Kathy's (kac522) Reading Challenges in 2023

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Kathy's (kac522) Reading Challenges in 2023

Editado: Jan 21, 12:33 pm

"In the Woods at Giverny", Claude Monet, 1887

Welcome to my 2023 Reading Challenges

I am setting myself 5 broad challenges for the year. This worked well for me last year and am hoping for the same in 2023. Three are carry-overs from last year and two are new challenges. I'm going to give myself the liberty to count a book in more than one challenge if it fits.

I’ll be keeping a chronological "book by book" list in the 75ers group here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/347268#

I’m in the Roots group again and will keep count of all the books I’ve read from my shelves that were bought prior to 2023:

Let's get to the challenges!

Editado: Dez 7, 11:32 am

Challenge 1: Books in My Ongoing "Complete the Author" Reading

This category will be for all my “complete the author/series” reading, in which I am reading all the major works of the following authors. I hope to read at least one book from each author in 2023. This can be a new-to-me book or a re-read.

Elizabeth Bowen

Willa Cather

Agatha Christie
What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw, 1957
And Then There Were None, 1939; re-read from 2015
The Patriotic Murders, 1940
Sad Cypress, 1940

George Eliot
The Lifted Veil, 1859; re-read from 2021

Elizabeth Gaskell
Ruth, 1853
The Moorland Cottage, 1850

Thomas Hardy
Under the Greenwood Tree, 1872; re-read on audiobook, read by Simon Vance

Winifred Holtby

The School at Thrush Green, 1987
Friends at Thrush Green, 1990
Celebrations at Thrush Green, 1992
Tales from a Village School, 1994
The Year at Thrush Green, 1996
Christmas at Thrush Green, 2009

D. E. Stevenson
Young Mrs Savage, 1948

Elizabeth Taylor

Anthony Trollope
❤️The Belton Estate, 1866; re-read from 2021
❤️Framley Parsonage, 1861; audiobook read by Simon Vance; re-read from 2012;
The Lady of Launay, 1878
Two Heroines of Plumplington, 1882; re-read from 2017
The Small House at Allington, 1864; audiobook read by Simon Vance; re-read from 2012
❤️The Last Chronicle of Barset, 1867; audiobook read by Simon Vance; re-read from 2012
The Claverings, 1867; re-read from 2021; Group read with Liz
Harry Heathcote of Gangoil, (1874)
❤️The Golden Lion of Granpère, (1872); re-read from 2014

Elizabeth von Arnim
❤️The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rügen, (1904); ebook
Christopher and Columbus, (1919); ebook

Edith Wharton
A Son at the Front, 1923
Crucial Instances, 1901; short stories
Madame de Treymes and Three Novellas, 1916

E. H. Young

Editado: Dez 7, 11:33 am

Challenge 2: Challenges from LT and Beyond

I’ll be dipping in and out of Challenges around LT. I also follow some booktubers on YouTube and participate in challenges and readathons, like Jane Austen July and Victober (Victorian October). Finally, I continue to participate in a real-life Book Club that I joined back in 2010. When I complete a book for a challenge, I'll note it here, and code it as follows:

RKIT = LT RandomKIT https://www.librarything.com/topic/345454#
CLCAT = LT ClassicsCAT https://www.librarything.com/topic/345673#
HF = LT Historical Fiction Challenge https://www.librarything.com/topic/346334#
75NF = LT 75ers Nonfiction Challenge https://www.librarything.com/topic/347191
AAC = LT American Authors Challenge https://www.librarything.com/topic/346826
BAC = LT British Authors Challenge https://www.librarything.com/topic/346901
RTTM = LT Reading Through Time monthly challenge https://www.librarything.com/topic/345058#
RTTQ = LT Reading through Time quarterly challenge
VIRAA = LT All August/All Virago https://www.librarything.com/ngroups/875/Virago-Modern-Classics
VIR50 = LT Virago 50th Anniversary Project https://www.librarything.com/topic/348159#
VIRCHR = LT Virago Chronological Group Reads https://www.librarything.com/topic/349864#
VTAV = LT Club Read Victorian Tavern https://www.librarything.com/topic/346714#
CDalong = #Dickensalong (booktube) (2023-24)
JA = Jane Austen July (booktube)
VICT = Victober (Victorian October--booktube)
OCC = My RL Book Club
MA = LT Monthly Authors https://www.librarything.com/ngroups/5825/Monthly-Author-Reads

1. 75NF: Jan: Prizewinner: The Complete Maus, Art Spiegelman (1996)
2. OCC, HF : Jan: Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (1847)
3. AAC: Jan: children's Understood Betsy, Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1916)
4. AAC: Jan: children's: Caddie Woodlawn, Carol Ryrie Brink (1935)
5. AAC & CLCAT: Jan: children's & adventure: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain (1876)
6. RTTQ: Q1: Feb: 1914-1918: The Great War: July 1, 1916, Joe Sacco with text by Adam Hochschild (2013)
7. VTAV: Q1: Feb: Roughing It In the Bush, Susanna Moodie (1852)
8. VTAV: Q1: Feb: The Journals of Susanna Moodie, Margaret Atwood & Charles Pachter (1997)
9. VTAV: Q1: Feb: Susanna Moodie: Roughing It In the Bush, Carol Shields & Patrick Crowe, adapted by Willow Dawson & Selena Goulding (2016)
10. OCC, RTT Feb: West with the Night, Beryl Markham (1942)
11. RTTQ & VIR50: Q1: 1914-18: Feb: The Return of the Soldier, Rebecca West (1918)
12. RKIT: Feb: Two: Two-Part Invention, Madeleine L'Engle (1988)
13. 75NF: Feb: hobbies: Browse: The World in Bookshops (2016)
14. BAC: Feb: short works: Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall (2009)
15. OCC: Mar: Brooklyn, Colm Toibin (2009)
16. RKIT: Mar: water: The Lighthouse Stevensons, Bella Bathurst (1999)
17. BAC & VIR50: Mar: All Passion Spent, Vita Sackville-West (1931)
18. BAC: Mar: English Country Houses, Vita Sackville-West (1941)
19. CLCAT: Mar: screen: Washington Square, Henry James
20. VTAV: Q1: Mar: The House of the Seven Gables, Hawthorne (1851)
21. VTAV: Q1: Mar: Washington Square, Henry James (1880)
22. AAC: Mar: poetry: Maud Martha, Gwendolyn Brooks (1953)
23. VTAV: Q1: The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane (1895)
24. RTTQ: Q2: 1919-39: The Diary of an Isle Royale School Teacher, Dorothy Simonson (1988)
25. VIRCHR: Apr: Phoebe, Junior, Margaret Oliphant (1876)
26. OCC & RKIT: Apr: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare (1600)
27. BAC: Apr: Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her Life, Lucy Worsley (2018)
28. AAC: Apr: Tearing the Silence: On Being German in America, Ursula Hegi (1997)
29. MA: Apr: Potok: My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok (1972)
30. MA: Apr: Potok: Chaim Potok, Edward Abramson (1986)
31. CLCAT: May: Children's: The Betsy-Tacy Treasury, Maud Hart Lovelace (1943)
32. RTTQ: Q2: 1919-1938: Soldiers with Picks and Shovels, Tom Emery (2011)
33. 75NF: May: biography: Shakespeare: The World as Stage, Bill Bryson (2007)
34. OCC & RTTQ: May: A Month in the Country, J. L. Carr (1980)
35. VIR50: May: The Squire, Enid Bagnold (1938)
36. BAC: May: To Serve Them All My Days, R. F. Delderfield (1972)
37. HF: Jun: Barnaby Rudge, Charles Dickens (1841)
38. JA, CLCAT: Jun: Humor: Lady Susan, Jane Austen (1871 post.)
39. OCC & BAC: Jun: Time travel: The Time Machine, H. G. Wells (1895)
40. HF & VTAV: Jun: The Betrothed, Alessandro Manzoni (1840 revised edition)
41. CLCAT & MA: Jun: Humor/Ferber: The Girls, Edna Ferber (1921)
42. JA: July: Pride and Prejudice, (1813)
43. JA: July: The Castle of Otranto, Horace Walpole (1764)
44. JA: July: Northanger Abbey, (1818)
45. CLCAT: Aug: in translation: Love and Youth: Essential Stories, Ivan Turgenev, trans NP & M Slater, (1852 & 1860)
46. RTT:Aug: Immigration: From These Shores, Helga Skogsbergh (1975)
47. OCC:Aug: The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)
48. OCC:Aug: The Annotated Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911); Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, introduction and annotations (2007)
49. VIRAA: Aug: Good Daughters, Mary Hocking (1984)
50. VIR50: Aug: Jamaica Inn, Daphne Du Maurier (1936)
51. BAC and RTT: Sep: School Days Tales from a Village School, Miss Read (1994)
52. VICT: Martin Chuzzlewit, Charles Dickens (1844); audiobook read by Sean Barrett; re-read from 2010
53. OCC: Sep: A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams (1947)
54. CLCAT: Sep: Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave, Elizabeth Keckley (1868)
55. RTTQ: WWII: Sep: Indifferent Heroes, Mary Hocking (1985)
56. RTTQ: WWII: Sep: The Faithful Spy, John Hendrix (2018)
57. VIR50: Sep: Excellent Women, Barbara Pym (1952); re-read from 2013
58. BAC and RTT: Sep: School Days: Good-Bye, Mr Chips, James Hilton (1933)
59. VICT: Agnes Grey, Anne Bronte (1847)
60. VICT: Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell (1853)
61. VICT: The Poor Clare, Elizabeth Gaskell (1856); re-read from 2019
62. AAC: Oct: The Home-Maker, Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1924)
63. VICT: A Child of the Jago, Arthur Morrison (1896)
64. VICT: The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson (2006, with 2023 Afterword)
65. OCC: Oct: Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury (1962)
66. VICT: The Odd Women, George Gissing (1893)
67. CDalong: Nov: Dombey and Son, Charles Dickens (1848); re-read from 2003; on audiobook, read by David Timson
68. AAC: Nov: Canada: Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery (1908); re-read from 1989
69. OCC: Nov: As You Like It, Wm Shakespeare (1599)
70. AAC: Nov: Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, Margaret Atwood (1982); essays
71. RKIT: Nov: Heat Lightning, Helen Hull (1932)
72. AAC: Nov: Canada: Oscar Peterson: The Will To Swing, Gene Lees (1990)
73. CLCAT: Dec: Re-reads: David Copperfield, Dickens (1850)
74. CLCAT: Dec: Re-reads: The Moorland Cottage, Gaskell (1850)

Editado: Ago 10, 1:24 am

"Pink Note - The Novelette", James McNeill Whistler, 1884

Challenge 3: Shorter Works: Short Stories, Novellas and Essay Collections from My TBR

I have at least 60 volumes of shorter works on my TBR. I've selected about 40 short story collections, novellas and essay collections to choose from to read in 2023. Each month I hope to read at least 2, but I'll be happy if I get 12 done for the year. My main goal will be to read at least one short story or essay every day, something that I think is achievable this year.

1. Jan: Over By the River and Other Stories, William Maxwell (1984); on TBR from before 2009
2. Jan: A Pair of Silk Stockings and Other Stories, Kate Chopin (this edition 1996; stories originally published 1894 and 1897); TBR from 2021
3. Jan: The Highland Widow, Sir Walter Scott (1827); TBR from 2022 (novella)
4. Feb: Short Stories (Dover Thrift Editions), Louisa May Alcott; (1863-74); this edition 1996; TBR from 2021
5. Feb: The Means of Escape, Penelope Fitzgerald (2001); short stories; TBR from 2022
6. Feb: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass (1845); memoir; TBR from 2022
7. Feb: Playing in the Dark, Toni Morrison (1992); essays, TBR from 2022
8. Mar: Seducers in Ecuador & The Heir, Vita Sackville-West (1924 & 1922)
9. May: American Histories, John Edgar Wideman (2018)
10. Jun: Three Tales, Gustave Flaubert (1877)
11. Jun: The Norman Maclean Reader, Norman Maclean (2008)
12. Aug: Love and Youth: Essential Stories, Ivan Turgenev, trans by NP & M Slater, (1860 & 1852)

Editado: Nov 30, 1:25 am

Challenge 4: READ or RID in 2023

According to LT, my “To Read” Collection has over 500 books. In order to chip away at the TBR, I'm going to try the "Read or Rid" challenge I saw by a booktuber I follow, Tiffany of Beautiful Minutiae (https://www.youtube.com/@beautifulminutiae).

For this challenge I've chosen 24 books from my TBR that have been on there just too long. Maybe they appealed because I heard about the book somewhere or I had read one book by the author that I enjoyed or the cover appealed to me on a whim. Whatever. The point is, I haven't read them and it's time to read them or get rid of them. I'm committing to read at least 50 pages of the book. If it's good, I'll finish it. If it isn't, out it goes! Win-win, right?

I will probably use the monthly AlphaKIT challenge to help choose 2 books for each month. My 24 books are:

✔RID 1. The Dollmaker, Harriette Arnow --RID in March
✔READ 2. The Dressmaker, Beryl Bainbridge --READ in August
TO READ 3. Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges
✔RID 4. The Chemistry of Tears, Peter Carey--RID in November
TO READ 5. Mrs Bridge, Evan S. Connell
✔READ 6. The Whistling Season, Ivan Doig --READ in September
✔RID 7. The Game of Kings, Dorothy Dunnett --RID in November
✔RID 8. Life Itself, Roger Ebert --RID in November
TO READ 9. Peace Like a River, Leif Enger
TO READ 10. The Violins of Saint-Jacques, Patrick Leigh Fermor
TO READ 11. Mr Mac and Me, Esther Freud
✔RID 12. Electricity, Victoria Glendinning --RID in March
✔RID 13. The Unknown Ajax, Georgette Heyer --RID in June
✔RID 14. The Death of the Adversary, Hans Keilson --RID in August
✔RID15. Fateless, Imre Kertesz --RID in November
TO READ 16. Chicago Heat, Clarence Major
TO READ 17. An Atomic Romance, Bobbie Ann Mason
✔RID 18. The Library Book, Susan Orlean --RID in November
✔RID 19. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See --RID in November
✔RID 20. The Cape Ann, Faith Sullivan --RID in January
TO READ 21. The Hundred Secret Sense, Amy Tan
TO READ 22. Saving Fish from Drowning, Amy Tan
✔RID 23. The Heather Blazing, Colm Toibin --RID in November
✔RID 24. Nora Webster, Colm Toibin --RID in March

If you've loved (or hated!) any of these, please let me know! It may help me prioritize the list.

*Not on original list

Editado: Dez 2, 11:34 am

Challenge 5: Everything Else

Gotta have a catch-all category—these will be mostly library books or new books purchased in 2023 that don’t fit any of the 4 categories above.

♥ 1. Jan: The Forest of Wool and Steel, Natsu Miyashita (2020), translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel; library book
2. Jan: Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books, Cathy Rentzenbrink (2020); library book
♥ 3. Jan: Foster, Claire Keegan (2010); library book
♥ 4. Jan: The Doctor's Wife, Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1864); library book
5. Feb: Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature, Margaret Atwood (1995); library book
6. Feb: Semicolon, Cecelia Watson (2019); library book
7. Apr: The Swedish Art of Death Cleaning, Margareta Magnusson (2019); library book
♥ 8. The Anthropocene Reviewed, John Green (2021); library book
9. Postcards: The Rise and Fall, Pyne (2021); library book
10. Secret Harvests, David Mas Masumoto (2023); library book
11. Before the Coffee Gets Cold, Toshikazu Kawaguchi; translated by Geoffrey Trousselot (2015); library book
12. Tove Jansson (The Illustrators) by Paul Gravett (2022); library book
13. Unearthing the Secret Garden, Marta McDowell (2021); purchased in 2023
14. My Life in Middlemarch, Rebecca Mead (2014)
15. Simply Artificial Intelligence, DK Publishing (2023)
16. The Private Life of Spies and The Exquisite Art of Getting Even: Stories, Alexander McCall Smith (2023)

Editado: Jan 2, 2:17 pm

Favorite reads of 2022:

Fiction (in order read):

Miss Mole, E. H. Young, 1930
Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson, 1886
A Lost Lady, Willa Cather, 1923
The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sarah Orne Jewett, 1896
The Feast, Margaret Kennedy, 1950
The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro, 1989
Father, Elizabeth von Arnim, 1931
Small Things Like These, Claire Keegan, 2021
The Fortnight in September, R. C. Sherriff, 1931

Nonfiction (in order read):

On Tyranny Graphic Edition, Timothy Snyder, 2021; thoughts on the threat to democracy; even more powerful in this graphic book edition
Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure, Arthur Conan Doyle, originally 1880; this edition 2012; 1880 memoir of Conan Doyle's time on a whaling ship as medical officer; this 2012 facsimile edition of his journal includes photographs from the expedition and historical background
Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm, David Mas Masumoto, 1995; memoir of running a family farm and Japanese American heritage
A Chelsea Concerto, Frances Faviell, 1959; memoir of living through the London Blitz during WWII
Our America: A Photographic History, Ken Burns, 2022; stunning historical American photographs selected by Burns

Re-reading classics is my greatest comfort; I re-read 29 novels in 2022, most by audiobook. Books that were even more wonderful on re-reading were (in order read):

David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
Under the Greenwood Tree, Thomas Hardy
North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell
The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
Middlemarch, George Eliot

(Not counted here are my annual re-reads of Jane Austen and my "re-read" project of Anthony Trollope, which will always top my "favorites" lists.)

Jan 2, 2:24 pm

>5 kac522: nope, not read any of those, though I like Heyer, and have The Whistling Season on my shelves. Let me know when you get to it, we could do a shared read.

Jan 2, 2:38 pm

>8 fuzzi: OK, although I may not get past the first 50 pages if it doesn't work for me--there's something so freeing about thinking that way!

Jan 2, 4:05 pm

Hi, Kathy - Happy New Year, Group and Thread!

Love your categories as always and will be following your progress with interest (and hopefully remembering to actually comment more!).

Jan 2, 4:41 pm

Wishing you a wonderful year of reading in 2023.

Jan 2, 4:55 pm

Welcome back and have a great reading year! I do love a good challenge so will be interested to see what challenges you dip into from outside LT.

Jan 2, 5:42 pm

I've always liked that Heyer book and have reread it more than once.

Have a wonderful reading year!

Editado: Jan 2, 6:07 pm

>10 lyzard: Hi Liz, thanks for stopping by, comments or no!
>11 lkernagh: Thanks, Lori. I'm so glad to see you back.
>12 rabbitprincess: Challenges, challenges! You would think with all these books, I wouldn't need more incentives, but somehow I do. Thanks for dropping by.
>13 hailelib: Well that's good--I read a couple of Heyers that were just so-so for me; maybe this is the one that will turn it around. And thanks for visiting.

Jan 2, 8:04 pm

I have taken a few BB's from you 22 favs!

Jan 2, 8:29 pm

I should really adopt the read 50 pages and done on some books. It would have saved some precious reading time that I wasted over the last few years. Good luck with your 2023 reading.

Jan 2, 8:59 pm

>15 Tess_W: Apologies for adding to your TBR! And thanks for stopping by.
>16 lowelibrary: Thanks for visiting! I hope the 50-page rule gives me a little more shelf space, if nothing else!

Jan 2, 10:31 pm

>5 kac522: Mrs Bridge is excellent. Happy reading!

Editado: Jan 2, 10:56 pm

>18 pamelad: Ah! Thanks for the rec (duly noted) and thanks for stopping by, Pam!

Jan 3, 2:08 pm

I gave Peace Like a River 4.5* if that helps any. I also have The Whistling Season on my TBR so will be looking to see what you think. I may adopt your read or rid idea next year. I have way too many old books on my TBR also. Here's to a good reading year.

Jan 3, 2:46 pm

Happy New Year and good luck with all those challenges! I loved reading through your lists and am looking forward to following along.

Jan 3, 3:54 pm

>20 dudes22: Welcome and thanks for that rating. I know I got it years ago because a good friend had recommended it, but just never got around to it. Hoping it will be good one.

>21 MissBrangwen: And to you too! It might be too many challenges at this point....looking over what I want to read in January is starting to look daunting....

Editado: Jan 28, 1:28 am

January Reading Possibilities

Let's start out the New Year by saying I have a pile of 19 books next to me that are all possibilities for this month, plus 4 coming from the library ("in transit"). There is NO WAY I'll read all of these, but here goes:

Currently Reading:
Maus, Art Spiegelman -- for 75ers NonFiction--Prizewinners
The Forest of Wool and Steel by Natsu Miyashita, translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel (library book)*
✔Over By The River (stories), William Maxwell -- RandomKIT Hidden Gems (oldest TBR books) and my Shorter Works challenge (see below)

Audiobook for this month & next: Dickens' The Pickwick Papers read by Patrick Tull

Everything else is up for grabs:
The Belton Estate, Trollope -- a re-read for the Group read led by Liz (lyzard)
The Doctor's Wife, Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte--a re-read for my RL Book Club
--Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall, Kazuo Ishiguro (library book)*
Dear Reader: the Comfort and Joy of Books, Cathy Rentzenbrink (library book)*
--The 4.50 from Paddington, Agatha Christie
--The Highland Widow, Sir Walter Scott OR The Master of Ballantrae, R. L. Stevenson -- ClassicsCAT Adventure Classic
--Roughing It In the Bush, Susanna Moodie--for the Club Read Victorian Tavern challenge
--Ralph the Heir, Anthony Trollope

For the January AAC Challenge (children's classics), I have the following possibilities. I may only read 1 or 2:
--Under the Lilacs, Louisa May Alcott
--Madge Morton Captain of the Merry Maid, Amy Chalmers (1914 book that belonged to my grandmother)
Understood Betsy, Dorothy Canfield Fisher
--A Girl of the Limberlost, Gene Stratton-Porter
--The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain

For my Shorter Works Challenge (see >4 kac522:)
Over By the River, William Maxwell
A Pair of Silk Stockings and Other Stories, Kate Chopin

For my Read or Rid books this month (see >5 kac522:) my choices for January are:
--Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See
--The Cape Ann, Faith Sullivan

I know--I am WAY "over-booked" for this month. What a way to go....

*these 3 library books were book bullets from Katie Lumsden, booktuber at Books & Things.

Jan 3, 7:54 pm

>23 kac522: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is one of my all-time favs!

Jan 3, 10:02 pm

>24 Tess_W: Good to hear--I think ;) I was hoping for more "Rids" than "Reads", but it's still nice to know that my judgment in selecting books at library sales is not all bad. And that I have some good reading ahead of me!

Jan 3, 11:55 pm

>24 Tess_W: Also interested to hear what you think because Snowflower and the Secret Fan has been hanging around on my Kindle since 2017. I was very impressed with On Gold Mountain, a history of See's family.

Jan 4, 12:41 am

I've placed my star and I am looking forward to following your categories and your challenges!

I have read The Whistling Season and gave it 5 stars - the down side is that it is the first of a trilogy so could lead to 2 more books being added to your TBR.

I also have read Peace Like a River and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan both 5 star reads for me. Fatelessness received 4.5 stars from me, but as the book follows a young man to the death camps of WW II, I can't say that I loved it.

Sounds like you have some great reads ahead of you!

Jan 4, 1:17 am

>26 pamelad: Hmmm...her memoir sounds intriguing, too.
>27 DeltaQueen50: Thanks for all the thumbs-up recs...wow, this project may be dangerous! Anyway they all need to be read, so it's giving me positive vibes to get on with them.

Jan 6, 8:59 am

Some great books listed here. I shall be avidly following!

Jan 6, 11:17 am

>29 MissWatson: And I might even finish some of them 🤣

Jan 16, 5:02 pm

Hope you are enjoying your reading!

Jan 16, 9:38 pm

>31 thornton37814: I am, thanks! I've finished 4 books so far and they've all been really good.

Editado: Jan 23, 5:13 pm

I've been very good this month and have stayed away from bookstores and library sales. But the sun pulled me out of the house today, and I picked up 4 (somewhat obscure) classics at Half Price Books:

--Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time by Fanny Fern (1855)--totally new-to-me author and book. Is anyone familiar with Fern (1811-1872, American)? She apparently was a newspaper columnist.
--Anna of the Five Towns (1902) and The Old Wives' Tale (1908) by Arthur Bennett. The second book is vaguely familiar--has anyone read Arnold Bennett (1867-1931, British)?

and one familiar author, but new-to-me title:
--Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936) by George Orwell, a novel about a disenchanted writer. Besides Animal Farm and 1984, the only other novel of Orwell I have read is Burmese Days, which I enjoyed.

