Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday via The Broke and the Bookish:


Top ten books on my winter TBR:

I only know of eight, but that number may grow.  
Let's say winter is from December through March, 
then this is what I know for sure I plan to read.

Working my way through this epic novel, 
I will still be reading War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy.


My Antonia, by Willa Cather, 
will count toward my Willa Cather Reading Week project.


Meditations, by Rene Descartes, 
counts towards TWEM biographies.  
Wow! I haven't read Descartes since college.


Beowulf, translated by J.R.R. Tolkien, 
counts towards the Literary Movement Reading Challenge.


Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, by John Bunyan, 
counts towards both the Literary Movement Reading Challenge and TWEM biographies.


The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration, by Mary Rowlandson, 
counts towards TWEM biographies.


Confessions, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 
counts towards the Literary Movement Reading Challenge and TWEM biographies.


Finally, I always read this to my kids a week before Christmas:
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens;
and we own this copy illustrated by P.J. Lynch.
It's beautiful!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Willa Cather Reading Week, 2014

Heavenali is hosting a week of reading Willa Cather, beginning December 7th.

From her blog:
Willa Cather was born on December 7th 1873 and grew up in Virginia and Nebraska. She became known particularly for her novels of frontier life, featuring the Bohemian immigrants she had known growing up in Red Cloud, Nebraska, although the themes of her novels are not restricted to pioneer life. In 1922 she won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel set during the First World War – One of Ours.

Willa Cather is now certainly regarded as one of the great American writers, a writer I re-connected with a couple of years ago, and I am now trying to read everything she wrote. I have read several of her novels already, have another five sitting here waiting to be read, but as yet have not read any of her short stories. A reading week therefore is just what I need to focus on reading some Cather, and share my enthusiasm for her work. I would love to get lots of people reading her novels and stories, talking about her and sharing thoughts about her books on blogs.
Novels
• Alexander’s Bridge (1912)
• O Pioneers! (1913)
• The Song of the Lark (1915)
• My Ántonia (1918)
• One of Ours (1922)
• A Lost Lady (1923)
• The Professor’s House (1925)
• My Mortal Enemy (1926)
• Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927)
• Shadows on the Rock (1931)
• Lucy Gayheart (1935)
• Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940)

Collections

• April Twilights (1903, poetry)
• The Troll Garden (1905, short stories)
• Youth and the Bright Medusa (1920, short stories)
• Obscure Destinies (1932, three stories)
• Not Under Forty (1936, essays)
• The Old Beauty and Others (1948, three stories)
• Willa Cather: On Writing (1949, essays)
• Five Stories (1956, published by the Estate of Willa Cather)
• The Selected Letters of Willa Cather (published 2013)

Please feel free to tweet/talk about and share the event on your blogs and I’d love to know if you’re thinking of joining in. Several of her books are available from Project Gutenberg, so expenditure isn’t even necessary :)
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As for me, I will be reading My Ántonia.  I sure hope I can get through it in a week.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Book List for Literary Movement Reading Challenge 2015


Here is my PROPOSED book list for the Literary Movement Reading Challenge 2015.  I tried to choose books from my bookshelves and other on-going challenges.  I think I should be grateful to get through one title per period; however, I listed several in case I can read through more than one.  You never know.

January: Medieval(500 - 1500)
Beowulf, translated by J.R.R. Tolkien 

February: Renaissance (1500 - 1670)
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666), John Bunyan

March: Enlightenment (1700 - 1800)
Confessions (1769), by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

April: Romanticism (1798 - 1870)
The Last of the Mohicans (1826), by James Fenimore Cooper
Sense and Sensibility (pub. 1811), by Jane Austen

May: Transcendentalism (1830 - 1860)
Walden (pub. 1854), by Henry David Thoreau

June: Victorian (1837 - 1901)
Dracula (1897), by Bram Stoker
Bleak House (1852-53), Charles Dickens

July: Realism (1820 - 1920)
Life on the Mississippi (1883), by Mark Twain

August: Naturalism (1870 - 1920)
The Fortune (1871), by Emile Zola
East of Eden (pub. 1952), by John Steinbeck

September: Existentialism (1850 - )
The Metamorphosis (1912), by Franz Kafka
Notes From the Underground (1864), by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

October: Modernism (1910 - 1965)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1928), by Erich Maria Remarque
The Grapes of Wrath (1939), by John Steinbeck
The Sound and the Fury (pub. 1929), by William Faulkner

