Carsten's (ctpress) 2014 - Take and Read (1)
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Painting by Danish artist Carl Holsoe
Welcome all you readers. This is my fifth year on LT-75 and I’m looking forward to another year of book-sharing.
Read in 2014
29. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1798-99) 4/5
28. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1961) 2,5/5
27. Staggerford by Jon Hassler (1977) 3/5
26. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964) 3,5/5
25. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler (1985) 3,5/5
24. The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth (1932) 3/5
23. Simon's Night by Jon Hassler (1979) 4,5/5
22. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1895) 5/5
21. Mr. Ive’s Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos (1995) 4/5
20. Pines by Blake Crouch (2012) 4/5
19. The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (1915) 3/5
18. Benediction by Kent Haruf (2013) 4,5/5
17. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939) 3,5/5
16. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond (1958) 4,5/5 (reread)
15. My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse (1919) 3,5/5
14. Voices by Arnaldur Indridason (2003) 4/5
13. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1816) 4/5 (reread)
12. The Coral Island by R. M. Ballantyne (1858) 3/5
11. The Lost Princess by George MacDonald (1875) 2/5
10. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (1998) 3/5
09. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle (1890) 4/5
08. Oh Pioneers! by Willa Cather (1913) 4/5
07. Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes by Robert Louis Stevenson (1878) 4/5
06. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (1959) 4/5
05. Nature and Walking by R. W. Emerson and H. D. Thoreau (1851) 4/5
04. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge (1872) 3/5
03. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847) 5/5 (reread)
02. The Purity of Vengeance by Jussi Adler-Olsen (2010) 4/5
01. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (1985) 5/5
Top 10 reading 2013 (in no particular order)
1. The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
2. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
3. Carry on, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
4. A Conspiracy of Faith by Jussi Adler-Olsen
5. Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe
6. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
7. If this is Man by Primo Levi
8. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
9. The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
10. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
Nancy - It was a very good mix on my top ten from 2013 and I'm a little surprised that so few old classics found there way into the list - of course Trollope had to be there. Palliser is waiting for me...
I like the artist Carl Holsøe. He's somewhat overshadowed by the more famous danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi from the same period (both did a lot of interior paintings - and they were friends, so no wonder they are compared to each other)
Describe yourself: The Thin Man
Describe how you feel: Silence of the Grave
Describe where you currently live: The Small House at Allington
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Your favorite form of transportation: The Cloister Walk
Your best friend is: A Girl of the Limberlost
You and your friends are: The One Hundred and One Dalmatians
What’s the weather like: The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
You fear: A Conspiracy of Faith
What is the best advice you have to give: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
Thought for the day: If This is Man
How I would like to die: The Return of Sherlock Holmes
My soul’s present condition: The Long Loneliness
Top 8 reading-ideas for 2014:
Follow the lists: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die - 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up - 501 Must-Read Books
Prize Winners: Newbery Medal books
The Complete Sherlock Holmes: I’m two novels and a short story collection away…..
Scandi Crime: Jussi Adler-Olsen and Arlandur Indriadson
Focus authors: C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, Tolstoy, George Eliot, Dickens, Shakespeare and Dostoevsky
Finish the trilogy: C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy (2 left), Kristin Lavrandsdottir (2 left), Cathers Prairie-books (2 left)
For the heart: Spiritual Classics - looking into it…
Rereading: Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, Brave New World - Lord of the Rings and at least one Austen
That should keep me busy for at while…But most likely I will be lead astray into other areas and authors and genres and periods by great reviews or great conversations and suggestions here on LT……but at least I have a plan
Have you read the third one?
Speaking of George Eliot, I am presently almost finished listening to Juliet Stevenson narrate Middlemarch; fabulousness!!. I read Jane Eyre a couple of years ago (listened and read, actually), another classic I adore.
I loved the first picture in your thread. Beautiful painting!
Thanks too for you best of 2013. I copied and pasted on my master list for ideas.
I am thinking of C.S. Lewis too for 2014 as I had never read any until recently reading Grief Observed and thought I should read more. I tried finding George Eliot Middlemarch audio with J. Stevenson from the library with no success.
Liked your meme!
Mary - and a Happy New Year to you. Yes, I hope you can use some of the titles on the top 10 - I sure liked them. There's so much to choose from when it comes to C. S. Lewis - Children's stories, sci-fi, mythic-stories or essays or letters. Have you read his Letters to Children? Not a big read, but just interesting to learn of his conversations on Narnia with children over the years.
Too bad the Stevenson-audio wasn't at your library. She's a wonderful narrator.
Megan - Yes, very sound advice, right? :) Have a nice weekend!
Paul - And a great weekend to you. First time I have made an "official" reading-plan on LT - but it helps you being focused on certain books.
Rhian - OK, thanks. I'm warned and prepared for another trip to another strange planet (and the philosophical ideas of Lewis) :)
“There are always things to miss," said Maggie. "No matter where you are.”
Sarah, Plain and Tall is just everything I love in a Children’s book. Easy to understand for a little child, yet profound and filled with wisdom and poetic beauty that will grab the attention of every adult. A story about a widowed man and his two children who live on a farm - he puts an ad in the paper seeking a wife - and Sarah arrives - there’s a lot of speculation among the children about Sarah. Does she like them? Will she stay? Will she marry their father? Can she overcome her longing for the sea at home? They are all guessing and wondering what the future will bring in this period of learning to trust and understand each other.
A story told in sparse language that resembles the simple, quiet, remote prairie life. A quick read, but one that will stay with me a long time. Well, I’ve already downloaded the second in the series Skylark.
Winner of the Newbery Medal 1986
In 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
Mary - Great :) I love the 1001 Children's Books you Must Read and there are so many good suggestions in it, also classic Children's Book that you can download for free... I find it a good relaxed diversion from the more "heavy" literature.
Hey Marie, never to late to pick it up. You can read it in one sitting.
