Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Wrap-up Challenge Post: Back-to-the-Classics 2019

I completed 9 of the 12 categories for this year's Back-to-the-Classics Challenge, hosted by Books and Chocolate.

I think my favorite was The Mayor of Casterbridge, and my least favorite was Democracy in America - not that it was awful or that I hated it, but just that it held my attention the least.

1. 19th Century Classic
Democracy in America . Alexis de Tocqueville (1835) 

2. 20th Century Classic
A Room with a View .  E. M. Forster (1908) 

3. Classic by a Woman Author
Ethan Frome. Edith Wharton 

4. Classic Comic Novel
Don Quixote*. Cervantes 

5. Classic Tragic Novel
The Mayor of Casterbridge . Thomas Hardy 

6. Very Long Classic

7. Classic Novella
Red Badge of Courage* . Stephen Crane

8. Classic From a Place You've Lived
The Age of Innocence* . Edith Wharton (NEW YORK) 

9. Classic Play
Othello . Shakespeare 

Contact info: grllopez(at)yahoo(dot)com

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Nonfiction November 2019

Saw a couple of Nonfiction November posts and thought I'd try to participate this year. I am following the initial post via JulzReads. I think I did the Instagram version last year. If you have an account, here are the Instagram categories for 2019:

Week One category is: My Year in Nonfiction

About People
Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland H. Bainton
I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree: A Memoir of a Schindler's List Survivor by Laura Hillman
My Journey to America by Newzad Brifki
Tortured For Christ by Richard Wurmbrand
The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom by Corrie Ten Boom

The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscape That Inspired the Little House Landscape by Marta McDowell
The Wyoming Ranch Letters by Elinore Pruitt Stewart
Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser
Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Steward
West From Home by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Story of the Great Republic by Hélène A. Guerber
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
The Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau

The Communist Manifesto and Other Writings by Karl Marx
Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
Common Sense by Thomas Paine

A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders by Oliver DeMille

A Christian Manifesto by Francis A. Schaeffer
Change Me: The Ultimate Life-Change Handbook by Rick Thomas
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick
The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis


Juvenile (but not)
Children of the Wild West by Russell Freedman
When Cowboys Rode the Chisholm Trail by James McCague
The Mystery of the Periodic Table by Benjamin Wiker
Princess of the Press: The Story of Ida B. Wells-Barnett by Angela Shelf Medearis
Stories from the History of Rome by Mrs. Beesly

What was your favorite nonfiction of the year? 
My absolute favorite was I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree by Laura Hill. An extremely close second was Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt. Also, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom is an all-time favorite.

Do You have a particular topic you have been attracted to this year?
Many of my book choices were based on reading challenges, so they center on history or Christian-themed; however, pioneer books stood out because of my interest in that area.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?
I have recommended both I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree and Letters of a Woman Homesteader, with great success! I guess I know what my best reading buddy likes.

And more about these books listed in this post...
I would also recommend The Mystery of the Periodic Table to those curious about chemistry. What a fantastic little read through scientific history. (And I have very little interest in science.)

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is massive, but worth it. If you like reading about the Romans, you should commit to this for a year.

The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder is beautiful. If you love nature and gardening, and don't live in the barren desert like I do, you may enjoy taking a look at this book.

If you like lists, especially book may like to see the one at the end of A Thomas Jefferson Education. 

Finally, not that I would recommend the particular title I read to my kids, but if you have an interest in women in history - trailblazers, women of AMAZING courage -  I would suggest reading about Ida B. Wells. My kids and I read a juvenile version of her life...and I was so inspired, I bought a biography and her journal to read next year. I cannot wait! IDA B. WELLS! Check her out!


Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

The Communist Manifesto
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
Published 1848

Oh, joy. I get to review this book. 

First...Should you read this book?

If you are a champion of Communism or Socialism, you better read it because it is one of the foundational books of such philosophies, and you better know what you argue, just as a Christian should know his Bible. 