November: The Beat Generation or The Bloomsbury Group
A Room of One's Own (1928), by Virginia Woolf
Howard's End (1910), E.M. Forster

December: Post-Modernism (1965 - )
Catch-22 (1961), by Joseph Heller
In Cold Blood (pub. 1965), by Truman Capote

If you would like more info on this reading challenge, visit Fanda @ Fanda Classiclit.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fifty Classics Club Questions 2014

50 Classics Club Questions: 

  1. Link to Club LIST
  2. Joined?  March 2012  Read so far? 58 out of 75
  3. Currently reading? War and Peace, The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila, The Chronicles of Narnia (The Last Battle)
  4. Just finished and what did you think? Little Women (Loved it!)
  5. Reading next? Why? Meditations by Descartes (It's next on TWEM list.)
  6. Best read, and why? Gone With the Wind (It's epic!)
  7. Most anticipated?  The Great Gatsby, Little Women
  8. Avoiding? Why? I would have avoided Russian classics, but thanks to TWEM and The Classics Club, I could not.
  9. First classic ever read?  The Scarlet Letter, or The Old Man and the Sea, or The Red Badge of Courage?  (I was in fourth grade.)
  10. Toughest classic ever read? Great Expectations challenged me.
  11. Classic that inspired you? or scared you? made you cry? made you angry?  Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Portrait of a Lady; The House of Mirth, Gone With the Wind, Germinal, and Little Women
  12. Longest classic read?  War and Peace
  13. Oldest classic read?  Confessions by Augustine
  14. Biography on a classic author you most want to read? Too many.
  15. Classic EVERYONE should read? Why?  To Kill a Mockingbird for its message on humanity, truth, and forgiveness.
  16. Favorite edition of a classic you own, if any? n/a
  17. Favorite movie adaption of a classic? "Gone With the Wind," and "Pride and Prejudice" (2005)
  18. Classic you wish would be adapted to film. n/a
  19. Least favorite classic? Why? Heart of Darkness by Conrad (Well, at least it wasn't as bad as the film adaptation, Apocalypse Now.)
  20. Five authors you haven’t read and cannot wait to read.  Capote, Wilkie Collins, Victor Hugo, Virgil, and Homer (apprehensively)
  21. Title from above list that most excites you and why? Les Misérables (Obviously)
  22. Disliked on [second] read and tried again and respected, appreciated, and ended up loving? The Old Man and the Sea
  23. Classic character you can’t get out of your head? Right now? Natasha from War and Peace (I'm reading W&P every night.)
  24. Which classic character most reminds you of yourself? Scarlet O'Hara or Jo March
  25. Which classic character do you most wish you could be like? Maybe Mrs. March from Little Women, but I've tried wishing to be like someone else, yet I always end up being me.
  26. Which classic character reminds you of your best friend? Melanie from Gone With the Wind
  27. Which classic would you read an additional 500 pages?  Why?  Jane Eyre: I never wanted it to end; it had only begun when Jane and Mr. Rochester reconciled.  
  28. Favorite children’s classic? Little House on the Prairie (series)
  29. Who recommended your first classic? A teacher.  It was required reading in fourth grade.
  30. Whose advice do you always take when it comes to literature.  Jillian or Fanda or Cleo or Jean
  31. Favorite memory with a classic? Starting Moby Dick, summer 2012, while hanging out in the pool after thinking I would have never read MD in my entire lifetime.
  32. Read the most of? Dickens
  33. Most works on club list?  Dickens
  34. Own the most books by?  Laura Ingalls Wilder (10+), Dickens (6), and Austen, Twain, and Steinbeck (w/ 5)
  35. Classic title(s) not on original club list that were added since?  Almost my entire "Supplemental List"
  36. If you could explore one author’s literary career from first publication to last? Émile Zola
  37. Rereads are on your club list? Eight; Most looking forward to? Walden by Thoreau   
  38. Could not finish? Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  39. Classic title expected to dislike and ended up loving? Return of the Native by Hardy
  40. Next year looking forward to? Fanda's Literary Movement Reading Challenge, reading more classics from TWEM list and TBR list, and being available to join more reading challenges as they present themselves.  
  41. DEFINITELY GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year? Any Emile Zola
  42. NOT GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year? I have no excuse not to finish anything on my CC list b/c I only have about 17 books left.
  43. Favorite thing about being member of the Classics Club? Connections with other classic lit readers
  44. Fellow clubbers whose blogs you frequent. Why?  Some of my longtime favorites are  Behold the Stars, Classical Carousel, Fanda Classiclit, Howling Frog Books, Classical QuestRavens and Writing Desks, Exploring Classics; plus newfound clubbers are also on my blog roll in the sidebar.  (If you are on my blog roll, it is b/c you have a classic lit concentration and I love following your journey through classics.)  (P.S. If you aren't on my blog roll, and you have a classic lit focus, I just haven't found you, yet.  Let me know where I can find you!!!)
  45. Favorite post by fellow clubber? Can't decide.  So many!
  46. If you’ve ever participated in a read-along, tell about the experience?   Hamlette's (Edge of the Precipice) The Old Man and the Sea read-along; Didn't think I'd enjoy rereading TOMATS, but needed to read it again and discuss it w/ others to have a better perspective.
  47. Possible read-along you would participate in?  Why?  I am going to need encouragement getting through the Greek histories and plays on my WEM list.
  48. How long have you been reading classic literature?  As a serious lit student: since January 2012.
  49. A few posts that reveal a bit about your reading story.  "Experiencing the world through great literature," "A New Year: A New Expectation"
  50. Question you wish was on this questionnaire? After 49 questions, I'm good!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Little Woman, by Louisa May Alcott

