My dear darling blogger pals, hello!!! Wouldn’t you know, I have been meaning to post some things that I have not yet posted. Specifically two things, specifically for Grim’s penance party. One of them is almost completely written, but as I have been doing absolutely the bare minimum (or less – since I think answering comments would fall under this heading) keeping up with Internet responsibilities while I catch up in the long-neglected realm of sleep and figure my life out, I have not yet summoned the mental energy to finish it and post it.
I will, one of these days.
One of these days before Easter.
Anyhow, I was reading Elisha’s blog (over at The Voyaging Storyteller, a wonderful corner of the Internet whereunto I do highly recommend you mosey and look around a bit; you may like it there and decide to take up permanent residence), and I saw this post she’d written that I’d somehow missed (thanks, WordPress feed, have I ever told you how great at your job you are?), and it was a tag, and I read it, and I had a grand old time doing so (and I really do need to read The Count of Monte Christo), and she tagged me! Whereat I rejoiced, because tags are fun and easy to do (even when you’re altogether too tired for most forms of mental exertion, like writing regular blog posts) and I liked her questions immensely. Hence why this post is me answering them.
So thanks, Elisha, for the tag! 😊
What’s the longest book you’ve ever read and what made you stick with it?
Probably The Lord of the Rings? Being in the thousands of pages and all. (I feel like this is such a boring answer. 😂) What made me stick with it was that I couldn’t put it down – proof positive that it matters not how long your story is, but only how gripping (and, like, how good, that matters too).
What’s the funniest scene you’ve read?
Well, it’s got to be one of two in Frederica.
(…I think. I am remembering some of the scenes from Friday’s Child and second-guessing myself.)
Wait, but what about Bill the parrot’s escape in Jill the Reckless?
Wait, I know, it’s this one:
“What’s happened?” said Pooh. “Where are we?”
“I think we’re in some sort of Pit. I was walking along, looking for somebody, and then suddenly I wasn’t any more, and just when I got up to see where I was, something fell on me. And it was you.”
“So it was,” said Pooh.A. A. Milne, “The House at Pooh Corner”
That’s how the scene begins; it would, alas, be impractical to write out the whole thing, much as I want to, because it goes on for pages. But it’s the one where Pooh realizes they have fallen into a Heffalump Trap for Poohs, and he explains to Piglet how he will deal with the Heffalump when it comes to gloat (which involves many “Ho-ho”s and hums), and Piglet wistfully imagines what it would have been like if it was he who had thought to have such cool courage in the face of the gloating Heffalump. And then the Heffalump does come, but Pooh is asleep, so now it’s up to Piglet to face him (but not really face him, because as A. A. Milne wisely notes, if you look round and see a Very Fierce Heffalump looking down at you, sometimes you forget what you were going to say) with cool nonchalance.
Only things don’t go quite as they did in his head.
“This is Terrible,” thought Piglet. “First he talks in Pooh’s voice, and then he talks in Christopher Robin’s voice, and he’s doing it so as to Unsettle me.” And being now Completely Unsettled, he said very quickly and squeakily: “This is a trap for Poohs, and I’m waiting to fall in it, ho-ho, what’s all this, and then I say ho-ho again.”
“What?” said Christopher Robin.
“A trap for ho-ho’s,” said Piglet huskily. “I’ve just made it, and I’m waiting for the ho-ho to come-come.”
Culminating in Piglet deciding to run away to Sea and be a Sailor, a certain Small someone being found, Piglet deciding not to run away to Sea and be a Sailor after all, and Eeyore being The Most Relatable (because if people acting like they told you things they never told you is not The Most Relatable, then pray what is?).
You know the one.
Have you cried reading a book and if so, why?
When I was nine years old, I read Little Women and cried. That’s because Louisa May Alcott is a cruel murderess.
When I was nine, ten, and thirteen years old, I read Great Expectations and cried. That’s because of a variety of factors, including that Dickens has great skill with the pen, Pip is relatable in the least flattering way possible, Abel Magwitch is Some Human Being, and people are Messed Up.
When I was nineteen? or so?, I read Kim and cried. To tell you why I cried would be difficult (impossible, probably) (not to mention…involved and highly personal), but I do know that this is the exact spot I started crying:
“She will not weary thee. I have looked to that also. Holy One, my heart is very heavy for my many carelessnesses towards thee.” An hysterical catch rose in his throat. “I have walked thee too far; I have not picked good food always for thee; I have not considered the heat; I have talked to people on the road and left thee alone…I have—I have…Hai mai! But I love thee…and it is all too late…I was a child…Oh why was I not a man!…” Overborne by strain, fatigue, and weight beyond his years, Kim broke down and sobbed at the lama’s feet.
“What a to-do is here,” said the old man gently.Rudyard Kipling, “Kim”
Do with that out-of-context information what you will.
What’s something you wish more books had?
Cousins. Siblings who have to work together and tell each other stuff. Parents who are involved in their kids’ stories in fun ways. Magic elements that could technically actually exist and it would make sense with science and history as we know it and be compatible with the Christian worldview. Stories centering on best friends. Middle America (but accurately drawn). Fantasy protagonists who have no special magical skill; they either have to gain knowledge or be cunning or have a magical object they can wield…but they don’t in themselves have any superpowers. Best friends who stay best friends and work together the whole time and maybe rescue each other and their friendship is the center of the story. GUNSLINGER DADS.
In short, so many things. But I do have specific things I’d really like to see more of.
Can you read more than one book at a time?
This question is just making me think of a church choir director who, one time, started to say something, then stopped and looked around at us, then said, “I can say this here, because there’s no one—some choirs I’ve directed, well…but what I say is, if you can sing two notes at once, I don’t want you in my choir!”
I have no idea how that applies to reading two books at once, but yeah.
I can read two books at once, and I do it sometimes, but I don’t prefer it.
Ebook or hardcover, for a massive tome like Les Miserables?
The thought of reading Les Miserables as an ebook makes me break out in a cold sweat of horror. Barely even exaggerating.