If you are is super short, rather empty and, in my opinion, dated. Some have considered it dull and boring. It is not riveting reading, and personally, Marx does not impress me. 

Now, for more important points:

I hate Communism/Socialism. I lump them together because they are cousins. One leads to the other, and it is all the same: another failed attempt at utopia. Both philosophies hate individual liberties, loathe freedom of anything, and despise religion, specifically God (the Creator). Furthermore, both ideologies have a very poor understanding of human nature or man. 

Marx and Engels recognized that there was a universal, distinct class struggle between two groups of people: the bourgeoise (business owner) and the proletariat (worker). The bourgeoise were considered selfish and greedy; the workers were poor, innocent, and oppressed. The bourgeoise also manipulated the governing class in order to get what they wanted and to easily control the workers. (Sound familiar?)

By publishing the Manifesto, the authors hoped to unite workers all over the world and overthrow the bourgeoise. They wanted to incite a violent, bloody revolution. Hence, they wrote this public declaration, published in many languages, and distributed it immediately. It flopped. Unfortunately, it survived and is still feeding man's confusion today.

While the authors were correct about class struggle and distinction, their terrible solution was to take the property (capital, business) away from the Bourgeoise and transfer it to the workers. Essentially, it would be publicly owned, but really it would be controlled by the State (the governing class). 

Other terrible ideas included:
  • State control of and free education for all children;
  • End of child labor;
  • State controlled distribution of the population; end of town, county, and city distinctions;
  • State control of factories and manufacturing and production;
  • State control of the environment and agriculture;
  • State control of the bank;
  • End of personal and private inheritance;
  • Heavy progressive income tax;
  • No private property; the State owns the land!

WOW! That looks strangely familiar. 

That's because my government, in America, land of the free, has adopted many of these ideas. 

So I ask you...have we eliminated the problem of class distinction or struggle, yet? Have we eliminated poverty? Have we eliminated inequality? 

No. No we have not. And we will never eliminate class struggle or poverty or inequality, especially by handing control or power to the elite group in a centralized government.

Communism has proven to be the worst thing to ever happen to society, to personal liberty, and to individual creativity. The end result has been utter destruction. It has been said that the only equality  Communism creates is the equal distribution of misery. Like Tocqueville said - my paraphrase: man has always tried to force equality, but he complicates matters. Better to preserve liberty because you cannot have equality without liberty.

Recently, my kids and I saw a theater production of Newsies, a musical inspired by the true events of the Newsies Strike, of 1899. The poor young workers were striking against the greedy, wealthy newspaper owners, who raised the price of the paper for distribution; but I was most struck by the comment made by one character who declared that it wasn't a sin to be poor; they just wanted what was fair. They were not asking beyond that - only what was reasonable. 

It is not a sin to be poor. And society will always have the poor with them. We will never have equal circumstances or equal outcomes, let alone inputs. No matter how much government has control, we will still have inequality, poverty, and class struggles; we will never have a perfect society or utopia. 

The best society is a free society. And Communism is not it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton

Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther
Roland H. Bainton
Published 1955

This was a reread for me. I like this biography about Martin Luther because the author, Roland Bainton, used perfectly plain language in a coherent, sequential format. 

Luther was one of the most unyielding workers of the Christian faith. Because Bainton was honest about Luther's emotional and psychological struggles, his sinful weaknesses, and health complications, this biography caused me to truly appreciate all Luther sacrificed, risked, and ultimately contributed to the Reformation and Christianity. 

Luther Nails 95 Thesis or Disputations
on the Power of Indulgences  ~ 

Imagine! This one man changed the Church because he dared to speak out against what he understood to be abuses of the Roman Church. He had to have known what happened to those before him when they spoke against the same Church. But he only thought about correcting a wrong, almost as if the offenders were not aware of their offense. And to think, he got these notions in his head because he read the Scriptures. Because Luther was a professor of the Word, he had to read the Scriptures to teach it; and it was then that his eyes were opened.