I have been working on this post for a while, and I wonder if it will ever be complete.  This book was a long-anticipated read, and I finally enjoyed it.  It was an absolute breath of fresh air.  Alcott makes me long for simpler times.  (Well, maybe it wasn't simpler, but it felt that way.)

The plot covered all ranges of emotions: I laughed, cried, shouted in agreement, and joyfully underlined countless memorable and wise quotes.  All of the characters were believable and each portrayed most unique personalities that human beings can possess.  (I easily identified with Jo. Oh, yeah! That's me!)

I loved Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress theme woven throughout the story.  I also enjoyed the Pickwick Club newspaper and post office. (Mental note: What an excellent idea for a future home school year!)

Most of all, I was surprised by the presence of traditional roles of wives and mothers in such an exemplary light because I have not read much literature that esteems accustomed roles of women like Little Women does (or like The Little House series).  I had to ask a friend of mine if Alcott was mocking such traditions, and another told me she thought Alcott was being cynical.  I will need to do some research to understand better what her intentions were.

There is a chapter where Mrs. March instructs her newly married daughter Meg how to fix her marital situation because Meg had neglected both her husband and domestic duties.  My modernized worldview caused me to laugh and react: "Whoa! Feminist alert!
...that a woman's happiest kingdom is home, her highest honor the art of ruling is not as a queen, but a wise wife and mother.
But let us say Alcott was not mocking wives and mothers, then I believe that the author was effective in honoring the work of women in a gracious light, which is really pleasant because most literature I have read focuses on the helplessness of women, especially in these very roles.  And that is unfortunate because I do believe a woman's work as wife and mother is the most important matter in her life, in my radical opinion.  (This is coming from someone who hardly esteemed marriage or motherhood in her earlier years and still struggles in these roles today.  I don't even care for domestic work.  Blah!)



Anyway, after reading Little Women, I regretfully admit that I am dreadfully deficient as a wife and mother, especially in light of Mrs. March.  What a gracious, patient, self-composed woman!  What a teacher she is for her girls!  She is correct in her estimation of a woman's highest honor.  It is not lowly work.

Personally, these are the most challenging jobs I have ever had.  Sometimes I think a labor job or demanding career would have been better suited for me than to manage a home, raise up children, and be my husband's helpmate. My independent rebelliousness and introverted personality often get in the way, too.  If only I can be more like Mrs. March...or Caroline Ingalls (Laura Ingalls' mother). Women such as these put me to shame.  I could gain from their examples.

I think I need to reread Little Women in the future, and maybe do a lesson on being a wise wife and mother.  Of course, the Bible is always the best manual on how to do anything, so it is no wonder that Mrs. March is a perfect, genuine, and fulfilling example of a Christian wife and mother.  I just hope that Alcott intended to portray her that way.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Story of the Grail and the Passing of Arthur, by Howard Pyle



This is going to be a super quick post.  I have completed my Arthurian Lit Reading Challenge via Howling Frog Books.  This title was the last of four books on my list.  It was your typical Howard Pyle style, which I do find entertaining, but I think two Pyles in one year may be a little much for me. There were some stories of Pyle's that were in The Four Arthurian Romances by Chretien de Troyes, such as the story of Geraint and Enid.  I actually enjoyed Chretien's interpretation even more. 

