What I'm Reading...

"Outside a dog, a book is man's best friend.
   Inside a dog, it's too dark to read."

Groucho Marx
Jane, Jane, and more Jane!

One of our local bookstores, Watermark Books, was having a Jane Austen Summer Challenge.  I had been wanting to read the six Austen books for some time and figured this was my chance.  They were going to have a talk and discussion every two weeks throughout the summer. 

We started with Sense and Sensibility, then went on to Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion.

Favorite:  Pride and Prejudice
Least Favorite:  Mansfield Park 
Favorite Character:  Emma - she'd be a fun next door neighbor
Least Favorite Character:  Fanny Price - she's a bit stuffy

It was a great summer endeavor and I especially enjoyed going to the book talks and being surrounded by people who know a lot more about Jane Austen and her books than I do.

I highly recommend all six books and you will probably be amazed after reading them at how many movies are take-offs of her books and how many spin-off books line the bookshelves.  Everyone wants to know what happened to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.  Or what would happen if Emma and Fanny Price were neighbors.  Or even what would Pride and Prejudice be like if there were zombies in Regency England. Go figure.

The only regret I have is that I didn't read these books when I was younger and before I had seen some of the movie versions.  I would have much preferred to read Pride and Prejudice and not known whether or not Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy ever fell in love.  Do they?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Read the book!

Clare's List of Favorites - Children's

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery
Half Magic by Edward Eager
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
Treasure Island and Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Scarlett Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
Little House Books (especially On the Banks of Plum Creek) by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Clare's List of Favorites - General

One of Ours by Willa Cather
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas
Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
I Am One of You Forever by Fred Chappell

Other Reading - Children's Books

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
    I know, I can't believe I just read this book.  My brother loved it years ago and now I do too.

Crows and Cards by Joseph Helgerson
    I'm a sucker for a great cover and this book has one!  It's very much a Mark Twain type of story with river boats, gambling, shysters, and shenanigans.

1001 Cranes by Naomi Hirahara
    Naomi and I were in a writing group together years ago so this was a real treat!

Billy Creekmore by Tracey Porter
     What a great character that Billy Creekmore! 

Other Reading - General

Freeman by Leonard Pitt
This story begins on the day the Civil War ends and follows the journey of a former slave, who chooses the last name of Freeman, as he walks from Philadelphia back to his former life in the deep south to find his wife.  Compelling and hearbreaking.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    Of course a sweeping southern epic, but I admit a pretty hard to read right after Freeman.

Gloryland by Shelton Johnson
    Born on Emancipation day, Elijah Yancy never lives the life of a slave.  But not being a slave and experiencing freedom are two different things.  We follow his life as he first walks on the sidewalks of Spartanburg, South Carolina, is exiled for this act, becomes a "buffalo soldier" in the army, and eventually lives as a ranger in Yosemite National Park.  Wonderful story and wonderful writing.

The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons
    Very Downton Abbey... and I love Downton Abbey.

My Antonia by Willa Cather
     I read this for the first time in high school and then again when my sister chose it for book club a while back.  As one who normally does not re-read books, I appreciated the opportunity to read it again and reacquaint myself with Antonia, the Shimerda's, Jim Burden, and the plains of Nebraska. 

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
    I read it and then my neighbor April bought it.  She's such a copy cat.  We both agree it's two parts Charles Dickens and one part Robert Louis Stevenson.

Snow in August by Pete Hamill
    A story set in 1940's Brooklyn.   You can't go wrong with that.

Jewel by Brett Lott
   This story came highly recommended by Warren at Eighth Day Books.  I have come to trust his judgment over the years and once again, he has proven himself to be the master book recommender-er.  I loved it.  It's a warm-hearted Mississippi story of a mother and the daughter she fights to save.