Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Little House in the Big Woods

This is starting a quick trend of devouring childhood books.

I have the Wilder collection that was originally my mothers when she was a child. When I was a little kid I would watch Little House on the Prairie on tv and pretend that I too lived in a prairie for hours and hours. I also played "American Girls" but that's for another post.

I recall my mother reading this book to me and when I was old enough I read it myself. But it was quickly placed aside and I never finished the rest of the series. American Girls took over my life and I preferred those books to these.

Now sitting down and choosing to read the faded with age book I rediscovered the novel that helped create so many childhood play times. But not only that, I got to discover the way people once lived. As a child the story was simply fuel to a fire I was building for my own entertainment. But now, as an adult, reading the book opened my eyes to the life of people in the nineteenth century and how they truly lived on meager things.

A poignant point of the book was the chapter about Christmas. Here these children were thrilled to receive new mittens, a stick of candy, and the youngest- Laura- received her first rag doll. To them, this was a grand amount of items for their Christmas pleasures, but to the current day... even someone who had been 'naughty' wouldn't get so few things. If you don't get that new iPhone, a car, a computer, those plane tickets to Florida so you can go on vacation with your boyfriend of two months... it's the end of the world.

Every chapter, although at a different point of the year, consisted of the same idea: The father went hunting, would build items for the house, work on crops. The mother would sew, clean, cook within the house, prepare foods to be stored over winter (many of these items taking days to prepare). The children would play, but they would also help their parents with multiple tasks and without much complaint. It was what was expected of them.

They knew where their food came from and they made use of what they had as much as possible and with as little waste as could be had. Now the people of today would probably be seen as immensely lazy. Children helping make dinner every day? Children making sure to watch the younger ones in addition to helping around the house. Using snow for food or water if needed- we couldn't do that now- not with the pollution.

Imagine being in your house for the entire span of winter. Only being allowed to go out once or twice to play and if you were an adult only to check on the animals, hunt for food, or get more wood for the fire that is the only thing keeping your family warm. We, the people of today, could never survive.

I recall being a child and two instances where I thought "This is what it must be like in Little House"... once a water main broke in town and everyone lost water in the entire neighborhood for nearly a week. So that week we would boil down snow to use for baths and fill the toilets. Another time was when we lost power for days on end and I recall sleeping in the living room which was above our wood stove (that was in the basement) so we could stay warm. We cooked eggs and bacon on the top of the wood stove and would play board games and eat in the basement since it was so warm. They were exciting times for me as a child but exhausting for my parents.

So really, this book is entertainment for a child. An easy way to pick up ideas for playtime. But if you were to read it as an adult and consider all that we have, all that they did not, it's truly educational and really eye opening as to how... spoiled... we are.

NEXT UP: American Girls: Kirsten

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Girl With No Shadow

Joanne Harris is a novelist that I have little experience with. I read her book Chocolat and fell instantly in love with it. This book, the follow up of Chocolat, is only the second book I have read by Harris. By reading the book it's solidified my intentions of reading more and more of Harris' work.

The book takes the beloved characters of Chocolat and forewords them four years to Paris where the main character Vianne is trying to live her life as normally as possible. No more spells, no more magic, no more chocolate. He daughter Anouk, now known as Annie, isn't exactly thrilled of this new life and even less thrilled at Vianne's new love interest Thierry. But all in all, life is normal, the family is normal- or as normal as the Rocher's can get.

It isn't until the beautiful and bewitching Zozie comes into their lives that things begin to be not as normal as before. Despite Zozie's charm and seemingly caring interest in Vianne and Anouks life there is something much more dark and sinister hidden behind the veil she has placed around her.

This book is much darker than Chocolat. While Chocolat dealt with the fears of old time thinking and a priest there was still an edge of humor through out it all. The Girl with No Shadow is much different in that, I feel, it was more serious and realistic. Not quite as much of a fairy tale as the previous book which makes the darker edges of the story all the more real.

I really enjoyed this book and am somewhat sad that this is the end of Vianne and Anouk's stories. But it's a good end, an end that kept me captivated the entire novel. I enjoy Harris' style of writing and the portrait she paints of her characters and fully intend on continuing to read Harris' books.

So I urge anyone who reads this to check out the books and even the film adaptation of Chocolat (which has Johnny Depp in it as Roux). Go read and watch! Right now!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Two posts in one day! Shocker!