Whether or not I can bear to read something in electronic format (there’s no question of liking it) depends on two factors, I think: the author’s style and the length. For style, it has to do with how cerebral it is: I can do nonfiction sometimes; I’ve read two Chesterton novels (The Club of Queer Trades, The Napoleon of Notting Hill) online. Whereas, the grounded beauty of a style like Sabatini’s or Dickens’s I utterly refuse to read except on an actual page made out of paper and ink: feelable. I think Hugo would fall into the latter category?
As for length…short books are the only ones I can contemplate reading electronically without a measure of horror. I don’t know why this matters to me, but I like to have a grasp of where in the book I am at a given point and how much physical space, in pages, different parts of the book take up…and somehow, I have trouble keeping the book as a coherent whole in my mind without that? So no electronic tomes for me, please. Hand me the heavy, heavy hardcover off the shelf and be careful not to drop it on your toes.
I mean, it’s hardcover too. That makes this choice all the easier. Hardcovers are my favorite. They kind of take reading up a notch? This in my hands is Indisputably A Real Book.
Heck, if someone gave me a real brick hardcover of Les Mis, I’d probably get around to actually reading it.
If you could only read one book for the rest of your life (besides the Bible) what would it be?
Hey, you stole my answer.
It would be Assignment in Brittany. That should probably be harder than it was, but yeah.
I’ve read it so many times and never gotten sick of it. I can reread so many little pieces of it that I like. It has one of my favorite character tropes in it: Village Cynic Who Is Not As Much of a Cynic As He Thinks He Is. It has my favorite romance (tied with Farawyn). It has such a variety of all the things I like: down-to-earth slice-of-life farming vibes; lowkey picture of a specific culture at a specific point in history; high-stakes spy shenanigans; the sort of mystical beauty (and horror) of the Mont Saint-Michel episode; unlikely friendships formed under unlikely circumstances; a quiet, practical, self-sacrificing, and wryly humorous main character; actual good female characters; very appropriate philosophical and literary tangents; BOATS; POTATO FIELDS; outfacing the bad guys while completely in their power…and just, on and on. It’s not even like it was my favorite book the first time I read it. I just liked it very well. But every time I reread I like it more, find it more rich, till at this point, with how many times I’ve read it, it couldn’t not be my favorite book.
It just…covers the most bases as far as things I want from books. I have other favorite books, but they don’t cover as many bases. And it’s even better reheated!
What’s the first book you ever remember reading?
Not gonna lie, I think it was one of those “Dick, Jane, & Spot” books. Why do I have such boring answers for so many of these??? 😭😭😂
I don’t know why kids have to read those books, either. They’re boring and dumb, and it gives me a wretched feeling thinking back on reading them. 😂
In general, do you think books are better or worse now than they used to be?
Wonderfully interesting question.
There’s the obvious point of, “Look how many good old books there are compared to how many lame new ones!” and the obvious counter of, “Lame books don’t tend to stand the test of time; just because we don’t still talk about the Twilight of the 1880s and nobody’s ever heard of it doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of Twilights written in the 1880s.” (Note: I haven’t read Twilight and I don’t mean to pick on it unfairly. I’m just using it because it’s so widely synonymous with “terrible book” in popular parlance.)
And like, there are definitely good modern books? Maggie Stiefvater is not always My Jam, but All the Crooked Saints and The Scorpio Races are good books (with not just well-written characters, thought-through plots, and ably drawn settings, but also their own level of thematic and metaphorical richness). I think the Queen’s Thief books are brilliant (if not to everyone’s taste). I think N. D. Wilson’s books are beautiful (if, again, they don’t speak to everyone). W. R. Gingell? Excellent writer. I’m as fond of Spindle and Blackfoot as I am of many classics I like (and not just because they’re brain candy).
Yes, all those books have flaws (except maybe Queen’s Thief), but so do nearly all the classics I can think of. I love Sabatini, and I think Scaramouche is amazing, but there’s one element of the ending that I find somewhat disappointing…even weak, you might say. Dickens himself has flaws. Tolkien doesn’t, but there’s always got to be an exception somewhere.
My point being…it’s not as if the best old books are necessarily always better than the best new books (in my opinion).
I do think there were certain standards (for content) older books tended to abide by that made them, when they dealt with certain topics, better than a lot of new books that deal with those topics. Restraint and subtlety actually help your writing, contrary to the belief of many artists. And it seems older generations of publishing were less bound by some of the rules we’ve since invented for story structure. Pre-Joseph Campbell days and whatnot. That has both a positive and a negative side, I imagine? Positive because authors and editors did not feel the same pressure to squeeze their stories into the three-act Hero’s Journey, thus having more freedom to experiment and create fresh structures, and it thus, when their stories fell naturally into a Hero’s Journey pattern (as often happens), feeling more natural. Negative because no conscious structure sometimes leads to rambling, disjointed, unsatisfying stories.
(On the other hand, people treated diversity weirdly back then. So it being normal to have characters from different cultures and backgrounds and it be its own type of normal, rather than something strange and exotic, is a plus for new books.)
There are types of stories I think used to be more common, also: we have a glut of coming-of-age stories now, I feel like, and while a good coming-of-age story is great, I think positive character change arcs at more advanced points in people’s adult lives are also good and important stories to tell? Maybe I just read the wrong things, but I seem to find those kinds of stories solely in old books?
Another consideration is that good prose has somewhat gone out of fashion. Prose is just as important an ingredient in a novel as anything else. It may not be what you’re communicating, but it’s how you’re communicating it – that makes it essential! Nowadays, though, there are so many people who don’t care about the prose – as long as the story is good – and this is reflected in a lot of bad prose. Brandon Sanderson is one of the most successful writers of our time, you guys. Nothing against his plots, characters, or worlds (they’re all incredibly impressive, actually), but his prose is Not Good. And not that there isn’t such a thing as bad nineteenth-century prose (believe me, there is), but all (or most) of the famous writers who spring to mind from back then are notable for excellent prose. Catch a modern bestselling author writing like Kipling. You might get a dash of Chesterton or a breath of L. M. Montgomery, but you will get no Kipling. You won’t even get any Twain.
