pbadeer - Publications Through Time
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Thanks to JustJoey4's suggestion, I am starting a secondary challenge for RTT which is sufficiently different from my first one that I thought it justified its own thread.
Instead of reading books "about" a time period, the suggestion is to read books published in individual years which are about "their own" time (i.e., read a book published in 1864 as opposed to a contemporary title ABOUT 1864). Not sure how well I'll do - even 19th century authors wrote "historical fiction" - but it should be another fun way to diversify my reading.
21st Century Publications
2012 - Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander
2010 - Room - Emma Donoghue
2009 - Lowboy by John Wray
2008 - Hangman's Curse by Frank Peretti
2007 - Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris
2006 - Famous Writers School by Steven Carter
2005 - Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris
2004 - Story Time by Edward Bloor
2003 - Sister North by Jim Kokoris
2002 - The Burglar Diaries by Danny King
20th Century Publications
1999 - The Last Summer of Reason by Tahar Djaout
1996 - The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
1988 - The Ghost Wore Gray by Bruce Coville
1992 - The Queen and I by Sue Townsend
1980 - Barn Blind by Jane Smiley
1975 - Liberty's: A Biography of a Shop by Alison Adburgham
1971 - Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
1971 - The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
1970 - Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars
1962 - A Wrinkle in Time by Madleine L'Engle
1957 - A Death in the Family by James Agee
1947 - Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada
1942 - The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck
1938 - Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
1925 - The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
1925 - Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
1919 - Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
1906 - The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
19th Century Publications
1891 - The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
1878 - Daisy Miller by Henry James
1868 - Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
1867 - The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky
1853 - Villette by Charlotte Bronte
1851 - Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
1847 - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
1839 - Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
1822 - The Night Before Christmas - Clement C. Moore
18th Century (and before?) Publications
Can't imagine I'll have much in this time line, but Common Sense has been burning a hole in my bookshelf for quite some time, so I figured I'd dedicate some space for it...we'll see...
Finally read something which was "of its own time" - a whopping 2 years ago. Hangman's Curse was very good, and I include it more because I needed to start with SOMETHING - but it was contemporary with its time.
See the rest of the review here
I had no idea how tough it would be to keep fill this challenge. I even started The English Governess at the Siamese Court (the source for the King and I) and it's a memoir about a time period 20 years prior to the date it was published. AGHHH!
My first 19th century title for this challenge - 1868 - Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Can't believe I never read this before. This was an interesting title for this challenge because even though it was written immediately after the war and covers time during the war, the timing seems to indicate that it lasted BEYOND the years of its writing. The twins had to have been older than 3 by the time the book ends, and they were born after the war ended. Although that happens in books now, it's kind of neat to read an old title which uses that technique. To our eyes, all of the events are in the past. It probably gave it a different feel to those who read it as a contemporary text.
Finally, I get to add something new to this list. I hadn't realized it would be this hard to find old reads, written of their own time.
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell - 3 stars
I'm so excited to have something to add to this list, I just wish the book were more deserving of the attention. It's not a bad book, but it's not about anything in particular, so I can't say it's good either. It's simply the story of the ladies of the town of Cranford and how they spend their time. There's some busy-body aspects, but there is some kind heartedly and truly noble characters within the bunch as well.
It read very easily - much like how a contemporary author would write in the style of this era - so it wasn't a challenge to finish, it just seemed like there could have been "something" happening to carry the plot.
Hi Patrick. I saw Cranford as it was televised on English television. I thought it was rather sweet and relaxing to watch, but I agree, there isn't much of a plot.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien - 4 stars
It's hard to say a book about talking rats is "of its time" but a lot of what the rats do are very much contemporary to the publication date. Particularly the lab rats and what was considered "technology" at that time. Actually a children's book (and winner of the 1972 Newbery Award), I read this with may daughter for a book competition. Not sure it would hold the interest of an adult used to reading "normal" literature, but a great read for a family together. Wholesome, and although it starts off slow, it ended up interesting.
Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars - 3.5 stars
The Newbery winner of 1971, Summer of the Swans is a traditional "feel good" story with the added experience of one of the characters suffering from mild retardation, caused by brain damage from a childhood illness. Not a particularly good story, I feel this one sits on the cusp of what the Newbery was about to become - a lot more socially forward and thought provoking - and moving away from just simple good storytelling. There are merits to both sides, and this book sits with a foot planted firmly in both. You become invested in the boy, but his condition never takes the front seat for focus. It's simply there and is the reason the rest of the story exists. Worth a family read.
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder - 4 stars
The Headless Cupid is a 1972 Newbery Honor Book which has truly stood the test of time. Unlike other children’s titles from the same era, Cupid could easily have been written today – assuming you could find a family who didn’t live in front of their TV’s and Video Games.
Amanda’s mom remarries, and they move away from the city and into an old house in the country along with David, the oldest brother of Janie and twins Esther and Blair. Amanda is “different” – or at least she wants to be different – and she’s sure that the country will be boring and no one will like her. To her surprise, her new brothers and sisters show an interest in Amanda’s fixation on witchcraft and go along with her versions of occult initiation. Then, when a poltergeist appears – the same poltergeist which may have visited the house 80 years ago…when the wooden cupid on the bannister lost its head – the entire family gets a new insight into what the occult may really mean.
