Carsten's (ctpress) Take and Read

Talk75 Books Challenge for 2011

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Carsten's (ctpress) Take and Read

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Edited: Oct 3, 2011, 10:55am

Here's what I read last year: 75 book challenge of 2010.

Most of my readings this year will still be the classics - and spirituality/theology.

Read so far:

1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1910)
2. The Fall by Albert Camus (1956) reread
3. Heidi by Johanna Spyri (1880)
4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (1962)
5. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (1971)
6. 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (1970)
7. Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse (1934)
8. Rumors of Another World by Philip Yancey (2004)
9. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1914)

10. Silas Marner by George Eliot (1861)
11. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (1811) reread
12. At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald (1871)
13. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (1826)
14. Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix by J. K. Rowling (2003)
15. A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway (1929)
16. The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells (1896)
17. The Hidden Face of God by Michael Card (2007)

18. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)
19. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (1911)

20. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (1869)
21. Ronia, the Robber's Daughter by Astrid Lindgren (1981)

22. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813) reread
23. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor (1955)
24. Goodbye Mr. Chips by James Hilton (1934) reread
25. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis (1952) reread
26. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin (1903)
27. The Journal of John Woolman (1774)
28. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1869)
29. The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting (1920)
30. Death in Holy Orders by P. D. James (2001)
31. The Children of New Forest by Captain Marryat (1847)

32. Billy Budd, Foretopman by Herman Melville (1891)
33. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

34. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1905)
35. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (1814) reread

36. The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1938)
37. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (1963)
38. Watership Down by Richard Adams (1972)
39. King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard (1885)
40. The House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1860)
41. Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling (1897)
42. Emma by Jane Austen (1815)

43. Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton (2004)
44. Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1864)
45. A Bear called Paddington by Michael Bond (1958)
46. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1912)
47. Siddharta by Hermann Hesse (1922)
48. The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells (1901)
49. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1891)
50. On Stories and other essays on literature by C. S. Lewis (1966)
51. The Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan (1915)
52. The Rule of Saint Benedict by Saint Benedict (around 540)
53. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1798 - published 1815) reread
54. The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey (1995)

55. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2008)
56. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1932)

Edited: Jan 9, 2011, 4:11am

Book 1: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

What a lovely novel to begin the New Year with. The transformation of the orphan girl Mary and the neglected boy Colin is told with a lot of wisdom and lots of laughs.

I don't know the names of the english dialects, but it's such a delight hearing it read aloud. Another example of a children's book that really is for every age.

Jan 4, 2011, 8:37am

Welcome back! I haven't read that one in years. Nice choice to start 2011!

Jan 4, 2011, 10:20am

Welcome back! What a great book to start the New Year - that was one of my favourites as a child. I think the dialect/accent in the book is a Yorkshire one.

Jan 4, 2011, 11:54am

# 3 & 4: Thanks. It's good to be back and start another year of reading. Yes, I think you are right about the accent.

Jan 5, 2011, 4:59am

Glad to see you back with us again for 2011, Carsten! It looks as though your reading year is off to a good start.

Jan 5, 2011, 5:25am

# 6: Thanks, I've had a few days off work, so I've done a lot of reading already. Like your Austenathon. Good idea.

Jan 5, 2011, 5:35am

#7: I am glad you are joining in the Austenathon!

Jan 6, 2011, 12:11pm

I'm a big fan of The Secret Garden; I'm so glad you liked it too!

Edited: Jan 7, 2011, 1:33pm

# 9: Well now I have read Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Secret Garden so I'm beginning to be a big "Burnett-fan". Wondering about what will be my next "Burnett".

Jan 7, 2011, 6:11pm

Hm, The Secret Garden is the only Burnett I've read - I should probably remedy that soon.

Edited: Jan 8, 2011, 10:28am

Book 2: The Fall by Albert Camus (a reread)

The ramblings of Clemence - where we are the listeners - is brilliantly constructed. It seems accidental, but no - every little casual remark is planted with great care by a genius storyteller. Clemence babbles along, first full of confidence, bravado and cheering for himself - his own goodness and then suddently - a splash - a women drowning in the river and he does nothing. Brushes it away...

But forever haunted by this scream (now a laughter) - how he discovers he really do not know himself - he cannot trust himself - all his good deeds is just to polish his own ego. And I think that Clemence’s basic fear is that people will find out who he really is - that the world will discover what he really thinks when he is totally alone with himself. Without anyone to confide in.

Oh, he is clever, and honest, that Camus. He makes me think. A lot.

Edited: Jan 8, 2011, 10:29am

Book 3: Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Was a little sceptical about Heidi, but no. I loved it, but then again - I have a high threshold for sentimental stories.

Heidi’s innocence reminded me of Little Lord Fauntleroy. They change everything around them with their boldness and joy. They are kindred spirits. Both are helping to dig out the heart of gold thats buried deep inside a gruff, reclusive man.

Well, thanks Heidi. For your love of goats, flowers and for reading all those hymns for your blind grandmother and for bringing her soft white bread to eat and pillows so she can sleep. And for always praying as your grandmother in Frankfurt told you to - and for believing - even when God does not answer - that he is keeping something better for you.

Well done, Heidi.

Jan 8, 2011, 11:16am

#12: Oh, he is clever, and honest, that Camus. He makes me think. A lot. I definitely agree with that! I will have to get to The Fall one of these days.

#13: Since I have a high tolerance for sentimental stories, I should give Heidi as try one of these days too. Thanks for the recommendation, Carsten.

Jan 8, 2011, 11:49am

# 14 - Well, then you will love Heidi I'm sure.

BTW I forgot to mention it. Heidi was actually the first book I've read on my new Kindle. (so no fine illustrations...) I like it a lot - but it still feels a little unnatural. Maybe it's just a matter of time.

Jan 8, 2011, 1:51pm

I think that Heidi is on a couple of the lists I'm trying to work through, so I'm certain to get to it eventually - thanks for the review!

Edited: Jan 8, 2011, 2:19pm

#16: Heidi is in 1001 Children's Books and another "list" book I got a while back The Book Tree. These are the two books I use for suggestions to children's literature.

Edited: Jan 11, 2011, 5:51am

Book 4: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

This book didn't work for me. I was never really drawn into the story - nor affected much about the fate of the characters. It didn't help, that I had a hard time with L'Engles own reading on the audiobook - and Meg's constant hysterical fits. It left me all and all somewhat cold - but I appreciate L'Engles attempt at blending scientific, philosophical and christian ideas.

Edited: Jan 12, 2011, 11:21am

Book 5: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

This biography of a Christian dutch family during the Second World War is very powerful. Corrie Ten Boom tells her story in a very simple way. In the beginning there are many funny and charming stories about the watchmaker-shop and the many people who are living in the Ten Boom-family - some children taken in from the streets.

When a desperate jewish woman knocks at the door, there is not one bit of hesitation. They hide her - and soon others - and the shop is turned into an important part of the underground movement in Netherlands.

The last part tells the dark story of the Holocaust and there are many insightful reflections on suffering and faith in the midst of all the horrors. Corrie asks several times Why God? Why all this suffering? - But again and again she sees little glimpses of a suffering Christ - his comforting presence and help - even there in the darkest night.

Book 6: 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

I wish there were more letters!! She is so funny, Helene Hanff. The way she adores the leather bound books and the former owners inscription and underlinings - and also rages when she gets abridged versions - or when Frank Doel sends her no books at all!!

"I could rot over here before you'd send me anything to read….what do you do with yourself all day, sit in the back of the store and read? Why don't you try selling a book to somebody?

Jan 12, 2011, 4:28pm

Some good reading! I also found The Hiding Place a very powerful story. If you can get hold of them Corrie Ten Boom also wrote a couple of related volumes which are worth a read. In My Father's House is her autobiography of the years leading up to The Hiding Place and Tramp for the Lord which tells the story of what happened after The Hiding Place.

And I also wished 84, Charing Cross Road was longer!

Jan 12, 2011, 7:06pm

# 20: Thank you for the suggestions. I will look them up. I was thinking when I put down the book....what happens now with Corrie Ten Boom. Could be interesting to know about her life after the war.

Jan 14, 2011, 5:27am

I am sorry you did not like A Wrinkle in Time more, Carsten. It was a childhood favorite for me. I know several people in the group who first read it as an adult do not care for it, so I am thinking that perhaps it is a book best introduced in childhood.

Jan 14, 2011, 7:11am

Yes, I also read it first as an adult and wasn't all that impressed with A Wrinkle in Time. I've gone back and re-read some books I adored as a child (Five Little Peppers and How They Grew) and they were awful. Others were just as good, if not better such as Little Women.

Jan 14, 2011, 9:27am

# 22 & 23: I knew others had praised A Wrinkle in Time highly so I did my best to like it, but without any success. Maybe it is an age-thing. I agree on Little Women. Just a lovely book. Actually I plan to read nr. 3 and 4 this year in the Little Women series.

Edited: Jan 19, 2011, 12:19pm

Book 7: Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse

This is the second full-length novel featuring Bertie Wooster and his meddling servant Jeeves. It has such a lovely eccentric set of characters in it. Aunt Dahlia, Gussie Sink-Bottle, sorry - Fink-Bottle - Tuppy Glossop and Madeline Bassett.

I laughed and smiled my way through this comedy as Wooster - without any success, of course - tries to restore broken relationships. Fink-Bottles' speech when presenting prizes at a grammar school is hilarious. So is the missing and abused mess-jacket - how manipulative you are Jeeves.

I now figured out why I didn't much liked Wodehouse before. I have read him in danish translation. The humour is in the slang - the special Wodehouse-expressions are essential to the story - it's so much fun.

Read it - Right, Ho

Edited: Jan 27, 2011, 5:42am

Book 8: Rumors of Another World by Philip Yancey

Again a well written book by Yancey - filled with interesting stories and quotes - the subject is very broad - about a deeper awareness of the rumors, hints, windows in this world that points to Another World, the invisible and supernatural world.

Book 9: Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Funny and interesting to read the imaginative "true" story - well, the original story at least - of Tarzan. Not hard to understand why this iconic myth, this fable about the superhero of the jungle, arrest the attention. Filled with cliches - but great escapism and adventure.

Jan 28, 2011, 1:07am

#26: I had not heard of that Yancey book before. I will have to look for it.

Jan 28, 2011, 6:49am

# 27 - Hope you'll enjoy it, Stasia - My plan is to read all of Yancey's books. He has not disappointed me yet.

Jan 28, 2011, 7:08am

It is nice to know that Yancey's books are uniformly good, Carsten.

Feb 2, 2011, 1:25am

Hi There

I'm compiling a list of birthdays of our group members. If you haven't done so already, would you mind stopping by this thread and posting yours.


