Kathy's (kac522) Reading Challenges for 2021

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Kathy's (kac522) Reading Challenges for 2021

1kac522
Redigerat: jan 10, 1:41am



Welcome to my Reading Challenges for 2021

Like most of us, I am not sorry to wave good-bye to 2020 and move on to 2021.

Despite the upheaval of 2020, I made progress on many of my personal reading projects, though I still have miles to go. I hope to wrap up a few personal projects, continue with many more, pop into some Challenges around LT, and even add a new Challenge this year. And I'll be knocking those ROOTS (TBRs) out of here.

And naturally, I’ll have a “catch-all” category for those books that don’t fit anywhere else—from the “New Books” shelf at the library; book bullets; gifts; titles read for my RL book club; just because, etc.

I’ll be keeping a chronological "book by book" list in the 75ers group:
https://www.librarything.com/topic/328324
I have a "decade by decade" thread (now in its third year) in the Read It, Track It! Group here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/303114#
I have a "separated by a pond" thread (books set in English-speaking states and counties):
https://www.librarything.com/topic/327764
And my 2021 Big Fat Books are here:
https://www.librarything.com/topic/328309#

Thanks for stopping by. My projects are relatively simple and begin below.

2kac522
Redigerat: jul 1, 1:27am



These are my personal projects that I hope to complete in 2021:

Jane Austen: Belknap Annotated Editions

I have 2 left to read in this series:
1. Northanger Abbey: an annotated edition, annotated and edited by Susan J. Wolfson
2. Emma: an annotated edition, annotated and edited by Bharat Tandon

The BrontesCOMPLETED!

I have one book remaining to complete my reading of the Brontes' major works:
DONE 1. Shirley, Charlotte Bronte

Charles Dickens--the novels

My last Dickens' novel:
1. The Mystery of Edwin Drood
DONE 2. Little Dorrit audiobook re-read; read by Simon Vance
DONE 3. Our Mutual Friend audiobook; read by Simon Vance; re-read

George Eliot--the novels

Two remaining:
1. Romola
2. Felix Holt, the Radical
DONE Adam Bede, re-read
DONE Silas Marner; re-read on audiobook
DONE The Lifted Veil and Brother Jacob, re-read

3kac522
Redigerat: jul 21, 8:07pm



Here are my continuing reading projects, in which I attempt to read all the major fictional works of the following authors. In general I have been trying to read their works in order of publication, when available. I've listed what I hope to read of their works in 2021 toward that goal.

Willa Cather
1. The Song of the Lark
2. A Lost Lady
3. The Professor's House

Agatha Christie
DONE 1. Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
DONE 2. Parker Pyne Investigates (stories)
DONE 3. The Golden Ball and other stories (stories)
DONE 4. Death in the Air (1935)

Miss Read
In the case of Miss Read, I am reading the Fairacre series and some stand alone books and will continue with the Thrush Green series next year. My plans for 2021:
DONE 1. Country Bunch (stories and memoirs selected by Miss Read--published 1963)
DONE 2. Changes at Fairacre
DONE 3. Farewell to Fairacre
DONE 4. A Peaceful Retirement
5. Thrush Green

D. E. Stevenson
DONE 1. Rochester's Wife
DONE 2. The English Air
3. Crooked Adam
4. Spring Magic
Additionally, there are 2 earlier books that I am still hunting: Peter West and The Empty World.

Elizabeth Taylor
1. A Game of Hide and Seek
2. The Sleeping Beauty
3. Angel

Anthony Trollope
Have passed the half-way point reading through Trollope's 47 novels. I am ambitiously planning 6 novels this year--on deck for 2021:
DONE 1. Miss Mackenzie
DONE 2. The Belton Estate
3. The Claverings
4. Nina Balatka
5. Linda Tressel
6. The Vicar of Bullhampton

Virago Reads from my shelf
Have lots of Virago editions on the shelves, and hope to get to some this year. No rhyme or reason; these will be at whim or if I find a book that meets another challenge.

1. The Way Things Are, E. M. Delafield (1927); Root from 2020
2. My Brilliant Career, Miles Franklin (1901); Root from 2020
3. Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther, E, von Arnim; (1907); Root from 2020
4. The Crowded Street, Winifred Holtby (1924); Root from 2020
5. William, E. H. Young (1925); Root from 2020
6. Salem Chapel, Margaret Oliphant (1864); Root from 2017
7. The Solitary Summer, Elizabeth von Arnim (1899); Root from 2020

4kac522
Redigerat: jul 21, 8:02pm



2021 CLASSICS CHALLENGE

Found on Birgit's thread, who copied it from Leslie's thread: https://www.librarything.com/topic/326386 I'm all in for this challenge!! Thank you Leslie & Birgit!!

All books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify (so for this year, 1971 and earlier). The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later, such as posthumous publications.

1. A 19th century classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899.
MAR: Olive, Dinah Mulock Craik, (1850)
APR: Miss Mackenzie, Anthony Trollope, (1865)
MAY: The Belton Estate, Anthony Trollope (1866)
JUN: Salem Chapel, Margaret Oliphant (1863)
JUN: The Lifted Veil and Brother Jacob, George Eliot (1859 & 1864)
JUL: The Struggles of Brown, Jones and Robinson, Trollope (1862)

2. A 20th century classic - any book published between 1900 and 1971.
JAN: Lanterns & Lances, James Thurber, essays, (1961)
FEB: Country Bunch, Miss Read, (1963)
FEB: Where Angels Fear To Tread, E. M. Forster, (1905)
MAY: Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther, Eliz von Arnim, (1907)
MAY: Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson, (1919)
MAY: Private Lives, Noel Coward (play) (1930)
JUN: Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger (1951)

3. A classic by a woman author
JAN: Little Lord Fauntleroy, Frances Hodgson Burnett (1886)
FEB: Rochester's Wife, D. E. Stevenson (1940)
MAR: The Way Things Are, E. M. Delafield (1927)
MAR: Tom Tiddler's Ground, Ursula Orange (1941)
APR: My Brilliant Career, Miles Franklin (1901)
MAY: The Touchstone, Edith Wharton (1900)
MAY: The Crowded Street, Winifred Holtby (1924)
JUN: The Romance of a Shop,Amy Levy (1888)
JUL: The Solitary Summer, Elizabeth von Arnim (1899)

4. A classic in translation. Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language. (You can also read books in translation for any of the other categories). Modern translations are acceptable as long as the original work fits the guidelines for publications as explained in the challenge rules.
MAY: Jenny, Sigrid Undset (1911); 2001 translation from the Norwegian by Tiina Nunnally

5. A children's classic. Indulge your inner child and read that classic that you somehow missed years ago. Short stories are fine, but it must be a complete volume. Young adult and picture books don't count.
JAN: Tales from Shakespeare, Charles & Mary Lamb (1807)
JUN: A Child's Garden of Verses, R. L. Stevenson, illustrated Jessie Willcox Smith (1905)
JUL: The Railway Children, E. Nesbit (1906)

6. A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction. This can be a true crime story, mystery, detective novel, spy novel, etc., as long as a crime is an integral part of the story and it was published at least 50 years ago. Examples include The 39 Steps, Strangers on a Train, In Cold Blood, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, etc. The Haycraft-Queen Cornerstones list is an excellent source for suggestions.
FEB: Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie (1934)
MAR: Parker Pyne Investigates, Agatha Christie (1934)
APR: My Cousin Rachel, Daphne du Maurier (1951)

7. A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction. The journey itself must be the major plot point -- not just the destination. Good examples include The Hobbit, Around the World in 80 Days, Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, Kon-Tiki, Travels with Charley, etc.

8. A classic with a single-word title. No articles please! Proper names are fine -- Emma, Germinal, Middlemarch, Kidnapped, etc.
MAY: William, E. H. Young (1925)
JUN: Shirley, Charlotte Bronte (1849)

9. A classic with a color in the title. The Woman in White; Anne of Green Gables; The Red and the Black, and so on. (Silver, gold, etc. are acceptable. Basically, if it's a color in a Crayola box of crayons, it's fine!)
APR: The Golden Ball and other stories, Agatha Christie; collected 1971; all stories originally from the 1920s and 1930s)

10. A classic by an author that's new to you. Choose an author you've never read before.
FEB: The Hills is Lonely, Lillian Beckwith (1959)
FEB: The 39 Steps, John Buchan (1915)
MAR: Begin Again, Ursula Orange (1936)

11. A classic that scares you. Is there a classic you've been putting off forever? A really long book which intimidates you because of its sheer length? Now's the time to read it, and hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised!

12. Re-read a favorite classic.
JAN: I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith (1948), first read in 2006
JAN: The Tempest, Shakespeare (1610)
MAR: Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens (1857); audiobook re-read, read by Simon Vance; read in 1990 and 2009 (print), 2012 (audiobook)
APR: Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (1813); audiobook re-read, read by Emilia Fox; read in 2013
APR: Adam Bede, George Eliot (1859); first read in 2008
MAY: A Room with a View, E. M. Forster (1908); first read in 1992
MAY: Silas Marner, George Eliot, audiobook read by Margaret Hilton (1861); first read in 2005
JUN: Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens, audiobook read by Simon Vance (1865); first read in 2013
JUL: Lady Susan, Jane Austen, (1794; publ. 1871); audiobook re-read

MISC CLASSICS that don't fit in any of the above challenges:

5kac522
Redigerat: jul 7, 4:21pm



Challenges around LT: 75ers British Authors Challenge and Non-Fiction Challenge
No commitments, but I've got many books on my shelves that fit the BAC, and I need a little push to read more nonfiction:

Amanda's British Authors Challenge: https://www.librarything.com/topic/327699
✓ Jan: Children's classics (before 1996) Little Lord Fauntleroy, Frances Hodgson Burnett (1886); Tales from Shakespeare, Charles & Mary Lamb (1807); I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith (1948)
✓ Feb: LGBT+: Where Angels Fear To Tread, E. M. Forster (1905)
✓ Mar: Wildcard: An Irish Country Village, Patrick Taylor (2008); The Way Things Are, E. M. Delafield (1927)
✓ Apr: Love is in the air: Miss Mackenzie, Trollope (1865); Adam Bede, Eliot (1859); My Cousin Rachel, du Maurier (1951)
✓ May: Wildcard: William, The Crowded Street
✓ Jun: The Victorian Era (1837-1901): The Belton Estate, Trollope (1866); The Romance of a Shop, Levy (1888); Margaret Oliphant's Carlingford Series, Kamper (2001); Salem Chapel, Margaret Oliphant (1863); Cousin Phillis, Gaskell, 1864
✓ Jul: Book/Movie: Our Mutual Friend, Dickens (1865); The Railway Children, Nesbit (1906)
Aug: Helen Oyeyemi & Bernard Cornwell
Sep: She blinded me with science
Oct: Narrative poetry
Nov: Elizabeth Taylor & Tade Thompson
Dec: Awards & honors
Wildcard: Books off your shelves

75ers Nonfiction Challenge
✓ Jan: Prize Winners/Nominees--His Excellency: George Washington, Joseph Ellis
✓ Feb: Minority Lives Matter--Hidden in Plain View, Tobin & Dobard
✓ Mar: Comfort Reading--The Address Book, Deirdre Mask; Out on a Limerick, Bennet Cerf
✓ Apr: The Ancient World--Yorkshire, Regional Archaeologies, Ian Longworth
May: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral
Jun: Discoveries
Jul: Cities
Aug: Transportation
Sep: Creativity
Oct: Heroes and Villains
Nov: Business, the Economy and Big Policy Questions
Dec: Go Anywhere!

6kac522
Redigerat: jul 21, 8:03pm



Challenges around LT, Part II: RandomCAT and Reading Through Time
Again, no commitments, but here are two projects that I enjoy:

RandomCAT: a monthly random category, announced on the 15th of the prior month; clearly my favorite challenge on LT: https://www.librarything.com/topic/326123

✓ Jan: LOL--humor: Lanterns & Lances, James Thurber (1961)
✓ Feb: Fruits&veg titles: Olive, Dinah Mulock Craik (1850)
✓ Mar: Surprise! The Way Things Are, E. M. Delafield (1927)
✓ Apr: "Borrow" from LTer My Own Words, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2016)
✓ May: Monopoly: The Crowded Street, Winifred Holtby (1924)
✓ Jun: Re-tellings: Miss Austen, Gill Hornby (2020)
✓ Jul: Summer The Solitary Summer, Elizabeth von Arnim (1899)
Aug: Travel
Sep:
Oct:
Nov:
Dec:

Reading through Time Historical topics; can be nonfiction or historical fiction: https://www.librarything.com/topic/324978

✓ Jan: Shakespeare's Children -- Tales from Shakespeare, C&M Lamb (1807); The Tempest, Shakespeare (1610); Hag-seed, M. Atwood (2016)
✓ Feb: Fashion: The Shawl, Cynthia Ozick (1983)
Mar: Nautical
✓ Apr: British Empire: My Brilliant Career, Miles Franklin (1901)
✓ May: Meet the Press: Letter from England, Mollie Panter-Downes (1940)
✓ Jun: Rewriting the Past: Mrs Robinson's Disgrace, Kate Summerscale (2012)
Jul: Now We Are Free
Aug: Food
Sep: Time Travel/Prehistoric
Octo: Supernatural
Nov: Readers' Choice
Dec:

7kac522
Redigerat: jul 15, 2:49am

May 2021 1900-1950 Challenge

1. 1900 The Touchstone, Edith Wharton, (USA)
2. 1907 Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther, Elizabeth von Arnim (England)
3. 1908 A Room with a View, E. M. Forster (England)
4. 1911 Jenny, Sigrid Undset (Norway)
5. 1919 Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson (USA)
6. 1924 The Crowded Street, Winifred Holtby
7. 1925 William, E. H. Young
8. 1935 Death in the Air, Agatha Christie (genre classic)
9. 1940 Letter from England, Mollie Panter-Downes (essays)
10. 1930 Private Lives, Noel Coward (drama)
11. 1940 The English Air, D. E. Stevenson (WWII)

Jane Austen July
1. Read major novel
✓ 2. Read minor work: Lady Susan
✓ 3. Read re-telling: Miss Austen, Gill Hornby (2020)
4. Read nonfiction
5. Read JA contemporary
✓ 6. Faithful movie: Love and Friendship
✓ 7. Modern re-telling movie: Bridget Jones's Diary

Everything else--all the misc. books that don't fit anywhere else....