Any thoughts appreciated!

Jan 23, 10:28 pm

>33 kac522: I have not read Fanny Fern but I have heard of her from reading Nina Baym's Women's Fiction: A Guide to Novels by and about Women in America, 1820-70 (which I recommend despite the inevitable spoilers).

I have read Buried Alive: A Tale of These Days by Arnold Bennett. While it's been awhile, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was rather humorous. The Old Wives' Tale is on my shelf, waiting to be read.

Jan 24, 1:39 am

>34 NinieB: Thank you, Ninie! The Nina Baym book sounds interesting--I will have to see if my library has it. Ruth Hall is about 300 pages, so not too long to try out a new author. And it fits for the 1st quarter theme of the Victorian Tavern (19th c. American & Canadian authors).

I think the Bennett books I picked up are on the serious side, but that's OK. If I like him (I'll try the shorter one first), I can always move on to some of the lighter ones.

Editado: Jan 25, 9:24 pm

>35 kac522: Animal Farm is probably in my top 5 favorite books of all time. That being said, Keep the Aspidistra Flying is probably in the top 20!

Jan 25, 9:38 pm

>36 Tess_W: Oh that is good to hear! It was a choice between Aspidistra and The Road to Wigan Pier. Both books looked brand new (Half Price books is mostly used books, but maybe these were publisher's extras??), but I was trying to restrain myself😊, although I may go back soon and grab that, too....oh dear.

Editado: Jan 30, 6:24 pm

I'm still hoping to finish a few more books before the end of the month, but thought I'd start wrapping up the month with my first 5 reads, which were mostly fantastic.

January Reading

1. The Complete Maus, Art Spiegelman, 1986 & 1992, this edition 1996
Type: nonfiction graphic memoir, Holocaust testimony; Challenge 2: Nonfiction prize-winner
5 stars

In this Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic book, Art Spiegelman tells the story of his father's experience in Poland during the Holocaust, from his early years to his imprisonment in concentration camps to his release. But Spiegelman also shows us the process of gathering these stories from his father and the conflicts that arise. Spiegelman portrays people as animals: Jews as mice, Poles as pigs, Germans as cats, etc. At first this seemed odd, but as I got used to it, I realized this had a purpose: to help Spiegelman himself put some distance between the real people and the characters he was drawing. It also helped me as a reader to quickly tell the "hierarchy" inherent in relationships at that time.

What struck me most about the book was the relationship between the author and his father, and then the author's own struggles as a child of survivors, and trying to make sense of it all. Although he doesn't specifically point that out, we can see it in how he deals with his father. I kept coming away with the father being quite the wheeler and dealer, but you had to be to survive. Overall a very compelling and very personal look at surviving the Holocaust. Note: this 1996 edition combined Maus Book I (1986) and Maus Book II (1992).

2. The Forest of Wool and Steel, Natsu Miyashita, translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel, 2015
Type: fiction; Challenge 5: Everything Else
4½ stars

The story of a young man in rural Japan who hears a piano being tuned at his high school and is mesmerized by the sounds. Without any musical training, he makes the very brave decision to study piano tuning as a career. This quiet little book has so much packed into it: about striving for perfection, about perseverance, about mentors, about being completely dedicated to your craft. It's also about the importance of sound and tuning and creating the right timbre (tone quality) for a specific pianist on a specific piano. There are some very piano-technical passages (the "Wool and Steel" of the title refers to the piano hammers and strings), so I'm not sure how interesting the story might be to non-musicians; but as a music major in a distant life, I loved it.

The author has studied classical piano and the book was made into a movie in Japan. The book was not readily available at my library, so I did have to order it via inter-library loan.

3. Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books, Cathy Rentzenbrink, 2020
Type: nonfiction; memoir; books about books; Challenge 5: Everything else
3½ stars, with a 5-star book cover

This is a memoir through books. Rentzenbrink gives us a chapter of her life, how books were involved in that life, and then follows with a chapter of books she loved and that helped her in that period of her life. She starts with her first memories of reading, then a chapter on different phases in her life: middle school, high school, dealing with grief, young adulthood, jobs (bar tender, book seller, in publishing, writer) and finally, mother. The book felt very personal and yet not overly confessional; the book recommendations are wide and varied. At times it did get a bit repetitive, but overall a wonderful way to explore a life with books. This was another one that I had to order via inter-library loan.

4. The Belton Estate, Anthony Trollope, 1866
Type: fiction; re-read from 2021; Challenge 1: Complete the Author
4 stars

This is the story of Clara Amedroz, in her mid-twenties, who must choose between two suitors. Clara is in the position of the Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice: when her father dies, because of the entail, the estate will go to a distant cousin, and Clara will be left homeless and penniless.

I enjoyed this even more on re-reading, especially the portrayals of the 3 main female characters: Clara, Mrs Askerton (her neighbor) and Lady Aylmer (mother of her fiancée), who reminded me a bit of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. The main male characters are good, but not as well sculpted as the women. Liz's group read helped me to see how quite remarkable some of Clara's actions are, and Trollope's interesting portrayal of the mysterious Mrs Askerton, whose background is the subject of rumor and gossip.

It's typical Trollope, and although completely predictable, I did love it. But I'm a sucker for Trollope, especially Trollope without hunting or horse-racing. There's even a decent lawyer in this one, which is rare. And only a smidgen of politics.

5. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte, 1847
Type: historical fiction; re-read; Challenge 2: Historical Fiction; my RL book club
3 stars, mostly for the writing (upped this time from 2½)

I read this gothic classic for my RL Book Club. This was a re-read for me (4th time through). The action begins in 1801 Yorkshire, but does flashback to events in the 1770s-80s. It's complicated; if you don't know the story of Heathcliff and Cathy, there are all kinds of resources to sort it out for you. It would take up too much space here.

This is not a favorite of mine. Each time I've read it I've tried to figure out why people love it so much, and I come away baffled. On this reading I did appreciate Bronte's structure (a "framed" story within a story), her lush writing and the gothic atmosphere that she creates and sustains throughout the book. But the characters are overwhelming cruel to one another (with one or two minor exceptions) and that just leaves me cold. The story does keep you turning pages, but feels unnecessarily complicated, especially when you have to keep referring to the genealogy chart to keep the characters straight. So apologies to those who love this book; it's just not for me. I'll stick to Jane Eyre.

Jan 29, 10:32 am

>38 kac522: Read both Maus' in college and liked them. Wuthering Heights, my favorite book of all time! Sorry you didn't like it better. I will agree that it took me 2-3 times through before I connected the relatives, who often have the same names!

Jan 29, 12:21 pm

>39 Tess_W: I know there are so many who love WH. I think for me it started when I was about 12 and read Jane Eyre first and absolutely adored it. I could identify with young Jane and her growth, even if I didn't understand the entire book. And as she grows, she faces challenges, but also finds goodness and good people: her friend Helen at school, her teacher Miss Temple, the praise of Mr Rochester, then leaving him and being taken in by the Rivers family, especially the kind sisters. And coming back to Mr Rochester, very much on her own terms.

Not long after this experience I read Wuthering Heights, with, shall we say, "great expectations." But the characters, even as young children, were so relentlessly mean and cruel, it was hard to identify with any of them. Perhaps if I had read WH first, I might have felt differently, but the stark contrast between the books has stuck with me on every re-read since those first readings.

Jan 29, 1:29 pm

>38 kac522: I read the Maus books last year and also enjoyed them more than I thought I would.

Jan 29, 1:38 pm

>41 lowelibrary: Thanks for stopping by, April. I'm still thinking about them; I think they will stick with me for a long time.

Editado: Jan 30, 12:53 am

Back in >5 kac522: I laid out plans for my Challenge 4: "Read or Rid" project. Today I've spent some time with two books for this month and:

RID! The Cape Ann, Faith Sullivan; after about 20 pages of this book, I knew it was not for me.
READ! Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See--I was immediately engaged after the first few pages. I'll be reading this in February.

Tomorrow I hope to sum up another group of books I've read this month.

I'm finishing up The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and plan to read The Highland Widow, a short novella by Sir Walter Scott. And that should bring me to the end of the month.

Jan 30, 6:21 pm

January Reading Part 2

6. Understood Betsy, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, 1916
Type: children's fiction, Challenge 2: AAC--children's classics
3½ stars

I enjoyed this chatty tale of an orphan girl raised by over-protective aunts in Midwestern city. When one of the aunts gets ill, Elizabeth Ann must go live with poorer relatives who live on a farm in rural Vermont. She's immediately re-named Betsy and learns to be more independent, yet still loved. I enjoyed the description of rural life in 1916 and the contrast between city life and rural life (churning butter, farm chores, cooking, a one-room schoolhouse, county fairs, etc.). The last part of the book got rather too chatty and over-long, but it was still a fun read, as Betsy gets to remain living on the farm.

7. Foster, Claire Keegan, 2010
Type: fiction; Challenge 5: Everything Else
4½ stars

The premise of this little novella is a bit of a twist on Understood Betsy. In 1980s Ireland, an unnamed girl from a struggling family is sent to live with better-off relatives on a temporary basis until her parents can gain some stability. We are told the story from the girl's point of view and in this new home she finds love and appreciation that her parents were unable to give. Keegan's spare prose makes every word significant and powerful. Like Keegan's Small Things Like These which I read last month, the ending is left open and the reader wondering.

8. Over By the River and Other Stories, William Maxwell, 1984
Type: fiction, short stories; Root from before 2009; Challenge 2: RandomKIT; Challenge 3: Short works from my TBR
3½ stars

William Maxwell grew up in the small town of Lincoln, Illinois and the stories in this collection that are set in the fictional town of Draperville felt the truest to me. The characters in these stories felt real and rounded. He lived in New York as an adult, but the NY stories just didn't feel authentic to me--perhaps the characters felt too distant and flat. So it was a mixed bag and glad that I can move the book along to another home.

9. Caddie Woodlawn, Carol Ryrie Brink, 1935
Type: children's fiction; Challenge 2: AAC--children's classics
3½ stars

Brink based the character of Caddie on her grandmother's stories of her girlhood in Civil War-era Wisconsin. This was a favorite of mine as a girl, but I remembered literally nothing about it. The story covers one year of Caddie's adventurous life as she keeps up with her brothers in all things. There are some uncomfortable references to Native Americans and there has been some objection to this portrayal. This troubled me, but at the same time I felt that Brink attempted to show that the native peoples of the area were victims of rumor, prejudice and race hatred. Some of Caddie's antics seemed implausible, but on the whole it is a good adventure story and shows a young girl being competent and taking initiative in ways that were not necessarily considered "lady-like."

10. A Pair of Silk Stockings and Other Stories, Kate Chopin, 1894 & 1897
Type: fiction, short stories; Root from 2021; Challenge 3: Short works from my TBR
4 stars

Good stories, although I had trouble with the Creole/Acadian dialect in some of the stories. My favorites were "Desiree's Baby", "The Dream of an Hour" and "A Pair of Silk Stockings". Chopin was a master of the surprise (almost shocking) ending.

Jan 31, 12:47 am

>40 kac522: Interesting take on the WU characters; one that I have heard before. But I see Heathcliff and Cathy, especially, as people who have been betrayed and hurt and thus they hurt others. I can almost feel the grief Heathcliff suffers upon the death of Cathy.

Editado: Jan 31, 1:33 am

>45 Tess_W: Yes, they've been hurt, but hurting others in turn is not the only path, and I think Charlotte shows that with Jane. She's been hurt and betrayed, too: often times by adults, not just children. But Charlotte has her character generally find a better way (not always--Jane finally gives up on her Reed cousins, for example), which is the more hopeful direction and one I would want to take. For me as a reader I need characters and books that show me a way of finding the better nature within myself. That's just who I am as a reader.

Jan 31, 9:36 am

>45 Tess_W: Good point!

Editado: Fev 1, 6:21 pm

January Reading Part 3

11. The Doctor's Wife, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, 1864
Type: fiction; Challenge 5: Everything else
4 stars

Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915) was one of the most popular British novelists of the Victorian era. Master of the "sensationalist" novel, she produced more than 80 novels. The Doctor's Wife was Braddon's direct response to Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (1857), a story of a woman who, influenced by romanticism in novels, spirals down a path of lust and greed to destruction. In The Doctor's Wife Braddon specifically set out to *not* write a sensationalist novel, but rather a literary and introspective novel.

This is the story of Isabel Gilbert, wife of small-town doctor George Gilbert. Isabel's life before marriage has been in a poor, struggling family in London, where she spends most of her day reading romantic novels and imagining a very different life and place. When George Gilbert proposes marriage and brings her to his small village in the fictional pastoral county of Midlandshire, Isabel hopes that her life will now have some romance in it, like Edith Dombey (from Dickens' Dombey & Son) or Jane Eyre. But she is soon disappointed as her husband is a kind but dull man, dedicated to his patients, and not the "hero" she has imagined. So she returns to her novels and spends her time in those worlds. Along the way she crosses paths with young, rich Roland Lansdell; he can discuss books and nature and life, and Isabel starts to imagine she will be lifted out of her drab existence and into the life of a heroine. But will she be disillusioned and led down a path of lust and greed, like Emma Bovary?

Braddon starts with the basic premise of Madame Bovary but takes a different approach. George Gilbert is not as oblivious to his wife as Charles Bovary; Roland Lansdell falls truly in love with Isabel; and Isabel starts to question whether her life can be like the lives of her heroines. Along the way, Braddon explores Isabel's thought process and her musings on the books she's read. Although not all ends well, there is hope and some sort of redemption at the end.

I enjoyed this book much more than Madame Bovary; we feel empathy with all of the characters and Braddon lets us inside the minds of Isabel and Roland in particular, unlike the cold distance Flaubert puts between the reader and his characters. Braddon's book seemed to drag for me about half-way through and sometimes the internal musings went on too long. Toward the end, the story picks up speed, and we can see how Isabel painfully learns to separate the lives of heroines in books from her own life.

One of the highlights is the character of Sigismund Smith (perhaps Braddon's alter-ego?), an unabashedly proud writer of sensation novels, and the discussions of novel-writing and plot-planning are some of the best passages in the book. On the whole I enjoyed this book, but it could have been a bit shorter and still accomplished its goal.

12. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain, 1876
Type: fiction; Root from 2022; Challenge 2: AAC Jan--children's books
4 stars

Although I've read Huck Finn a couple of times, I've never read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It was much funnier and more adventurous than I expected. Our young hero Tom has been greatly influenced by wonderful tales of adventure: pirates, Robin Hood, avengers, and all sorts of rascals he's read about in books. And in this he is not unlike Emma in Madame Bovary or Isabel Gilbert in The Doctor's Wife (see above). In this excerpt Tom explains to Huck Finn the ways of robbers:

"You don't kill the women. You shut up the women, but you don't kill them. They're always beautiful and rich, and awfully scared. You take their watches and things, but you always take your hat off and talk polite. They ain't anybody as polite as robbers--you'll see that in any book. Well, the women get to loving you, and after they've been in the cave a week or two weeks they stop crying and after that you couldn't get them to leave. If you drove them out they'd turn right around and come back. It's so in all the books."

So it's not just sighing young women who are led astray by romanticism in literature. Perhaps if Emma Bovary and Isabel Gilbert had copies of Tom Sawyer on their nightstands, they might've avoided all those scrapes they got into. I'm very glad I finally read this American classic.

13. The Highland Widow, Sir Walter Scott, 1827
Type: fiction, novella; Root from 2022; Challenge 2: ClassicsCAT Jan: adventure classics & Challenge 3: Shorter works on my TBR
3½ stars

I've never read any works by Sir Walter Scott, mostly I think because they look so long and imposing. I'm afraid I won't have the background to appreciate the history in the tales. When I spied this little novella at a used book store, it seemed a perfect way to dip into Scott.

The Highland Widow is one of three short novels that comprise one of Scott's last works, The Chronicles of the Canongate. It is a framed "story-within-a-story" structure that was confusing to me at first, because apparently the storyteller is introduced in the full Chronicles and not included in the edition I read. The mid-18th century tale centers around Elspat MacTavish, widow of the great hero Hamish MacTavish, who died in battle fighting the forces of the crown. Elspat is left a widow with a young son, Hamish Bean. The son grows up hearing stories of his father, but is not interested in being the roguish rebellious fighter his father was. The mother is over-bearing and eventually Hamish Bean leaves home to make his own way. When he returns some time later to tell his mother he has decided to join the military, his mother has other plans for him.

In less than 90 pages, Scott takes a simple story and turns it into a full and tragic tale that does not have the typical triumphant ending of a Scott novel. I particularly enjoyed the descriptive sections, and found the dialogue (even without any dialect) a little less accessible. My edition only had a few scattered notes, and I shaved a half-point off my rating because I could have used more notes, especially for archaic Scottish terms. I think I will continue with Sir Walter Scott, but only in a well-annotated edition, so that I better understand the background, history and language.

Fev 1, 7:27 pm

Enjoyed catching up on your thread!

Fev 1, 8:32 pm

>49 VictoriaPL: Hi Victoria--I see you are a Wuthering Heights fan, so thanks for sticking around after my WH rant. I do appreciate some aspects of the book now.

You may enjoy Mary Elizabeth Braddon's books (see The Doctor's Wife above). Her best known novel is Lady Audley's Secret and is a page-turner, with lots of secrets.

Fev 1, 9:55 pm

>50 kac522: LOL yes, despite everything, I am.
Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll keep an eye out!

Fev 1, 11:23 pm

>51 VictoriaPL: We did a group read of Lady Audley's Secrets in 2020. You may want to check it out to see if it's something for you: http://www.librarything.com/work/30254

Fev 3, 11:31 pm

A BB for the Braddon book!

Editado: Fev 4, 12:36 am

>53 Tess_W: I'm really glad I read it. I disliked Madame Bovary and I do feel that Braddon gives us another way to view how books influence our thinking. Flaubert's novel is better written but so, so cold and distant. Plus Edith Dombey is mentioned so many times that now I need to reread it. I remember Florence Dombey, but Edith is rather vague in my mind.

Fev 9, 5:29 pm

Ever wonder why books released in both the UK and US have different covers? So does Katie, and she's got some theories about it. It's a fun video, with examples of books from the past few years:


She talks a bit fast, but you can always slow down the speed.

Editado: Fev 11, 8:35 pm

I realized I didn't post my February pile of possibilities. Better late than never.

First, I won't go into detail now, but I did finish these so far:

The Great War: July 1, 1916, Joe Sacco with text by Adam Hochschild (2013)
Revenge of the Librarians, Tom Gauld (2022)
What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw, Agatha Christie (1957) (better known as The 4.50 from Paddington)
Short Stories (Dover Thrift Editions), Louisa May Alcott (5 stories published 1863-74; this edition 1996)

I'm currently reading:
--Roughing It in the Bush, Susannah Moodie (1852), classic Canadian memoir for the Victorian Tavern
--Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature, Margaret Atwood (1995); lectures from 1991 on Canadian literature which includes comment on Susannah Moodie
--The Means of Escape, Penelope Fitzgerald (2000); short stories for the BAC
--Framley Parsonage, Anthony Trollope (1861); re-read on audiobook

Possibilities for the rest of the month (from most likely to read to least likely to read):

Additional books about Susanna Moodie and Roughing It in the Bush:
--Susanna Moodie: Roughing It In the Bush, graphic book by Willow Dawson, based on a screenplay by Carol Shields and Patrick Crowe
--The Journals of Susanna Moodie, Margaret Atwood (1970); poems by Atwood reflecting on Moodie's memoirs

For my RL Book club: West with the Night, Beryl Markham (a re-read)

Carryover from my Jan Rid or Read project To Read: Snowflower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See

For other challenges on LT and elsewhere:

--The Lady of Launay, Trollope, for Feb BAC
--Nocturnes: Five Stories, Ishiguro, for Feb BAC
--Two-Part Invention, Madeleine L'Engle, for Feb RandomKit
--The Return of the Soldier, Rebecca West (re-read) for LT Virago 2023 project
--Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner; Feb Monthly Author Read

My February Read or Rid books (read first 50 pages; if I like it, read in March; if not, to the donation box):
--Mr Mac and Me, Esther Freud
--The Unknown Ajax, Georgette Heyer

and lastly maybe a couple of books for Black History month:
--Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
--Maud Martha, Gwendolyn Brooks (on order from the library--I will definitely read this, whenever it shows up from the library)

Fev 11, 11:13 pm

>55 kac522: Interesting that the covers from the two territories have picked up different aspects of the books. A lot of the UK book covers give me an impression of warmth and wit, while the US covers tend more towards drama.

What I'd REALLY like to see is an end to the translation of British books into US English and vice versa. The language is intrinsic to the book and by translating an English book, for example, into US English, you lose some of its intrinsic Englishness. On a related topic, I read a US translation of an Annie Ernaux book where Metro was translated into Subway. We all understand Metro, and Subway moves the book out of Paris and into New York.

Editado: Fev 12, 2:38 am

>57 pamelad: And I suppose the UK version called it the Underground or maybe the Tube. Yes that it very annoying.

I've always wondered about title changes, too. I can't tell you how many times I've picked up an old Agatha Christie paperback at a library sale, only to discover I've already read it or own it, but with a completely different title. What Mrs McGillicuddy Saw (see >56 kac522:) is a case in point.

Fev 12, 4:59 am

I enjoyed catching up here, wonderful books and great reviews as always! Your thread always motivates me to read more classics!

>58 kac522: "I can't tell you how many times I've picked up an old Agatha Christie paperback at a library sale, only to discover I've already read it or own it, but with a completely different title."
This has happened to me, too! Only I bought them online and not in a library sale.

Fev 12, 5:48 am

>56 kac522: - I have Nocturnes: Five Stories on my list to read sometime this year. I'll be looking for your comments.

>57 pamelad: - I hadn't realized they were actually doing this. Another example of the "dumbing down" of America, I suppose.

Fev 12, 9:16 am

>56 kac522: I really liked Strange Things. It came at just the right time for me and hit the spot. Hope you like it too!

>58 kac522: >59 MissBrangwen: This happened to my mum all the time when she was in peak Agatha Christie collecting mode pre-internet. The short story collections were also annoying to collect because some stories appeared in multiple collections. Fortunately now she has all of the books, and in the Dell/Fontana paperbacks she prefers. She gave me first dibs on her duplicates and I blended them into my grandma's collection, which I inherited.

Editado: Fev 12, 9:47 am

>59 MissBrangwen: I'm a classics kind of gal, I guess ;) I'm glad I'm not the only one picking up duplicate Agatha Christies. After so many goofs, you would think I'd learned my lesson and look at the fine print on the publishing info page to check for an alternate title. Oh well.

>60 dudes22: Last year I read The Remains of the Day and loved it. The only other book of his that I've read is A Pale View of Hills, which was only so-so for me, so I'm hoping the stories are at least somewhere in-between. I knew about the different covers, as I've noticed them myself, but I hadn't really thought about how & why they were different. I thought it was a fun video.

>61 rabbitprincess: I've read the first lecture of Strange Things, which is about the doomed Franklin expedition to find the Northwest Passage and how it has influenced Canadian literature. What blew me away is that Atwood ends that lecture with the lyrics to Stan Rogers' song "Northwest Passage." I've known that song for years, but never understood the true meaning of the lyrics. Which, of course, meant I had to find a recording of it online to listen right then and there. What a great song; what a brilliant singer/songwriter.

Smart move on your mum's part to get all the books in the same edition, and know she's got a complete set. I've given up trying to keep the Christie short story collections straight! Whatever collections I don't have on my shelves, I get from the library, and inevitably there are duplicates. Good thing my memory isn't all that great about the short stories, so inadvertently reading them again isn't a problem (except "Witness for the Prosecution"--that one stands out).

Fev 12, 9:54 am

>57 pamelad: my experience in Paris is limited to 2-3 weeks; but while I was there, the hotel staff told me that subway was an underground tunnel system in Paris for pedestrians?

Fev 12, 1:00 pm

>62 kac522: - Our book club read Remains of the Day a couple of years ago and we're going to read Klara and the Sun later this spring. (Although it will be a reread for me.)

Editado: Fev 12, 4:03 pm

>63 Tess_W: The subway is the tunnels that you walk through to get to the different Metro platforms? The translator was definitely talking about the Metro, the equivalent of New York's subway.

>62 kac522: I really liked Kazuo Ishiguro's An Artist of the Floating World. It's an early short one.

