As I’ve mentioned before, one of my big inspirations to reread my favorite classics, and discover the ones I’ve neglected in the past, has been doing the Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge with Jessica Collins, my friend and contributing editor at Books, Ink.
This month’s Charles Dickens reading goal was to revisit A Tale of Two Cities, but I’ve gotten a bit sidetracked with books of the circumstance and season variety.
My reading month started off with two books I heard about in September, both related to 9/11: Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog & the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero by Michael Hingson with Susy Flory and The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede. Both were so readable that I consumed them one after the other the first weekend in October.
If the popularity of book clubs demonstrates one thing, it’s that readers are not cowering wallflowers hiding from the big bad world in their books.
Don’t get me wrong. I have my cowering wallflower moments, but loving books has little to do with it. On vacation recently, it was discovering a shared love of reading that pulled me out of my shell. “How is it?” the woman occupying the beach chair adjacent to mine asked, bobbing her head towards the book at my feet.
Aaaand, we’re off. We talked about e-readers versus paper books, what kind of stories we most enjoy, and what we generally love about reading. We also agreed that the ultimate vacation would involve reading all day, with no interruptions.
We are now firmly in the grip of my favorite time of year – the months of October through December. I love autumn leaves. I love pumpkins and gingerbread (in all their decorative, imbibe-able, and edible forms). And I love seasonal reading.
Lately, my reading list has been dominated by Charles Dickens and books for young readers, with a murder-mystery and a few non-fiction books thrown in for variety (I do love reading variety!). This month, I’m planning to reread “A Tale of Two Cities,” but that doesn’t mean I’m not looking for new books to fill out my TBR pile.
I had a terrible moment while reading Charles Dickens recently. I was just beginning the second paragraph of the second chapter of “Oliver Twist,” where the narrator describes Oliver’s first months of life as a ward of the state:
The hungry and destitute situation of the infant orphan was duly reported by the workhouse authorities to the parish authorities. The parish authorities inquired with dignity of the workhouse authorities, whether there was no female them domiciled in “the house” who was in a situation to impart to Oliver Twist, the consolation and nourishment of which he stood in need. The workhouse authorities replied with humility, that there was not. Upon this, the parish authorities magnanimously and humanely resolved, that Oliver should be “farmed,” or, in other words, that he should be dispatched to a branch-workhouse some three miles off, where twenty or thirty other juvenile offenders against the poor-laws, rolled about the floor all day, without the inconvenience of too much food or too much clothing, under the parental superintendence of an elderly female, who received the culprits at and for the consideration of sevenpence-halfpenny per small head per week. Sevenpence-halfpenny’s worth per week is a good round diet for a child; a great deal may be got for sevenpence-halfpenny, quite enough to overload its stomach, and make it uncomfortable. The elderly female was woman of wisdom and experience; she knew what was good for children; and she had a very accurate perception of what was good for herself. So, she appropriated the greater part of the weekly stipend to her own use, and consigned the rising parochial generation to even a shorter allowance than was originally provided for them. Thereby finding in the lowest depth a deeper still, and proving herself a very great experimental philosopher.
I read this paragraph once. Then I read it again. And then again. I could not stop myself rereading it a fourth time, at which point I despaired of ever getting through the second chapter, let alone the entire novel. (Spoiler alert: I did, eventually, get through both.) Continue reading “Why We Bother”
A few weeks ago, I committed to explaining why I’ve been reading so much Charles Dickens lately. Here is where I make good on that commitment:
It started over at Books, Ink (the books website I edit), where we’re doing the Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge. If you’ve never heard of it, the objective is to read all 339 books referenced on the Gilmore Girls series over the course of its seven seasons.
My brilliant contributing editor, Jessica Collins, suggested undertaking the project collaboratively. Since the show and Books, Ink are both based in Connecticut and Jessica and I are both fans of the show – and books and, like the eponymous Gilmore girls, coffee – well, let’s just say the challenge felt like the perfect fit.
For the Books, Ink version of the challenge, we feature one book from the list per week, and whoever read it writes a short piece about his or her experience of it. So far, we’re 18 books in, and the best parts have been sharing the challenge with fellow book lovers (local readers are invited to participate) and being inspired to read books that have been languishing on my reading list.
This is where Charles Dickens comes in. When I first looked over the list, the books that caught my attention because I’d always meant to read them (but hadn’t) were mostly classics. Specifically, “David Copperfield” and “Little Dorrit,” two of six Dickens novels on the challenge list. Continue reading “Why Charles Dickens?”
You know that feeling that comes over you when you read words so perfectly, exquisitely arranged, into sentiments that ring so familiar, with insight into the human condition that cuts so deep? And you ascend into such a deep state of bliss that you feel it’s entirely possible wings will burst out of your should blades and carry you up, up, up?
Taken at the since closed (sniffle) Posman Books in Grand Central Station
Twice over the last month, Facebook friends have posted book recommendation requests on my timeline. Specifically, they asked for help deciding which book they should read among the many proffered on one (or, in this case, two) of those infernal list articles with names like “100 Books You Should Read Right This Moment.”
Now, I love being asked for book recommendations. It also happens to be true that I’ve written articles like the aforementioned, albeit with more modest numerical values (I’m a fan of 10, or even an eminently manageable five). So after scrolling through the titles on each list, I was quite embarrassed to have to admit, publicly, that I have yet to read a single one of those books. Not. One. Book. Continue reading “All About the Books, But Which Books, Exactly?”
Since this is my first post, a few words of introduction seem in order. I am a writer, teacher, and avowed book lover (more on these at my “about” page). Here is where I will write about what I’m reading and my other bookish pursuits (attending author talks, visiting literary landmarks, etc.).
So what do I read? I enjoy almost all genres, except horror and erotica, which have in common that they tend to be more explicit that I favor. I prefer ambiguity and allusion because I have it in my head that they make me work a little harder, stimulate my imagination, and compel me to think. But I suspect this is me crafting a clever cover for the fact that I just don’t like to read explicit violence and sex. I find it alarming.