1. Look Back with Love: a Manchester Childhood, Dodie Smith (1974)
2. The Other Bennet Sister, Janice Hadlow (2020)
3. Tiny Tales, Alexander McCall Smith (2021)

Finally, my ROOTs count--books read from the TBR shelf in 2021 that I acquired before 2021:

8thornton37814
dec 27, 2020, 10:27pm

Welcome back! Hope you have a great year of reading!

9rabbitprincess
dec 27, 2020, 10:53pm

Welcome back and good luck with your 2021 projects!

10Tess_W
dec 28, 2020, 12:35am

Good luck with your 2021 reading!

11kac522
dec 28, 2020, 12:40am

12PaulCranswick
dec 28, 2020, 3:31am

I will keep up with you in both places, Kathy.

13dudes22
dec 28, 2020, 5:28am

Hope you have some good reading this year!

14spiralsheep
dec 28, 2020, 5:52am

>3 kac522: Hello again Viragoan and women in translation fan. Good luck with your reading in 2021!

15MissBrangwen
dec 28, 2020, 6:13am

Your personal reading projects are wonderful and I‘m really looking forward to following along in your thread! Happy reading in 2021!

16DeltaQueen50
dec 28, 2020, 1:16pm

You are planning a wonderful reading year and I am looking forward to following along.

17Crazymamie
dec 28, 2020, 1:31pm

Love all of your reading projects! I also have those Jane Austen Belknap annotated editions - just got the last one I needed (Mansfield Park) for Christmas.

That classics challenge is so cool - I saw it for the first time yesterday in Jean's thread and told her I was going to steal it. So fun!

18kac522
dec 28, 2020, 1:59pm

>12 PaulCranswick: Fancy meeting you here, Paul! No need to follow in both places--I read the same books on both ;) I'll probably wait until Jan 1 to set up my 75ers thread.

19kac522
dec 28, 2020, 2:10pm

>13 dudes22:, >14 spiralsheep:, >15 MissBrangwen:, >16 DeltaQueen50: Thank you all for stopping by! I usually report my reading on a monthly basis, so hope you will stop by to see how things are progressing.

>17 Crazymamie: I, too, own all of the gorgeous Belknap editions except Emma--that's going to be a purchase for this year--maybe a birthday or Thingaversary gift to myself! Since these are all the zillionth re-reads for me, I've been listening to the audiobook of each. Then I read the Belknap notes and illustrations for the appropriate listening portion.

I am SO excited about the Classics Challenge--I can't wait! I have all kinds of ideas--it's almost as fun planning and selecting as reading. Almost.

20kac522
Redigerat: dec 30, 2020, 4:41pm

I also have a couple of ongoing Challenges from the Read It, Track It! group https://www.librarything.com/groups/readittrackit2016

In 2019 as a group we completed "A Century of Books": reading a book a year from 1920 to 2019.

https://www.librarything.com/topic/301274

In 2021 we attempted to read books from English-speaking countries "separated by a pond." The goal was to read a book from countries on either side of the Atlantic: all U.S. states, all Canadian provinces, all English and Irish counties, and all regions in Scotland and Wales. As of today, it doesn't look like we'll complete our goal.

https://www.librarything.com/topic/303114

Although I contributed to the group effort, I did not at all come anywhere close to completing either challenge. So in 2020 I continued reading books by year, and am also keeping track of all books read before 1920. I'll be continuing to track my reading by year in 2021 and make note of it here:

https://www.librarything.com/topic/303114

And I'm continuing in 2021 the challenge to read from all the regions of the 6 countries here:

https://www.librarything.com/topic/327764

Unsurprisingly, I've read more books from various English counties than from different U.S. states.

21hailelib
dec 30, 2020, 6:53pm

Good luck with all those reading projects1

22PaulCranswick
jan 1, 10:52am



And keep up with my friends here too Kathy. Have a great 2021.

23lkernagh
jan 1, 3:21pm

Happy New Year, Kathy! The Classics Challenge sound great.... will keep that in mind for a future year. Wishing you a wonderful year of reading in 2021.

24kac522
jan 1, 3:28pm

>21 hailelib: Thanks for stopping by!

>22 PaulCranswick: Paul, I think I had _way_ too much sleep and tea in 2020, but am hoping for much more laughter, hugs and maybe a road trip or two.

>23 lkernagh: Yeah, Lori, I'm really psyched about the Classics Challenge, since the cut-off is 1971, and that's just about all of the books on my shelves. I may even try to read 2 in each category...we'll see.

25kac522
Redigerat: jan 24, 1:54pm

Possible reading for January:

--Christie project: Murder on the Orient Express; also fits Classics Challenge #6
--Miss Read project: Country Bunch, stories
--Stevenson project: Rochester's Wife
--Trollope project: Miss Mackenzie
DONE for the BAC: children's classics: Little Lord Fauntleroy, Burnett and/or I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith; also fits Classics Challenge #5
DONE: for 75ers Nonfiction: prizewinners: His Excellency: George Washington, Joseph Ellis
DONE: for RandomCAT: humor: Lanterns & Lances, James Thurber, essays
--for Reading through Time: Shakespeare re-tellings: Hag-seed, Margaret Atwood
and finally:
DONE Look Back with Love, Dodie Smith's memoir of her childhood, to be read with I Capture the Castle

Lots of comfort reading to make it through until Inauguration Day, when IMHO, the new year really begins.

26scaifea
jan 2, 8:48am

Hi, Kathy!

>25 kac522: You've got some good reads lines up for January! I particularly love Murder on the Orient Express and I Capture the Castle - I hope you do, too!

27kac522
Redigerat: jan 2, 12:58pm

>26 scaifea: Thanks. I'm still in comfort-read mode. The Agatha Christie is next in my chronological read of her books (1934--only about 40 years of books left!).

I read I Capture the Castle years ago. I've discovered Smith's memoir of her early years (Look Back With Love), so I thought it would be good to have a re-read after I finish the memoir.

28Crazymamie
jan 2, 1:10pm

I love both I Capture the Castle and The One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Smith. I did not know she had a memoir. How are you liking it so far?

29kac522
jan 2, 1:17pm

>28 Crazymamie: Hi Mamie--thanks for visiting! Haven't started the Smith memoir yet--I'm finishing up a re-read of P & P to end 2020 and start 2021 with my ultimate comfort read. Then I'm on to the Smith memoir. I didn't know about it either until I saw someone review it on youtube. Watching "booktubers" on youtube is my new way to waste more time online instead of reading!

30Crazymamie
jan 2, 1:22pm

Ah. I will await your thoughts, then. P&P is my all time favorite book.

"Watching "booktubers" on youtube is my new way to waste more time online instead of reading!" This made me laugh.

31dudes22
jan 2, 3:06pm

I have I Captured the Castle somewhere in my TBR. I'll be waiting to see what you think.

32Chrischi_HH
jan 2, 5:29pm

I like your set-up with the different challenges, Kathy. Maybe I should copy the personal challenges idea for next year - I have only read one of Agatha Christie's books and obviously need extra motivation to grab the next one. Have a wonderful reading year!

33fuzzi
jan 2, 7:39pm

Found and starred!

34kac522
Redigerat: jan 3, 12:34pm

Currently reading:

Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens, on audiobook, read by Simon Vance
His Excellency: George Washington, Joseph Ellis
Look Back with Love, Dodie Smith, memoir of her childhood in Manchester

35fuzzi
jan 3, 12:39pm

>34 kac522: ack, BB! (Dodie Smith)

36kac522
jan 3, 3:34pm

>35 fuzzi: And this is the first of 4 volumes: https://www.librarything.com/nseries/91716/Dodie-Smiths-Autobiography

So far, so good.

37fuzzi
jan 4, 7:45am

>36 kac522: aha, I was wondering why I found more than one edition, and with slightly different titles!

38MissWatson
jan 5, 11:30am

Hello! I'll be watching the classics challenge closely!

39kac522
jan 5, 2:10pm

>38 MissWatson: Ditto! And there's a lot of cross-over--for example, this month's BAC--Children's books--fits in with the #5 Children's Classics. I'm thinking about I Capture the Castle, Little Lord Fauntleroy and Tales from Shakespeare. And Tales from Shakespeare fits this month's Reading through Time--Shakespeare's Children, although I probably will also try to get in Margaret Atwood's Hag-Seed.

Too many books--not enough days in the month!

40MissWatson
jan 6, 8:17am

>39 kac522: I'll probably read Alice in Wonderland for that because it's on my shelves. Bookstores and libraries will be closed til the end of January at least, unfortunately.

41MissBrangwen
jan 6, 1:23pm

>40 MissWatson: In my neck of the woods, some bookshops still offer books for pick up, you can order them through calling or online. Thalia does this, but also several independent bookshops. You have probably checked this already, but I still wanted to point it out just in case.

42MissWatson
jan 7, 5:08am

>41 MissBrangwen: Yes I have and may eventually overcome my reluctance.

43kac522
Redigerat: jan 7, 1:21pm

>41 MissBrangwen:, >42 MissWatson: Thank you both for stopping by.

Right now bookshops and libraries are open in Chicago, but with rules about limited number of occupants (I think 25%). But even when the library building was closed, it was still possible to borrow ebooks if the library system owns a copy.

This helped a lot with my Agatha Christie challenge (reading all of her mysteries in date order), since most are available as ebooks. I don't normally buy ebooks--I find that I read an ebook sort of like I read online news--I read too fast and skim a lot (unconsciously), and don't remember much. But I do occasionally borrow Christie titles and other light reading from the library and read them on my tablet.

44MissWatson
jan 8, 4:25am

>43 kac522: I have also found that I read ebooks with less attention, so as long as I can get them I'll prefer paper books.

45kac522
Redigerat: jan 8, 12:17pm

>44 MissWatson: Yes, I prefer paper, too.

But these last couple of days in America I haven't read any books, paper or otherwise, at all. Hard to focus with all the chaos. I am hoping that when we get to Inauguration Day 1/20/2021, there will be some order restored. And as I've noted elsewhere, 1/20/2021 (as we notate the date here in the U.S.) is a palindrome, which I hope is a sign of good luck! Or at minimum stability.

46kac522
Redigerat: feb 2, 6:24pm

January Reading


♥ 1. Look Back with Love: a Manchester Childhood, Dodie Smith
Year Published: 1974
Type: nonfiction, memoir
Acquired: Interlibrary loan
Project: book bullet from booktube

The first book in a four volume series of the memoirs of Dodie Smith. Smith was born in 1896 and this first book covers her childhood years until age 14, when she left her beloved Manchester for London. Smith was the lone child living with her mother, grandmother, and maternal aunts and uncles--her father had died when she was 18 months old. This book is just brimming with remembrances of childhood and relatives, streets and people, homes and schools, music and theatricals, toys and pets. About a third of the way in the book, Smith starts Chapter VII with "I had a happy childhood but I was not a happy child, and I was aware of this from a very early age." She relates her thrilling times, her woeful times, and her adult-like sense as a child, but also her extreme innocence. It is a wonderful look at life in turn of the 20th century Manchester: houses, streets, theaters, the first electric lights, her first long-distance motorcar trip. If you like books that give the very essence of a child's life in a specific time and place, you will love this book. I did.


♥ 2. His Excellency: George Washington, Joseph Ellis; Root from 2011
Year Published: 2004
Type: nonfiction, biography, history
Acquired: paperback on my TBR
Project: 75ers NF January Challenge--Prizewinners

This was a concise volume on Washington's life, work and legacy, without getting into a lot of details, which Ellis notes has been done many times over. Ellis sets up the purpose of his book in the preface:
It seemed to me that Benjamin Franklin was wiser than Washington; Alexander Hamilton was more brilliant; John Adams was better read; Thomas Jefferson was more intellectually sophisticated; James Madison was more politically astute. Yet each and all of these prominent figures acknowledged that Washington was their unquestioned superior....Why was that?

Suffice to say that Ellis does an excellent job in under 300 pages answering this question. This was the right book to read at this time: to get back to the founding principles of these United States. Great book and a great read about a great man.


3. Little Lord Fauntleroy, Frances Hodgson Burnett; Root from 2015
Year Published: 1886
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback on my TBR
Project: BAC January Challenge: Children's Classics; my Classics Challenge

This was quite a disappointment, since I loved The Secret Garden. My Little Lord is an annoyingly good child. However I must admit the writing was very good, and the gradual change of heart of his grandfather was well done. But the kid was totally unbelievable.