Figured I'd pop back in here to promote this great site which I hope I'm not the only one who just heard of it. It's half.com which is apart of ebay and it is AWESOME! 

I bought the following books from this website during the course of the weekend and I received the first book in the mail. The prices of each book are listed underneath:




Basically I came out spending more money on shipping and handling then I did on the books. And yet, despite that I bought three books the total price (including S&H) came out to what's the normal price of just one book at any book store!

I totally intend, from now on, to buy every book I am interested in from this website unless I see that it will be cheaper for me to travel to the local bookstore. The first book I got came in beautiful condition, you can't even tell that it's used, and I can't wait to buy more from the website. The website also features cds and dvds! So go use this website instead of wasting gas (and making pollution) to buy over priced books at your local bookstore.

Happy shopping!

Another book meme!

This is another book meme that I had on my personal facebook. I went through the answers and updated them since my original answers are based on a few months ago. I know I have a varied group of followers who like some books I like and others who like some books that I hate. This will probably be addressed in this meme and I urge you all to not take offense to my dislike of some books. It's my opinion and my taste of things and I allow you yours. Otherwise, enjoy the meme and pass it along!

1) What author do you own the most books by?
I mainly own the most books by these authors because they've written a series: J.K Rowling, Anne Rice, L. K. Hamilton (The further the series went, the more I disliked them.), Laura Ingalls Wilder, CS Lewis

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
It's tied between The Vampire Lestat (because one copy is nearly destroyed), The Nutcracker, The Silmarillion, and Last of the Mohicans. A lot of books my mother has copies of then I bought my own... and her books are mine so...
3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
No. Maybe if I was reading over this in an editorial type of way, then I'm more specific to other peoples grammar mistakes. But I myself make enough of them so it's okay! It's just a meme.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Jamie Fraser. Ah, I never thought I'd love a man in a kilt so much. Yum. And I have a love/hate relationship with Mr. Darcy because his stubborn annoyance reminds me of Nick. Hahaha. Robbie Turner (is not a child molester, k?) I'm sure there are more.
5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?
Harry Potter Book 3, Interview with the Vampire, The Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Matilda, The Witches, and The Vampire Lestat.

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
I really don't remember what I was reading 13 years ago. But I know my childhood consisted of me always taking out Matilda and The Witches from the library. I also LOVED The Little Princess.
7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
Since 2009 started? Apart from the Crowd. Ugh it was horribly depressing.
From June 2008 til now? Breaking Dawn. Sorry Twilighters but during the course of reading that book I felt my constant expression was O_o I didn't like it.

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
I really REALLY enjoyed Outlander. And of course I've read a bunch of classics which are always awesome. But yes, Outlander was great. I can't wait to read the rest of the series.
9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
Outlander. I feel that not enough people know about the book.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
Like every author I love. Too long to list.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
OUTLANDER. I want to see who they pick for Jamie Fraser. Yum.
12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
Any Anne Rice books. Seriously. You did alright with IWTV but Queen of the Damned and Lestat the Musical were TERRIBLE. Just stop. Stop trying.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I had a dream once involving Mr. Darcy and Jamie Fraser. They were both in a room with me arguing.
14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
I personally feel it's the Twilight books, some of the books in the series much more then the others (I somewhat enjoyed Twilight itself, but my interest died a little bit with each book that followed)
15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
Oh god... I had to read these books in 18th century literature (and earlier) and I hated about every book I read in it. I struggled with them all. I sold the books so I don't have the titles on hand. I hated them though. I had an incredibly lack of interest for the plots and the language was something that, I feel, you had to be willing to read- not forced into.
16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
I have NEVER seen a Shakespeare play performed. Pathetic right? Especially since I'm married to Shakespeare. Oh you didn't know? I'll include a picture at the bottom of this post.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
I don't have much experience with the French and the tiny experience I have with Russians has been terrible. Yuck. Damn you Russians. However, I'm willing to give them a go again.
18) Roth or Updike?
Aw Updike. I have to support him since Albright is/was his number 1 fanclub and he was all about Reading, Pennsylvania.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Never read either.
20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Paradise Lost can go to hell. And I don't care if everyone loves Shakespeare. I do also.

