Sunday, January 31, 2021
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Well, now I've read it as an adult, and I have to say... it still sounds like a pretty idyllic lifestyle. I read it aloud to my kids, and they really liked it too! My son had already loved it for several years, but my daughters hadn't read it, so it was a fun new adventure for them. And my son still enjoyed getting to hear it read aloud and experience it that way.
I really admire stories of people being resourceful and figuring out ways to do things like store food, build a home, and even make clothes. It does seem pretty unbelievable to me that Sam Gribley's parents would have said, "Sure, go hitchhike your way to our family land in the Catskills and live off the land. Have fun!" But... it was the '50s. Perhaps it could have happened. That's far harder for me to believe than that a resourceful boy could learn enough from books that he could live in the wilderness just fine.
And yes, I have this movie-tie-in edition. I remember seeing the movie once, as a kid, and being thoroughly disgusted with it, though I don't remember why anymore. But this is the edition I found at a yard sale when I was in grade school, wrote my name inside in pink cursive, and read repeatedly. So I must keep it.
Particularly Good Bits:
"Let's face it, Thoreau, you can't live in America today and be quietly different. If you are going to be different, you are going to stand out, and people are going to hear about you" (p. 198).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: G. A clean and lovely classic.
This is my 14th book read and reviewed for my 3rd Classics Club list.
Sunday, January 17, 2021
You may remember that, a few years ago, Heidi Pekarek hosted a monthly link-up series called Inkling Explorations. It was a low-key way to share book and movie scenes around a common theme, once a month, and it was really fun. Heidi revived the series (now called Inklings!) recently, and I'm joining in this month!
The January prompt is a new beginning in book or film. Since I recently reread The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery, which is all about new beginnings, I thought I would share this passage from the end of chapter eight, when Valancy Stirling makes a momentous decision that changes her life forever.
"I've had nothing but a second-hand existence," decided Valancy. "All the great emotions of life have passed me by. I've never even had a grief. And have I ever really loved anybody? Do I really love Mother? No, I don't. That's the truth, whether it is disgraceful or not. I don't love her -- I've never loved her. What's worse, I don't even like her. So I don't know anything about any kind of love. My life has been empty -- empty. Nothing is worse than emptiness. Nothing!" Valancy ejaculated the last "nothing" aloud passionately. Then she moaned and stopped thinking about anything for a while. One of her attacks of pain had come on.
When it was over, something had happened to Valancy -- perhaps the culmination of the process that had been going on in her mind ever since she had read Dr. Trent's letter. It was three o'clock in the morning -- the wisest and most accursed hour of the clock. But sometimes it sets us free.
"I've been trying to please other people all my life and failed," she said. "After this I shall please myself. I shall never pretend anything again. I've breathed an atmosphere of fibs and pretenses and evasions all my life. What a luxury it will be to tell the truth! I may not be able to do much that I want to do but I won't do another thing that I don't want to do. Mother can pout for weeks -- I shan't worry over it. 'Despair is a free man -- hope is a slave.'"
Valancy got up and dressed, with a deepening of that curious sense of freedom. When she had finished with her hair she opened the window and hurled the jar of potpourri over into the next lot. It smashed gloriously against the schoolgirl complexion on the old carriage-shop.
"I am sick of fragrance of dead things," said Valancy.
If you haven't read The Blue Castle yet (or lately), it's a perfect book for January, when our thoughts turn to new beginnings, resolutions, and attempts to change ourselves or our lives.
|(Mine from my Bookstagram account)|
Check out this post on Heidi's blog about the Inklings! link-up and join in the fun yourself! Or just see what other people have been contributing.
Friday, January 15, 2021
But some friends on Bookstagram decided they wanted to do a very laid-back read-along of it, just reading it at our own pace in the month of January, and I decided it was time for me to tackle it again. I read it in a little over a week, all 673 pages of it. (These editions are pretty small, so the pages add up fast.)
Parts of this book made me laugh aloud, especially in the first third or so, which is narrated by a snarky, observant old servant named Betteredge. His asides made me think of Jane Austen because of their wry satirical wit. And his obsession with Robinson Crusoe was always funny.
Parts of this book made me wish they would be over quickly, especially the section narrated by Miss Clack, who was a pharisaical, puritanical busybody.
The plot revolved around a giant diamond looted from India and later given to a young lady on her 18th birthday. And then it promptly gets stolen. Collins spins the mystery out for what feels like forever, but he does finally resolve it. For a while there, I thought he was going to just end it with us never knowing what happened to it, and if that had happened, I would have thrown my book across the room.