And then consider that we live in a post-modern world, where the very meaning of art and literature has begun to be lost, in many people’s minds. Narrative suffers when you don’t even understand what makes narrative work. Nihilism (which is woven into the fabric of so many modern books) makes bad stories. At the least, it makes incoherent stories. It makes meaningless stories. It distorts your view of a story’s primary value…and thus you tend to only write good ones on accident, and to misattribute their success to causes that have nothing to do with it.
In short…I am a curmudgeonly grandma, and I do believe, upon consideration, that old books in general are better than new books in general. Which just means all you writers need to get out there and change that!
How do you resist going broke at bookstores?
By being broke already.
Works great, let me tell you.
…I mean, for real though. I usually just take a twenty-dollar bill in with me (or ten, sometimes), and that’s all it’s physically possible for me to spend, so that’s all I spend. Sometimes even less, because I have Rules. Including not buying books I haven’t read, unless I can’t get them from the library (to see if my money is worth spending, ya feel?) or the author is one of like…two…special authors whose books I will buy regardless. (Seriously. That category may be just Dostoyevsky.) And I don’t buy books new, and I don’t buy them off the Internet because it ruins the fun of book shopping and unexpected discoveries, and anyway you don’t know for sure what you’re getting.
I’ve…actually never understood the “I’m always broke from spending all my money on books!” thing. I’ve just never…had that.
Okay! That’s the end of the tag! Now I must needs come up with my own questions and tag my own people. And you know what, it’s been so long since I properly tagged anyone? I’m gonna do it today. I’m gonna go old-school. Pass on this tag in the way God and nature intended.
So I tag (thereby meaning I would like to see their answers, not that they should feel obligated to do it):
• Megan @ Only Mildly Mad
• Grim @ The Grim Writer (I almost wrote “The Grim Blog,” Grim 😂)
• Maya Joelle @ when through the woods
• that most temperamental of writers (and Victorian bankers) Elizabeth Hyde @ Trivialities
• and you! if you want to. please do. I only put four people inconsiderately on the spot, but not for lack of wanting to do the same to many more of you.
And here are my questions:
• What author has your favorite prose to read? Is this the same author whose prose you most aspire to emulate, or a different one?
• Opinions on ancient literature like Homer: valuable but not enjoyable, neither, or both? Why?
• What Rules do you have for yourself when it comes to buying books?
• What books that you read as a little kid do you think had the biggest effect on your imagination?
• British- or American-based fantasy?
• What are your feelings on magical realism?
• What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done in a library?
• Any odes or sonnets to libraries you’d like to share with us?
• What almost-great book do you most long to rewrite and make it fully great?
• Who’s better, Lewis Carroll or A. A. Milne? (“Both” not an allowable answer 😈)
31 thoughts on “The Bookworm Tag”
ok only two thoughts, and I dare say not very collected or intellectual ones, but here they are nonetheless:
1. books are, to me, often intensely private experiences, and if a book makes me cry, i find that i wouldn’t want to tell other people about it because it is Personal and None Of Their Business. all that to say that i could appreciate the out of context information for what is was, and your reasons for not telling the entire internet. respect.
2. i’m sure how, or why, exactly, but your answer to the second-to-last question really made me begin to think about the literature i have been consuming of late, and about why i have been so dissatisfied with my reading life in recent years. it also made me consider the things i write, and why i write them, and what good prose looks like.
without going into detail, what you had to say is making me think and question, and i really appreciated your thoughts.
one more thought apparently.
3. winnie-the-pooh is superior literature.
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‘Tis an Eden comment. *happy sigh* I know not what strange alchemy it is that makes Eden comments so unfailingly delightful…but unfailingly delightful they unfailingly are.
1. “books are, to me, often intensely private experiences.” this. Same thing with music, actually? Some of my favorite songs it’s like…I want people to listen to them because they’re amazing but I also don’t want to talk about them because Private. Stop. Do Not Look. Anyways…I am rather glad you understand that. It’s nice not to be alone in one’s unaccountable desire for privacy, I suppose? 😂
2. Wow, so that’s just…lovely to hear? I mean. I don’t know exactly why I feel flattered that I should have inadvertently caused you to think and question, but I do… But thinking and questioning. It’s a good thing to do. Mostly. May you light upon happy thoughts and useful answers!
3. This is a superior opinion and entirely correct.
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ahhh please forgive the typos. xD
Haha! I didn’t even notice them! Now I shall have to go back and reread and keep an eye out. XD
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oooh this was such fun. Thankee’ kindly for the tag (and I refer to it as the Grim Blog myself on occasion heh). 🙂 Can’t wait to do it. I tell you, the one inconvenient thing about the penance party is that I keep wanting to write happy-go-lucky posts and I have to put them off. But yes. I shall be doing that. ‘Cuz your questions are delightful. (Spoiler: I’d take Milne over Carroll any day of the week. Not even a hard decision.) As for your contribution, no worries, you’ve still got ’round about three weeks. I myself have two or three posts still awaiting, so we’ve got time. Dang Lent is long heh.
Anyways, to the IMPORTANT stuff. You’ve now got me having an existential crisis as to whether the Gulag Archipelago or LotR is longer (because whichever it is, that’d be my answer–granted, I didn’t get to fully finish the Gulag, to my chagrin. Such a good book. Have you read it, perchance?)