Nancy - Ha, ha, yes that prairie dust....Thanks for pointing me toward The Last Crossing - I'm going to read more by him. But it feels right to start 2014 on the prairie with Sarah, Plain and Tall
Mary - Great - a very quick read but sometimes you only need a few words to create a good story.
Jussi Adler-Olsen continues to deliver plenty of suspense, sarcasm and sinister crimes. This time the plot deals with some of the more embarrasing part of Danish history in the 1960’s with eugenics and forced sterilization.
One of the victims - Nete - have only one thing in mind: Vengeance - and slowly we discover some horrible events in the past. Two main plotlines are cleverly intertwined and with some nice surprises at the end.
At Department Q all is the same - or rather we have a more and more bevildered and confused detective Carl Mørk who tries to steer the sinking ship with two unruly passengers - the meddling secretary Rose, and the impulsive assistant Assad - and Carl Mørk have his own problems with an old case that continues to make trouble for him - I guess we will hear more of it in later novels.
This is the fourth novel in the Department Q-series...
Diana - My favorite is still number three - closely followed by The Purity of Vengeance. I'm enjoying the series - highly entertaining.
Have a great weekend.
Paul - Hope it be availabe soon and you can add it to one of your book hauls - and you can get it pass the strict SHMBO-custom. Have a great sunday.
This was my third reading of Jane Eyre and second time I listened to Juliet Stevenson’s narration. And I guess I will read it again in a few years. No need to elaborate on this magnificant classic. One of my all time favorites. All I can say is: Reader, just read it.
4. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge (1872) 3/5
A charming old Children’s book about a little girl who gets a back injury and must remain in bed for almost two years. During that time she learns some important lessons about humility, patience and helping others and well, just being able to see the positive side of her situation.
The book deals with some serious issues as death, suffering and handicaps in a good way - unfortunately Susan Coolidge is too eager to spread moral lessons all over the place. A little more subtle approach would have been nice.
In 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
Oh, Jane Eyre is perfect as an audiobook. I've listened to a lot of books, and this is one of my favorites.
As for What Katy Did: Susan Coolidge is too eager to spread moral lessons all over the place. A little more subtle approach would have been nice. Why do authors do that? Sounds like she spoiled an otherwise charming read.
I don't know whether I liked it more than they did in fact.
Carsten, have a great weekend.
I’ve been taking several longer walks since my hiking trip to Lapland last year - and find myself enjoying walking more and more.
The other day I grapped this little gem from my shelf for some inspiration. Only 122 pages, but much food for thought. Only two essays but by the finest of men. With a nice introduction by John Elder - and filled with beautiful wood engravings.
I read it primarily for the “Walking” essay by Thoreau - but I found Emersons essay on Nature the perfect way to lead me into Walking.
I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks, - who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering.
What Thoreau is talking about is the noble art of Walking - he fancies himself a knight of a new order - the Walkers
It comes only by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker. You must be born into the family of the Walkers.
What he talks most about is "a quality of awareness, an openess to the light, to the seasons and to natures perpetual renewal” - to quote the introduction. I like Thoreau - his wit - his spirit of adventure, his refusal to conform to the latest trend and fashion. And that he was a knight of new order.
We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return - prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave your father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again, - if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a fee man, then you are ready for a walk.
Dear Thoreau, can I join the Walkers?
A fascinating journal - it recounts a year in the life of Sam Gribley, a boy who escape from home in the crowded city of New York to life in the wilderness in the Catskills. It’s sort of a "Walden meets Robinson Crusoe” - the children’s edition.
It is his desire to be get away from a large family and crowded apartment that initially drives him to the woods. Also the dream of living free and independent with noone to bother him. Fascinating to find out how he survives building a shelter, making clothes and hunting for food - and trying to make it through winter with stored up provisions. He also captures and trains a peregrine falcon named Frightful. And slowly he befriends a teacher and even his father comes to visit during Christmas.
He has not run away in that sense. His father has an idea of where he is - also the local librarian where he comes to read about plants and wild life in order to survive. I wonder…it all sounds quite incredible that a boy should be left alone like that for so long…but maybe not so incredible back in 1960’s. Well, the suspension of disbelief and all that.
I like the ending - there’s a growing conflict in Sam. The disire to be alone and the desire of human fellowship.
I found this today: The Joys of Walking - seems like a nice essay collection by Thoreau, Dickens and others. I'm considering it.
See Nancy has figured out how to introduce those charming little thumbs into the proceedings.
Have a great weekend.
Paul - Yes, My Side of the Mountain was a pleasant surprise - but here I'm easy to please. I like these Robinson Crusoe/Thoreau-stories a lot.
Just read Sarah Plain and Tall and you were absolutely right, it is wonderful.
Hi Paul - busy, busy weekend, but now I have a few days of work to relax in. And do some reading. Have a nice week out there in your crowded place of the world.
The Tinker Creek thread is still happening if you are still persevering...understand your not 'getting into it'. I wasn't completely enthralled myself, just taken for a pleasant and lovely ride. (I liked her autobiography better, An American Childhood).
Hi Nancy - Yes, a crazy news week - but, hey, at least now I know most of the names of the Ukrainian opposition. On top of that some pressing church activities that left me quite exhausted. The next two weeks hopefully will be more slow, so I look forward to some quality reading-time in my couch.
I blessed God that I was free to wander, free to hope, and free to love
In the autumn of 1878 Robert Louis Stevenson made a 120 mile hike in the Cevennes in France. The journey took him 11 days.
A donkey is bought at the beginning of the hike and christened Modestine - but the animal turns out to be very obstinate and difficult to manage. Very funny situations with that beast in the remote, mountainous region in southern France.
Stevenson is very good at observations and try to distill some thoughts on traveling, religion and life in general out of the experiences he has.
For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather-bed of civilization, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints.
Some of the highlights is his short stay at a Trappist Monastery - a challenge for him as a Protestant, but he likes the simplicity of life among the monks. And sleeping at an inn in a little room with a married couple. Mostly though he finds the farmers he meet quite inhospitable - and even reluctant to show him the way when he’s lost - at least twice he has to sleep outdoors in a homemade sort of a sleeping bag.
