Reading Round Up February 2017

February was a better month for reading than January. I got 2 books completed – which is my goal – putting me at 3 for the year and one behind my target. Mysteries of Udolpho REALLY slowed me down. At nearly 700 pages, it took a long time to muddle through.

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COMPLETED:

The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe. (Back to the Classics: Gothic and Christian Reading: 400+ pages). Review on my blog here.

America the Anxious, Ruth Whippman (Christian Reading: Current Issue). Review on Goodreads here.

I loved this book – it made me laugh out loud repeatedly and gave me much to think about. This quote sums the book up hilariously: “Like an attractive man, it seems the more actively happiness is pursued, the more it refuses to call and starts avoiding you at parties.” (9)

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ON GOING:

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain

Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges

SET ASIDE:

Be Right, Warren Weirsbe. I was trying to read this alongside my Bible reading plan for the year but fell far behind. I’m going to circle back to Romans after I finish the John study I’m currently in – this book (both the Bible one and Weirsbe’s commentary) require more attention than I’m able to devote.

 

Year To Date:

Back to the Classics: 1/12

Christian Reading Challenge: 3/13

Book Review: The Mysteries of Udolpho

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann RadcliffeThus had she been tossed upon the stormy sea of misfortune for the last year, with but short intervals of peace, if peace it could be called, which was only the delay of evil. (619)

So goes the year that changes Emily St. Aubert’s life. Raised in peaceful, pastoral comfort by parents who adore her, Emily’s life alters dramatically when first her mother, then her father pass away. She is given to the care of her selfish aunt who is only kind when the kindness will benefit herself. Through the actions of her aunt, Emily is removed from everything she knows – her home, her lover, her country – at the mercy of her aunt’s new husband, the Italian Montoni.

Practically every dramatic plot point possible in the history of dramatic plot points is tossed into this 693 page behemoth of a novel, written by Ann Radcliffe in 1794. Considered one of the most popular novels of Gothic literature, The Mysteries of Udolpho sports a massive cast of characters all connected by various forms of villainy. We find no less than 3 crumbling castles, 2 presumed ghosts, 1 veiled image to horrible to describe, more murderers than I can count, weeping on every page, kidnappings, sword fights, secret passages, subterranean burial chambers (which seem to only be used at midnight), shipwrecks, madness, love found and lost again, and even pirates. It’s a bit of a mess, but through the mess, I have to say I was entertained. It’s quite sensational.

Udolpho is like one of those daytime TV shows that has been on for 20 years. Every time you think that the plot is finally, FINALLY about to wrap up, a new cast of characters brings a new twist onto the scene. Out of the 693 pages, everything is described in excessive detail except the conclusion: it is really quite rushed after the abundance of earlier chapters. I suppose there is little drama to be found in “happily ever after”.

Gothic literature isn’t my thing. The mysteries, the drama, the weeping, the excessive use of commas, the word “sublime” yet again… I’m not one for horror films at all, either. Give me a Jane Austen any day! Actually, that’s why I read this – although I enjoyed Northanger Abbey, I knew there was a lot I was missing due to my unfamiliarity with the Gothic genre. Now that I’ve read Udolpho, Northanger may make its way back into my pile. I’m sure I’ll understand it better this time around.

This is my first book for Back to the Classics 2017, in the Gothic category. LINK UP here

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Reading Round-Up January 2017

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I did not get as much reading done as I’d hoped this month – I’m starting the year off behind on my challenges! (My reading goals post). But some reading is better than no reading, and I’ve had many excellent thoughts and connections in the few pages I have gotten read.

Completed:

Parenting, Paul David Tripp (Christian Reading Challenge: book on Christian living)

This is a very convicting book on the philosophy of parenting. It isn’t a how-to book, it’s a why-to, building awareness of the Gospel in every aspect of parenting. The main theme is that we are God’s ambassadors to our children and as we parent them, God parents us. The best parent is the one who realizes how unable she is on her own power. I highly, highly recommend it.

