Monday, December 26, 2022

December Book Haul

 

I've been trying to find more fiction books that appeal to me---it's hard! Here's a look at everything I added to Mt. TBR in December. Half are fiction titles.

National Year Book and Encyclopedia, 1917. I found this book of facts and thought it would be fun to see what the nation was doing a little over 100 years ago. This volume contains all kinds of random facts about a time when the population of the US was 100 million and Jerusalem was a part of Turkey and was home to a mere 60,000 people. In this book, one can learn how to claim unoccupied public land under the nations homesteading laws---there was still land available in all states west of the Mississippi. There's also a section on how many books were published in the year prior, arranged by genres. The industry suffered an 80% set back since 1914 due to the "great European War".

The Templars by Piers Paul Read. My interests of late have turned toward the history of the Holy Land. I admit to knowing very little about this region and its timeline. Perhaps this will be an informative read? 

Sweet Expectation by Mary Ellen Taylor. Not my usual type of story but the cover looks cozy, the woman lives in an attic, and she discovers a box of hidden recipes and mementos. This could be fun!

The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter by Holly Robinson. This looks like a fun and humorous memoir about the woman's life with her eccentric father. We'll see...

The Works of Anne Bradstreet, edited by Jeannine Hensley. Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) was a Puritan pilgrim to the new world, establishing herself in history as the first writer in the North American colonies to be published and the most well-known of the early American poets. Her husband and father were members of the founding committee of Harvard University. She was very well educated herself, boasting a home library of over 800 volumes. (Many were destroyed in a house fire that occurred, coincidentally, just two months before the Great Fire of London). 

The Woman with a Worm in Her Head by Pamela Nagami, M.D. I will read most interesting nonfiction, but I really have a thing for medical histories/mysteries. This one ought to be fun...and gross.

Memory's Ghost: The Strange Tale of Mr. M and the Nature of Memory by Philip J. Hilts. 
Ditto above.

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. I've had several by this author in my possession, but always passed them on to others. I love reading about the history of the monarchy---but I'm picky about where the info comes from. Since this is such a well-known author on the subject, I decided to give her a try this time.

A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist. This is my once-a-year attempt at reading Christian fiction. Of all the genres, this is one of the most difficult for me to enjoy because so much of it is contrived, preachy, and inconsistent with true set-apartness. I'd usually rather read something that is obviously worldly---at least everyone is being honest about the morality of the content. But I digress... I admit---the cover drew me in.

The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman. Another one that drew me in with the cover. I honestly think I'll end up abandoning this one before I reach the end, but we'll see...

If I Were You by Joan Aiken. Looks like a fun take on the Prince and the Pauper story---with a neat vintage cover.

Self-Reliance and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Finally, in a nod to our new baby grandson, Emerson Wayne, I picked up this skinny volume to allow my mind to wander to transcendental utopias...

That's it for December. What great reads have you picked up lately?


Sunday, December 25, 2022

2023 Reading Challenges

Another new year is coming in and I've cleared the entire 2023 calendar for reading...


Yeah, I know, I said that last year…and the year before. But THIS YEAR I mean it. haha! Actually, this last year I got the reading in---it's the blogging about reading for which I crashed and burned. Maybe my opening line should read, "Another new year is coming in and I've committed to keeping my reading blog updated..." That's not as catchy, is it?


I've looked over several awesome reading challenges out there and have settled on those below. I've also really got to get moving on my Classics challenge as I've only got one year left!




This challenge takes place right here at Belle's Library. You may read any book published during or about the Victorian era (1837-1901). Use hashtag #2023VictorianReadingChallenge on social media.


I'm hosting this challenge for a second year. Read all the things you missed out on as a kid---or revisit some old favorites! Use hashtag #2023ChildrensBooksChallenge on social media.



The Alphabet Soup Challenge hosted by Escape with Dollycas. I've never done this one before! The goal is to try to read a book with a title that begins with each letter of the alphabet---except for Q, X, and Z can be used for the first letter of any word in the title. I'll keep track of my books for this challenge here: 2023 Alphabet Soup Challenge.