A short book but really worth it if you like travel-writing - free download to your Kindle.
A few weeks ago I explored the section "Travel" in 501 Must-Read Books for some pointers on travel-reading. I think I will do some more suggestions from that book.
Anne - Thanks - and a good one to you too.
It was from facing this vast hardness that the boy’s mouth had become so bitter, because he felt that men were too weak to make any mark here, that the land wanted to be let alone, to preserve its own fierce strength, its peculiar, savage kind of beauty, its uninterrupted mournfulness.
The prairie is almost its own character in Cather's novels. This story follows the swedish Bergson family. The main character, the girl Alexandra, is the only one who really understands the potential of the prairie to make a living. She studies and learn from the few wise people around her and her industriousness pays off.
Another beautiful prairie-story from Cather. There’s such and aching and longing for love and belonging in Alexandra as she grows up and becomes an independent land owner. You just want her to find happiness and love. You have to wait quite a bit, but it’s all worth it.
Her personal life, her own realization of herself, was almost a subconscious existence; like an underground river that came to the surface only here and there, at intervals months apart, and then sank again to flow on under her own fields.
I'm not at all familiar with 501 Books, but I love that it has a travel section … and that you found Robert Louis Stevenson in it! Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes sounds charming! A donkey named Modestine who is obstinate! Love this quote, too: to come down off this feather-bed of civilization, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints.
O Pioneers! is one that I've had on my list (and in my iPad, actually) since what seems like forever. Your review and your 4* assessment prompts me to get on with it. I love a beautiful prairie story.
I think Willa Cather will be right up your alley. One to go to finish her prairie trilogy. Liked My Antonia better than Oh Pioneer! but both very good.
Have a nice weekend
I'm off to download the RLS book. Thanks for the tip. I enjoyed the quotes you shared.
Donna - I hear you.....There are certainly places I only want to read about and not go myself :) Traveling-books are a safe choice.
I have already a few put on a list from the 501 Must-Read Books that I plan to read in the near future.
Watson: I fear that it may be the last investigation in which I shall have the chance of studying your methods. Miss Morstan has done me the honor to accept me as a husband in prospective.
Sherlock Holmes gave a most dismal groan. “I feared as much,” said he. “I cannot really congratulate you.”
I was a little hurt. “Have you any reason to be dissatisfied with my choice?” I asked.
“Not at all. I think she is one of the most charming young ladies I ever met….But love is an emotional thing and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment.
"I trust,” said I, laughing, “that my judgment may survive the ordeal.”
Sorry for a lengthy quote but I couldn’t resist. I will remember this second novel in the Sherlock Holmes series for the blooming romance between our dear friend Dr. Watson and the woman in peril, Miss Mary Morstan. When you get romance in Sherlock Holmes you have to cherish it. And Holmes’ cold reaction towards it. There’s a guy who stays true to character.
Of other novelties in the novel one can mention the opening scene where Holmes with much indifference is sniffing cocaine out of boredom. Watson is shocked and warns Holmes of his dangerous cocain habit.
So we come to the mystery itself. Well, all I have to say: This is a short, fast-paced story that takes place all over London - about Miss Morstan and her missing father, a hidden treasure, treachery, murder and greed among the ingredients. Here’s the books concluding remark:
Watson to Holmes: You have done all the work in this business. I geet a wife out of it, Jones (the police investigator) gets the credit, pray what remains for you?
“For me,” said Sherlock Holmes, “there still remains the cocaine-bottle.” And he stretched his long white hand up for it.
Nancy - Yes, that quote made me laugh too. I like the idea that the "normal" guy is telling the story of the eccentric Holmes. He's really an enigma, dear Holmes.
I've tried to read the short story collections in the order of their publication, just not the novels.
Diana - *Waving right back*
Mary - So you're hooked on Borgen too - great :) Yes, Copenhagen really look good in that series. I still have a lot of Indridason to read. Am about to start on the third in the series soon.
I've discovered a couple of authors that I love. I kept seeing Benediction by Kent Haruf in the book stores and finally I had to see what it was all about . I started with Plainsong, then Eventide and finally Benediction. I loved them all and I think that you would too, perhaps most especially Benediction . Spare prose, great beauty and subdued emotion.
I'm just finished off Crow Lake by Mary Lawson a piece of CanLit. I'm loving it and I think that you would too. I think Nancy would love these books too.
Scandi crime! Oh yes! I'm not sure if Burial Rites by Hannah Kent count as Scandi Crime, since it is on the Orange Shortlist, but I am hoping to get to it soon.
Great to " see you. " On my profile/home page I have the books I've read this year and their ratings if you are interested.
And yes, I am closely following the British Royal Tour in New Zealand/ Australia. Oh what will Kate wear next?
Yes, Ordinary Grace was a wonderful novel - thanks for recommending. I better check out Kent Haruf - Spare prose, great beauty and subdued emotion. Sounds great. And Mary Lawson. I have actually been lurking around your profile page - and good to see you are still reading and giving out stars.
What Will Kate Wear Next? - see that's the quintessential question of life. Answer that and you have unlocked the secret of the universe. Some things don't change, ehh? :)
Maybe Heyer is not for me - or maybe I’ve selected the wrong novels.
10. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (1998) 3/5
It was really strange to read this book in english, about a well-known Danish story from WWII. About the danish population who hid and helped almost all of the danish jews in nazi-occupied Denmark in october 1943, around 7.000, to escape to safety in neutral Sweden.
A story that is worth telling in a Childrens story, and it is done well, but for me it lacked a lot of historic information to ground it more in reality. Also the events are romanticized a great deal. One has also to look to the fate of the german jews in Denmark to get a more balanced picture of the "heroic Danes”.
Wisely enough we only follow one of the stories from “the great escape” - and not from the point of view of a jew, but from one girl who becomes part of the suspenseful flight. Her perspective on the war and people is forever changed.
