Reading Winter Holidays

Christmas reads

Last year, I began devouring Christmas reads in November – November 16, to be exact. I know this because I’m diligent about keeping reading records. For this reason, I also know that I read twelve holiday-themed books between November 2014 and January 2015. That’s a lot of holiday books!

Apparently, I was on some sort of mission. I blame Starbucks. They released their gingerbread latte (my favorite!) so early that my internal clock became confused, and I thought it was time for Christmas. Continue reading “Reading Winter Holidays”

Rereading “A Christmas Carol” at Christmas Time

A Christmas Carol

By the time I moved to Connecticut, I had already made a habit of reading Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” at Christmas time. I had made it habit but not yet a tradition.

The decision to commit to rereading it every year began the snowy winter we lived in a one-story cottage dating to the mid-18th century. It had a huge picture window overlooking the backyard, which had a creek running through it and, on the opposite bank, a nature preserve. In the living room, a gigantic stone fireplace (about the size of the studio apartment I had once lived in) dominated one wall and featured a cooking arm dating to the colonial period.  Continue reading “Rereading “A Christmas Carol” at Christmas Time”

The Wit and Wisdom of “Northanger Abbey”

Before 2012, “Northanger Abbey” was the only Jane Austen classic I had not read. Upon remedying this shocking lapse (I mean, she only wrote six completed novels – how hard it is to read her whole canon?), I decided it was my favorite Austen novel. Though I’m skeptical that we can trust these judgments…

At any rate, I reread this sparkling classic novel recently for a book group and fell in love with it all over again. What makes it so special, to me at least, is that it’s both a witty send-up of gothic novels and a serious defense of novels as an art form. In the process, Austen reminds us that the issue isn’t form as much as it is substance. It’s what we do with what we have that counts. Continue reading “The Wit and Wisdom of “Northanger Abbey””

Rereading Homer’s “The Iliad”

Since Stephen Mitchell’s 2011 translation of the The Iliad came out, I’ve been telling myself that I should reread this epic poem. The last time I read it, I was in high school studying modern Greek with a tutor. This tutor came to my house each week. Seated at a round table in my parents’s shades-of-brown family room, with its faux wood-paneled walls, I’d read out loud from a modern Greek translation of The Iliad. I think maybe we discussed it? I can’t recall exactly how I felt about the poem, other than that it seemed to involve a lot of killing, trash talking, and whining gods.

Four years after purchasing Mitchell’s translation and reverently placing it on my bookshelf, I finally got around to the task of reading it. Turns out, I wasn’t so off the mark with my initial assessment. Also: It’s one of the saddest books I’ve ever read, and an absolute must read for anyone who wants to understand the human condition.

Pairs well with Greek Gods Greek Yogurt ;)
Pairs well with Greek Gods Greek Yogurt

Continue reading “Rereading Homer’s “The Iliad””

Literary Places: Weathersfield, Connecticut and “The Witch of Blackbird Pond”

The places we read about in books exert a tremendous fascination. How else to explain the existence of phenomena like Universal’s Harry Potter world, or the restored homes of beloved authors, or literary walking tours of the cities and towns where those authors, and their characters, lived?

I have felt this pull to London, in particular, whose streets I first walked in childhood with Mary Poppins, Paddington Bear, and Sara Crewe, then later with so many of Charles Dickens’s characters (David Copperfield holding many favorites). Continue reading “Literary Places: Weathersfield, Connecticut and “The Witch of Blackbird Pond””

On Blogging about Books and Reading

Goldfinch Love

When I first set up this website, it was to share my book, events, and services with fellow readers. On the question of keeping a blog, I was … conflicted.

I share my thoughts on books and authors on Books, Ink, the book and author news website I edit in Connecticut. Would keeping a blog be redundant? How would it be different from what I already do? What would the point be? Continue reading “On Blogging about Books and Reading”

On Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and the Magical Number Seven

My most recent acquisition
My most recent acquisition

Seven (7). That is how many copies of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone live in my house. I mention this because if you’ve read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, you may recall that seven is a powerfully magical number. Do with this information what you will.

Now then, how does one end up with seven copies of Harry Potter number one? Let’s do the tally:

Two hardcover U.S. editions +

one paperback U.S. edition +

two paperback U.K. editions +

one Greek translation (in paperback) +

the e-book edition =

Seven editions of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone. In my house. Continue reading “On Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and the Magical Number Seven”