And oh my goooooodness can I just put your ramble about old vs. new books on a plaque on my wall? Because yes. Wow. I think what hit me most strongly was the bit about good prose going out of fashion. Having attended an English 112 class at a modern college (yes, we’re bringing this infamous thing up again), I think what maddened me most about the modern books I was presented to read was not the dreadful content (though that was truly heinous) but the tactless way it was presented. I mean, like, yes, these events are important. History is important. The things these people suffered are important. But by just throwing them out there, in all their ugliness, you actually cheapen their pain rather than showing respect for it. Because if you showed respect you’d actually give some thought to how one could best honour these people in saying it–rather than just saying it straight out for shock value. Basically, my big beef with modern historical fiction is that it uses tragedy, graphically, for shock value. And that really, really bothers me. Because then English classes present it as ‘stunning, brave, and beautiful examples of modern literature.’ Like. Honey. No. The fact that the author can graphically describe child abuse and horrify us does not make him a good writer. I’ll call him a good writer when he can show us the horror of the child abuse without ever giving us the content explicitly. But the only way he’s ever going to do that is by getting to the soul of the problem. And in a world that heavily devalues souls…well, I guess I feel like prose has lost its soul too. It can’t allude to things, esp. not spiritual things–it has to dump all its thoughts out, even if they’re ugly, and whack you over the head with them till you have no choice but to think anything else. The great thing about the old books was that they presented their events and ideas in ways that actually made you think (and I’m sure some new books do this too, btw–just referring to the general trend) and made you reflect and made you choose for yourself, of your own accord, what was right. Whereas the new books a) often don’t accurately present good and evil b) present it so tactlessly that you really aren’t even allowed to side with any side but the one they choose. (not like I want to side with the child abuser, but I’d have had a lot more respect for the author if he could’ve shown the nuance of the situation.) There’s a quote from the Gulag: “The line between good and evil runs through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to cut out a piece of his own heart?” <that. I want to see that idea more in modern literature. Not necessarily in the plot, characters, etc–but in the prose. Not relativism, mind you. Just—actual thinking, rather than parroting.
Wow. That was a ramble. I have no idea if it made sense. I sure hope so. XD God bless you, Sarah dear!
Say nothing of it! (‘Tis a fitting name…except when it’s not) Well…procrastination never hurt anybody, right? (Not that it’s exactly procrastination.) I have greatly enjoyed your Lenten posts (do not judge enjoyment by amount of comments left xD), and will enjoy the happy-go-lucky ones once they too return. Especially your answers. Cuz ya know. I’m a curious bean, I am. (I’m beginning to feel like I’m the only one for whom that decision is hard…? I should’ve tagged Kenzie, doggone it, she might’ve had some words to say in defense of Lewis Carroll. XD I agree with you, though, Milne is just…unsurpassed. But…but…to so easily cast Carroll aside!! Alack!! Say not so!!)
Lent really IS long. Like. Imagine fasting in the wilderness for THIS LONG… (I mean, minus the Sundays. But STILL. It’s so long. As a little kid I was always like “but…how did Jesus /not die/, Mom?? NOBODY can go without food for forty days, it’s NOT POSSIBLE”)
ooOoH yeah I don’t know which would be longer. To MY chagrin, I have not read the Gulag. Which is partly my aunt’s fault. She’s the one who introduced me to Solzhenitsyn (and Dostoyevsky, incidentally; My Russian Aunt, I should start calling her), and she had a copy of the Gulag, and when I finally got around to asking her for a loan, she couldn’t find it???! (Or so she tells me 😒) And the library doesn’t have it because…because what’s even the point of libraries, again?? Are you ashamed of yourself, library?? I HOPE SO. And I bought volumes 1&2 at the thrift store for like 25 cents but I’ve been loth to start because I don’t have the whole thing. (Excruciatingly) long story short…no I have not read the Gulag Archipelago. But I WANT TO HAVE.
That would be either a very big plaque or very tiny type. Regardless, am flattered you liked it that much, haha. I do think it’s quite interesting to think about?
And oh boy. *nods along to your entire prose rant, with occasional shouts of “Hallelujah!” and “Preach, sister!”* *(let’s just pretend I didn’t grow up Baptist and Presbyterian and would literally never thinking of making a peep in church, let alone shouting “Hallelujah!”, for a second here)* “you actually cheapen their pain instead of showing respect for it.” THIS. It’s…yeah. Graphic historical fiction bothers me. It bothers me on two levels – the lack of respect (even if respect is intended – but, like, wallowing in the gory details of OTHER PEOPLE’S SUFFERING is NOT respecting them, I don’t care how you frame it) and the lack of understanding of art. Like. I sort of think of art as having a triangle purpose? Truth, goodness, and beauty, with beauty at the top and truth and goodness supporting (and a different one would be at the top if it was something besides art). So if you want to write a tribute to someone’s suffering and bravery and sacrifice and all that, MAKE IT BEAUTIFUL. MAKE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL OUT OF IT. Otherwise you’ve accomplished nothing, or certainly nothing you can call art.
“I’ll call him a good writer when he can show us the horror of the child abuse without ever giving us the content explicitly.” YES. Because this is how art works. This is the peculiar power of art, and you’re just…not even trying?? Even though you call yourself an artist??
Good point about allusions. This is on a more literal level than what you’re saying, maybe, but rich prose is rich BECAUSE it alludes and evokes already-known things. Good old prose, I’ve noticed, is chock-full of references, and it really does enrich and deepen it. Modern, self-sufficient prose is very one-layer-deep and it just doesn’t compare.
Subtlety and making you think YES. (I just finished reading a Kipling book last month, and Kipling reserves judgment and lets you make it for yourself to the extreme, and I just…appreciated it so much. There was so much clarity in that approach, too, because you don’t feel emotionally manipulated into exactly the belief you’re supposed to come away with.)
I love that Gulag quote. So much.
It made great good sense, and I enjoyed it so much to boot! Ramble about story stuff (or morality) (or music) anytime, haha! God bless you, Grim!
Hm… I don’t think I’ve ever cried over a book. Meeped a bit, maybe, but no true tears. Not even during Les Mis… which I read in physical form. I tend to prefer my tomes in actual book over e-book, as it helps me keep track and I can make notes.
I vaguely remember reading a Dick and Jane book, and thinking something along the lines of ‘why are they talking like this? Nobody talks like this! Where is the story?’
As for the questions: Ancient stories are both enjoyable and valuable, so that it factors in my book buying rule. The older the book, the more likely I will let myself buy it.