Another new to me challenge this year is the TBR Pile Challenge from Roof Beam Reader. With this challenge, we choose 12 books that have been on our TBR shelves for at least a year, plus two alternates. The goal is to read them and get them off the shelves! My list is here: TBR Pile Challenge. Use hashtag #TBRYear10 on social media.



I've done this one a few times in the past: The Historical Fiction Reading Challenge at The Intrepid Reader. Choose your era and go to town! I think I'll attempt the Ancient History Level at 25 historical fiction books. Use hashtag: #histficreadingchallenge on social media.


This is a set-it-yourself challenge that runs for 5 years. Commit to reading at least 50 classics in 5 years.  You can see my list here: The Classics Club.


Daughters of Promise runs the Brighter Winter Reading Program during the months of January and February. They offer a challenge sheet and prizes! Tag @brighterwinter and use hashtag #brighterwinter2023 on social media.


What great reading challenges have you discovered for 2023?


Monday, December 19, 2022

2023 TBR Pile Challenge #TBRYear10

 


Another new to me challenge this year is the TBR Pile Challenge from Roof Beam Reader. With this challenge, we choose 12 books that have been on our TBR shelves for at least a year, plus two alternates in case we need to abandon a horrible book. The goal is to read them and get them off the shelves! I really need this challenge---ha!
Use hashtag #TBRYear10 on social media.

I've chosen the 14 oldest TBRs on my shelf. Here are my choices:


2. A Nostalgic Almanac by Edna Hatlestad Hong, 16 years TBR

3. A Handbook of Ancient History in Bible Light by Miller, 15 years TBR

4. Little House in the Ozarks by Laura Ingalls Wilder, 14 years TBR

5. The Bible as History by Werner Keller, 14 years TBR

6. My Heart's In the Lowlands by Liz Curtis Higgs, 13 years TBR

7. Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat, 13 years TBR

8. Celtic Christianity by Christopher Bamford, 13 years TBR

9. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, 13 years TBR

10. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, 12 years TBR

11. Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory, 12 years TBR

12. The Voice of the Irish by Michael Staunton, 12 years TBR


Alternates:

1. St. Patrick of Ireland by Philip Freeman, 11 years TBR

2. Inside the Victorian Home by Judith Flanders, 11 years TBR

Others finished from Mt. TBR:






2023 Alphabet Soup Challenge


Have you heard about The Alphabet Soup Challenge hosted by Escape With Dollycas? I came across this one earlier this year and thought it looked fun. The goal is to try to read a book with a title that begins with each letter of the alphabet---except for Q, X, and Z can be used for the first letter of any word in the title. I'll keep track of my books for this challenge here: 

Titles

C--
F--
G--
H--
I--
J--
K--
M--
N--
O--
P--
Q--
R--
T-- 
U--
V--
W--
X--
Y--
Z--

Authors

A-- 
B-- 
C--
D-- 
E--
F--
G--
H--
I--
J--
K--
L-- 
N--
O--
P--
Q--
R--
S-- 
T-- 
U--
V--
W--
X--
Y--
Z--

Monday, December 12, 2022

What Did I Read? November 2022

Hello friends! Hope you're happy and well and enjoying the cozy season! I read SOO many books last month---but mainly because I decided to revisit a childhood favorite, the Baby-Sitters Club series. My daughter has the first 50 or so books and I could read through one in just a couple hours. I did also manage to read other things too---ha! It was just a really great month of reading!



