Sunday Salon: Where I’ve Been

France, Sunflowers Missing the Sun at BeynacI haven’t been posting much lately. I haven’t been able to read as much as I’d like. I know only a few people who read this blog also read my education blog, so you might not be aware I’m currently engaged in a job search. It’s taking up quite a bit of my time, not just physically, but mentally (meaning, that’s where my mind is focused). The search is going well so far, but it’s not without its stress. A colleague likened searching for a job in the education field (and perhaps this is true of any field) to Victorian courtship. Neither party wants to appear too eager, lest the other party not feel the same way, so there is this delicate dance we do in which we try to convey interest but not desperation (on both sides, I think!). It’s maddening, truth be told, and I can’t wait until it’s over.

Meanwhile, I already have Downton Abbey withdrawal, and I can’t believe I have to wait until next January to find out if Matthew and Lady Mary are really going to get married this time, or if Bates is going to go free. I’m going to have to pick up something similar to Downton to read. Diana Gabaldon has a methadone list for fans to read while they’re waiting for the next book in the Outlander series. I love her sense of humor, but I wish Julian Fellowes had a methadone list, too! Actually, I’ve encountered a few of these lists, but you know. Speaking of which, does anyone know of any good Titanic books? I have already read A Night to Remember. I’m thinking more of fiction set on the Titanic. It seems appropriate now that we’re facing the 100th anniversary of the ship’s virgin voyage and sinking. I’ve been fascinated by that ship ever since they found her on the ocean floor in 1985. It’s been a dream of mine to cross the Atlantic in a cruise ship for about ten years.

Two last things, gentle readers: 1)what is the etiquette, fellow book reviewers, of bowing out of a review gracefully if you aren’t sure you can finish the book? and 2) Forever Young Adult regularly casts book characters in their reviews. I admit it’s a feature I like. I kept picturing Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith Crawley from Downton Abbey) as Gemma in The Flight of Gemma Hardy.

Would you enjoy seeing casting for my book reviews?

  • Yes (86%, 6 Votes)
  • No (14%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 7

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The Sunday Salon

Creative Commons License photo credit: Vincent van der Pas

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Saturday Reads: February 4, 2012

Young Woman Reading by Hermann Jean Joseph RichirI am a true converted fan of Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman cookbooks (the new one is due out soon) and cooking blog. Part of the artistry of her blog is her ability to take excellent photographs of her cooking. I have been pinning so many of her recipes to my Recipes board on Pinterest. I just love Pinterest.

The New York Times has more Downton Abbey reads (yet another reference to the new book about Lady Almina).

Paulo Coelho is encouraging folks to pirate his books, arguing he actually sells more books when they do.

William Boyd’s article on Vienna at the turn of the 20th century was fascinating reading.

Julian Barnes wrote a short story “The Defence of the Book,” and The Guardian offers a taste.

Sam Jordison argues that if you’re going to read Bleak House, need to go about it in the right way.

James Lasdun has a good review of Nathan Englander’s new short story collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.

Flavorwire has a list of 10 Great Science Fiction Books for Girls (driven, of course, by the 50th anniversary of A Wrinkle in Time). My favorite on the list is The Handmaid’s Tale, but I have to admit the list skews older than I thought it would when I followed the link. I think girls might like André Norton’s Outside (out of print, but easy to find second hand), or Lois Lowry’s The Giver (though it has a male protagonist).

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is 50, too. Flavorwire has a gallery of book covers. My favorite is either the Penguin classics cartoon cover or the one with all the pills.

Feast your eyes on these gorgeous bookstores.

I loved this post in Better Living Through Beowulf about turning to Austen when you’ve been jilted by your fiancé.

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Saturday Reads: January 21, 2012

Young Woman Reading by Hermann Jean Joseph RichirSaturday Reads is a weekly feature sharing bookish links from news, blogs, and Twitter that made up my Saturday reading.

I spent a lot of time at my two favorite newspapers’ book sections on my iPhone this morning. The Guardian has a great article by Margaret Atwood reflecting on The Handmaid’s Tale some 26 years after it was published. A commenter quoted Rick Santorum, underscoring just why Atwood’s book is as important as ever. Here’s my review of The Handmaid’s Tale from my archives, if you’re interested.

The New York Times has a great review of The Flight of Gemma Hardy, which I will soon be reading for TLC Book Tours (very excited!).

