My Classic Book Selections

Back to the Classics 2018

Yesterday, I mentioned a rewarding goal of reading 12 classics next year. I’ve made my tentative list, following Karen’s categories outlined at her blog, whilst digging through my shelves. You can click on the photo above for more particulars. I’m excited about this list and looking forward to the challenge. I know I’ll read other stuff also, but will need to begin a few of these right away to give myself enough time to digest and savor. Mostly, Les Misérables because of the sheer size of it. I’m not very good at finishing long novels and this one is immense. I’m really anticipating it , as I’ve long desired to experience this classic. My copy of Larkrise to Candleford is huge also, because it’s really three books in one, but I’m going to attempt the whole thing. Without further ado, here is my 2018 goal:

19th Century Classic – Adam Bede by George Elliot*

20th Century Classic –  Larkrise to Candleford: A Trilogy by Flora Thompson*

A Classic by a Woman Author – The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp*

A Classic in Translation – The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

A Children’s Classic – The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf* 

A Classic Crime Story, fiction or non-fiction – And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie*

A Classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction – Seven League Boots by Richard Halliburton*

A Classic with a single-word title – Mother by Kathleen Norris*

A classic with a color in the title – The Golden Apples of the Sun by Ray Bradbury

A classic by an author that’s new to you – East of Eden by John Steinbeck*

A classic that scares you – Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Re-read a favorite classic – Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien* and/or Mansfield Park by Jane Austen*

 

*Asterisk denotes those that I already have on my shelf.

Have you read any of these? Which of these intrigues you?

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Old Classics for the New Year

Back to the Classics 2018

Thinking ahead to 2018 yet? Not me, really. I have a whole load of holiday parties and festivities to enjoy yet, and I’m trying to slow down and savor it all. I’m actually holding December tight by the shirt as it’s slipping away all too fast.  However, books I can think about. Books, I can look forward to with delight. A few years ago, on a different blog, I participated in this challenge (click photo for details), and I’m looking forward to again.  The prize is nice, but the real prize is the stretching of my mind and the community with other classic book admirers. I’d love to challenge myself to read ones on my shelf currently.

I’m working on my list and will be back soon with it! 12 classics (need to have been published at least 50 years ago). Have any suggestions for me?

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Christmas-y, Winter-y Reading

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John William Waterhouse – “The Annunciation”, 1914 {Google}

Oh, ’tis the season for a good book. Well, it’s always the season for that, but it’s delightful thing to pick up something related to winter and Christmas. I’ve been inspired by reading other’s Christmas reading.  This list isn’t exhaustive, but I’ve just named a few in each area that we’ve enjoyed or are enjoying currently.

For the Family, our past favorite chapter books:

 

{Goodreads, Google}

The Christmas Stove by Alta Halverson Seymour -We are currently reading another Christmas story of hers and loving it. These are set around the world and The Christmas Stove is set in Switzerland.

On That Night by Elizabeth Yates – this book fostered many good discussions and I hope to reread it again another year. Lovely, heart-probing story.

Winter Cottage by Carol Ryrie Brink – a lovely story from the author of Caddie Woodlawn, another favorite title of ours. A family struggling during the Depression, end up staying in someone’s summer cottage. A heart-warming tale set in winter-y Wisconsin.

Currently, we are reading two new tales to us, and are really enjoying them:

 

{Goodreads, Google}

The Wonderful Winter by Marchette Chute – don’t let that cover fool you! We found an older copy of this lovely story. An orphaned boy runs away to London and spends his best winter ever with an acting troupe! We haven’t finished this, but the writing is GORGEOUS.

I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge – I’ve been wanting to read this story for years and now we are finally getting to it. Polly lives with her poor aunts and is hoping for a Christmas surprise. Charming story surrounding the Christmas carol of the same name. I am a huge Goudge fan, so I’m delighted with this!

For myself to enjoy, I was trying to remember ones that I have really loved over the years:

 

{Goodreads}

A Christmas Book by Elizabeth Goudge (not pictured) – I fondly remember this book from years ago and hope to revisit it in the future. A collection of stories from her previous novels, centering around Christmas, and a few new stories, make for a charming read by the tree, sipping hot chocolate.

Winter in Thrush Green by Miss Read – I’m a huge Miss Read fan, albeit I haven’t read much of hers recently and need to remedy that! I enjoyed this story, Miss Read is so good at cozy stories centered in little villages and you can’t help fall in love with what’s happening in the villager’s lives  and the subtle humor throughout.