The Girl from Botany Bay by Carolly Erickson


from Amazon: "Veteran biographer Erickson focuses on Mary Broad, who was arrested for robbery in 1786 and transported in sordid conditions to the new penal colony in Australia. But the book is, more generally, a stark and fascinating account of what prisoners endured: in England, where harsh laws protected property in an era of unsettling social change; on board ship; and in the penal colonies themselves, where the convicts and their guards carved a bleak existence out of the inhospitable environment. Life was particularly harsh for women, who, in addition to the usual deprivations, also endured the threat of rape and the responsibilities and sorrows of raising children in dire conditions. Mary Broad, along with several male convicts and her own young children, made a daring escape in a small, stolen boat. Perhaps fortified by stories of the survivors of the Bounty, they sailed along the Australian coast and across open sea to the Dutch settlement of Kupang in Indonesia, where they enjoyed a few months of ease before their recapture. Despite Erickson's speculations, little can be known concretely about Mary as an individual. Her story draws in the reader, nonetheless, and Mary's brief moment of celebrity, when the escape and the well-timed intervention of the writer James Boswell earn her a royal pardon, provides a satisfying end to the unrelenting hardship of her life."


My Review: This was a really interesting story about a subject I knew nothing about. Mary Broad, was arrested for robbery in 1786 and transported to the new penal colony in Australia. The story offers a reality check as to what prisoners endured during these times. Mary's story was probably a unique one, gaining her a bit of celebrity status documented in the few pieces of her history we have today. 


The stories of torture and abuse were very difficult to read. These events took place at the same time Jane Austen was writing about, yet they're totally different worlds…


Besides the irritating footnotes/endnotes, I really enjoyed reading through this. 


I also learned two new words: horripilating and hardihood.


Finally, what's an anti earthquake pill?? Is this some 18th century term for birth control?





Museum of the Missing by Simon Houpt


from Amazon: "There's nothing as tempting to a thief as a work of art, it would seem, but it wasn't always so. Although Houpt shows how stealing art has been a sport of rulers (notably Napoleon and Hitler) for centuries, he traces the current epidemic of art theft to the inflation of auction prices that began in 1958 and continues to this day. When houses like Sotheby's trumpet their sales records--$104 million for a Picasso!--what's a self-respecting art thief to do? In this brief and lively book, Houpt laments the transformation of art into an international commodity and sketches a series of quick portraits of famous latter-day art thieves and the intrepid detectives who try to catch them."


My Review: I really love reading about art history mysteries---I can't get enough! This book was super interesting and will be going straight into my permanent collection. I found myself looking up each work and notating in the book whether they'd been recovered since publication. Happily, I found quite a few that had! 


I was pretty disgusted with the way museums and governments refuse to give up obviously stolen property. The British handling of the art property of other nations, in particular, is despicable. I'm planning a trip in March and Selah really wants to see the Natural History Museum/V&A/etc. --- not so sure I'll enjoy it as much now as I have in the past. As the author points out, how many pieces in our museums are even the spoils of war? Quite the moral dilemma there...


Even though I'm always rooting for the good guys, I do have to admit several of the heists were pretty genius. The whole story surrounding the fictional Thomas Alcock collection was pretty impressive.


Great read---glad I took the time!





England in 1815 as Seen by a Young Boston Merchant by Joseph Ballard


My Review: I purchased this from Once Upon a Time Bookshop in Tontitown, Arkansas. This is number 474 of 525 copies printed in 1913, and seems to be a first edition, published by his descendants. It's a travel narrative of American merchant Ballard's time in England during the time of Waterloo and Jane Austen.


This fantastic journal gave me so many wonderful things to think about! I would have been finished much sooner except there were so many things I was inspired to research and read about.


It was interesting to think about the traffic in the seas in those days. Men boarding ships back and forth to exchange news and supplies...


Ballard references a lot of things that are now in our distant history: to him, the Royal Exchange (#2) looked dilapidated (burnt in 1838); he also mentioned the planned destruction and rebuilding of London bridge (happened in 1831).


So much of what he describes seeing can be seen today that I often found myself forgetting I was reading such an old journal. Then he’d mention something like stopping to change horses and I’d be snapped back into 1815.


I thought it was funny that he discussed traveling at 8.3 miles per hour—-“a velocity with which I desire never to travel again”. Ha!!


I loved reading about the mothers homeschooling their children from books in the art museum, the interesting origin of the panorama, and how the Bodleian carried 95,000 printed items---they now house over 13 million!