Fev 12, 5:51 pm

>64 dudes22: How did you like Klara and the Sun? Seems to me I've heard differing opinions.

>65 pamelad: Thanks for the recommendation. I like "short"😊

Fev 13, 4:28 am

>66 kac522: - I liked it. At the time I read it, artificial intelligence was still a bit more nebulous than it is now, so the premise was still futuristic.

Fev 13, 5:55 pm

Yesterday was Lincoln's Birthday, so last night I decided to read a few selections from a book I own:

In Lincoln's Hand: His Original Manuscripts with Commentary, ed. by Harold Holzer

Here are a couple excerpts:

From his Message to Congress, July 4, 1861, given after the attack on Fort Sumter:
Our popular government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it, our people have already settled--the successful establishing, and the successful administering of it. One still remains--the successful maintenance of it, against a formidable attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election, can also suppress a rebellion--that those who can not carry an election, cannot destroy the government,--that ballots are the rightful, and peaceful, successor of bullets; and that when ballots have fairly, and constitutionally, decided, there can be no successful appeal, back to bullets.

Eerily applicable to our current times.

And this last paragraph from Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, March 1865, just as the Civil War was winding down:
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace, among ourselves and with all nations.

Fev 21, 11:10 am

>3 kac522: Kathy, I'm getting involved in more and more of the LT challenges, so I had to get my thread better organized to keep track of them. I'm borrowing some of your codes and using them for tracking my reading. Your codes make so much sense, they are very helpful! I hope you don't mind.

Editado: Fev 21, 12:37 pm

>60 dudes22: No prob! I'm flattered! In my former working life, I had to create codes in our computer system (limited to 4 letters, mind you!), that people using our system could identify and use easily. So I guess it's just something that makes sense to me.

I use a few of the codes as a "tag" to the book. For example, the code for my real-life Book Club is OCC (stands for Oakton Community College--our book club was started & met at the college, made up of faculty & staff), and so any book I read for Book Club gets "OCC" added as a tag. Only means something to me ;)

Fev 28, 5:49 pm

>71 kac522: What a lovely story! Thanks for sharing it.

>70 kac522: Thanks again for the codes! I am making good use of the ones I need. I too used to create codes for our automated systems when I worked in the library. I set them up with input from staff for two different systems over the years. But our third system was a consortium, so the consortium staff handled codes there. Interesting that we have that in common!

Editado: Fev 28, 9:12 pm

>71 kac522: Right, it was so refreshing to read a positive story. Wish I could help her find the librarian.

>72 atozgrl: Of course!--we appreciate how codes can make our literary life easier!

Fev 28, 8:30 pm

>71 kac522: Love this!

Editado: Mar 2, 5:37 pm

Lots of reading (mostly shorter works) in February:

February Reading Part 1

14. The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme, Joe Sacco, illustrator; Adam Hochschild, text, 2013
Type: nonfiction, text and graphic illustration, World War I
5 stars
This pull-out panorama (almost 24 feet long!) done in pen and ink was a marvel. It illustrates the first day of the Battle of the Somme. There is a descriptive text by Hochschild of the events of that day and a key to the pull-out sketch. Each panel is a portrait as the day goes along, from morning rituals to evening dug-outs. The panels emphasize what a strange war this was: from airplanes, automatic machine guns and mustard gas to horses. It seems just a symbol of this war--vastly powerful modern weapons while hanging on to ideas of the traditional "gentleman's" war.

15. Revenge of the Librarians, Tom Gauld, 2015
Type: humor
5 stars
Some great cartoons here about librarians and books as only Tom Gauld can do.

16. What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw, Agatha Christie, 1957; also known as The 4.50 from Paddington
Type: mystery
4½ stars
More commonly known as The 4.50 from Paddington, this Miss Marple mystery has our sleuth mostly present at the beginning and ending of the book. She coordinates her detective work with a woman employed as a domestic servant in the house where a body has been found. What was interesting to me was the beginning scene: a woman on a train observes a train travelling next to hers in the same direction, and she sees a man strangling a woman on that other train. It's an interesting situation which I've experienced in Chicago, where there are some sections of track where two elevated trains travel in the same direction, and you can observe over several minutes the people in the parallel car. Usually one train eventually pulls ahead of the other. I thought it was interesting premise on Christie's part, and something that's probably more common in urban areas (like London, New York or Chicago) where there are multiple sets of tracks.

17. Short Stories (Dover Thrift Editions), Louisa May Alcott, 5 stories from 1863-1874; this Dover edition published 1996
Type: fiction; short stories
3½ stars
Five stories ranging from 1863 to 1874; the first 3 stories are based on Alcott's experience in a Washington, D.C. hospital during the Civil War and the last two are based on her experiences as a single woman in the 19th century. Sometimes they were a bit melodramatic, but still interesting. My favorite was "How I Went Out to Service", followed by "The Contraband."

Mar 2, 6:28 pm

February Reading Part 2
Four related books:

18. Roughing It In the Bush, Susanna Moodie, 1852
Type: nonfiction, memoir
3½ stars

It took me an entire month to make my way through Roughing It In the Bush, which I read for the Club Read “Victorian Tavern” thread. I'm not sorry I read it, but it certainly was a project.

Susanna Strickland Moodie was raised in comfortable upper middle-class surroundings in Suffolk, England. Her husband John's military half-pay income was not enough to support his family in the way they had been accustomed, so her husband decided that better opportunities existed in Canada. Susanna's memoir begins with the family's trip across the Atlantic to Canada in 1832 and here they join her brother Sam and sister Catherine Parr Traill (also a writer) in the "bush": the backwoods of Ontario. She describes the people, the landscapes and the trials of every day life. The book continues through 1840, when John is appointed to a civilian post in Belleville, Ontario, a small-sized town. Moodie continued her story in the town in her second book Life in the Clearings, which I did not read.

Moodie was completely unprepared for Canada and life in the bush. From the moment she sets onboard ship, she shows contempt for most persons who she considers beneath her, and on ship, those feelings are directed toward the Irish steerage passengers. When she gets to the bush, she is critical of just about every neighbor or person she meets. While her servants do all of the work, she seems to be idle and frustrated. Her servants eventually bolt and Moodie is left to figure out how to cook, clean and that dreadful chore, milking cows.

As their funds dwindle, the crops fail, and food becomes scarce, those neighbors, friends and servants start to be described in a more positive light, as she learns to appreciate their help and support. Moodie has a love/hate relationship with Canada: on the one hand, she is constantly in awe of the physical beauty but on the other she is terrified of the frigid temperatures, snow storms and "whirlwinds" (probably tornadoes) that ravage the land. Moodie's descriptions of Native peoples in the area are difficult to read. Yet, by the end, she recognizes that at many times her family would have starved if kindly Native neighbors had not brought them food and other provisions.

Finally, on the last page of the memoir, Susanna Moodie reveals the reasons for penning this memoir:
I have given you a faithful picture of life in the backwoods of Canada, and I leave you to draw from it your own conclusions. To the poor, industrious working man it presents many advantages; to the poor gentleman, none! The former works hard, puts up with coarse, scanty fare, and submits, with a good grace, to hardships that would kill a domesticated animal at home...The gentleman can neither work so hard, live so coarsely, nor endure so many privations as his poorer but more fortunate neighbor.....If these sketches should prove the means of deterring one family from sinking their property, and shipwrecking all their hopes, by going to reside in the backwoods of Canada, I shall consider myself amply repaid for revealing the secrets of the prison-house, and feel that I have not toiled and suffered in the wilderness in vain.

In short, Gentleman and Gentlewoman, stay home!

This reading led me to the following 3 books for additional context:

19. The Journals of Susanna Moodie, Margaret Atwood, illustrated by Charles Pachter, 1997
Type: poetry
A collection of poems that Margaret Atwood originally wrote in 1970 after reading and studying Moodie's works. My edition was an illustrated edition of the poems, with artwork by Margaret's long-time friend and Canadian artist, Charles Pachter. The graphic layout of the poems over the artwork brings the poems to life.

In her Afterword to the original publication of the poems, Atwood described Moodie’s memoir and the Canadian character:
Mrs Moodie is divided down the middle: she praises the Canadian landscape, but accuses it of destroying her; she dislikes the people already in Canada but finds in people her only refuge from the land itself; she preaches progress and the march of civilization while brooding elegiacally upon the destruction of the wilderness....She claims to be an ardent Canadian patriot while all the time she is standing back from the country and criticizing it as though she were a detached observer, a stranger.
Perhaps that is the way we still live. We are all immigrants to this place even if we were born here: the parts unknown to us we move in fear, exiles and invaders. This country is something that must be chosen--it is so easy to leave--and if we do choose it we are still choosing a violent duality.

20. Susanna Moodie: Roughing It In the Bush: A Graphic Novel; Willow Dawson, text; Selena Goulding, illustrator; based on a screenplay by Carol Shields and Patrick Crowe, 2016
Type: graphic novel
4 stars

This is a graphic book with a complicated history. The graphic text was written by Willow Dawson and the illustrations were drawn by Selena Goulding. The text is based on a proposed screenplay by Carol Shields & Patrick Crowe. Sadly, Shields died before the film project was completed, but Dawson & Goulding were given permission to turn the screenplay into this graphic format.

Like many screenplays, this story uses Susanna Moodie's two memoirs of her life in the backwoods, and takes liberties to condense and re-arrange events. Changes were made to the order, characters are combined and the real events are sometimes changed for dramatic effect. It does work in its own way, but did have me going back to the original text of Roughing It In the Bush to confirm what I'd actually read.

The illustrations are in full color and the book makes a good introduction to the Moodie family's story.

21. Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature, Margaret Atwood, 1995
Type: nonfiction, based on 4 lectures
4 stars

This is a series of four lectures Margaret Atwood originally gave in 1991 at Oxford and collected in book form in 1995. These four lectures focus on four different themes:
1) The doomed Sir John Franklin expedition of 1845 to find the Northwest Passage, the myth of the North surrounding it, and how it has influenced Canadian culture and literature
2) White men, like Grey Owl, who presented themselves as Native people and its influence on Canadian culture
3) The mythic Wendigo Algonquin monster in non-Native Canadian works of literature
4) General overview of women writers in Canada, and how they have incorporated the 3 previous ideas/myths of the North in their works.

As always, Atwood is funny, articulate and has an analytical mind that gets right to the heart of things. The first lecture was my favorite because she ends it with the lyrics of "Northwest Passage" by the great Canadian folk singer Stan Rogers. I think I was least engaged with the last lecture, particularly when she went into depth on specific works.

Mar 2, 7:16 pm

Loved the Sacco book. I have forwarded on to another LT'er!

Editado: Mar 2, 9:26 pm

February Reading Part 3

Still more reading:

22. West with the Night, Beryl Markham, 1942
Type: nonfiction, memoir
3 stars

Beryl Markham (1902-1986) was born in England but moved to Kenya as a child. The memoir recounts many events with animals, the land and the native people in a lyrical, almost mythic quality. As she moves into adulthood, she becomes a horse-trainer for racehorses. The last quarter of the memoir details her flying experiences and her amazing flight across the Atlantic in 1936, the first woman to do so.

This was a re-read for me. I loved it when I read it in 1992. The writing is absolutely stunning and lyrical. On this reading, I also skimmed through a biography of Markham that questions whether Markham was indeed the author; some details seem to point to her third husband, Raoul Schumacher (a ghost-writer by profession), as the actual author. Certainly many personal facts of her life (her step-mother, step-brother, her marriages, her affairs, etc.) are not included in this memoir. Additionally, the memoir seems to be an eclectic gathering of various events in her life, rather than a straight-forward retelling of her life. Whether written by Markham or not, it is a captivating read.

23. The Means of Escape, Penelope Fitzgerald, 2001
Type: short stories
3½ stars

This is a collection of 10 stories by Fitzgerald ranging from 1975-2001. The best stories were “The Means of Escape” and the absolutely brilliant story “The Axe”. Some others were OK; some left me clueless. I will say that she immediately gets the reader into the place of the story, although sometimes the time/era is unclear. Tasmania, Turkey, Mexico, New Zealand. Scotland and England were some of the places featured in these stories.

24. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass, 1845
Type: memoir

This was a re-read for me and seemed appropriate for Black History month in the U.S. We are fortunate to have such a detailed slave history that has survived to today. A couple of take-aways on this reading: Douglass recognizes at a young age that literacy is his path to freedom and his disdain for the hypocrisy of the outwardly religious who use the Bible to justify slavery. Should be required reading for every American.

25. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, Toni Morrison, 1992
Type: nonfiction, based on lectures
4 stars

These three essays by Toni Morrison are nothing less than challenging. Morrison explores American literature and how "whiteness" becomes defined as the antithesis of "blackness." An excerpt:
Black slavery enriched the country's creative possibilities. For in that construction of blackness and enslavement could be found not only the not-free but also, with the dramatic polarity created by skin color, the projection of the not-me....What rose up out of collective needs to allay internal fears and to rationalize external exploitation was an American Africanism---a fabricated brew of darkness, otherness, alarm, and desire that is uniquely American.

If you had to read that excerpt over several times, you are not alone. I spent a lot of time re-reading sentences to fully absorb their meanings. Throughout the essays, she gives particular examples from the writings of white American authors, including Melville, Cather, Faulkner, Twain and especially Hemingway, and how they use “Africanism” to define and frame the white characters. A short book (90 pages) that's hard work and not for everyone, but an important one on the American literary legacy.

26. The Return of the Soldier, Rebecca West, 1918
Type: fiction
5 stars

A short (about 90 pages) but intense novella about a soldier's amnesia in World War I. The story takes place over several months in 1916. West explores class, love and war in a prose in which each sentence is packed with emotional power.

This was a re-read for me and it had just as much impact on the second reading as on the first. I was struck on this reading by how precisely West describes the contrasts of how people look, what clothes they wear, what furniture surrounds them, what the exteriors of the buildings and grounds look like. All of these descriptions divide the characters by class and wealth. I was also struck by how few characters there are and the limited scope of the book, while still having a broader vision. The novella was written and published before the outcome of the war was known, but its vision of a radically changed post-war Britain is clear.

We're almost done....

Mar 2, 7:43 pm

>77 Tess_W: Yep, so glad you & Tanya brought that to our attention on the RTT thread.

Mar 2, 8:42 pm

February Reading Part 4
And wrapping it up:

Three books by Trollope: one long and 2 short:
27. Framley Parsonage, Anthony Trollope, 1861; audiobook read by Simon Vance
Type: fiction
5 stars

The fourth book in Trollope’s Barsetshire series, it tells the story of cleric Mark Robarts, who in trying to advance his position among the local men with money and power, makes a decision he will forever regret. There is a parallel story concerning Mark’s sister Lucy and Mark’s good friend young Lord Lufton. But Lady Lufton, the young Lord’s mother, steals the show in this novel. This was a re-read for me on audiobook, and has a bit of a more somber tone than the previous books in the series.

28. The Lady of Launay, Anthony Trollope, 1878
Type: novella
4 stars

Re-visiting the theme of mothers and their sons in love, Mrs Miles urges her son to give up the orphaned and penniless Bessie for a more suitable match. Once again young people must convince their elders that love trumps rank and wealth.

29. Two Heroines of Plumplington, Anthony Trollope, 1882
Type: novella
4 stars

A long short-story (or a short novella!) that is set in Barchester about 30 years after the Barsetshire Chronicles and was published in the last year of Trollope’s life. Echoing the themes of The Lady of Launay, as Christmas approaches two young women challenge their fathers’ ideas of marriage, class and rank. Trollope pokes fun at the clueless fathers and, of course, the young people (and love) will triumph.

30. Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage, Madeleine L’Engle, 1988
Type: memoir
4 stars

The last book of L'Engle's Crosswicks Journals tells the story of her courtship and 40-year marriage to Hugh Franklin. Interspersed are chapters about her husband's cancer diagnosis, lengthy illness and coming to terms with his death. She went into much detail about his illness, but always tempered by examining her response, her fears, her love & gratitude to her husband and her family. This makes a difficult subject palatable, as you learn about the strength of L'Engle's marriage, family and faith that she draws on to weather the challenges of illness. I hope I have even a tiny drop of that resilience when I need it.

31. Browse: The World in Bookshops, Henry Hitchings, editor, 2016
Type: essays
4 stars

I enjoyed this collection of essays by authors about their love of books and bookshops. I particularly liked that the authors are from around the world: Scotland, China, Egypt, Kenya, Italy, India, Ukraine, Turkey. Where there are booklovers, there are bookshops that are loved. Most of the essays, like Ali Smith's, begin with a love of bookshops in childhood. Michael Dirda's account of his 15,000-20,000 books on shelves, in boxes and occupying storage units made my overflowing bookshelves seem like hardly any books at all.

I had previously read a work of only one of these authors (Yiyun Li), but I found almost all of these pieces interesting and engaging.

32. Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark, Cecelia Watson, 1918
Type: fiction
2½ stars

Starts OK, with a history of the semicolon. Fun facts include that Kurt Vonnegut detested semicolons and Herman Melville populated Moby Dick with an estimated 4,000 semicolons. I also enjoyed the selections of texts where the semicolon was used well to make a point or with a particular effect. But in between and especially toward the end, the book rambled and wandered with personal asides that weren't that interesting to me. The * notes on the page annoyed me--they were too long (often spilled over into two pages--if was that important, incorporate it in the text!).

Editado: Mar 3, 5:00 pm

On the agenda for March:

✔ Completed: The School at Thrush Green, Miss Read (1987); only 3 Miss Reads left :( very sad face.

Currently reading:
The Small House at Allington, Trollope, on audiobook
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall, Kazuo Ishiguro
A Son at the Front, Edith Wharton

The Stack of Possibilities:
--Maud Martha, Gwendolyn Brooks--intended for Black History month, but just came in from the library
--The Lighthouse Stevensons, Bella Bathurst, for March RandomKIT (water)
--Washington Square, Henry James OR re-read And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie, for March ClassicsKIT (book & a movie)
--All Passion Spent, Vita Sackville-West, March BAC
--Mr Mac and Me, Freud and Unknown Ajax, Heyer--My Feb Read/Rid choices: I've decided to read both
--Irish Girls About Town, short stories by various Irish women authors and The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind, D. Guterson, short stories; for my TBR short works challenge
--Brooklyn, Toibin (a re-read) for my RL Book Club
--Mandoa, Mandoa, Winifred Holtby and Angel, Elizabeth Taylor, for March Virago 50th Anniversary challenge
--The Dollmaker, H. Arnow and Electricity, V. Glendinning--Read 50 pages for Read/Rid project

For the Victorian Tavern 19th century 1st Q. American & Canadian writers--one or more of these--from most likely to least likely:
--The House of the Seven Gables, Hawthorne
--At Fault, Kate Chopin
--How the Other Half Lives, Jacob Riis
--Under the Lilacs or Jo's Boys, Louisa May Alcott
--Ruth Hall, Fanny Fern
--Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy

Mar 3, 8:04 pm

>81 kac522: When I read The Dollmaker a number of years ago, I was really blown away.

Mar 3, 8:26 pm

>82 NinieB: You know, I've had the paperback of that book for at least 30 years now, maybe more, and just never got to it. It's always had a draw for me (maybe the cover?). In preparation to make myself read at least 50 pages, I've been reading a little bit about it and I'm not sure I'm up for the tone right now. We'll see; I will give it a try. Thanks for the feedback.

Mar 29, 10:41 pm

>78 kac522: I too loved The Return of the Soldier. I've not read any of Rebecca's West's other books but would like to read more of her writing.

Editado: Mar 29, 10:48 pm

>84 mathgirl40: The only other thing I've read is The Essential Rebecca West, which is a collection of short essays and book reviews, which I enjoyed. I own The Judge and The Fountain Overflows, but haven't taken the plunge yet ;)

Editado: Abr 1, 5:51 pm

One of these days I'll write up my March books, but in the meantime here are some possible books for April:

Currently reading:
--The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane
--The Last Chronicle of Barset, Anthony Trollope, on audiobook
--The Anthropocene Reviewed, John Green, essays

--A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare, for my RL book club
--Phoebe Junior, Margaret Oliphant, for LT Group Read
--Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her Life, Lucy Worsley, for April BAC
--Tearing the Silence: On Being German in America, Ursula Hegi, for April AAC
--In the Beginning, Chaim Potok, for April Monthly Author Read (Potok)
--The Patriotic Murders, Agatha Christie, for April ClassicsCAT
--Friends at Thrush Green, Miss Read

My shorter works project:
--Love and Youth: Essential Stories, Ivan Turgenev
--The Norman MacLean Reader, Norman MacLean

My Read or Rid Project: (read 50 pages to determine if I should read it or donate it)
--The Whistling Season, Ivan Doig
--The Dressmaker, Beryl Bainbridge

Books that I've decided to READ from prior month's Read or Rid:
--Mr Mac and Me, Esther Freud
--The Unknown Ajax, Georgette Heyer

Library books picked up on a whim:
--Postcards: The Rise and Fall of the World's First Social Network, Lydia Pyne
--Middlemarch and the Imperfect Life, Pamela Erens
--Before the Coffee Gets Cold, Toshikazu Kawaguchi
--Learning to Talk, Hilary Mantel, stories
--The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, Margareta Magnusson

Editado: Abr 3, 10:53 pm

March Reading, Part I:

I'm not sure what gives, but I've been reading a lot this year. Many of the books are short, but most have been pretty good. So let's get started with some of my March books:

33. The School at Thrush Green, Miss Read (1987)
Type: fiction

Another comforting read in the world of Thrush Green. This one is more about the teachers than about the students, which was a little disappointing, but still enjoyable.

34. Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall, Kazuo Ishiguro (2009)
Type: fiction, short stories

Five short stories, all told from a first-person narrator who is a musician. In the first 3 stories, the musician-narrator finds himself helping to repair relationships through music. The fourth story, which is the funniest and uses a character from the first story, is rather a wild tale involving plastic surgery and believing in yourself. The last story, about two cellists, starts in first person and drifts back and forth into third person. This story was the least memorable and didn't work as well for me. These are supposed to be about music and nightfall, but I don't recall much about the night in the last story. A good collection, but not great.

35. A Son at the Front, Edith Wharton (1923)
Type: fiction

The premise is complicated. The book starts on July 30, 1914 with the main character, John Campton, a struggling American portrait painter nearing 60 years old, who has been living in Paris for the last 30 or so years. John is divorced from his American wife Julia, who is also living in Paris and re-married to a successful American businessman. John & ex-wife Julia have one child from their marriage, George, who was born in France, but has gone to school in England and has recently graduated from Harvard (all paid for by the wealthy step-father). George has been groomed to join his step-father's business in New York and arrives in Paris for holiday before leaving for his new job. But when France declares war a few weeks later, dual citizen George is called up for the French military, since he is on French soil. John Campton spends the last few days trying to get as much time with his son George as he can, but is feels thwarted by his ex-wife and George's step-father.

Not much happens in this book until the last few chapters; it is a character study of the parents (and sons) left at home. Even as a character study, however, I still felt a certain distance from the characters (or perhaps I didn't fully sympathize with them). Beyond scenes in hospitals with the wounded, Wharton does not show any "scenes from the front." Some have labeled this an anti-war novel, but I don't see it that way exactly. Certainly there is much talk of "when the Americans will join" and indeed, the novel ends in April 1917 after the U.S. entered the war. There is an ambivalence here: Wharton describes the devastation to people's lives but she is still devoted to "The Idea of France...if France went, Western civilization went with her" (Ch. XXXII).

I feel as conflicted about the book as the picture that Wharton paints. Speaking of pictures, apparently the idea of the book came from a sketch that Pierre-Auguste Renoir did of his son in uniform before leaving for the front. That sketch is opposite the title page of my edition.

36. Maud Martha, Gwendolyn Brooks (1953)
Type: fiction
What she liked was candy buttons, and books, and painted music (deep blue, or delicate silver) and the west sky, so altering, viewed from the steps of the back porch; and dandelions.

She would have liked a lotus, or China asters or the Japanese Iris, or meadow lilies--yes she would have liked meadow lilies, because the very word meadow made her breathe more deeply, and either fling her arms or want to fling her arms, depending on who was by, rapturously up to whatever was watching in the sky. But dandelions were what she chiefly saw. Yellow jewels for everyday, studding the patched green dress of her back yard. She liked their demure prettiness second to their everydayness; for in that latter quality she thought she saw a picture of herself, and it was comforting to find that what was common could also be a flower.

