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.
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).
The Foundling by Georgette Heyer. I still have a few Heyers left that I’m going to save.
Just Patty and When Patty Went to College by Jean Webster. Fluffy, light reads.
I then went on a Robin McKinley binge.
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. Loved this except, and this I notice is a trend with her, the jarring pace and way too convient climax. The pacing of most of this was slow and the mood mysterious and it blended really well. Then in speeds up 0 to 100 and suddenly everything is fixed lickety-split. Well if it was that easy, what was all the agony over? Also, how boring. And then tying up everything at the end in a neat little felt like a long postscript bow also didn’t fit the moody, mysteriousness of the couple. They had their moment, end it there, it fits.
The Door in the Hedge and Other Stories. This was a fun collection of short fantasy stories.
Rose Daughter. What. the. heck.
Chalice. Similar jarring pace ending to The Blue Sword. Everything is paced well and then the climax is absurdly fast and unexplainably easy.
Spindle’s End. I liked this one as well for part of it but again, weirdness. Except it wasn’t pace so much as went from fantasy to surrealism for a space of time. However it went back to fantasy at the very end.
And then I tried The Hero and the Crown. Again, really like the beginning. Then it started pacing too fast, hinted at a plot twist that added NOTHING good and that I HATED, AND then dived into surrealism and a way to convenient climax (actually there were a couple). And then delivered on the loathsome plot point. I was reading on my kindle so I couldn’t throw it against the wall. I just skimmed to the end I was so disgusted.
You know, people like magic because it’s you know, magical and mysterious, not boringly used to inexplicably end things super fast (also if it was that easy why did the complicated circumstances exist in the first place?)
Sense and Sensibility. I read this along with Hamlette’s readalong. I know The Enchanted Bookclub’s June pick is Emma, so I want to see if I can find a read-a-long to go with each Jane Austen novel now, it helps me think more deeply when reading. I’ve rewatched Elinor and Marianne Take Barton and I want to rewatch the two films this week (I think those are our least watched films, well maybe next to Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey). I’m hoping to go through all the JA books and then categorize the men into hero or villain or buffoon or loveable rogue or whatever categories I think I find. Maybe the women too, but I don’t think those are as many because they are the heroines and more likely to at least not be bad? Also, just less interesting to categorize like that, it’s more often a “who am I most like or unlike” (not usually flattering to moi) sort of category which I might do as well. We’ll see.
Start to transition to reading primarily on Kindle and return back all my library book.Yes, I’m enjoying it! I do love pretty book covers, I’m not sure I’m going to give all mine up or even stop buying them, although for the present I am. But this is SO convenient.
- Update my reading Excel list. I’ve not kept up on this very well. Too much work, I’m not sure I will.
- Reevaluate Storygraph. I’ve not used either of these things. I need to look at Story Graph closer to see what stats it provides, I want something quick like Goodreads, but I want more reliable stats.
- March TBR
- Read The Pomeranian Handbook
- Finish Factfulness. This is a book borrowed from my Dad, probably should finish before I move out.
- Finish How to Raise a Perfect Puppy. No, and I’m not 100% sure I will, too much information I feel.
- Finish The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel
Continue to participate in the Sense and Sensibility Read Along, which is so much fun, and I need to participate in more read-alongs, I should seek out ones for books I have on my TBR.I love this, I’ve missed more structured book discussions. Once we are done I’m going to rewatch the movies and Elinor and Marianne Take Barton. Continue to participate in the Villette Read Along. I’m really enjoying this, definitely prefer the lesser known Brontë works. Definitely enjoying it, I’m getting to all of the M. Paul Emmanuel scenes that are gems of wit.
- Get caught up on The Silent Bells serial
Thanks to my kindle I read 8 Georgette Heyer novels. 5 stars doesn’t give enough nuance. I have a lot of 3’s of these on Goodreads, but I think that they rank more like 4 to 6 or 4.5 to 7 which is quite a difference. I’ve put them here in order of liking as best I can remember or judge.
- Sylvester, Devil’s Cub
- The Reluctant Widow, Regency Buck
- The Foundling
- The Masqueraders
- Powder and Patch
- Cousin Kate
I finished the pomeranian book (different than above) that I’d started. And I also read Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw which I greatly enjoyed until it (and the heroine) took a nosedive at the end attempting to be all deep, realistic, psychological or whatever and being instead completely flakey and fickle. Ugh. Ugh. UGH.