Martha’s Vineyard: Isle of Dreams by Susan Branch – this may be a bit too sad for the feeling of the season, but I adored this memoir. Filled with Susan’s delightful illustrations, she shares how she pursued her dreams of drawing & painting, finding a darling little home of her dreams, helping her heal and work through a hard divorce.

Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen – I read this with my children and was deeply moved. This is a good title for deep winter, angling into spring. A little family decides to move to a small cabin they’ve inherited that is filled with great summer vacation memories. Dad is suffering from PTSD from the war and it hasn’t been an easy time as a family. This is written so beautifully and surprising wisdom and beauty sneak up on you all the time. I hope to reread this later in winter.

Honorable mention: Jane Austen’s 6 novels often make it into my winter reading rotation. My favorites, currently are, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Pride & Prejudice.

We also enjoy many different pictures books and devotional type readings together, but I’ll stop for now. How ’bout you? What titles have you enjoyed during the winter season?

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November Reads

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Hey, fellow Bibliophiles! There went November. What did you finish reading this past month? I’d love to hear!

I’m Half Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley (***) – This is the fourth in the Flavia de Luce series and we find Flavia at Christmas time putting up with a big surprise from her father. They are in financial trouble and he hires out their historic home to a film company. Flavia, of course, always has something up her sleeve, and this time is no different, as she hatches a plan to trap Santa. After a famous actress is found dead, she is on the case. I found this book a bit  predictable with a heavy dose of cheesiness.

Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom by Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart (*) – This book rubbed me the wrong way. You’ve been warned.  Spoiler alert and long review/rant here if you are interested.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (*****) –  Magic realism fascinates me, but I suspect with this one, I really just love the story of justice for the little boy who’s family is murdered. The quintessential battle between “good” (as good as dead people in a graveyard can be) and “evil”. The creepy, fantastical elements make for just a simply good story to me. I really love the relationship with one of the graveyard characters, Silas and the boy, Nobody Owens. I think there is some metaphor here maybe, deeper things, but I just see it as a good story.

Ourselves by Charlotte M. Mason (*****) – This might actually be my favorite so far (I haven’t finished Formation), of Charlotte Mason’s works. I can’t articulate why yet, still mulling over it, but I absolutely loved it. I especially found Book 2 to be challenging and beautiful!

Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage by Madeleine L’Engle (*****) – I can’t tell you how much I loved this book. Madeleine looks back over life, marriage, parenting, and the creative life while walking through her husband Hugh’s cancer diagnosis. Such a beautiful look at life through the lens of faith. I don’t agree with L’Engle on all elements of faith, but her refreshing outlook on God’s character really blessed me. 

The Lighted Heart by Elizabeth Yates (*****) – Elizabeth Yates is probably best known as the author of Amos Fortune, Free Man, although she has written many other beautiful stories. In this lovely memoir, she walks us through her life with her husband Bill as he is going blind. I just love how she describes this from an outsider, yet close relation to someone struggling and how she tries to understand what he is going through. A beautiful story of how different a life of hardship can be if you choose the path of beauty and don’t shut out others, life, and the world around you. So very challenging and heart-warming.

Take Your Characters to Dinner: Creating the Illusion of Reality in Fiction: A Creative Writing Course by Laurel Yourke (****) – A sweet, online friend mailed this to me as a surprise! I savored it slowly and found this to be a fun way to learn how to write deep fictional characters. This is a book you can go back to over and over and work on small parts of it slowly. Very in-depth, detailed instruction on building believable people in your stories.

Dracula by Bram Stoker (****) – Over Halloween, the Bookstagram community (yes, that’s a thing) on Instagram, were digging into creepy classics, so I decided to try one. This is nothing like what you expect…no teen romances with vampires, or vampires struggling to be good and loving humans. (I haven’t read any modern vampire stories, just FYI) This is deep, creepy tale of good versus evil. Easy to read, engaging setting with gorgeous, haunting descriptions, much of this was written in the form of letters and journal entries between the main characters. I found myself tense and disturbed by the Professor and his friends having to find, track, and “kill” the un-dead, all victims of a centuries old vampire, Count Dracula. They then team up to end his generations of terror. Occasionally, I felt like parts were a bit redundant, like didn’t we just go through this exact situation, but overall, fascinating. Stoker’s use of vampire lore/legends was a bit “cheesy” at times, like garlic being a talisman against vampires etc. (An online friend mentioned that these might have originated WITH Stoker!) Overall, I found this adventurous and interesting.