“Meeped a bit, maybe” – haha, I love it. Crying over literature is a very odd phenomenon, and I find it interesting how and when people do it (and don’t do it). And some people cry over poetry, which I don’t get? And some cry over movies but not books…which I’ve never cried over a movie, goodness sakes, so it’s just all very interesting and individual. And it’s not like those three books that made me cry are the three saddest books I’ve ever read…at all. That was a ramble, but I just think it’s kind of an interesting weird little thing to ponder, people crying and not crying over books.
That makes a lot of sense, since you take notes in your books! Yet another way ebooks fall short for the purposes of the Serious Scholar… 😛
Ha! Exactly! “Where is the story” is truly the question. And I remember reading one – maybe it was a multiple-books-in-one-volume or something but it was SO LONG. How could it be so long with NO STORY? Terrible.
Ooh I like that. I too am much more likely to buy old things than new ones. Even if I don’t end up liking it, it was still worth reading? Because #classics or something like that.
First of all, I apologize for this comment probably being shorter than I’d like, because I have not really done homework for the last two days because of a charrette, and I need to catch up/read/sleep/not die, and so I have less time than I’d like to respond to your obvious brilliance.
Oh, Frederica! Home of some of the funniest scenes in Heyer. I just have realized that I need to reread the Pooh book(s) at some point, though, because I remember listening to that bit on audio when I was wee, but I don’t remember exactly what happened. I certainly didn’t get the humor in the same way than I think I would now, in the same way that I didn’t get…a lot of it. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I *got* it as a kid, if you know what I mean.
I’m a little confused about Kim, but I can relate to the feeling of “I don’t know why I cried, except for timing in my life, and THAT THING, and emotions happened, and so…I cried”, which it seems like might’ve been your experience?
All of the things you wish more books had are also things that I would appreciate if more books had!
I also don’t prefer reading two books at once. One is plenty to deal with.
Hmm, I prefer ebooks for longer books, because holding the book in my hands is too intimidating. I’ll look at my progress, and it’ll look like I’ve made zero progress, and then I get angsty, and it’s not a good time.
All of your thoughts on old and new books are incredibly interesting, and go along very well with my own thoughts…but I don’t have time/energy to respond at length to them at the moment. 😅 (You’re absolutely right about prose, though.)
I also don’t generally buy books I haven’t read! Twins! Yay!
I had to look up what a charrette was; however, as a result of doing that, I have officially determined your excuse for falling behind on homework Valid and hereby pardon you for short(er) comments and sincerely wish you the requisite sleep.
I know exactly what you mean! I had a lot of that, myself, with other things. Also Winnie-the-Pooh is really fun for kids but its true hilarity is for adults. Like I remember reading it aloud to my dad, back in high school, and at some point he goes, “How old was the author when he wrote this? He HAD to be middle-aged at least.” (Which I looked it up and he was forty or so. And my dad was like “I knew it.” A young person /just couldn’t/ have written the particular humor of Winnie-the-Pooh the particular way A. A. Milne did, the way my dad saw it. Which I thought was really interesting.) Anyway…long story short, absolutely do reread it, Sam dear. You’ll love it all over again and even more so and you will laugh a lot. (And who does not appreciate lots of laughter in her life?)
Pretty much, yeah. THAT THING and all. (That was well-expressed on your end.) Also yes I feel like that excerpt is just really confusing out of context. XD And very…why did this make you cry? *squints* *scratches head* XD
Ha, that makes total sense for why you prefer ebooks for longer books, but I’m totally exactly the opposite. I like the comfort of having so much still to go. I used to finish books SO fast as a kid and then they’d be over and I didn’t get to be blissfully lost in them anymore, I’d been sucked back through the wardrobe into reality before I was ready, and those beginning stages of a tome where you can just see and feel HOW MUCH you still have left were just the best thing. Also I love to hold it in my hands when I AM done and FEEL the magnitude and weight of how much I just read. So yeah, I understand but do not relate. XD
Glad you agree about prose. It’s just…important. And makes me sad how neglected it is.
*high five* Twins indeed! It’s an excellent habit for those of us with unlimited funds and picky reading tastes, you gotta admit.
Eeeeeeek Sarah i LOVE this post! Virgil is calling so I can’t comment at length (why, oh why, do I put off Latin translation until 10 o’clock the night before it’s due? WHY DO I DO WHAT I DO NOT WANT TO DO), but. Lovely post.
I really really MUST read Kim.
Your thoughts on old vs. new books. ❤
Thanks for the tag!!
(Why oh why do I relate to this way too much….. Hope your Latin translations went well! As well as anything can go when one has put it off till 10 the night before it’s due, that is. And hey, Virgil is pretty cool. Latin was always hard for me and I was never the best student in it (like, genuinely, I think it was the one subject where I legitimately Slacked Off and now know much, much less than I could have XD D:), but I kind of envy you getting to take it and translate things in college…heh. I hope it’s fun as well as hard.)
I hope you do read Kim sometime. It’s a unique one and I can’t accurately judge how it will strike other people because for me it was SUCH a bolt-from-the-blue right-book-at-the-right-time thing, but…it’s pretty brilliant, imo. Kipling is pretty all-around brilliant. And I do hope (and feel optimistic) that you’d appreciate it and be fond of it.
Yer welcome, lassie! Dinna fash yerself, noo—‘twas but a tag, no need for double exclamation points and suchlike unseemly frippery. Ye’ll have the neighbors thinkin’ ye’ve gone oot o’ yer heid—an’ ower a tag an’ all!
“By being broke already” LOL Spot on. I love secondhand book stores, but I’ve never spent more than fifteen dollars, I think? Your dissertation of old vs new books was wonderful. It covered a lot of my thoughts. Michael O’Brien is a modern classic, combining both compelling characters, great plots, and beautiful prose, but yeah, generally nowadays prose is *so* underrated. Nobody even tries.
I need to read Kim. That excerpt is beautiful, even if I have no idea what it’s about or the context.