Newbery Award winner (1999)
In 1001: Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
This is a great review of Number the Stars. I've seen this book … in the library, or in a book shop. Have you read The Book Thief? It's a YA read about a German family hiding a young Jewish man. It was a fabulous 5* read for me; I think you'd enjoy.
What Will Kate Wear Next? - see that's the quintessential question of life. Answer that and you have unlocked the secret of the universe. Ah, yes! Thanks for the morning chuckle!
I'm glad that both you and Nancy understand the gravity and importance of What will Kate wear next. A coat dress or a frock? :)
Great review of Number The Stars. Thanks for enlightening me on the reality of what went on in Denmark during WW11. That's a subject I don't know a lot about. Unlike the royal frocks! ;)
Deborah - OK, I think I will try Benediction - Are you still lobbying to get Kate and William to Vancouver or have you given up all hope?
To think of it "What Will Kate Wear Next?" are topped by a more important question: "Will Liverpool win?" - "The Reds" are in a two-point lead with four football games to go and can actually now win it all in England. For one who have travelled to Anfield to watch them play this is THE question a the moment :)
A.K.A. "The Wise Women: A Parable".
A story of two very spoiled girls, a princess and a peasant, who are kidnapped by a strange woman for a lesson in life. They have been brought up very unwisely - so their parents need a lesson too.
I got quite irritated at this fairy tale/moral parable. The two girls are so spoiled that you really don’t want to spend time with them at all. It really takes a Wise Woman to make them grow up and be well behaved kids .
Well, it’s a parable - and I guess that's the problem - there’s little enchantment in MacDonald trying to teach us about parenting in a fairy tale. He’s much better in some of his other fairy tales.
An enjoyable boys adventure story set on some remote Island in the Pacific Ocean, where three teenagers are shipwrecked.
After some time of Robinson Crusoe-like experiences they are intangled in some nasty tribal wars and tries to rescue a young woman from being executed.
The latter part of the novel are dealing with some missionaries who try to convert the "heathens". There are some very gruesome and graphic detailed descriptions in the novel that surprised me a lot.
The moral of the story are not told in a subtle way - no doubt about the Christian and Victorian virtues that are being instilled in the young reader of that day.
Ballantyne wrote numerous novels of this kind, but Coral Island is one of his most famous.
In 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
Do read Benediction. Carsten. I'm quite sure you will enjoy it. I kept looking at it in the store and at the library and I thought - oh , a dying pastor - will be so depressing -but it was about that and so much more. One of my favourite reads this year. CanLit fav - Crow Lake by Mary Lawson.
As for petitioning for Kate and Wills to visit Vancouver, I think it will be a while until they visit Beautiful BC. For some odd reason, when Kate and Will visited Canada shortly after their marriage, they only went as far west as Calgary ( also known as Cowtown) and went to a the Calgary Rodeo. I was flummoxed, but what can you do? will Liverpool win? And really , their fans are even crazier then we Royal fans. Generally speaking, we are a gentle lot, not given to riots and shouting. Of course I am sure that you are calm and civilized - and there in your capacity as a news editor. I understand, Carsten.
To further your interest in your team, here is their website - http://store.liverpoolfc.tv/
Visit KP next time you in the UK , just for me, Carsten. I beg of you.. ;)
The best ones can be read at any age. Like: Grahame's Wind in the Willows, Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, Astrid Lindgren's Brothers Lionheart, Burnetts The Secret Garden, Rawlings The Yearling just to name some of my favorites from recent years.
I'll check out Kent Haruf and Mary Lawson. Sounds promising.
And I'll pop in for some tea at Kensington when I come by the next time - just to catch up on the latest royal news.
Liverpool had another win yesterday - so all's good :)
Nancy - I read mostly danish children's books but also, Laura Ingalls Wilder I remember reading, a lot of the Astrid Lindgren books - and a few of the classics in these abridged versions like Three Musketeer's, Robin Hood etc. But I missed out on many books. So I'm catching up.
I have almost no books left from childhood - mostly abridged versions I don't like to read again. The older ones can be downloaded for free - otherwise I buy many as ebooks. Most of them are fairly cheap. But I also have several from audible. Children's books are often written to be read aloud so that's perfect. I've listened to Burnett and Montgomery a lot as audio-books. Sometimes I use the library but it's seldom.
Now the reviews are up and ready for a thumb or two :)
I never thought about listening to children's books, but now you mention it, they are perfect! Of course most of them were written to be read aloud! I must look for some od the older selections, too, which are free.
*off to apply some thumbs*
Liverpool won! Bravo Carsten. I've thumbed you and Nancy! Now off to check on what Kate is wearing! Oh! Astrid Lindgren - Pippi Longstocking . That was a fun book!
One of my next listenings will be A Bear Called Paddington read by Stephen Fry - looking forward to that one.
Deborah - Oh, yes I can see have read many children's classic - I thought for some years I had outgrown them - big mistake. Some years ago I was rereading the Narnia-books, and then listening to The Hobbit by Rob Inglis - one of my all time favorite narrations. I fell in love with the children's books once again. They do me good after a heavy Dostoevsky or something like that.
Ah, so you fell in love with the detective stories through Agatha Christie? Good beginnings.
Oh, yes Pippi Longstocking for sure - although Pippi will always for me be a swedish tv-series I saw when I was young. Magic!
“I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel…”
The most tragic thing in this gothic horror-story is the monsters vain longing for love, for a friendly soul. He doesn’t find it - not even in his creator, the young science student, Victor Frankenstein. And in stead the monster turns to a destructive path of vengeance.
19 year old Mary Shelley takes us on an emotional charged roller coater ride. I like this theatrical, supercharged atmosphere Shelley creates - also the philosophical questions it raises - the conflicts between creator and creature, the danger of scientific experimentation with the building blocks of life. It is indeed a tragedy.
Frankenstein has a loving family and the love of his life waiting for him, but he runs away from it. The monster longs for love and belonging - bus has no way of getting it.