4. Lanterns & Lances, James Thurber; Root from before 2009
Year Published: 1961
Type: nonfiction, essays, humor
Acquired: paperback on my TBR
Project: RandomCAT January Challenge: humor; my Classics Challenge

This collection of essays, first published in various magazines from 1953-1961, was the last collection published before he died. Mostly funny, there are essays on language, words, and 1950s life. Several allusions to the McCarthy-era tensions among writers. Many of his essays seem anti-female: it's always a woman who asks or makes nonsensical comments.
There are two mostly serious essays (with humor): one in defense of Henry James, and the last essay "The Duchess and the Bugs": on the state of humor writing in America. These were the 2 best for me.

47kac522
Redigerat: feb 2, 6:23pm

January Reading continued


5. Tales from Shakespeare, Charles and Mary Lamb; Root from 2016
Year Published: 1807
Type: fiction re-telling
Acquired: paperback from my TBR
Project: BAC January Challenge: Children's Classics; my Classics Challenge

I don't know how children would find this interesting. I had to push myself to finish, and I know most of the stories. Boring and disappointing; way more entertaining to read the actual plays.


6. The Tempest, William Shakespeare; Root from 2017
Year Published: 1610
Type: drama
Acquired: paperback re-read from my shelves
Project: Preparation for Hag-Seed

I read this in 2017 for my book club. I didn't remember much. It was OK; got more of a sense of "colonialism" this read. This re-read was to prepare me for Margaret Atwood's Hag-Seed.


♥ 7. Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood; Root from 2019
Year Published: 2016
Type: fiction re-telling
Acquired: paperback from my TBR
Project: Reading Through Time January: Shakespeare's Children

When I re-read The Tempest this month, I remembered very little of the play from 2017. After Hag-Seed, I'm going to remember the play for a long time. Atwood brings so many layers to this play of prisons and revenge that it's hard to forget. Set in a modern-day Ontario prison, Atwood uses the play-within-a-play-within-a-play idea. By having the prisoners learn about the play, we learn, too. As always Atwood throws in her sharp witty lines, but also manages to quote the Bard quite often within the context of the story. Some stuff seemed a bit silly or over the top, but then so was Shakespeare. Really well done to get readers to understand the various threads in the play.


♥ 8. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith; Root from 2006
Year Published: 1948
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback re-read
Project: BAC January Challenge: Children's Classics; my Classics Challenge

Had forgotten a lot of this, but just remembered the good feelings I was left with after finishing. Just as good, maybe better, after having read Smith's childhood memoir, which I read earlier this month.

Set in 1930s Suffolk, the first person narrator is Cassandra, a 17 year old, who is writing in her journal about her family and the run-down castle that they live in. Very funny coming of age and finding love story. Lots of elements of warmth and humor, suspense and surprise. A comforting favorite.

48kac522
feb 2, 6:13pm

I'm really happy with my January reading; I read 4 really great books that helped me get through this month.

Currently reading:
*Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens, audiobook read by Simon Vance (re-read)
Country Bunch, Miss Read, for my Miss Read project

February reading plans:

*Rochester's Wife, D. E. Stevenson, my Stevenson Project
*Murder on the Orient Express, Christie, left-over from last month
*Olive, Dinah Craik, for RandomCAT February challenge: Fruits & Veggies
*Where Angels Fear to Tread, E. M. Forster; BAC February Challenge; LGBTQ+ authors
Hidden in Plain View, Jacqueline Tobin; 75ers NF Challenge: Minorities
My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante; Reading Through Time February challenge: Fashion (shoemaker in the story)
*Adam Bede, George Eliot re-read
*The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan, for RL Book Club via Zoom

*these all fit a category in my Classics Challenge

49Crazymamie
feb 2, 6:27pm

>46 kac522: You got me with that Dodie Smith memoir - I didn't realize that she had written those. I loved both The One Hundred and One Dalmatians and I Capture the Castle, so I'm adding her memoirs to The List.

From your February reading plans, I have read and liked both Murder on the Orient Express and The Thirty-Nine Steps. And I really want to read Where Angels Fear to Tread.

50kac522
Redigerat: feb 2, 6:35pm

>49 Crazymamie: Smith's memoirs are 4 books! I really enjoyed this first one; I will have to see if I can track down the others through interlibrary loan.
I figure the mysteries have got to be good, and I'm also anxious to read Forster; I think it's one of his first novels. I loved Howards End and I need to re-read A Room with a View. I wasn't thrilled with the latter on first reading; maybe I need to try it again.

51fuzzi
feb 3, 11:07am

>46 kac522: you got me, too, on that autobiography of Dodie Smith...

52kac522
feb 3, 12:09pm

>51 fuzzi: It was the perfect book to start out the new year, for sure. And finished the month with I Capture the Castle--just occurred to me I "book-ended" January with Dodie Smith!

53MissBrangwen
feb 3, 4:29pm

What a great reading month, and what wonderful plans for February!
I read Where Angels Fear To Tread last year and I'm looking forward to your opinion of it.

54kac522
feb 3, 5:11pm

>53 MissBrangwen: Thanks! I'm hoping I can accomplish my goals in this shorter month. I'll need every day!

55kac522
Redigerat: mar 3, 5:14pm

February Reading

Not a particular stellar month, but a few good 'uns:


9. Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie; Root from 2016
Year Published: 1934
Type: mystery
Acquired: paperback from my TBR
Project: my Christie and Classics Challenges

Enjoyed this Poirot classic; as always, I was pretty much fooled, except for one minor plot point. Very appropriate to read on a snowed-in evening with temps near 0F. I followed up with a viewing of the adaptation starring David Suchet, with excellent supporting performances by Samuel West, Eileen Atkins and David Morrissey (to name a few). This will be one of my favorite Christies, along with And Then There Were None and the short story "Witness for the Prosecution."


10. Rochester's Wife, D. E. Stevenson;
Year Published: 1940
Type: fiction
Acquired: CPL library hardcover
Project: My Stevenson and Classics Challenges

This next entry in my quest to read D. E. Stevenson's novels (in order) is a bit of a play on Jane Eyre that doesn't really work. In this case Mr & Mrs Rochester live a quiet small town life. The story is told from the viewpoint of the town doctor, Kit Stone, who falls in live with Mrs Rochester. Mr. Rochester appears to be having mental health issues and his wife attempts to keep life together. He suddenly disappears, but returns six months later "cured" after an episode of amnesia. Lots of weird psychobabble which is dated and almost embarrassing. On the positive side, there are wonderful portraits of small town life, rural Scotland and delightful children characters. As usual, Stevenson has one 100% evil character, Ethel, and this feature in her novels has become annoying.


11. The Hills is Lonely, Lillian Beckwith;
Year Published: 1959
Type: fictionalized memoir
Acquired: CPL library hardcover
Project: Classics Challenge

Fictionalized memoir of Beckwith's real-life moving to the Hebrides in Scotland in the 1930s to escape urban life. This is funny, with some sharp humor, both about the islanders' "ways" as well as about the narrator's struggle to adapt her citified prejudices. Some have found fault with Beckwith's portrayal of the island characters; when the book was first released, some people were able to identify themselves in the book, and were not pleased. To me, as a city person, I understood the book and it seemed to me by the end there was much more love for these people and their way of life.


12. Country Bunch, chosen and edited by Miss Read; Root from 2018
Year Published: 1963
Type: collection of essays, fiction extracts and poetry about country life
Acquired: paperback TBR
Project: My Miss Read and Classics Challenges

An anthology of the countryside, comprised of essays, fiction and poetry. Includes sections on country people, places, seasons, remedies and recipes, and occasions. Most date from the 18th and 19th centuries, with many extracts from Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford, which I read some years ago. Fun, light, and easy to pick up and put down.


13. Where Angels Fear to Tread, E. M. Forster; Root from 2019
Year Published: 1905
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my TBR
Project: BAC February Challenge and my Classics Challenge

I'm not sure how I feel about this novel, E. M. Forster's first. It starts out very much as a tale of manners, specifically British manners vs. Italian, and the characters felt very distant, very stylized. We watch the characters as "fools" rushing in. ("Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread."--Alexander Pope.) But then late in the book Forster hits us hard with a tragic event, and suddenly the characters seem so real (rather like the fate of poor Leonard Bast in Howards End). Lots of quotable lines; here are two:
--about the English in Sawston, their home town: 'I hated the idleness, the stupidity, the respectability, the petty unselfishness....every one here spent their lives in making little sacrifices for objects they didn't care for, to please people they didn't love; that they never learnt to be sincere--and what's as bad, never learnt how to enjoy themselves.' --Caroline Abbott
--on parenting: For a wonderful physical tie binds the parents to the children; and--by some sad, strange irony--it does not bind us children to our parents. For if it did, if we could answer their love not with gratitude but with equal love, life would lose much of its pathos and much of its squalor, and we might be wonderfully happy.

This is complex and definitely requires a re-read--perhaps I'll like it more the second time through.


14. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan;
Year Published: 1915
Type: fiction
Acquired: CPL Library paperback
Project: My RL/Zoom book club and Classics Challenge

Billed as the first classic "man on the run" thriller, this was engaging and fun. Buchan wrote this at the start of WWI, and the German spy theme (and stereotypes) and chase scenes through Buchan's native Scotland set the tone of the book. A bit complicated to follow, but a quick enjoyable read. Watched the Hitchcock film, which is almost entirely different, except for the name of the main character, and that he's chased through Scotland.

56kac522
Redigerat: apr 1, 4:19pm

March plans:

Mostly I hope to read more than a dismal 6 books:

Finished: (woo-hoo!)
*--Olive by Dinah Mulock Craik

Currently Reading:
--The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal about Identity, Race, Wealth and Power by Deirdre Mask (library book due today!)
*--George Eliot's Life as Related in her Letters and Journals, edited by her husband J. W. Cross; plan to continue reading 15-20 pages per day for the month of March
*--Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens, audiobook read by Simon Vance

Possible books in March:
*--my Christie Project: Parker Pyne Investigates
--my Miss Read Project: Changes at Fairacre
*--my E. Taylor Project: A Game of Hide and Seek
*--my Trollope Project: Miss Mackenzie
--Library book: The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow
*--March RandomCAT: William by E. H. Young and/or The Crowded Street, Winifred Holtby
--March Reading through Time: Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian
--for St. Patrick's Day: An Irish Country Village, Patrick Taylor

*these fit into my Classics Challenge categories

57MissBrangwen
mar 7, 10:56am

>55 kac522:

Murder on the Orient-Express is one of my favorites, too (not surprisingly!), and I love the Suchet adaptation. I am not so keen on the recent Kenneth Branagh one, though. Have you seen it or do you plan to do so?

I had similar feelings about Where Angels Fear To Tread which I read last year. I had a hard time getting into it. Although it is such a short read I needed several starts to get into the flow. I enjoyed the second half much more and was moved by it, so in the end I rated it 4 stars.

You have planned some interesting reads for March, the George Eliot book sounds especially great!

58kac522
Redigerat: mar 7, 11:21am

>57 MissBrangwen: Right, I rated Where Angels Fear To Tread as 4 stars, too. I've pulled A Room with A View off the shelf to re-read at some point.

I haven't seen the Branagh Orient Express, and I probably won't. I've see some snips, and it just didn't seem right. I just started Parker Pyne Investigates, which are short stories, and I'm enjoying them. Not a single murder so far and they are funny!

I've read about 80 pages in the George Eliot--a lot of "wrestling" with God and Christianity in the earliest letters, which date from about her 20s.

59kac522
Redigerat: apr 1, 4:20pm

March Reading

Well, did lots of reading (12 books) this month--let's get right in:


15. Olive, Dinah Mulock Craik
Year Published: 1850
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from Chicago Public Library (CPL)
Project: Classics Challenge

Written on the heels of Jane Eyre, Olive is the story of a "deformed" daughter, born to a proud Scottish father and a weak orphaned mother. The book has many worthwhile themes: like Jane Eyre, Olive develops a strong character, despite her disability and her slim chances of finding love; like Rochester, her father has an affair with a mixed race Jamaican, but unlike Rochester he is not portrayed as the "victim" but rather is remorseful and atones somewhat for his sin. Olive comes to adore Harold, a curate who has lost his faith, and the book explores his struggle with religion. All worthwhile and important ideas, but the overall book is so melodramatic and Olive is so good in the face of strife that it is quite unbelievable. Craik's racial stereotypes (the hot-blood Creole, the stubborn Scot, the weak Englishman) is uncomfortable at best. Craik was a popular novelist in her day; 3 stars for her attempts to grapple with real-life themes. I chose not to read the additional story in this book "The Half-Caste."


16. The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power, by Deirdre Mask
Year Published: 2020
Type: nonfiction, geography, sociology
Acquired: CPL library hardcover
Project: March 75ers NF Challenge (comfort reading)

I was hoping to enjoy this book, but I had a hard time getting through. I was disappointed in the lack of focus--it was more like a series of journal articles about cities, addresses, streets, etc., that sometimes wandered far afield. That said, there were some interesting bits, like the lack of street names in Tokyo, what it means economically to live on Martin Luther King Drive, lack of addresses for people in the slums of India or the homeless in New Haven, how Paris got street numbers, how money influences addresses in New York, controversies over naming streets after historic figures, etc. But the book never lived up to the subtitle: "What Street Addresses Reveal about Identity, Race, Wealth and Power" because the author never pulled all of these disparate tales together into a cohesive whole. Plus I think I'm starting to be annoyed with the type of nonfiction book that's more like a magazine article, where the author inserts himself/herself into the story.