I agree with your assesment of electronical books wholeheartedly. No bueno.
It solves so many problems before they even begin. XD Secondhand bookstores are truly the best because…you can come away with an amazing haul and all you spent WAS fifteen dollars! As opposed to a Barnes and Noble or something, plus you never really find anything super old or random or unusual there. You have made me very curious about Michael O’Brien! Those modern authors who write good stuff while having GOOD PROSE are so rare and so delightful. (I would describe Megan Whalen Turner the exact way you just described Michael O’Brien, but the fact that I’m having trouble thinking of a single other modern author to say that about speaks for itself…)
Kim is beautiful. And odd. And very worth reading in general but, like, not a completely normal book? I dunno. I’m really glad you like the excerpt, even out of context.
Pero tu entiendes, mi amiga! Que jubilo! No bueno, en verdad! (That Spanish was probably all wrong but hey. There’s a level of joy and camaraderie that can only be expressed in Spanish. It’s such an exclamatory language, donchaknow.)
well I’m glad it’s not just Blogger’s feed that feels a little… off xD
ebooks are all very well, but as you point out, Sarah, it’s so hard to grasp where in the book you are if it’s not physical! I’ve gotten quite the wrong impression from books before, because I was expecting more and couldn’t see that we were mostly done, and because of that the plot felt entirely wrong! so that speaks to me.
OOOH some people can sing two notes at once, though! Let me look up her name… ahh… it’s Anna-Marie Hefele. It’s called polyphonic singing, anyway. Highly specialised, not a choir trick, but pretty cool xD She can hold one note and walk the other up and down!
oh can I thrown in an answer for the Lewis Carroll/A.A. Milne question? …A.A. Milne hands-down. Sorry to the fans, but for some reason Alice in Wonderland never overly appealed to my smol child’s brain?? Whereas Milne’s work still vibrates with warmth and gentleness (and hUMOUR). I will admit to Lewis writing some excellent maths riddles, though.
Heh. Yes. I don’t know what it is about these platforms?
“I was expecting more and couldn’t see that the book was mostly done and thus the plot felt wrong to me.” YES I have had this. It’s a weird experience. Let’s just stick to reading our books in paper and ink, the way GOD AND NATURE INTENDED, shall we?
I looked up Anna-Maria Hefele and that is incredible. I knew throat singing was a thing and that you could make two notes with it but I didn’t know you could do…that? I didn’t know it sounded like that? It’s so cool? And so almost impossible to believe that it’s coming out of an actual regular human’s throat… Thank you so much for introducing me to that, Jem!
You may. And…I approve your answer. I mean, you can be a fan of both! (*sadly raises hand*) but it’s true that Milne absolutely vibrates with warmth and gentleness. And is unmatched at making one laugh. So he wins. Good answer. *pats Carroll on the head* Next time, professor. You’ll get ’em next time.
“That’s because Louisa May Alcott is a cruel murderess” This was funnier to me than it should have been XD
Oh, MAN, I’ve been wanting to reread Great Expectations for a while now. I don’t know when I’ll get to it (because TIME, you know), but now its in the forefront of my mind again, and ugh it’s so GOOD.
The Kim quote is strangely beautiful even though I haven’t the faintest idea what is going on. The beauty of it was somewhat spoiled when I got to the end and misread “lama” as “llama” and thought this guy was pouring his heart out to…a llama?
Cousins and siblings and gunslinging dads and magic that makes sense with science and history and Christian worldviews! I’ll take ’em all, please.
Oh, good heavens. Please spare us from lengthy e-books. My eyeballs would never survive. And to be robbed of the immense satisfaction of hefting a weighty hardcover in your own two hands?? I cannot allow it.
As a general rule, I don’t like to buy books before I read them either. The library is my primary source of books. But sometimes the library FAILS ME. Like when they DON’T HAVE ASSIGNMENT IN BRITTANY. You keep bringing it up, and the more I hear about it the more I greatly desire to read it…. *covertly opening thriftbooks in another tab*
Your whole discussion of old vs. new books is so thoughtful and fascinating. The decline of people valuing good prose is very sad to me. Good prose is SO important–as much a part of a book as the characters or the plot.
Thank you for the tag! I look forward to tackling your questions 🙂
Well, she is.
TIME, though. Weirdly, Great Expectations has also been on my mind of late, clamoring for a reread. But who has TIME?? It really is so good, though. Just SO GOOD it isn’t even fair.
I’m so happy it struck you as beautiful. Because it IS. And oh my GOODNESS the mental image of poor Kim pouring out his heart to a llama and then collapsing at its feet made my day. Kim: “Oh, why did I not take better care of you! Why wasn’t I just /better/?” *collapses* Llama: “WAAAHHHHHEEHEEEWAA.”
If I find a place that serves ’em up, I’ll let you know.
AYE, SIR! Long live the hefty hardcovers! And let the ebooks be banished to outer darkness, where there is weeping and frying of eyeballs!
The library is a wonderful place. Also my primary source of books. At least it used to be? Now I want to read so many books that the library doesn’t have it’s almost 50/50…but the library is still a wonderful place.
I really hope I haven’t overhyped Assignment in Brittany, hahaha…actually, I know without a doubt I have, because even /I/ didn’t think it was the most brilliant thing in existence when I first read it…just a really good, solid thing that I loved (and HEARNE). But my point being…I hope if/when you read it you like it? It’s such a GOOD book. And it grows on you. But I’ve totally overhyped it and I DONT WANT IT TO DISAPPOINT YOU.
Amen. Prose matters. Stop making Miss Hyde sad, people!!! Start valuing good prose!!!
Hooray! I look forward to perusing your answers.
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I went to a used bookstore with my Sponge sister last week–which is always a JOY–and GUESS WHAT? I found a compact little 1963 paperback of Assignment in Brittany! (I may or may not have run up to my sister, thrust the book into her face, and squawked, “LOOK WHAT I FOUND.”)