Edited: Feb 22, 2011, 4:25am

Book 10: Silas Marner by George Eliot

The storyline is almost like a parable - golden coins replaced by a golden haired child - Eliot develops this fable in her own poetical prose - in realistic settings and descriptions of the small community. I loved this novel from start to finish. Eliot draws you into Silas Marner's life - you identify with his struggles - falsely accused - his doubts in God, the way he pushes people away, unable to trust people around him. The very thing that he didn't care about becomes his obsession. A quote:

So, year after year, Silas Marner had lived in this solitude, his guineas rising in the iron pot, and his life narrowing and hardening itself more and more into a mere pulsation of desire and satisfaction that had no relation to any other being. His life had reduced itself to the mere functions of weaving and hoarding.

I just had to stop several times and read the sentences again. What a wonderful writer.

Book 11: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

The lives of Elinor, Marianne, Edward and Brandon (and the devious Willoughby) were my introduction to the world of Jane Austen. Read it the first time several years ago - just before the premiere of Ang Lee’s wonderful adaptation.

Reading it again (as part of the 75’ers Austenathon) there were many new things to notice and reflect on - and I enjoyed the book much more this time.

Feb 7, 2011, 1:46am

#31: I agree with you about Eliot - a wonderful writer. Silas Marner was the first book of hers I read. Have you read Middlemarch yet, Carsten? If not, give it a go!

I am glad to see you enjoyed your re-read of Sense and Sensibility!

Feb 7, 2011, 8:44am

#32 yes. I read Middlemarch a few years ago. A masterpiece. But it was in danish translation - the english language is so much richer. I have to read Middlemarch again some day.

Feb 7, 2011, 9:36am

#33: We did a group read of it last year, so when you read it again, you can check back into that thread and get a lot of different people's perspectives on the book.

Edited: May 11, 2011, 6:45am

Book 12: At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

When I started reading At the Back of the North Wind I had just finished Yanceys Rumours of Another World - and I thought that could be a fitting alternative title to MacDonalds book.

The magical North Wind appearing in the boy Diamonds dreams (or is it really happening?) are a rumour of Another World. A transcendent one. And the boy has to learn to get to terms with the North Wind - the suffering she's causing and the healing she gives - and through their journeys and conversations Diamond learns to trust her and love her.

Although there is a storyline - it's more a book of vignettes - including poems, a separate fairy story and the occasional interruptions of the North Wind. It's more a meditation on suffering, goodness, faith and hope, God and Heaven - An angelic innocent boy who are considered by his parents and friends a very strange little fellow.

The book is really magical - perhaps the best I've read by MacDonald so far.

Book 13: The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

Difficult to explain, but I just had difficulties with Coopers style of writing - I never really cared for the characters. (Well, the comic relief - Gamut - were good thinking.)

Also I had trouble several times to figure out what was going on - but I guess it's Coopers way of telling the story. To jump into a scene without telling us what has just happened.

There were good scenes that held me captured, but then it went on with ramblings on the wilderness and indian folklore and he lost me again. I don't think there will be more "La Longue Carabine" for me.

Feb 12, 2011, 3:23am

I am going to get to At the Back of the North Wind some time this year! I am glad to see that you enjoyed it, Carsten.

Feb 12, 2011, 3:37am

# 36 - I hope you'll enjoy it, Staci - I think you will.

Feb 12, 2011, 3:58am


Edited: Feb 22, 2011, 3:28am

Book 14: Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

The plot thickens. There's more at stake now. I enjoy hearing it as an audiobook. Specially Hagrid is so funny with his "relative" in the woods. And Voldemort comes closer and closer. Two complaints: Harry Potter, do stop whining and complaining so much. It's a little annoying, grow up, your life is hard - you're going to save the world, deal with it. Also: Where's the editor? It's far too long. The pace is good in the beginning, but then it slows down several times.

Book 15: A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway's condensed sentences do evoke an indefinable feeling in me. It corresponds perfectly with the hero's indifferent way of looking at life and war and love. Eat and drink and sleep with Catherine is Henrys ironic remark. Can Henry become passionate about life and love again? The answer is blowing in the wind.

In one scene Hemingway describes Henry and his sudden ruthless and unnecessary killing of a soldier. Without reflection, no remorse, no explanation, no wider context. It's just there. And it was just there I lost interest in the story. For some indefinable reason I didn't really care either.

Feb 14, 2011, 2:37am

#39: I agree with you about TOotP. It really did need better editing!

Edited: Feb 22, 2011, 3:27am

Book 16: The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells

The most disturbing and frightening of the Wells-novels I've read so far. I enjoy this fantasy/sci-fi writer more and more. We are held in suspense for a long time and slowly bit by bit the horrible truth is revealed about this mad scientist playing God. One really feels drawn into the story by the narrators unbelief, discussions with himself about the almost unthinkable truth. But it is true...

Book 17: The Hidden Face of God by Michael Card

The subtitle is: Finding the Missing Door to the Father Through Lament.

Michael Card takes us through 40 two-three pages meditations on different aspects of the lamentations in the Bible. I will recommend this for the upcoming Lent - as the last sections of the book is called The Man of Sorrows and deals with the last days of our Lord. Read one chapter a day.

Michael Card is also a singer/songwriter and he has such a gift with words - beautiful well crafted sentences - I have underlinings on nearly every page in the book. Again and again his focus is on the God who are present in our suffering.

Here's one quote on the story of Lazarus:

When Jesus saw Lazarus' sister Mary in tears, initially He could do nothing but weep with her. He did not explain away the pain, did not say He had come with the answer, that He would fix everything; no, He bowed His head and allowed the tears to flow. It was not about providing answers or fixing a problem, it was about entering fully and redemptively into her suffering.

Feb 22, 2011, 3:41am

I enjoy Michael Card's music. I did not realize he had written a book though. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Carsten!

Feb 22, 2011, 4:21am

# 42: Actually Michael Card has written songs based on the book (or maybe the other way around). I haven't heard the songs yet. Now I've ordered another of his books: A Fragile Stone - reflections on the life of the Apostle Peter. Looking forward to that.

Feb 22, 2011, 4:58am

I checked and my local library does not have any of his books. Rats.

Feb 22, 2011, 6:32am

# Yes, rats, Stasia :) Hope you can locate it somewhere else, sometime.

Feb 22, 2011, 8:02am

Me too! No book buying for me this year though, so maybe next year. . .

Feb 22, 2011, 10:27am

# 46: Tough one - but then again it will force you to do some rereading of dear old friends. I for sure buy to many books.

Feb 24, 2011, 12:07am

I enjoyed reading through all of your reviews. You read just the kind of books that I like!

Feb 24, 2011, 4:56am

#48 - Thanks BJ. I have been rather focused on the classics and devotional literature for some time now. As yourself I'm trying to follow a booklist (well, several) - keeps me motivated.

Feb 24, 2011, 2:02pm

Thanks for stopping by my thread! Yours is lovely. Lots of classics I would also like to try.

Feb 24, 2011, 6:29pm

# 50: Yes, I can see that you have plans to read some fantastic classics. Actually I'm reading Ethan Frome at the moment. So far (halfway through) I agree with your review. And I'm wondering what tragic end this novel will have....

Feb 25, 2011, 10:52am

51: I thought I knew what the tragic end would be, but I was way, way off because it was even worse. But, I still liked it and I hope you do too. Maybe you'll want to read a more cheerful book next though. :)

Mar 4, 2011, 2:13am

Book 18: Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

A very angry book about a family moving away from one area with no jobs to another area with no jobs. They drive, starve and die. Drive on, starve some more and die some more. I found it a very gripping first half - but after the fifth or sixth long explanation of how the poor was being exploited it felt like the message was just hammered in again and again. And I did get it the first time.

Book 19: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

A very sad, rather depressing novel about a doomed love affair - this is my second Wharton (the first being The Age of Innocence). I like her writing - but this story is very painful to read. I don't think I was in the mood for it - as I was reading it simultaneously with the Grapes.

Now I just want to get far, far away - away from starvation and tortured souls - I'm going Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Give me some adventure, dear Verne.

Mar 4, 2011, 9:48am

I have been wanting to read that, so I look forward to your review.

Mar 4, 2011, 10:52am

53: Wow, what a depressing duo of books to read! I think Verne will be a good switch and I hope you enjoy it! :)

Mar 4, 2011, 12:53pm

# 54 and 55: I started reading Verne today and he is very good medicine. I already feel much better, thank you :)

Mar 17, 2011, 12:45pm

I love your book-list so far this year - I've read some recently myself (eg 84, Charing Cross Road, S&S re-read, and I read my first Wharton - The Buccaneers - last year). I've starred your thread so I can follow your further reading and reviews.

Mar 18, 2011, 1:57pm

# 57: Thank you. Although Ethan Frome made me quite depressed I'm not finished with Wharton. I think House of Mirth will be my next one by her. Or maybe Buccaneers - I had not heard of that one.

Mar 18, 2011, 3:09pm

#53: It was interesting reading your thoughts on The Grapes of Wrath as I plan to read it one of these days. One of the things holding me back though is that it seems like such a depressing read!

Edited: Mar 19, 2011, 6:52am

# 59: Well, you might find it worth reading. I think he's a brilliant writer and the portrayal of the Jode family is very good - the stoic calm they have in the midst of suffering is heartbreaking. But yes, a very long depressing book. Expect that :)

Mar 19, 2011, 9:52pm

#58 The Buccaneers was actually left unfinished by Wharton, and there are editions that just have her text, or ones that have been completed by someone - worth checking which one you're getting hold of if you're going to try that book.

Mar 19, 2011, 10:03pm

Great books! What a start to the year for you. I read A Wrinkle in Time and The Secret Garden in a children's literature course many years ago ... loved them. Interesting observation on re-reading Austen; found the same thing.

Mar 20, 2011, 4:39pm

#61 - Ok, good to know. One of my friends has recommended the tv-series based on the book - but I want to read the novel first.

#62 - yes indeed, a great start. I have to say one of the best ever :) The Secret Garden is one of my favorites this year so far.

Edited: Apr 24, 2011, 1:31pm

Book 20: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

After Around the World in 80 Days and Journey to the Center of the Earth my hopes were high going under the sea with Verne. And it starts out perfectly with some quick action and suspense as our heroes are taken captive on the strange vessel Nautilus and the not so friendly captain Nero. However, there's a lot of detailed descriptions of both geography, the position of the submarine, and all the creatures in the sea. It slows down the action. Verne is a thorough researcher - but he gets a little carried away here. Still, it's Verne and I was ok-entertained.