It's amazing what reading the Bible can do.

Imagine, also! This one man caused a political and social domino effect throughout Europe, and eventually the entire world. This book does not focus on the time past Luther's death, but I just had to add that bit because I think it would amaze Luther to see what he did beyond religion. He changed society completely.

Luther at the Diet of Worms ~ Werner, 1877

Continuing on, this book covered Luther's entire life, from birth, 1483, to death, 1546. Everything in between is described in perfect detail, including the beginnings of the new reformed church, or Protestant Church -- meaning, a turning back to the ways of the early Church. Luther never expected or imagined he would need to reform the Christian church, but followers looked to him, and hence, he needed to research, problem solve, and form a model for the future. 

Some of the new ideas from Luther included more music and singing, which eventually changed the secular world of music; and since music was written only for the church, which was absolutely restrictive, Luther caused classical music as we know it! (OK, I added that last part. But I think one can see the connection.)

Luther married, Katharina Von Bora, an ex-nun. Bainton also wrote considerably about her life and influences, which caused me to understand what an amazing woman she was. She had to put up with Luther's troubles, and he loved her very much for her patience and goodness. Together, they give Christians a delightful picture of God's design for marriage. 

Bainton included evidence for Luther's personality, much of it sarcastic and humorous, although he could be grouchy and short-fused. Nonetheless, he loved his wife and children dearly, and set a perfect example for a godly husband and father in the home. He was a hard worker and he cared so much for the souls of others, working to educate and inform people the truth of the gospel. 

Martin Luther, Katarina von Bora and children

Side bar: Three years ago, while reading about Luther with my children, we learned that he and Katarina had six children. I have five kids, and my fourth, who was 8-years old at the time, exclaimed, "Wow! You should be glad you were not his wife!"

The stuff that comes out of that kid's mouth!

Should you read this book?

If you like Christian biographies, Christian history, or you don't mind the Christian part, but appreciate history and biographies, or anything about people who have had a major impact on the world, and if you are a fan of Roland Bainton, then this would be a good book for you.

I would read this again, but I think I'm going to look at other books written by Roland Bainton.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville

Democracy in America
Alexis de Tocqueville
Published 1835-40

Democracy in America is almost 1000 pages long. The author, French politician Alexis de Tocqueville, visited America, in 1831-32, to study its penitentiaries and judicial system. While there, he made political and social observations, hoping to help France transition from an aristocracy to a democracy. Tocqueville also visited Britain and made similar observations, believing that France was moving toward a democracy like America, not a constitutional monarchy, as in Britain.

The County Election ~ Bingham, 1852
With the size of this work, written in two parts, you can imagine there were countless topics throughout, including liberty, equality, patriotism, social conditions and political society, elections, freedom of the press, individualism, slavery, and Native Americans. Part II covered democracy and how it affected religion, science, literature, art, education, civility, manners, and equality between men and women.

Independence ~ Meyer, 1858
For a while, I was confused what the author thought about democracy; sometimes I was not sure if he liked it or not. Then I learned that he was concerned that his nation of France may ignore the dangers of democracy, and he wanted to be sure that the country avoided these mistakes. That is why he carefully observed society during his visit to the United States because he thought the new, young  democratic nation was headed in the right direction. In fact, he wrote candidly about the drawbacks to democracy, but he believed that if applied properly - if a government and its people found the happy medium - democracy would ensure liberty and equality.

Stump Speaking ~ Bingham, 1854
Again, this is an essential work in the world of political science, especially for democratic nations, or those nations that consider themselves democratic and free. I think the author's honesty and warnings about democracy's weaknesses are relevant. But I wonder if anyone is listening anymore.