Oh, dear me, I worry about over-hyping books too. Sometimes I’m so afraid of over-hyping a book that I will say nothing about it to my sister except “I liked it.” And then I wonder why it takes her three years to finally get around to reading it. So then, to avoid three year spans of waiting I’ll come charging at her with the next book I discover that I love like, “READ THIS, IT’S SO GOOD”. And then oh NO is she going to be disappointed now?
(I was afraid I had overhyped Pheris because before she read Return of the Thief I spent over a year telling her that he was a DEAR. But–when she finally read it–she loved him anyway. Actually, her complaint was that there wasn’t ENOUGH Pheris)
….I don’t remember what I was saying
Oh yes! Assignment in Brittany. You needn’t worry about overhyping it, because the description on the back of the copy I purchased ALONE is worth it: “This is the tense, stunning story of a man called Hearne–a Secret Service Agent who lived another man’s life, and loved another man’s woman.”
And that’s it. That’s the whole description XD (I don’t know why it’s so funny to me, but it IS)
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JOY OF JOYS!
Um YES. That cycle is so real. *laughs but also cries*
(I mean Pheris though. Could one overhype Pheris? …Regardless, I am glad she was not disappointed in him. Although it’s kind of a funny complaint that there isn’t enough of /the narrator/ in a book. XD)
That description is HILARIOUS. I don’t know why either. I’m grinning. It’s completely accurate too??? Which somehow makes it even funnier???
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I mean “stunning” might not be accurate, I’m not completely sure how that word applies to a story? But other than that it’s accurate.
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gosh, I love Hearne
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(Actually, Hearne is one of a very few characters that I and my sisters—even the one who barely reads—have all collectively agreed to wrap in blankets and bake cookies and knit sweaters for. Doug Swieteck and Dick from CSO being the others I can think of at the moment. Hearne is just precious. If, you know, a little less in need of protection than Doug. But…hang on, no, actually very in need of protection??)
(But anyway, you’ve read it then??! You at least liked Hearne??! I am happy.)
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Okay, but now I greatly desire to see Dick, Doug, and Hearne all in the same room together. They dynamic would be…I can’t even fathom what it would be, but I have no doubt that it would be incredible. XD
You would THINK that Hearne would be less in need of protection than Doug because he’s a capable adult–but because he’s capable he’s like “Let’s put myself in MORTAL PERIL TO HELP PEOPLE”
He’s just…a really solid human. What a guy.
I loved the unfold-y aspect of all the things Corlay DIDN’T tell him. Like when he first meets Corlay’s mom and he’s like, “Dang, she’s a jerk to her son.” But then it’s, “Wait a minute, CORLAY is a jerk.” And the fact that people keep realizing he’s not actually Corlay just because he’s so darn wholesome XD
Random side note: I don’t know what happened, but SOMETHING happened in my brain, and the result was that Plehec was Jeremy the Pizza man from CSO. Just…every time it talked about him, I pictured Jeremy. I have no idea how or why this happened.
Okay, but I can’t get over the fact that this was written in 1941?? It’s not just that the characters don’t know when or how the war is going to end, but the AUTHOR didn’t and the READERS didn’t, and it was about what was happening IN THAT TIME. I spent a fair amount of time geeking out about that 🙂
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Oh dear, I love Hearne too much. For all these reasons. The fact that people keep realizing he’s not Corlay because he’s so wholesome is just….I love it??? I love it so much??? It’s hilarious and feel-good at the same time I love it. And YES the layers!! I LOVED the first time I read it, how my perception of Corlay’s mom changed. She’s one of my favorite characters now, and I didn’t like her at first, and…why is Helen MacInnes such a good writer??? Isn’t it weird when good writers, instead of writing Tolkienesque fantasy or literary fiction (clearly the only two genres you can write well in), write other stuff, like spy books? And write them really well? It’s so weird? Is that just me? It’s just that so much genre fiction is so badly written, and of course there are good writers in every genre, but finding them is just weird. Anyway.
Plehec as Jeremy. I will HAVE to tell my sisters this; it’s hilarious. I really want to reread Assignment in Brittany now (if my friend to whom I lent it will GIVE IT BACK TO ME ALREADY), so we will see if Jeremy obtrudes upon my mental image of Plehec.
Also I KNOW. A few years ago I read Above Suspicion, another of her books, to my dad, and we were geeking out about it because SHE DIDN’T KNOW HOW THE WAR WAS GOING TO END. Also she wrote some pretty brave stuff for a woman whose country was possibly about to get taken over by Nazis, honestly. And I LOVE the glimpse into the time it really is. Also it’s so weird to think about her just…writing books during the war, like me during peacetime. And editing them and publishing them. It’s ODD. I don’t know why I’m thinking about this. I am sleep-deprived but I have left this comment unanswered far too long and I had to answer it because HEARNE and HISTORICAL CONTEXT and stuff. It’s just cool. I’m so glad you liked the book (and Hearne) because I love them dearly.
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My dear Sarah, the neglect of Internet-responsibilities is HIGHLY ENCOURAGED when they come against such priorities as catching up in the realm of sleep (SHOULD NOT BE NEGLECTED as I keep telling one of my sisters) and figuring out of the life (oi, that can be a tough one). I sincerely hope that the catchings up in Real Life have been happening… but that being said, it IS quite delightful to open WordPress and see a new post from you and several lengthy comment replies. 🙂
Pardon me, but there is nothing boring about The Lord of the Rings?? ‘Tis a perfect answer.
THAT HOUSE AT POOH CORNER SCENE. YES.
(All the scenes, in fact. There are…so many downright hilarious ones.)
How is A.A. Milne such a genius?!
I am in awe.
(Have you read Once on a Time? It doesn’t hold a candle to the Pooh books in my opinion, BUT there were some really humorous gems in there- such as the two kings pretending to be swine-herds and knowing nothing whatever about it but thinking they are being convincing because the REAL swine-herd with which they are conversing is in fact not a real swine-herd…yeah. It’s A.A. Milne, so, worth reading if you haven’t already.)
Heh, Louisa May Alcott IS a cruel murderess, isn’t she? Authors get away with SO MUCH.