Stephen Fry is perfect reading Paddington. Love it.
Did you know Paddington is coming to the big screen later this year? Just saw the teaser...not much revealed but some good british actors are in it.
Hope you'll find some fun and light reading you can enjoy. The title Burial Rites does sound a little heavy and dark :)
Hmmm, light reading - a book of some substance that is not kind of dark? I think I could recommend a few - but I would think of classics like A Room with a View, The Warden or something like that - the modern novels I have read recently tend to be rather dark or very serious stuff.
Hope you find something you can enjoy.
I am also listening to Jeeves & Wooster -- just the thing after my last heavy audio.
I wholeheartedly second (third? fourth?) the recommendations for Mary Lawson (Crow Lake is a favorite), Kent Haruf (I have not read Benediction yet, but Plainsong and Eventide are also favorites, plus he is a Colorado author), and The Book Thief. Lovely, wonderful books.
I loved Number the Stars when I read it a few years ago. My copy had more historical information in the back, which I was sure to share with my book group (5th grade). Thank you for your perspective as well. A picture book I enjoyed when my girls were younger was The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark, which I suspect you would also find historically inaccurate, or whitewashed. Individual stories of extraordinary heroism are important for kids and adults. Too often we are helpless and inert, or distance ourselves from suffering and danger because it doesn't affect us directly.
I loved sharing Number the Stars with my fifth grade book group when I was student teaching, but I was unpleasantly surprised how poor their background knowledge was. One or two of them had heard of Nazis (but didn't know what they were), but none had heard of WWII, Denmark, the Holocaust... Casting about for something they might recognize, I came up with The Sound of Music, but only one girl had seen it or even heard of it. From then on we conducted our book group with a big atlas in front of us so the kids could get a sense that these were real places and real events.
Number the Stars is a good choice for students to discuss and one can elaborate on WWII - but I guess even this novel assumes too much knowledge of events back then.
It's sad about the lack of knowledge about WWII and the Holocaust. We have had that discussion in Denmark as well, although I think it's more integrated into our culture - were still making movies about the Danish resistant-groups and so on. And our best well known tv-series in Denmark is not Borgen but one called Matador which were made in the 80's I think, following people during the WWII in Denmark.
I thought Sound of Music would be a sure thing to reference....well, we all get older :) Have you seen the movie Freedom Writers? - it's an adaptation from a book. There's a bit in there about Anne Frank and the books impact on students and their lack of knowledge of the Holocaust.
I better get on with My Man Jeeves (hmmm.....half the stories are not about Jeeves & Wooster at all....that's false advertisement).
The third in the Erlendur-detective series. Another solid crime from Iceland. A fat doorman is found killed in the basement of an hotel - it turns out he was a famous choirboy as a child - what does his past have to do with the murder?
To me this novel felt more relaxed than the first two, and with more irony and jokes (still serious and very realistic keynote) - almost all of the action takes place at a hotel in Reykjavik during the christmas holiday - and it has an Agatha Christie plot structure where you’re suspecting a lot of persons - the staff, a hotel guest, family members.
In Erlendurs own life there’s a blooming love interest and he’s trying to open up about his traumatic past and the death of his older brother. And he keeps having to deal with a very cranky daughter with severe heroin addiction.
My favorite so far in the series.
15. My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse (1919) 3,5/5
This is the first stories that Wodehouse wrote with the characters Wooster and Jeeves. Unfortunately only four of the eight stories are about Wooster and Jeeves - the rest is about Reggie Pepper, an early prototype for Wooster - and oh, how you miss Jeeves in these stories :)
Audiobook performed by Simon Prebble. It’s a good reading but for Wodehouse I do prefer Jonathan Cecil.
Thanks for the lighter suggestions. I enjoyed Room With a View in my " youthful years" , when ever those were.I'm so old, I'm not entirely certain what my youthful years were. You know the saying " Never Trust Anyone Under 90 " ;)
You will quickly know if you like Wodehouse. It's light and fun reading. I'm not so sure about substance.
You would enjoy a rereading of Room with a View. I've read it twice. And going to read it again I'm sure.
Haven't read the Wodehouse. Haven't read any Wodehouse actually. Like Deb: maybe one day.
Enter this idyllic world you know nothing really bad will ever happen to any of the persons....well, they might have their financial support withdrawn from a rich uncle, or be engaged with the wrong girl - but Jeeves is always there with a scheme or two to save the day.
Happy weekend, Carsten.
"Seeing that something was expected of it the bear stood up and politely raised its hat, revealing two black ears. 'Good afternoon,' it said, in a small clear voice ... The bear puffed out its chest. 'I'm a very rare sort of bear,' he replied importantly. 'There aren't many of us left where I come from.' 'And where is that?' asked Mrs Brown. The bear looked round carefully before replying. 'Darkest Peru. I'm not really supposed to be here at all. I'm a stowaway.’”
What a joy to listen to Stephen Fry’s narration of A Bear Called Paddington. Perfection.
The sweet little bear from darkest Peru is found on Paddington Station and taken in by the Brown family. Paddington is clumsy and always get into trouble. “Things are always happening to me – I’m that sort of bear!” , as he comments.
But he can also quickly become indignant and loose his temper. As when he’s being wrongly accused.
“I'm not a criminal,” said Paddington, hotly. “I'm a bear!” .
Oh, yes, dear Paddington. You are that sort of bear. That’s why we love you.
Looking forward to the movie adaptation coming later this Christmas - with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.
Deborah - Oh, we all could use a little Paddington now and then. We're not too grown up for that, I hope :)
“I don't mind your showing me your legs. They're very swell legs and it's a pleasure to make their acquaintance. I don't mind if you don't like my manners. They're pretty bad. I grieve over them during the long winter nights.”
The Big Sleep is THE ultimate hardboiled noir crime novel. A style Chandler perfectionised like nobody else - and numerous others have tried to copy or have been influenced by.
“Tall, aren't you?" she said.