Book 21: Ronia, the Robber's Daughter by Astrid Lindgren

Should Pixar or Dreamworks pick this story up I'm sure it would be a hit movie. Astrid Lindgren, best known for Pippi, have written a story that combines myth, legend and magical creatures. About the friendship between a boy and a girl from two rivalling robber clans. The Brothers Lionheart are still my favorite Lindgren, but this comes close.

Apr 25, 2011, 4:07pm

64: I just finished Ronia too and thought it quite quaint. I never thought of it as a movie, but I bet you are right that it would be a hit.

Apr 25, 2011, 11:02pm

#64: If you can get your hands on it, there's a 1986 Swedish adaptation.

It's been almost 25 years since I've seen it so I don't know how well it's held up, but I remember it being delightful.

Edited: Apr 27, 2011, 3:27am

#65 - I guess it would then be an "inspired by" movie (maybe because I just saw How to train a Dragon)

#66 - Yes I knew there was a movie made but I haven't seen it. One of my friends liked it too, so I'll try to get hold of it.

Edited: May 7, 2011, 10:03am

Book 22: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (reread)

A reread for the Austenathon. It's just a delight to read Austen - or to be read to by Emilia Fox. She does a good job. There are several audio-versions of this novel - perhaps more than any other novel out there. I tried another one first, but had to switch as it was a poor reading without energy.

Book 23: A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor

This is the second collection of short stories I've read by Flannery O'Connor - yes, I admit she's a great short story writer - she describe man's darker side, cruel and unpleasant persons populate her stories, a gothic gloom pervades the "Christ-haunted-South", all of them told with sharp ironic detachment. O'Connor is unique. Still, I can't say I enjoyed this reading or was much involved in the stories.

Edited: May 7, 2011, 8:23am

Book 24: Goodbye Mr. Chips by James Hilton (reread)

- I have thousands of children. And all boys, quip Chips at the end of his life - a life well-lived. This short classic about the transformation of an "old-school" latin-teacher is a delightful read. From feeble and unsuccesful teacher to beloved and respected headmaster - mainly due to his young wife who instills in him new ideas, values - and humour.

I enjoyed the wonderful reading by Martin Jarvis - and after Chips last words - the audiobook ends with a choir singing "Jerusalem" - a fit final note to a very british book. (The 1939-movie is a very good adaptation, and it's even a stronger story at some points than the novel).

Book 25: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis (reread)

Read this mainly to compare with the new movie version of the book. It's a very episodic novel with strange creatures, dragons and a lot of christian allegory. Liked it a lot, specially as the Odyssey-like adventure come to a close and the courageous Reepicheep sail of to the land of Aslan - home sweet home.

Of course the movie had to make a stronger coherent story out of it, and they did a great job, while preserving the lessons of morality and virtue throughout the story - in my opinion the best of the three Narnia-movies.

Edited: May 8, 2011, 3:46pm

Book 26: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin

Maybe one should call this a family story as it was written in a time, where the whole family sad down and read this aloud.

I liked it a lot - well, specially the first half when we follow Rebecca as a young girl and her moving to stay with her aunt Miranda and aunt Jane. Many funny episodes - one of the funniest when she invites the missionaries home to the surprise and astonishment of the two aunts. But it will be a visit that change them all forever.

Book 27: The Journal of John Woolman

Woolman began to write this journal in 1756 and it continued to within a few days of his death in 1772.

I liked this book for several reasons. We get a glimpse into the Christian fellowship of the Quakers - we follow a man who fervently yet in a quiet and polite manner are speaking against the slave-trade and those who are keeping slaves. And raising his voice against numerous injustices he encounters on his many journeys.

And finally we read about Woolman's inner spiritual journey - his constant desire to live close to God, listening to His voice.

May 9, 2011, 12:46am

The Journal of John Woolman looks like one I would enjoy. Thanks for the recommendation, Carsten!

May 9, 2011, 12:39pm

70: Yes, you've piqued my interest too with The Journal of John Woolman. I wish I could be as consistent in my efforts to keep a journal for so many years. How interesting!

May 9, 2011, 3:28pm

# 71: Hope you will enjoy it. A rare combination of spirituality and social justice.

# 72: Oh yeah. Tried it several times with no steadfastness whatsoever :)

Edited: May 11, 2011, 6:43am

Book 28: The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Another massive brick by Dostoevsky. Another masterpiece. A lot to mull over and I went straight to the net to read more about this novel - always a good sign.

The innocent, good and naive Myshkin enters the scene and everyone reacts strongly towards this absurd figure - either protective or with disgust. You root for him, get angry at him because of his farcical gullibility, laugh with him and at him, shake your head in disbelief when he calmly receives another hard word, cry and pray with him when he is betrayed yet another time.

Myshkin's affection/love for the silly and immature Aglaya and the femme fatale Nastassya is the centre of the story - but as always with Dostoevsky a myriad of characters populate the novel - and a lot of theological and philosophical ideas are thrown in.

Book 29: The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

Hard not to enjoy this dear old chap and all his animals going on adventures. Hugh Lofting wrote stories as letters to his children while serving on the front in the First World War - and made illustrations as well in the letters. Those stories were the basis for Doctor Dolittle.

May 11, 2011, 11:31am

74: One day I will read a Fyodor Dostoevsky book. One day.

May 11, 2011, 5:33pm

# 75: Oh, may that day come soon :)

Well, to be honest Fyodor is always a challenge. I was about to call it a day in the middle of the novel; he tends to stray too far from the main plot and begin a new discussion or introduce a new character with three surnames and two nicknames and for the next 50 pages you wonder who is talking now.

But at the end of the novel you just know you have been in the presence of a great artist. It's all magic unfolding slowly and steadily. And your head is spinning with new wonderful ideas.

May 11, 2011, 6:26pm

76: That is probably the most convincing argument I have ever heard of for reading Fyodor. As I like my head to spin with wonderful ideas I hope to get to him sometime this year. :)

May 12, 2011, 6:37am

I loved The Idiot when I read it last year. I am glad to see you enjoyed it too, Carsten.

May 15, 2011, 11:05am

#78: My next Dostoevsky will be Memoirs from the House of the Dead . At 350 pages it's a Fyodor-novella.

May 20, 2011, 2:40pm

You have read so many wonderful books since the last time I popped in here! :) I have The Idiot on my tbr along with Crime and Punishment. I remember reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm to my girls when they were young. And I have never read the Chronicles of Narnia past the first book, although my girls both tell me that they are must read. Have a great day!

May 20, 2011, 11:17pm

#79: I have not read that one yet. I will be interested in seeing what you think of it!

May 21, 2011, 8:30am

>75 RosyLibrarian:: I didn't realize the Doctor Doolittle books were written as war letters originally! My parents read the books to me and my siblings during 'family reading time' while growing up, so I have very fond memories of these books. I really should read them again.

May 22, 2011, 3:08am

# 80: Thanks, BJ. Yes it has been a great reading year so far.

#82: yeah, those children books sure bring back memories :)

May 23, 2011, 2:51am

Good Morning Carsten, thanks again for visiting my thread.
I have The Idiot on my shelf and am now considering it as my next 'chunkster' read.

And again - Ronja! Haven't thought about this book for ages, now I want to reread it. My favorite Lindgrens have been Pippi Longstocking and "Michel aus Loenneberga" who I heard is called "Emil" in Sweden. The Brothers Lionheart was a more beautiful book, but also terribly sad, at least that's how I perceived it as a child. Maybe I shoud reread that one as well.

May 23, 2011, 6:37am

#84: Hi Nathalie, Pippi and Emil were made as swedish tv-series which I enjoyed as a kid. Never read the stories, but Emil is on my shelf and will be my next Lindgren.

The Brothers Lionheart have been much discussed - specially the controversial ending. One of the books children always remember with strong emotion. But a wonderful story about courageous love and sacrifice.

May 24, 2011, 11:01am

Hi Carsten. Found your thread : ). (FYI, in the Wiki links for 75er Group, your thread ctpress points to someone else). You are reading fabulous books! What a great idea to choose a year of classics! I love the children's works you included in your choices: Secret Garden, Heidi, A Wrinkle in Time. You've confirmed for me that I need to commit to rereading some of these : ). Nancy

Edited: May 26, 2011, 2:14pm

# 86: Thanks Nancy for pointing out the wiki. I edited the thread and it should work now. I have not really used the wiki thing, but can see there's a lot of good links for one to get a good overview.

For some reason I'm drawn to children's books at the moment - had some great fun with it this year :)

Edited: May 26, 2011, 1:24pm

Book 30: Death in Holy Orders by P. D. James.

P. D. James always treat the murder scene - the victims and the suspects - with a lot of respect and empathy. Here we are at a small anglican college - with priests having their daily duties of prayer, worship and teaching - and there's an added sense of the dignity and sacredness of life when confronted with the horrible crimes in a church. I was a little disappointed with the motive of the murderer or murderers - don't want to spoil anything here - it really didn't make sense to me. But I had a great time with Dalgliesh and his team. Read this for the May: Murder and Mayhem.

Book 31: The Children of New Forest by Captain Marryat

A lot of action in the woods with four wonderful Beverley children trying to survive in turbulent times during the clashes between Cromwell and the King. The atmosphere reminded me of R. L. Stevensons Kidnapped - although Stevenson is a better writer. What Marryat lacks in character development he makes up in a riveting story that hold you in suspense till the last page. Will the proud Edward finally come to his senses?

May 27, 2011, 12:10am

#88: I do not think I have ever even heard of The Children of the New Forest! I will have to see if I can locate a copy.

May 28, 2011, 2:37am

#89: Hi Stasia, You can get several of Frederick Marryat's books for free on the Kindle. New Forest and also The Settlers in Canada I remember from my childhood. (New Forest is in 1001 Children's Books - I have found several old stories in this book that bring back some fond memories.

May 28, 2011, 6:42am

#90: I found a free edition of Marryat's book for the Nook. No idea when I will get to it, but at least I have it now :) I will look for The Settlers in Canada too.

Edited: May 29, 2011, 10:00pm

#74 Great review of Dostoevsky's The Idiot, Carsten. Sounds like a dense but very worthwhile read.

-he tends to stray too far from the main plot and begin a new discussion or introduce a new character with three surnames and two nicknames and for the next 50 pages you wonder who is talking now

I'm thinking even more dense than Dickens? Haven't braved Dostoevsky ... at least not yet.

Love the painting at the top of your thread. Who is the artist?

Edited: May 30, 2011, 1:43pm

# 92: Well, do go for Dostoevsky, Nancy :) He tends to be more philosophical and a more demanding (and muddled) read than Dickens. But both have of course a myriad of excessive characters that are just unique.

By the way Dostoevsky admired Dickens a lot and were inspired by his characters, specially the poor and downtrodden ones ( Dosto also called himself Mr. Micawber at a time he was very poor).