On Writing: A Memoir of Craft by Stephen King (****) – Other then the excessive swearing and general crassness, I really enjoyed this book and felt like it was inspiring and practical. It wasn’t overly technical, which I appreciate. I’ve never read ANY of Mr. King’s fiction, just doesn’t seem like my cup of tea (he hates clichés, btw. Ha.), but I’m really glad I picked up this title. It makes me feel hopeful, encouraged, and gives me a place to start at with writing.

P.S. I found his attitude towards his wife refreshing and wonderful.

The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier (***) – Beautifully written, informative fictional story based on true people and events during the English Civil War. The immortality and lack of any redemptive characters was disappointing to me. Honor was intriguing, but I could never like her very much. Overall, I felt sad and disappointed at the end. A lot of the situations are probably what it WAS truly like but I was hoping for something a bit more hope-filled in the lives of the characters.

Thoughts Afield: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter by Harold E. Kohn (****) – This took me a very long time to get through because I wanted to read the sections in the corresponding season. These were beautiful short devotionals/essays touching on humanity, faith, and nature. For the most part, I found these just so gorgeous and lovely with bits of stark beauty jumping out. A few were a bit moralistic, but overall, I loved them. I see that Mr. Kohn has a large back list and I can’t wait to read more of his quiet essays and observations.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro (*****) – The beginning was slow, so it took me a bit to get into this title. For me, this story asked more questions then it answered about memories, age, time, and love. It was a subtle, surprisingly powerful read for me. I really think I’m probably missing a lot in it’s vague undertones, but I came away with much to think about and ponder. I really appreciated the approachable prose, it’s beautiful, yet simple. Yet the implication of what Ishiguro writes is complex. Can’t wait to read more by this author.

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright (***) – Christian fiction title that I’ve been anticipating. A longer review here if you are interested, a bit of a spoiler alert.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (*****) – The middle dragged a bit for me, but the story was wonderful and full of delicious book-lover’s dreams, characters coming alive, real power in reading out loud, writer’s ink bringing life to characters – my oldest and I really enjoyed reading this and talking about it! We are looking forward to the other two in the series.

The Holy Bible (*****) – Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. I just love those names, don’t you? I finished reading through for the year. However, I’ve started the Gospels again and read Matthew in November also.

Here are a few titles I forgot to include in other month recaps!

School Education by Charlotte M. Mason (*****) – I recently finished rereading this as part of my CM Book Study Group and it is so fantastic. Read here for an overview!

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner (**) – Spoiler Alert! Everything happens too fast (boom – a best friend, boom – a Christian, boom – love at first sight, boom – engaged & married. The End.) The story idea was an intriguing one, but just very little character development.

The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon (***) – A modern retelling of the story of Esther. I loved the setting, detailed and richly woven life with a Bedouin clan. I liked that the romance wasn’t just physical-attraction driven, character was important. However, the romance situation was hard to swallow. Overall, this was a light, interesting read.

Mr. Write (Sundaes for Breakfast #1) by Chelsea Hale (**) – The title (not to mention the cover art) should have clued me in, what can I say? This was very predictable, eye-rolling plot, annoying, inspirational romance.

 

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Happy Birthday, Lucy Maud Montgomery!

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{First editions of L.M.Montgomery books at her Uncle John and Aunt Annie’s home which she dubbed “Silverbush” and was her inspiration for the Pat of Silverbush books}

I was so excited to visit P.E.I, Canada with my husband this year and it was a dream. All because of this lady, Maud Montgomery. It’s funny how you idolize authors that you love as a child and when you dig deep into their lives, they often aren’t all gumdrops and rose petals. That is definitely the case for Maud. She had a rough life, but it some ways, that endears her to me even more. I see how she lived and survived through her trees, island, books, characters, and writing. She wrote into her characters the darkness of true life, yet she managed to spin a bit of magic around it all, giving light and hope.

I haven’t yet read all her books, but I’ve read a fair amount and almost always, I walk away enchanted, encouraged, and ready to look at life in a new way. My recent favorite is Jane of Lantern Hill. Thank you, Mrs. Montgomery for penning beauty and light for the world to share.

I wrote here more about her! And here a poem about the enchanting P.E.I. !

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Monday Ponderings {November 27th}

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Complaining takes energy, it is a brittle and hollowing force, not unlike anger or judgment. It does nothing to advance the human intellect and spirit, and therefore it is best saved for moments that are truly worth inflicting these wounds upon ourselves.

Ben Hewitt

Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting Off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World, p. 95

(Reminding myself of this truth today.)

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Dancing

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Dancing with them was the best thing that happened last Tuesday.

Curls flying. Laughter. Little, slippery hands in mine.