I reread the first four Harry Potter books, reading my sister’s illustrated copies. I’m going to wait to purchase my own set once they’ve all come out. These editions are amazing. They definitely give you a strong sense of place and atmosphere.
I read The Shadow of the Wind. This did NOT give me a strong sense of place in the way I wanted. It was very atmospheric though. I won’t be continuing with the series. The writing is excellent comparably, but I just can’t justify the content, in every sensitive area it felt gratuitous.
I’ve decided that I needed to finish at least one book for every Harry Potter book I read. I think perhaps, I need to do that with any rereads, and maybe bump it up to 2 or 3 books for every reread. Maybe once I get my hands on more new relaxing reads (which may have to be once I get a Kindle), I can increase that.
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.
I’ve gotten my reading motivation back thanks to going through Fairytale Central’s retellings lists, reading two fairytale retellings by Liz Brazwell (found on those lists), the Dune trailer motivating me to pick up Dune (it has been on my list for awhile then some of my siblings read it, but I’ve got to see that movie, so now I’m starting it), the new season, and I think the push to finish The Idiot. Edit, no I haven’t, I’ve just moved on to new books to borrow, better get with it!
The Last Battle. I finally finished rereading Narnia 9-10 months after I started. I think the next go round, I might not reread them all, and end at Prince Caspian. The Magician’s Nephew might get skipped as well.
Part of Your World by Liz Brazwell. I enjoyed this one more than As Old as Time. And I don’t really care for Little Mermaid much, but this was quite fun and interesting.
Everything That Remains. I love their podcast, love, LOVE their secret podcast, but this book is not great (I thought it would be about both of them and be better written), and I’ve heard a lot of their points, it is a good reminder though, it did help with my motivation to really go through things. I am however, going to read their newest book when it comes out because I’m sure (I hope) the writing has improved. I’ve been listening to their most recent podcast episodes which led me to this book which is indie published and years old.
And then I finished the audiobook of Every Living Thing by James Herriot. This is the last of the 5 American collections, I think they were published differently (not merely the title but the division of the stories) in England.
I fell behind on The Idiot, then started to speed up my reading, but ultimately decide that I didn’t want to push to finish it for the Classics Club spin, I think the spin did what it should, got me to read, but I think I’ll take it slow, and read small amounts. Edit, well, I haven’t picked it up since this draft, but surely I will, I’m 38% percent done.
These High, Green Hills and Out to Canaan by Jan Karon (books 3 and 4 of Mitford). I had decided that I would read Mitford every once in a while and now seemed like a good time for a nice cozy read. Then I thought I’d read them straight through, but since I’ve stuck in book 5, and I’m starting to get my reading interest back, I think, this current month, I think I’ll save the rest for another time.
Rilla of Ingleside. This book starts out so well, it is so deep and atmospheric and the build up to and after effects of the tragedy are excellent and then everything else seems incidental.
As Old As Time by Liz Brazwell. I’ve been in the mood for fairytale retellings and this part of a series that takes Disney’s retellings and retells them. I greatly enjoyed it. The prose was decent to be easy to read and it was fast paced. It was very dark, much darker than the usual Beauty and the Beast, not kid or sensitive teen appropriate.
I read 23 items in these two months, 6 of those were short fairy tale retellings and 2 plays. Only 7 were new-to-me reads.
Coriolanus. There is a reason why this one is less famous. More on that in a later post.
Hamlet. I’ve already review this for the Classics Club here.
Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer. This was fun (and NOT the rake and young dope version, young rake and his childhood bff). I’m exhausting the treasury of historical Heyer novels. One was so boring and unsatisfactory I opted not to finish.
Restless Empire: A Historical Atlas of Russia by Ian Barnes. Highly recommend, extremely fascinating. This was supposed to go along with my reading of War and Peace, but said reading has been nonexistence.
Listening Valley by D.E. Stevenson. Sweet and a nice happy read. I think that is what another blogger wrote which is why i got it.
Framed! by James Ponti. A darling middle grade fiction mystery. I need to look up to see if there are more. This is a very fast read.