So begins Maud Martha (1953), the only novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000). It is the story of a young girl's growing into womanhood. Brooks tells us after the title page: "Maud Martha was born in 1917. She is still alive." The book is structured into 34 short vignettes, mostly chronological, of Maud Martha's life, from girlhood to womanhood, on Chicago's South Side. These were lovely, touching, thoughtful and full of poetic phrases like the opening. Childhood games, skin color envy, awkward first dates, an ambivalent husband, seedy first apartments, childbirth, crazy neighbors and the inevitable encounters with racist white people are only some of the many and varied moments in Maud Martha's life.

A real gem. I borrowed this from the library, but I need to find a copy to own and re-read.

37. And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie (1939); re-read from 2015
Type: mystery

This was the first Agatha Christie I read years ago, and after reading about half of her novels and stories over the last 8 years, I still think it is her best after this re-read. A group of ten people are invited to an island house, and we soon learn they were asked there for a particular reason. Chilling until the very end.

Abr 3, 10:52 pm

March Reading, Part II:

38. Brooklyn, Colm Toibin (2009); re-read from 2010
Type: fiction

This was a re-read for me. The book centers around, Eilis, a young woman who immigrates to Brooklyn from Ireland for a better life, encouraged by her sister and mother. Toibin's simple but effective prose captures the mixed emotions of the immigrant, not belonging to either the new world or old world. Also the silences between people--what we want to say, but never express. On this reading I felt frustrated with the our main character's inability to make her own decisions--to let things go along until they reached a breaking point. And some of the relationships consisted of cruel banter that left me cold. I also watched the 2015 film and appreciated that Eilis was given a bit more agency and determination. I liked the film better than the book, I think.

39. The Lighthouse Stevensons, Bella Bathurst (1999)
Type: nonfiction, family biography/history

A history of 4 generations and 150 years of the Stevenson family (ancestors of the writer Robert Louis Stevenson) who built and maintained nearly 100 lighthouses along the coasts of Scotland. On the plus side the book was well-written and easy to read, with full-fledged characters. On the minus side the book contained not a single footnote, no credits of the numerous quotes throughout the book, no attributions for the illustrations and photos, and there were typographical errors on nearly every page. As a story it was fascinating. As a scholarly resource on lighthouses and the Stevenson family, it's mostly useless, except for a bibliography.

Three books by Vita-Sackville West:

40. All Passion Spent (1931)
Type: fiction

Lady Slane is widowed at age 88. Against the advice of her elderly children, she leaves her fashionable city home and moves into a small row house to live alone with her maid. She reflects on the life she has lived for her husband, which meant she could not pursue her dream of being a painter. For its time this novel must have been extraordinary. I found it a compelling read, even these 90 years later.

41. Seducers in Ecuador & The Heir (1924)
Type: short stories

I read about 10 pages of the first story ("Seducers in Ecuador") and knew it wasn't for me.

"The Heir", however, pulled me in right away. Mr Chase, a mild-mannered bachelor insurance man, inherits a large country estate from an aunt he has never met. Unused to large houses, servants, tenants, gardens and animals, at first he is overwhelmed by the place, which is almost completely mortgaged and is to be sold, with Mr Chase to receive a small income from the sale. But gradually he comes to know the place, its people and his own family's heritage that it represents. A lovely story that I enjoyed, especially Sackville-West's descriptions of the house and gardens.

42. English Country Houses (1941)
Type: nonfiction; English house history

Houses play an important part in both of the previous books and in Sackville-West's life, so English Country Houses was a fitting little non-fiction work (85 pages with lovely illustrations) to complement the fictional works. This was part of a larger "Writers' Britain" series from the 1940s, in which noted authors wrote about various aspects of Britain. The book is roughly organized by eras and architectural styles. Although most of the places were unfamiliar to me, I was able to follow and appreciate how much she packed into this little book.

Abr 3, 11:23 pm

March Reading, Part III:

43. The Small House at Allington, Anthony Trollope (1864); audiobook read by Simon Vance; re-read
Type: fiction; book 5 of the Chronicles of Barsethire

Continuing my re-read of the Barsetshire books, I wasn't looking forward to this one, as it was my least favorite when I first read the series. To my surprise, I liked it better this time round. I still dislike the main "heroine", Lily Dale, but I found there were enough other interesting characters to make it an enjoyable read, especially the older characters, the squire and the Earl. And there were enough side plots (Johnny Eames and the bull!) to keep the entire book interesting.

44. The House of the Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1851)
Type: fiction

A classic tale of generations of two feuding New England families over contested property, with many gothic elements: a family history that includes witchcraft, an old decrepit house haunted by a curse, a heroine in peril and mysterious deaths. Hawthorne explores themes of class, wealth & greed, family legacy and progress v. tradition. Although it did drag at times, the second half of the book moved more quickly. I'm glad I finally read this classic, even though I can't say it will be a favorite.

45. Crucial Instances, Edith Wharton (1901)
Type: short stories

In my quest to read all of Edith Wharton's works, I read this early collection of 7 short stories (1901). Most of the stories feature art and/or artists as a theme, and in general were a pleasure to read. My favorite was "Copy: A Dialogue" which is written like a witty short scene in a play between two famous writers who are ex-lovers, and the man is trying to retrieve his old love letters for his memoir. My least favorite was "The Confessional", which was a historical tale set in revolutionary Milan, and in some ways reminded me of A Son at the Front, which I read earlier this month.

46. Washington Square, Henry James (1880)
Type: short stories

I've had Washington Square by Henry James (1880) on my TBR for years, afraid to tackle his writing which tends to give me a headache. But to my delight, this was a psychologically penetrating, yet still accessible little novel. Set in 1840s New York, the story centers around Catherine, a young, simple and shy New York heiress, who is courted by a selfish fortune-hunter, despised by her father, and maneuvered by her meddlesome aunt. The book is relatively short (under 200 pages) and has clear, concise prose (unusual for James!). Slowly but deliberately we watch Catherine's character change over the course of the novel, as she is selfishly used by those around her. James grew up near Washington Square, so the descriptions of the place and the people felt very true.

I then watched The Heiress (1949), starring Olivia de Haviland, Montgomery Clift and Ralph Richardson, directed by William Wyler, with music by Aaron Copland and outstanding costumes by Edith Head. The Heiress was a play based on Washington Square and then adapted to the screen. Although there are some changes, the movie retains the basic plot and character development of the book. All the performances were excellent, especially de Haviland. The movie is worth the viewing just for the costuming and interior designs of 1840s New York; Edith Head won her first Academy Award for costume design for this film.

I'd say overall I had a very good reading month, and my three favorite titles Maud Martha, All Passion Spent and Washington Square, were wonderful surprises, as I was not expecting to enjoy any of them.

Abr 7, 2:07 am

Wonderful books and reviews!!!

Abr 7, 10:56 am

Abr 7, 2:54 pm

>89 kac522: Such great reviews. I felt I had to read the Hawthorne book as I visited Salem and went through the famed house. I was a bit disappointed in the book, but glad I could say I read it!

Your reviews are great and are prodding me to get back to Anthony Trollope--have read the first two of that series, but would like to finish.

Abr 7, 8:59 pm

>92 Tess_W: That's pretty much how I felt about Hawthorne--just OK, but glad I read it.

I'm a sucker for Trollope. I am working my way through all of his books (I'm a little over half-way through the 47 novels), and when I can find on audio those books I've already read, I'm listening to them again.

Abr 8, 12:53 am

>93 kac522: Oh but I did love The Scarlet Letter. That book is probably in my top 5 books of all time!

Abr 8, 9:59 am

>94 Tess_W: I should have clarified to say it's how I felt about The House of the Seven Gables, not Hawthorne in general. Although I have to admit that I absolutely hated The Scarlet Letter in high school. Fast-forward 50 years and my RL book club read The Blithesdale Romance, which I enjoyed. So I decided to re-read The Scarlet Letter and it was one of the best books of the year for me. At 14 years old I had no clue what was happening, except that it was dark and sad. As an adult it had all kinds of meaning.

Abr 8, 10:26 pm

>94 Tess_W: I agree! Not sure if it's top 5, but it's definitely one of my all-time favorites. I haven't actually tried to figure out what my top 5 or 10 would be.

Editado: Maio 4, 2:08 am

So far this year I've read 59 books, which is an all-time high for me. There are years before I retired when I was lucky to read 20 books in the entire year.

At any rate, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the books I want to read and challenges I want to participate in. It's sort of paralyzed me, in a way. I haven't even started 2 books that I wanted to read for last month's challenges. So this month I just have possibilities, and hope that I can cut myself some slack if needed, and just read the ones that I want to read.

So here are May's possibilities

Currently reading:
Barnaby Rudge, Charles Dickens; a re-read on audiobook
The Norman Maclean Reader, Norman Maclean

To wrap up April challenges:
My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok--April Monthly author
The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, Dan Egan--April Nonfiction

Everything else:
The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rugen, Elizabeth von Arnim--May monthly author
American Histories, John Edgar Wideman--May AAC
To Serve Them All My Days, R. F. Delderfield--May BAC
Shakespeare: The World as Stage, Bill Bryson--May Nonfiction
One Summer, Bill Bryson--Reading Thru Time Q2 (1919-1939)
A Month in the Country, J. L. Carr--a re-read, for my RL Book Club (I'm leading the discussion)
Under the Greenwood Tree, Thomas Hardy--a re-read, which I'll do on audio. Apparently J. L. Carr was inspired by this book when writing A Month in the Country, so it seems like a good idea if I can fit it in.
Celia and Chatterton Square, E. H. Young--May Virago challenge
Under the Lilacs, Louisa May Alcott--May ClassicsCAT

and in-between these, I'm going to read as many of the Betsy-Tacy books as I can for this month's ClassicsCAT theme: children's classics. This is a classic series I never read as a kid, and wasn't on my radar at all until I started watching booktube. So I'm catching up with the stuff I missed in childhood ;)

The good thing is that all of these, except the Betsy-Tacy books, are off my shelves. I have two other library books (one I've had for weeks) that I may or may not add to this list, but have left them off for now.

I will eventually post mini-reviews of my April books, but I've been a bit low on energy the past few days.

Maio 2, 6:12 pm

>97 kac522: My reaction to wanting to read all the books has been to binge read mysteries, so I think I understand what you're experiencing.

I hope you enjoy Betsy-Tacy; I loved them. I wanted to use my mom's Sears catalog for paper dolls, just like Betsy did.

Maio 2, 7:51 pm

>98 NinieB: Ha! Great story!

As to bingeing, I'd probably binge re-reads of my favorites, like Trollope and Austen and Dickens. I did that a lot in the height of the pandemic, when I couldn't focus on much else. Right now it's not focusing, it's choosing and I seem to be paralyzed by choice.

Maio 2, 11:08 pm

>97 kac522: There are years before I retired when I was lucky to read 20 books in the entire year. Boy, I can relate to that statement! I'm now at one year into retirement, and I'm trying to catch up on all the reading I want to do. Lots of TBRs waiting for me on my bookshelves.

I can also relate to the choices. With all the interesting challenges I've found here on LT this year, it can be difficult to do them all. This past month I had conflicts with needing to do yard work, getting a couple of Early Reviewers to read, and not having something on my shelves that matched the monthly challenge. Which led to me not reading any ROOTs in April, although I did start one for the Nonfiction challenge which I wasn't able to finish in April but should shortly.

All this is just to say that I totally relate, and I guess we all need to cut ourselves some slack. Just choosing to read what you want to read sounds like a good plan.

Maio 3, 1:11 am

>100 atozgrl: Thanks so much--it is true--read what you want. And I've immediately started that plan ;) Instead of reading the books I was "supposed" to read in April, I've started The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rugen by one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth von Arnim. And I am totally enjoying it--marking all kinds of funny and wonderful passages!

I think I just needed something to "jump-start" my month, and I found it!

Maio 3, 3:11 am

>97 kac522: Yes, the challenges can look quite daunting. But I never worry about not getting round to it, it's optional for me, not a self-imposed obligation.

Maio 3, 8:47 am

I'm the same way with challenges, group reads, etc. I really like them because they help me pick which books I want to read from the 100s that I own or have on wish lists. But at the same time, they can sometimes make reading stressful or feel like work. For me, I've found mixing up my challenges to work best - not doing the same ones too many years in a row.

Glad you found a book that fit your mood. It sounds like a good one - looking forward to your review.

Maio 3, 11:31 am

>102 MissWatson:, >103 japaul22: I'm trying to cut back, but not very successful, especially when I can find a book on the shelf that I really do want to read that fits the challenge.

And in particular, Jennifer, I remember how well you enjoyed the Dan Egan book on the Great Lakes, and really want to get to that one. I will. Eventually.

Maio 3, 1:19 pm

>104 kac522: yes! That one was so good.

Maio 3, 11:55 pm

>101 kac522: I am so glad you found something to get your reading started! Good luck on whatever else you decide to read this month. Going with what appeals to you should be good.

And this discussion is helpful for me too. It's looking to be a busy month for me, and I don't think I'm going to be able to get to a literary biography for the May nonfiction challenge. I've got two on my shelves, one is the first volume of Mark Twain's autobiography, and the other is a biography of Oscar Wilde, but both are too long for me to add to the list for this month. So if I wanted to meet that challenge, I'd have to get something out of the library. I think I'll have to pass this time.

Editado: Maio 4, 1:20 am

>106 atozgrl: Finished the von Arnim in >101 kac522: and ready for my next book! Yes!

Re: biographies: I'm lucky to have Bill Bryson's Shakespeare: the World as Stage. It's short and Bryson is always entertaining, especially about anything British.

Some short biographies (about 200 pages) that are surprisingly good are in the "Penguin Lives" series. I've read:

Jane Austen: Penguin Lives by Carol Shields
Charles Dickens: Penguin Lives by Jane Smiley
James Joyce: Penguin Lives by Edna O'Brien
Winston Churchill: Penguin Lives by John Keegan

Note that the authors of these bios are all distinguished writers themselves. These are well worth checking out in the future when you want a brief but well-written biography. I also have one on Leonardo that I haven't read yet, but he wasn't a writer, so wouldn't fit the challenge.

Maio 4, 8:04 am

>97 kac522: That's how I often feel, "overwhelmed" by what I want to get accomplished, reading-wise. So many books, so many great challenges, I want to read them all! But, I can't; even though mostly retired. I put too much pressure on myself. Then I have to take a step back and regroup or reading is no longer enjoyable, but a chore. I'm at the step back point right now and finding life and reading is good! I think a lot of mine has to do with the weather as I know I suffer from SAD and need that sunshine (and that dirt under my fingernails!). Hope you get to that recharging place soon! You have a lot of great books listed of which I took more than 1 BB!

Maio 4, 9:24 am

>98 NinieB: we used McCall's magazine for paper dolls. Every issue they'd have a page for Betsy McCall, a paper doll character. We'd cut out the clothes and then paste the Betsy McCall on cardboard, to be trimmed later.

Here's an example:

Maio 4, 10:34 am

>98 NinieB:, >109 fuzzi: I remember having paper dolls, but I don't recall I ever cut them out of catalogs or magazines. But I have to say that picture of Betsy McCall seems to strike a very vague memory of doing something similar.

What I do remember from my mother's magazines were floor plans of houses--maybe a "house of the month" model home or something? And then my friend next-door and I would spend hours with paper and pencil creating floor plans of our "dream" houses. Even to this day I enjoy looking at floor plans.

Maio 4, 10:41 am

>108 Tess_W: Thanks, Tess; my first book is done (von Arnim) and it was a good choice. I think the books I didn't finish in April are ones I want to read soon, but aren't calling to me right now. So I'm going with what interests me today and I think that will work. Next up is the Bill Bryson bio of Shakespeare, which fits well since I read A Midsummer Night's Dream last month for our book club.

Maio 4, 5:25 pm

>107 kac522: Thanks for the biography suggestions, they look good! If I find I have more time by the end of the month, I might try one of them.

>109 fuzzi: I used to love playing with paper dolls as a kid. I think most of them were from kits we bought at the store. I don't remember cutting anything from magazines or catalogs, but I suppose it might be possible.

Maio 4, 5:50 pm

>112 atozgrl: Right, I remember the paper dolls as ones bought at the store, too.

Maio 4, 7:10 pm

>109 fuzzi: Ah, I had a whole collection of Betsy McCalls. The cards that came in stockings were just the right weight for gluing the dolls and then you had the clothes. I think that was what discouraged me about the catalogs--you couldn't change the doll's clothes, unlike the Betsy McCalls.

Maio 8, 9:16 am

>114 NinieB: the cardboard that came inside shirts and undershirts was good for paper dolls, too.

Editado: Maio 11, 10:29 am

Remember April???

It's pretty dim for me right now, but before the thoughts all disappear from my brain, here are the books I read in April:

April Reading, Part 1

47. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, Margareta Magnusson, 2018
Type: nonfiction, organization?

Meh--disappointing--too chatty, with a lot of excess talk about things other than cleaning/decluttering. One good recommendation: go through clothing first (easiest) and do photographs/letters last (hardest--may hinder or stymie your progress).

48. The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane, 1895
Type: novella

Although this is standard American high school required reading, I don't think I ever read it before. This novella follows Henry Fleming (mostly referred to as "the youth") as a young soldier during the Civil War. He's excited and petrified; he is not always "the devoted soldier", but by the end of the story he puts those failures behind him and concentrates on his successes. There is a lot of sensual imagery of war: sights, sounds, smells, etc. It was a tough one to read; I had to do it in bits. Amazing writing, too, considering that the Civil War ended before Crane was born and at that point he had never experienced battle first-hand. He had to rely on testimony from veterans for details for the story.

In the Library of America edition I read, I then found a short story by Stephen Crane a year later (1896) called "The Veteran." Henry Fleming is again the main character, this time many years later as a grandfather and celebrated humble war hero in his small town. Totally different feel to the story from the earlier novel, and I'm glad I took the time to read about Henry Fleming from a completely different vantage point.

49. The Diary of an Isle Royale School Teacher, Dorothy Peterman Simonson, 1988
Type: memoir

A daily diary kept by a young schoolteacher of her 1932-33 school year spent on Isle Royale teaching a small group of children. Isle Royale, now a National Park, is an island in Lake Superior, off the coast of the U.S.-Canada border. Simonson's diary was published in 1988 by her son Bob after her death, and he has written a short introduction and Epilogue.

Simonson, an Upper Peninsula (Michigan) native, was hired to teach the 5 children of island fisherman Holger Johnson from September 1932 through May 1933. She and her 6 year old son Bob lived in rooms attached to the schoolhouse, and ate meals up at the Johnson family's home. She was paid $65 a month, $35 of which she had to pay the Johnsons for her board. The diary entries start out enthusiastic and she loves the setting on the beautiful island, but as the winter settles in, life becomes exceedingly difficult. There are no phones, there is only one radio up at the family's house, and there is limited opportunity to meet other islanders. The weekly highlight is the arrival of the ship from the mainland with mail and supplies.

Simonson does record some of her reactions to national events that she hears over the radio: Roosevelt's victory in the 1932 election, the bank runs, the possible end of Prohibition. She also makes note of books she is reading (including Willa Cather's Shadows on the Rock and Theodore Dreiser's The Genius), craft projects, and of course the daily toil of cleaning, washing, ironing and feeding the wood stove heater in the schoolhouse.

By January, she is counting down the days left they must remain on Isle Royale; the sub-zero temps and six feet of snow outside her door don't make it any easier. A very illuminating look at a specific time and place during the interwar years.

❤️50. The Anthropocene Reviewed, John Green, 2021
Type: nonfiction: essays

I thoroughly enjoyed these essays that were a mix of funny, informative, quirky and painful. Each essay is about a different topic and he rates each topic at the end of the essay with the "star" system, which by the end you realize seems almost absurd. His evaluation of the "star" system (i'.e., 1-5 stars for books) had me thinking about how much I inadvertently depend on these ratings and maybe why I really shouldn't:

The five-star scale has only been used in critical analysis for the past few decades. While it was occasionally applied to film criticism as early as the 1950s, the five-star scale wasn't used to rate hotels until 1979, and it wasn't widely used to rate books until Amazon introduced user reviews. The five-star scale doesn't really exist for humans; it exists for data aggregation systems, which is why it did not become standard until the internet era. Making conclusions about a book's quality from a 175-word review is hard work for artificial intelligences, whereas star ratings are ideal for them.
Interestingly, the copy of the book I borrowed from the Chicago Public Library is a signed copy. Green even has an essay about it in the book: he personally signed hundreds of thousands of blank pages to be included in the printing of his books. Well worth my time to read these essays; each one had me thinking in a new way.

51. Postcards: The Rise and Fall of the World's First Social Network, Lydia Pyne, 2021
Type: nonfiction: postcards

This book would have been OK if the emphasis had not been so focused on comparing postcards to "social media" of today. It is a good, basic intro to the history, manufacture and breadth of postcards, particularly in the 20th century. It is skewed toward American postcards, the U.S. postal system and U.S. postcard manufacturers, although there is one chapter specifically dedicated to countries and nations no longer existing today, similar to postage stamp collecting. The illustrations were well-chosen and well-curated. The resources and notes at the end were excellent. But I don't think I am convinced that postcards were the "first" social media network.

52. Phoebe, Junior, Margaret Oliphant, 1876
Type: fiction

This is the last in the "Carlingford" series by Margaret Oliphant. Oliphant seems to have gotten her inspiration for this series about a small town from Anthony Trollope's Barsetshire books. Oliphant makes her focus the class and religious distinctions in a small English town, and how that can play out in a close-knit community.

In some ways this last installment is good (fine points of class/wealth/religious distinctions). But I didn't quite get on with our main character, Phoebe; I'm not sure why, but she seems too savvy and not particularly believable. I find it hard to believe her relationship with the buffoon-like Clarence Copperhead. I had more feeling for Ursula May, who is the daughter of Mr May, the clergyman who can't keep his finances in order and eventually forges a check to get out of debt. He seemed believable although quite hard on his family. The ending was somewhat abrupt and left me flat. If Oliphant knew this was to be her last installment, I would think she would have wrapped it up better.

I read this as an LT group read with Liz (lyzard) and her insights were particularly valuable--I'm not sure I would have finished the book without her guidance.

Editado: Maio 10, 8:05 pm

April Reading, Part 2

53. Friends at Thrush Green, Miss Read, 1990
Type: fiction

Another delightful entry in the Thrush Green series. Among the usual small town topics, alcoholism and senility are addressed with sensitivity.

❤️54. The Last Chronicle of Barset, Anthony Trollope, 1867; re-read via audiobook, read by Simon Vance
Type: fiction

This last book in Trollope's Barsetshire Chronicles focuses on Mr Josiah Crawley and the alleged theft of a 20 pound note. There is no one to match Trollope in the way he shows a man from all angles of his personality and how he grapples with ethical issues. I had remembered Mr Crawley's tortured story line, but had completely forgotten the love story between Mr Crawley's daughter Grace and the widowed Henry Grantley, son of the Archdeacon, which won my heart.

With this entry, I finished my audiobook re-read of Trollope's six Barsetshire books. I started this listening re-read marathon in July 2022 and am so glad I revisited the series on audiobook. There is a gentle but steady faith in humanity in these books. There is a recognition that people are far from perfect, but the positive goodness in most people can still be recognized and appreciated. This is what I found missing in Mrs. Oliphant's Carlingford series, I think.

All in all, a satisfying series, which I know I will come back to again.

55. A Midsummer Night's Dream, William Shakespeare, 1600
Type: drama

I first read A Midsummer Night's Dream in high school. This was a re-read for my RL book club, and we had a good discussion. For me the best quote is still so true today:

"Lord, what fools these mortals be!"

I also watched the Midsummer episode of the PBS series "Shakespeare Uncovered" in which actor Hugh Bonneville takes the viewer through the play, background info, interviews and various interpretations & productions. This really enhanced my understanding of the play.

56. The Patriotic Murders, Agatha Christie, 1940
Type: classic era mystery

Also known as "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" and "An Overdose of Death" this is the next entry in my chronological reading of Agatha Christie's mysteries.
The set-up and characters were interesting, with a contemporary "spy" theme. But the solution was overly complicated to the point of ridiculous, so it wasn't very satisfying.

57. Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her Life, Lucy Worsley, 2018
Type: nonfiction: biography

This biography takes 24 individual dates in Queen Victoria's life and provides background and context to the events of that day. Besides the obvious dates (birth, coronation, marriage, death), Worsley describes lesser celebrated but significant dates that pull together various aspects of Victoria's life and personality.