17. Parker Pyne Investigates, Agatha Christie
Year Published: 1934 (original)
Type: mystery, stories
Acquired: CPL library paperback
Project: Classics Challenge; my Christie Project

I know I'm in the minority, but I always enjoy Christie's short stories perhaps more than the full-length novels. This group of stories feature Mr. Parker Pyne, who has a perennial ad in the newspaper "Are you happy? If not, consult Mr. Parker Pyne". Mr. Parker Pyne has a keen sense of human nature and finds (usually) the right cure for the unhappiness of his clients. I found this collection delightful, and apparently many were written after Christie's travels on the Orient Express and to the Middle East, as they feature locations such as Stamboul, Shiraz and Greece, to name a few. The original collection was published in 1934; my edition added 3 more Parker Pyne stories that were published in the latter 1930s. Also two of the stories, "Death on the Nile" and "The Regatta Mystery", were completely re-written in later years featuring Poirot. I haven't read the Poirot versions yet.


18. Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, Jacqueline Tobin and Raymond Dobard
Year Published: 1999
Type: nonfiction, African American history, quilting
Acquired: paperback TBR
Project: February 75ers NF Challenge (minorities); Root from 2016

I went into this book with lots of skepticism, as more recent African American scholarship concludes that there is no evidence to back up the basic claim of this book--that quilts were used to direct travelers on the Underground Railroad. On the positive side, the book gives a basic overview of African cultural symbols, music and traditions brought to America, as well as background in African American quilt-making. However, the authors' premise that quilts were sewn in a "code" is based on the testimony of one South Carolina quilter, and there appears to be no other corroboration to her stories. There are lots of sentences in this book that begin "We think...", "We assume" "could be used...", "It is our conjecture...", etc. There were just too many leaps of faith to make the book credible, which is sad, since the background material is quite interesting.


19. The Shawl, Cynthia Ozick
Year Published: 1989
Type: fiction, short story and novella
Acquired: hardcover from my TBR
Project: Feb Reading through Time (Fashion); Root from 2014

The volume contains 2 related pieces: the short story "The Shawl" and the novella "Rosa."

"The Shawl" is a brief (6 pages), yet powerful, story about Rosa, a young mother in a concentration camp, who hides her baby in her shawl, for if the baby is found it is certain death. "Rosa" (about 60 pages) is set almost 40 years later, and Rosa has recently moved to Miami from New York. She is slowly slipping into fits of mental illness, with memories of her life before the war, of her baby and of the shawl. Both stories are told in Ozick's tough, gritty, dark style and packed with symbolism. In fact, it occurred to me that the shawl in the story might, in some ways, allude to a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl.


20. The Other Bennet Sister, Janice Hadlow
Year Published: 2020
Type: fiction
Acquired: CPL Library hardcover
Project: none

I really wanted to love this book. This is a re-telling of Pride & Prejudice which focuses on the middle "plain" Bennet sister, Mary, and then takes us into Mary's life two years after P & P ends. I had a hard time getting into the book. It was slow for me and certainly the first third of the book seemed overwhelmingly depressing--I wasn't sure why I should continue to read about Mary. But the book turned around for me when the Gardiners came into the story. I became caught up in Mary's gradual change in character, the tempo picked up and I raced to the end. On the plus side: great writing, very much a la Austen, with much dialogue (especially in the beginning) pulled directly from the original. On the minus side: I had trouble with Hadlow's expansion/re-interpretation of the characters of Charlotte (very conniving/plotting), Mrs Bennet (downright nasty) and Mr. Collins completely unbelievable, IMHO). And it was just too long for me, by about 100 pages. Most JA fans love this book, so I'm a bit of an outlier. The book ends with a satisfying conclusion, so overall it left me feeling good, and wanting to get back into the original text to pull out the bits about Mary and Charlotte.

60kac522
Redigerat: apr 1, 4:21pm

March Reading, part 2


21. Begin Again, Ursula Orange
Year Published: 1936
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from Chicago Public Library (CPL) via interlibrary loan
Project: my Classics Challenge

I borrowed 2 Ursula Orange paperbacks from the library that are Furrowed Middlebrow/Dean Street Press reprints. Begin Again tells the story of 4 twenty-something young women in mid-1930's England. Each seems mildly to severely dissatisfied with the way their lives are going. One living in the country with her parents envies her working friends sharing a flat in London. One of the flat-mates hates her job and longs for a decent country life. As the story progresses, each woman finds a way to begin a new life. This was enjoyable, light and witty.


22. An Irish Country Village, by Patrick Taylor
Year Published: 2008
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my TBR; Root from 2017
Project: continue the Irish country series

Second book in the series about young Dr Barry Laverty who is apprenticed to Dr Fingal O'Reilly. Lovely scenes of Northern Irish village life and medical practice in the 1960s. A comforting read.


23. Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens; audiobook read by Simon Vance
Year Published: 1857
Type: novel
Acquired: my audiobook TBR; Root from 2012
Project: Classics Challenge

A Dickens favorite re-read on audiobook. I love Simon Vance's voice characterizations. In particular his readings of a few passages in the second half were absolutely brilliant: 1) William Dorrit being visited by Young John after Mr Dorrit, being released from the Marshalsea, returns to London after a tour of Europe; Vance's reading brought me to tears; 2) Young John and Arthur Clennam in the Marshalsea after Clennam's arrest; 3) Mrs Clennam's recounting of her own story when pressed by Blandois/Rigaud near the end of the book. And Dickens' portrayal of the fall of Mr Merdle and the fall of the House of Clennam are always brilliant, no matter how many times I re-visit.


24. Bennett Cerf's Out on a Limerick: A Collection of over 300 of the World's Best Printable Limericks: Assembled, Revised, Dry-cleaned and Annotated, Bennet Cerf
Year Published: 1960
Type: nonfiction, humor
Acquired: hardcover TBR
Project: March 75ers NF Challenge: comfort reading.

For a break between other books, I picked up this little volume at a library used book sale shelf; the full title says it all. A sample (no groaning, please):

A quiet young lady called Snookie
At betting was quite a smart cookie.
Before every race
She went home to her place
And curled up with a very good bookie.



25. The Way Things Are, E. M. Delafield
Year Published: 1927
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my TBR
Project: March RandomCAT: Surprise!; Root from 2020

Laura Temple is a middle-class wife, mother of 2 boys, sister and sometime short story writer who feels something is missing in her life. Her husband is buried in his newspaper, her children whine and she can't manage the servants or the expenses of the large family house in the country they have inherited. But her life takes a turn when her sister brings friends down to visit. By the author of The Diary of a Provincial Lady, I was expecting more humor and less melancholy. It is still witty and ironic and worth the read, but the Provincial Lady is lighter, funnier, while dealing with many of the same issues of a woman trapped in everyday married life.


26. Tom Tiddler's Ground, Ursula Orange
Year Published: 1941
Type: fiction
Acquired: CPL Library paperback via interlibrary loan
Project: none

Another Furrowed Middlebrow/Dean Street Press reprint. It is early in WWII; Caroline and her toddler daughter are encouraged by her solicitor husband to evacuate London to a small Kentish village where a school chum has a large house. Caroline provides a witty, ironic look at people and life in a village and to amuse herself by writing a play about them. But slowly she comes round to view them as (gasp!) real human beings. Lots of fun, but lots of insights, too; even more engaging than Begin Again. This is Orange's most popular and successful novel.

61kac522
Redigerat: apr 4, 7:08pm

April bookish plans/hopes/dreams:

Still slowly making my way through:

--George Eliot's Life (her letters and journals), edited by J. W. Cross
--George Eliot, biography by Jenny Uglow

For LT Challenges:
--BAC--Love: Miss Mackenzie, Anthony Trollope (also fits my Trollope Project)
--Reading through Time--British Empire: My Brilliant Career, Miles Franklin
--75ers NonFiction--not sure yet
--RandomCAT--another LTers library: probably Mr Mac and Me, Esther Freud

For my bookclub:
--A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry (re-read)

Virago/LT group read with lyzard:
--Mrs Oliphant stories (re-read)

For my other challenges:
--Adam Bede, re-read for George Eliot Project
--The Golden Ball and other stories, Agatha Christie Project
DONE Changes at Fairacre, Miss Read Project
--A Game of Hide and Seek, Elizabeth Taylor Project

off we go....

62kac522
Redigerat: maj 25, 12:30am

I've been following Katie of Books and Things on youtube, and she's sponsoring a 1900-1950 Reading Challenge for May (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCu0QEvzt0k).

Her Challenge is to read books published between 1900-1950 and that:

1) the author is from your own country
2) the author is from a country other than your own
3) is a classic in its genre (mystery, sci-fi, play, etc.)
4) is NOT a novel (nonfiction, plays, short stories, poetry, etc.)
5) is about, set during or references WWI or WWII

and a Bonus Challenge: Read a book from each decade (1900s, 1910s, 1920s, etc.)

I thought this would be a great way to get some books off the shelves and out the door. I've gone through my TBRs and have come up with a potential of 19 books--my goal is to read at least 10 of these, and to hit each of the challenges above. Here are my choices:

1900 The Touchstone, Edith Wharton (USA)
1907 Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther, Elizabeth von Arnim (Australia/England/Germany)
1908 A Room with a View, E. M. Forster (England)
1911 Jenny, Sigrid Undset (Norway)
1915 The Song of the Lark, Willa Cather (USA)
1919 Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson (USA)
1922 Loyalties, John Galsworthy (England) -- play
1924 The Crowded Street, Winifred Holtby (England)
1925 William, E. H. Young (England)
1927 The Hotel, Elizabeth Bowen (England)
1930 High Wages, Dorothy Whipple (England)
1930 Private Lives, Noel Coward (England) -- classic play
1932 Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (England) -- classic sci-fi/dystopian
1935 Death in the Air, Agatha Christie (England) -- classic mystery
1940 Letter From England, Mollie Panter-Downes (England) essays/articles; WWII
1940 The English Air, D. E. Stevenson (Scotland); WW II
1945 The Little Company, Eleanor Dark (Australia); WW II
1949 Cindie, Jean Devany (NZ)
1950 The World My Wilderness, Rose Macaulay (England) WW II

Except for 2 library books, all of these are on my shelves now. I love this period of literature, and glad that I could find mostly women authors, too--can't wait to get started!

63NinieB
apr 27, 6:42pm

>62 kac522: This is a great challenge--thanks for talking about it!

64pamelad
apr 27, 6:47pm

>62 kac522: What a good idea! I also enjoy books from this era and am looking for a way to break a Regency romance addiction. I've read eight from your list, including the last three, and am a big Rose Macaulay fan.

>60 kac522: Ursula Orange was a fortunate discovery, and Tom Tiddler's Ground my favourite. After reading The Provincial Lady I sought out other E. M. Delafield books, including The Way Things Are and thought they were all worth a read, but none of them as light-hearted as The Provincial Lady.

65kac522
apr 27, 6:48pm

>63 NinieB: Yes, it has me excited! Katie has set up the challenge on GoodReads as well. I've had an account there for years which has laid dormant (too many ads and flash & dash for me). But if you have a GR account, it is here:
https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/1158968-the-1900-to-1950-readathon

I've become quite the lurker on booktube, and have several people that I follow. Katie talks very fast, but she's very knowledgeable, especially on the classics. And her videos are never too long, which I like.

66kac522
Redigerat: apr 27, 6:52pm

>64 pamelad: Actually, two on the list are re-reads for me: Winesburg, Ohio, which I read in high school half a century ago, and A Room with a View, which I read about 20 years ago, but don't remember a whole lot. The rest are all new to me.

Yes, Ursula Orange is a wonderful find; I'm hoping some of the others, including Macaulay, are going to be favorites. I'm also on a quest to read most of Holtby and E. H. Young, as these are on my Virago TBR.

67NinieB
apr 27, 7:22pm

>65 kac522: I went and made my own list. I realized once again I have way too many books because the only hard part in making the list was picking which one for each category!

68kac522
apr 27, 7:48pm

>67 NinieB: Yup, that's why I have 19 (actually I have a couple more as stand-bys), but am aiming for 10. We'll see....

69NinieB
apr 27, 8:04pm

>68 kac522: I'm also kind of hoping she does Jane Austen July again.

70pamelad
apr 27, 8:19pm

>62 kac522: I've started my list with the five categories. Looking forward to it.

71fuzzi
apr 27, 8:38pm

>62 kac522: I've only read one of those, Brave New World, though I read a lot from that time period.

72kac522
apr 27, 10:01pm

>69 NinieB: Me, too!--since I just discovered this whole "booktube" thing a few months ago. I'm hoping for JA July and Victober (Victorian October).

>70 pamelad: Great--isn't it great to plan? For me, it's the follow-through....

>71 fuzzi: I feel very remiss in not having read Huxley before, so I'm making up for lost time on that classic.

73MissWatson
apr 28, 5:29am

>62 kac522: I don't need another challenge. Really, I don't. But the planning would be so much fun...*eyes her shelves*

74fuzzi
apr 28, 8:54am

>72 kac522: that particular Huxley was a school read, which I liked. I disliked it intensely on a reread.

I hope you appreciate it.