This thought from page 121 sums the whole book up very well:

No parent gives grace more joyfully and consistently than the parent who daily confesses that she desperately needs it herself. God calls rebels to his authority to rescue rebels against his authority. Only powerful grace can make that happen.

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In Process:

The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe  – this 700 page Gothic novel may actually take me forever. At least I’ll be in raptures to the sublime as I press on, ha!

Be Right, Weirsbe – I’m intentionally taking this one slowly, reading the section each week that goes along with my Bible reading plan for the year.

 

Year To Date:

Back to the Classics: 0/12

Christian Reading Challenge: 1/13

Back to the Classics 2017

It’s the last weekday of 2016. I’m spending the day getting prepped for 2017 – reorganizing homeschool stuff, resetting our family budget, and much more entertaining, setting up my reading challenges for the year!

Below is my plan for the Back to the Classics Challenge, hosted by Books and Chocolate. In 2016 I completed 9 categories; this year I’m aiming for all 12. We don’t have anything major planned for the year so I should be able to do it… right? I created a simple checklist that I printed and punched for my day planner to track this challenge. If you would find that useful, it’s available on dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/s/etig93atotr1933/Back%20to%20the%20Classics%202017.docx?dl=0

In addition, I’m doing the Christian Reading Challenge hosted by Tim Challies. I like the idea of diversifying my reading in addition to reading classics. I’m aiming for somewhere between the Light and Avid plans. I don’t want to rush through books; I want to savor them and be changed by them. Completing wo books a week would definitely require rushing in my life.

Back to the Classics 2017 PLAN (Written in pencil. Blanks will be filled as others start linking up. I need ideas!)

1.  A 19th Century Classic – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain https://gabisunshine.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/book-review-the-adventures-of-tom-sawyer/

2.  A 20th Century Classic – Their Eyes were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston (1937) https://gabisunshine.wordpress.com/2017/07/05/book-review-their-eyes-were-watching-god/

3.  A classic by a woman author. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith (1943) https://gabisunshine.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/book-review-a-tree-grows-in-brooklyn/

4.  A classic in translation.

5.  A classic published before 1800. Beowulf (Old English)

6.  An romance classic. Miss Mackenzie, Anthony Trollope (1865) https://gabisunshine.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/book-review-miss-mackenzie/

7.  A Gothic or horror classic. The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe (1794)  https://gabisunshine.wordpress.com/2017/02/26/book-review-the-mysteries-of-udolpho/


8.  A classic with a number in the title. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens (1859) Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, Margaret Sidney (1881) https://gabisunshine.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/book-review-five-little-peppers-and-how-they-grew/

9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title.

10. A classic set in a place you’d like to visit. A Passage to India, Forster (1924)

11. An award-winning classic.

12. A Russian Classic. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1866)

Back to the Classics 2016 Wrap Up

It’s the end of the year, so finished or not, here’s what I’ve completed for the Back to the Classics Challenge! I’m actually content with my results. I completed 9 challenge books plus a pretty decent stack of non-challenge books despite moving cross country and having to restart most parts of our lives. Next year nothing major is planned so MAYBE I’ll get through all 12! See the links for all the challenge wrap up posts HERE – what a great source of book suggestions for next year!

Links to each review, 9 total:

2. 20th Century Classic: The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

https://gabisunshine.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/book-review-the-wind-in-the-willows/

4. Classic in Translation: The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

https://gabisunshine.wordpress.com/2016/12/19/book-review-the-little-prince/

5. Classic by a Non-White Author: Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe

https://gabisunshine.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/book-review-things-fall-apart/

6. Adventure Classic: Treasure Island, Robert Lewis Stevenson

https://gabisunshine.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/book-review-treasure-island/

7. Fantasy Classic: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis

https://gabisunshine.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/book-review-the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe/

