June Plans

Reading and blogging slumps. I spent more time in a slump in May, and I hope that in June I can get back to focusing on my blogging and my reading challenges. Here is a link to my May Wrap-Up.  There is one book I’m really looking forward to this month:

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It’s just been released and I’m number six in line for it at my library. So, I might not get it until August. Sigh. So, as back up, here is the rest of my planed reads for June.

The Art of Fielding

I got Borne in the Quarterly Box at the beginning of May, and I noticed that it popped up in a lot of book boxes in May. And different celebrities have mentioned it on their social media feeds. So I’m guessing that the publisher is really pushing this book. And I seldom read books that are freshly printed, so I kind of want to join in the hype. I’m planning on reading it this week and sometime before the end of June I’ll write a book review for it.

What do you plan to read in June? Let me know in the comments below. Happy Reading!

Why Not More Love for the Brontë Sisters?

image courtesy Wikipedia

This is a part of my Brontë April. I have dedicated this month to mostly blogging about these three sisters. You can read a bit about it here.

Over the last 20 years or so there has been a love affair with Jane Austen and her novels. Beloved TV adaptations, movies, modern-day settings for movies are all based on her beloved works. But, in spite of the rush to make money off all the 19th century female novelists on the shelf, the fan love seems to be denied the Brontë Sisters. There are a few TV movies based on Charlotte and Emily’s most famous works produced over the last 20 years, but the fans of the Brontë’s just don’t seem to have the same love for them that Jane Austen enjoys. And I’m not really sure why this is so. I think it’s time for the Brontë Sisters to be in the spotlight.

With feminism getting a boost post-election, it seems to me to be a great time to go back and read Jane Eyre. It contains metaphors of the sort of growth and independence that feminism celebrates. It also has a hint of the intersectional feminism too. You know, Bertha. (Bertha gets her own story in Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys which is really good. You should read it, too.) Jane is a strong willed woman who is fascinating and strong and takes no crap from any man (I’m looking at you, St John). So why not a miniseries based on this complicated and emotionally intense novel about a girl overcoming her traumatic childhood and a dicey love affair to come into her own and know her own worth? The movies produced in the past 20 years just don’t do this story justice. Someone needs to call Netflix and give them a heads up about this lack in our lives.

And in this world that seems to be shocked by so many readers reading about a women’s  obsessive love of a domineering and cruel man (yeah, I’m looking at you Twilight and your naughty descendant 50 Shades of Grey) Emily’s Wuthering Heights is absolutely the great grandparent of those modern stories. Wuthering Heights, in its day, was just as shocking to the public as 50 Shades was when it was originally published. Remember all the scandalized think pieces all over the web about women choosing to engage in an S&M relationship in the novel and women all over the world were reading this book and breaking sales records set by the Harry Potter series?  The idea of that kind of relationship fascinates readers. And the original Wuthering Heights, should be outselling Twilight and 50 Shades.

Anne. The poor girl is constantly ignored. I’m guilty of ignoring her too. Anne’s books aren’t out in special editions as far as I can tell after looking through Amazon. And according to IMDB, there is only one filmed version of her novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. It’s a miniseries produced by the BBC and shown in the USA on PBS, so I’m sure it must be available somewhere out there in the universe on some platform or another. If I find it I’ll let you all know. I just started reading her most well received novel this month. Is she as good a writer as her two sisters? Well, that’s what I’m hoping to find out.

I think what I’m trying to convince you to do, Dear Reader, is read the Brontë Sisters if you have not, and reread them if you have. Watch the mini series and movies based on these women’s works to encourage those that have the power to produce new versions, and possibly better versions of these stories. Help give these sisters the spotlight they deserve.

***UPDATE: I found the BBC 1996 version of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall on Amazon Prime. It isn’t free. But for the low, low price of $4.99 you can own all three episodes. There are also DVDs available for around $15 dollars on Amazon, too.

So what do you think about the Brontë Sisters? Are you fans of their novels? Do you think they need a large and joyful fandom similar to Jane Austen’s? Let me know in the comments below. And if you know where I can get the 1996 BBC version of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall do let me know in the comments!

My First Library: The Bookmobile

As a part of National Library Week, today is National Bookmobile Day in The United States. And as a lifelong reader and supporter of public libraries, I just want to celebrate my  love of bookmobiles and the librarians who run them. For many in rural communities, bookmobiles are the only way to access library books. And I wanted to remember the  bookmobile librarian that helped me become the reader I am today.