The painting is from a danish artist, Vilhelm Hammershøi . He did mainly portraits and interiors.

Edited: May 30, 2011, 12:35pm

Edited: Jun 4, 2011, 3:54pm

Book 32: Billy Budd, Foretopman by Herman Melville

A short tale by Herman Melville. OK, it’s a classic with a lot of symbolism and I guess many a teacher find it perfect short fiction to introduce to the students. Melville's mumbling a lot and it leads up to the final two very powerful scenes - the first one where the innocent Billy Budd is accused of a crime. The next I will not reveal. But we don’t - as in Moby Dick - get into the main character's mind and feel deeply with the characters involved. It left me somewhat indifferent.

Book 33: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

This is what a novel-experience should always be. I picked up this novel and just read a few pages meaning to read it later this summer - but I couldn’t put it down. I was totally engrossed in the gothic atmosphere, suspense, desperate love, love lost, love rekindled. This Jane Eyre inspired novel was a disturbing delight from start to finish. When I read the last pages I hurried back to the beginning and every word in the first few pages had a new powerful impact on me.

You feel at every moment sympathetic towards the heroine/narrator, her estrangement and bewilderment when entering Manderley as the new mistress, but unable to shake of the shadow of Rebecca and the secrets that name will evoke. Strange, but reading it I had the same feeling as when I read Dracula. Can’t explain it :)

Now I will watch the Hitchcock-version of this story.

Jun 4, 2011, 7:05pm

Hi, Carsten ~ Morphidae suggested I check out your thread as I just read Rebecca too for the first time and was similarly engrossed by it, although I found the nameless protagonist a bit annoying in her mousiness. Even so, it was a disturbing delight (great choice of words!) indeed!

Jun 4, 2011, 9:51pm

#95 Thank you, Carsten : ). I'll pass on Billy Bud, but you've confirmed that I need to have Moby Dick on my wishlist, so that's done. Also, I am not familiar with Rebecca, but it's definitely on the list now too! I see that LTers have given it a high average rating - 4.25 stars or some such.

Jun 5, 2011, 2:28am

I love Rebecca! I am glad to see that the book has found another fan.

Edited: Jun 5, 2011, 3:26pm

# 96: Yes, the nameless lead character is very spineless and unsure of herself. But I also found it adding to the suspense and her being almost a prisoner on Manderley. She wants to grow up, and tells herself that, almost slapping herself in the face - but is unable to shake off the overshadowing presence of Rebecca - always hypersensitive to what everyone else thinks about her - she's at every point Rebecca's opposite.

# 97: Put Rebecca high on your TBR, Nancy :) - it is not only a great classic story but also beautifully written.

Jun 5, 2011, 4:51pm

# 98: Oh yes, a big fan, Stasia. One of the best reads this year for sure.

Jun 6, 2011, 12:02am

Oh my, Rebecca is heading to my wishlist after that inspiring review!

Edited: Jun 7, 2011, 3:12am

# 101: Glad my enthusiasm about Rebecca can spur more interest :) I will now check out some of her other books.

Jun 8, 2011, 12:24pm

Hi Carsten, I am glad you liked Rebecca. I couldn't put it down either, and I did the same - read the first passage again after I had finished the book.

Jun 10, 2011, 3:11am

#103: Hi Nathalie. Nice to hear someone else had the same respons at the end of the novel. Looking for a little remark in the beginning on how they were doing now.

Found out that someone else has written a sequel to Rebecca. But I think I will leave Manderley as it is.

Jun 10, 2011, 5:41am

#104: I think I will leave Manderley as it is.

Me too!

Jun 10, 2011, 1:42pm

>104 ctpress:, 105 Me too!

Jul 26, 2011, 1:33pm

Book 34 A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

It has been a slow june and july - reading-wise - for me. Too much work and studies and church-activities. Hopefully I can find some more time for reading the next few weeks......

I had watched the 1995-movieversion of A Little Princess a few times before reading this book so I knew the plot - but I was surprised how much I enjoyed the novel. The innocent, goodhearted and imaginative Mary have a great impact on her peers and fellow students - specially the horrible Mrs. Minchin who is out of her wits trying to brake Mary down. Instead she's bewildered when Mary just look at her with a thoughtful look and acts once again as a Little Princess. Wonderful children's story.

Book 35 Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (reread)

Read this for the Austenathon but was too late for discussion this time. Read it about ten years ago - and remember not liking it that much. I liked it better this time, although it still ranks lowest for me of her six novels.

Jul 26, 2011, 4:11pm

Missed you here at LT, Carsten : ). Thanks for reviews. I read Burnett's The Secret Garden, along with so many other wonderful children's books, in a children's literature course many years ago. Every time I read a review for one of them, I want to go back and reread. I also liked Mansfield Park much more the second time around - probably because I wasn't reading in a rush for a uni course.

Jul 26, 2011, 5:43pm

Thanks, Nancy :) And I've missed being here on LT - I have to read up on some of the threads now.....been away too long....

It's nice to go back to the required reading list and read the novels again for yourself - and not for's a totally different experience.

Jul 27, 2011, 3:15am

I am not sure I have ever read A Little Princess. I know I read The Secret Garden. I guess I better get around to the other book one of these days.

Edited: Jul 30, 2011, 9:30am

# 110: The Secret Garden is better than A Little Princess but both are worth reading. Now I just don't know what Burnett to read next - I've also read Little Lord Fauntleroy which might be her most famous novel.

Aug 2, 2011, 10:26am

107: Both good reads!

Aug 11, 2011, 6:52am

Book 36 The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

"The person who do not like The Yearling will probably have a very bad character". A quote from a danish author's review of the novel. Well, I must have a good character then - because I enjoyed this reading a lot - a novel that takes place in post-Civil War Florida. One of this years most fascinating reading-surprises.

Largely this novel is written from the perspective of the boy Jody and his interaction with an adult world, and with the harsh realities of the wilderness in which the Baxter family try to make a living. We follow one year in this family's life. Going hunting, farming, surviving a serious storm, getting in trouble with the Forrester-family and just most of the time trying to put food on the table in every way they can.

Of course there's the funny and heart-warming relationship with the fawn which Jody adopts and take care of - but it's in the relationship between Jody and his father Penny that I really felt a deep connection with the story.

The values Penny tries to instill in Jody, the knowledge of nature he wants to pass on - Penny have such a gentle wisdom, he's honest, firm, caring and have a deep respect for and awe of nature and a heart that just loves Jody - and Jody learns to appreciate this - also the hard way - late in the story an order from the father will test Jody's character and make him realize in a more profound way what really is at stake in order to survive in the wilderness.

Aug 11, 2011, 1:12pm

#36 I'm not previously familiar with The Yearling, Carsten, but it sounds like a great read - thanks for your review.

Aug 12, 2011, 12:35am

#133: I read The Yearling more years ago than I care to admit, so it is definitely time for a re-read!

Aug 12, 2011, 1:03am

# 114 & 115: I know there's a classic american movie made out of this story. One of these days I have to rent it and see it.

Aug 12, 2011, 4:40am

#116: It is a good movie! Perfect casting, IMHO.

Aug 12, 2011, 4:41am

#116-117 I'm going to keep an eye out for that - sounds like something I would enjoy.

Aug 14, 2011, 9:38am

Hi, Carsten ~ Just stopping by to say hi!

Aug 14, 2011, 12:46pm

Hello, Mary - still considering the delayed Thingaversary-book. Maybe The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide by Douglas Adams. Have wanted that for some time :)

Aug 14, 2011, 1:08pm

Book 37 Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

I have mixed feelings about this story. It opens with sharp irony and many funny episodes as the main character tries to find out more about the mysterious Felix Hoenikker - "The Father of the Atom Bomb" and the "smartest scientist on Earth". He is also the most fascinating character in the novel. Intelligent beyond belief yet without basic human empathy and emotions.

But then the story shift focus - Felix is out of the picture and we are left on the island of San Lorenzo - and learn about the absurd nihilistic worldview of Bokononism - the ironi gets bleaker and dark cynicism pervades the end of the book. It drags on far too long and I have stopped laughing.

OK, this novel is clever - exposing the the futile pursuit of meaning in a universe without God....exposing our hopes in religion, politics, philosophy....the solution is Bokonomism which is itself based on lies. It's absurd.

Well, as I said. I have mixed feelings.

Aug 14, 2011, 2:34pm

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and its subsequent titles are amongst my all-time favorites and some of the fe3w books I've actually reread ~ often. The Ultimate HH Guide would make a great delayed Thingaversary book! But don't forget you get that one and one more to grow on. :)

I recently read Slaughterhouse Five and have been meaning to read Cat's Cradle for awhile but not sure now after reading your review of it. I did find Slaughterhouse a somewhat difficult novel in parts, though overall I thought it was really good.

Aug 14, 2011, 5:51pm

#121 Hmm, will pass on Cat's Crade - sounds like intelligent emptiness. Good review, Carsten.

Aug 15, 2011, 9:57am

#121: I still need to get to Vonnegut one of these days, but I think I will go for Slaughterhouse Five instead.

I hope your next read is a better one for you, Carsten!

Edited: Aug 15, 2011, 11:30am

# 122: I found Slaughterhouse Five a more difficult read than Cat's Cradle - and CC has more humour although with a bitter taste. As long as you are not expecting the light-hearted and endlessly hilarious sci-fi as in the HH Guide :)

# 123: Thanks Nancy :) - intelligent emptiness is one of the impressions I had after Cat's Cradle.

# 124: No matter what you choose, Stacy - you are in for an original writer. He's like no one I've ever read. I cannot figure him out - but maybe I'm not supposed to.

Edited: Aug 17, 2011, 4:11pm

Book 38 Watership Down by Richard Adams

Oh, I love this book. I was totally engrossed in the fate of Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig and the rest of the freedom loving rabbits on the run - they just want their own warren and welcome anyone to stay, but alas - they live in a hostile world with enemies on all sides. Their existence is so fragile and one feels it all through the story. Never a moments rest - always there's a dark cloud on the horizon. Always Hazel have to think of another plan....will they ever enjoy their freedom?

Aug 17, 2011, 4:12pm

#38 Oh, I love Watership Down, too! It's one of many greats I read in a children's literature course years ago. I still think of it and must get to a reread one day.

Aug 17, 2011, 5:54pm

# 127: Hear you, Nancy :) I'm also going to enjoy it again someday, I'm sure. Adams set up such a realistic and harsh environment that you fear for all of the rabbits not sure if they are going to make it or not. Life is not to be taking for granted. Let's be thankful for it.

Aug 17, 2011, 6:32pm

Yes, me too! I read it years (decades) ago but never forgot it. Recently I heard some LTers talk about it on audio, so I've requested it from the library and hope to listen to the adventures of Hazel and his friends very soon.