For most of the book, I was reading along and just enduring it, until the very end.  The story of Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere grabbed my attention, and I really relished it.  I mean, the termination of the Knights of the Round Table due to the battles between King Arthur's knights and Sir Launcelot's knights was horrible.  But later I felt badly for Launcelot, especially because of the Queen's rejection of him after King Arthur had died.  He truly loved her, I think.

So, yay!  I have completed another reading challenge, having read a couple of titles that I would have never read had I not joined, and I am really grateful that I was exposed to them.  Thanks, Jean @ Howling Frog Books.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Want to Reread




Top Ten Books I Want To Reread: 


1. Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
Took my breath away.


2. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
Haven't even finished it yet, but I know I must reread it.


3. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy's characters have depth.


4. Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
I love how Dostoevsky redeems his main character.


5. Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes
My first amazing journey through literature as a serious lit student.
I would like to experience DQ once more.



6. The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy
Struggled through the beginning of this, but the overall exposure was worth it.



7. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
One read is not enough; JE must be a conscious study.



8. The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton
Wharton makes it natural for readers to feel empathy for her characters.  


9. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
A  joyful and feel good read.


10. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Such a tragic story, but it left a huge impression.

Which books would you like to reread?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand


This was one of those books that kept me up at night, literately and figuratively.  There were some nights I would say, "OK, one more chapter," and I would get to the end of the chapter and say, "OK, just one more."  But it was 11:30 PM, and I had to go to bed. 

Then there was the night that I dreamed I found a huge bag of bird seed in my shed, which I did not know I had.  I was so excited to put it out for the birds.  As I was digging through the bag, I found small dead sparrows within, though it wasn't frightening; it was just odd.  Of course, then I remembered the last chapters I had read before bed were about how Louis was catching birds that landed on his small raft in the Pacific.  He was eating them to stay alive.

Louis Zamperini grew up in America in the 1920s, leading a very troubled life, until he found his edge: running.  In high school he broke records, and it took him to the Olympics in Germany. While he did not win a medal, he was set to return to the Olympics in four years.  But WWII began in Europe, and the Olympics were cancelled. 

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Louis joined the army.  During one mission, the plane he was flying in crashed into the Pacific, marking his new mission: a horrific ordeal of survival that lasted 47 days on a life raft and two years as a Japanese prisoner.  I am not even going to share with you the details because they are simply unspeakable.  

However, I will share this: the ending is amazing.  Unlike so many other POWs, Zamperini made it home alive.  He made it home, but here began his second ordeal of having to assimilate back into society and live a normal life.  Unfortunately, as a POW, his dignity had been stripped away from him.  How do you get that back? 

Every night Zamperini was haunted by his captors, specifically this one guard who personally hated him.  Zamperini turned to drinking and vowed to return to Japan, find this particular guard, and murder him.  But his drinking was destroying his ability to make a living, and his wife was ready to leave him.  



But then something encouraged her to stay, and she persevered and convinced him to hear about Christ.  He resisted, and he wanted to reject admitting anything about his sinfulness and need for repentance.  But the message pierced his soul, and in the blink of an eye, in an instant, he was changed.  AMAZING!  The way he knew he was changed was because he immediately lost the desire to seek revenge on the Japanese guard who tormented his mind.  He forgave him.  In fact, the night he was changed, he never had a nightmare about this guard again.  

From then on he worked for good and made a difference in the world.  He died peacefully on July 2, 2014.  I will probably never reread this story again because of its difficult content, but I am grateful that I did read it once because it has given me a lot to think about, specifically about perseverance and forgiveness.

Look for the movie about his life coming soon:

Friday, October 31, 2014

Edgar Allan Poe

Guess who came through my town last night just in time for Halloween?  Edgar Allan Poe.  

The real Edgar Allan Poe

Actually, his name is Duffy Hudson, an actor from the Los Angeles area who performs all over the United States as Edgar Allan Poe.  I have seen him perform this skit a couple of times, as well as Albert Einstein and all of the characters of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  He is truly mesmerizing.  

Duffy Hudson as Edgar Allan Poe

He performed: "The Tell-Tale Heart;" the poem, "Annabel Lee;" and "The Raven."  
"The Tell-Tale Heart" is one of my favorites since I first read it in high school.  When I was a little girl, I enjoyed watching Vincent Price and his Edgar Allan Poe movies.  I can't believe my mom let me watch them.