75kac522
Redigerat: apr 28, 11:30am

>73 MissWatson: ...exactly what I'm afraid of....I did have so much fun planning...now to the execution...Even worse, I've thought about setting up my own challenge for myself for a different month (maybe August) to read a book from every decade 1950-2000. This is a period that I don't read from very often, and when I do, I'm usually disappointed or underwhelmed. I have a bunch of books here that I just want to read and get them out of my sight. A "binge" month read like this might help.

>74 fuzzi: I've never read Huxley, and know nothing about the book, except that it's a supposed "classic." If I DNF it, I'm not worried. I know I have some great reads in this list, so if there are a few duds, so be it :)

It's interesting about school reads. One of the books on my list for May is Winesburg, Ohio which was one (maybe the only) book I did enjoy from high school English class, but I remember very little about it, except that I didn't hate it. On the other hand, I totally detested The Scarlet Letter when I had to read it in high school. I re-read it several years ago, and it was brilliant. It just is NOT for high school kids, even now. So many important themes way over and beyond what most 14-year-olds can be expected to appreciate.

76kac522
Redigerat: apr 30, 3:50pm

I think it's time to call it a month--not in the mood to squeeze in another book for April.

April Reading


27. Changes at Fairacre, Miss Read
Year Published: 1991
Type: fiction
Acquired: hardcover from my shelves; Root from 2017
Project: my Miss Read Project; Classics Challenge

I enjoyed this next in the Fairacre series, which conveniently starts in Spring and ends the following Spring. Miss Read loses a friend, moves house, a hurricane strikes, and worries continue about the fate of her school. Sometimes Miss Read can be a bit "same old, same old", but this was a well-rounded installment, with happy, sad, worrisome and humorous events, and a lovely way to begin April.


28. Miss Mackenzie, by Anthony Trollope
Year Published: 1865
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my TBR; Root from 2017
Project: my Trollope Project; Classics Challenge

Miss Mackenzie is a middle-aged spinster who has spent her life caring for her elderly father and an invalid brother. At age 35 she becomes an heiress and suddenly becomes the object of 3 different suitors. Trollope creates one of his funniest stories that include his standard elements of courtship, clerics and lawyers. Littlebath residents Miss Todd and Miss Baker from The Bertrams are featured, and for Palliser fans, Lady Glencora makes a cameo appearance. I thought the last quarter of the book was a bit drawn out, but overall I enjoyed this book, with some laugh-aloud moments.


29. My Brilliant Career, Miles Franklin
Year Published: 1901
Type: novel
Acquired: paperback; Root from 2020
Project: my Virago Project; Classics Challenge

I had mixed feelings about this book. The narrator is a 16 year old girl living in the 1890s Australian bush. Franklin was 16 when she wrote this, so quite an accomplishment. There are brilliant descriptions of the bush and the hard life on the farms: the floods, the droughts, the heat, the dust. The narration and dialogue give a good feel for Australian slang and expressions. The heroine expresses unorthodox (for the time) views of a woman's place in society and marriage. However, there is blatant racist references, a very unlikeable heroine (rude, self-absorbed, and always feeling sorry for herself) and rather a tedious story. I think overall the book is an important work by a young Australian woman writer in the 1890s, but only an average work of literature.


30. Pride and Prejudice from Jane Austen - The Complete Novels (Complete Classics), Jane Austen; audiobook, read by Emilia Fox
Year Published: 1813
Type: fiction
Acquired: audio CDs
Project: Classics Challenge

As many times as I've read P&P, I've never listened to it on audio. Emilia Fox played Georgiana in the 1995 Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle movie. Fox's narration passages were the best. I did not like her voices for men, and Mrs Bennet's voice was patterned on the 1995 film portrayal by Alison Steadman. Next re-read will be the book!


31. Adam Bede, George Eliot; re-read from 2008
Year Published: 1859
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my TBR; Root from 2008
Project: my Eliot Project; Classics Challenge

On this re-reading, it didn't take me as long to get into the book, but it did drag in the middle. However at the half-way point things picked up, and I finished quickly. Without even looking at my old comments, I had the same reaction upon finishing--that there were no "evil" characters--that it was all "nobody's fault"--to quote Dickens in Little Dorrit. A sad human tragedy. There were more humorous bits than I remembered. The religious characters (Dinah and Mr. Irwine) were exceedingly good without being overly religious. A different portrait of the religious than Austen (think Mr Collins and Mr Elton) or even Trollope. Without spoiling, I found some aspects of the ending a bit hard to believe.


32. Yorkshire: Regional Archaeologies, Ian Longworth
Year Published: 1965
Type: nonfiction; archeology
Acquired: hardcover from TBR shelves; Root from 2019
Project: 75ers Nonfiction--April

Bought this at a used book store in Wisconsin on Lake Superior. Gives an overview of the Paleolithic through Roman eras, focusing on sites in Yorkshire, articles found, people who lived there, possible lifestyles, etc. Also includes a list of all major sites and a list of museums in Yorkshire with archeological specimens.


33. The Golden Ball and Other Stories, Agatha Christie
Year Published: 1971, all stories published originally in the 1920s and 1930s
Type: fiction, mystery, short stories
Acquired: paperback from CPL library
Project: my Christie Project; Classics Challenge

As always, I find Christie's stories more fun than the novels. They are quirky and entertaining for the most part. I particularly like the "Walter Mitty" type stories, where people feel their life is so boring and then get involved in a surprise adventure.


34. My Cousin Rachel, Daphne du Maurier
Year Published: 1951
Type: fiction
Acquired: ebook from Chicago Public Library
Project: LT April Monthly Author Challenge; Classics Challenge

Not quite as suspenseful as Rebecca, but still kept me turning pages. Du Maurier has a great talent for putting the reader completely in the mind of the main character, even when we completely distrust their judgement. And for ambiguous endings. One thing that bothered me at first was that the time frame was unclear--probably mid to late 19th century. She did not always convince me of that. However, by the end, it felt as if it could have been from any time period.


35. My Own Words, Ruth Bader Ginsburg; audiobook, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Linda Lavin
Year Published: 2016
Type: nonfiction; speeches, lectures, writings, decisions
Acquired: Chicago Public Library
Project: none

This is a collection published in 2016 of Ginsburg's writings, lectures, speeches and court opinions, interspersed with background information. About half of the selections were recordings of Ginsburg herself; the other half were read by the narrator. I am not a legal person by any means, yet Ginsburg's clear and precise language made difficult legal concepts accessible. Other parts were personal, and brought me to tears. If you're interested in this sort of book, I would highly recommend the audiobook, just to hear RBG delivering her own historic judicial opinions.
My absolute favorite read of the month.

77kac522
Redigerat: apr 30, 3:50pm

I'm anxious to start the 1900-1950 Challenge (see >62 kac522:), and I may start tonight.

I'm going to try to read at least 10 of the books on the list, and to read them in chronological order, starting with The Touchstone by Edith Wharton. I'll probably read Letter from England throughout the month, as it is a series of articles/essays she wrote from 1939 through 1940.

Ready or not, here I come....

78MissWatson
maj 1, 8:59am

>77 kac522: Good luck with the challenge!

79kac522
maj 1, 2:15pm

>78 MissWatson: Thanks! Started last night...

80MissBrangwen
maj 1, 2:19pm

>62 kac522: I read Death in the Air earlier this year and really enjoyed it.

>76 kac522: What a great reading month! Several of these are on my wishlist, too!

81kac522
Redigerat: maj 1, 2:34pm

I started my May 1900-1950 Challenge (>62 kac522:). For the most part, I hope to read in chronological order, and I plan to update my progress here as I start and complete each book.

I've started Edith Wharton's The Touchstone (1900), a novella (about 90 pages), about the publication of letters of a deceased famous writer, and the ethical implications.

I've also started a book which I'll read throughout the month, and that is Letter from England by Mollie Panter-Downes, published in October 1940. This is a collection of essays ("letters", if you will) written for the New Yorker during World War II, with updates on the everyday (or not-so-everyday) life in England. Letter from England covers the articles written from September 1939 through September 1940. Panter-Downes continued to write articles through the end of the war; all the New Yorker articles, from 1939 - 1945 were published in one volume: London War Notes. I decided on the earlier book, just because it was half the size (about 250 pages).

I read the first entries for September 1939. Here's an excerpt about children and the new gas masks that everyone carried:

London, September 10, 1939
...How to accustom children to a war which at any moment may come right into the nursery is something that exercises everybody. The juvenile genius for accepting new conditions has already, however, reconciled many a family to a father unaccountably vanished and a mother who in a tone of determined gaiety proposes a game of Mickey Mouse in one of these amusing new mask things. The most comforting "reaction" so far reported was the remark of the little girl who countered parental whimsy with a stern "It's all right, Mummie. I know what it is. It's a gas mask and we put it on when they bomb us."

82NinieB
maj 1, 5:31pm

>81 kac522: I started reading for the challenge as well! It's really engaged me.

83kac522
Redigerat: maj 4, 3:40pm

Reading Update: 1900-1950 Challenge for May 2021

Completed:

36. The Touchstone, Edith Wharton (USA)--from my country
Year Published: 1900
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my shelves

The influence of Henry James is evident in this novella of ethics, conscience and silences between partners. The wording is a bit difficult to navigate sometimes, but the plot is compelling and the characters are intense, all with an overtone of ironic wit that is Wharton's own.

Started: Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther, Elizabeth von Arnim (1907)

84kac522
maj 2, 9:47am

>82 NinieB: Yes, I agree. I've tried to choose mostly shorter, more accessible works that I've had sitting around for a while, that I've somehow passed over for more lengthy or "important" tomes.

85kac522
maj 5, 1:43am

Reading Update: 1900-1950 Challenge for May 2021

Book #2 Completed:

37. Fraulein Schmidt And Mr Anstruther: Being the Letters of an Independent Woman, Elizabeth von Arnim (Australia/England/Germany)--not from my country
Year Published: 1907
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my shelves; Root from 2020

This is a book of letters from "Independent Woman" Rose-Marie Schmidt, an English-German of 25, living with her father in a small German village, to Roger Anstruther, an Englishman and former student of Rose-Marie's father. We only read one side of a love affair that does not go smooth. Rose-Marie passionately shares daily life, interesting characters, and the beauty of nature around her. I am not sure why I love von Arnim's writing so much, but I do. I can see how others may find it over-the-top and almost smothering, but I love the sensuality of it. Nearly every letter has some mention of a poet, writer or musician. Although a little long, and a little slow in the middle, Rose-Marie surprises us a bit in the end. It is said that von Arnim disguised herself as an English governess to be employed in a lower-middle class German household to observe and record how real people managed their lives from day to day.

Started Book #3: A Room with a View, E. M. Forster (1908), a re-read.

86MissWatson
maj 5, 7:31am

>85 kac522: I have only read Enchanted April so far. This one looks interesting!

87NinieB
Redigerat: maj 5, 11:36am

88kac522
Redigerat: maj 5, 1:44pm

>86 MissWatson:, >87 NinieB: For whatever reason, I just get on with von Arnim. I have read 4 others besides Fraulein Schmidt:
The Enchanted April
Elizabeth and her German Garden
The Pastor's Wife and
Mr Skeffington, which is very different from the others, but still so good.

I have on order from the bookstore:
Vera and Father. I think she wrote 20 novels in all.

89kac522
maj 10, 6:03pm

Reading Update: 1900-1950 Challenge for May 2021

Book #3 Completed:

38. A Room with a View, E. M. Forster;(England)--not from my country
Year Published: 1908
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my shelves; Root from 2011; re-read, originally read 1992 and 2011

Well, the third time was the charm--although not my favorite Forster, I can say that I did enjoy this re-read. I liked this a bit better this time, perhaps because I've recently re-read Howard's End and Where Angels Fear to Tread. So I was used to the Forster's style and manners, and the passion seemed more genuine. But it does still read like a play to me.

I have now completed my books for the 1900s decade:
1900--The Touchstone, Wharton
1907--Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther, von Arnim
1908--A Room with a View, E. M. Forster
**Interesting factoid: E. M. Forster was a tutor for von Arnim's children, but I haven't been able to figure out exactly which years. But interesting that they had books come out within a year of each other, and it's interesting to comtemplate what literary effect they had on each other.

Now on to the 1910s:
Currently reading: Jenny by Sigrid Undset (1911).

90kac522
maj 10, 6:03pm

Also still reading, bit by bit, Mollie Panter-Downes' Letter from England, and have read through the January, 1940 articles for the New Yorker.

Here's this week's interesting excerpt from October 29, 1939:
The Week* publishes a tart account of the seizing by British authorities of a quantity of documents brought back by a lady after a business trip to New York. It seems that someone had reported that a sinister book, translated from the Russian and obviously Communist in feeling, was among her effects. It was a copy of Tolstoy's "War and Peace," and it was immediately confiscated, together with a highly incriminating souvenir program of a visit to the Statue of Liberty.


*A mimeographed newsheet published by Claud Cockburn from Victoria Street.

91kac522
Redigerat: maj 11, 1:29pm

My ship(ment) has come in!

A few weeks ago I placed orders for books at my favorite local independent bookstore, Seminary Co-op, Chicago and from the British Library Women Writers series. And today, all of my titles arrived:

from the British Library Women Writers series (3 for the price of 2!):
My Husband Simon, Mollie Panter-Downes
Tea is So Intoxicating, Mary Essex
Father, Elizabeth von Arnim
from Seminary Co-op:
A Chelsea Concerto, Frances Faviell (Dean Street Press)
Vera, Elizabeth von Arnim
The Vicar's Daughter, E. H. Young

Lovely new books!