“Faster, Mommy!” Ella said, on her tippy-toes. We circle dance, meeting in the middle like a bunch of Celtic monks, flowing in and out. It doesn’t matter if the music doesn’t exactly match our dance moves or rather our lack there of.

Loreena McKinnett sings “The Highway Man”, a haunting poem by Alfred Noyes, remember Anne reciting it in front of an admiring Gilbert in the movie version of Anne of Avonlea? My reverie about poetry ending as three year old Ben stomps on my bare toes.

“Dance, Mommy!” he hollers, daring me to stop thinking, pay attention, and just keep dancing.

Giggling, spinning, chattering, and trying to sing the eclectic ballads swirling from the “Book of Secrets” CD.

Phoebe grins her toothlessness up at me, readjusting her iron-like grip. I keep going, huffing and puffing, trying not to accidentally trip and make an even bigger fool of myself.

Collapsing, we start talking all at once, even the non-dancing, by-standing critics. “Remember the ‘Charleston’, that Jimmy Stewart did over the swimming pool?” I throw out into the fray. “Mom, you mentioned maybe learning contra dance,” Annie adds. “Let’s look up circle dances on You Tube,” one enthusiast says, “And swing like from the Glenn Miller songs from the other day.”

Eyes rapt with amazement, we watch the beauty of dance, movement, swiftness, creative precision.

It begins again, inspired and intrigued, we badly “Charleston” around, hilariously attempt Highlander jigs, float like butterflies and, well, you get the picture. We pump up the music and just let go, following a cadence of joyful footsteps dancing away the ages.

So simple, the world to them.

Shining eyes, quick breath, smiles look up and over at me. Like I hung the moon specially for them. All from a simple dance together.

~

 

Gratitude List {One Hundred Bits by Thanksgiving} #9

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{continuing my gratitude list}

81. bananas and string cheese shared together

82. last few chapters of a good book, bittersweet

83. the ancient (alright, moldy) smell of old hard cover books

84. Lovely songs, poems, and bits of Shakespeare. We all love this CD!

85. Pilot G2 Extra Fine .05 Gel Pens…perfect scritch-y scratch-y noise when you write.

86. cinnamon and sugar toast

87. conifers, so cheerfully ever green, for the most part, anyway.

88. children crafting with recyclables

89. fluffy towels out of the dryer

90. Tacos on Tuesdays

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A Seed of Sympathy

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…she will point to some lovely flower flower or gracious tree, not only as a beautiful work, but a beautiful thought of God, in which we may believe He finds continual pleasure, and which He is pleased to see his human children rejoice in. Such a seed of sympathy with the Divine thought sown in the heart of the child is worth many of the sermons the man may listen to hereafter, much of the ‘divinity’ he may read.

Charlotte Mason

Home Education, p. 79-80

(this quote is talking about the mother (or father, of course), what may be her role as an interpreter between her child and Nature. Miss Mason cautions that this is an infrequent or occasional thing that the mother might do reverently,  probably because we can quickly become moralistic, preachy, and completely get in the way of God’s Creation and the child.  I found this to be such a beautiful passage and idea, that I couldn’t not share it!)

Gratitude List {One Hundred Bits by Thanksgiving} #6

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{continuing my gratitude list}

51. giving, giving, and giving more…coming to the end of myself, seeing the need of my Savior more than ever to carry me

52. library trips

53. listening to my 8 year old daughter talk, talk, talk

54. fluffy, hot, clean laundry from the dryer

55. poetry

56. Minestrone soup with thick-cut sausage, home made bread slathered with butter

57. early morning light reflecting off glass-glazed ice puddles

58. warm, woolen coats

59. new tights, cardigans, rich colors

60. Amish gentleman rollerblading by with his bow hunting gear slung over his shoulder, welcome to the “deep country”, I’m so thankful I live here

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Monday Ponderings {November 6th}

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IN ANY HOUSE

SAID one whose yoke

Was that of common folk,

Would that I were like Saint Caecilia,

And could invent some goodly instrument

Passing all yet contrived to worship Thee,

And send a love-song singing over land and sea.

 

But when I seem

Almost to touch my dream,

I hear a call, persistent though so small,

The which if I ignore, clamours about my door

And bids me run to meet some human need.

Meanwhile my dream drifts off like down of thistle seed.

 

A sound of gentle stillness stirred and said,

My child, be comforted,

Dear is the offering of melody,

But dearer far, love’s lowliest ministry.

 

Amy Carmichael, Towards Jerusalem, p. 26 (emphasis mine)

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