I'm very curious about the oatmeal bread hanging in sheets from the ceiling on page 23.


I thought it interesting to read his perspective of receiving news updates about the fate of Napoleon. (He was on the ship waiting to be taken to St. Helena at the time of his mention.) He was educated enough to realize this was a major historical event but had no idea how it would change the course of history. Very impactful. Very interesting to imagine him standing in places I’ve stood and probably will stand again…thinking thoughts…making plans…just as I do. I love history.




Greystone Secrets Series Books 1-3 by Margaret Peterson Haddix

from Amazon: "New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix takes readers on a thrilling adventure filled with mysteries and plot twists aplenty in this absorbing series about family and friendships. Perfect for fans of A Wrinkle in Time and The City of Ember!"


My Review for book one: The Strangers: I was super duper extremely pleasantly surprised with how much I totally loved this story!! 


The story has a sort of A Wrinkle in Time feel to it, without all the over-kids'-heads sciencey trippyness that I didn't even understand when I tried to reread it at 40. There's just enough science and sci-fi to make it fun---and I'm so glad it didn't contain the supernatural/magic elements that are so prevalent in almost every. single. book. one picks up these days. 


Like most books written for kids by someone who hasn't had kids at home on a daily basis, at least for quite awhile, the characters suffer from shifts in intellectual and vocabulary maturity---but most of these were still somewhat believable for all but the youngest character. With no "he's a weird genius like Charles Wallace" explanations to cover for this, I had to just pretend he was really 12 instead of eight.


One element that really surprised me and argued against my normal bias against today's literature offers for children and young adults, was the stance the author took relating to the government. This story is fantastic in that it shows kids the possibility and consequences of a government that lies to its citizens with technology and fake news. It's quite the opposite of the indoctrination prevalent today. Genius---and I hope it was done on purpose.


One of my favorite pieces of dialogue is this (paraphrased):


Joe: "We've had to operate in such secrecy---it's hasn't been safe for anyone to know more than one or two contacts."


Finn: "So there could be lots of people here who are secretly on our side! They just need to know it's safe to unite!"


This is literally what I've been saying about all of the crazy that's gone on in our world the last few years. It's the loudest voices that seem to be the majority---but what if they just have the ability (in this case, technology) to drown out the real majority?


Great book! While I have three children in the recommended age range of 8-12, I decided it was only my 13 year old and older that I felt comfortable with reading this right now. I felt like the emotions the children showed about being without their mother would really upset my younger kids---and the sci-fi towards the end would be over their heads. 


My Review for book two: The Deceivers: I'm really enjoying this series! This book moved a little more slowly for me than book #1 did, but I still loved it. As a plus, the characters, especially Finn, act a little more believable to their ages.


I'm really wondering about the political point of view of this author---it's actually ironic, seeing as that's the series' big question: What side are you on? The thoughts presented here are refreshing in the face of all the media propaganda we deal with in the US.


This story continues on with that "something in the air to control emotions and actions" element—-makes me think of chem trails.


Another point that stuck out to me was the idea that it was illegal to tell the truth if it made the leaders look bad. I believe this is important for preparing kids for what is here and is to come with world politics and agendas. 


I'm really hooked on this author---must find more! (Starting book three of the series asap!)


ETA: I'm seeing a couple reviews that express disappointment in the lying that goes on in this series---maybe that children would think lying is ok. I think it's important to note that the Bible shows us how lying to save a life is not the same as bearing a false witness according to Exodus 20. Rahab is a good example of a Biblical figure who lied to save a life.


My Review for book three: The Messengers: I definitely didn't like this one as much as the first two---there just seemed to be a lot of melodrama, repetitiveness of people's thoughts and motives, and just a little too much stretching of reality (kids fighting adults...slow motion bad guys so fifty things can happen in 30 seconds, etc.)


Still, I feel like these books are important as, like I said in previous reviews, they give kids a look into the idea that the govt. might not actually have your best interests in mind. 