Edgar Allan Poe sharing "The Tell-Tale Heart"

Anyway, in between the recitation of stories, Poe shared with us his emotionally tragic and complicated life.  Afterward, he answered questions from the audience.  

One of the questions was something like, why do we have this negative idea of Poe as a man who was not in his right mind?  Mr. Hudson said he thinks it was due to the man who wrote and published Poe's obituary, a writer himself who was envious of Poe, and painted him as a drunk.  

Edgar Allan Poe, contemplating
But Hudson said that Poe was actually quite brilliant, and while he drank, he was not a drunk. Though Hudson portrays Poe as a madman as part of his act, he claims the author was definitely not. Poe suffered from numerous personal events of loss and heartache that would challenge anyone's well-being; but other than that, he was sharp and an extremely talented writer who was definitely in his right mind. 

So, if you hear of Edgar Allan Poe stopping by your literary society in your town, be sure not to miss him.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Literary Movement Reading Challenge 2015


This has to be the most challenging reading challenge I have yet discovered.  It is at Fanda Classiclit. (Man, I feel like I'm going to school again.)  Here are the rules:


1.  Reading (or rereading) at least one book each month according to the literary movements we are covering; here is the list:

                                   January       : Medieval
                                   February     : Renaissance
                                   March          : Enlightenment
                                   April            : Romanticism
                                   May             : Transcendentalism
                                   June            : Victorian
                                   July             : Realism
                                   August        : Naturalism
                                   September  : Existentialism
                                   October       : Modernism
                                   November  : The Beat Generation or The Bloomsbury Group
                                   December   : Post-Modernism

2.  To learn about each movement, you can click the link on the above list, it will direct you to pages I have created for each movement. I gathered the information from Wikipedia and/or online-literature, or other sources. If you want to have more details, you can click the sources links as well.

3.  Just as other movements, time period of literary movement might be overlapping one another. And one author could be influenced by more than one movement. For example, I put Dostoyevsky in Existentialism, but he might be regarded also as a Realist.
Q: So, in what month should I put him?
A:  Pick one of them, and read the book, after that you can analyze, in what movement Dostoyevsky shall be put.
Q: What if I have put him in the wrong movement/month, must I move the post to the right one?
A:  No need to do that, this challenge IS to learn about the movements. See point 4 next.

4.  Brief analysis - Inside your review, you are required to add brief (or long if you like) analysis about the book/author you have read, to answer these questions:
a.  Whether he/she fits the literary movement you have categorized him/her? Tell us your reason.
b.  If not, where he/she should be? Tell us your reason.
c.   If he/she doesn’t fit, who do you think would fit better? Again, the reason, please...
d.  [optional] What do you think about this literary movement? How did it correlate with our civilization?
This way we can learn more about the literary movements, from others’ reviews as well as ours.

5.  As the goal is to learn how literary (and the civilization) have been evolving, you are required to read according to the movements in the fixed order.

6.  A linky will be opened on the 15th of each month for each movement post, and will beclosed on the 15th of the next month.

7.  The champions will be they who (would be announced after the challenge is closed):
a.  Read at least one book for each movement (at least 12 movements); the more the better.
b.  Submit their reviews according to the movements, in time.

8.  The challenge focus is not how many books we’d read, but whether we could manage to read for all the movements in the right order, in the right time. This need courage and discipline, so we deserve some incentive. How about a book that you have been dreaming on? At the end of the challenge (only if the participants are at least 5 excluding me), I will pick one winner randomly from the champions (see point 7), to win: 1 (one) copy of your dream book of $20 or less from The Book Depository. Yeah, unfortunately, only one winner would get the prize, but if you want, YOU can set your own prize you would reward yourself if you succeeded the challenge!

9.  So, are you sure you really want to do this? I don’t…. But, I am going to do it anyway, as “life—says the wise Forrest Gump—is like a box of chocolate, you’ll never know what you’ll get!” Maybe I would enjoy the challenge very much; or maybe I would be much enlightened after this; well…at least, I would be able to say, that… I have never failed on MY own challenges. How’s that??

10. If you’d like to join, just submit your blog/Goodreads (where you would post your reviews) link in the  linky below.


For any feedback/question/discussion, just write in the comment box or mention @Fanda_A at Twitter, using hashtag: #LitMoveRC.

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UPDATE: MY PROPOSED READING LIST FOR THIS CHALLENGE.