New Books

The publishers also sent me a pretty copy of Jane Eyre, which Margot Livesy’s book is based on. I can’t wait to reread that one. It’s got deckle-edged pages and the paper cover is textured. I am very much in favor of this new trend in making classics look cool with bold, creative covers. As much as I love old paintings, I think they’re becoming a little played as book covers (she said, knowing she used one on the cover of her own book—in my defense, I don’t have the budget to pay a graphic artist to design one). I think winter is a good time to read gothic classics.

The New York Times also has good reviews of new nonfiction, including Ian Donaldson’s new biography Ben Jonson: A Life, John Matteson’s new biography The Lives of Margaret Fuller, and Richard W. Bailey‘s new book Speaking American.

I also really liked this feature on Edith Wharton as New York will celebrate her 150th birthday on Tuesday. Nice link to Downton Abbey and discussion of Wharton’s own novel The Buccaneers.

Of course, Charles Dickens also celebrates a big (200th) birthday this year, and The New York Times has a fun feature on Dickens. Favorite quote? “The fact is that Charles Dickens was as Dickensian as the most outrageous of his characters, and he was happy to think so, too.”

I’m think anyone interested in New York might find the new book New York Diaries: 1609-2000 intriguing. It sounds like the book has a variety of entries, from the “famous, the infamous, and the unknown in New York.” The Times reviewed this one, too, of course.

Flavorwire had some interesting posts, too. I particularly enjoyed “The Fascinating Inspirations Behind Beloved Children’s Books” and “10 Cult Literary Traditions for Truly Die-Hard Fans.”

Finally, I enjoyed this reflection on A Wrinkle in Time at Forever Young AdultA Wrinkle in Time will be 50 this year. Can you believe it?

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Saturday Reads: A New Weekly Feature

Young Woman Reading by Hermann Jean Joseph RichirAs usual, Robin Bates’s exploration of literature as a mirror enlightens. In this case, Robin considers the notion of books as friends.

I’m enjoying Carl Pyrdum’s Thesis Thursday posts (but have to save them for the weekend). This one explores Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, and prompted me to remove my copy from the shelf. I should read it this year. All the way through. I’ve only read parts of it, and I’ve had it since about 1992. Also, a side note: Why did Shakespeare never write about King Arthur? I would have loved to have seen what Shakespeare could have done with the Matter of Britain.

Mandy has convinced me I need to read Bleak House. Downloaded it on my Kindle.

Fans of Downton Abbey might want to check out this New York Times article for suggested reads. After reading about these books in post after post on Downton Abbey, I’ve added the following Downton-related books to my list:

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by the Countess of Carnarvon (I do hope some mention will be made of the Earl of Carnarvon’s connection to the Tutankhamun find). Lady Almina is the inspriation for Cora, Countess Grantham, and Highclere is where Downton Abbey is filmed.

The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton. Wharton didn’t finish this book about wealthy American women who travel to England in search of titled husbands. Looking forward to it.

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin, which has the much better title of My Last Duchess in the UK.

The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy. I read a story somewhere (perhaps apocryphal) about an elderly woman who hung on in her last sickness until the last book in The Forsyte Saga was published.

Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor by Rosina Harrison. Lady Astor seems to have been a rather fascinating person.

Howards End by E.M. Forster. I’ve actually had this on my list for a while.

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Downton Abbey Season 2

Downton Abbey

Who is watching Downton Abbey tonight?

If you’re not familiar with the series, you could do worse than this season one primer from Forever Young Adult.

Stuff I’m looking forward to seeing:

  • More Maggie Smith as Dowager Countess Grantham.
  • The will they or won’t they between Matthew and Lady Mary (if he was smart, he’d go for one of her sisters instead. I think Mary is awful).
  • Matthew is going to have to fight in WWI. What will happen?
  • Are Thomas and O’Brien going to get a real comeuppance for all their scheming?
  • How involved is Lady Sybil going to get in the suffragette movement?
  • What will happen between Bates and Anna?

I hear that a season three is also a done deal, though when it will air in the States, I don’t know.

All of this has made me want to read The Forsyte Saga. I tried out Upstairs, Downstairs (the 1970′s series rather than the new one), and I admit I didn’t like it much. Also on my list: The Buccaneers and The American Heiress (which I found out in Britain has the much better and allusive title of My Last Duchess; I hate it that things are so often “dumbed down” for Americans).

The Sunday Salon

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