Penhallow. So I thought I’d try a Heyer mystery. Yeah, so besides not actually being a mystery to the reader and an unsolved one for the characters, it features unarguably a patriarchal, narcissistic, god-awful horror of a man and his piggish progeny. It could have been set in a older time, the vague mention of cars clued me in to it being contemporary to Heyer. The manor house with the men who impregnate village women (over generations, so what an incestuous mess that probably was) and who are basically moneyed Neanderthals. All of these criticisms have lost their weight because over and misuse have diluted their meaning. But as I rarely use them please understand that I mean them fully.
Yeah, most characters were awful, often inconsistent. The one character I leaned towards has a horrible end, kind of gave me nightmares because of the overall ick and the despair and the non-ending, ending. I rated it one star, the reason I have so few one stars is that I view books that derisive that rating as books that should not be read, so I don’t finish them and therefore don’t rate them. This is one I should not have finished I felt guilty reading it. It was muck with no literary merit. It was interesting in a grotesque way, but I was disgusted that I’d allowed myself to read this completely through.
The Fairy’s Return, For Biddle’s Sake, Cinderellis and the Glass Hill, Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep, The Princess Test, The Fairy’s Mistake. All the princess tales by Gale Carson Levine. Again, lovely quick escapist relaxing reads.
I started the Grandma’s attic novels in April and read most of them in May. So that is 7 right there.
The Silver Chair. I stuck fast on this one for a while. Bear in mind that Narnia was supposed to be my Christmas treat, but I dragged on many of them. I’m currently stuck fast in The Last Battle.
Gaudy Night and Murder Must Advertise. Two of the best Wimsey nove.. I think next time I’ll skip a few and reread only the best. I’m saving the final novel to finish on my birthday.
I’m rather burned out and unmotivated. I barely read, watched a few Hallmarks (not really in the mood for many of these this year thankfully, but really read for old favorites for Christmas).
The Dream Stealer by Sid Fleischman. Uninspiring kids’ book.
The Queen’s Secret by Jessica Day George. A middle-grade book that as I was reading caused me to feel like I picked up a middle book . . . I had. I’m interested to a least skim the next whenever it comes out, but not really super inspired to read the first one though.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Middle-grade, okay, reminded me of the much more interesting How to Steal a Million.
Clueless. So, way raunchier than I was expecting (I guess I didn’t realize it was 90’s or think much further about that). I could have done without that. All the 90’s Valley Girl talk was hilarious though, at least I assume that is what some of it was anyway. Everyone’s accent sounded Northeastern though. The driving part is funny. Cher is funny. Cher’s friend’s boyfriend who is trying to be all ganster but has braces, that was a hilarious. The “Mr. Martin” and “Harriet” are adorbs. I generally find the modern version cuter, apparently since I loved Martin and Harriet in Emma Approved, better even than Knightley and Emma.
I wanted to like it, but between skipping because of the scratches on the dvd and my boredom, my trying to do a million things at the same time and finish the movie before family and guests got home from church (Sunday, what a great day to watch a movie like this . . .) and the changes in the plot and far too fast plot, I was disappointed. I will try it again, but yeah. Not near as much “Mr. Knightley” as there was in the book, plus making “Frank” gay completely changed the plot. In Emma, Mr. Knightley is jealous of Frank before anyone meet him, Emma is building him up as the perfect man, there is tons of flirtation, and he generally is the cause of Mr. Knightley realizing he loves Emma, going away to try to get over it, the ultimate avowal of love etc. Yeah, that falls terrible flat in the movie. The “Mr. Elton” guy has more of a point than the “Frank” while I think that Frank holds a slightly bigger role in the book. All that contributed to the flat, rushed ending.
I surpassed my 2019 goal in August, I believe. But I’d still like to work on my new-to-me reading until December. I haven’t had to resort to much re-reading (I add all my re-reading to my goal, so that I know how much I re-read and so it doesn’t count towards my 100+ new reads), but I might have to increase that since I feel like I’m losing motivation, we shall see. And then I’m going to make sure I have the colored-illustrated version of Narnia to read along with the audio versions on Audible.