Aug 17, 2011, 7:07pm

# 129: I was listening to a reading by Ralph Cosham. I liked his "interpretation" of the timid Fiver and specially the funny bird, Kahaar who offers a bit of fresh air to the story. But there must be a few versions of it out there....I think the story is just perfect to be read aloud.

Aug 18, 2011, 2:39am

I really need to read Watership Down again. I read it for the first time about 5 or 6 years ago.

Aug 18, 2011, 12:02pm

# 131: Today I ordered the movie-version of Watership Down and I look forward to meet the rabbits again soon.

Aug 18, 2011, 9:35pm

#132: I have not seen the movie version of Watership Down. You will have to let me know how it is, Carsten.

Aug 19, 2011, 12:00am

Oh! Yes, please do let us know how the film adaptation worked out! I had not known (or had forgotten) it had been made into a movie.

Aug 19, 2011, 2:42am

#133 & 134: I'll keep you posted on my opinion of the movie.

Aug 19, 2011, 5:03am

#135: Thanks!

Aug 19, 2011, 12:07pm

Also waiting to hear what you think of the movie. Let us know which version you've ordered, Carsten (or maybe there is only one?).

Aug 19, 2011, 12:20pm

# 137: Yes, I believe there's only one version - anyway it's the "original" I have ordered - the one from 1978.

Edited: Aug 19, 2011, 12:33pm

Book 39: King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard

No-nonsense adventure-story written by Haggard in 1885 after a bet with his brother on whether he could write a novel half as good as R. L. Stevenson's Treasure Island - I don't know who lost the bet - but I think it should have been Haggards brother - the book became an instant succes. It's a wonderful exciting story and the way the main character tells of his adventure is engaging and funny.

If one is up for a trip to the African continent - going on a rescue-mission, elephant-hunting, diamond-chasing and fighting evil african tribal-warriors - this is it. Don't look any further.

Aug 19, 2011, 4:42pm

Good review of King Solomon's Mines. I need to read it. I loved She when I read it decades ago. Maybe I need to reread that one too.

Aug 19, 2011, 6:34pm

#139 Thanks for review of King Solomon's Mines ... you are reading all of this wonderful stuff which I am not familiar with, so I'm learning heaps here! And what's not to love about a rescue mission, elephant hunting, diamond chasing, and fighting evil African tribal warriors?

Aug 20, 2011, 12:35am

#139: I have enjoyed that one in the past, but not read any more of Haggard's books. I need to get to She one of these days.

There is a good film version of King Solomon's Mines starring Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger if you are interested, Carsten.

Aug 20, 2011, 6:49am

I enjoyed both She and KSM in my teens - never read anything else of Haggard and I don't know how those would hold up for me now, but great fun at the time!

Aug 20, 2011, 10:54am

#140: Thanks Mary - I have to look up She. I did not know about that one - or any other book by Haggard.

#141: Yes Nancy, I'm quite stuck on old, dusty books at the moment. I live in another century most of the time...

#142: Actually I just recorded that version from TCM a couple of days ago. Maybe another movie-review I have to get to :)

#143: OK....say no more. I can hear She is a Haggard-must-read :)

Aug 21, 2011, 7:18pm

>#142 And an earlier, very good British version with Paul Robeson as Umbopo. And a much later version with Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone which is embarrassingly awful. :)

Edited: Aug 22, 2011, 2:50am

#145: Thanks for the movie-update :) Deborah Kerr and Sharon Stone....hmmm I don't know where they fit a leading lady into this story - but I guess Hollywood couldn't accept a rescue-party without a woman coming along...ah, well, if it's Deborah Kerr I quess I can live with it :)

Edited: Aug 22, 2011, 4:17am

#147 In the DK version they're looking for her husband. They pull more or less the same stunt in the British version, only there it's Anna Lee and they're looking for her father.

I've blocked out most of the memories of the SS version but I think it's her father there, too. :)

It's been a long time since I read it, but---it's actually one of the male characters' brother they're searching for, isn't it?

Aug 22, 2011, 4:57am

#147: Ah..I see. That makes sense. Well, not a big plot twist, so that's ok. Yes - the brother is missing and they had a big quarrel before he left for Africa, so the other brother is anxious for a reunion.

Aug 23, 2011, 9:39am

Book 40: The House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1860)

This is an atypical Dostoevsky-novel. There's not really a plot here or a lot of symbolic things, but it's rather a plain collection of one prisoners memoirs. Alexander Petrovich Goryanchikov is imprisoned for 10 years for murdering his wife and he recollects his prison-years - and we get stories from some of the other prisoners - both the humble ones and the most barbaric ones.

These memoirs are based on Dostoevsky's own time in prison - he spent four years as a political prisoner in a penal colony in Siberia. I guess he wrote it in novel form to avoid the censorship at the time.

Goryanchikov tells his story with a lot of detail of the everyday prison life. How the prisoner's smuggle things into the camp, the barbaric prison-colonel, the harsh punishment, all the bewildering interactions between the prisoners. He also stops several times and think deeper. Why do the prisoner's behave in this or that manner? What's going on in their psyche, while the prison-years slowly strips away their dignity as human beings. There's also a lot of humour in his detached, objective way of telling about all the people in the work-camp. The funny jew, the pet's they try to keep there, the joyful christmas-dinner etc...

Well, I could go on and on about this semi-autobiographical-novel. It's a brilliantly crafted masterpiece - a stark criticism of a demeaning russian prison-system - and a celebration of the human spirit in midst of darkness.

Aug 23, 2011, 12:52pm

Carsten, I've never read any Dostoevsky, so I admire you that! Great reading, and great summary of The House of the Dead.

Edited: Aug 24, 2011, 1:48am

#150: Dostoevsky can be a difficult read, Nancy. My first try was The Brothers Karamazov and I gave up three times before I finally finished it - but I think perhaps Crime and Punishment could be a good place to start - huge book but a simple plot.

Aug 24, 2011, 3:02am

Hi Carsten, thanks for reminding me it's time to read another Dostoevsky. I only ever read Crime and Punishment, but have The Brothers Karamazov and The Idiot on my tbr ( + the complete novels in some cheap Kindle collection).

Re. Watership Down: I found two versions on youtube, but one of them might be a TV show and it's definitely younger than the one you ordered. Looking forward to your comments. I only watched 5 of the 10 youtube parts and clearly preferred the book, although I loved the old-fashioned animations and the music.

Aug 24, 2011, 6:01am

Hi Nathalie, I will let you know about the movie - Still waiting for it to arrive. If you liked Crime and Punishment then I think you will enjoy The Idiot and Karamazov.

Aug 24, 2011, 12:03pm

Carsten and Nathalie, I admire your Dostoevsky plans. My summer reading has been entirely distracted, so I appreciate your good influence!

Edited: Aug 27, 2011, 5:03am

# 154: Yeah, I'm in Dostoeveky-mode at the moment - have just begun reading Notes from the Underground. And OK, you have to be in the mood for him - because he begins with this sentence: "I am a sick man...I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased..

There's some cheering up for you, Nancy :)

Aug 27, 2011, 5:25am

#149/155: I have both The House of the Dead and Notes from the Underground in the BlackHole already, but I think the next Dostoevsky for me is going to be The Brothers Karamazov, which I started earlier this year but had to put aside.

Edited: Aug 31, 2011, 11:55am

# 156: The Brothers Karamazov is THE Dostoevsky, Stasia. A sprawling monster of a novel. An unconventional whodunnit packed with ideas and a lot of people each having three or four names :)

Edited: Aug 31, 2011, 11:56am

Book 41: Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling (1898)

I like stories that take place on the sea. Here we are at a fishing shooner where a rich spoiled kid is rescued after falling aboard a cruise ship. He's father is a millionaire but nobody believes the boy, so he has to adapt to a whole new way of living as a fisherman! A tale for boys about the benefit of hard work, honesty, courage and a proper view on money.

The last part is lovely - when his parents finds out he's not dead but actually have learned valuable lessons among the hard working poor fishermen. Some hilarious scenes. Well, I enjoyed it. Simple, good storytelling.

Book 42: Emma by Jane Austen (1815) reread

Read this for the Austenathon. Four down - two to go. Whenever I pick a new Austen up this year I think about how I will rank it. Emma will probably be placed somewhere in the middle of the six novels - but I keep altering the list as I read through her novels this year.

I found much more to laugh about re-reading it this time.

Aug 31, 2011, 12:38pm

More enjoyable comments on Captain Courageous and Emma. Thanks, Carsten. I know exactly what you mean about reordering Austen's famous six following rereads!

Sep 1, 2011, 3:08am

# 159: I plan to give an account of my Austen-ranking when I've finished the six novels. Interested in hearing your "Top 6" ranking, Nancy :)

Sep 1, 2011, 12:54pm

#160 Carsten, I fell off the Austenathon rally this year. While I've read all six, I'll only rate the three I've reread this year or in the recent past. So far, then:
1. Pride and Prejudice
2. Mansfield Park
3. Northanger Abbey
I expect even after the other three rereads, Pride and Prejudice will continue to hold first place. Be interesting to see where the other three end up.

Look forward to your ranking. Well done on rereading all six this year! Disciplined! (something I'd do well to incorporate more of into my diet, hehe).

Sep 1, 2011, 11:32pm

#158: I have not yet read Captains Courageous - I love the film version with Spencer Tracy and Freddie Bartholomew though.

Sep 2, 2011, 3:56am

#161: Difficult to argue with your number one pick, Nancy :) I've been barely hanging in there with Mansfield Park and Emma over the summer - both long novels...neither my top favorites - things are lighting up with the last two being shorter - and a serious contender for first place, Persuasion, to finish it of.

#162: Whaddya know, Stacia! That movie-version is going to be my next dvd-rental :)

Sep 2, 2011, 4:51am

I hope you enjoy the film, Carsten!

Edited: Sep 5, 2011, 5:13pm

Movie review: Watership Down

After reading the novel Watership Down I saw the 1978-movie-adaptation. Although it has been hailed by a lot of movie-critics, I can't say I enjoyed it much.

It is a faithful adaptation of the story - In the novel there's an overall serious and dark mood - and they have transported that well into the movie-version - they even tried to bring in the mythical part of the novel - but it was to serious for me - I missed also some fun and crazy stuff - but maybe I'm just being to much focused on Pixar and Disney.

Well, I can't explain it well - it just didn't work for me.

Edited: Sep 6, 2011, 10:37am

Book 43: Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton (2004)

I watched the movie Soul Surfer and liked it - and was intrigued by this true story of Bethany Hamilton who lost an arm in a shark attack, yet was able to go back and compete as a professional surfer. Wanted to know more about her story - also to find out more about her struggles to come back competing and her spiritual journey.

