Sunday Post #40: The First Sunday of 2016

Sunday Post

Happy New Year! I hope everyone is enjoying a last evening off before returning to work. I needed another week, I think. This weekend, I’ve been curled up with Elizabeth Kostova’s novel The Historian. I think I have about 140 pages left in that one, but it’s over 700 pages, so I’m actually in the home stretch. I will save my comments for the review.

I have also been dipping into Antonia Fraser’s biography of Marie Antoinette, but I haven’t made much progress with Simon Schama’s Citizens. I listened to the first chapter of the final book in the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness: The Book of Life. I am mainly curious to find out how the series ends.

I did not get a chance to show you what I got for Christmas.

Dana's Guitar

I started playing guitar in high school and even took a classical guitar class in college, but I admit I haven’t played much in years. I have an acoustic guitar, but I have always really wanted an electric guitar, ever since high school. I used to look at pictures of guitars and dream. I have been playing, and things are starting to come back. I am taking an Introduction to Guitar class through Berklee College of Music on Coursera. The course officially starts tomorrow. I’m very excited to see what I can learn. If you haven’t tried out any of the free courses on Coursera, you should check them out. I have taken some really interesting ones.

I am excited for the new season of Downton Abbey tonight, even thought it’s the last one. Did anyone catch the special episode of Sherlock? I loved it! I really wish they could air the next season soon, but I understand that now that Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch are big movie stars, it’s hard to schedule filming Sherlock. What a great show, though.

This week will likely be a busy one, with the return to work. I am hoping to grab some time in the evenings to read. I definitely want to finish a couple of books I’ve had going on my Kindle for a while.

What are you up to this week? What are you reading?

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things we have received. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme. Image adapted from Patrick on Flickr.

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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 [amazon_link id=”0440423201″ target=”_blank” ]Outlander[/amazon_link] 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 [amazon_link id=”B006ML50SS” target=”_blank” ]A Night to Remember[/amazon_link]. 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 [amazon_link id=”0062064223″ target=”_blank” ]The Flight of Gemma Hardy[/amazon_link].

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

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 [amazon_link id=”0061658197″ target=”_blank” ]Pioneer Woman[/amazon_link] cookbooks (the [amazon_link id=”0061997188″ target=”_blank” ]new one[/amazon_link] 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 [amazon_link id=”0770435629″ target=”_blank” ]Lady Almina[/amazon_link]).

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 [amazon_link id=”1843548534″ target=”_blank” ]Bleak House[/amazon_link], need to go about it in the right way.

James Lasdun has a good review of Nathan Englander’s new short story collection [amazon_link id=”0307958701″ target=”_blank” ]What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank[/amazon_link].

Flavorwire has a list of 10 Great Science Fiction Books for Girls (driven, of course, by the 50th anniversary of [amazon_link id=”0374386161″ target=”_blank” ]A Wrinkle in Time[/amazon_link]). My favorite on the list is [amazon_link id=”038549081X” target=”_blank” ]The Handmaid’s Tale[/amazon_link], 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 [amazon_link id=”0216901693″ target=”_blank” ]Outside[/amazon_link] (out of print, but easy to find second hand), or Lois Lowry’s [amazon_link id=”0547424779″ target=”_blank” ]The Giver[/amazon_link] (though it has a male protagonist).

[amazon_link id=”0670030589″ target=”_blank” ]One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest[/amazon_link] 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 [amazon_link id=”038549081X” target=”_blank” ]The Handmaid’s Tale[/amazon_link] 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 [amazon_link id=”0062064223″ target=”_blank” ]The Flight of Gemma Hardy[/amazon_link], which I will soon be reading for TLC Book Tours (very excited!).

New Books

The publishers also sent me a pretty copy of [amazon_link id=”B004CFA9Y6″ target=”_blank” ]Jane Eyre[/amazon_link], 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 [amazon_link id=”0198129769″ target=”_blank” ]Ben Jonson: A Life[/amazon_link], John Matteson’s new biography [amazon_link id=”0393068056″ target=”_blank” ]The Lives of Margaret Fuller[/amazon_link], and Richard W. Bailey‘s new book [amazon_link id=”019517934X” target=”_blank” ]Speaking American[/amazon_link].

I also really liked this feature on Edith Wharton as New York will celebrate her 150th birthday on Tuesday. Nice link to [amazon_link id=”B005Q1W10A” target=”_blank” ]Downton Abbey[/amazon_link] and discussion of Wharton’s own novel [amazon_link id=”0140232028″ target=”_blank” ]The Buccaneers[/amazon_link].

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 [amazon_link id=”067964332X” target=”_blank” ]New York Diaries: 1609-2000[/amazon_link] 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 Adult. [amazon_link id=”0312367546″ target=”_blank” ]A Wrinkle in Time[/amazon_link] 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:

[amazon_image id=”0770435629″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0140232028″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Buccaneers (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0312658656″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The American Heiress: A Novel[/amazon_image]

[amazon_image id=”0199549893″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Forsyte Saga (Oxford World’s Classics)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0143120867″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”014118213X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Howards End (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)[/amazon_image]

[amazon_link id=”0770435629″ target=”_blank” ]Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle[/amazon_link] 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.

[amazon_link id=”0140232028″ target=”_blank” ]The Buccaneers[/amazon_link] 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.

[amazon_link id=”0312658656″ target=”_blank” ]The American Heiress[/amazon_link] by Daisy Goodwin, which has the much better title of My Last Duchess in the UK.

[amazon_link id=”0199549893″ target=”_blank” ]The Forsyte Saga[/amazon_link] 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.

[amazon_link id=”0143120867″ target=”_blank” ]Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor[/amazon_link] by Rosina Harrison. Lady Astor seems to have been a rather fascinating person.

[amazon_link id=”014118213X” target=”_blank” ]Howards End[/amazon_link] 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 [amazon_link id=”0199549893″ target=”_blank” ]The Forsyte Saga[/amazon_link]. I tried out [amazon_link id=”B004H0ZHD4″ target=”_blank” ]Upstairs, Downstairs[/amazon_link] (the 1970’s series rather than the new one), and I admit I didn’t like it much. Also on my list: [amazon_link id=”0140232028″ target=”_blank” ]The Buccaneers[/amazon_link] and [amazon_link id=”0312658656″ target=”_blank” ]The American Heiress[/amazon_link] (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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