"I didn't mean to be."
Her eyes rounded. She was puzzled. She was thinking. I could see, even on that short acquaintance, that thinking was always going to be a bother to her.”
Dark alleys, smoke-filled bars, tempting femme fatales, excessive daytime drinking - Chandler sets the atmosphere perfectly. And I enjoyed the dialogue a lot. Fast, hardhitting, cynic and very funny. I chuckled a lot. I guess these selected quotes says it all. You get it. If you don’t, forget about Chandler.
“It seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in.”
“I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it.
A benediction (Latin: bene, well + dicere, to speak) is a short invocation for divine help, blessing and guidance, usually at the end of worship service. Wikipedia.
He sat and drank the beer and held his wife’s hand sitting out on the front porch. So the truth was he was dying. That’s what they were saying. He would be dead before the end of summer. By the beginning of September the dirt would be piled over what was left of him out at the cemetery three miles east of town. Someone would cut his name into the face of a tombstone and it would be as if he never was.
The characters all seem lost in this powerful novel by Kent Haruf. They need guidance, relief, help. They don’t seem to be able to cry out for it or find that blessing over their lives.
It all takes place in the fictional town Holt in Colorado. Following primarily two families, one where the father is dying and their adult daughter comes home to help - and the estranged son are silenced to death. The other a minister’s family where the pastor gets into trouble in the local church after a sermon on forgiveness for enemies (shortly after 9/11).
In bits and pieces of flashbacks we are filled in with the backstory of the characters.
There’s no comic relief of any kind - and sometimes you kind of wish there were. It is very sparse and writing - if you like classic Hemingway and more recently Gerbrand Bakker - you feel at home here.
One of the persons in the novel will attempt a suicide - it’s chilling and harrowing - written low key, but very effective. I listened to this novel. It was narrated very slow and with a dark sad and for several characters almost desperate voice. It added to the mood the novel was written in. Or it might have enhanced it a bit to much.
This is one of those novels that are perfect for a book-group discussion - so many things are not said and need to be filled in by the reader. This is third person narrative where we often wonder about the persons thoughts and motives. Haruf doesn’t attempt to bind it all up in a neat, beautiful ending with a lot of relief. There is redemption for some of the characters, sort of - maybe - this is a slice of life, take it or leave it.
It’s my first Haruf, so I can’t compare it to other novels also set in Holt.
Deborah - Thanks for the recommendation. Well, you know my taste by now, so I guess it was no surprise to you that I liked it.
Have just arrived back from a church camp and no LT for a few days - but now I know more about Grace & Freedom, building a raft (let's just say I got wet) and I met a kindred spirit in terms of literature. Always nice with some good conversations about novels.
“Mr. Mac, the most practical thing that you ever did in your life would be to shut yourself up for three months and read twelve hours a day at the annals of crime.”
Sherlock Holmes to the police inspector.
Compared to the other novels and short stories this was a bit of a dissapointment. Holmes and Watson only figure in very few pages - the middle part is a long crime backstory (supposedly based on real events) - but I wanted to get back to Holmes and the cocky inspector who are somewhat clueless.
Of course sacrilege to suggest one should skip a Sherlock Holmes novel - but if you contemplate the unthinkable - then this novel would be it.
Wow. What a triller. What a ride. From page one this one grabs you, makes you guess what’s going on.
Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, to locate two missing federal agents. But when he arrives he’s involved in a car accident, and is badly hurt and looses his memory. He seek help at the hospital, but something feels very ehem….off…people are behaving strange and the town seems like something out of a fifties-movie.
It’s a suspenseful start, but it becomes very violent and horrifying. Not for the weak of heart - and the ending? Well, what an imagination...To tell you more would be spoiling the fun. This one was hard to put down - or should I say turn off - as it was an audiobook.
There’s two more in this series as I understand it - and I’m hooked. Not great character development or anything like that, but when it comes to suspense it has it all.
Nancy and Deborah - It is very frightening, and we are dealing with some kind of sci-fi thing although not exactly. The plot ending is a bit of a stretch to the imagination, but as they say "the suspension of disbelief"....
Fox is adapting Pines as a tv-series starring Matt Dillon as Ethan Burke (Produced by Night M. Shyamalan), so you might catch it there eventually - yes something very weird and bizarre is going on in Wayward Pines - Not to be confused with Three Pines :)
Say - what a fabulous weekend you had at the church camp. Meeting a kindred spirit in literary tastes - what can beat that for we book lovers!
Deborah - It was a great camp and I was in charge of the book sale which went very well. So actually I had a lot of book talks.
“Glorious life ending. There must have been a moment when his son had gasped for air, the last time, as Jesus must. But as Jesus had risen, he wanted his son to rise up, organs and spirit and mind intact, and everything to be as it had been not so long ago.”
When Mr. Ives teenage son is shot down in the street - everything shots down in Ive’s life too. Grief is overwhelming and he becomes a spectator of things happening around him - uninvolved, disinterested. He and his wife drift apart. He struggle to hold onto his faith in God, wrestling with doubt and despair. But slowly we see him come back to life and faith again.
In flashbacks we follow Ives. Almost from birth to grave (or at least as an old man). As an adopthed child, his friendships and first love and happy marriage to a wonderful woman full of life.
Hijuelos’ prose is beautiful, nostalgic, dreamy - full of references to classic literature, music and art.
A Paddington movie? I'm so excited. It will be just the thing to take my 3-year-old granddaughter to in December. I am tired of princess movies! I have Paddington Treasury on my shelf and her daddy's stuffed Paddington bear which I can pass along to her. He was a big favorite at our house years ago.
Donna - I'm going back to the other two set in Holt pretty soon I guess. That would be perfect to introduce your granddaughter to Paddington at the movies.
“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”
A play should of course for maximum benefit be expereinced in the theatre. The next best thing would be to buy this audiobook - the L.A. Theatre Works performing The Importance of Being Earnest with live audience.