I will leave you with observation that rang throughout: man would rather have equality than personal liberty, and that is what Tocqueville was concerned about. He wrote:
At such times men pounce upon equality as their booty, and they cling to it as to some precious treasure which they fear to lose. The passion for equality penetrates on every side into men's hearts, expands there, and fills them entirely. Tell them not that by this blind surrender of themselves to an exclusive passion they risk their dearest interest; they are deaf. Show them not freedom escaping from their grasp, whilst they are looking another way: they are blind -- or rather, they can discern but one sole object to be desired in the universe. 
I'm with Tocqueville. I'll take individual liberty over equality anytime! Because you cannot have equality unless you have liberty...not the other way around. 

Should you read this?

If you like political and social science, government, or American and European history (particularly France and England), and you don't mind committing to 1000 pages, then this would be worth your time.

I do not plan to ever read this again, unless my interests change; but I doubt it. I was so glad to be done with it. Whew.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Dilemmas of a Book Nerd "Tag"

Dilemmas of a Book Nerd "Tag"
(I am borrowing this from Sharon Goforth)

  • Storage: How do you store and organize your books?
In bookcases. One in my bedroom, one in my living room, and one in my school room.

The books in my bedroom include my husband's books, books of political and social topics, books about Italians, and two shelves for books on education, homeschooling, nature, and book or reading lists.

The one in my living room is organized by classic fiction, contemporary fiction, American history, ancient and other history, Christian history, poetry, biographies, plays, and children's books. All of my fiction is alphabetized by author's last name, while history I try to keep organized by time period. 

The books in my school room are living books for learning (that means NO TEXTBOOKS), and they are organized by historical time periods, or topic, such as music, poetry, geography, etc.
  • Tracing: How do you keep track of what books you read and what books you own?
I use Goodreads and Bookly. Earlier this year I bought an app to catalogue my books and spent all summer scanning them in - over 500 of them - though it took longer than expected because most of them had to be entered manually. Then, a week ago, I bought a new phone, and POOF, the library catalogue vanished. All that work could not be recovered. So I'm trying to find a way to utilize only Goodreads to keep track of those books I own, so that I do not duplicate any when I am out hunting for new books. I made a label called "own," and I must remember to remove the label if I get rid of the book, which sometimes happens. 
I just started using Bookly, which keeps track of books I've read, as well as statistics on how long I read or how long it took to read a book, and other interesting, though not important stats. (Above are some of its features.)
  • Borrow: Do you lend your books out?
There is one friend whom I swap books with because she is an ardent reader like me. She is so careful with my books and always returns them. I would rather not lend to anyone else because I hate having to ask years later for the book. A few times, I kissed that one goodbye and bought another copy. 
  • Buying: How do you buy or acquire your books?
Most books I buy used from library sales. I have purchased used books from for one penny. Yes, books would sell for one penny, plus $3 shipping! Obviously those prices have increased. I also shop our local used book store where books are $2 each. 

Rarely do I buy new books, like from Barnes and Noble, unless I get a gift card, or I fall in love with a book and I want a brand new copy. 
  • How do you respond to "How do you read so much" and other similar comments?
I do not know the last time asked me or if I answered them. I would probably disagree because I could read a lot more, but sometimes I have to sleep instead. I only read up to 50 books a year (and ten of those are usually children's books that I read with my kids.)
  • Next book: How do you choose your next read?
Toward the end of the year, I make a list of books - ones I own but have not read - that I want to read next year. I try to stick with it. Sometimes my next book is on The Well-Trained Mind list, and since I have committed to it, I must follow it. Unless it's terrible, then I will stop reading it and go to the next one. If a book feels like bad medicine, I may not start it at all. Sometimes I am inspired by another blogger's review of a book, and I will commit myself to read it ASAP. 
  • Travel: How do you pick which book to take on vacay with you?
I choose a short book - I have done this before: The Catcher in the Rye - and read it on the road or when we're just sitting around because that's what you do on vacation. It has to be something short and slim, not like War and Peace. Too much commitment. 
  • Annotate: Do you write in or mark up your books in any way?
Do I write in books? I deface my poor books! I argue with the author! I'll have it out with a character! I add stars and underlines and notes in the margins. I cannot read without a pen in my hand. That's why, if I fall in love with a book, I may consider buying a new copy so that it doesn't look like one of these:

  • New or back list: Which do you prefer?
Since I am stuck in the classics, I'm a back list reader. I don't know much about new authors or new titles. Occasionally, I have purchased new books as they have been released, like by Eric Metaxas.
  • Sequels: Do you read books as they are released or do you wait for an entire series to be released?
Again, I rarely know about new releases, but if books come in a series, I suppose I would read them as they were released, as opposed to waiting for them to be available at once. 