92MissWatson
maj 11, 3:48am

>91 kac522: Congrats on a lovely haul! My copy of Vera is still in the mail...

93NinieB
maj 11, 7:03am

>91 kac522: >92 MissWatson: Yes, congrats, and kudos as well for supporting your local bookstore!

94MissBrangwen
maj 11, 10:54am

>89 kac522: "**Interesting factoid: E. M. Forster was a tutor for von Arnim's children, but I haven't been able to figure out exactly which years."

An interesting fact indeed!

>91 kac522: Great haul!

95kac522
Redigerat: maj 11, 1:37pm

>92 MissWatson: The more I read von Arnim, the more I love her writing. I can't wait to get to more of them. And finding more of them in print.
>93 NinieB: Thanks. I love my local store, but it is curbside pick-up only right now. I really, really hope they open this summer. Things are getting better in my area, but I understand their caution.
>94 MissBrangwen: Yes, I'll need to get a biography of Forster or von Arnim if I want to figure out exactly when they knew each other. Probably von Arnim; her life was just so interesting, if not a bit chaotic.

96pamelad
maj 11, 5:28pm

>91 kac522: Well done! I enjoyed A Chelsea Concerto and am adding The Vicar's Daughter to my wish list.

97kac522
Redigerat: maj 11, 6:44pm

>96 pamelad: Thanks--glad to hear good things about A Chelsea Concerto.

I was generously gifted all of E. H. Young's books published by Virago, except for The Vicar's Daughter, so I grabbed this, even though it's not a Virago.

98kac522
maj 15, 9:39pm

Reading Update: 1900-1950 Challenge for May 2021

Book #4 Completed:


Jenny by Sigrid Undset (1911)
This was a tough one, and I'm still processing my feelings about it. Will sum up later.

Now reading:
Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (1919)

99kac522
Redigerat: maj 17, 6:49pm

Reading Update: 1900-1950 Challenge for May 2021

Book #4 Completed:


Jenny by Sigrid Undset
Year Published: 1911
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my shelves; Root from 2016

This is a brutally realistic look at the life of a woman artist in the early 20th century. Jenny is a painter who has left her native Oslo for Rome and has joined a group of Scandinavian ex-pat artists and writers. The book follows Jenny's relationships with some of her group, both male and female. Throughout the book, Jenny's male friends seem to know exactly what she should or should not be doing as an artist, while Jenny herself in unsure of her path in life. She loves her art, but she is afraid of any intimate relationships with men, and yet still longs for someone to love, and maybe even a child someday. Undset (author of Kristin Lavransdatter and Nobel winner) herself lived in Rome as a writer under similar circumstances, and eventually married a Norwegian painter she met in Italy. From the first page, I felt a certain inevitable tragedy from the first pages of the book. Jenny struggles to live her life on her own terms, without the interference of men, and yet still longing to be loved for herself. It's a difficult book to read, but an important look at early 20th century female artists, and the struggles they faced in becoming both an artist and a fulfilled woman.

Book #5 Completed:


Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
Year Published: 1919
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my shelves; Root from 2015; re-read from high school

What a difference a half-century makes. This was one of the few books I recall liking from required high school reading, and I have always wanted to re-read it. Whew! glad that's over with! Published in 1919, this is a collection of vignettes (called "Tales") on various people in the small town of Winesburg, Ohio around 1900. The central figure is George Willard, an employee of the local newspaper. In each of these tales the featured citizen somehow encounters George. The Tales have titles like "Hands", "Godliness", "The Thinker", "Drink", "Death", etc. Each person has a "truth"--a basic tenet or point of view about life. Anderson portrays only unhappy, dissatisfied marriages; sad, lonely and disconnected individuals; and there's not a decent, positive woman in sight, except for the Madonna-like Helen White. The one thing I took away from this book was the basic values and simple thinking of small-town rural Americans, and how some of that still permeates to this day.

With these two books, I've finished the 1910s. These were both difficult books. I may take a break before I plunge into the 1920s.

100kac522
Redigerat: jun 3, 2:17am

Mid-month update: 1900-1950 Challenge for May 2021

Here's my progress:

1900 The Touchstone, Edith Wharton (USA)
1907 Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther, Elizabeth von Arnim (Australia/England/Germany)
1908 A Room with a View, E. M. Forster (England)
1911 Jenny, Sigrid Undset (Norway)
1915 The Song of the Lark, Willa Cather (USA)
1919 Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson (USA)
1922 Loyalties, John Galsworthy (England) -- play
1924 The Crowded Street, Winifred Holtby (England) -- WWI
1925 William, E. H. Young (England)
1925 Juno and the Paycock, Sean O'Casey (Ireland) -- play -- replaces Loyalties
1927 The Hotel, Elizabeth Bowen (England)
1930 High Wages, Dorothy Whipple (England)
1930 Private Lives, Noel Coward (England) -- classic play
1932 Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (England) -- classic sci-fi/dystopian
1935 Death in the Air, Agatha Christie (England) -- classic mystery
1940 Letter From England, Mollie Panter-Downes (England) essays/articles; WWII
1940 The English Air, D. E. Stevenson (Scotland); WW II
1945 The Little Company, Eleanor Dark (Australia); WWII
1949 Cindie, Jean Devany (NZ)
1950 The World My Wilderness, Rose Macaulay (England) WW II

So at mid-month I've finished 5. I've eliminated books I know I won't get to this month, plus I replaced one play (Loyalties) with another play (Juno and the Paycock), which happens to be this month's selection for my RL book club.

I know I'm not going to get to all of these, but I going to give it my damnedest.

Next up: The Crowded Street, Winifred Holtby (1924), which I think features a main character who we follow during WWI and beyond, so fits the WW challenge.

101MissWatson
Redigerat: maj 18, 2:42am

I had my eye on Brave New World also, for the classic in its genre, but right now I don't feel in the right frame of mind.

102pamelad
maj 18, 3:14am

>99 kac522: A brutally realistic, difficult read is not what I'm looking for right now, so I very much appreciate your honest review. I'm now considering Herland for this decade.

103kac522
maj 18, 12:40pm

>101 MissWatson: I know, I'm really afraid to get into Brave New World. But I just feel like it's such a classic that I should know more about it. Plus I think I will use it for my Classics Challenge #11 "A book that scares you." Just hoping I finish it.

>102 pamelad: I tried to read Herland but it wasn't for me. I didn't read enough to have a strong opinion, except that I knew I would struggle to finish. But I'm sure that's just me.

I have gone ahead and started my next 1900-1950 book, The Crowded Street by Winifred Holtby. Another young woman unsure of her place in the world, but this one has some humor and sympathy for our heroine, Muriel, and is set in Yorkshire. And apparently the character of Muriel's friend Delia is based on Winifred Holtby's good friend Vera Britain (author of The Testament of Youth and a biography of Holtby Testament of Friendship).

"Oh to be in England now...."

104kac522
Redigerat: maj 18, 12:49pm

>102 pamelad: Perhaps I was a bit harsh about the "brutally realistic." Undset's Jenny is nothing like stark contemporary novels today, but it certainly was way ahead of its time in dealing with real people and problems. And, being Norwegian, there is a certain darkness of atmosphere that permeates the writing. But it is an important book, I think, because no woman was writing this very real truth about women's lives and their struggles to be independent and yet still be female.

I would say if there's a time when your mind is in a place that can absorb this, it's an important look at women in the early 20th century that deserves more recognition today.

105pamelad
maj 19, 5:33pm

>103 kac522: I'll leave it on the wish list for later on because I want to read something by Undset, and Kristin Lavransdatter would be a big commitment. In the end I read The Metamorphosis for this decade, which turned out to be an excellent choice.

Talking about Norwegian bleakness, a while ago I read Alberta and Jacob, which is also about a woman's struggle for independence and is steeped in cold and misery. It's worth reading.

106kac522
maj 20, 11:06am

>105 pamelad: I have read both Kristin Lavransdatter and The Master of Hestviken many years ago at the urging of my mother, who had read them in the 1940s as a teenager. They were both good, but I enjoyed Kristin more.

107kac522
maj 25, 6:09pm

Reading Update: 1900-1950 Challenge for May 2021

I finished 2 books in the 1920s, and what a difference a decade makes! I loved both of these books published by Virago.

Book #5 Completed:


The Crowded Street by Winifred Holtby
Year Published: 1924
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my shelves; Root from 2020

This is the story of Muriel Hammond, who is shy, awkward and failing in all the attributes to attract a young man. We follow her from age 11 at the turn of the 20th century, through the Great War and up to 1920. The dynamics of Yorkshire society and the family and Muriel's place within these realms are well done. Throughout most of the novel, Muriel feels it is her "duty" as a single daughter with no prospects to take care of her parents, but the influence of a friend and post-war Britain bring out a slow but decided change in Muriel. Well done. Particularly moving is the beginning, with Muriel's first "party" at age 11, which sets the stage for the rest of the novel.

Book #6 Completed:


William by E. H. Young
Year Published: 1925
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my shelves; Root from 2020

I really enjoyed this novel about a family during the first decade of the 20th century. Published in 1925, the setting is Radstowe, based on Bristol, where E. H. Young lived for some years. William is the patriarch of a family of five grown-up children; 4 are married, one is still at home with her parents. The family dynamics, trials and tribulations are seen through William's eyes and contrasted with the reactions of his wife, Kate. Young has a wonderful dry humor that keeps the novel from getting too melodramatic, yet still with much to say about families and grown-up children. Young's style reminds me most of Barbara Pym and I loved it.

Not much time left in May to get through to the 1940s, but I'll do my best.

108NinieB
maj 25, 10:28pm

>107 kac522: You're making great progress on an ambitious selection! I have The Misses Mallett waiting patiently for me, and I can recommend Celia, which I read a couple of years ago.

109kac522
Redigerat: maj 25, 11:27pm

>108 NinieB: I have a couple of plays, an Agatha Christie and a D. E. Stevenson which I hope to finish by month's end. And I'm halfway through Letter from England. If I get all of these done, I'll be satisfied.

I have all of E. H. Young's books published by Virago. I read The Misses Mallett last year, and I'm trying to read them "in order" (as she looks over her shoulder for Liz's approval). I have loved both so far.

110kac522
Redigerat: jun 3, 11:41am

Reading Update: 1900-1950 Challenge for May 2021

Here are the final books/selections I finished for the Challenge:

Book/Selection #8 Completed:


Private Lives by Noel Coward
Year Published: 1930
Type: drama--fits Challenges "not a novel" and classic in its genre
Acquired: paperback from my shelves; Root from before 2008

This is a fast-paced comedy about 2 people, previously divorced from each other, who find themselves at the same hotel on honeymoon with their new spouses. I did not like any of the characters, and although the dialogue was witty, the exchanges seemed mostly brutal. I didn't care about any of them.

Book #9 Completed:


Death in the Air by Agatha Christie
Year Published: 1935
Type: mystery--fits Challenge classic in its genre
Acquired: paperback from my shelves; Root from 2019

Agatha had me fooled 100%! It's an interesting setting--a murder occurs on a flight from Paris to London in 1935. Just interesting to read about passenger flights in those early days.

Book #10 Completed:
(No image available)

Letter from England by Mollie Panter-Downes
Year Published: September, 1940
Type: non-fiction; essays/articles; fits Challenge "not a novel" and WWII
Acquired: library book

This is a collection of articles Panter-Downes wrote for the New Yorker from September 1939 through September 1940, covering the everyday person during the war in London. Sort of a modern-day "human-interest" journalism, although she never names anyone specifically. She covers a Londoner's every day life: going to the shops, adjusting to gas masks, air-raids, going to the movies, listening to updates on the radio, and the general mood each week of average Londoners. It was interesting to feel the mood changes as they were happening. These articles end as London is being bombed nearly every night in September 1940.

There is an expanded collection, called London War Notes, which covers 1939 through 1945, with the best articles from each year.

Book #11 Completed:


The English Air by D. E. Stevenson
Year Published: 1940
Type: fiction; fits Challenge WWII
Acquired: library book

I normally love D. E. Stevenson, but this was essentially a book of war propaganda. It is 1938; a young German comes to England to meet and visit his English cousins for the first time. I was completely uncomfortable with the portrayal of the young German, what his thoughts and motivations were--how would Stevenson, who lived in Scotland most of her life, have any clue about the values and internal thinking of a young man, son of a Nazi officer? Plus the portrayal of England and the English seemed too rosey for reality. There was no nuance in this book. Stevenson actually dated the last page as she finished it on 29 Feb 1940.