But the biography is focused too much on all the publicity her "story" has created in the media and her view on that.....and very little we get to know about her struggle to get back on the board and her inner struggles with losing an arm. OK, we each have our own way of coping with things, and apparently it all came quite easy for her (or is there something left out?)

This book is filled with christian cliches about faith and God which gets kind of boring and almost unbelivable - don't get me wrong - I share her faith in God - but there's just too many platitudes and easy answers in a book about disability and rehabilitation...Ok, it's the voice of a teenager, so maybe I just expect to much.

Also it ends with a horrible diary about the making of the movie...I just skimmed it....

But go see the movie. It's a good story!

Sep 5, 2011, 8:14pm

Appreciate the thoughtful reviews, Carsten. Note to self: reread the book Watership Down but do not watch the movie. Watch Soul Surfer but do not read the book. Funny how things work out sometimes. I know you were looking forward to the movie - sorry you didn't find it a better experience.

Edited: Sep 6, 2011, 10:38am

Book 44: Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1864)

The Underground Man, a former civil servant who have isolated himself in his apartment - raging against everyone including himself, just wanting to be left alone - but can't resist going out to connect with people, yet despises himself for it. He is indeed a bitter and angry man - a despicable and pitiable creature. First half is a long talk, philosophical, debating with the reader, the other half is more narrative and it ends with the Underground Man befriending a prostitute who he develop some unexpected feelings for.

This is not pleasant reading - it's very subversive - reading it I despise the Underground Man - yet he can't just be brushed away as a madman - he shifts between total honesty and then hides himself in denial, going from self-depravation to self-congratulation in one sentence. He's indeed a complex character - no one can penetrate the psyche as Dostoevsky. Some of the philosophical ramblings went over my head - yet the ending is powerful and worth waiting for. So I read it with mixed feelings.

Sep 6, 2011, 10:34am

#167: Yes, Nancy, it's very funny how novel and movie works very differently - that's why I can understand a movie-version sometimes have to make some very dramatic shifts/cuts in the story for it to work on film.

Sep 7, 2011, 4:13pm

Book 45: A Bear called Paddington by Michael Bond (1958)

Oh, Mr. Brown - as you like to be called - Unfortunately I did not know you as a child - but happy to read about your life as an adult. You're quite right when you say “Things happen to me – I'm that sort of bear.”

Sorry, but I can't help laughing when you are clumsy and get into another mess - you don't mean to - but you are just that sort of bear. Things just happen to you...Like getting all messy with marmelade and nearly arrested in the subway. You are hilarious, and sweet and just a bear to hug. Take care.

Book 46: The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1912)

Arthur Conan Doyle creates another memorable character (like Sherlock Holmes). Professor Challenger is an eccentric zoologist and a bit of a madman. Quarrelsome and very suspicious towards journalists.

This is a wonderful fantasy/sci-fi adventure story where four men embarks on a great journey to The Lost World somewhere in South America. No ladies allowed here to slow down the action with silly romantic entanglements. No, no. Our boys are brave and quick to shoot and stab their way through all obstacles until the dramatic ending.

Sep 8, 2011, 12:32am

No ladies allowed here to slow down the action with silly romantic entanglements. Make me laugh, Carsten!! Well said!

Sep 11, 2011, 10:00am

#170 I love the Paddington Bear books!

I've been meaning to read The Lost World as I enjoy the 19th century adventure stories quite a bit and Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories.

Sep 11, 2011, 2:33pm

# 172: I don't think you will be dissapointed by The Lost World. It's pure adventure all the way. Actually I wanted more Doyle, so I read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes right now and enjoying it very much.

Edited: Sep 16, 2011, 10:30am

Book 47: Siddharta by Hermann Hesse (1922)

A wonderful, wonderful indian folklore tale. A book I have to read again!! About the son of a Buddha who sets out to find the meaning of life - just to be disappointed - neither in strict asceticism, in the pleasures of sex or money do he find real satisfaction. Can he find inner peace and a place in this world? It's a remarkable poetic novel about the hole in the soul that has to be filled with something, the longing for love, friendship, philosophical meanderings of the governing principle of the soul. It should not be read strictly as Buddhist ideas, but more as Hesse's own inner spiritual journey or struggle.

Reminded me of Ecclesiastes in the Bible - although the Preachers conclusion to the spiritual search is quite different than Siddhartas.

Book 48: The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells (1901)

A trip to the moon does not at first sight seem like a sci-fi these days. But what if the moon were inhabited by strange creatures? And the two travellers were captured deep inside the moon by these creatures. Again Wells' imagination is out of this world, so to speak. I enjoyed it - although I would rank it below other more famous Wells: Time Machine, Dr. Moreau's Island, The Invisible Man and War of the Worlds. I'm becoming quite a Wells-fan.

Sep 17, 2011, 6:41am

Book 49: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1891)

A spot on the sleeve and instantly Sherlock Holmes know the guest in his apartment comes from Oxford by the afternoon train and have been in a hurry....well, something like that anyway.

These short stories of the famous detective were the first to be published and serves as a very good introduction to Sherlock Holmes. It's a good blend - some humorous trifles and some darker and more sinister ones.

- Crime is common, logic is rare, says Holmes in one of the stories - yes, indeed he can sit in his chair, smoking his pipe and solve the crime just by listening to the story. If the guest is detailed enough. Very entertaining!

Book 50: On Stories and other essays on literature by C. S. Lewis (1966)

What comprises good fiction? Well, not easy to answer - but in these 20 or so essays we get C. S. Lewis' point of view on good and bad literature.

Some essays on critics from his own day went over my head - but most of them were very good. Different Taste in Literature, On Three Ways of Writing for Children, On Science Fiction and Sometimes Fairy Stories May Say Best What's to Be Said is essential Lewis - also there's A Panegyric for Dorothy L. Sayers and essays on Lord of the Rings and H. Rider Haggard.

The book ends with a transcript from a conversation between Professor Lewis, Kingsley Amis and Brian Aldiss, sitting in Lewis' rooms at Magdalen College sipping whiskey and discussing Science Fiction. Hilarious.

Here'a a quote from one of the essays:

The literary man re-reads, other men simply read. A novel once read is to them like yesterday's newspaper. One may have some hopes of a man who has never read the Odyssey...or Pickwick: but none (as regards literature) of the man who tells you he has read them, and thinks that settles the matter. It is as if a man said he had once washed, or once slept, or once kissed his wife.

Sep 17, 2011, 5:23pm

Hello Carsten! Some really, really interesting choices and reviews and love, love the painting at the top of your thread. You asked me about Little House on the Prairie? I really enjoyed it and found the child's view of seeting up a log cabin ion the wilderness to be enchanting. The but here is the view of native Americans which does not sit well with modern sensitivities. But I recently purchased the first in the series and I will probably read and collect the rest. I am in awe of your Dostoevsky readings! I have high hopes of getting to The Brothers Karamazov this year, but I fear it will be a triumph of optimism over experience.

Edited: Sep 18, 2011, 3:49am

Hi Prue - thanks for stopping by. Actually I have now nearly finished the first book in the Laura Ingalls Wilder series - enjoying it very much. A slice of a different way of living close to nature that I like to read about being a frustrated city-dweller. I don't recall any indians popping up in this first book.

Yes, The Brothers Karamazov is a high mountain to climb. Got there in my third or fourth try, as I recall. It's a long but rewarding walk!

And....ehhh, congrats with Evans and Stosur. They both deserved a win - at last for both of them, great aussie-year. As a dane I cheered for Wozniacki...and some day...well maybe...

Take care - both you and your family. Sorry to hear about your mom, but good to know she's in good hands.

Edited: Sep 19, 2011, 10:43am

Book 51: The Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan (1915)

A very entertaining "man-on-the-run" spy-novel that have greatly inspired the modern thriller - here we have car chases and airplane-surveillance. The man on the run from both the police and german spies is Richard Hannay, a 37-year-old Scot with a thirst for adventure.

Hitchcock made the book famous with his 1935 movie-adaptation starring Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll - a substantially altered version of the novel.

Book 52: The Rule of Saint Benedict by Saint Benedict (around 540)

My planned reading of spiritual classics have been quite slow. But here's one that I can recommend. These Rules have greatly influenced monasteries around the world until this day.

They begin with some general reflections on piety that all Christians can benefit from - then he goes on with more specific rules for the monks. There's a spirit here of love and humility and grace - but a lot of the Rules do seem very strict (specially on not talking and not laughing).

OK, there are also some funny Rules. Here's some with my comments:

* They sleep clothed, and girded with belts of cords; but they should remove their knives lest they accidentally cut themselves in their sleep . How considerate Benedict.

* Each will hasten to arrive at the Work of God before the others, yet with all dignity and decorum. He, fast can you go with decorum intact. May the best man win.

* Without an order from the abbot, no one may presume to give, receive or retain anything as his own, nothing at all - not a book, writing tablets or stylus. No tablets? Oh no. I have to give up my iPad? I knew I was not cut out for this monkish business.

* We believe that half a bottle of wine a day is sufficient for each. I reconsider. Do let me be a monk.

* If anyone does not come to the table before the verse....his portion of wine should be taken away... That should do it!!.

Sep 19, 2011, 4:45pm

Interesting reading, as always, Carsten. I'm almost ashamed to say that I have not read anything Sherlock Holmes. And critical essays by C.S. Lewis sound very erudite - good for you! Love the Saint Benedict rule that one who is late to the table loses his wine; indeed, that should do it!

Edited: Sep 19, 2011, 6:56pm

Hi Carsten! I 've seen you visit Lit_Chick's thread , and I thought I come by and say a proper hello!

What wonderful books you've been reading! Like Nancy, I am ashamed that I have not read anything Sherlock Holmes. I'm going to have to remedy that fairly soon... One of my sons just loved all of the Sherlock Holmes series, and I think Sherlock Holmes is enjoying a revival of interest in North America. There was a popular Sherlock Movie out in North America, and quite likely Europe too, which has encouraged people to read Sherlock Holmes. I cannot say that I recommend the movie at all - I thought it was dreadful! My husband enjoyed it though - so I guess opinions do vary. ;)

I see that you have Philip Yancey as one of your favourite authors. I too very much enjoy Philip Yancey. I think I've read nearly all of his books. The Jesus I Never Knew had a profound impact on me, and I really enjoyed the insight offered by Soul Survivor.

P.D James has to be one of my all time favourite mystery authors!

Anyway, I just had to pop by since we have a number of books and author's in common. I just loved Secret Garden as young girl.

Lately I've been reading a lot of books from " The Lists" - like the Man Booker Prize and now the Giller Prize, which is a Canadian Lit prize. But I do love my Scandi mysteries.