It’s such a delight - have there been written a more funnier play? With Oscar Wilde’s famous quips and witty remarks - this story of mistaken identities in upper class british society display
an exuberance of life and high spirits.
“Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon. Only people who can’t get into it do that.”
I think everyone in this production is in top form - and specially Lady Bracknell played by Margaret Scudamore.
“I really don't see anything romantic in proposing. It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe. Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I'll certainly try to forget the fact.”
Ha, ha...nope. We're not covering any Kardashian wedding - or any Kardashian news for that matter :) But the British Royal Family, well that's another story...as we say :)
Cruel, certainly, to be called a windy old bird, but hardly fatal. So he would return to Doctor Kirk on Wednesday morning, his wound healing, and while subjecting himself to the most demeaning of medical procedures he would wear the mask of goodhumored banter. It was becoming clear to Simon that that was the primary challenge of old age: to maintain your dignity no matter what fix you find yourself in.
This was a perfect read for me. It has all I love about a good novel. A heart-warming story, very funny yet also filled with wisdom, faith and empathy towards every character, and a genuinly good (but stubborn) hero who has sadly lost his way in the world.
This is a novel about how to deal with aging, regrets in life and the possibility of a second chance.
76 year old Simon Shea is a retired professor of English at a small Minnesota college. Recently he has begun to forget things. He forgets his car in town, forgets to turn of the gas stove and nearly burns down his house. So he commits himself to a private rest home - but it’s clear that it’s way to early for him for this drastic move.
Simon is a devout catholic and although his much younger wife moved out years ago he hasn’t divorced her - always somehow hoping she will return. Well, the wife gets nervous after he doesn’t return her phone calls and decides to find out where he is.
Simon finds new friends in the new place he’s settling into - and befriends a young couple. And the interaction with the other persons at the rest home is so funny.
The events of the novel all take place in one week with several flashbacks to earlier events. I like also Simon's simple ordinary prayers that are springled throughout the novel. They are so revealing and beautiful.
Not a very well-known novel - but I recommend it highly.
Cruel, certainly, to be called a windy old bird, but hardly fatal. That said, I do find some of his wind to be close to fatal!
Oh, I know some of those "fatal" days when everything at work have just gone wrong. The need to just spill it all out because you have to keep it all inside at work......and the need for a listening ear. Fatal, indeed :)
An austrian/german novel and a solid classic in european literature. A family saga of three generations in the Trotta family during the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
It all starts with the grandfather, who save the life of Emperor Franz Josef on the battlefield - and he is rewarded and suddenly lifted from mere soldier into the aristocracy with all its pomp and riches.
But he and his son and grandson are struggling to come to terms with their new station in life.
The hero - or should we say anti-hero is third generation Carl Joseph without the principles and backbone of his grandfather and father - a weak man who is struggling to find his way forward - and also echoes in some way the decline of the empire itself.
Roth is a good writer, no doubt - but the story itself wasn't that interesting.
In 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.
But it is a good reference-point as a kickstarter for a discussion on great books. But I do find it rather limited - in spite of it's many suggestions. For one thing I miss some genres in it - like Children's Books or YA, and there are very few classic crime fiction or sci-fi etc. I like more 501 Must-Read Books as it is divided in different genres and has a greater variety of literature.
Mary - I do remember the series - could be a good one to get hold of.
Deborah - Oh, tempting me with another five-star-novel :) I'm actually started to read another Jon Hassler - Staggerford - the first of his Staggerford-novels. I think they can be read separately. It's not as good as Simon's Night but still very enjoyable - he has a knack for eccentric characters. Agatha McGee is just wonderful. I wonder why it takes so long for a US book-delivery to Canada....
“I'm beginning to think that maybe it's not just how much you love someone. Maybe what matters is who you are when you're with them.”
A story about a couple who separate a year after their only son was murdered. They are of course both grieving but in their own way and they drift apart.
The main character is the husband, Macon Leary, who retracts into his own little world and shuts everything out. As a big metaphor is his job as a writer of travelling books to business men to make their stay abroad as comfortable as possible - just as they never left home. Leary is in many ways preditable, dry, with no sense of adventure. And the wife resents him.
But onto the scene steps twenty something Muriel Pritchett, an eccentric, lively character that seem the opposite of Macon Leary - she tries to help him train his dog and before he knows it he is feeling more alive again - is it love? Is Leary ready for this? And what about the wife?
It’s a book that shifts between the tragic, sad and the witty and humorous. Anne Tyler creates some fascinating characters and also quite funny scenes.
“Mr. Wonka: "Don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted."
Charlie Bucket: "What happened?"
Mr. Wonka: "He lived happily ever after.”
Charlie Bucket is a poor boy who’s yearly highlight is his birthday when his present is one bar of chocolate. He loves chocolate so of course his thrilled when he wins a tour with four other kids to Willy Wonkas famous chocolate factory.
This story begins very promising but once they enter the factory the whole story becomes quite repetitive as a parable - the naughty children vs the sweet, kind Charlie Bucket - he is the last boy standing and wins it all.
But what an imagination and fantastic chocolate world that Dahl have invented. Willy Wonka is absolutely wonderful.
It was my first Roald Dahl book and I’m looking forward to more.
In 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up.
Nancy - It was difficult to give stars to The Accidental Tourist as I've seen the good movie-adaptation with William Hurt, Geena Davis and Kathleen Turner. So I knew the plot - It was nice to know the characters better from the book. I want to give her another chance - I have my eyes on Saint Maybe as the next one.
I was a big fan of Roald Dahl. Still am, but my, Willy Wonka was kind of a creepy guy!
Yes, Willy Wonka is kind of creepy - or should we just say a windy old bird :)
Nancy - Yes I know it. It's very well made and there are two seasons by now. A danish swedish collaboration as it also takes place there. Hope you enjoy it. Great that they have danish tv series on netflix. I didn't know that.