111kac522
Redigerat: jun 3, 11:40am

Final Wrap-up: 1900-1950 Challenge for May 2021

I ended up reading 11 selections, and here's how they met the Challenges:

1) author is from your own country -- 2 books:
--The Touchstone by Edith Wharton
--Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

2) author is from a country other than your own -- 9 selections:
--Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther, Elizabeth von Arnim (Australia)
--A Room with a View, E. M. Forster (England)
--Jenny, Sigrid Undset (Norway)
--The Crowded Street, Winifred Holtby (England)
--William, E. H. Young (England)
--Private Lives, Noel Coward (England)
--Death in the Air, Agatha Christie (England)
--Letter from England, Mollie Panter-Downes (England)
--The English Air, D. E. Stevenson (Scotland)

3) is a classic in its genre (mystery, sci-fi, play, etc.) -- 2 selections:
--Private Lives, Noel Coward--classic comic play
--Death in the Air, Agatha Christie--classic mystery

4) is NOT a novel (nonfiction, plays, short stories, poetry, etc.) -- 2 selections:
--Private Lives, Noel Coward--play
--Letter from England, Mollie Panter-Downes--essays/articles

5) is about, set during or references WWI or WWII -- 3 selections
--The Crowded Street, Winifred Holtby -- WWI
--Letter from England, Mollie Panter-Downes--WWII
--The English Air, D. E. Stevenson--WWII

Finally: Read a book from each decade (1900s, 1910s, 1920s, etc.)
1900s:
--1900 The Touchstone
--1907 Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther
--1908 A Room with a View

1910s
--1911 Jenny
--1919 Winesburg, Ohio

1920s
--1924 The Crowded Street
--1925 William

1930s
--1930 Private Lives
--1935 Death in the Air

1940s
--1940 Letter from England
--1940 The English Air

Overall, I'm very glad I participated in this challenge, even though I found several of my selections quite disappointing.
My favorites were:
Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther
The Crowded Street
William
Letter from England

I also think reading the books in publication order, especially in the 1900-1930 range, was particularly beneficial, as I could see the authors struggling with themes of individualism and becoming your own person. The earlier books showed the struggles of making one's own way in life; the later books reflected characters who made their own choices with positive outcomes.

112kac522
Redigerat: jun 16, 1:31am

So....on to June....

I'm a little behind because I got sick in the last week of May and had surgery on May 29. I'm very much on the mend now, but just getting a late start to this month's plans, which include:

June BAC--the Victoria Era -- lots of possibilities for this one! I'm sure I won't get to them all:
--Our Mutual Friend, Dickens, on audiobook
✓--The Belton Estate, Trollope
✓--The Romance of the Shop, by Amy Levy
--Salem Chapel, Margaret Oliphant
✓--Shirley, Charlotte Bronte
--Cranford (a re-read) or Ruth, by Elizabeth Gaskell

and two nonfiction books about the Victorians:
--The Artful Dickens, John Mullan
--Mrs Robinson's Disgrace, Kate Summerscale (for June Reading through Time)

Other possible books this month:
✓--Tiny Tales, Alexander McCall Smith
✓--Farewell to Fairacre, Miss Read
--Ladies of the House: a Modern Retelling of Sense and Sensibility, Lauren Edmondson (for June RandomCAT)

and for my RL/zoom book club:
--Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger (a re-read from high school--we'll see how THAT goes...)

113MissWatson
jun 4, 4:14am

>111 kac522: Some very interesting titles in your May challenge. I have made some very nice discoveries myself thanks to this. I'm thinking about repeating this later in the year.

114kac522
jun 4, 11:13am

>113 MissWatson: Yes, I've decided I really do love both Elizabeth von Arnim and E. H. Young, so it was worthwhile.
I might do a similar thing later this year for 1950-2000. I rarely read books from this time frame, especially 1950-1990, so I need a "push" to do so. But I think it will be scaled down, for sure.
And first up in June: Trollope! Like coming home... :)

115NinieB
jun 4, 11:32am

>114 kac522: I was thinking of doing 1950-2000 as well! We should try to pick the same month.

I have a whole stack of Trollopes waiting to be read!

116kac522
jun 4, 1:06pm

>115 NinieB: I was thinking September, and perhaps 5 books--1 per decade. We'll see.

Also that book by Birgit Kamper (PhD thesis, seems like) about Oliphant's Carlingford series arrived yesterday for me from Interlibrary Loan. I only get it for 3 weeks, so I may start soon. It seems a thorough review of the literature about her work. I also plan to read Salem Chapel this month, getting a head start on Liz's group read.

117NinieB
jun 4, 4:30pm

>116 kac522: We are thinking alike! September sounds good. I was thinking just possibly doing decades during Victober as well.

118pamelad
Redigerat: jun 4, 4:50pm

>111 kac522: Thank you for suggesting this challenge, which led me to some very good books. I've also added William to my wish list.

>112 kac522: Wishing you a speedy recovery and a month of good reading.

>113 MissWatson:, >114 kac522:, >115 NinieB: I am also thinking of doing something similar for the remaining decades of the 20th Century, but might start sooner.

119kac522
jun 4, 5:48pm

>117 NinieB: September it is! I'll probably start planning in August. I wanted to leave July open for JA July and August for All Virago.

As to Victober, I have so many books I want to get to, that I would feel hemmed in by decades. For example, this IS going to be the year I read my last Dickens The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Plus I have a few other "must get to", and some non-fiction about the Victorian era.

>118 pamelad: I really loved William; I'm impatient to read the next E. H. Young, but it may have to wait a month or two (maybe All Virago August)!

And thanks for the well-wishes; just a little sore, but everything's healing nicely.

By all means, go for it on the later decades! I don't have the same enthusiasm for those years, so September will give me time to plan books that I really want to read. I think anything we do to help get those unread books off the shelves should be used to the max!

120MissWatson
jun 5, 11:17am

>116 kac522: Let us know what you think of Kemper's book!
>117 NinieB: September is tempting...

121kac522
Redigerat: jun 5, 1:00pm

>120 MissWatson: I might post a few things from Kamper as I come across them to the Doctor's Family thread. Most useful is that she has put together a lot of information from other sources. I thought this mention from an article by Harriet Waters Preston, published in 1885, was interesting:

Preston compares the literary merits of Anthony Trollope and Margaret Oliphant and contends that the former "will live, for a time at least, because he has left behind him so truthful a picture of the outer life of his generation -- its manners and customs and fashions of speech and attire; the latter, because she has delineated no less accurately its perplexed and difficult interior life" (from "Mrs Oliphant", Preston, 1885).

122kac522
jun 5, 1:03pm

I am such a sucker for Trollope; have just started The Belton Estate and can't put it down....

123NinieB
jun 5, 2:05pm

>121 kac522: I'm looking forward to your posts. I've been holding off because I don't have any particular date I need to read her by, and I'd like to read at least one more novel before I start.

124MissWatson
jun 6, 5:31am

>121 kac522: I'm looking forward to it!

125kac522
Redigerat: jun 18, 4:40pm

It's Jane Austen July on booktube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScOkULZa3vw and the Goodreads discussion:
https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/976576-jane-austen-july-2021

(I've only participated in GR for these booktube challenges--too many ads to seriously use it for recording books)

Here are the Challenges, and what I'm planning to read:

1. Read one of Jane Austen’s six novels
I'll be reading Northanger Abbey: An Annotated Edition; I plan to read the annotations while I'm listening to the audio read by Juliet Stevenson. NA is not new to me, but I haven't read this edition, with annotations by Susan J. Wolfson.

2. Read something by Jane Austen that is not one of her main six novels
I'll be (re-)listening to Lady Susan on audiobook.

3. Read a non-fiction work about Jane Austen or her time
My selection is Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels by Deirdre Le Faye

4. Read a retelling of a Jane Austen book
Ladies of the House by Lauren Edmondson--I may read this ahead of time in June. Although not a true continuation of a novel, I may read Miss Austen by Gill Hornby, too.

5. Read a book by a contemporary of Jane Austen
Probably Evelina by Fanny Burney--it will go well with Northanger Abbey, as some of her works are mentioned in NA.

6. Watch a direct screen adaptation of a Jane Austen book
Definitely time for a re-watch of 1995 P&P; I may watch Love & Friendship, too.

7. Watch a modern screen adaptation of a Jane Austen book
Probably Bridget Jones's Diary--haven't watched that in a long time.

Looking forward to a lovely JA July!

126christina_reads
jun 18, 5:14pm

>125 kac522: This all sounds amazing, and I may join you! Also, "Love and Friendship" is a delight!

127kac522
jun 18, 10:04pm

>126 christina_reads: It is a delight--I should have said "re-watch", as I even own a copy, that has had multiple viewings!

128NinieB
jun 19, 12:05am

>125 kac522: I'm planning to read Lady Susan as well! And I already have checked out Mansfield Park: An Annotated Edition from the library in preparation for July.

129rabbitprincess
jun 19, 9:24am

Love and Friendship was so funny! I went to see it at our local indie cinema in the Before Times and that added to the fun, a nice cosy theatre :)

130kac522
jun 19, 12:54pm

>128 NinieB: Yes, I read that annotated edition last year and I especially appreciated the introduction by Lynch. I had never looked at Mansfield Park from the perspectives that she provides, and it made a big difference in how I view the book.

>129 rabbitprincess: Yep, I saw it with my sister and loved it, so when I saw a copy on sale at a library sale, I was ecstatic!

131fuzzi
jun 21, 6:15pm

>125 kac522: Colin Firth... :sigh:

132kac522
Redigerat: jun 21, 8:09pm

>131 fuzzi: Like I need an excuse to watch him again....

133fuzzi
jun 22, 9:40am

>132 kac522: Colin...and Sam Elliott... :sigh:

134kac522
jul 1, 10:21am

Some mid-year stats:

Books read: 61
"Roots" read: 40
Library books: 20
ebooks: 1
Audiobooks: 5
Re-reads (in all formats): 13

Male authors: 18
Female authors: 42
Multiple authors: 1

Fiction: 47
Non-fiction: 12
Play: 1
Poetry: 1

Breakdown by centuries:

17th c.: 1
19th c.: 17
20th c.: 34
21st c.: 9

135kac522
Redigerat: jul 1, 10:23am

Favorite reads so far in 2021:

Fiction:

Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens (audiobook, read by Simon Vance); re-read
Miss Mackenzie, Anthony Trollope
The Crowded Street, Winifred Holtby
William, E. H. Young
Cousin Phillis, Elizabeth Gaskell

Non-fiction:

Look Back With Love: a Manchester Childhood, Dodie Smith (memoir)
His Excellency: George Washington, Joseph Ellis
My Own Words, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (audiobook)

136kac522
jul 2, 5:14pm

MAY: Catching up. I have a couple of books I read in May that weren't part of the 1900-1950 Challenge, so we'll start there. They were both re-reads:


47. The Doctor's Family and Other Stories, Margaret Oliphant
Year Published: 1861
Type: fiction; short stories/novella
Acquired: paperback from CPL;
Project: Virago chronological read with Liz; re-read

I enjoyed these stories even more this second reading. Our discussion really helped with my appreciation of Oliphant. I'm committed to finishing the entire Carlingford series.


48. Silas Marner, by George Eliot
Year Published: 1861
Type: fiction
Acquired: audiobook, read by Margaret Hilton; re-read
Project: my Eliot Project; Classics Challenge

This was as good as I remember--the audiobook added to the "fable" quality. I'm trying hard to read as much Eliot as I can this year, and I'm slowly making my way through a biography by Jenny Uglow as I read each novel in order.

137kac522
jul 2, 5:15pm

June Reading, part 1

Most of my reading this month was Victorian for the BAC June Challenge.


49. Tiny Tales, Alexander McCall Smith
Year Published: 2021
Type: fiction tales
Acquired: hardcover from CPL

Short and sweet tales with cartoons to start the month.


50. The Belton Estate, Anthony Trollope
Year Published: 1866
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my shelves, Root from 2016
Project: my Trollope Challenge, BAC June

This is relatively short (for Trollope) and is the story of Clara Amedroz, in her mid-twenties, who must choose between two suitors. Interestingly there is a will and inheritance involved, but 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. But Clara is a bit proud and wants no part of "charity", and several times complains that if she were a man, she would be allowed to earn her own living.

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.


51. Farewell to Fairacre, Miss Read
Year Published: 1993
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my TBR; Root from 2017
Project: my Miss Read Project

Miss Read decides it's time to retire, and I think she does so with sense, grace and humor.


52. The Romance of a Shop, Amy Levy
Year Published: 1888
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from CPL--novel included in Complete Novels and Selected Writings of Amy Levy
Project: BAC June; Classics Challenge

Amy Levy (1861-1889) was born in London to a Reform Jewish family. She was the first Jewish woman at Cambridge and one of the first women to attend Newnham College, Cambridge. She wrote 3 short novels, many poems and published essays in various periodicals, including Oscar Wilde's magazine "The Woman's World." Levy suffered from depression and increasing deafness, and died by suicide just before her 28th birthday.

The Romance of a Shop centers around 4 sisters, ages 17-30, who are left with next to nothing to live on after their father's death. Two of the sisters have experience in the new technology of photography, and the sisters decide to open a photography shop in London to support themselves. The eldest sister keeps house and cares for the frail and sickly youngest sister, while the 2 middle sisters run the business. The novel, mostly told from middle sister Gertrude's point of view, explores the very practical struggles and prejudices they face as young women pursuing an independent living. The sisters lose many friends as they "lower" their social status to become shop owners and flaunt conventions for young women. Along the way they keep a few loyal friends, acquire new supporters and meet various men, both good and not-so-good, who enter their lives.

I enjoyed this book until about the last quarter of the novel, when Levy rather melodramatically ties up the ends of the 4 sisters' lives. Overall I am very glad I read this novel, which gives a glimpse of the very real challenges young women faced in the Victorian era to support themselves and be free from dependence on men.

I plan to read her other major novel, Reuben Sachs during Victober.