Tag people: If you feel inclined to participate, guess what? You've been tagged!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome
Edith Wharton
Published 1911

Ethan Frome takes place about the late 1800s. It is a hauntingly desperate story about a hopeless circumstance between two people who have feelings for one another, though cannot be together, of course. It is as overcast as the Massachusetts winter, which is the setting of the story.


As depressing as that may seem, it is still a good read because Edith Wharton, like Thomas Hardy, writes tragedy quite beautifully. We read her works, not for the same inconsiderate reason onlookers slow down to scan a car wreck on the side of the road as they drive by; but rather, it is to have empathy, to understand, and to experience, maybe even to participate. Some have said that to read literature is to live, and I have felt that way after reading Wharton, including this little book, which is under 150 pages.


At the shocking climax of the story, I felt that I, too, participated in the concluding horror of the lovers' desperate decision. I was definitely dazed for a while. Recently, I discovered the author was inspired to include that final event because of an actual incident that had previously happened, which made the tragedy more genuine than it already seemed.

Prominent themes in Ethan Frome include free will and fate, which struggle against each other, yet sometimes complement one another. Often we think we are in control of every aspect of our lives but soon are reminded that we simply are not. We may make decisions about the direction we hope to go, but its ending is not as we expected or desired. Other themes are adultery and fidelity. Ethan Frome is faced with the typical moral dilemma of adultery, while he is truly aware of the ramifications of infidelity, a decision that may bring momentary pleasure would also be permanent pain and destruction, not only to others, but also to himself.

Would you want to read this?

If you accept reading misfortune written in beautiful language, then you may like to read this short novel. If you do not mind a shocking conclusion, then you shall do ok. Edith Wharton is an enchanting writer, but her stories are not always happy endings; nonetheless, they are good experiences because they cause us to walk in the shoes of someone else's misfortune, that we may know and understand and have empathy for others.

I would definitely read this book again.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

The Mayor of Casterbridge
Thomas Hardy
Published 1886

The Mayor of Casterbridge was my choice for a tragic novel in the Back-to-the-Classics challenge because anything I have ever read by Thomas Hardy has been either moderately or extremely tragic. I knew I could not go wrong.

This was rather moderately tragic, considering the long stretches of success and joy and happiness, though only temporary. The story began very melancholy, but soon after sought to correct itself. The main character, who was responsible for the pain and chaos, was genuinely regretful and sought a life of penance. Always the story was on the verge of amends and reconciliation, which was a good direction; however, there were often set backs, and happiness was brief and fleeting. 

As is typical with Hardy, the characters are complex and their lives are entangled, making the story complicated, while covering a broad range of emotions. Most of the characters are decently good at heart, or at least mean to be, and it is safe to have empathy for them, even when they make mistakes. 

But sometimes the circumstances are frustrating, which is a common response from me when reading a Hardy novel. Nonetheless, I remind myself that the author was a complicated man, and he alone created these outrageous scenarios. So why continue reading him? I suppose it is mostly curiosity of what he will make of the mess he caused. Sure enough, at the very ending of his story he said,
And in being forced to class herself among the fortunate she did not cease to wonder at the persistence of the unforeseen, when the one to whom such unbroken tranquility had been accorded in the adult stage was she whose youth had seemed to teach that happiness was but the occasional episode in a general drama of pain. 
That's because, according to the pessimistic Hardy, happiness was momentary, interim, and insecure. Life was mostly painful, with fleeting moments of happiness. Such is the expression about the water in the glass: half empty or half full? Obviously, to Hardy, it was half empty. Or more like 3/4 empty, with a slow leak. That may be harsh, and apparently, he took offense to his philosophy of life being condemned as pessimistic, "as if that were a very wicked adjective," he declared. Maybe this is true, as it is possible to have very bad luck and poor timing and awful circumstances throughout one's life. But he certainly was obsessed about it, and I do not think it is very healthy.