Although the work remains timeless, the “wholesomeness” of the story kind of stands out as a little antiquated – but I would like to think in a good way. Picture life as a kid 30 years ago, and what passes for an initiation rite seems appropriate for the book, but lame in a child’s eyes today. I listened to this with my 11 year old daughter, and she frequently guffawed at both the blatant plot and descriptions of family life – but admitted that the author’s use of a subtle subplot which pops up on occasion was enough to keep her engaged throughout.
With all of that said, maybe my initial rating of 4 stars seems a little high, but I give the stars to represent the spirit in which the book was written and should now be read. A great, quaint family read to reminisce on how life used to be.
Daisy Miller by Henry James - 3 stars
This was my first Henry James...and I have to say that I'm a little underwhelmed. Granted, it was technically a novella, but even so, there was so little plot, I think the entire thing could have been shortened even more into a short story...or maybe a 5 paragraph essay. I had read other reviews which commented on the lack of plot in this one, but I can usually live with that if what is there is well written, or gives a beautiful vision of the time, etc. This did none of that. It's a tale of a 19th century American girl who refused to conform to the societal expectations of Europeans during her Grand Tour. James includes several examples of how she flaunts these expectations, but they never really develop the story. It's just more of the same. Yes, there is one major development, at the end, but that's where the 5 paragraph essay suggestion comes in. One overview paragraph of her attitude would be enough to set it up. But I'm sure I'll try another James novel eventually to give him the benefit of the doubt.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - 4 stars
This was actually a re-read - with a 20 year gap between reads. This time I read it with my 11 year old daughter. Let's say that you get a different perspective at that age. We listened to the audio version together, and my daughter became obsessed with the number of adjectives he used. I thought they formed a beautiful narrative, she felt he was getting paid by the word. As good as I remember, and still a recommended read.
I endured this book in high school, but loved it as an adult 30 years later. I understand your daughters feedback on wordiness. Given the fast paced world I've adapted to which your daughter is growing up in, Jane Austin has become a bit to slow for me to enjoy rereading now.
Perhaps the two of you would enjoy reading I Heard the Owl Call My Name together.
finally added some new titles onto my lists (kind of forgot about this thread).
Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada - 4 stars
Another "classic" I had never heard of, but I decided to tackle it anyway. Overall, it was a good book, but as the title would imply, it is quite heavy. Written by a contemporary author, it would have been a bloodbath. Written as it was, by a survivor of a Concentration Camp, it took on a far more personal tone, and even the deaths of relatively minor characters (who all died alone) are touching. I will not say it was the best example of "holocaust" literature, because I felt the overall tone and final message of the book remained far too bleak. Even Elie Wiesel's Night had a undertone of hope. But it is still a good example and worthy of more notice.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madleine L'Engle - 4.5 stars
This falls under the category of a book I've always wanted/planned to read and never got around to. My daughter will be reading it this year, so I stole her copy, plugged it into the TIOLI challenge for the class list read, and tucked in.
It was a quick, easy and good read, and (sad to admit) very close to the movie as I remembered it. I didn't remember the religious connotations from the movie, but they were minor. Interesting to think of the science fiction component from a book written 40 some years ago.
A Death in the Family by James Agee - 3.5 stars
This book was depressing. As my daughter asked, what did I expect based on the title? It wasn't so much that it was about a death, it was so much about the reaction of the family that I found myself driving in my car thinking about my own death, then the death of my wife and my daughter, over and over again. I had to stop listening to it every once in a while just because I couldn't take it.
Overall, it was still well written, and I guess a good book, but maybe it was just the mood I was in, but it wasn't for me.
The Ghost Wore Gray by Bruce Coville - 4 stars
Another audiobook with my daughter (we have a long ride every day), I felt we needed a good ghost story for Halloween. I'd never read this one, but I love Bruce Coville, so I thought it was a good bet.
Very corny, and not a story which seems to have aged well (it was written in the 80's). The characters are a little naive for their age (the main character is the same age as my daughter), and the plot is so methodically paced that we knew every "surprise" pages before it happened. My daughter mocked it mercilessly throughout.
I still enjoyed it, but it gave me more of a reminiscence of stories from my youth.
The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck - 4.5 stars
My daughter is about to read The Pearl by Steinbeck, a work I had never read. But she and I listen to audiobooks on our drive to/from school, and while she didn't want to listen to something she was going to eventually read, she thought it might be interesting to try something else. This one was short, to give her a taste, and we both really enjoyed it.
Written during WWII, The Moon is Down describes the end result of when an un-named military force overruns and un-named foreign power. If the invading army considers the country "conquered", are its citizens also necessarily "conquered"? The citizens don't seem to think so. While they cannot fight back in a traditional military method, they show their own resistance where they can, much to the consternation of the "victors".
No real mystery who the invading army was supposed to be, but the country they invaded did appear to be generic, we couldn't figure out who they represented (except it wasn't England since that country is mentioned). Different from some of the Steinbeck I have read in school and a good reminder of someone I should probably read again now that I'm an adult.
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