53. Shirley, Charlotte Bronte
Year Published: 1849
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my shelves; Root from 2015
Project: my Bronte Project; Classics Challenge; BAC June

This started out so promising, but ended up being just good, and not great. It will never, ever be as good as Jane Eyre for me. It's set in 1811-12 Yorkshire, and there's a fair amount of discussion of Napoleonic era politics, war and religion--certainly more than any other Bronte novel I've read. However, there is still a very clear class distinction. Although it involves factories and workers, only 1 worker is even faintly portrayed, and the struggles between workers and masters is nothing compared to Gaskell's North and South. I liked Caroline's story so much more than Shirley's story. And the hundreds of literary and biblical references and narration language made it less accessible. There are some protests at women's ability to be useful and do something of worth, but it never clearly works out. In her own way, even Jane Eyre took more initiative than either Caroline or Shirley.

With this book, I've finished my Bronte Project: reading all of the major novels of the Bronte sisters.


54. Margaret Oliphant's Carlingford Series, Birgit Kamper
Year Published: 2001
Type: nonfiction, literary criticism, PhD thesis
Acquired: Interlibrary loan through Chicago Public Library

This is a PhD thesis, so not particularly readable. It was organized by themes: how Oliphant handles religion, class and gender in her Carlingford series. I skimmed about half because it contained lots of examples (i.e., spoilers) from the books which I have not yet read. It's very exhaustive, but best to read after completing the series. Overall it did give me a better understanding of Oliphant, and the notes I made will be helpful as I move through the series...see my next book....


55. Salem Chapel, Margaret Oliphant
Year Published: 1863
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my shelves; Root from 2017
Project: Virago reads; BAC June

Salem Chapel is the 4th installment (after 3 stories) in her Carlingford Chronicles, which has been compared to Trollope's Barsetshire series. It focuses on small town life in the city of Carlingford, loosely based on the real town of Birkenhead. In Salem Chapel we follow Arthur Vincent, recently graduated from theological school, who has come to Carlingford to be minister at Salem Chapel, a Dissenter congregation. We meet the many middle-class congregants, mostly shopkeepers, and how their realistic expectations of a minister differ from Mr Vincent's idealistic expectations of his role. Unfortunately for me, Oliphant sneaks in a "sensation" plot, complete with abduction, attempted murder, and mad dashes on trains across England. I became exasperated with Arthur, but I loved his mother, Mrs Vincent, who seems to have the most sense and good nature of anyone in the book.

Much of what Kamper talks about in her PhD thesis is on display in Salem Chapel. For me, Oliphant is at her best when describing all the members of the community, their homes, their shops, their manners, their speech, their dress and how they fit into this middle-class society. I plan to continue with the series and I'm hoping the rest of the books (3 more) will be more focused on the people and their relationships, and less on wild sensational plot twists.

138kac522
jul 2, 6:00pm

June Reading, part 2


56. Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
Year Published: 1951
Type: fiction
Acquired: paperback from my shelves; Root from before 1980; re-read
Project: Read for my real-life Book Club

I read this in high school (on my own--not for class) more than 50 years ago, and didn't like it much except for the parts with sister Phoebe at the end. Liked it even less this time. Holden is just insufferable and I don't feel sorry for him one bit. Even his kindness toward sister Phoebe at the end doesn't make up for the 250+ pages of crap before.


57. Cousin Phillis and Other Tales, Elizabeth Gaskell
Year Published: 186e
Type: fiction; novella/short story
Acquired: paperback from my shelves, Root from 2017
Project: BAC June; Classics Challenge

I only read "Cousin Phillis" from this collection, but it was memorable. It is a bittersweet tale, set in pastoral 1840s. Paul Manning, the narrator, begins his first job away from home building new railroads and visits his farming relations, the Holmans, who live in the area. Phillis, 16, and Paul become good friends; Phillis is a book-reader in contrast to Paul's engineering expertise, but she is unusual because she, like her father, shows great interest in the railroads as well. Paul brings his world-savvy co-worker Mr Holdsworth to visit the family and Phillis is smitten. The story is a coming of age for Paul, for Phillis and for her parents. It is about a simple life that will be forever changed--by railroads, by technology and by relationships. This is the last full work Gaskell wrote before Wives and Daughters. A lot packed into 95 pages. I hope to read the rest of the stories very soon.


58. Mrs Robinson's Disgrace, Kate Summerscale
Year Published: 2012
Type: nonfiction, biography, social history
Acquired: hardcover from my TBR; Root from 2019
Project: supplement to BAC June

I was hoping that a 21st century look at divorce in the 19th century would provide some new insight. Unfortunately I found this book fell short. Mrs. Robinson kept a diary for many years, recording all of her thoughts and movements, which her husband discovered. He sued for divorce in 1858, based on her alleged adultery, only months after Britain had passed a new Divorce Act, making it somewhat easier (for men) to file for divorce.

Summerscale goes into great detail--in fact, detail about people and events that are only marginally involved with the case--yet, she provides no analysis, no overall summary nor any historical context for the impact of the case, one of the first of its type in Britain. I was expecting some illumination, but essentially this is just a regurgitation of letters, court documents, diary entries and some newspaper accounts. Disappointing....it could have been so much more. I should say that many reviewers on LT liked this book, so I am an outlier on this...perhaps it was my unrealistic expectations of some broader meaning and context.


59. A Child's Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson, with illustrations by Jessie Wilcox Smith
Year Published: 1888 (verses), 1905 (illustrations)
Type: children's poetry
Acquired: hardcover from my shelves; Root from before 2009
Project: BAC June; Classics Challenge

I remember many of these from childhood; the original edition with Jesse Willcox Smith's superb illustrations was published in 1905. My favorite is:





60. The Lifted Veil and Brother Jacob, George Eliot
Year Published: 1859 and 1864
Type: fiction, short stories/novella
Acquired: paperback from my shelves; Root from 2014
Project: my Eliot; Classics Challenge; BAC June

Two stories by George Eliot: both stories are about truth. In "The Lifted Veil" (1859), 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. In the light-hearted "Brother Jacob" (1864) a man fakes his disappearance, but eventually the "truth" is revealed and he pays the consequences. These were re-reads and I enjoyed them both, as I move along in my reading of Eliot in 2021.


61. Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens; audiobook read by Simon Vance
Year Published: 1865
Type: fiction
Acquired: audiobook from CPL; re-read via audio book
Projects: my Dickens Project; BAC June

I read the physical book 8 years ago and was a bit confused with all the characters and sub-plots. Mostly all I remembered was creepy Bradley Headstone. With the basic story in the deep recesses of my memory as a guide, after this listening I had a much clearer understanding of where Dickens was going with all the various plots. His jabs at "society" and the Poor Laws are things to be remembered. Two characters, Eugene Wrayburn and Bella Wilfer, show an amazing gradual change in character, which Dickens accomplishes so well here. All the various threads came together this time for me. I've come to the conclusion that I need a minimum of two readings of a Dickens' novel to pull all the pieces together and appreciate what he's trying to do. This won't be my favorite Dickens, but it is probably among my top 5.

139pamelad
jul 2, 6:12pm

>137 kac522: Thank you for the Trollope recommendation. I've downloaded The Belton Estate. Adding The Romance of a Shop to the wish list because I enjoyed Reuben Sachs.

Loved the Carlingford series, particularly Miss Marjoribanks.

140kac522
jul 2, 7:07pm

>139 pamelad: Well, I am such a sucker for Trollope--I am trying to read all the single novels in order (I've read the Barsetshire and Palliser series). I've still got about 20 novels to go, I think. Next up for me is Nina Balatka, which is one of the books he initially published as a serial and anonymously.

I look forward to Reuben Sachs--found a copy of it at a library sale, so I don't have keep renewing the library copy.

Good to hear you liked the series--as I mentioned, I was ready to give up on Arthur in Salem Chapel, but I did like the earlier short stories so much that I'm ready to roll with the next one.

141kac522
Redigerat: jul 5, 1:21am

Lots of potential reading for July:

for JaneAusten July:
✓--Miss Austen, Gill Hornby
--Northanger Abbey: an Annotated edition, JA
--Lady Susan, JA, on audiobook
--Jane Austen: the world of her novels, Deirdre LeFaye
--possibly Evelina by Fanny Burney or Waverley by Sir Walter Scott

and other books for challenges, etc.:
--The Struggles of Brown, Jones and Robinson, Trollope; for Liz's group read
--Pianos and Flowers, Alexander McCall Smith, just because it was on the library's new books shelf
--The Dictionary of Lost Words, Pip Williams
--The Artful Dickens, John Mullan
--Solitary Summer, Elizabeth von Arnim (July RandomCAT)
--The Railway Children, E. M. Nesbit (July BAC)
✓--A Peaceful Retirement, Miss Read
--London: a History, by A. N. Wilson; July 75ers Nonfiction Challenge
--Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel; for my RL book club (re-read)

and very maybe one or two of these:
--The Mill on the Floss, George Eliot (re-read)
--A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens (re-read)
--To Serve Them all My Days, R. L. Delderfield (July BAC)
--Witness for the Prosecution and other stories, Agatha Christie

142rabbitprincess
jul 3, 7:47am

Lots of choices for July! Evelina is one of those books I keep meaning to read but never get around to.

143MissWatson
jul 3, 10:49am

>137 kac522: Thanks for the heads-up about Salem Chapel!

144kac522
jul 3, 12:36pm

>142 rabbitprincess: Me, too--and I've read her other 3 major novels: Camilla, Cecilia and The Wanderer, so I guess I'm overdue for the most famous one. But I'm not sure it's going to be this month, the more I look at the list I've made for myself.

>143 MissWatson: I would say the first third and the last third of Salem Chapel were the best sections. The sensation plot takes over the middle third, and gets resolved in the last third. Oliphant really excels at the "small-town" feel of Carlingford and the minister's interactions (or lack thereof) with the community. From what I read in Kamper, I don't think any of the other books fall into sensation mode as strongly as this book does.

145kac522
jul 7, 4:36pm

Just reviewing my Classics Challenge in >4 kac522: and I have two challenges that are unmet:

7. A classic travel or journey narrative
and
11. A classic that scares you

I have several ideas for the "scary" classics--Evelina, Romola, The Count of Monte Cristo,Waverley and anything by Dostoyevsky. I have a few more in mind, including a re-read of War and Peace.

I'm completely unsure about the travel narrative--I have Gulliver's Travels on the shelf, but that could count for a classic that scares you 😧

If anyone has a classic travel/journey narrative that they would like to recommend, I'll take any and all suggestions. Anything but The Hobbit--not for me--I tried and failed at that.

146christina_reads
jul 7, 4:48pm

>145 kac522: I really loved The Count of Monte Cristo, if that helps -- it's massive, but I found it a page-turner!

A few ideas for travel narratives:
- There's always The Odyssey!
- Jules Verne, Around the World in Eighty Days
- Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (does leisurely floating along a river count?)

147pamelad
Redigerat: jul 7, 5:02pm

Posted twice - don't know how it happened.

148pamelad
Redigerat: jul 7, 5:10pm

The Road to Oxiana by Robert Burton, published in 1933, covers the author's journey to Persia and Afghanistan looking at Islamic architecture, and is much more entertaining than you would imagine.

I really enjoyed Ella Maillart's Forbidden Journey. In 1935 she travelled from Peking to Kashmir with Peter Fleming, who wrote News from Tartary about the same expedition.

I am planning to read The Desert Road to Turkestan by Owen Lattimore.

Graham Greene's Travels with My Aunt; Rose Macaulay's The Towers of Trebizond.

Perhaps The Castle by Franz Kafka?

Memories: from Moscow to the Black Sea describes Teffi's journey from Russia into exile after the revolution.

149NinieB
jul 7, 5:31pm

>148 pamelad: Agreed, The Road to Oxiana is quite good.

150kac522
Redigerat: jul 9, 1:56am

>146 christina_reads: Well, good to know about The Count--one of these days...

I have read both The Odyssey (probably not again) and Three Men in a Boat (loved it--would read again & again!), but I think this challenge requires a "new" book to me.
Haven't read Jules Verne, will put it on the list of possibles, along with Gulliver. Thanks!

>149 NinieB:, >150 kac522: Thanks for all the suggestions! I think I'm going to stay away from the desert and heat books right now--I don't tolerate heat in the best of times, and we had some very hot stretches last month.

But I can say that The Road to Oxiana and particularly Forbidden Journey do appeal. I actually have The Castle somewhere around here, but not sure it actually fits the challenge.

What's good is that linking on LT to the travel books you've mentioned brought me to the LT Lists page, where I found "Best Travel Narratives", and where I found the classic Thoreau book A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. I think it's a pre-cursor to Walden and manages to combine traveling, philosophy and nice cooling rivers to boot.

So I think I'm going with Thoreau as my book for now, but will keep the others on the Wishlist. Thank you!

151pamelad
jul 9, 2:07am

The Castle is a journey of sorts. Will the land surveyor ever get there? (Making it qualify in case I decide to read it.)

Enjoy the Thoreau.

152NinieB
jul 9, 8:08am

>150 kac522: Yes, enjoy the Thoreau!

I just remembered another classic travel narrative that I liked, which I'm mentioning here for the benefit of anyone else who's interested--A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush is quite funny and adventurous.

153kac522
jul 9, 11:43am

>151 pamelad: I think the challenge is pretty open, so whatever works for you!
>152 NinieB: I saw that Newby book on the travel lists, so good to have a recommendation, especially with humor.