Sunday, October 24, 2021

O Pioneers!

O Pioneers!O Pioneers! 
by Willa Cather
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. I feel as if this tree knows everything I ever think of when I sit here. When I come back to it, I never have to remind it of anything; I begin just where I left off." (p. 59)
This is such a beautiful book! Cather captures the beauty and the sadness of the prairie through both descriptions of the land and the thoughts and feelings of her characters. Alexandra Bergson, who is the center of the novel, is a wise, stoic woman who accepts the heavy responsibilities handed to her with grace and good sense. 
This book was originally published in 1913 and is set in Nebraska 30 years earlier. The (fictitious) French settlement of Sainte-Agnes plays a large part in the story. There is an interesting article, by Kathleen Danker, on the influence on Cather of her French neighbors which describes the French-Canadian town of Campbell, Nebraska. My great-grandparents, who were French-Canadian immigrants, lived in Campbell at the time this novel is set which added to my enjoyment of it. 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Nonfiction November

I set it as a goal this year to try and read more nonfiction and have been successful with it. Nonfiction November seems like the perfect opportunity to reflect on how I did and where I want to go next. I heard about this on Gulfside Musing where there are links reposted for all the activities. Stay tuned for nonfiction fun coming soon!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Spinning the Classics

It's time for another Classic's Club Spin. A number between 1 and 20 will be announced on Sunday, 10/17/21 and that will determine which of these books I should read before December 12th.

  1. Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, the Brothers Grimm
  2. The Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio, 1353
  3. A Tale of a Tub, Jonathan Swift, 1704
  4. Walden, Henry David Thoreau, 1854
  5. The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins, 1868
  6. The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells, 1898
  7. Where Angels Fear to Tread, E. M. Forster, 1905
  8. Swann's Way, Marcel Proust, 1913
  9. The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant, 1926
  10. Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen, 1937
  11. The Member of the Wedding, Carson McCullers, 1946
  12. The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir, 1949
  13. The Grand Sophy, Georgette Heyer, 1950
  14. My Cousin Rachel, Daphne du Maurier, 1951
  15. Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak, 1957
  16. Rabbit, Run, John Updike, 1960 
  17. The Deep Blue Goodbye, John D. MacDonald, 1964
  18. The Violent Bear It Away, Flannery O'Connor, 1960
  19. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe, 1987
  20. Islam: A Short History, Karen Armstrong, 2000

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Great Expectations

Great ExpectationsGreat Expectations 
by Charles Dickens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Originally published in 1861 this is a coming-of-age story about a young orphan, Pip. It is full of wonderfully-drawn characters each acting according to their own view of right and wrong. These different ways of looking at the world are skillfully woven together to create the man that Pip eventually becomes. 
In discussing the ending (which was not the originally intended conclusion to the story) with his biographer Dickens said he had "put in as pretty a little piece of writing as I could." It is only one of many pretty pieces of writing included in the novel. For example: 
"It was a dark night, though the full moon rose as I left the enclosed lands, and passed out upon the marshes. Beyond their dark line there was a ribbon of clear sky, hardly broad enough to hold the large red moon. In a few minutes she had ascended out of that clear field, in among the piled mountains of cloud." (p. 432)
This book is from my Classics Club list and it counts toward the Back to the Classics challenge as a 19th century classic. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Reaper Man

Reaper Man (Discworld, #11)Reaper Man 
by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“No one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away, until the clock wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone’s life is only the core of their actual existence.”