 I hope kids can see how the brainwashing scenes in this story parallels to today. Watching the enemies of the state being terminated on TV, the kids thought: “they deserve what they get for not complying”. That attitude is prevalent these last few years with people who think mandates are their saviors.


Once the kids could break away from the brainwashing and look around them, they'd think: “wait, there isn’t the kind of danger like they say…” I found myself coming to that realization several times over the last couple years. When I found myself living in fear about what was going on around me, I'd think about what actually has affected me. Not much.


Also, had to laugh at one of the kids talking about the "old fashioned calculator". Yikes. Like hearing your high school songs on the oldies station...


My 13 year old daughter is reading the series. I'm sure I'll hold on to it for my other kids. I don't know who thinks an 8 year old is going to get these stories but maybe my 8 year olds have just been more innocent than the average??




The Baby-Sitters Club Series by Ann M. Martin, Books 1-10, plus the 1st Super Special


I first read these as a 9-11 year old in grade school. The babysitters were my best friends and influenced my behavior, thoughts, and understandings profoundly. Since my 11 year old daughter is now obsessed, I thought I'd read through them again and see what I think as a now 43 year old mom of nine. 


I have to say I am actually super irritated with the amount of immature behavior that goes on in these books---just goes to show I wasn't a super mature 10 year old, I guess. Ha! The babysitters are all 12 and 13 and they're just pretty petty sometimes. At other times, they're given much more responsibility than I can imagine giving my young teens now---but maybe these really were different times. 


I'm really enjoying the nostalgia of it all, though. I'm finding that even I am forgetting some things about the 80s. Like when the girls said they needed to look over their tape collection before a party, my first thought was "Scotch tape". Haha!


What's everyone else been reading?






Monday, November 28, 2022

2023 Victorian Reading Challenge #2023VictorianReadingChallenge



The last eight years, I've read everything "Victorian" I could get my hands on. I still can't seem to get enough, so this year I'm renewing my commitment toward Victorian studies. I'm still fascinated and there's still so much to learn! Read on for a phantasmagorical reading challenge for 2023---Victorian style!


More than any other time in modern history, the Victorian Age saw the most change to European and American societies. Many agrarian, rural communities transitioned to urban centers of industry. Men and women began to talk about and take steps toward redefining their traditional roles. Theories about God, the origin of man, and the practice of religion began to be publicly put forth, challenged, refuted, or solidified. The Victorian Age saw a great revolution in the western world and it's a topic that fascinates me endlessly.

Over the past few years, I've collected a good stack of Victorian novels and have several on my book wish list. I spent a week in England a few years ago, visiting the Brontes' old stomping grounds, and even wrote and taught a class on Victorian Sci Fi and Fantasy literature. This year's reading challenge will be all about the Victorians.

The Rules

*Books published during the Victorian age (1837-1901) are acceptable.

*Books written about the Victorian age are acceptable, no matter what year they were published.

*Stories are not limited to Victorian Britain. Read about what was going on in other parts of the world during this time!

The challenge is open to everyone everywhere---you don't have to have a blog or site to join. Just comment with the link to your online review (Amazon, Goodreads, BookCrossing, or elsewhere) and we'll come visit you.

How to Participate

Leave a comment below letting me know you're in and add your blog link if you have one. You can link directly to your home page or to a post you've written about the challenge. You can join at any point during 2023. Share this challenge with your friends so they can join, too!

Every time you finish a book for the challenge, come back and leave your thoughts/link in the comments---then we can all be inspired! Also, here's a hashtag for us to use so we can find one another easier: #2023VictorianReadingChallenge



The 2023 Children's Book Reading Challenge...for Adults! #2023ChildrensBooksChallenge


A couple years ago, while browsing my TBR shelves to prepare for my reading challenges, I found something unexpected: I had a lot of children's books there. I began this challenge to motivate myself to read some of them and I actually did finish a few. I've still got some leftover and have added a few throughout the year, so I think it's a good idea to give this one a third run!