8. Classic Detective Novel: Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie

https://gabisunshine.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/708/

9. Classic with a Place in the Title: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

https://gabisunshine.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/book-review-alices-adventures-in-wonderland/

10. Banned Classic: The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

https://gabisunshine.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/book-review-the-grapes-of-wrath/

12. Classic Short Stories: Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling

https://gabisunshine.wordpress.com/2016/12/29/book-review-just-so-stories/

Skipped 1 (1800s), 3 (Woman author), 11 (Re-read)

Book Review: Just So Stories

This is my final review for the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge hosted by Karen’s Books and Chocolate! I’ll have dscn5604my summary post up very shortly. It’s only December 28th, I’m not late yet 😀

Just So Stories is a collection of short stories written by Rudyard Kipling. Intended for children, these stories illustrate possible answers for the many “WHY?” questions small children love to throw around. Questions such as, why does the camel have a hump? Why does an elephant have a trunk? Where did armadillos come from? In all, the volume I have contains 12 stories. According to Wikipedia, I’m only missing 1 tale – The Tabu Tale, missing from most British editions. My version is copyright 1912 with beautiful full color illustrations by J. M. Gleeson.dscn5603

Some of the stories are better than others. I didn’t connect with the two about Taffy the cave girl developing writing. “The Butterfly that stamped” made me smile repeatedly. “The Beginning of Armadillos” was hilarious (poor baby jaguar!). Both “Camel” and “Crab” have strong themes of fitting into the role you belong in – doing the work you were meant to do for the good of everyone. And, oh! The accuracy of the “Cat who walked by himself”!

These aren’t meant to be serious, they’re a bit of fun from a father to his child. Kipling explained:

“in the evening there were stories meant to put Effie to sleep, and you were not allowed to alter those by one single little word. They had to be told just so; or Effie would wake up and put back the missing sentence. So at last they came to be like charms, all three of them,—the whale tale, the camel tale, and the rhinoceros tale.” (http://blog.oup.com/2015/12/kipling-stories-names/)

And “Remember that, because it’s important!” You will get the most out of them if you keep them as the fun stories they were intended to be (although, we can all learn a lesson or two along the way!)

This is my entry for category 12, Short Stories. You can find the link up HERE.

Book Review: The Little Prince

Memes are a thing these days, have you noticed? Some are funny, many are horrid, and once in a while you stumble across a gem that perfectly explains something in your life. This meme basically sums up The Little Prince:

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The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is a short novel originally published in French in 1943. It chronicles the meeting of a pilot crashed in the desert and a strange little man who wants him to draw a sheep. Over the course of the novella we learn that the little man is a prince – not only a prince, but one from another planet. He’s had an incredible journey through the stars (by a flock of birds, no less) and much to say about “matters of consequence.”

I first read this book when I was in first grade. As a child myself, I found it an amusing story. To live on a planet the size of a house with only a rose as a friend? It was delightful. But there is so much more! When I was a senior in high school, I read the novella in French, followed by 2 or 3 essays also written in French. Because Honors French 4, right? I began to grasp some of the deeper life lessons. I also appreciated the beauty in the flow of the writing, some of which is lost in translation (French is an exceptionally beautiful language). My essays focused on the different grown ups the prince met in his travels and how empty their lives were. I’m pretty sure my teacher was trying to prepare us for college without saying trite things herself 😀

This time, while reading, I wept. I  wept over the narrator’s lost art career (Can’t you tell it’s a boa?). I wept over the idea of taming each other – for “one only understands the things that one tames” (pg 85). I wept for the baobab seeds infesting the soil, and for what happens if you put off for tomorrow the work of removing them. And I have wept for the times I have been too much like the grown ups.

For of course, this book has tamed me, and “one runs the risk of weeping a little, if one lets himself be tamed…” (p 99)

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This is my 8th entry in the 2016 Back to the Classics challenge, for the category of “Books in Translation.” The link up can be found here.