Call me crazy but I think writers can work friendship AND romance for a character into a show. It would also help to give more time if they would delete the old creep and cut down on Ken and Barbie’s very basic story line.

    Speaking of Ken and Barbie, so there are two potential pairing setups, the older couple, Ken and Barbie, and the younger couple, Troy and Annie. Again, call me nuts, but if they weren’t going to have those pairings, maybe there are alternatives besides just simply switching the four people around, like you know they could date in their age group and out of their tiny friend clique?!!!!. That is EWW on multiple levels, the age differences (yes, I know the actual actors are same ages, not the point) and the weird sort of group incestuous sort of vibes. However, like I said tons of hilarious sections.