I know a lot of adults really enjoy reading youth or young adult fiction but, other than the occasional classic, I've never really been into it in my adulthood. Still, I must be somewhat interested or I wouldn't have 10-15 or so children's books hanging out on my TBR!

So, I've created the Children's Books Reading Challenge...for Adults! Sure, I read with my kids all the time---but this year I'm challenging myself to read more children's books by myself.

Want to join? It's easy! Just let me know in the comments below. If you have a blog or a Goodreads account you'd like to link up, even better! Then, every time you read a book for the challenge, just come back here and let us know about it with your thoughts or link in the comments. That way we can all be inspired! Let's use this hashtag: #2023ChildrensBooksChallenge on social media so we can find one another easier.

What books qualify? That one's simple: it's up to you! Anything you think could be found in the children's section of a library or bookstore is applicable, as well as timeless classics that the whole family would enjoy. Here is a list I made from Wikipedia that I'll be working from.
I can't wait to see what everyone is reading!

 

Monday, November 21, 2022

The Secret Lives of Books: Tales of The Alhambra


Have you ever had a good idea that turned out to be a super great idea? That's what happened to me when I chose to spend a little extra on this pricey London-printed 1927 copy of Washington Irving's Tales of the Alhambra (left). Before I get into my most recent intriguing find, let me give you a little history on The Alhambra.

The Alhambra is a palace and fortress located in Granada, Spain. Building began in 1238 and regular construction and restoration campaigns have been launched ever since. It's a very well-preserved example of Islamic architecture and serves as one of Spain's most popular tourist destinations. Westerners will know it as the place in which Christopher Columbus met with Ferdinand and Isabella to present his ideas for exploration.

In 1828, author Washington Irving was granted permission to stay at The Alhambra while researching for another book on the history of Granada. 
Tales of The Alhambra contains essays and stories Irving collected while staying at the fortress, as well as historical information about it. The book served to introduce most of Western culture to the history of the place. 

When I came across the 1927 edition of the book, I noticed all the beautiful drawn illustrations inside. I also noticed the other more modern editions of the book sitting beside it on the shelf. I picked up a 1991 copy printed in Spain and noticed how many of the sketches had been replaced with color photographs. I thought it would be fun to read the copies simultaneously and compare the sketches to the photos. (Is this weird? I don't know.) I purchased both copies and then things got really interesting. 

I love seeing evidence of a book's history. In this case, we have a woman with a probably-American name, writing in English but from Granada, in a book that was published and likely purchased in London. I found the book in a small town bookshop in NW Arkansas 100 years later. This alone is enough to start my imagination whirling in all kinds of directions.

Further on in the book, I found a forgotten bookmark torn from the top of a letter. It's impossible to know exactly what's going on here but the front of the letter tells us there are at least four people involved in a circle letter, and the back tells us there's some kind of issue that must be addressed.

"...the subject with her. We will have to get on with her over all the years to come and if we do not..."

I'm dying to know what the rest of the letter says!!


To top it off, I found this punched train ticket toward the back of the book. Seems Marie wanted to keep her copy of the book as a bit of a scrapbook of mementos. The ticket is for First Class on the now defunct Ferrocarriles Andaluces railway. Since the ticket was punched at Gibraltar, it seems she traveled by ship to Gibraltar, then took some sort of transportation to the station at Bobadilla. From there, she took this railway to reach Granada, and probably went on to tour The Alhambra. 

It's difficult to tell how much she paid for the ticket as I'm not sure if she paid in British or Spanish currency. Assuming the revised price of 22.60 at the bottom of this ticket is pesos, that would come out to about .14 in US dollars at the time. That's a little over $30 now. Sounds about right for a train ride of several hours, don't you think?

If you're interested in the Secret Lives of Books, be sure to check out the link in my sidebar for all the posts I've done on forgotten bookmarks, interesting signatures, and booklarking in general.