I found Worsley's writing style chatty but not simple, detailed without being tediously exhaustive. The book is full of quotes from Victoria's own journals, as well as journals and letters of relatives and contemporaries. Worsley is especially good with domestic details: the clothes, furnishings, homes, servants and food of Victoria's daily life. There are hundreds of notes and references, so it felt well-researched.

Some people may find this an unsatisfying book because it doesn't try to give a complete history of Victoria's life. And if you're looking for a whirlwind life of passion and scandal, then you'd best find a bit flashier Royal to read about. But if you want a taste of everyday life for Queen Victoria, with a basic look at the most important events in her life (and 19th century Britain), this might be a good book for you. It was perfect for what I was looking for; as they say, it does exactly what it says on the tin.

58. Tearing the Silence: Being German in America, Ursula Hegi, 1997
Type: nonfiction: memoir through interviews

Soon after it came out I read Hegi's Stones from the River (1995) and was blown away. Last year I read Floating in My Mother's Palm and only found it so-so. So I went into this nonfiction book with mixed feelings.

Hegi interviewed about 25 people who closely matched her own experience: 1) born in Germany between 1939-1949 and 2) immigrated to America, mostly in the 1950s and 1960s, with a few came in the 1970s-80s. She finally selected 15 interviews (plus her own story) to be included in the book. These interviews took place in the late 1990s, so most of the participants were in their 50s. The interviews were tape-recorded and a majority were conducted in-person; a handful were conducted by phone. Hegi provides an introduction and a concluding essay.

The interviewees showed a wide range of comfort with being German and being American. The ways of getting to America were as different as each person, but most were excited to come here. Some made regular return trips back to Germany; others did not. What becomes clear is that many have conflicting feelings about what it means to be German in America, and to discuss Jews and the Holocaust, in particular. They received little to no information about the WWII from their parents, with most of their knowledge about the war and the Holocaust being learned when they came to the U.S. Most wanted to learn everything they could about it; a few wanted nothing to do with that past history.

Hegi does an excellent job of finding the common themes of the interviews in her conclusion. One point that she does not mention, but stood out to me almost immediately, was how many of the interviewees had multiple marriages and/or had parents who eventually separated. I'm not sure if Hegi chose these particular interviewees with this in mind (as it matches her own experience), but it was apparent to me that maintaining stable relationships was challenging for all of these German Americans.

Overall this was good and I learned quite a bit, but by the last few interviews I found it repetitive.

59. Madame de Treymes and Three Novellas, Edith Wharton, 1900, 1903, 1907, 1916
Type: novellas

In my quest to read all of the fiction by Edith Wharton, I read these novellas. This volume included 4 novellas: "The Touchstone" (1900), "Sanctuary" (1903), "Madame de Treymes" (1907) and "The Bunner Sisters" (1916).

All four works involve deceit in some way. I had read "The Touchstone" a few years ago, so only skimmed it to remind myself of the characters and plot line, which involves a married couple grappling with the husband's deceit in a published work. It is set in turn of the century New York.

"Sanctuary" is set in early 20th century Paris, involving an architectural competition, and how a young man's ethical decision could impact his upcoming engagement. Here's is Wharton's scathing look into the mind of his fiancée:
"She had begun to perceive that the fair surface of life was honeycombed by a vast system of moral sewage. Every respectable household had its special arrangements for the private disposal of family scandals; it was only among the reckless and improvident that such hygienic precautions were neglected. Who was she to pass judgment on the merits of such a system? The social health must be preserved; the means devised were the result of long experience and the collective instinct of self-preservation.(emphasis mine)
"Madame de Treymes" is also set in Paris, where a young American woman is manipulated by her French mother-in-law.
"The Bunner Sisters" was originally written in 1892, but not published until 1916. It's set in 1880s New York, and follows the lives of two spinster sisters, and what happens when one decides to get married.

My favorites were "The Touchstone" and "Sanctuary"; these also felt the most "Jamesian"--you could feel the influence of Henry James.

Maio 10, 6:04 pm

I read the Death Cleaning book last week. I've heard the phrase and was curious about it. There wasn't a lot that wasn't predictable.

Maio 10, 8:12 pm

>118 dudes22: Right, pretty hum-drum, although well-intentioned, it seemed to me.

Maio 11, 10:36 am

>120 fuzzi: Yes, it was short but a true slice of life of the time. One of the things that was so interesting was that because there was no phone on the island and the mail boat stopped over the winter, there was complete dependence on the radio for communication. Relatives from the mainland would relay messages & family updates to Mrs Simonson through a local weekly radio program.

Mrs Simonson in turn eventually was able to get a working short-wave radio so that she could relay messages back to the radio station, to be broadcast for those back home to hear. At one point in February the radio station shut down, and all communication stopped. Fortunately the mail boat resumed in late April, once the ice had melted on the lake.

Maio 13, 12:40 pm

I've seen so many great reviews of The Anthropocene Reviewed and think I will have to read it!

Editado: Maio 13, 1:44 pm

>122 rabbitprincess: Definitely worth it. Because it's an essay collection, it's almost preferable to read one or two at a time. I've even started watching John Green's youtube channel, #vlogbrothers, that he does with his brother Hank.

I've only read (some years ago) one of his novels, The Fault in Our Stars, which I enjoyed at the time.

Maio 14, 6:01 pm

>121 kac522: there's a book, true story, of a single woman living by herself on a farm in Vermont, The Lone Winter by Anne Bosworth Greene. She wrote descriptively, but not boringly. I've enjoyed reading her other works, too.

Maio 15, 12:21 am

>124 fuzzi: Sounds interesting. I'll have to see if I can find it.

Maio 15, 10:25 am

>116 kac522: LOL to remember April....things are growing dim. That is the story of my mind, lately! You had some great reads for part 1 & 2 and I took several BB's.

Maio 15, 11:49 am

>126 Tess_W: Thanks! I wish I had the motivation to write them up immediately after I read them, but I'm too eager to get on to the next book!

Maio 18, 11:01 am

>125 kac522: bookfinder has copies for about $10, and it's been reprinted in softcover, wow!


Maio 18, 11:36 am

>128 fuzzi: Good to know there are multiple copies out there, thanks!

Maio 18, 1:07 pm

>129 kac522: you're welcome.

I loved her "pony books" as a child, and discovered her other works as an adult.

Maio 24, 12:25 pm

If you're familiar with the British School system in the early 20th century, I could use your help!

I've started reading To Serve Them All My Days by R. F. Delderfield. Being unfamiliar with the British school system circa 1918, I could use some help in understanding the various levels at David's school.

The book mentions Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Forms. And some of these have "Upper", "Middle" and "Lower."

Sixth form are clearly defined as those aged 17 and older. So far, so good.

Second form are the newest away from home (therefore, youngest??), but their ages are not given. This is where I need help: I'm not clear on the ages of the boys in Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Forms.

What do the distinctions of upper, middle and lower mean within each Form--is it a division by age or by ability?

He mentions "Classical Fifth" Form--what is this?

Student Bickford at age 14 is in "Remove". What is this, and why?

Sometimes the collective term of "juniors" is used--which forms would be "juniors"?

Any help or pointers to external explanatory sources appreciated.

Maio 25, 3:27 am

>131 kac522: I've read these terms so many times with only the vaguest idea of the year levels, but I have now asked Google.

Upper third - year 7 - 12 year-olds
Lower fourth - year 8 - 13
Upper fourth - year 9 - 14
Lower fifth - year 10 - 15
Upper fifth - year 11 16
Lower sixth and Upper sixth - as far as I can tell, students sat university exams during the year they were in Upper sixth, so perhaps the main preparation was done in the Lower sixth. Perhaps they sat exams for multiple universities?

Classical fifth would be for students studying Greek and Latin, but why not upper or lower I wonder?

Billy Bunter was in the Remove at Greyfriars School, which was the lower fourth. Perhaps the Remove is the place for the naughty boys, with the more academic boys being in the proper upper fourth.

Not sure on the cut-off between Seniors and Juniors. Do students become seniors in the Lower fifth or the Upper fifth?

Maio 25, 3:36 am

>131 kac522:

Upper second - year 5 Age 10
Lower third - year 6 Age 11 Last year of Primary school. 11 plus exam.

Editado: Maio 25, 11:44 am

>132 pamelad:, >133 pamelad: so would all these apply in 1918, when Delderfield is writing To Serve Them All My Days?

>132 pamelad: looks like what it is now--it matches the levels my grandchildren are in now in England; i.e., my grandson is age 15 and is in Year 10; my granddaughter is age 12 and is in Year 7.

Maio 25, 11:58 am

On the BAC thread, someone posted this:

which at least gives a guideline for today, even if it isn't exactly accurate for 1918.

Maio 25, 4:10 pm

>134 kac522: Yes. They're used in those early 20th century school stories that I used to read voraciously as a child, where girls named Vera captained the lacrosse team and everyone was mightily concerned with the "honour of the house". Midnight feasts! Lashings of lemonade! There's also Billy Bunter of Greyfriar's School, the terror of the Remove.

I've matched the old levels, such as Lower Fourth, to the levels we use today. To make things even more complicated, in between the use of Upper Fourth etc and the current Year 9 etc, there were form levels where Form 1 was year 7 and so on. Nigel Molesworth, the curse of St Custard's was the 'goriller of 3b'.

Maio 25, 6:28 pm

>136 pamelad: Well, one day someone will put footnotes to these books and explain it all to us 21st century readers! Thanks for your help!

Editado: Jun 11, 6:12 pm

May Reading

Looking at these titles, it seems like ages ago. Anyway, here's what I read:

60. The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rügen, Elizabeth von Arnim (1904)
Type: fiction

This is a story about Elizabeth (from Elizabeth and her German Garden) as she goes on a traveling holiday around the German island of Rügen, located in the Baltic Sea. Von Arnim visited this island in 1901, and the original book has a map of her travels. She describes many real places, particularly the beaches, inns and the views of the sea. Woven into these descriptions is a fictional story of the main character Elizabeth and her maid Gertrud traveling the island and accidentally meeting Elizabeth's cousin Charlotte and Charlotte's estranged husband. Some of the dialogue is laugh-out loud funny. A sort of "chase" ensues, as Charlotte is determined to escape from her husband, and these escapades takes us to the highlighted places of Rügen. Lots of fun.

61. My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok (1972)
Type: fiction

Asher Lev, in his twenties, looks back on his early life. His desire to be a painter from age 10 conflicts with his Hasidic family and community. Eventually Asher comes to realize that he cannot live a true life in both. Even though it seemed repetitive, the book did keep me reading. I found the portrayals of observant Judaism to be informative and objective, even when they seem overly strict. Potok's narrative writing, especially descriptive passages, are wonderful, but his dialogue leaves a lot to be desired. Not only is it painfully terse, many times at least one person in the conversation doesn't answer, and we are left with silence and often conjecture on what the participants are thinking. Potok based the story line on his own struggle with art (painting and writing) and his traditional Orthodox background. OK, but not the same emotional punch that I enjoyed in the other book of his that I have read, The Chosen.

(no cover image)
62. Chaim Potok, Edward Abramson (1986)
Type: literary analysis

Written in 1986 while Potok was still alive and still writing, this provides background to Potok's life and works, up to 1985 (Davita's Harp). In fact, Abramson was in communication with Potok to clarify points of understanding in his writings and interviews. I read the background chapter, the chapters on The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev, skimmed the chapters of other works, and read the final summary chapter. Abramson states Potok, after being discouraged to continue painting, decided to be a writer after reading Brideshead Revisited as a teenager.

Abramson identifies some of the main themes in Potok's work including: religion in conflict with society; the individual's needs vs. religious beliefs; traditions vs. the modern; and fathers and sons. Abramson acknowledges that Potok emphasizes his themes and plots, while his characterizations and dialogue suffer. Abramson points out that although many of Potok's major characters in the end reject religious fundamentalism, they embrace a spiritual approach to life which may not include institutional religion.

Although a bit academic, I was glad I read the relevant sections of this book because it enlightened my understanding of Chaim Potok and his works.

63. The Betsy-Tacy Treasury: The First Four Betsy-Tacy Books, Maud Hart Lovelace (1940, 1941, 1942, 1943)
Type: children's fiction

I enjoyed the first 4 books of this new-to-me series. I'm sure they would mean even more to me if I had read them when I was a young reader. As an adult reader, I appreciated the way Lovelace pays attention to detail in the clothing, food and games of the children, as well as the streets and homes of Deep Valley (based on turn-of-the century Mankato, MN). Equally interesting were references in the later books to real events, real historical people, and real contemporary books and magazines that the girls encounter. I felt that as Betsy got older, not only did the books increase in difficulty, but Lovelace also creates increasingly complex issues and personalities and for the girls.

Book 1 Betsy-Tacy is a good beginning reader; Book 2 Betsy-Tacy and Tib gives us a wonderful sense of the personalities of Betsy and Tacy; Book 3 Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill includes an episode where the girls meet a young Syrian immigrant girl and her family; and Book 4 Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown takes Betsy downtown to visit the Carnegie Library, to see the first horseless carriage, a visit to the Opera House and a touching scene re-uniting Betsy's family with their missing Uncle Keith.

(no cover image)
64. Soldiers with picks and shovels : the CCC camp at Carlinville, Illinois, Tom Emery (2011)
Type: nonfiction; American history between the wars; local history of Illinois

An interesting little book about the CCC camp at Carlinville, IL, which was in operation from July 1935 until June 1941. Some pictures, although few identified specific individuals. The author is from the area, and was sponsored by a local historian. He includes interviews with men who had worked at the camp, visited local archives and libraries, and he read through the local paper at the time.

There's a lot of detail to process, but I found it fascinating. New to me was that in order to qualify for the camp, as well as male and at least 18 years old, you had to be unemployed, single and your family had to be on relief. Men were paid $30 a month, $25 of which was sent directly to the man's family. Much of the work done at the Carlinville camp involved helping local farmers with soil erosion prevention and planting trees. At any one time there was an average of 200 men being housed at the camp; men signed up for 6 months at a time.

The barracks and living arrangements were similar to military camps, and it's easy to see how many of the men would have easily transitioned into service for WWII. But utterly amazing (compared to today) was how swiftly the whole CCC organization was put into motion in the Roosevelt administration. In literally a few months thousands of men were being housed and employed in worthwhile projects. Congress moved with lightning speed in those days.

65. Shakespeare: The World as Stage, Bill Bryson (2007)
Type: nonfiction; biography

A good basic biography of Shakespeare and his times under 200 pages. I particularly liked the chapter about Shakespeare's language and the last chapter about the "Claimants"--various theories that Shakespeare didn't write Shakespeare. Bryson knocks them down one by one.

❤️66. A Month in the Country, J. L. Carr (1980)
Type: fiction; re-read

An absolute gem of a book, which was a re-read for me from 5 years ago. Set in 1920, it is the story of a young Great War veteran who goes to a North Yorkshire country village to restore a painting in a church, and begins to restore himself. As he slowly chips away at the old paint to reveal a medieval painting, so Carr slowly reveals bits and pieces of the veteran's life and emotions. In many ways, these returning men were a lost generation, with few people who understood the horrors of modern warfare they experienced.

Beautiful writing in a mere 135 pages; every word that Carr put on the page was for a reason. Of all the books I've read this year, this will be the most memorable, even as a re-read.

67. Under the Greenwood Tree, Thomas Hardy (1872)
Type: fiction; re-read on audiobook

I re-read Under the Greenwood Tree because in the preface to my previous book, A Month in the Country, Carr mentions that he was attempting to create the same sort of nostalgic look back in time as Hardy did in this book. I think Carr succeeded and it was well worth my time to listen to this Hardy favorite on audiobook, which made me appreciate it even more than on the page. It is a look back at a rural 1840s (pre-railroad) village and how the village handles change and even has a somewhat happy ending.

68. American Histories, John Edgar Wideman (2018)
Type: short stories

This is the first fiction I've read of Wideman, but I must say it didn't feel much like fiction. Every story is a first-person narrative that seems in (or very close to) the author's voice and experiences. There were 21 pieces in all, a few just a page and a half; a few were 25+ pages, and the rest in-between. For me the first ten stories worked the best. My favorite was "JB&FD," a series of imagined conversations with John Brown and Frederick Douglass. The last half of the stories wandered into stream of consciousness/random unconnected thoughts, and these did not keep my interest. A couple stories I mostly skimmed, as my concentration waned.

69. The Squire, Enid Bagnold (1938)
Type: fiction

This is the story of a woman (known only as "the squire") who is about to give birth to her 5th child. Her husband has gone on business for 3 months to Bombay, hence the Lady of the House is now In Charge. We follow her as she arranges for this birth: midwife, doctor, house staff and her other 4 children's are all on alert. Once the baby is born, the second half of the book follows the adjustment back to day-to-day life, with a large emphasis on The Servant Problem.

I almost gave up on the first half of the book. There are a lot of Important Statements about Motherhood and Life that got very tedious. However, the second half had more detail and less pontificating. Despite my impatience, this book is important for its time because of the way Bagnold realistically describes pregnancy, labor and breastfeeding, all subjects that were only hinted at before in a woman's novel. These were beautifully done without being sentimental. The children felt real and were a highlight of the book.

So an important book in the context of the practical portrayal of pregnancy and birth, but I could have done without the platitudes on motherhood and the angst over the ever incompetent staff.

Jun 13, 6:59 am

Interesting, I loved Asher Lev even more than The Chosen and The Promise, all of which I'd recommend.

Glad you enjoyed the Betsy-Tacy books. I had read one as a child, Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown but never realized it was part of a series. I recently found and read them all.

Jun 13, 9:18 am

May looked like a really good reading month for you!

Jun 13, 10:42 am

>139 fuzzi: I haven't read The Promise, but perhaps at some point I'll get to it. I also hope to (one day) read the rest of the Betsy-Tacy books; I think they would be a good series to read between more difficult books.

>140 Tess_W: Pretty good, yes, thanks. I think my re-reads were my favorites. I have so many other books around here, but I always gravitate back to books I have read and loved.

Editado: Jun 13, 3:46 pm

>138 kac522:, >139 fuzzi: I enjoyed The Promise and The Chosen more than Asher Lev, but they're all worth reading.

I agree with you about A Month in the Country - a lovely little book.

Editado: Jun 13, 4:51 pm

>142 pamelad: Isn't A Month in the Country wonderful? I started June by finishing To Serve Them All My Days by R. F. Delderfield, which was good, but Carr wrote an unforgettable story in 135 pages what it took Delderfield 600+ pages to do (and which has already faded in my memory).

Editado: Jun 14, 7:00 pm

I'm just so behind in everything LT. This month I'll have been on LT since 2009, so you'd think I'd have the hang of it. Oh well....

So far in June I've read:
*To Serve Them All My Days, R. F. Delderfield (1972)
Celebrations at Thrush Green, Miss Read (1992)
Three Tales, Gustave Flaubert (1877)
*Barnaby Rudge, Charles Dickens (1841); audiobook read by Simon Vance
*The Norman Maclean Reader, Norman Maclean (2008)
Secret Harvests, David Mas Masumoto (2023)
*These I've been working on since April and May, so it was good to finish them FINALLY.

Hopefully I'll post reviews of these before it starts snowing....

I'm currently reading:
--The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni (1842)--this is a 19th century Italian classic, and I've got 2 different editions. The first is an old Penguin translated by Bruce Penman. I like the translation, but the print is tiny and there are no footnotes. I also borrowed from the library a new 2022 translation by Michael F. Moore which I don't like as well, but it's hardcover with larger print, a good map, some historical background and the occasional footnote. So I go back & forth with the two editions.
--Peace and Bread in Time of War by Jane Addams (1922)--an interesting perspective on the peace movement during WWI and afterward.
--Lady Susan, Jane Austen (an early start to Jane Austen July--see below!)

Some other possibilities for June:
--Fannie Herself by Edna Ferber, and possibly two other Ferber books coming in from the library for the Monthly Author group
--The Time Machine, H. G. Wells--for my RL book club
--One Summer: 1927, Bill Bryson
--Good Daughters, Mary Hocking, for the Virago group
--The Heir of Redclyffe, Charlotte M. Yonge, Victorian novel I've wanted to read for some time

And it's not too soon to plan for Jane Austen July: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4ZCPSRPKxE

My July plans include, besides Lady Susan:
Northanger Abbey
Jane Austen at Home, Lucy Worsley
Godmersham Park, Gill Hornby (historical fiction about the Austen family)
The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe (1794)--featured prominently in Northanger Abbey

and of course watching as many JA adaptations as possible.

Jun 14, 7:48 pm

>3 kac522: Kathy, as a "new to Groups on LT" person, I really appreciate your list of challenges! The order (out of chaos) that reading challenges can impart is highly appealing to me, so I can get really excited by the prospect of participating. The real challenge, though, is not getting carried away so that I spend all my time researching and tracking challenges at the expense of actually reading! 🤣

Jun 14, 8:22 pm

>145 PlatinumWarlock: The organized Challenges help me to pick books off my huge TBR that I might otherwise ignore. I especially like RandomKit. I've participated for years and challenges are usually so broad that it's easy to find books to fit. On the other hand I love to collect Virago editions, so the current Virago challenge helps me choose which one to read each month.

But it is true that tracking challenges or even reading *only* for challenges can feel like you're making 0 progress toward what you really want to read. Which is why I cut back in June (and will in July) on meeting challenges and focusing on what I want to read (or books that need to get back to the library!).

Jun 15, 1:48 am

>146 kac522: …or books that need to get back to the library…

Yes, I know that one! 🤣🤣

Editado: Jun 15, 12:24 pm

>147 PlatinumWarlock: Of course, it's hopeless, as I have 2 books waiting on the Hold shelf today at the library, and about 6 library books sitting here already. My library does not help...we're allowed 15 renewals, as long as nobody else puts a hold on the book. And we can take out up to 50 items at a time.

Like I said, it's hopeless.

Jun 15, 12:28 pm

>148 kac522: I try really hard to think of it as “a nice problem” instead of “hopeless”… but that’s kind of hopeless too. 🤣

Jun 15, 12:33 pm

>149 PlatinumWarlock: I'm actually very grateful for my big-city library. A lot of stuff could be better in Chicago, but the library system has a lot going for it. And if they don't have an item, I've had no trouble requesting via ILL, although no renewals on ILL items. And it's delivered to my little local branch, just minutes from my home.

Jun 15, 1:30 pm

>150 kac522: That’s lovely. Seattle (and King County, which has its own separate library system) both have marvelous libraries, and many of the other systems in the state have generous reciprocal programs with us. I’m up to 7 library cards in Libby, which covers my ebook and audiobook listening, and I can find most anything I want in paper copy too. As with Chicago, there are some things that could definitely be better here… but libraries aren’t one of them. We are both fortunate…

Jun 19, 8:33 am

>141 kac522: agreed on reading Betsy-Tacy between more difficult books.

I hit a bad reading slump, and it took Anne Arrives to snap me out of it. I love that series, a FAITHFUL adaptation of the early chapters of Anne of Green Gables.

Jun 19, 11:22 am

>152 fuzzi: Whatever it takes! Lovely cover, too!

Jul 6, 10:18 pm

June Reading

I finished 10 books in June; 3 fairly long ones, and the rest fairly short. Here they are:

70. To Serve Them All My Days, R. F. Delderfield (1972)
Type: historical fiction

One of the last novels published during Delderfield's lifetime, this book tells the story of David Powlett-Jones, a Welsh miner's son and Great War veteran, who begins his teaching of history at a rural public school in Devon shortly after being released from a shell-shock ward in 1918. The book follows him through his years of teaching, as he slowly heals and makes his way from inexperienced teacher to respected teacher to headmaster of the school. Throughout the book, Delderfield has David (aka "Pow-Wow"-everyone has a nickname in this book) comment on the Great War, British politics, and British life in general. The book ends in the midst of war in 1940.

I really wanted to love this book, and at first I felt swept up by the story. But after about 300 pages, it felt somewhat the same and just seemed to go on and on and on. There were highs and lows; marriages and children; new boys at the school; difficult colleagues and bosses. There is a lot of "Old Boy" lingo that completely flew over my head. And there's a 1960s-70s feel to the language that didn't ring true with the book. The last 50 pages are essentially a listing of the various important events during Britain's entry into WWII, where Delderfield weaves in some of the more prominent prior students of the previous 550 pages into service in the war. And the last few pages contain a stunning revelation, which felt contrived (to me) to the point of being irritating.

