My lucky spin number is... 17!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

This is far overdue, but I have been on vacation and only just had the chance to report that for the next classics spin I will be reading Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. I am looking forward to it -- it's a book I know very little about but have always held in my head as one of the pinnacles of great literature. I read a Henry James for my first spin (The Wings of the Dove) and had a great experience despite the challenge. It's a chunker -- I am reading it on my Kindle but Wikipedia informs me it is 520 pages. I plan on reporting back to you October 7th about my experience.

Are you participating in the spin? What did you get?

Classics Club Meme #25

Thursday, August 07, 2014

I haven't done the Classics Club meme in a while (like, maybe more than a year) but I really liked this question.

What are your thoughts on adaptions of classics? Say mini-series or movies? Or maybe modern approaches? Are there any good ones? Is it better to read the book first? Or maybe just compare the book and an adaptation?

I love adaptations of classics. I love mini-series, and movies, and modern approaches. So, now that we have that out of the way... I will say, though, that I prefer to read the book first, not because the book is better, per se (it usually is, but not always), but because the book came first, if that makes sense. It is the original, and I like to start with what came first.

But... I love seeing a book in another medium (although I think it is important to recognize it is another medium, and not expect it to be a carbon copy of the book). And I love hearing the main thread of a story in a different setting, or time period, or so on. I like seeing how our most important stories evolve and change, making up a sort of mythology.

Some of my favorite on-screen adaptations of classics:

:: Pride and Prejudice (the one with Keira Knightly, don't stone me)
:: Sense and Sensibility (with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson)
:: Les Miserables the musical
:: The Last of the Mohicans (a rare case where the movie trumps the book)
:: Anne of Green Gables
:: Little Women
:: Gone with the Wind
:: East of Eden (with James Dean)
:: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
:: Emma (with Gwyneth Paltrow)
:: Clueless

Favorite Bookish Posts in July.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

I always post a list of links I loved each month on my personal blog, and thought it would be fun to do bookish posts on this blog. Here are some posts I loved in the month of July:

:: Staples for Baby's First Library.

:: Confessions of a Jane Austen addict.

:: How to read more.

:: More for Baby's First Library -- 5 great board books that are not Goodnight Moon

:: Failing at a book buying ban... it's a losing battle.

Classics Spin #7

Monday, August 04, 2014

It is time for the Classics Club Spin again! I love this challenge and the way it inspires me to read more challenging books from my TBR list. To play, make a list of 20 books before next Monday, August 11. On that day, a number will be chosen, and your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to read the selected book by October 6. No matter what, you win! :) (For more details, visit the Classics Club blog).

The event hosts suggest making a list with 5 books you can't wait to read, 5 books you dread, and so on, but I've just been recycling my lists from each spin and filling in the blanks of ones I have managed to read with the next books on my 50 classics list. So...

1. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
2. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
3. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
4. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
5. A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy
6. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
7. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
8. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
9. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
10. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
11. Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
12. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
13. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
14. Summer by Edith Wharton
15. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
16. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
17. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
18. Silas Marner by George Eliot
19. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
20. Elizabeth and her German Garden by Elizabeth van Arnim

Last week's reads

Monday, July 21, 2014

Last week's reads were a hodgepodge, as per my usual. If you read my other blog you know that I've been working on a Happiness Project, and many of my reading choices have been reflecting that project. (And one of them was for fun). On to the books!

The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

The Confidence Code explores, in a nutshell, why women tend to be less confident than men, particularly in the workplace. The authors explore biological, genetic, psychosocial, and cultural reasons, and find that they all play a part in the decreased self-assurance shown by women. They interview several powerful and accomplished women, and find that many of them still do lack confidence in some respects, but also go through ways that they have overcome this lack of confidence.

The book was very interesting, and I particularly enjoyed learning about the biological and genetic factors that go into confidence. It felt to me more like an informative book about the essence of confidence, rather than a how-to book of how to achieve greater confidence. While the book was interesting, I didn't find it particularly conclusive and felt it wound around the same point a fair bit, which is why it didn't rank higher than 3.5 stars. However, an interesting read, and just the fact that I was thinking more about my confidence, I feel, led me to act with more confidence myself. 

3.5 stars

Warnings: None

Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay and Charles Fay

This one came highly recommended by friends with well-behaved kids, so I definitely wanted to check it out. C. has rocketed into toddlerhood with a set of opinions and a propensity to scream in church, and I have been desperate for solutions. I found Love and Logic to have some pretty good ideas, although it definitely falls into the frightful trap of "if you don't follow everything we say to the letter, your child will end up in prison" that every parenting book has. While I haven't religiously adopted every technique or seen complete and utter success, I do think it is better than most. 

4 stars

Warnings: May get a bit cheesed out by some of the examples :)

Longing for Home by Sarah Eden

I have really been enjoying the books in the Proper Romance publishing imprint. Lately I have been craving some of the lighter, giddier style of books, and these books have it all without being lewd and making me uncomfortable. Longing for Home is the story of Katie, an Irish immigrant working in America during the time of the Great Famine. She travels across the country to work in a tiny town in Wyoming, only to find that the town is split apart by a great feud between the Irish and those who wish they would head back to their own country. Between her own dark secrets of the past and the turmoil around her, Katie has more than enough to deal with, but of course there are not one but two handsome strangers to further complicate the story. I found the plot enjoyable and at times unpredictable, especially in the matter of the love triangle. So often, the answer is obvious, but in Katie's case it is difficult to say, and there is a second book to further elaborate what her choice will be. My only issue was that the writing was at times circuitous and overly obvious. However, a romantic and at times intense story with a constantly twisting plot. 