This book follows Mort in the Disc-world Death sub-series. It is funny, philosophical, and full of adventures. Typical Terry Pratchett. It is my 6th book read this year for the Turtle Recall Challenge

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Shadows on the Rock

Shadows on the RockShadows on the Rock 
by Willa Cather
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a beautiful, quiet book about an apothecary and his daughter living in Quebec at the end of the 1600s. Cather's writing paints pictures of the place and captures the feelings of the people in simple but perfectly crafted language. These are people living in a harsh and unforgiving place, but whose lives are filled with love for their families and their God. 
"Quebec is never lovelier than on an afternoon of late October; ledges of brown and lavender clouds lay above the river and the Ile d'Orleans, and the red-gold autumn sunlight poured over the rock like heavy southern wine." (p. 27) 
"These coppers, big and little, these brooms and clouts and brushes, were tools; and with them one made, not shoes or cabinet-work, but life itself. One made a climate within a climate; one made the days,--the complexion, the special flavour, the special happiness of each day as it passed; one made life." (p. 160) 
"Good wine was put into the grapes by our Lord, for friends to enjoy together." (p. 217)
This book is from my Classics Club list and it counts toward the Back to the Classics challenge as a new-to-me classic by a favorite author. Because it is set in Quebec it also counts toward the Canadian Reading Challenge

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Six Degrees of Separation

The #6degrees meme is hosted at Books are my Favourite and Best

This month the chain begins with Shirley Jackson's short story, The Lottery. If you haven't read this story it is available on the New Yorker site. It is a story with a dark surprise at the end. Another book with a surprise at the end is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I knew the story of Rebecca first from the movie and later read the book. Another book that I read after seeing the movie (in this case many times) was Double Indemnity by James M. Cain. A train trip plays a major part in Cain's plot which leads me to another book where a train journey is the center of the story: The Edge by Dick Francis. That Dick Francis novel got onto my TBR list because I heard about it on the Strong Sense of Place podcast. Another book I read after hearing about it on SSoP was Under the Big Top by Bruce Feiler in which the author joins the circus for a year. I love books where someone decides to do something for a year and then tells the reader about how it went. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell is a classic of this genre and one of my favorites. Another great book where someone experiments on themselves and then tells us all about it is Living Oprah by Robin Okrant. She spends a year doing all the stuff that Oprah Winfrey recommends and it is fascinating.


Thursday, September 30, 2021

September Book Report

September 2021
I finished 11 books last month.

A quote from this month's reading:

"But in order to pronounce a book bad it is not enough to discover that it elicits no good response from ourselves, for that might be our fault." 
 -- C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism

Here is my progress toward various goals and challenges:

Here are the books I finished in September 2021: 
  1. The Best Year of Your Life by Debbie Ford (2-stars)
  2. Secret Life of the Savoy and the D'Oyly Carte Family by Olivia Williams (4-stars)
  3. The Self-Care Solution: A Year of Becoming Happier, Healthier, and Fitter, One Month at a Time by Jennifer Ashton (3-stars)
  4. Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse (3-stars)
  5. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (4-stars)
  6. An Experiment in Criticism by C. S. Lewis (4-stars)--this title met the #unreadshelf September challenge of a book I want to learn from
  7. Died in the Wool by Ngaio Marsh (4-stars)
  8. Willful Behaviour by Donna Leon (audiobook, 3-stars)
  9. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (3-stars)
  10. Death in Daylesford by Kerry Greenwood (4-stars)
  11. Jack by Marilynne Robinson (4-stars)
I have 2 books in progress at the moment from my Classics Club list  and a couple more on deck for October (including a Canadian one). I also have a couple of books in my library pile right now that will meet the Turtle Recall challenge so there should be more progress during October toward completing those challenges. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Time to Get Your Goth On!

The Classics Club has issued a dare:

During OCTOBER we DARE you to face your fears and get your Goth on!
Simply read a CLASSIC book from your #CClist that you classify as thrilling, a mystery, or Gothic. It could even be a book or author that SCARES you (because of its length, its topic, its reputation etc).

There are 4 titles on my list that I would describe as "thrilling, mystery, or gothic":

  • Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen 
  • The Deep Blue Goodbye by John D. MacDonald
  • The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  • My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier
I am currently reading Great Expectations and I don't want to have Dickens and Collins going at the same time, so Moonstone isn't a good option. 
Of the remaining 3 the only one I have currently on my shelves is Seven Gothic Tales so I will try to read that. It's a big book though, so I'm not sure how successful I will be.

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