I think I might have liked it better if Delderfield had broken the 600+ pages into 2 or 3 books, with real story arcs to each. I might have enjoyed the first book, and then after a break, moved on to the next. But all in one go became a chore for me, sorry to say. I think if I had grown up in this era in Britain, or had listened to my parents talk about it, the book might have had more meaning for me.

71. Celebrations at Thrush Green, Miss Read (1992)
Type: fiction

It's clear with this book that Miss Read was slowly bringing her series to a close. In this installment, no particular character is featured, but lots of characters are touched upon as Thrush Green moves through the year. The book takes us through the planning of a celebration of a famous resident, and as a family history researcher, I enjoyed the genealogy/family history hunt that takes place. I'll be sorry when I finish this series; it's been such a delight to come to between more challenging books.

72. Three Tales, Gustave Flaubert (1877)
Type: short stories

These Three Tales, published together in one volume, was the last published work during Flaubert's lifetime. Each has a different feel and language, which Flaubert pulls off well. "A Simple Heart" is the story of a dedicated servant, and actually shows some "heart" and compassion. "St Julian" is a mystical legend about a medieval man who has visions that he will kill his parents. It has animals, mists, visions and over-all has a very mythic feel. "Herodias" is the story of Salome, the daughter of Herodias, and John the Baptist, told as an historical tale. It has a very angular, imperial feel, emphasizing revenge and ruthlessness. I ended up skimming this last one. I appreciated Flaubert's ability to use language to suit the story, but only "A Simple Heart" was an enjoyable read for me.

❤️73. Barnaby Rudge, Charles Dickens (1841); re-read on audiobook read by Simon Vance
Type: historical fiction

This was a re-read on audiobook. Set during the London Gordon (anti-Catholic) riots of 1780, Dickens provides the most graphic description of mob riots that I have ever read, anywhere. A more rambling plot than A Tale of Two Cities, I still feel it's a vastly under-appreciated work of Charles Dickens, and wish it was more widely read.

❤️74. The Norman Maclean Reader, Norman Maclean, edited by O. Alan Weltzien (2008)
Type: essays and stories

Maclean, best known for his collection A River Runs Through It, died in 1990, leaving several writing projects unfinished. Editor Weltzien pulled together portions of these projects in this volume. It includes chapters of an unfinished manuscript about General Custer; a selection from Young Men and Fire; a story from A River Runs Through It; several stories and talks never published before; and collections of letters. There are also black & white photos of Maclean and his family.

I think my favorites here were "Billiards is a Good Game"; "An Incident"; and "Retrievers Good and Bad." My favorite quote is from "An Incident", a talk given by Maclean, which includes a section where he talks about his troubled brother who was murdered in Chicago:

In our Scottish family, the family and religion were the center of the universe, and, like Scots, we did not believe we should praise each other but should always love and be ready to help each other, only we never seemed able to help my brother, being hesitant because we were not often sure he needed help--in fact, were not sure we understood him, and we were also hesitant because we looked clumsy when we tried to be of help, and he looked like what he was, an artist whose Scottish pride was offended by a clumsy offer of help.....In the end all we knew--really knew--about him was that he was beautiful and dead and we had not helped. And, through him all we came to know about mankind my father summed up when he said, "It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us."

75. Secret Harvests, David Mas Masumoto (2023)
Type: nonfiction; memoir

Masumoto begins this book with a phone call from a funeral home about an unknown aunt, and this memoir goes on from there. It is a weaving of family secrets, disability, Japanese relocation and trying to find one's identity in an America that distrusts those who are different. The block prints by Patricia Wakida were stunning and definitely added to the atmosphere of the book.

I really loved Masumoto's memoir Epitaph for a Peach, about his life on his family's California peach farm, and was looking forward to this book. I thought it had great themes and various sections were well-written, but it seemed to need some editing and/or tighter writing. The book tended to wander and toward the end felt repetitive, coming back to the same points, almost as if the individual chapters may have been written as essays or separate individual pieces. Still, this is an American identity story that needs to be heard.

❤️76. Lady Susan, Jane Austen (1871 post.); re-read on audiobook
Type: fiction

A wonderful way for an early kick-off to Jane Austen July! This is the umpteenth re-read for me; it's certainly her funniest mature work. Told in letters, it's just made to be read aloud or on audiobook. A delight.

77. The Time Machine, H. G. Wells (1895)
Type: science fiction

Apparently I read this in 1990, but remembered absolutely nothing about it. So it was a completely new book to me. And it got off on the wrong foot from the very first page. when the character of Filby is introduced as "an argumentative person with red hair." And that's about the nicest thing said about Filby. As I'm a redhead, this was not a good beginning. I've never liked time travel books and this was no exception.

I have to admit that Wells makes the incredible feel credible, but that's the best thing I can say about this. And there's a way that Wells has of telling us what he thinks, but then maybe he doesn't, or says something the exact opposite. There's no moral compass here, and yet he tricks us into thinking there's a moral compass. One could argue that's the genius of the book, but I found it deceptive. There are ways to present various sides of a moral argument that make you think; Wells just left me confused and not knowing what to think.

78. The Betrothed, Alessandro Manzoni (1840 revised edition); translated from the Italian by Bruce Penman
Type: historical fiction

The Betrothed (I promessi sposi) is a long (720 pages) classic work of Italian historical fiction, set in the Milan/Lombardy region circa 1628-1630. The story follows two fictional characters, Renzo and Lucia, betrothed lovers who encounter various obstacles throughout the book, until they are finally united in marriage at the end.

Along the way we follow our characters during the 1628 Milan bread riots, the ravaging of villages in 1629 by soldiers in the Thirty Years' War, and finally the 1630 bubonic plague which devastated the Milan region. Manzoni brings in real events and at least a dozen real historical characters from the era by referencing actual memoirs and documents of the time. The descriptions of the plague were particularly detailed and were eerily familiar.

I found the first half of the book slow-moving, with a heavy emphasis on faith and religion, and I almost gave up. But the last third of the book brings in all the major historical events and flew by. It is said that Manzoni was inspired by the works of Sir Walter Scott to write a novel in this "new" historical fiction genre.

It's important to note that Manzoni originally wrote the book in 1821 in an archaic form of Italian, normally used by Italian academics of that time for great works of literature. Additionally, since Italy was not yet unified during the time Manzoni was writing, every region still had its own particular dialect and there was no official standard language of Italy. Dissatisfied with this stilted writing style, over the next 20 years Manzoni gradually revised the entire book into the more common Tuscan dialect and published a completely revised edition in 1840. This would later become the basis for the modern Italian language still in use today, and the book is still part of the standard secondary school curriculum in Italy.

Besides the Penman translation, I also referenced a new 2022 translation by Michael F. Moore, with Introduction by Jhumpa Lahiri, which had a detailed map of Northern Italy, a description of the real historical characters and a short description of the historical events mentioned in the book. Personally I preferred the older Penman translation, but the additional materials in the new Moore translation were invaluable.

❤️79. The Girls, Edna Ferber (1921)
Type: fiction

This is a charming, funny novel, and yet doesn't ignore the seriousness of its setting: Chicago, 1916, with a Great War hovering in the background. It's the story of 3 generations of "spinsters": Aunt Charlotte, in her 70's; her niece Lotte, in her early 30's; and Lotte's niece, Charley, about to turn 19. Their inter-weaving stories of joy and struggle and attempting to break with convention to be their own person have a light touch, but always giving us something more to think about. I especially loved all the descriptions of early Chicago, through a flashback of Aunt Charlotte's early years during the Civil War.

I think anyone can enjoy this story of 3 independent women, but it will be especially meaningful for those who love Chicago and its history. The edition I read from the library was a 2023 re-print by Belt Publishing https://beltpublishing.com a Midwest publisher, and is a recent selection in their "Revivals" series.

Jul 6, 10:30 pm

Some Mid-Year Stats:

Total books read: 79*

--Fiction: 51
--Nonfiction: 23
--Fiction/NF combo: 1
--Drama: 1
--Poetry: 1
--Graphic: 2
Authors: Female: 42; Male: 33; Multiple authors: 4
Re-reads: 19**
Roots: 46***
Bought & read in 2023: 1
Library books: 31
Audiobooks: 5
--before 20th century: 25
--20th century: 35
--21st century: 19

Some highlights:
*This is the highest number of books I've read in 6 months in my lifetime.
**Nearly a quarter (24%) of my books have been re-reads, which probably accounts for the overall high total.
***And I'm really pleased with my ROOTs (books off my shelves) total, even considering that I read 31 library books, too.

Editado: Jul 6, 10:43 pm

At the half-way point in my Challenges, it's a mixed bag:

Challenge 1: >2 kac522: My Complete the Author Challenge
I could do better here. This is going to be one of my priorities for the second half of 2023.

Challenge 2: >3 kac522: From LT and Beyond
I think I over-achieved here! This may be where I slow down so that I can focus on my other challenges.

Challenge 3: >4 kac522: Shorter Works
My goal is to read 24 story/essay collections from my shelves for the year and I'm almost half-way there. So I'm pleased that I'm making headway here.

Challenge 4: >5 kac522: Read or Rid
Dismal failure. Although I've gotten rid of a few, I haven't made much progress. I've only identified 1 book that I want to READ and I haven't even read it yet. Definitely need to work on these.

Challenge 5: >6 kac522: Everything else--no goal and not too many here. In a way this shows that most of my reading has met a challenge in one or another, so at least it shows some focus for the 4 main challenges.

Looking at what I have planned for July, however, I'm not actually making any progress on where I should. Oh well. As long as I'm reading....

Editado: Jul 6, 11:12 pm

My July possibilities are all over the place, but I do hope to finish the Jane Austen July selections I've made:

I started in June with a re-read of Lady Susan and watched the Lizzie Bennet diaries on youtube. Pretty good series. I had a few reservations, but on the whole a good modernizing of P&P.

July JA possibilities:
--re-reads of Pride and Prejudice (currently reading) and Northanger Abbey
--The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe (plays a part in Northanger Abbey)
--Jane Austen at Home, Lucy Worsley (nonfiction selection)
--Godmersham Park by Gill Hornby--historical fiction based on Jane's friend Anne Sharp. who was the governess to Jane's niece.

Other possibilities:

Currently reading:
--Martin Chuzzlewit, Charles Dickens, a re-read on audiobook
--The Claverings, Anthony Trollope--a re-read, for the LT group read with Liz

Library books:
--Before the Coffee Gets Cold, T. Kawaguchi
--The Secrets of Hartwood Hall, Katie Lumsden
--Young Mrs Savage, D. E. Stevenson
--Three Comedies, Kaufman and Ferber
--Reader, I Married Him, stories inspired by Jane Eyre

From my shelf:
--One Summer: America, 1927 Bill Bryson (RTTQ challenge left over from Q2)
--The Underdogs, Mariano Azuela (RTT challenge--revolutions)
--Christopher and Columbus, Elizabeth von Arnim (Virago challenge)
--Good Daughters and Indifferent Heroes, Mary Hocking (RTTQ Challenges)

and all this may be blown out of the water by a nice big Library sale the weekend of July 14-15 at the Oak Park (IL) library!

Jul 7, 12:12 am

You have read some wonderful books recently. I agree with your comments on A Month in the Country that I loved too. Time for a re-read for me too, I think.

Jul 7, 12:21 am

>158 VivienneR: Thank you! I re-read A Month in the Country because it was my suggested book for my mostly RL (on zoom) Book Club. We had a great discussion about the book and everyone enjoyed it.

Jul 7, 12:27 am

Congrats! You did some major reading in June!

Jul 7, 12:34 am

>160 Tess_W: Thanks. I think the Delderfield and Manzoni sucked all my energy, and so far in July it's mostly scrolling and not too much reading. Just need a little break and I'll be back...

Jul 7, 4:06 am

>154 kac522: I find your comment on Barnaby Rudge intriguing, I think I'll finally tackle this!

Editado: Jul 7, 10:34 am

>162 MissWatson: Thanks for stopping by! If you want even more encouragement about Barnaby, watch Katie's video (the first part is without spoilers):

She's talks fast--you may need to slow down the video--but it's well worth it.

Editado: Jul 7, 6:48 pm

I was just looking through the titles I've read so far this year, and listed below are some that were surprisingly good.

These were books that I wasn't sure what to expect, and they ended up being some of my favorites:

The Complete Maus, Art Spiegelman--I had avoided this for years; it was in some ways both easier and harder than I had expected.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain--I though I'd be bored, but it was actually fun
Maud Martha, Gwendolyn Brooks--the poet's only novel, it blew me away
The Anthropocene Reviewed, John Green (essays)--had no idea what to expect--thoughtful and relevant
The Girls, Edna Ferber--more fun than I expected, and yet a serious side, too

Jul 8, 7:22 am

>164 kac522: - Interesting list. I think I'll be taking a BB for Maud Martha.

Jul 8, 1:11 pm

>165 dudes22: The language has a poetic feel, even though it's prose. Of course, I loved it because of the Chicago setting, too.

Jul 9, 8:40 am

>163 kac522: Actually, that takes me to Martin Chuzzlewit. But it's also fun. I'll go looking for Barnaby later.

Editado: Jul 9, 11:37 am

>167 MissWatson: Now, that's weird, because when I click on it, I go to her thoughts on Barnaby Rudge. Let me try again:


or try this:

Barnaby Rudge

Jul 10, 3:08 am

>168 kac522: Thanks, this time round it worked. Her enthusiasm is infectious. I'm reading it now and it's great.

Jul 16, 5:12 am

>168 kac522: >169 MissWatson: Her videos are wonderful!

Jul 16, 10:28 am

>170 JayneCM: Yep, like Birgit says, her love of books is infectious.

Jul 17, 3:01 am

Thank you so much for prompting me to read it. It was quite a discovery!

Jul 17, 10:24 am

>172 MissWatson: You are welcome! It was a discovery for me as well.

Editado: Ago 3, 9:25 pm

July reading was pretty miserable: only 6 books finished and 3 of them were re-reads. I just can’t seem to stick with a new-to-me book these days, especially if it’s more than 100 pages.

80. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (1813); umpteenth re-read
Type: fiction for Jane Austen July
One of my favorite books of all time, which I have been re-reading since age 12. On this reading I noticed how Austen uses dialogue to flesh out her characters and to move the plot along. The only exception to this is the minor character of Georgiana Darcy, who never speaks a single line in the book. Georgiana is talked about by so many other characters, however, that we have a wonderful sense of Georgiana without ever hearing her speak. A comfort read that never fails me.

81. Before the Coffee Gets Cold, Toshikazu Kawaguchi; translated by Geoffrey Trousselot (2015)
Type: fiction
The premise of this book is intriguing: in a basement café, there is small table where a person can travel into the past or the future to re-live a conversation. The catch: you must finish your conversation before your coffee gets cold or you may disappear forever. The book is divided into 4 parts, each about a different café patron who sits at that special table. It started out well, but by the last part I had lost interest with the idea and with the writing. I am probably in the minority on this one, as it is a very popular book; I waited 3 months on my library’s wait list for my copy. But it fell flat for me by the end.

82. The Claverings, Anthony Trollope (1867); re-read from 2021
Type: fiction for LT Group Read
Young Harry Clavering must decide between two women: Julia, who jilted him years ago, but is now a wealthy widow; and Florence, his current fiancée, who is good and average and niece of his boss. Trollope really knows how to show a guy who can’t make up his mind, and I was pretty impatient with Harry this time round. It’s always interesting to see how Trollope re-works a plot line and puts his own special twists to each book and makes you think from another point of view. I enjoyed this, despite the frustration and the too-easy ending.

83. The Castle of Otranto, Horace Walpole (1764)
Type: historical fiction for Jane Austen July
I read this to get into the mood for a re-read of Northanger Abbey. Considered the first true gothic novel, it has all the tropes you expect and even more. It was entertaining, but I have to admit I've forgotten most of it, except the chase through the underground tunnels and the death of the heroine at the end.

84. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen (1818); umpteenth re-read
Type: fiction for Jane Austen July
After reading The Castle of Otranto this novel of young Catherine Morland and her gothic imagination left me laughing out loud many times despite the many times I've read it before. Austen knows how to balance the ridiculous gothic tropes with the importance of reading. And I really do like our hero Henry Tilney a lot; I think he is my favorite Austen hero.

85. Tove Jansson, Paul Gravett (2022)
Type: nonfiction; biography
Short, but detailed life of illustrator (and painter, novelist, cartoonist and more) Tove Jansson. This biography focuses on her career as an illustrator and creator of the Moomins. It's filled with illustrations--probably an equal amount of text and pictures. I only know Jansson from her novel The Summer Book, which I loved, so this was a wonderful introduction to her life and art work.may have been written as essays or separate individual pieces. Still, this is an American identity story that needs to be heard.

Ago 3, 9:27 pm

August maybes

Given my current lackluster reading mood, I have decided to make as few commitments as possible for August and just pick from a very big pile.

My one commitment is:

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett--for my RL book club. As well as the original, I've got an annotated edition and an interesting biography about Burnett and her gardens: Unearthing the Secret Garden by Marta McDowell.

Next up would be books I didn't finish is July:

Martin Chuzzlewit, Charles Dickens--still working slowly on the audiobook; almost 1/3 through
Jane Austen at Home, Lucy Worsley--my nonfiction selection for JA July which I'm enjoying but not feeling in the mood to pick up. Maybe in August.
Christopher and Columbus, Elizabeth von Arnim; hope to finish this tonight.

After that there are some library books to clear out, including:

The Secrets of Hartwood Hall, Katie Lumsden
Young Mrs Savage, D. E. Stevenson
The Private Life of Spies, Alexander McCall Smith, a new book of short stories

And then I hope to read a few books published by Virago for All Virago/All August: https://www.librarything.com/topic/352498

I'll choose a couple from:
Jamaica Inn, Daphne DuMaurier
Good Behaviour, Molly Keane
Mandoa, Mandoa, Winifred Holtby
Celia, E. H. Young
Angel, Elizabeth Taylor

and I might throw in an Agatha Christie if nothing else appeals.

Ago 5, 7:28 pm

>175 kac522: Hope you get out of your slump! I was in one earlier in the year.

Editado: Ago 5, 7:44 pm

>176 Tess_W: Thanks for the encouragement! I actually started a book yesterday and should finish tonight that was part of my "Read or Rid" Challenge (>5 kac522:) that I'm flying through (The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge). Plus it's set during WWII, so will fit the RTT Quarterly challenge.

I also read 50 pages of another of my "Read or Rid" project books and decided it was not for me at all (The Death of the Adversary by Hans Keilson). So at least 2 books will be off the TBR in 2 days ;)

Editado: Ago 6, 10:15 am


I don't normally record my book hauls here, but I was quite pleased with a handful of great finds this week.

Earlier this week, I picked up:

Unearthing the Secret Garden by Marta McDowell (2021)
As I mentioned in >175 kac522:, my RL book club is reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. So I was quite pleased to find this used copy in excellent condition at the wonderful Evanston bookshop, Bookends and Beginnings. The shop is mostly new books, but there is a small room downstairs with used books. https://www.bookendsandbeginnings.com/

This book is a general biography of Burnett that focuses on the gardens in her homes, and how they are linked to her famous book. There are loads of pictures, too. It's a lovely book, and I'm about 75 pages in already.

Today I had some great finds at the Arlington Heights Library sale:

The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Victorian Age
This volume is part of a larger series of English literature. I've seen the whole boxed series for sale, but never just one book, and I was mostly interested in the Victorian volume. I was so lucky to find this as a stand-alone today. I can't wait to read bits for this year's Victober.

The Dickens Index, edited by Nicolas Bentley. A giant index of all things Dickens: character names, places, phrases, etc., etc. I've been listening to his novels as re-reads this year, but there's always the odd character or place that I just can't quite remember how to spell or the full story, so this will be so helpful.

The Edwardians, Vita Sackville-West
Earlier this year I read All Passion Spent and I loved it, and quickly put The Edwardians on the wishlist. Of course, in a perfect world I would have nabbed a Virago edition, but just to find it at all was a miracle.

And my big, big find:

Jane Austen by Toby Tanner (1986)
Most literary criticism anthologies of Austen's work always include at least one essay or excerpt by Tony Tanner. I was ecstatic to find this excellent copy today. Tanner was a recognized Austen scholar in his day and this book is not widely available. I will be saving it for next Jane Austen July (if I can wait that long).

I also picked up these Bantam Classics Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume I and Volume II, fifty cents each. I own only Volume II and it's battered and torn. These copies were again in fantastic condition. I'll toss the old one and now I have two clean copies. Yes!

Ago 6, 4:00 am

>178 kac522: Wow! Some really great bargain! (and reads, too)

Ago 6, 7:00 am

>178 kac522: Those are excellent finds!

Ago 6, 8:31 am

Definitely some great finds--maybe they'll make August better than July as a reading month!

Ago 6, 9:06 am

Great book haul and hurray for finding a nice fresh copy of Sherlock Holmes Vol. II!

Editado: Ago 6, 10:28 am

Thanks, all! Usually this book sale is mostly the library's own "withdrawn" books. But this sale had a lot of donated books as well.

>179 Tess_W: Yes, I was really pleased. I spent the most money on the Secret Garden book--hardcover $8. But I don't mind spending it an independent book store. And the other 5 paperbacks (plus the autobiography of William Butler Yeats for my husband) came to a whopping total of $9.

>180 MissWatson: Thank you! I'm really looking forward to the Austen book by Tanner and the Victorian anthology.

>181 NinieB: I think so--I'm psyched!

>182 rabbitprincess: You know, I've seen ONE volume of the Sherlock Holmes books at sales for years, but I can never remember which one I own! When I saw both together for only $1, it was a no-brainer.

Ago 11, 7:58 am

>178 kac522: Oh wow! I would definitely have nabbed all those as well. I collect Viragos as well - they are definitely becoming harder to find though.

Editado: Ago 11, 9:50 am

>184 JayneCM: Thank you. And yes, lately, on the rare occasion when I do spot a Virago, it's one I already own!

Ago 12, 12:24 am

>185 kac522: Oh, that is annoying! When I see that green in a pile of books, it is always a thrill - you don't want to see one you already own!

Ago 12, 1:48 am

>186 JayneCM: Even worse is at one used book store that I visit every few months, they have only ONE Virago on their shelves--one of the few I read & hated! Maybe hate is a bit strong, but I definitely disliked it. I donated it away years ago, but it's annoying every time I go to that store, see that green spine, get all hopeful.....but alas, that same title..... :(

Ago 12, 1:58 am

>187 kac522: That would be terrible! :(

Editado: Ago 13, 12:14 pm

>188 JayneCM: And just because I was lamenting my ability to find Virago editions....yesterday I visited a used bookstore and I found:

Granted, two I've read, but I didn't have the Virago editions....

The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim--I have this and have read it several times, but in another edition
The Sleeping Beauty, Elizabeth Taylor--I've read this, too, but it was a library book. Now I have my own!
Blaming, Elizabeth Taylor--haven't read this one yet

Ago 13, 9:42 pm

>189 kac522: Oh my, you lucky thing! What great finds!
I've also read two (I have not read The Sleeping Beauty) but would also have purchased them anyway.

Ago 13, 10:55 pm

>190 JayneCM: Thanks, yes, very, very lucky!

Ago 20, 7:49 pm

Well congratulations on both your book haul and your Virago finds! I used to see that lovely green everywhere, and now it's becoming scarce.

Editado: Ago 20, 8:18 pm

>192 threadnsong: I just finished The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and just realized that it is Virago #684, although my copy wasn't a Virago, but it was a really nice edition anyway--no illustrations, but lovely cover and paper and print size.

Here's the Virago cover (from their website), which looks like a newer one:

Would love to find a copy of it.

And right now I've just started Good Daughters by Mary Hocking and it is very good; it is a trilogy & I have all 3 in Virago editions 😊

Ago 22, 8:14 am

>193 kac522: I read The Secret Garden for the first time in my 60's and I loved it!

Ago 22, 11:33 am

>194 Tess_W: I read it sometime as a teen-ager, I think, and then when my son was a baby and then about 10 years ago. And my RL book club is reading it this month (my pick!) and our discussion is next week. There are people in the group who've never read it, so I hope they enjoy it.

I got a large annotated edition (The Annotated Secret Garden) from the library, which I'm going to read next week, just before the discussion. The editor/annotator points out elements in the story where Burnett was influenced by the Brontës, so I'm looking forward to that.