I grew up in a tiny community in the rural West. It was miles from everywhere. The nearest town with banks, grocery stores, and a library was a 30 minute drive—in good weather. So my first exposure to a library and library books was the bookmobile. The bookmobile came to our house twice a month, every other Wednesday. Mr. Riggs, the librarian, would park the large bus-sized vehicle near our house. In the spring, when our yard was muddy, he would park in the driest spot possible and help my mother lay wooden boards to the door of the bookmobile as a makeshift sidewalk. This kept the mud out of both our house and the bookmobile!

Mr. Riggs really seemed to appreciate my mother’s love of books. I don’t recall him limiting the number of books I checked out. He knew my mother had taught me to love reading and to respect the books. I remember having a stack of 15 or so storybooks at one time checked out from the bookmobile. And I can honestly say I never lost or ruined any of the books I checked out from the bookmobile. Mr. Riggs would also set aside books for Mom. He knew what she loved to read and would make sure to get the books for her. The bookmobile also visited our elementary school. And once as I checked out a book at school, he gave me a book he knew she would want to read. Mom had not been home that day when he visited our house. Now, did the other patrons of the bookmobile receive such consideration? That I don’t know. What I do know is he recognized in my mother a fellow lover of books.

Image result for bookmobile bad girlI, of course, didn’t know what a special person he was until after he retired from running our bookmobile. The next fellow (whose name I don’t remember) wasn’t as friendly. He put limits on the number of books I could checkout and, when I was a teenager, tried to stop me from checking out “inappropriate” books that I wanted to read. I continued to visit the bookmobile and check out books, but it wasn’t the same. As I read back over what I’ve written I see that it’s hard for me to differentiate between the man who ran the bookmobile and the bookmobile as a service. And I think that’s okay. Because of his kindness and dedication as a librarian and bookmobile operator, I became a supporter of libraries and librarians. And I passed the love of libraries along to my children because of Mr. Riggs and his bookmobile.

Here is the link to the page where I found The Bookmobile Bad Girl Image.

Do you have a bookmobile or library story? Share it in the comments below. Happy #NationalBookMobileDay, y’all!

 

Emily Brontë, Poet.

It’s National Poetry Month and to celebrate it, I’m sharing one of the Brontë sisters poems each week. Most readers know that the sisters wrote novels and stories, but it may surprise many to find out they also wrote poetry. Here is Emily Brontë’s Warning and Reply.

Death and nature are themes found in Emily’s novels and poetry, it seems. Spoiler alert! This fascination with death and the grave shows up in Wuthering Heights. And the scene that focuses on it directly is something else. (Gothic indeed!)

**If you are interested in reading more of Emily Brontë’s poetry, you can find it where I did: Project Gutenburg. Here is a link to the collection of the Brontë sisters poetry.

Are you a fan of the Brontë sisters? Have you read their poetry? What do you think of this poem? Does it make you want to delve deep into Emily’s writing? Let me know in the comments below. And if you have a favorite poem, be sure to share it by leaving a link in the comments.

March 2017 TBR

 

TBR: So many books, so little time! And because I have so many books this list is fungible. Three of the books are for the Read Harder Challenge, and the others are books I’ve had forever.

The Story of a New Name by Elena Farrante

The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem by Stacy Schiff

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
What are your plans for March? Have you read of the books I’ve listed? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to leave a link to your March TBR.

August 2016 Wrap Up

August was a much better month for me when it comes to reading and blogging. I made a bit of progress on the book challenges I’m participating in, but not as much as I would like. Here is my list for August.

Books I’ve read this Month:

My Favorite reads:

  • One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash is amazing. It’s beautifully written and the story is engaging. If you haven’t read it, do! As soon as possible!
  • Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith [AKA J.K. Rowling] is just a wonderfully plotted story. I started reading it as an eBook borrowed from the library, but became so engaged I also borrowed the audio book version to listen to while I worked in my garden and did housework.

Books I Acquired:

  • Asking for Trouble by Elizabeth Young (paperback)
  • The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez (audio book)
  • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (audio book)
  • One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash (paperback)
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne (hardback)
  • The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev (eBook)

Books in Progress:

  • The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford (eBook from the library)
  • My Brilliant Friend by Elena Farrante (paperback)
  • S. by J.J. Abrams, Doug Dorst (hardback)

Books I DNF (did not finish):

  • In Bed With the Devil by Lorraine Heath (eBook from the library) This one didn’t catch my attention.

Reading in September:

Most of the books I’m planning to read are #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks and two are for the 2016 Read Harder Challenge. Now, I’ll probably won’t achieve this goal, but that’s okay.