3.75 stars

Warnings: Some violence

Women and the Priesthood by Sheri Dew

There was been a bit of turmoil among some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the last few years centering on the fact that only men hold the priesthood in the church. Sheri Dew's book goes into the doctrinal reasons behind this difference, and explains why women are essential to the priesthood and have full access to its power despite the fact that they do not officiate in its ordinances. I found this book to be well-written and so clear on the doctrine. It was beautiful and definitely increased both my faith and my understanding. 

5 stars

Warnings: None

Recent Reads

Monday, July 07, 2014

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

This classic of minimalism and simplicity was our book club choice this month -- and only two of us made it to the meeting. I think I know why. Despite the many amazing insights of Walden, it is a pretty dense book, and it takes some motivation to get through some of the detailed descriptions of the depth of the lake, the idiosyncrasies of the animals in the surrounding woods, etc. Still, I'm glad I finally read it, and it did cause me to think and learn some things.

3.5 stars

Warnings: None

Abigail Adams by Woody Holton

I love Abigail Adams. I discovered her as a role model when reading John Adams by David McCullough, which is infinitely more readable than this tome that focuses on Abigail. I enjoyed all the details of her life, but at times the style was rather dry. I also listened to it on Audible, and I don't think an audiobook was the right format for a biography of this style. In addition, at times the author chose to view Abigail's actions exclusively through the lens of feminism. While I do think Abigail was ahead of her time in women's rights and did many amazing things for women, I don't think her every action was performed with that sole intention, as the author sometimes implied. Still, an interesting look into an interesting life.

3.5 stars

Warnings: None

How She Does It by Anne Bogel

I love Ms. Bogel's blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy, and when I saw a post referencing this book and explaining Bogel's philosophy on women being able to manipulate the traditional work experience into something that works for motherhood, too, I was fascinated -- that is what I try to do everyday! I did find it encouraging, and found some good ideas; however, much of what was written wasn't relevant to me, because I can't work from home at this time. It also left me with the feeling that one can't be fulfilled if one is not working. This may very well be true for me, but I don't think it is true for everyone -- and I am planning on eventually seeing if I can be satisfied with stay-at-home-motherhood, once my working is not a necessity for my family. Still, an interesting read with a good perspective on working mothers.

3.5 stars

Warnings: None

The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

I am an Edith Wharton fangirl. The other two works that I have read by this author, The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence, captivated me and made me feel all the feelings. I had heard that The Custom of the Country was her masterpiece, and I had very high expectations for it. I won't say that those expectations were dashed, necessarily, but I did have a very different experience with Custom of the Country than I did with the other two Wharton books I have read. While neither of them could be classified as "happy endings," they left me satisfied, albeit sad. However, The Custom of the Country left me feeling somewhat dirty and weary. I think part of it is the fact that the main character, Undine, is so unlikable. I am not the type to discount a story because the heroine (or anti-heroine, as it were) is flawed. I love Gone With the Wind, the book I hear mentioned the most often for having an unlikable heroine. However, Undine is selfish, foolish, a home wrecker, a life-ruiner... I was so angry at her for most of the book, and so sad for the people whose lives she affected. I do think that Wharton's writing was incredible -- it certainly still made me feel the way her other books have -- but the things I was feeling were so miserable and frustrated that I couldn't enjoy her genius. I can't rate this book, because it is a masterpiece -- but I didn't enjoy it.

Warnings: Off the page adultery, dark thematic material (such as suicide)

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Classics

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Wow, it has been forever since I have done one of these Top Ten Tuesday posts (hosted by the great blog The Broke and the Bookish, as usual). Today's prompt is on favorite classics. I think the challenge for me will be narrowing it down to ten this week -- I love the classics.

1. East of Eden by John Steinbeck -- I think this one goes without saying -- my son is named after a character in this book. I love it because of John Steinbeck's amazing writing, the fascinating characters, and the powerful message that our lives are what we choose, not what destiny chooses for us.

2. Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery -- I love the simplicity and goodness of these eight books. I have read them so many times, at so many different phases of my life, and they never fail to touch and enlighten me.

3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott -- I feel similarly about Little Women as I do about Anne of Green Gables -- there is so much purity, simplicity, and wholesomeness in these books. I know they are not popular values, but I love them anyway.

4. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton -- Not a happy book, but the emotional gut-punch this left me with was so powerful even though it was so bittersweet.

5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo -- When a book is so much work to read, I always appreciate some kind of payback. Les Miserables definitely delivers that for me -- there is so much to think about, so much beauty (and ugliness) of the human spirit.

6. Emma by Jane Austen -- I love all of Austen's books, but I had to highlight this one because I never liked it growing up. However, when I reread it a few months ago, I fell in love with it, I think because I learned to see the humor in the title character. While she isn't perfect and is at times annoying, she really does have everyone's best interests at heart, and I loved seeing her grow (and laughing at her, good-naturedly of course).

7. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald -- And really all of his books (except The Beautiful and the Damned, which I haven't read yet). I think I like this for the same reasons I like The Age of Innocence -- I just feel so much when I read it (and the writing is beautiful in the most satisfying way).

8. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham -- I related to Philip so much it was ridiculous, down to having a club foot at birth. His constant career changes, going to Paris, eventually settling on a medical career -- I felt like I had a kindred spirit in this book.

9. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy -- Such a good adventure story and romance.

10. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas -- Again, all the adventure and romance.

What are your favorite classics?

Once Upon a Time Final Post

Friday, June 27, 2014

I never wrote my finishing-up post for Once Upon a Time VIII, which finished up on June 21st. I only ended up reading one book off my original list, but I did read five books (even more, actually), which was my goal. I always love this challenge and look forward to the second challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings in the fall!

1. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
2. The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke
3. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
4. 'Twixt Firelight and Water by Juliet Marillier
5. Prickle Moon by Juliet Marillier
6. Abhorsen by Garth Nix
7. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

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