Editado: Set 11, 12:11 am

I'm really behind, so these are going to be quick reviews of my August reading:

86. Christopher and Columbus, Elizabeth von Arnim (1919); ebook

One could call this a delightful book, but somehow I found it disappointing. It is 1916. A set of orphaned twins, Anna-R and Anna-F, are banished to America by their English aunt and uncle. Their crime? Their late mother was English who married their late father, a German. On their voyage across the Atlantic they meet Mr Twist, a wealthy American, who finds them delightful and befriends them, and everything goes on from there.

Von Arnim's tone throughout the book is almost like a fairy-tale or fable. It is half in earnest and half in jest. Underneath the surface the story is disturbing, because along the way the twins (who consider themselves German by accident only) are repeatedly shunned. Yet the Germans the twins meet in America are portrayed as boorish and unpleasant. But what bothered me most was that the ending completely veers away from the real issues and ends in Cinderella fashion.

87. The Dressmaker, Beryl Bainbridge(1973); Root from 2021

Set in Liverpool during WWII, the story centers around Rita, a sheltered 17-year-old, who meets Ira, an American soldier, at a party. Rita has been raised by her two middle-aged aunts, Nellie (a dressmaker) and Marge, who all live together in their family home. Their brother Jack (and Rita's father) lives above his shop not far away. This dark story is really about the family dynamics, and how Rita's teen-age crush up-ends the family.

Bainbridge's detailed descriptions of the characters, their clothing, their furnishings and the general shabbiness of their lives drew me in, but at the same time made me feel constantly ill-at-ease, like I was seeing things I shouldn't. I can't say I liked any of the family, but I didn't outright dislike them either--they were trapped. This was a quick read with a shocking ending, but I'm not sure I'll be seeking out Bainbridge again; probably too dark for my taste.

88. Love and Youth: Essential Stories, Ivan Turgenev, translated by Nicolas Pasternak Slater and Maya Slater; (1852 & 1860 "First Love"); Root from 2022

Like most short story collections, some were better than others. The best was the first (and longest), "First Love", which is about the adoring love of young teenage boy for a slightly older woman Zinaida. Turgenev completely captures that young devoted first love feeling. Of the rest of the stories, "The District Doctor" was my second favorite, about a doctor who falls in love with his dying patient. I thought these 2 stories were excellent and the other 4 stories just OK. Loved this Pushkin Press edition, though.

89. From These Shores, Helga Skogsbergh (1975); Root from 2022

This is a one-volume abridgement of Helga Skogsbergh's three autobiographical novels about her family's homestead on the southern shores of Lake Superior in Wisconsin. Originally published as Comes the Day, Comes a Way (1960); From These Shores (1963); and That Was Then (1969), this 1975 edition is an abridgement which has selected chapters from each of the 3 volumes. The story focuses on two young couples, the Hansons and the Samuelsons, who have immigrated in the 1880s from Sweden to Duluth. In 1891 the two men are enticed by a call for families to homestead on the southern shores of Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin, near Ashland (their settlement would later be known as Port Wing). They pack up their families and travel by steamer across the lake with all their belongings, some furniture and a cow.

What was most interesting is that the books are more from the women's points of view, as Skogsbergh is relating the stories her mother (here called Mama Hanson) told about this pilgrimage. It deals with their hard work, loneliness (their husbands are away weeks at a time at a logging camp), privations and learning to help one another during high points and low points, childbirth and infant burials. There is an over-riding steadfastness and faith which keeps these immigrants surviving and thriving. Told as a novel, but knowing that the basic storylines were true, I found this an effective and moving way to tell an immigrant family's story.

90. Good Daughters, Mary Hocking (1984); Root from 2020, read for the All Virago/All August challenge

This is a quiet story, the first in a trilogy, of a family with 3 daughters (ages 16, 12, 9), set from 1933 through 1937. It's mostly told from the point of view of Alice, the 12-year-old, and is about their day-to-day lives with friends, neighbors, relatives and a unnerving undercurrent of the tidings of war. I loved this book, and look forward to the second book.

91. My Life in Middlemarch, Rebecca Mead (2014); Root from 2015

I've been staring at this book for 8 years now, and finally got around to it. Mead combines memoir, biography of George Eliot and analysis of Middlemarch in a perfectly seamless way. The eight chapters are structured around the eight "Books" of Middlemarch. I didn't feel like any one of the elements (memoir, biography, analysis) dominated. Mead is there, but she's not front and center. So glad I finally gotten around to reading this one.

My last 3 books of the month are all related to my RL book club's August read: the children's classic The Secret Garden:

92. The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911); Re-read from 2013. I read a straight-forward edition about the selfish British orphan girl, raised in India, who is banished to her uncle's gloomy house on the Yorkshire moors. There she encounters nature, new friends and a secret place. I hadn't remembered the references to "Magic" from my past readings, which stood out to me this time. I also noticed how Mary becomes stronger and less selfish, but how little (except physically) Colin changes in temperament.

93. Unearthing the Secret Garden, Marta McDowell (2021) This is a wonderful mash-up of the life of Frances Hodgson Burnett, her love of gardens, and how that passion is shown in The Secret Garden. Burnett didn't become a gardener until she was 50, but she went into it with great zeal. The famous garden in The Secret Garden is based on a garden that she brought back to life in Kent. A lovely book with lots of pictures from both Burnett's life and illustrations from the children's classic.

94. The Annotated Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett, with intro and annotations by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, (1911; this annotated edition 2007). I read this one last, and just read the intro and the annotations, having read the novel on its own a few weeks earlier. Gerzina points out all the references to the Brontes (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and the Yorkshire moors) that Burnett used in her story. She has some lengthy descriptions of Burnett's own "philosophy" of Magic: a combination of Christianity, nature, science, positive thinking, a bit a Freud here and there, all rolled into one. It's a big coffee-table type book, but well worth the read for all of the valuable insights into the novel and the era that it was written.

Set 8, 11:14 pm

September possibilities...we know I'll never finish them all, but one can dream....

Currently reading:
Martin Chuzzlewit, Dickens, on audiobook....just taking me forever to finish
Tales from a Village School, Miss Read, for the September "school" theme of the British Authors Challenge and Reading Through Time

From the Library:
Simply Artificial Intelligence, DK Publishing, 2023
The Private Life of Spies and The Exquisite Art of Getting Even, Alexander McCall Smith, 2023, stories
Young Mrs Savage, D. E. Stevenson, 1947

From the TBR:

September LT Challenges:
ClassicsCAT: nonfiction: Behind the Scenes, or Thirty Years a Slave, Elizabeth Keckley, 1868
RandomKIT: The West: The Whistling Season, Ivan Doig, 2006
Reading through Time Quarterly: WWII: A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute, 1950
Virago: Excellent Women, Barbara Pym 1952
AlphaKIT: Angel Elizabeth Taylor (1957)

My Read or Rid Challenge:
Mrs Bridge, Evan S. Connell, 1959
Peace Like a River Leif Enger, 2001

Getting Ready for Victober (Victorian October):
Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell, 1853
The Golden Lion of Granpere, 1867, or Harry Heathcote of Gangoil, 1874, Anthony Trollope

Set 9, 2:36 am

Victober - yay!
And interesting - as an Australian, how had I not known that Anthony Trollope penned an Australian novel?! Another Victorian author who sent a son out here!

Editado: Set 9, 9:46 am

>198 JayneCM: Yes, I'm looking forward to reading that one. I also have his two-volume nonfiction work Australia, but haven't read it yet, either.

And I'm a little torn about the Victober Group Read this year: The Way We Live Now. I've been reading Trollope stand-alones (more or less) in publication order, but I'm not quite up to that year. I need to read the two I mentioned above (which are short) AND Ralph the Heir, which is as long (if not longer!) than The Way We Live Now. Decisions, decisions.....

Set 9, 4:57 pm

>199 kac522: I gave up on Ralph the Heir, but really enjoyed The Way we Live Now. It would be a shame to postpone a first-rate Trollope for the sake of a lesser one.

Set 9, 5:56 pm

>200 pamelad: So far the only Trollope I really wanted to give up on was The Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson: By One of the Firm which was his meager attempt at satire. I finished it, but it didn't work for me--quite a "struggle" for this reader.

I definitely plan to read The Way We Live Now; it's just whether I want to read it in October with the group or read it later after I've finished the ones that come before it. Also, I have a long list of Victorian novels I want to read in October for the other Victober challenges, and I'm afraid such a long book may interfere with those. I'm not very good at juggling multiple books at a time. We'll see. If I can get the other 2 small books done this month, then maybe I'll give it serious consideration.

Such problems!!! LOL.

Set 9, 6:59 pm

>189 kac522: Congratulations on the VMC finds. I love those covers!

Set 9, 8:18 pm

>197 kac522: I've got The Whistling Season somewhere on my shelves, unread. Maybe I'll give it a go...

Set 9, 10:26 pm

>202 mathgirl40: So do I--it's the covers that draw me every time.

>203 fuzzi: Right, I think it has to do with somebody going West, so I think it fits the "West" theme for this month's RandomKIT. I hope so. Anyway, it's on my "Read or Rid" pile--books I've had around here forever and I'm either going to read 'em or dump 'em. To be fair, I've heard nothing but good things about this book, so I'm thinking positive.

Set 10, 10:34 pm

>197 kac522: Thank you for sharing the information about the Annotated Secret Garden book. I read the original several times when I was a child, though I always kind of hoped that her secret garden would remain, well, her secret. I loved Dicken, too, and the way he was tied in with the animals.

I'll have to pay special attention to Burnett's references to the Bronte sisters. I imagine it has to do with her descriptions of the Yorkshire moors?

Editado: Set 11, 12:19 am

>205 threadnsong: Yes, there's the moors, of course. Here are a few other comparisons I remember (library book, which I had to return):
--There's a description of the wind as "wutherin'."
--There's the basic fact that Mary is an orphan (like Jane Eyre and Heathcliff) coming to live in a big, strange house in Yorkshire. (In Jane's case she's an adult when she comes to Thornfield.)
--Both Misselthwaite Manor and Thornfield are run by their housekeepers, because their respective masters are often from home--on purpose, as we find out later in both stories.
--Mary hears someone crying (Colin), but no one will tell the truth about him until she goes to discover herself, just as Jane hears Bertha's laughs and shrieks, but is told it's only "Grace Poole."
--Near the end of the story Mr Craven (Colin's father), while wandering through the Alps, hears his dead wife calling him; just as Jane hears Rochester call her, and Heathcliff hears Cathy call him.

The introduction is really helpful too, especially explaining Burnett's philosophy of "Magic."

I really enjoyed Unearthing the Secret Garden, too...it was a wonderful intro to Burnett's life, without getting too detailed, plus pictures of her gardens, plus how her life and her gardens influenced the book.

I think doing a "deep dive" into these other books made The Secret Garden the highlight of my reading in August!

Set 12, 4:31 pm

>199 kac522: One of my goals for 2024 is to read or re-read Trollope in publication order. I'll be watching your reviews!

Editado: Set 12, 5:55 pm

>207 Tess_W: With Liz's Trollope group reads, you can't help but finish a couple of Trollopes in order--you just need to fill in the missing earlier ones! It's good to space them out, though; sometimes they are close enough in plot and situation that they tend to blur in my brain.

Right now I'm reading in the later years--I'm a little past Liz's pace. At this point there are 1 or 2 I've read before, but not many. Just checked and I have 16 of the 47 novels left to read, including TWWLN. In between these I've been re-reading the Barsetshire books on audio (done) and at some point will get on to re-reading the Pallisers on audio.

My audio right now is taken up with re-reading Dickens; at least this last half of Martin Chuzzlewit is going a little faster, as we get back to the heart of the story. (I found all that stuff in America and with Mrs Gamp really boring, both on the first reading and this re-read.)

Set 12, 10:54 pm

>208 kac522: Great minds must think alike as I will be re-reading the first give Dickens in 2024.

Set 16, 10:24 pm

>198 JayneCM: I finished Harry Heathcote of Gangoil: A Tale of Australian Bush Life. It's not the best Trollope ever, but it does have a very exciting scene toward the end, and it's not very long. My copy is an old Penguin without notes, and I could have used some explanations of some of the terms and slang and how farms/property in Australia worked at the time. According to a little blurb at the front of the book, Trollope was asked to write a Christmas story, which was not something he enjoyed ("Nothing can be more distasteful to me than to have to give a relish of Christmas to what I write.") So he decided to write a book based on his visit to his son over the 1871-72 Christmas/summer and set the story in the dead of heat!

Editado: Out 4, 1:22 am

Victober (Victorian October) is almost here, and I'm piling up my possibilities for the challenges. If you're interested in reading Victorian literature (literature of Great Britain published between 1837-1901) during October, checkout Kate Howe's announcement video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwTa7bjePg4
Kate will continue to have Victorian themed videos throughout October.

There are 5 challenges:

1. Read a Victorian work featuring a stranger/outsider:
2. Read a piece of Victorian ‘New Woman’ fiction
3. Read a Victorian work by an author who is new to you
✔ 4. Read a Victorian first-person narrative Agnes Grey, Anne Bronte
5. Read a Victorian work in which class features strongly

There is a Group Read: The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope. I'm going to skip the group read, as I am trying to read Trollope in publication order, and I have a couple more until I get to this one.

Here are my possibilities, from most likely to least likely:

Currently reading: Dombey and Son, Charles Dickens (1848); on audiobook; meets challenge 5
Agnes Grey, Anne Bronte (1847) meets challenges 1, 4 and 5; it's a book I've been meaning to re-read for some time.
The Odd Women, George Gissing (1893) meets challenges 2 and 3
Currently reading: Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell (1853) meets challenge 5
A Child of the Jago, Arthur Morrison (1896) meets challenges 3 and 5
Jessie Phillips, Mrs Fanny Trollope (1843) meets challenges 3 and 5

Other Victorian works that are possibilities, but don't meet the challenges:

The Golden Lion of Granpere, Anthony Trollope (1867)
Ralph the Heir, Anthony Trollope (1871)
Essays by Robert Louis Stevenson, collected essays from 1874 to 1888
Anna of the Five Towns, Arnold Bennett (1902)--just misses the cut-off but has the "New Woman" theme

And two nonfiction works about the Victorians:

The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson (2006); about the cholera epidemic in 1854 London
Benjamin Disraeli, Adam Kirsch (2008); biography which meets challenge 1

I know I won't finish all of these, but I'm ready to jump in!

Set 21, 4:51 am

>211 kac522: Thank you for letting me (us) know about the Victober challenge. While I won't be actively participating, I had already selected Agnes Grey to read for the AOTM challenge (Brontes). Since I really like the Victorian Age, I will be following your reviews and hoping for some BB's!

Set 21, 7:39 am

>211 kac522: This reading list looks mostly doable! I'm very curious about Frances Trollope; I have read Domestic Manners of the Americans, so I know she can write. Have you read Ruth before? I liked Mrs Gaskell's sympathy for Ruth.

Set 21, 11:19 am

>212 Tess_W: Yes, I'm switching months for the Monthly Author challenge: reading Agnes Grey in October and will read Whitehead in November. And even if I don't get to all the books I have planned, Kate Howe & Katie Lumsden always do some great videos during the month on Victorian themes.

>213 NinieB: I only have the one book Jessie Phillips, which I spied at a library sale; I have never read her before.

I have not read Ruth or Sylvia's Lovers or Wives and Daughters. They are staring at me from my shelves, and I am determined to read at least one in October. I loved Mary Barton and Cranford; North and South is one of my favorite books of all time.

I did finish Martin Chuzzlewit yesterday and today I'm starting Dombey and Son on audio. I read it a few years ago and didn't connect much with it then, but I'm hoping the audio will make it more meaningful.

Set 21, 5:33 pm

>211 kac522: This is tempting but would be a lot of long books. I'll be keeping an eye out for new authors.

Perhaps you could include not just Great Britain, but the countries of the British Empire that had Queen Victoria as a head of state. Australians, for example, were British citizens during Victoria's reign.

Set 21, 6:20 pm

>214 kac522: Yay for finishing Martin Chuzzlewit! I hope you connect more with Dombey this time. Sometimes with a new Dickens I struggle a bit just to keep track of the plot, so with that out of the way you might enjoy it more.

Editado: Set 21, 7:13 pm

>215 pamelad: I'm not sure why the definition of "Victorian" is limited to Great Britain. Anyway, it's not a challenge that I set up; the people on booktube that I linked to have been doing this for some years now. I just happened upon it a couple of years ago on youtube and have followed along since then.

As to long books, somebody even did a video this month on "Not all Victorian books are long" and came up with a list of short book recommendations! Some of the suggestions included Silas Marner, Cranford, The Picture of Dorian Gray, A Christmas Carol, Under the Greenwood Tree, etc.

>216 NinieB: Yes, I'd say the last 15 or 20 chapters were good and moved along. It's the middle of the book that gives me trouble. I got up to Chapter 5 today with Dombey. The beginning is the part I liked best, especially when young Paul goes to school. It's when young Paul is no longer in the story that I remember finding difficult. We shall see this time.

Set 21, 7:45 pm

>217 kac522: Just checked the video. It seems to be limited to "British", not to the geographical entity of Great Britain. The countries of the empire in Victoria's time were British colonies, under British rule, and their inhabitants were British. This is probably relevant only if you're a colonial!

Set 21, 7:59 pm

>218 pamelad: I know people have read books by Irish, Scottish and Welsh writers, although I haven't heard anybody with an Australian or Canadian writer on their TBR, for example.

I think it's limiting because Victorian values and sensibilities extended throughout the empire, even to America. They do draw the line on poor Henry James, who was born in America but spent most of his adult life writing in England, and seems like a true Victorian to me, but alas gets no Victober love. And American purists consider him too British to be considered an American 19th century writer. :)

Out 1, 8:47 pm

>219 kac522: Do you know, I have a Henry James on my shelf that I've never quite gotten around to read. Maybe this autumn as the nights get longer will be a good time for it.

And congratulations on finishing Martin Chuzzlewit. I think that was one of my DNF's when I read Dickens. Hope that Dombey and Son is going better.

Editado: Out 1, 10:57 pm

>220 threadnsong: I haven't read that much Henry James. Years ago I read A Portrait of a Lady and found it excruciating--he takes 100 words to say something that could be said in 10 (and not in an entertaining way like Dickens). However, I surprised myself by enjoying Washington Square last year, which is a shorter novel set in NYC. I've also read Daisy Miller, The Aspern Papers and The Turn of the Screw, which are all short story/novella length, and would give you a good idea of what Henry James is all about. These are intriguing and intense psychological studies, but just too many words!

I haven't gotten too far in Dombey (Chapter 12 of a million), so the jury is still out, since the first time I read it I liked the beginning and hated the middle and end.

Out 6, 9:57 pm

Quick reviews of September reading...lots of books that were mostly OK:

95. Jamaica Inn, Daphne Du Maurier (1936); fiction
Historical fiction set in 1815 Cornwall that seemed repetitive, over-long and a romance I didn't believe in. Meh.

96. Simply Artificial Intelligence, DK Publishing (2023); nonfiction
Basic guide to that ubiquitous term "AI", which helped clarify some concepts for me. Good for middle grades to adults.

❤️97. Tales from a Village School, Miss Read (1994); fiction
Fictional stories based on Miss Read's real experience as a teacher in English rural schools. Like most Miss Read books, the stories follow the calendar, starting with September and ending at summer vacation.

98. Harry Heathcote of Gangoil, Anthony Trollope (1874); fiction
Entertaining novella set in the Australian outback approaching Christmas, about a man defending his property against heat-induced fires and vengeful neighbors.

99. The Whistling Season, Ivan Doig (2006); fiction
Historical fiction set in a Montana homestead school during the 1909-10 school year. Good story, but I found the writing unnecessarily ornate; to me it felt contrived.

100. Martin Chuzzlewit, Charles Dickens (1844); re-read on audiobook; fiction
Felt pretty much the same as on my first reading: the middle drags, but the beginning and especially the last third of the book is very good. Not a favorite Dickens, though.

101. A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams (1947); play
Unlikable characters who do painful, stupid things. I couldn't find any redeeming value in it.

102. Behind the Scenes: or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House, Elizabeth Keckley (1868); memoir
This was easy to read and eye-opening, especially Keckley's years with Mary Todd Lincoln. Not as memorable as Frederick Douglass's memoir, but interesting from the point of view of a woman and domestic life.

103. Indifferent Heroes, Mary Hocking (1985)
Second book in Mary Hocking's Fairley family trilogy; I read the first book in August. This book begins in 1939 and ends in Fall 1945, and it felt more disjointed. I wanted more about daughter Alice, front and center.

104. The Faithful Spy, John Hendrix (2018); nonfiction graphic book for middle grade and older
The story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor involved in various plots to kill Hitler. Best known for his writings from prison and death in a concentration camp, just weeks before liberation. Appropriate for mature middle-graders up to adults; the disturbing facts are never glossed over or ignored.

❤️105. Excellent Women, Barbara Pym (1952); re-read from 2013; fiction
Wonderful witty short novel about a woman who is satisfied and fulfilled in her single life.

106. Good-Bye, Mr. Chips, James Hilton (1933); fiction
Boys' school teacher looks back on his long career and many pupils; wistful but not overly melancholy. Covers his teaching days from the late Victorian era (1870s), through the Great War and into the 1930s.

Editado: Out 6, 9:59 pm

Victober Reading Update:

I've finished a re-read of Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte, which I enjoyed a bit more than my first reading, I think. It didn't feel as hopeless as the first reading.

Currently reading and am about 1/3 through each of these:
Dombey and Son, Charles Dickens, on audiobook, slightly more engaging than I remember it.
Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell, which so far I'm really enjoying.

I've picked up Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories, a biography by Jenny Uglow. This is a hefty bio, so I doubt if I'll finish it this month.

Also I'll be reading some Gaskell "ghost" stories with the Liz's Virago group read.

Up next will probably be a non-Victober selection: The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, for the American Authors Challenge.

And I'm watching lots of Victober video content, so I'm very happy.

Out 6, 10:29 pm

>223 kac522: I really liked The Home-Maker. Hope it works for you.

Out 6, 11:16 pm

>224 NinieB: I've been looking forward to it; glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Out 8, 8:45 am

>225 kac522: Glad you had a few hearts in October! I also finished Agnes Grey, but for me it was the first time and all in all, I did like it; but as you, most of the time there was a feeling of hopelessness.

Out 8, 11:00 am

>226 Tess_W: Right, it feels like Agnes expects people to dislike or mistreat her. At least the romance at the end is fairly straight-forward and uncomplicated, compared to every other Bronte romance (including The Tenant of Wildfell Hall).

Out 18, 7:02 pm

So far my Victober continues to progress. I've chosen not to do the Group Read, but rather read shorter works.
Agnes Grey, Anne Bronte (first person narrative), a re-read
Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell (stranger)
The Golden Lion of Granpère, Trollope, (class) a re-read

And two stories by Elizabeth Gaskell, which were re-reads:
"The Old Nurse's Story" and The Poor Clare

I also watched the BBC Mini-series of Martin Chuzzlewit, a book I re-read in August-September. The series was very true to the book, and I particularly liked the performance of Paul Scofield as old Martin.

Currently reading:
The Ghost Map, by Steven Johnson; nonfiction about the 1854 cholera epidemic in London; read 3 chapters
Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories, by Jenny Uglow; biography; I'm about 100 pages in, but will probably not finish this month
Dombey & Son, Dickens, on audio; a re-read; may run over into November

Still to be read:
A Child of the Jago, Morrison; (new-to-me author & class)
The Odd Women, Gissing; (new-to-me author & New Woman)
3 stories by Gaskell, all re-reads, part of a group read with Liz:
"Lois the Witch"
"The Grey Woman"
Curious, If True

Other possibilities if time permits:
Anna of the Five Towns, Arnold Bennet (new-to-me author & New Woman)
Finally, 3 stories by Margaret Oliphant in the Carlingford Chronicles (The Executor, The Rector, The Doctor's Family, all re-reads)

Outside of Victober, I also finished The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher for the AAC, and will be reading Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury for my RL Book Club.

Out 22, 9:13 pm

Congratulations on a so-far-successful Victober! Looks like you have completed some good ones, and the two Dickens novels sound like great picks for the audio editions. Like you, I was not a fan of Martin Chuzzlewit, and I found that Dickens redeemed himself with Dombey & Son.

And "Something Wicked" for your RL Book Club is such a great October choice.