  • The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev (eBook)
  • Bird Box by Josh Malerman
  • The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
  • On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  • I Am America (And So Can You) by Stephen Colbert (2016 Read Harder Challenge)
  • Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff (2016 Read Harder Challenge)

Here is some of my favorite reads across the blogisphere and the web.

Bloggers:

Both of these posts have nothing to do with books or reading.

  • CoffeeandaBlankpage writes a letter to a man who approached her on the street.
  • TheThrifty Gourmond writes about buying less than pretty vegetables. I really like this since my garden produce is not as perfect as the stuff at the grocery store.

Links from Across the Web:

  • Jessica Gross’s Things We Like website. This is website is lists that Jessica Gross collects and presents on this page. It’s really fascinating, and I enjoy reading them.
  • Hiking stories can be found at this link. I love the idea of hiking different long trails, but i don’t think I ever will do it. So, I do the next best thing I watch videos on You Tube and read essays about hiking.

 

How was your August reading? Did you meet all your goals? What are your plans for September? Let me know what you think of my plans in the comments. Happy Reading!

 

Time Travel Novels: My Top Ten

I love a good time travel story. I’ve loved time travel stories since I first saw The Time Machine on the afternoon movie as a little girl. And I’m totally talking about the 1960’s version with Rod Taylor (The Morlocks, y’all, the Morlocks!) And I love novels that allow the main character to travel in time, too. So, I thought it might be time for me to list my ten favorite time travel novels. So here is my list in no particular order.

Green Darkness by Anya Seton. My favorite aunt gave me this book to read when I was a teen (Hi, Aunt Jana Lee!) And I loved it so much. It is, at it’s heart, a reincarnation story. A group of people come together and are able to remember their previous lives and resolve their issues. So, the characters do not travel physically back in time, but mentally. It was written in the early 1970’s and so doesn’t hold up as well as other stories. But I would recommend this book

The Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine. This was originally published in the mid eighties, and I read it the first time around that time. Like Green Darkness, this novel is about reincarnation and remembering of the characters past lives. And like Green Darkness it does not hold up well But I still like this story. Erskine has written a number of time travel novels, but I haven’t read them. I think I should so I can see if she improved her characters.

The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. This book was recommended to me by a sociology professor years ago. And I loved it. It is the winner of a number of awards. A female academic travels back in time to the Middle Ages. It doesn’t suffer from the problems of Lady of Hay and Green Darkness.

Timeline by Micheal Crichton. This book came out not long after I read The Doomsday Book, and it covers similar territory.

A Knight in Shining Armour by Jude Deveraux. This one spans two genres: fantasy and romance, with a emphasis on romance. Both the hero and heroine travel back and forth between their times before finally coming together and living happily ever after. This is for fans of romance novels.

Outlander (Outlander, #1)Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon , especially books 1 and 3. I love Outlander. It is one of my favorite novels of all time. The basis of this series is the heroine walks through a stone circle and travels back to Jacobite Scotland. There she falls in love with a Scottish warrior. So it too is a romance mixed with historical fiction, fantasy, and adventure novel. And these books are hefty. I think all of them, including the books in the series I haven’t read, are close to a 1,000 pages. I have read the first four novels and they have strengths and weaknesses like all novels.  My favorite two of the series are books 1, Outlander  and 3, Voyager. I would recommend these novels to everyone.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. I love how Rowling focuses on time travel in this novel. And, afterall, the readers of Harry Potter and even Harry and the rest of the characters realize that time is running out, and the battle against Voldemort is drawing near.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I had high expectations for this novel when I read it, but it didn’t quite meet them? I read this on a break between semesters and I rushed it, I think. I need to re-read this one and see what I think of it when I can take my time reading it.

The Shinning Girls by Lauren Beukes. This one straddles the horror and fantasy genres. I loved the framing of this story as a time travel story.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler. I read this for the first time a few weeks ago and it is just amazing. This is a book that if I had paper copies to hand out to people on the street, not to mention friends and family, I would. Read it, read it, read it!

Honorable Mentions (I’ve read them, but not really my favorites.)

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. I will re-read this series. It is about time travel and novels. It didn’t really grab me when I first read them, and I don’t know why. Because I should adore this series. I need to give them a re-read soon.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Books 2 and 3 of this series are focused on the time travel. I just didn’t love this series, and I should. This is the kind of fantasy story I love. So I’m sad that I’m not a fan of the series.

Any Susanna Kearsley. Sigh. Just not a fan of this writer, and I’ve read two or three of her time travel novels and am quite disappointed in all of them. So I do not recommend her novels at all.

So what do you think of time travel novels? Are you a fan? If not a fan, why? I’m genuinely curious. Do you have any recommendations for me? If so, let me know in the comments.