Would you want to read this?

Again, this is a Hardy novel. It is well written -- such beautiful, lyrical prose. It is considered one of his very best novels, and I would agree (though not like my favorite Far From the Madding Crowd). It is melancholy, then redeeming, and even promising, but tragic to the very end. Most of all, the story, which is 400 pages, is worth your time or emotional investment because there is never a dull moment or plot vacancy or shallow characters. Let me say: if you like a lot of drama with your classics...this is for you.

I added The Mayor of Casterbridge to my personal canon and hope to read it again.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

It's So Classic Book Tag

It's So Classic Book Tag by Rebellious Writing

Link post to the host: Rebellious Writing. 
Answer Questions.
Tag five bloggers.

What is one classic that hasn't made it into a movie, yet, but really needs to?

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
An amazing, heart-wrenching story about what one mother had the courage to do instead of be separated from her babies. Ever! 
or Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
I do wish someone could make an updated film version of this story.
HOWEVER...What I'd really love to see is an excellent film sequence made from the entire nine-book set of the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Don't change the characters or the fictional chronological order, or water it down for today's overly Twitter-sensitive audiences. I want to hear every bird song and see every flower, sky, rolling hill, lake, and waving prairie grasses, and taste every delectable dish that Laura described. I want to experience the wild woods and prairies, the horrid grasshoppers, the wolves, the devastating winter, the poverty, hunger, and every unknown and fear that Laura experienced.
I want to see all the excellent lessons Almanzo learned. I want to enjoy the patriotic Fourth of Julys. I want to hear all of Pa's songs and Ma's exemplary corrections. I want the pain and the disappointments and the trials and perseverance. There is nothing to leave out, even if her story was is still a story, and that is what needs to be made into film.
But I won't hold my breath.
What draws you into classics?

The writing style of the classics stands out the most for me, and I find classic authors have higher standards or are technically better writers. They are beautiful writers and know how to use words to paint pictures. They don't waste words. They are careful about how they place words, as each word is used purposefully and precisely. One could even say they use words to make music, because you could read aloud and it would almost be like a tune. Or at least your tongue doesn't trip on itself. 

What is an underrated classic?

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

What is one classic that you didn't expect to love, but ended up loving it anyway?

My second reading of Persuasion by Jane Austen.

What is your most favorite and least favorite classic?

MOST: Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
     or Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
          or Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
               or Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

LEAST: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

What is your favorite character from a classic?

Melanie Hamilton from Gone With the Wind

What's a popular classic that you felt wasn't that great?

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Who is your favorite classic author?

Right now, it's Thomas Hardy.

What makes a classic a classic?

Well, I've already mentioned writing style. Another characteristic of a classic is the soul of the story. It has to be a good story that makes timeless arguments about life, human nature, and our hearts. It has to tell us about ourselves. If we cannot relate to it, it won't speak to us, and we will forget it. Classics go on forever, and that is why they last for generations. 

Relating to newer books, what attributes does a book need to have in order to be worthy of the title "classic"?

So besides a strong and healthy writing style, a story that speaks directly into our souls, and longevity, a book must have the truth. An author cannot lie to his/her readers or they will not take the author seriously. A classic has truth. TRUTH. The characters must be human and the plot must make sense or have a purpose. If the truth is missing, the book will only be cheap and quick entertainment,  whereas a classic will have you going back for seconds. 

Tag Time:

Sharon @ Gently Mad
Silvia @ Silvia Cachia
Paula @ The Vince Review (No pressure, Paula. I know you said you were slowing down for awhile.)