Editado: Out 22, 11:21 pm

>229 threadnsong: Thanks! I just finished A Child of the Jago by Arthur Morrison. This was an extremely powerful novel in only 165 pages and I will be thinking about it for a long time to come. It is not heart-warming; it's not a book I'll want to re-read over and over again. But it is a stark and realistic look at poverty in the late Victorian age without the sentimentality of Oliver Twist.

I'm almost finished with The Ghost Map, which is pairing well with the prior book. It is also about poverty and sanitation in the Victorian era (about the 1854 cholera epidemic in London), and how those problems need both wide-angle and narrow-angle views to solve the problems. Interestingly, the neighborhood is this book is about 8 miles from the neighborhood in A Child of the Jago, and maps are important in both books.

About 2/3 done with Dombey; appreciating it more on the re-read, but not loving it. It will not be a favorite.

And next up, Bradbury!

Nov 2, 10:32 pm

I'm satisfied with my October/Victober reading; I finished all the main works I intended to read. I have no new Victorian books I "love", but I'm glad I read them all.

107. Agnes Grey, Anne Bronte (1847); re-read from 2016

This is the story of a young woman who becomes a governess to help her family. Bronte exposes the indignities suffered and social class limbo of the governess--not quite servant, but never her employer's equal. Our governess seems to immediately dislike her charges and her employers; her first family especially has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Towards the end of the novel her characters become a little more rounded and human, and the book is saved by a gentle, believable love story. Certainly not as polished as her sister Charlotte, Anne Bronte still gives us a cold, realistic view of the plight of the governess.

108. Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell (1853)
This novel is complicated. It is one of the first (if not *the* first) novel to feature a "fallen" woman as the heroine, and to follow her story. Ruth, orphaned as a teenager, is apprenticed to work as a seamstress in a shop. At only 16 she meets a wealthy gentleman, Mr Bellingham, some years older (23), who seduces her, gets her pregnant and on the threat of his mother, abandons Ruth. Ruth is rescued by a disabled clergyman and his sister. Together they concoct a back story for Ruth as a widowed distant relation, and she becomes accepted in their town and raises her child. Eventually the falsehood is exposed, and Ruth and her son's reputations suffer.

Gaskell's writing is wonderful; particularly lovely are scenes of nature emphasizing Ruth's innocence and humility. These are juxtaposed with indoor scenes that are more tense and introspective. Ruth cries a lot in this tale, which seemed overboard to me. The clergyman grapples with the ethical, religious and moral values of Ruth's situation, including his & his sister's own roles in the falsehood. Like Gaskell's novel North and South, it is "The Lie" that becomes the main thrust of the story.

I found the ending dissatisfying, but I appreciate the story Gaskell was trying to tell. It won't be a favorite, but it was still a worthwhile read.

109. The Home-Maker, Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1924)

Mrs. Knapp is the ultimate home-maker, known for her spotless home, sewing marvels and her 3 (mostly) well-behaved children. At home she is forever cleaning, sewing or cooking, and has little patience for her children. Mr. Knapp is an accountant in the town's largest department store, a job he loathes. When he is fired from his job, he is at an all-time low and thinks his life is not worth living. But on the way home he jumps in to help put out a fire to a neighbor's home; he falls off the roof and his legs are paralyzed.

Mrs. Knapp realizes she must get some sort of work and applies for an entry-level sales clerk position at Mr. Knapp's (former) department store. Here she thrives, where her eye for fabrics and fashion make her an asset, and is swiftly promoted.

Back at home Mr. Knapp recovers enough to use a wheel-chair and with the help of the children, learns to cook and clean. While doing the household chores he recites poetry to the children, but more importantly spends time listening to them.

The story is told by being in the "head" of the characters in turn: Mrs. Knapp, Mr. Knapp, the children (including toddler Stephen), the neighbors, and a relative all get a chance to view the family from their own point of view. This was effective and I enjoyed the way we look at the situation from all different sides. Mr. Knapp in particular goes over in his mind how he can (or cannot fit) into society's proscribed roles for a male "head" of the family.

What I didn't like was the very ending, which I won't reveal here. It sort of spoiled the whole point of the book for me. But on the whole it was an interesting read, and somewhat radical for 1924.

110. The Golden Lion of Granpère, Anthony Trollope (1872); re-read from 2014

Set in the Vosges mountains of Alsace Lorraine, this book has a simple and almost fairy-tale quality that gives this story its charm. It is typical Trollope, with a young woman who wants to please her loving but stubborn parent/guardian. It is another in the "parent thinks they know best" line of Trollope's stories. This one worked well, particularly as we see the parent gradually come round. A lovely read.

111. A Child of the Jago, Arthur Morrison (1896)

This is a short (165 pages) but powerful and well-written novel about poverty, set in one of the worst areas of the East End of London at the end of the Victorian era. The novel follows young Dickie Perrott and his family in "the Jago" (based on the Old Nichol area) where poverty, crime and violence are common-place. The author grew up in the East End, not far from the neighborhood where he sets this novel. It is not a comforting read but it is masterfully executed. I had to read it in small chunks, so that it would not become too overwhelming. The writing is strong but simple; despite the included glossary, there were still numerous slang terms used that I did not know, so that was a minor distraction. Although it's not a book I can say I "loved", it's important and I feel it should be better known for its writing and its laser-sharp focus on poverty at a particular time and place.

112. The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson (2006; this 2023 edition with new Afterword)

This work of non-fiction focuses on the 1854 cholera epidemic and the work of physician John Snow and curate Henry Whitehead. Using information about the cholera cases in their neighborhood, the two were able to create a map that helped pinpoint the source of the epidemic as coming from a specific water pump. At the time, it was thought that cholera was caused by "miasma" or essentially, bad air/odors. Snow & Whitehead were able to show with their map that persons who drank water from a specific pump in the neighborhood were the ones struck with the disease. Johnson's main idea is that sometimes divergent and big-picture thinking are needed to solve a problem, exemplified here by the doctor, who knew science, and the curate, who knew the people.

This was very interesting and extremely readable. His focus on the two personalities and strengths of Snow & Whitehead were particularly good. The edition I read was a new 2023 revision which included an Afterword by Johnson, with his reflections on the COVID pandemic and comparing it to some of the discussion in the book about the epidemics.

113. Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury (1962)

A carnival is coming to town, and 2 young boys in the 1930s are entranced. The story is told from the point of view of the boys, who discover the source of the strange and evil power of the carnival, and are then pursued by the evil force. Published in 1962, for me it felt like it was Bradbury's reflections on the Nazi era and/or totalitarianism in general.

As for the writing, it was a bit strange, but evocative; I was unprepared for the density of the prose. Science fiction is a stretch for me, and I had a hard time with it, but I can understand how it has become a science fiction classic. I did enjoy the setting, as Bradbury based it on his hometown of Waukegan, Illinois. After finishing the book I drove up there and found his home, his grandparent's home and the original library building. So the local interest was worth it for me.

114. The Odd Women, George Gissing (1893)

The "odd women" of the title refers to the perceived "excess" of men in the late 19th century and therefore this left a surplus of "odd women"--those that were not paired with a man in marriage. The novel starts with the Madden sisters, left a minimal income by their father with no marriage prospects. After an unsuccessful stint as a dressmaker, the youngest sister Monica enrolls in a school run by two unmarried women, Miss Barfoot and Miss Nunn, who teach typewriting and shorthand skills. The book follows the school and Monica, and to a lesser extent the older 2 Madden sisters. Discussions of marriage and whether women should depend on a man for survival is of prime importance in the novel, particularly as 2 characters face the prospect of marriage.

The writing was excellent and thoughtful, although there are some parts that got mired down in philosophical exchanges. Many people love this book and consider it an early feminist text, and I was expecting to enjoy it. But my reactions were so different and I was disappointed, to say the least. Overtly the text seems to promote women's independence, but for me there is an underlying distrust, and maybe even hatred of the average female, particularly of those from disadvantaged backgrounds. I had a hard time immediately with the premise, in that the owners of the school blatantly state that they have no use for the "lower" classes--their focus is on middle-class women.

The farther I got into the novel, the more I felt that Gissing, through the speech and actions of the male characters (and even sometimes in the narration), was sneering at women, who are portrayed in their "uneducated" state as mostly weak and childish. In this book's view only a cold, hard woman who resists marriage can possibly survive in the world on her own; yet marriage and male-female relationships are a vicious contest of who can control (or out-maneuver) the other. In the end the Madden sisters are still weak, poor and even partially supported by a man, while the few main male characters have moved on in their lives. If anything, Gissing seems to be showing that independent women are certain to fail, and men will do as they please.

If you are at all interested in this novel, I highly encourage you to read other reviews, because mine is definitely in the minority. I fail to see the "feminism" in it, besides the concept of educating women to be self-supporting (although the outcome of the Madden sisters is the exact opposite!). In every other respect, it felt like a slap in the face to me.

Other stuff:
I did watch Martin Chuzzlewit, a very early Cranford from the 1970s and re-watched North and South. The last one was because I needed a good love story; the books I was reading seemed to be very hard on love and marriage. I'm glad I took that break; it gave me strength to carry on.

Currently reading...
Still working on the audiobook of Dombey and Son, but am in the home stretch and should be done in a day or two.

Editado: Nov 2, 10:35 pm

November Plans...

Not much...I'm going to play it by ear. My only commitments are:

As You Like It, Shakespeare, for my RL book club
David Copperfield on audiobook
Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery, a re-read

and probably some books from my "Read or Rid" challenge (>5 kac522:), where I am woefully behind.

Everything else is up for grabs; probably working on some library books first and then some cozy familiar books.

Nov 2, 10:47 pm

>231 kac522: You did a lot of reading in October! The endings were giving you problems, though. I remember Agnes Grey as almost angry and, yes, not as polished as Charlotte's work. Ruth I liked; I don't think the ending is as surprising as the subject of the fallen woman, especially one who is portrayed so sympathetically. Interesting comments on The Odd Women, which I haven't read yet.

>232 kac522: Anne of Green Gables was my favorite book at one point in my life--I practically memorized it. It still worked for me as an adult, too. Hope it works for you.

Nov 2, 11:30 pm

>233 NinieB: LOL! It wasn't until I was editing my post, that I realized how much the endings bugged me! I agree that Ruth's ending is probably inevitable.

My first reading of Agnes Grey was disappointing, but this time I liked it a little more--maybe because it has a good ending!

I've read Anne of Green Gables multiple times, and since I have had red hair I can totally relate. I'm re-reading it for the Virago challenge and the American Authors challenge, which is Canadian authors in Nov.

Nov 3, 1:15 am

>231 kac522: LT kept recommending The Home-Maker, so I eventually sought it out in the Open Library. Huge disappointment! So unsubtle! So preachy! Dorothy Canfield Fisher wanted to be sure her readers had learnt the lesson she was teaching, so she told them again and again.

Nov 3, 2:23 am

>235 pamelad: I had an idea of the subject matter and Canfield Fisher's philosophy, so I wasn't surprised by the preachy parts. I wonder if it came off that way in 1924, or if it was a completely new concept that needed to be explained and defended.

I thought that Mr Knapp's adapting to housework was better done than Mrs Knapp adapting to the store--his had some nuance, some triumphs, some failures (I'm tempted to do that "newspapers on the floor" solution to keeping floors clean!). Another weird part near the end is where Mr Knapp questions the whole idea of buying stuff you don't need and yet his wife's new career in sales is just that. Huh?

But the ending "lie" was so ridiculous, it ruined the book for me. Who could possibly pull that off? and why?

Although, as >233 NinieB: says, I had trouble with a LOT of endings this month....

Nov 3, 3:20 am

Thanks for your interesting comments, especially The odd women. One to approach warily, I think.

Nov 3, 8:19 am

>234 kac522: When I read Anne of Green Gables as an adult, I tried to figure out why I was (am) so passionate about Anne. I didn't have red hair! I realized that Anne and I both have a tendency to jump into a project first and really think things through later. I also was enthralled by Montgomery's descriptions of the natural world of PEI, something totally unfamiliar to a kid from Los Angeles.

>235 pamelad: >236 kac522: Sometime I have to re-read The Home-Maker with your comments in mind.

Nov 3, 11:01 am

>237 MissWatson: I'm definitely an outlier on The Odd Women, Birgit. Maybe I was expecting too much.

>238 NinieB: Yep, kid from Chicago here, so nature is always a draw. I remember that the The Secret Garden and Heidi felt almost magical.

Nov 10, 4:24 am

Such a great reading month! I concur with Agnes Grey and I took a few BB's!

Nov 10, 10:19 am

>240 Tess_W: Thanks, it had things to think about. Interestingly, I think most about The Child of the Jago, probably the shortest book I read last month.

Nov 11, 8:12 pm

>231 kac522: Thank you as always for your insightful and varied readings of the Victorian era. The Odd Women sounds like one I almost but not quite want to read, especially with the dynamics of married tensions vs. unmarried women's lives. And Child of the Jago for painting such a vivid picture of the lives of the desperately poor of East London. Such a shame we haven't learned from that time.

Nov 11, 9:58 pm

>242 threadnsong: I would encourage you to read The Odd Women. You may feel very differently about it. I just felt a tone by the author that didn't quite sit right. But if you look at the book objectively (that is, single women attempting to train other women to be self-sufficient and not depend on marriage), it is quite revolutionary for its time.

I just borrowed from the library Esther Waters by George Moore, which is also from the 1890s and is about an unmarried woman in London. It will be interesting to compare it to the other two books. I haven't read this many books from this decade ever!

Nov 19, 1:53 pm

>231 kac522: I enjoyed your Victober reviews. I've read Agnes Grey but haven't read the others, some of which are already on my very long TBR list.

While I'm not encouraged to read The Odd Women, I liked reading your review of it and the interesting points you'd brought up.

Nov 19, 2:45 pm

>244 mathgirl40: Thanks for stopping by. I think the most moving book I read was A Child of the Jago by Arthur Morrison. I only heard of it recently, and it was intense but good. Not something you would re-read for pleasure, but I think more people should know about this book.

Nov 19, 2:47 pm

>244 mathgirl40: Thanks for stopping by. I think the most moving book I read was A Child of the Jago by Arthur Morrison. I only heard of it recently, and it was intense but good. Not something you would re-read for pleasure, but I think more people should know about this book.

At the library I picked up Esther Waters by George Moore (1894) which also covers poverty in London. Moore was Irish living in London, and it will be interesting to read his take on the same theme. This is another one I only heard about recently on the booktube channel of a woman from Ireland.

Nov 20, 10:56 pm

>246 kac522: Thanks for the recommendation. I have downloaded A Child of the Jago from Gutenberg.
Esther Waters was on my Victober list but I didn't get to it. Look forward to hearing what you think.

Nov 20, 11:05 pm

>247 JayneCM: It's not an easy book to read, but it's not long. There's some slang that was unfamiliar to me; the Oxford edition has a glossary, but you could probably look things up online.

Nov 30, 9:37 pm

November Wrap-Up--Part 1:

116. Dombey and Son, Charles Dickens (1848); re-read on audiobook, read by David Timson; Root from 2008
Type: fiction

This was a re-read, and here's my review from 2020:
This will not be my favorite Dickens. The middle seemed to drag a bit. As with any Dickens there are all kinds of mysterious side stories that don't seem to be related, but in the end, they all come together. The first third (from the point of view of little Paul) & last third (lots of action) of the book were the best.

My opinion of the book hasn't changed much. The first 18 chapters with Young Paul are excellent; I love little Paul and his relationship to Florence. The last 14 chapters are even better; there is mystery, action, reconciliation and lots of my favorite character Mr Toots (perfectly portrayed by David Timson's reading). The whole middle section, however, was difficult to listen to. As soon as Edith & her mother enter the story, I just wanted it to hurry up and be done. Dickens gives her over-long speeches that I didn't want to hear. Ultimately, I don't understand or, more importantly, believe how Florence retains her affection and loyalty to her cold and abusive father. At any rate, Mr Toots, Captain Cuttle, Walter and Susan make the story for me. It is Dickens, after all, so it can't be all bad.

117. The Year at Thrush Green, Miss Read (1996); Root from 2018
Type: fiction series

A wonderful way to wrap up the series; nearly everyone from Thrush Green gets involved (except Dr Lovell & Joan--I missed them). And it concludes with an homage to Mrs Curdle, who started it all in the first book.

118. The Lifted Veil, George Eliot (1859); Root from 2014; re-read from 2021
Type: fiction

In this short novella, a man has the ability to read most people's minds and has visions of events in the future. This ability drives him almost to insanity. On this reading, I was struck by the Prague setting, which hadn't caught my notice before. I re-read this for the Virago chronological reads group led by Liz.

119. Young Mrs. Savage, D. E. Stevenson (1948)
Type: fiction

It is post-WWII; Dinah Savage, 28, an exhausted war widow, is spending the summer in her Scottish childhood home on the sea with her 4 children. Over the course of the summer her beloved twin brother returns from the war, she reflects on her marriage, worries about the children and meets friends, new and old. The story takes some twists and turns, sheds light on rationing and post-war Britain, and has some interesting characters, both good and bad. Overall, a good solid read.

120. Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery (1908); re-read from 1960s?? and 1989
Type: fiction

As a young person, I had always identified with Anne, but on this re-read I had more sympathy with Marilla, perhaps because now I'm even older than Marilla is in the book.

In a 2008 essay by Margaret Atwood, the Canadian author reflects on the 100th anniversary of Anne of Green Gables, on her own history reading Anne since childhood, and reading Anne with her own daughter. These comments resonated with me about the book:
Although she {Anne} changes in the book--she grows up--her main transformation is physical. Like the Ugly Duckling, she becomes a swan; but the inner Anne--her moral essence--remains much what it has been.....The only character who goes through any sort of essential transformation is Marilla. Anne of Green Gables is not about Anne becoming a good little girl; it is about Marilla Cuthbert becoming a good--and more complete--woman....Anne without Marilla would--admit it--be sadly one-dimensional, an overtalkative child whose precocious cuteness might very easily pall. Marilla adds the saving touch of lemon juice....At the beginning of the book, Marilla is all-powerful, but by the end, the structure has been reversed, and Anne has much more to offer Marilla than the other way around.

from her essay collection Burning Questions, Margaret Atwood, 2021

Nov 30, 9:41 pm

November Wrap-Up, Part 2

121. As You Like It, William Shakespeare (1599)
Type: drama

This was fun, but the joke (girl disguised as guy then acts as a girl) wasn't enough for me to adore it. I am glad I finally read and watched it, and now understand references to Rosalind and Orlando in other literature.

122. Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, Margaret Atwood (1982)
Type: nonfiction: essays, book & poetry reviews and lectures

I read about half of the selections of essays, book reviews, lectures. Some are SO funny, particularly when talking about Canadian vs. American identity and gender, and when reflecting on what it means to be a "woman writer" during the 1970s Women's Movement era. Most memorable: "Travels Back"; "What's So Funny? Notes on Canadian Humour"; "On Being a Woman Writer: Paradoxes and Dilemmas"; "The Curse of Eve--Or, What I learned in School"; "Canadian-American Relations: Surviving the Eighties"; "Northrop Frye Observed"; and "Writing the Male Character." An interesting and revealing look back at the issues faced by young women writers in the 1960s and 1970s.

123. Sad Cypress, Agatha Christie (1940)
Type: mystery

The book opens in a courtroom where a young woman is accused of poisoning a love rival. Poirot is called in to prove her innocence. I enjoyed this one. It has a lot of standard mystery elements: inheritance, murder, a big house, courtroom scenes, and love stories. I thought Christie did a great job with the female characters and probing the mindsets of the possible suspects. Poirot, of course, "solves" the case, but as far as I can tell, it doesn't explain whether the real murderer is ever caught OR who finally will get the inheritance. Of course, maybe I missed it. At any rate, I felt it wasn't completely resolved.

124. Heat Lightning, Helen Hull (1932)
Type: fiction

Author and Columbia University writing professor Helen Hull (1888-1971) was once a well-known American novelist and her sixth novel Heat Lightning was a Book-of-the-Month Club Selection for April 1932. Persephone Books re-printed the novel in 2013. In the summer of 1930, in the midst of the Depression, Amy Norton comes home for a week’s visit to her parents' home in small-town Michigan, essentially to re-assess her marriage and her life. This is a slow-moving book, and over the course of a steamy August week everything happens and nothing happens.

This book didn't grab me. It felt a bit like Dorothy Canfield Fisher's The Home-maker (which I read earlier this year), but without the humor and Fisher's lighter touch. Amy's observations of her complex family (siblings, aunts, cousins, and grandmother "Madam" Westover) felt detached and distant, and with little empathy or understanding. The many characters were hard to keep straight, even with a detailed "Principal Characters" list at the beginning. As I got farther into the book, I realized that the individual characters fly in and out, so that we don't really get to know them or felt invested in their outcomes. This was a disappointing read for me; I normally like slow-moving books that concentrate on family dynamics, but this one left me unmoved.

125. Oscar Peterson: The Will to Swing, Gene Lees (1990)
Type: biography

Canadian author and journalist Gene Lees was a friend of Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, so this is not a particularly objective biography. Published in 1990, this book covers the first 65 years of Oscar Peterson's life, from his birth in Montreal in 1925 up until the 1990 publishing date. (Peterson died in 2007). Overall, this was a so-so biography--it had a lot of name-dropping, went off on tangents, and switched abruptly from topic to topic.

However, there were two areas that I think Lees did well. One was the historical background of blacks in Montreal, particularly for Peterson's parents and at the time of Peterson's birth (1925). Lees also explores the racism that Peterson encountered throughout his life and his own quiet way of dealing with it. The other aspect of Peterson's life that Lees does well is to describe (and defend) Peterson's musical style within jazz. Although a popular artist, critics were mixed on his style and Lees takes great pains to point out Peterson's great talents and unique contributions to jazz. This is probably not the definitive biography to pick up, but there are some insights on Montreal and Peterson's style that make the book a worthwhile read.

Nov 30, 10:47 pm

So it's December and I have a huge Pile of Possibilities to finish out the year.

Currently reading:
David Copperfield (1850) on audiobook, read by Simon Vance (almost finished)
Selected Stories, E. M. Forster
The Private Life of Spies and The Exquisite Art of Getting Even: Stories, Alexander McCall Smith (2023)

At the Top of The Pile:
Bleak House, Charles Dickens (1853), on audiobook, a re-read
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens (1843), on audiobook, a re-read

Christmas at Thrush Green, Miss Read with Jenny Dereham (2009), to complete my reading of Miss Read's books
The Professor's House, Willa Cather (1925)
Willa Cather: 24 Stories, Willa Cather
Aspects of the Novel (1927) and Two Cheers for Democracy (1951), nonfiction by E. M. Forster, which I will dip in & out
In This House of Brede, Rumer Godden (1969)
Far From the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy (1874), a re-read
Welcome Strangers, Mary Hocking (1986)
The Village, Marghanita Laski (1952)

The Maybe Pile
The Book of Daniel, E. L. Doctorow (1971)
A Gathering of Old Men, Ernest J. Gaines (1983)
The Last Bookshop in London, Madeline Martin (2021)
Esther Waters, George Moore (1894)
A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute (1950)
Death and the King's Horseman, Wole Soyinka (1975); (play)
Orwell's Roses, Rebecca Solnit (2021), nonfiction reflection on Orwell as passionate gardener and his works

...and if these ever show up from the library, they'll be kicked to the top of the pile:

Praying with Jane Eyre, Vanessa Zoltan (, nonfiction: thoughts on reading and spirituality
Vittoria Cottage, D. E. Stevenson (1949)

I expect I'll read my usual 10 or 12 books, so this is all wishful thinking.

Dez 1, 12:01 am

>251 kac522: I read A Gathering of Old Men a few years ago, really liked it. I gave it 4 stars.

Dez 1, 1:18 am

>252 fuzzi: Thanks for the recommendation. I read A Lesson Before Dying and was blown away by it. I had a harder time with The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman; it was OK, but it felt repetitive to me, and wished it had been a lot shorter. I'm hoping this is more in the style of the former rather than the latter.

Dez 5, 1:45 pm

A Town Like Alice is probably in the top 5 books of all time for me. I've taken more than a few BB's. Are you by chance the same Samantha_Kathy from Reading Through Time 4-7 years ago?

Dez 5, 2:01 pm

>254 Tess_W: Thanks for the recommendation...I have so many possibilities for December, I need some guiding lights! I'll try to get that one in.

No, I am not that person. I've only been participating in RTT the last couple of years.