“Dickens has great skill with the pen, Pip is relatable in the least flattering way possible, Abel Magwitch is Some Human Being, and people are Messed Up.” Hm, yes. You are making me want to reread Great Expectations now. It’s been SO LONG.
I have not read Kim, but…I should.
I AGREE with All of the Things you wish more books had (and I’m thrilled that you linked to my Gunslinger Dads post). “Magic elements that could technically actually exist and it would make sense with science and history as we know it and be compatible with the Christian worldview.” I feel like I’ve hardly ever seen such a thing, but I wAnt it.
I will ALWAYS prefer a ponderous hardcover to an ebook. Mine eyeballs could not take it! (I know I’m needing to get used to it for CSO and TSE, but STILL). Also, yes, the physical awareness of where you are in the book is so nice, and arguably needful. The format of reading really does effect the enjoyment of the story to an extent.
“Village Cynic Who Is Not As Much of a Cynic As He Thinks He Is”. That sounds…quite appealing. Several aspects of this book sound appealing (BOATS; POTATO FIELDS;). Eh, I think my sister is planning on buying Assignment in Brittany now (gosh, how useful sisters are for these things), so I’ll probably get to it at some point.
Hehe, Dick, Jane and Spot books. Cringe-worthy text of horror. (Okay, but now I’m thinking of Dick from CSO and Jane from Jane Eyre and Spot Conlon from Newsies all going on some adventure together, which might actually be kind of entertaining.)
Your thoughts on the “are old or new books better” argument are SPOT ON. I don’t really have an intelligent response to it…but what you said is just SO GOOD. And I AGREE (I too am a curmudgeonly grandma). People not caring about the prose *weeps* Rampant nihilism *weeping intensifies* WHY. (But also “Dickens himself has flaws. Tolkien doesn’t, but there’s always got to be an exception somewhere.” Hehe. Tolkien.) Yes, but your whole thing. It’s just this nice thoughtful essay that I want to be able to whip out if anyone asks me this question.
I do not tend to buy books I haven’t read…at least, not new. I used to think I would buy every Gary D. Schmidt book and Kate DiCamillo book new, sight-unseen (because I was young and naive), but they have both Failed me (I don’t feel Dramatic about that or anything), so there’s really no one like that… When it comes to very cheap Thriftbooks and library book sales I’ve recently gotten Very Bad at just…buying things. That I haven’t read. I didn’t used to be that way. But. It is happening now. Partly because recently the library has been rather lacking in the things I want to read?? (Our library system doesn’t have Assignment in Brittany, apparently, but my sister is buying that one, like I said.)
Lovely post! (Especially that ESSAY SECTION in the middle there, have I mentioned how much I enjoyed reading that…?)
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Thank you, I shall take your encouragement to heart because I do believe those are some sensible priorities. (I hope your sister listened to you because YOU ARE RIGHT) Awww thank you!!! You must know it is the same the other way ’round, as well.
True. LOTR is a perfect book. It just seems like also such a STEREOTYPICAL answer for a question like “longest novel you’ve read” or “best fantasy novel ever” but…I suppose that’s because it IS so perfect. A large number of people can’t help recognizing its perfection. And never let it be said that I am ashamed to number amongst them!
(Right?! The other day I picked it up and was reading the scene where Piglet is worried because however many strings they pulled up it would always be the same him falling down and I just…love it.)
(I have not read it, but I just bought a battered little copy of it! Like, before I read this comment. I am GREATLY looking forward to this swine herd content now.)
SHE IS. THEY DO.
It really is so good though. And I too need to read it again. I also need to reread all of Charles that I have read and read for the first time all that I have not. He’s so good.
You really should read Kim! I’m quite curious to know what you’d think of it.
Okay, so this makes me think of something else that’s really nice about the serial format: you only have to stare at the screen for manageable chunks of time, you know? Like it’s bad until you’ve caught up, but once you’ve caught up on TSE (and I’ve been reading CSO from the beginning of seaso 1, but same for that) it’s not that hard on your eyeballs anymore. For which I am duly grateful.
THAT Dick, Jane, & Spot trio would be one of the greatest things the world has seen. Just imagine it. I wish I could’ve read that as a kid.
I am so sorry that Gary D Schmidt and Kate diCamillo have Failed you. *pats you sadly on the head* Alas, we always come to find our idols have feet of clay…except for Tolkien, because he’s Tolkien. It’s something I find very interesting that one can have deep & abiding love for a particular work of an author and…not for other works of theirs? But anyway, that’s a rabbit trail. I have had the same thing with the library!! It’s so weird! I used to could find most everything I wanted there, but now more and more I can’t??
Thank you, Sponge! And thank you for this delicious comment! (And I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I’m taking that statement at face value even though when someone puts “essay” in all caps and then talks about how much they enjoyed it it’s USUALLY sarcasm, haha.)
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Ah, how serendipitous! I hope you enjoy the swine herd content. 🙂
As for the Failings of authors, it really is a good thing because it can be all too easy to put them up on pedestals where they really don’t belong, and the Failings check that tendency (this fits rather nicely into the discussion about giving stories a little more credit than they deserve). It is also a good thing that we can have a deep and abiding love for a particular work by an author even if we dislike other works by them.
“I’m taking that statement at face value even though when someone puts “essay” in all caps and then talks about how much they enjoyed it it’s USUALLY sarcasm, haha.” Is it? Well, I assure you that I meant it with all sincerity.
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Hey, I like that. That it’s good for authors to have Failings so we don’t elevate them too much. Never thought of it that way.
Haha, well, thank you. Possibly it’s just my sisters who do that, but I get told “oh, thank you for that FASCINATING ESSAY in answer to my simple question of where is the ketchup” and “can you stop being a breathing textbook for a second and be a HUMAN” by my sisters (…and their friends who PRESUME UPON MY NICENESS AND THEIR CLOSENESS TO MY SISTERS) a LOT so, yeah, my natural reaction is to perceive it as sarcasm. 😂
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