All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot. I finished the third James Herriot collection on Audible. I love these, although this one featured a jarring suicide story and then followed with another one about depression. I could have done without those, I just wanted animal stories with pleasant or funny people stories. I like living in a safe bubble that only I puncture if and when I chose.
The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay. Ultimately shallow.
Barchester Towers and Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope. Oh, I’m VERY happy with this series of Trollope. It’s very readable and quite funny. His characters are all complex and developed, though not in the traditional sense, more that you very much know they are human, even the women, something Dickens couldn’t or wouldn’t do. I’m not sure when I want to watch Dr. Thorne on Amazon, I think I want to make it through the series, just so my perception of later books isn’t affected even though though each of these books focuses on new sets of characters with mentions of old ones, I just don’t want anything affected. I also discovered that BBC has a radio drama of The Barsetshire Chronicles available on Audible (!!!).
The Unknown Ajax and Venetia by Georgette Heyer. I enjoyed the first well-enough even though the (rare) not-rake hero was a bit self-righteous towards the end. The first part was quite funny. Venetia, well, the worst type of Heyer rake AND the “older” heroine was more like the obnoxious younger ones in her defense of him. And oh, this one DRAGGED. I seriously thought of putting it down multiple times.
The Man in the Brown Suit, The Sittaford Mystery, They Came to Baghdad and Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? by Agatha Christie. Apparently I enjoyed these well-enough since I gave them all three-stars. I think I have one Christie mystery left that I haven’t read.
A Fashionable History of Hats and Hairstyles by Helen Reynolds. Interesting book aimed at children for historical hats mostly. I wish I could find better adult resources, but the ones I got didn’t have illustrations, which is RATHER important for this subject!
Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze by Elizabeth Enright. It took me a month to finish this. I’m obviously not the intended audience, but I still feel like at a young age, I wouldn’t have liked this as well either. It focuses on the younger two of the family following clues around, I feel like it reaches a younger, narrow age range than the first three books even though its the last of the series.
Rose Cottage and Stormy Petrel by Mary Stewart. Not my favorites, the first is better, the last was rushed, undeveloped, and yet another of her stories were I preferred the bad guy (he had more personality and development).
Lady of Quality and The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer. These feature the less-offensive rake and demure “on-the-shelf” lady pairings. I’m going to do a quickie post on her character types.
Three Times Lucky (Mo & Dale Mysteries, #1), The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing (#2), The Odds of Getting Even (#3), and The Law of Finders Keepers (#4) by Sheila Turnage. This are lovely, just right what I needed when I needed it. They have the same Southern sparkle and charm as A Snicker of Magic and The Key to Extraordinary. So much personality, such fun, such closeness. Mo reminds me of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. There is that same charm and pull there, but without the bad things, the hard things (and these are not classic level), I’m just talking about the overall small-town, charm.
70s Fashion Fiascos: Studio 54 to Saturday Night Fever by Maureen Valdes Marsh, Fabulous Fashions of the 1970s by Felicia Lowenstein, and The 1970s Decade in Photos: Protest and Change (reread) by Jim Corrigan. So That 70’s Show sent me on a 70’s, particularly, 70’s fashion, binge. The first books was a fiasco in terms of organization, I’m not sure you’d get much from it as a stand-alone. I watched THE ULTIMATE FASHION HISTORY: The 1970s series on YouTube for a more coherent understanding of 70’s fashion (be aware that the punk rock section, which appears twice, in the main and in a high light, contain x-rated material!). From what I gather the strict standard of fashion that had been in vogue for centuries began to be broken in the 60’s and by the 70’s we had modern fashion. I had previously though there was a 70’s “look”, but it was made up of many different trends (jeans for example), all of which continue to this day with more specific details (flared jeans, boho look) coming in and out of modern trends. As well as making permanent the break away from formality.
A Circlet Of Oak Leaves by Rosemary Sutcliff. Another of her smaller “children’s” works from that Antelope Books series.
Passenger to Frankfurt and Endless Night by Agatha Christie. Didn’t care for either of these, the first had potential, some interesting characters and romance but that was mostly shoved aside for a weird dystopia/mystery (don’t like) that felt like WWII, the Cold War, and paranoia all cut and pasted together. Well, we had WWII, just write about that?!