I'm not sure how this book managed to simultaneously feel as if it was dragging on far longer than necessary, and yet kept up a galloping sense of suspense. I kept saying, "Why isn't this book over yet?" and "I have to know what happens next!" at the same time. That's a rather odd mix, I have to say.
I really haven't figured out yet if I actually liked this book or not. I definitely want to read more by Wilkie Collins, though.
|(Mine from my Bookstagram)|
Particularly Good Bits:
The more money he had, the more he wanted; there was a hole in Mr. Franklin's pocket that nothing would sew up (p. 35).
We had our breakfasts -- whatever happens in a house, robbery or murder, it doesn't matter, you must have your breakfast (p. 128).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG. Lots of suspense, some mild violence (people getting tied up, that sort of thing), and mention of a man having a mistress.
This is my 13th book read for my 3rd Classics Club list and my first for #TheUnreadShelfProject2021.
Sunday, January 10, 2021
This is a fantastic book! It tells the stories of three Black Americans and their real-life adventures in the Wild West. And it does it in a graphic-novel-like style that is engaging and fun. I found it at the library and might just have to pick up a copy to add to my homeschooling history shelves.
The three heroes it features are "Stagecoach Mary" Fields, Bass Reeves, and Bob Lemmons. I actually got this from the library because I'm working on an article about Mary Fields for my next Prairie Times column, and I thought this was going to be just a standard biography, text and maybe a few illustrations. But nope! Full-color, fully illustrated little biographies. AND it has real photographs here and there of actual Black cowboys and pioneers. AND it has a six pages at the end about other famous Black westerners. Yup, I really think I'm going to need a copy of my own.
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG because it does include some violence and a tense moment or two, albeit non-gory and brief.
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Most of the time, I do one post wrapping up the last year's reading challenges and such, and another declaring my intentions for the new year. However, a lot of my new challenges are just carrying on from last year, so I'm doing them all in one post this year.
A Literary Christmas (hosted by In The Bookshelf)
I said I wanted to read and review three Christmas books for this event, and I actually read six and reviewed five! You can read them all here. I'm sure I will participate in this event again next December, as it's always such fun to read and share Christmas books.
|(All pictures are mine from my Bookstagram account.)|
My Year with C. S. Lewis
I challenged myself to read at least five books by or about C. S. Lewis in 2020. I read seven, though two of those were Narnia books, so they weren't new to me and I didn't review them on my blog. You can read my five reviews here.
I started the year with 537 unread books. I read more than 50 of them, and yet, I ended the year with 527 books on my unread shelves. Um, yeah.
The lockdowns did help in that I didn't go to bookstores or thrift stores or library book sales nearly so often, but I bought quite a few books online, and some of those were the fault of lockdowns because I was comfort-buying. I did finally start to get a handle on how to resist buying so many books, at least -- I am committed now to not buying books that just "look good," but rather to buying ones I already know I want to read.
My original goal was to read 24 of my unread books and clear off a whole shelf in my bedroom. Well, I read more than double that many, but I didn't clear off a shelf, so this was a half-success, half-failure. You can read all my book reviews for this challenge here. (I did read several that I never reviewed...)
I'm doing this challenge again this year! You can learn more about it here at The Unread Shelf blog. My goal this year is to read 36 books off my unread shelves AND truly clear off a whole shelf. I have plans to move some books from my library up to my bedroom to ease my crowding problem down there, and I think that will help keep me motivated to NOT buy more books all the time.
Heidi's Lord of the Rings read-along
We are just about finished reading The Fellowship of the Ring together at Literary Adventures Along the Brandywine. Obviously, we will be continuing this for the next few months, as we read The Two Towers and Return of the King and discuss it together there.
My Year with Harry Potter
I want to reread all 7 Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling in 2021. I have not read any of them since the last book came out in 2007! It's high time I revisited that magical world.
Sense and Sensibility read-along???
I am contemplating hosting a read-along of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen here this spring or summer! It's been a couple years since a led a read-along, and I'd like to get back to it. I'd be doing it chapter-by-chapter like before. If that interests you, stay tuned!
Did you have any goals for last year? Did you meet any of them? Do you have goals for this year? Do tell!
Friday, January 1, 2021
Katie of I'm Charles Baker Harris (And I Can Read) didn't actually tag me with doing this, but she did encourage me to do it, so I'm going to! You can read her post here.
The idea is to answer these with characters from books you read in that particular year. If you want to do this too, go right ahead! I'm not going to tag anyone, but I will provide a copy-able list of the questions at the bottom of the post.
|(All book photos are mine from my Instagram account.)|