Jane Austen Read All-a-long Book 4: Emma

I gave up. Full confession. I tried, I really did. I even broke down and got an audio version to listen to during my commute to and from work. But I just couldn’t take it. I think it in part an effect of this little reading challenge project I set for myself. This was the fourth Jane Austen book in as many months for me. … Continue reading Jane Austen Read All-a-long Book 4: Emma

Jane Austen Read All A-long: Mansfield Park

This is a “two-gasp” Jane Austen novel. While reading it, I gasped twice. Jane Austen has this way of suddenly throwing her reader for a loop with just a tiny slip of narrative so affecting it makes this reader gasp out loud. She is a master of plotting. My gasping came during the novel’s first half.  First when young Fanny Price is forgotten by her … Continue reading Jane Austen Read All A-long: Mansfield Park

Autumn by Ali Smith

This is a troublesome book. Ultimately, I enjoyed it, I was moved by it, I came to see its excellence. But it was a bumpy road getting there. I’ve been reading the Booker Long List blind for the most part.  I got as many of the books as my local library allows without reading anything about them, or much about them. (There are a few … Continue reading Autumn by Ali Smith

New Favorite Book/Old Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This is at least the third time I’ve read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, maybe the fourth.  So I can’t really say it’s a “New Favorite Book” but I can say that it certainly holds up to re-reading. So that’s what I’m going to discuss here, the pleasures and perils of re-reading. There are some books that can be correctly understood in completely different fashions each time you read … Continue reading New Favorite Book/Old Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Making Books with Jane Austen

I spent this past week, the last of my summer vacation, at the Center for the Book in San Francisco  taking a four-course intensive book binding class.  We learned how to make the four bindings shown in the picture here; Coptic, flat-back case, limp paper and rounded back case. I’ve been making my own books for many years now, following the directions in various how-to … Continue reading Making Books with Jane Austen

Jane Austen Read All-a-long: Sense and Sensibility

Two impressions: One, I’m surprised by just how much Jane Austen can shock me through effective plotting.  I suspect that most of her fans will list her prose, her sense of humour and her characterization as the reasons why they love her, but she’s very good with plotting, too.  There was a point in the final part of Sense and Sensibility that had me gasping in shock. … Continue reading Jane Austen Read All-a-long: Sense and Sensibility

No Blade of Grass by John Christopher

There world has been coming to an end since 1956. There has been an explosion of dystopian futures of late.  If you wandered around any Scholastic Book Faire this year, you saw that just about one out of ever four titles in the fiction section featured some kind of horrific future. It’s oddly comforting to realize that this is really nothing new. The end of … Continue reading No Blade of Grass by John Christopher

Announcing The First, and Probably Only, Jane Austen Read All A-long

A few weeks ago I asked if anyone would be interested in reading all six of Jane Austen’s novels as a sort of read-a-long.  I’ve been thinking about doing this for a few months, collecting paperback editions of all six novels. Since I stick to used paperbacks and insist on editions with cool covers, it’s taken a few months to come up with all six, … Continue reading Announcing The First, and Probably Only, Jane Austen Read All A-long

Animal Farm by George Orwell

I’m going to assume you have read this book. Probably in high school. Even if your English teacher was not the best teacher you ever had, you probably got most of what there is to get in Animal Farm.  It’s a straightforward book;  Mr. Orwell makes sure that everyone understands  his point.  While the communist revolution may have started well, may have even brought peace, … Continue reading Animal Farm by George Orwell

A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland

If you’re a reader but not an English major, or just anyone who’d like to fill in the holes in your knowledge of the subject, you could do worse than John Sutherland’s A Little History of Literature.  Divided into 40 short chapters, Mr. Sutherland’s book covers all the greatest hits from Beowulf to Borges and most of the main topics covered in graduate schools from What … Continue reading A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland

High Dive by Jonathan Lee

This marks the end of my Tournament of Books 2017 reading. It’s been fun. Really. I read a good-sized handful of books from the short list, enjoyed most of them, admired a few, didn’t finish one. I’ve even come away with a few titles sure to make my personal short list of favorite reads for this year. But I’m moving on to other titles now. … Continue reading High Dive by Jonathan Lee

Red Joan by Jennie Rooney

As a reader, I’m kind of a sucker. It’s easy to take me by surprise. I didn’t see any of it coming in Gone Girl. Life of Pi  came to me from far out in left field.  And I admit it, it never even occurred to me that he would sell his precious pocket watch to buy his wife a beautiful hair pin. My jaw has hit the floor … Continue reading Red Joan by Jennie Rooney