Now check out Rebellious Writing for other fun happenings!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

I Cannot Write Right Now and Other Things

Writing drains me. It takes me days and sometimes weeks to sit down and produce a blog post. Then it takes a few more hours, over the course of a few days, to edit. It takes everything from me, and emotionally drains me. I rarely leave any thought untouched. It takes time away from reading and time away from my family. 

I look at all of these books I have waiting for me to read, and I think about what I really want to do most...

I want to read!

Yes, I want to write and discuss, too, but not as much as I want to read. It's difficult enough to find time to read on a daily basis, and book reviews and discussions, in addition, are not a guarantee via a blog. There are already thousands of book bloggers who offer so much more time and book reviews than I do. And since I am not an active blogger, I would rather focus on reading. 

I have definitively cut myself off from all of the reading commitments I made earlier in the year  (except for long term challenges like WEM, The Classics Club), which felt liberating.

Next, I purchased the Bookly app, for encouragement....

And then I started reading...a lot.

The first book I finished was Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge. 5/5 stars. Excellent read, well written, and intensely intricate. The complexities of alternating circumstances and emotions kept me involved and expecting. Again, it is typical Hardy, so the ending is crushing; but this one ranks up there with his very best works.

The next book I finished was Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome. 4/5 stars. Another well written story by Wharton. When I had the evening to read, I could not wait to open to where I left off to find out what would happen next. This is a very sad and quick novella. By the time I was acquainted with the main characters and their personal stories, tragedy was upon the relationship. The ending is just as quick and devastating. It has stayed with me for weeks.

My next three books are current reads, and they are between 300 and 600+ pages. In other words, they are taking me a long time to finish. 

The first is Here I Stand by Roland Bainton. It is a straightforward biography about Martin Luther. I marvel at how God used Luther to change history and the world. This is my second reading of this book, and I am at the halfway mark.

I am still trekking through Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville, for my Well-Educated Mind Reading History Challenge. It is both a burden and enlightening. It is unconscionably long, but also interesting, at times. A great example of Fair and Balanced reporting, for certain. Again, it is a second read for me, and I just started reading part II.

I am a little over halfway through Caroline Fraser's Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder. This one is difficult to read because Fraser shares some unfavorable truths about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the stories I have come to love so very much. This work does expose her life (as per her stories) as absolute fiction; Fraser also reveals the many complications of Rose Wilder, Laura's only daughter. And I have hardly delved into the political stuff. But it's coming!

Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis, I am reading to my kids for no reason other than it has been on our bookshelf for a long time. I should finish it tonight. It is set in the time of the Great Depression, the same time period I am in Prairie Fires. In my opinion, it is not great reading, but it is narrated by the young protagonist; I cannot help but correct his grammar while I read it aloud.

Finally, I am starting this tomorrow, reading with Brona's Books for the Moby-Dick Readalong. I read Moby-Dick in 2012, and I loved the experience. Now I hope to get something more out of it. We only need to read 3-4 chapters a week, and Brona expects us to be done in February 2020. 

You see my copy...I bought this book for 10 cents from my library. It was brand new; no one had touched it. So I took it home and read it for my Well-Educated Mind Novels Reading Challenge. I read it while floating in my pool hour after hour, day after day, all summer. A few times I had to fling it out of the pool because I thought one of my kids was drowning. It was always a false alarm, and I overreacted. Each time my book took a beating, and often it became water logged; but it was the perfect place for reading such a book, after which it found a place in my heart forever. Honestly, I think it is the time period and history of such livelihood that gets me the most.

Now, what does this all mean? It means I will take a break from writing long-winded, soul-emptying blog posts. I have forfeit my smaller challenges, but I will keep reading and maybe have something to say on Goodreads, Instagram, or Facebook. Maybe. As it is, I have written too much, and I must go make dinner and wash breakfast dishes. Yeah, they are still sitting in the sink!