21) Austen or Eliot?
Austen provides something warm and comforting for me. <3 class="Apple-style-span" style="font-weight: bold;">22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

18th century brit lit and earlier.
23) What is your favorite novel?
God I really can't say... um... probably the books I've read the most, right?

24) Play?
Midsummer Night's Dream... I know everyone loves it, whatever. I wasn't a huge fan of Romeo and Juliet, it was the first play I read that I really enjoyed. Love it.
25) Poem?
Emily Dickinson owns my soul.

26) Essay?
There was one I enjoyed from senior seminar... too bad that was like a year and a half ago.

27) Short story?
Not sure actually.
28) Work of nonfiction?
One Bullet Away... I LOVE that book and need to reread it asap.

29) Who is your favorite writer?
When I was a kid: Frances Hodgson Burnett, Laura Ingalls Wilder, & Roald Dahl. When I was a teenager Anne Rice and only Anne Rice. Now I have such a mix I won't even dive into it.
30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Honestly, I feel it's Meyer. But again, don't hate my Twilight fans. I'm trying to look at the grand scheme of things- all the current authors and the books they've produced. If there is anything you feel could change my tune about this answer- let me know! I'd be interested in (trying) to read it!

31) What is your desert island book?
Outlander or Lord of the Rings. I enjoy both and the books are forever long.
32) And... what are you reading right now?
To Kill a Mockingbird. I am nearly done with this book (half way?) and read it once in High School. I think I love it even more the second time around! And I'm seeing a lot of the symbolism that I didn't see when I read it at the ripe old age of 16.


Monday, June 8, 2009

A Book Meme

Taken from Facebook, figured I'd post it here since it's book related! Enjoy and pass it on!

List fifteen books that changed your life in fifteen minutes. I'm tagging my friends that are readers.

1. Interview with the Vampire- This book made me fall in love with Anne Rice and have a long affair with her books which is still continuing to this day.
2. Where the Wild Things Are- I adored this book as a child, it was different from my life, a little kid being bad and getting in trouble. Really, I was obnoxiously well behaved as a child.
3. Lord of the Rings- made me capable of making up different worlds and believing that great literature about 'science fiction' and 'fantasy' does indeed exist.
4. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants- makes me feel happy inside and reminds me how awesome my girlfriends are.
5. Harry Potter- gave me my first chance to become a book driven fangirl. I adore these books, it inspires me to try and write childrens lit.
6. Chocolat- much like the food the title refers to I find myself craving it at all different points of the year. This book brings out the warmth of summer for me, despite it taking place at the end of winter and beginning of spring.
7. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict- I read this book while I felt my world was falling apart and it managed to cheer me up. I'll forever remember the way it saved me in that sense.
8. One Bullet Away- the first (and basically only) military related book that I dove into and when I finished it I couldn't start another book because my brain was still so wrapped in the book itself. It was the first book I read, and enjoyed, that was broken away from my typical vampire novel obsession.
9. Stardust- A pure fantasy fairy tale type of book that for once made me feel like it was aimed for adults. It was a wonderful summer read. Another book that continuously reminds me of summer and sometimes when I'm bored, or tired with the life I have, I picture myself in Wall.
10. Atonement- Completely heartbreaking piece of literature that had me crying by the end of it. But it was written so beautifully that I still want to read it over and over, despite that it breaks my heart.
11. Kirsten American Girl series- Paired with my Kirsten doll and reading these books I was able to learn a little about my Swedish heritage in edition to thriving with my imagination for what I would play with Kirsten (the doll) who was probably my best friend as a child.
12. Broomtail- A book that pretty much NO ONE knows of and it's impossible to find. I was given to it from my elementary school library- for keeps!- and I read and reread it over and over again as a child. I think this was the first book that made me 'obsessive' with reading.
13. Little House in the Big Woods- another childhood favorite that was so much like 'make pretend' but amazing, to me, that it was based on actual events. I still love the Little House books.
14. The Little Princess- I would read and reread this book as a child and even now as an adult. it makes me feel so hopeful with the world and give me courage for obstacles that seem daunting.
15. Peter Pan- Again, fantasy thrives for me and this book was wonderful. I didn't read it until I was in High School and was simply amazed by it, asking myself why exactly I had not read it before. I treasure the book and it's old tattered hard cover.