Great to meet you properly!84 Charring Cross - yes that was such a fun and wonderful read. I enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which you might enjoy also. It's quite a different story but it's an epistolary and I think most people here on LT have enjoyed it.

Edited: Sep 19, 2011, 6:46pm

Oh! And I have enjoyed many of C.S Lewis's books - The Screwtape Letters come to mind right away.

Sep 20, 2011, 2:42am

# 179: Yes, shame on you Nancy for not reading Sherlock yet :) Well, I listened to Simon Prebble's reading of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I think his voice is perfect for a little Sherlock-nostalgia.

# 180: Hi Deb. Thanks for stopping by - good to read about all the "book-connection" we have :)

About Sherlock I haven't seen the movie. Watched the trailer and Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock? Hmmm....

Actually I have just finished The Jesus I Never Knew - I will post my thoughts on it shortly.

P. D. James is fantastic. I have only read three of her books, so I have a lot of Dalgliesh to discover.

The Guernsey-book seems like just a sort of book I would like. Is it a real story or fiction? Thanks for the suggestion.

C. S. Lewis is a remarkable writer - just because he covers so much from Narnia and sci-fi to essays, letters and autobiography - and of course, but not least, Screwtape!

Sep 20, 2011, 3:14am

The Guernsey Book is fiction, but it's well done. Previous to reading it, I had no idea that the German's occopied the Guernsey Islands. In fact, I did not know that the Guernsey Islands existed!;)

Sep 20, 2011, 4:23pm

#183: Nor did I. But it's location is quite strategic, so one can understand the german interest. The book is now in the tbr list.

Sep 21, 2011, 12:51am

Glad to here it's on your TBR list! I tell you, every time I go into the bookstore - it's still in the best seller area. And I think the Guernsey book has been in publication for several years now. I think it has a very universal appeal. I hope you enjoy it.

Sep 21, 2011, 7:02pm

I've just been hit by quite a few recommendations here, some excellent reading choices of late. And I can second Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society as an excellent read.

Sep 21, 2011, 7:22pm

Interesting, Carsten! I was in the bookstore just yesterday and I ran across Notes From the Underground. I picked it up - but I was uncertain. Hmm - now that I see that you have read it I might just have to add it to my TBR read list. It looks a bit depressing.

Sep 22, 2011, 10:24am

#186: Thanks for stopping by! I can hear I have to read the Guerney-novel soon....

#187: Notes from the Underground are a difficult and depressing read for sure. Not a comfort read at all. Maybe not the best introduction to Dostoevsky.

Sep 22, 2011, 11:24am

Carsten, I listened to The Guernsey Literary Society - it makes a GREAT audiobook!

Sep 22, 2011, 2:30pm

#189: Good idea, Nancy. I have now downloaded it from audible. Probably my next listen after Northanger Abbey.

Edited: Sep 22, 2011, 8:15pm

#190 Woot! I'm glad you downloaded it, Carsten. I'll bet Northanger Abbey is a decent audiobook, too. I have to get hold of some of Juliet Stevenson's recordings of Austen's works. Apparently, she is FABULOUS!

Sep 22, 2011, 11:22pm

#191: Well, I am listening to Juliet Stevenson - and she is very good. Her interpretation of the intorable and boastful John Thorpe is hilarious.

Sep 23, 2011, 6:44pm

Thanks for the warning re Notes from the Underground. I'll bear that in mind when I take the plunge!

Edited: Sep 27, 2011, 4:51am

Hi Carsten! Thanks for visiting my thread. Indeed, I really loved Touch by Alexi Zentner. I'm not sure that my review was especially good , but I wanted to counter the idea that the book was a like Narnia Tale, or like a Fairy tale. There are certainly magical elements, but they read so seamlessly in with the many realities in the book. I think that there is a lot of symbolism and also the mythology that happens when one generation passes a story onto another. Maybe read other people's reviews to get more of an idea of what the book is about. I thought it was simply beautifully told - and such a fascinating tale. I'm not one who can usually read any sort of Sci Fi or Fantasy, so the fact that the magical elements worked so well in the book really surprised me.

Yes, I am enjoying my new kindle! It seems like magic to me - that I can just go to my kindle and have a book to read in a matter of 60 seconds. The one challenge that I am encountering is that I often like to read while I am eating a meal by myself. Last week I tipped over a glass of water on the table and mucked up several of my books;) So far I dare not read my kindle and have any liquid or food around me!

I really must try an audio book soon! When I read about you and Nancy and others exclaiming about the wonders of audiobooks - I know I must be missing out.

Do you have an MP3 player, or how do you listen to your audio books? So far, I've just got a couple of CD players and imagine that is not the more convenient format for audio books.

Great to visit you, Carsten.

Sep 27, 2011, 6:14am

Love your comments on The Rule of Saint Benedict - so funny!

Also glad you enjoyed The Thirty Nine Steps. The C. S. Lewis book sounds interesting although I already have loads of C. S. Lewis that I'm just not reading...

Sep 27, 2011, 10:17am

Interesting discussion going on here, Carsten. This is my drive-by "hello" for this fine Tuesday : ). Deb, I'm a walker so my audiobooks are always in my iPod; but I have a dock for the iPod in my house, too, so that I can listen while I'm working in my lab (kitchen), or doing whatever.

Edited: Sep 27, 2011, 5:05pm

#194: Maybe magic realism in the way of Gabriel Garcia Marquez? One Hundred Years of Solitude had that blending, well....I guess I just have to read Touch. Sometimes it's a good sign when you can't pinpoint a novel into a specific genre.

Do try an audiobook, Deb - it's quite another feeling to have a book read aloud to you. Listening at the moment to the Guernsey-book. What a thrill to hear all the different people with the right british accent reading letters. I enjoy it very much :)

#195: I hear you....I have a lot of Lewis still waiting on my shelf...trying to read more of his essays and then theres the sci-fi trilogy.....and....A

#196: My drive-by hello Well, welcome to stop by Nancy :) I listen to audiobook mostly bycycling to and from work through some nice quiet areas. And doing dishes and also whatever :)

Sep 30, 2011, 1:05pm

I also enjoyed the St Benedict comments. There is some good stuff in the Rule as well, as you rightly mentioned. Meanwhile I must practise my running with decorum...

Edited: Sep 30, 2011, 1:35pm

Book 53: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1798 - published 1815) reread

Audiobook - read by Juliet Stevenson. A pleasure to listen to - specially the voices of the John Thorpe and the heroine Catherine.

The novel is filled with wit and satire and so many quotable passages and it has a freshness to it I just love - and then you just fall in love with Catherine - so natural honest and innocent - with a highly developed imagination - and lacking in pretension of any kind. And she expects others to be as straightforward as herself. She is of course quickly deceived by the shallow Isabella and John Thorpe - and rescued through several misunderstandings by the hero, Henry Tilney.

It's a remarkable "debut" - Jane Austen began writing it at the age of nineteen.

Book 54: The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey (1995)

Philip Yanceys style of writing is never preachy and it's stripped of the normal theological clichés that you find in to many Christian books. And as usual he's quoting his favorite writers and persons, telling many contemporary stories - and you can jot down some more books to your TBR-list.

In this book Yancey is not taking on the role as apologist - this is not a defence of Jesus - that Jesus really was what he claimed to be - God Incarnate. Yancey takes that for granted. But what does it mean? This Yancey tries to explore - and reading it Jesus really comes alive again - the gentle and meek Jesus who comforted the poor and humble - yet also mysterious, holy and with a message that shocked and offended the proud.

Sep 30, 2011, 1:43pm

# 198: Running with decorum is a sadly underrated discipline. But Sct. Benedict was right to bring attention to it :) - a lot of people are running these days - but how many with decorum? And there are also people with decorum - but most of them are not running at all. A deplorable state of affairs.

Sep 30, 2011, 3:39pm

Enjoyable reviews, Carsten! I also really enjoy Northanger Abbey when I read it earlier in the year. Austen's wit just shines! And I've yet to listen to Juliet Stevenson read Austen's work, but it's on my "must do" list. The Jesus I Never Knew I am not familiar with but your words mysterious, holy and with a message that shocked and offended the proud appeal.

Oct 1, 2011, 2:31am

#201: Thanks, Nancy. Now I've downloaded Persuasion - also read by Juliet Stevenson - so I'm ready for the great finale in the Austenathon. This is also the novel I've read most times (four times) so there will not be that many plot-surprises for me - but I get to spend time again with Anne Elliot.

Oct 1, 2011, 1:15pm

Carsten, enjoy Juliet's Persuasion!! I borrowed the BBC Video of Persuasion from my library this week. It's looking like this evening's entertainment : ).

Oct 1, 2011, 2:41pm

#203: Ahh...the pleasures of an Austen-movie! Although different in atmosphere both the 2007-BBC version with Sally Hawkins and the 1995-version with Amanda Root are good. Like them for different reasons....enjoy, Nancy :)

I watched Northanger Abbey 2007 version with Felicity Jones yesterday - she's perfect as Catherine.

Oct 1, 2011, 3:26pm

#204 Oh, thank you for another wonderful tip, Carsten. I just checked and my library has the 2007 version of Northanger Abbey with Felicity Jones. Mine is the fourth request; I will look forward to it!

Oct 1, 2011, 10:09pm

Ohh I'm so glad that you enjoyed The Guernsey Literary Society and I'm so " jealous" that you and Nancy got to listen to some fabulous English accents!!! I'm going to have to ask for an MP3 player for Christmas!

So glad that you enjoyed The Jesus I Never Knew. I found that I had never really understood so fully how very human Jesus was during his time on earth.

As for your Austen reads, I read them in my late teens/ early twenties and very much enjoyed them. Maybe one day I'll do a re - read.

Oct 2, 2011, 9:02am

#206: Mrs. Ashton have just arrived at the Island and I must read some more letters today.

You are right about the Yancey-book: Jesus' humanness shines brightly - no doubt about it.

I hope your wish will be fulfilled, Deb:) I use my iPhone and an Audible-app which makes it easy to order, download and listen directly on the phone.

Edited: Oct 2, 2011, 9:13am

Oh Carsten - there's a thrifty idea! When the contract on my current mobile phone runs out, I plan to get an i-phone like one of my sons has . There's a good idea for me! I'll have to see how much more time I've got left on my current contract with my ordinary cell phone. I love my son's i- phone!And then I could listen to audio books with it too!

Oct 2, 2011, 9:33am

Yes, that would be a good choice, Deb. Then you don't need an extra electronic device to misplace and don't have to transfer books via cable etc. It's all done in one place. You can order books on your computer as well and it pops up automatically on the iPhones audible app.