I guess maybe I should go live in Staggerford, which by the way I am reading now.. I need Agatha here to put the ranks in order I think. A little stress in the family - older son quit his job for reasons unknown to Dave and I and we have been supporting him for a couple of months. Then , other son , who is very responsible , is planning his HUGE expensive wedding which will be some sort of fusion on Chinese Customs and Western Customs. The wedding planning is proving a little more challenging then I had expected. Oh for Staggerford and the emotional balance of Agnes!!! I could use a bit of that. May England win! So thanks for the Staggerford tip!
Deborah - Old School tv, eh? - Why fix it if it's not broken, as they say. I also have an extra box but that's Apple tv which I enjoy a lot - streaming movies is great - plus I follow of course some football on the regular channels. England lost their first game - business as usual. Oh, yes - an Agatha could be useful for some common sense and order :) She don't waver. What would be her take on a Chinese-Western wedding?
English teacher Miles Pruitt is having a tough week. The high school principal will not get off his back, he has a bad toothache, and one of his pupils, a teenage girl, cry out for help in her messed up life. And he doesn’t know what to do about it, fearing rumours of a relationship with her.
On top of that there’s a fight in the classroom, a Chippewa student is being hurt, which upsets the whole community in a nearby Indian reservation. Pruitt is in the middle of an uprising.
Staggerford is the first in a series of novels that takes place in the fictional rural Minnesota town. It is populated with interesting and eccentric characters. There are many funny scenes and conversations. Specially Agatha McGee, a devout Catholic and strict school teacher with a good heart - she is a wonderful spirited character.
This was four stars until the sudden and tragic ending of the novel. I didn’t see that coming and didn’t feel it was in line with the otherwise “feel-good” and warmhearted mood of the novel. And some of the story-lines I felt were a little unresolved.
But it hasn’t deterred me from wanting more of Staggerford and John Hassler. Simon’s Night was much better, and I look forward to some more life wisdom from dear Agatha McGee who returns in some of the other Staggerford-novels.
As for what Agatha would go regarding a Chinese - Western wedding is I think she would sit both parties down - bride and groom to be and tell them what will work out and what won't. She's not worry about hurting feelings to much, she'd be thrift minded and sensible. The couple is getting married in a Catholic Church, so I imagine she would approve of that aspect.
I'm looking forward to hear what you think of Staggerford - I have now ordered Green Journey and Dear James which comes next in line in the Staggerford series. Both featuring Agatha as the main character or one of the main characters. But it's from the US so it will be a while...Good summer relaxed reading, I think.
Have you gathered your beach-literature for the summer? I guess it's about time to make a selection :)
Read more about it here:
I just say: Why not Stephen Fry?
Nancy - Conscious uncoupling - I also laughed at that way of putting it. A very political correct statement :)
A story about an eccentric and progressive teacher in an Edinburgh girls’ school that have her special favorite pupils who become known as "the Brodie set” - Miss Brodie is an interesting character - and the premise of the story also interesting.
How far can you go, should you go, in molding students thinking? An exploration of the peculiar relationship between a strong willed mentor and young minds who still needs molding.
Miss Brodie’s unusual way of diverting from the curriculum puts her in conflict with the schools principal - and we know from the start that someone in the “Brodie set” will betray the teacher.
I had a hard time following this novel in the first part. Specially separating the different girls in the “Brodie-set”.
The novel starts very abrubtly and shifts back and forth in time. But in the last part of the novel there's only focus on two of the girls and you will know who betrays Brodie. Of course by that time her relationship with her favorite girls have become a dangerous manipulation game of sex and love affairs.
A very literate modern novel written in a very confusing way with quick and short flashbacks all the time. Some will love it - I didn’t.
I’ve just changed my rating from 3,5 to 4 stars. It’s ridiculous to give only 3,5 to a book I’ve read four times since 2008. Apparently I must like this novel a lot….
This is also second time listening to Juliet Stevenson narration - and what a good job she does. I like so much the young heroine - her innocence, charm, her wanting to please everybody and fear of doing anything that will cast shame upon her family, friends and benefactors.
You can easily imagine how Jane Austen must have delighted in this mild satire over young Catherine Mansfields first romance and her passion for gothic novels. The way she is introduced to society in Bath (a town Austen disliked) - it’s the perfect setting for Austen to satirize over the shallow and empty lives of characters who only wants to be seen by others and gossip and spend days shopping and dancing all the time (excemplified in the vain Thorpes family).
Catherine is overwhelmed by the glitter and pomp of Bath but fortunately meet some sensible people in Henry and Eleanor Tilney who can guide her - and eventually take her away from Bath.
Jane Austen wrote this in the beginning of her twenties and although it doesn’t shine as much as her later work, it has risen in my estimation over the last couple of years. And I know I will return to this again. And Juliet Stevenson.
And if you want some “suspense” from Jane Austen this is the novel (although there’s also a bit of that in Mansfield Park).
And thus I have fulfilled my “At least one Jane Austen a year” vow….
I'm a little past half way point in A Constellation of Vital Phenomena but I'm having a bit of trouble really loving it so far. It jumps around in time more then I'd like and it's a bit challenging to follow. I hope that indeed the vital phenomena will form themselves into a constellation, because so far , not so much.
Deborah - Thanks, Hold onto that copy of Northanger Abbey - it's worth a read. Ha, ha - I also hope the vital phenomena will form themselves into a constellation for you. Sometimes it's hard to know when to stop and when to go on reading....
Anne - Thanks. Glad you liked Muriel Sparks. I might try one other of her novels. At least they are not that long, and I can feel the literary quality is there. I just never really got into The Miss Brodie-novel.
>215 ctpress: I loved the Accidental Tourist. I read it back to back with Revolutionary Road which was 100% fabulous, so I fear the Accidental Tourist may have paled in comparison, but I really liked it nonetheless. The movie version of it was quite good too, not like the film of Rev Road, that was crap. (imo!)
Deborah - I haven't heard about Excellent Women but will check it out. Hmmm...magic realism is a genre I try to avoid - like 100 Years of Solitude, that was thumbs down for me.