Oct 2, 2011, 12:59pm

#208-09 I second (third?) the iPhone. My iPod is getting quite aged (in electronic years) and this past summer, rather than buy a new iPod, I decided to splurge on the phone. My thinking was the same as both of yours: phone and mp3 in one gadget. (At the time, I didn't have a cell phone at all, so I needed to buy both a phone and an mp3. Apple made the choice easy - and more economical than would otherwise have been the case).

Oct 2, 2011, 5:40pm

#208-10 I third (fourth?) the idea of the single-gadget approach. Mine is an Android phone rather than iphone, but you can also get and Audible app for Android. I also download e-Books both via a Kindle app and an Overdrive app for free library ebooks - the screen is obviously smaller than on something like a Kindle, but it's all free and a great way to have a reserve supply of reading matter handy for those moments when you don't have a book with you. The phone also acts as my sat-nav when I need one, and diary, and... occasionally I use it to make phone calls!

Oct 2, 2011, 6:41pm

Wow, Carsten, you've really come up with a great idea for me -and several others. I'll work on some sort of a review on The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet By Jamie Ford, but for now, I think I can say that I think you would enjoy it very much.

It goes back and forth in time - from 1986 - to WW2 in the US. It's a love story yes, but it also is the story about how challenging it was for both the Chinese and the Japanese to fit into the US at that time -and also the story of a young Japanese girl and her family sent off to Japanese interment camps in the US during WW2. It's really a touching and lovely story. I don't want to give too much away. By 1986, the main character, who's name I forget at this moment- has lost his first wife to cancer -and is trying to establish a better relationship with his college aged a son. It's really a great story.

By the way, I was looking through some of your wonderful reviews and I found a few that I just had to give a thumbs up to! :)

Oct 2, 2011, 7:25pm

Carsten, I have not visited your thread in a long time -- far, far too long! You have read some wonderful books, and I love your thoughtful reviews. I have been reading about the audio version of Watership Down for weeks -- I need to track down a copy!

I recently listened to an audio of Northanger Abbey and loved it. I had a different narrator than you did, but she clearly conveyed the spoofy tone Austen used. I had so much fun listening. I think The Yearling will be on my daughter's required summer reading list next summer (she's 12). I told her I would read along, so we could discuss it together. I look forward to it!

Oct 3, 2011, 2:28am

#210 & 211: Happy to hear you third and fourth on the smartphones :) As for reading I use the Kindle app, as it syncs perfectly so I can pick up some reading on the phone if I don't have the Kindle with me.

#212: I saw a movie recently about these camps, "Come See The Paradise" - with Dennis Quaid. It was quite good. would like to read more about this aspect of the war, Deb. Thanks for the info.

#213: For me Watership Down was one of this years best audio-readings experiences, the version I have was read by Ralph Cosham. As for Jane Austen there are so many audio versions of her books it's quite overwhelming.

Good idea to read along with your daughter, Anne. Like the picture on your profile, reading with your girls :) - I just love the way the father-son relationship is in The Yearling that they like to spend time together hunting and enjoying nature.

Oct 3, 2011, 10:51am

Book 55: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2008)

Thanks to Deb and Nancy for recommending this book with the very long title. I loved it - charming, funny, and at times heartbreaking. It's a perfect novel to get as an audiobook. Different voices for all the characters writing letters.

No wonder a hit among booklovers! I enjoyed the Guernsey-people who had this unimpressed approach to the classics - when it was all over I wanted to spend more time with this community of people...a follow up, please!!! Well, I guess it will never be the same....

Read on IMDB that it's going to be made into a movie - premiere in 2013. Director is Kenneth Branagh. It must be difficult to transfer it to the big screen, but I look forward to it.

Book 56: Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1932)

My first Ingalls Wilder book - and the first in the series. I watched the tv-series as a child but never read the books.

One is reminded of the simple pleasures of life - food, music, storytelling, friendship and a close knit community. How much time and energy they spent just to provide food and storage for the winter - the seasons of life and it's many changes for the family was beautiful to follow. How many things we have lost.....

This book would not however be the same without Garth Williams many wonderful drawings. An amazing accomplishment to illustrate this series.

Oct 3, 2011, 2:27pm

Carsten, so delighted you enjoyed The Guernsey Society. I also don't know how it would transfer to the big screen, but it's one I will definitely watch out for. I've not read anything by Ingalls Wilder, but appreciate the review! Looks like she is worth exploring.

Oct 3, 2011, 8:00pm

I'm excited about the upcoming Guernsey movie, sounds good and Kenneth Branagh is very good at what he does. Your review of Northanger Abbey is the second good one I've read today and I'm now going to sneak this book onto my October planned reading list..

Oct 3, 2011, 8:57pm

215: I had no idea they were making a movie of it. What a fantastic book, I hope they do a good job of it on the silver screen and I'm glad you enjoyed it too. :)

Edited: Oct 4, 2011, 2:54am

#216, 217, 218: Yes, it bodes well to have a brit at the helm - or is he irish? But not an easy job for Kenneth Branagh - playing in it himself? Randomhouse has a special site devoted to the book - and an interesting discussion on who's going to be cast in the movie. Seems Kate Winslet is the frontrunner for Juliet :)

Oct 4, 2011, 3:38am

Oh Carsten! I'm so glad that the The Guernsey Society turned out to be an enjoyable audio book for you. I had no idea that they were planning to create a movie from the book. Great idea though, given the popularity of the book. Hmmm - who to play whom in the movie.Good question!

As for The Little House on the Prarie - I read the whole series as a young girl. Nowadays they would not be read in school because of the references to " Red Indians" and other non acceptable references like that. But they are certainly still available in bookstores and libraries.

Oct 4, 2011, 6:35am

#220: Have I just read a banned book? Wow, I would not have thought that, Deb. And the nice, honorable Ingalls-family of all families to be banned. It could be interesting to know what books the kids are reading in stead of Little House in the Big Woods?

Oct 4, 2011, 7:29am

Oh no, it's not banned. It would just not be used in a school curriculum because of certain old fashioned references that would now be considered not kind. I only say that because a friend of mine teaches highschool English here in BC -and she had young person in her class who has trouble keeping up with regular English classes, so she considered giving the teen Little House on the Prairie . But first she went to re read the book -and realized that there were many references that would not work in a classroom setting. It's not the Ingalls family - it the way First Nations people etc are referred to in the book.

Well, as I have about 6 neices and nephews in the 10 and under age group I know there are a huge variety of books to chose from. Little House on the Prairies is certainly still available in bookstores and public libraries - maybe even school libraries for all I know.

Roald Dahl is pretty popular!I know quite a few of my neices and nephews read Flat Stanley in grade 1 or 2. I got so excited about Flat Stanleythat I had to go out and buy the book myself!:)

Edited: Oct 4, 2011, 9:42am

222: Ok, so still it could be used if the teacher decides to go outside of the curriculum if I understand you correctly.

I need to read some more of this series and have this aspect about the indians in the back of my mind. I have to be enlightened a bit here as it's not at all a hot "subject" here as in northern america/canada given your history.

"Native americans" are called indians here in Denmark and "afro american" is an expression that have just not entered into the language in a big way, so the word "black" is still used.

Flat Stanley looks like a funny book :)

Edited: Oct 4, 2011, 10:32am

It's all to do with political correctness, Carsten. I don't agree with such censorship, but that's what it is - at least here in Canada. Oddly enough, while in Canada it is considered insensitive or incorrect to refer to our First Nations as Indians, I worked with aboriginal children for many years, and most of them referred to themselves as "Indians" (many of their parents also referred to themselves as Indians). Begs the question, who exactly finds the term offensive? But then I think that as a society we have gone off the deep end with political correctness, so I'm probably not a good person to ask!

Oct 4, 2011, 10:46am

The Little House books are still being used in schools -- at least here in CO. At my daughters' school, the third grade does a Little House project every year. They also do a Native American unit, so I think the historical context for the language and the attitudes is explained for students.

Oct 4, 2011, 8:32pm

Sorry, Carsten! I did not mean to start a firestorm on your thread! I apologize for that.

Yes! Flat Stanley is hilarious! :)

Oct 5, 2011, 4:39am

It's ok Deb, don't worry - it's an interesting discussion :) And thanks to Nancy and Anne for sharing. At least it's good to know some schools still use the Little House on the Prairie books.

Here in Denmark the books have always been a huge succes and they are still in print in danish translation - one of the few older childrens books available. And danish tv have shown the tv-series numerous times, so kids here still grow up with The Ingalls.

By the way I was thinking yesterday about a movie I watched a while ago: Freedom Writers - it shows an interesting use of a book in a classroom - The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank - to warn young people against the danger of stereotypes and derogative language against other groups of people. Based on a real story - or maybe just inspired by as these movies tend to take great liberties. For a booklover it was wonderful to see a classic getting used in a contemporary inner city setting.

Oct 5, 2011, 10:44am

#227 I also watched The Freedom Writers and quite enjoyed it, for the same reasons you did, Carsten.

Oct 6, 2011, 5:34am

You know, I've never heard of Freedom Writers. It sounds really interesting and I'll have to seek it out! By the way, thank goodness my community mailbox was properly locked today!!! We can't have me missing a book parcel, can we ?:) But I did download a humourous book to my kindle today. I needed a change of pace! It's called Extreme Vinyl Cafe by Stuart Mclean. He's a Canadian that has written a number of fun and humourous short stories about small town Canadian life. I'm sure that you could also find podcasts or audiobooks of his. The Vinyl Cafe refers to the the workplace of Dave, a fellow who owns a vintage record player store - thus The Vinyl Cafe.

Oct 6, 2011, 6:41am

Fantastically interesting book choices, Carsten. Can you tell me a little about the picture at the very top of your thread? It's wonderful!

Oct 6, 2011, 12:13pm

#228: .....and as many movies it was based on a book! The Freedom Writers Diary although I've not read that one.

#229: Thanks for the suggestion, Deb. I'm always on the prowl for good humourous books. They come in handy after a heavy dose of too much tragic reality....after Ethan Frome and Grapes of Wrath earlier this year I was rescued by Jules Verne....well, not exactly comedy but relaxing and entertaining.

#230: Yes, I've had a good book-year so far, Prue :) The painting is by a danish artist, Vilhelm Hammershøi . He did mainly portraits and interiors.

Oct 6, 2011, 1:28pm

Prue, I also asked (many posts ago!) about the painting at the top of Carsten's thread. I've found some other Hammershoi online, and I am officially a fan : ).

Oct 7, 2011, 6:41am

#232: Glad you like him, Nancy - I'm also a big fan of his paintings!!

Edited: Oct 7, 2011, 6:46am

OK, it's time for another thread to round of the year - this one is getting long.. - thanks to all you lovely people visiting and commenting :)

Here's the NEW THREAD