Friday, January 7, 2022

The Secret Lives of Books: Used and Rare by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone

.  
Jane Austen has a quote, "If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." While I do love a good adventure abroad, I often apply this mentality loosely and seek adventure where it may be found right where I'm at. For me, one of the best adventures is what I've just begun calling, "Booklarking". I love finding interesting and uncommon books---all the more better when I find interesting and uncommon things hiding inside them! In fact, I've recently made a commitment to try to leave something behind in every book I finish---a bookmark, receipt, candy wrapper, dollar bill---anything that will delight the imagination of the next reader as so many "forgotten bookmarks" have delighted mine.

I recently found this first edition copy of Used and Rare by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone --- a book about the couple's own booklarking adventures of the 1990s. I didn't happen to look inside the day I bought it but when I went to read it last month, I found it contained a couple of splendid treasures!


I really enjoyed this fun, if a little dated, look into the life of these amateur book collectors. What started out as a hunt for a meaningful birthday present ended up taking the couple on an adventure to learn the ins and outs of book buying and collecting---the thrill of the chase and the self control it takes to walk away from what seems like the perfect book. 

The book was written during the time when computers were just starting to be introduced to the general public for business and recreational use. There were several fun instances where I said to myself, "Oh yes, I remember that." One in particular was their thrill in finding that the library could print their cards right there in front of them (amazing technology, they said!) 

 Usually when I read something biographical/memoir-ish I stop about 10-15 pages in to look up what the author is doing now---especially with a book as "old" as this one. (I graduated high school in 1997.) However, this couple had been having such a great time in this story that I was wary to look up anything on them for fear that perhaps their marriage didn't work out. I would be sad to think of them not continuing on these kinds of fun adventures together. About half way in, I finally couldn't stand it any longer and had to see what they were up to. Sure enough, their author pages seem to indicate they are happy and thriving---I'm so glad. In fact, I was so glad that I actually wrote the wife an email to tell her so. I'm sure I'm on somebody's weirdo list now but rarely do I engage so well with a memoir. ha! 

 Another interesting part of reading this book came with the forgotten bookmarks I found inside. In the front cover was a Barnes & Noble receipt from July 3, 1997. Someone in the Boston, Massachusetts store purchased this as a new release. Later in the book was a very early advertising bookmark for Amazon.com---back in the days when it was just an online bookstore. Some quotes from the back of the bookmark include: 

"Amazon.com: Earth's biggest bookstore." 

"Offering 2.5 million titles (more than 14 times the number of books you'll find in the largest chain superstore), we're sure to have the book you want." 

"Amazon.com has a wealth of information about the books and authors that interest you" (including) ... "Personalized E-mail notification about your favorite subjects and authors." 

 I don't remember the last time I actually bought a book on Amazon but I thought it was sadly ironic that this new and novel internet business was being advertised in this book about all the unique and often family owned book shops of the 90s---the same ones that Amazon long ago put out of business. 

 A second delightful irony is that my copy of this book is listed on several websites as being worth $50-$60. Ha!! I wonder if the receipt and Amazon bookmark add to that value at all? No matter---my book sharing ethics compel me to freely pass this book on to another reader and let them discover all the same wondrous things that I did!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

2022 Reading Challenges


Another new year is coming in and I've cleared the entire 2022 calendar for reading...

Yeah, I know, I said that last year. This blog saw, what, two posts? Three? And one of them was done hastily last night. I got the reading in---kind of---it's the blogging about reading for which I crashed and burned. Maybe my opening line should read, "Another new year is coming in and I've committed to keeping my reading blog updated..." That's not as catchy, is it?

I've looked over several awesome reading challenges out there and have settled on those below. Mt. TBR was greatly reduced in 2021 when I went on a purging frenzy and got rid of well over 100 books. We'll see what kind of a dent 2022 can make.


This challenge takes place right here at Belle's Library. You may read any book published during or about the Victorian era (1837-1901). 


I'm hosting this challenge for a second year. Read all the things you missed out on as a kid---or revisit some old favorites! 

This challenge encourages us to read a minimum of four books and offers monthly themed challenges.


This one is new to me this year, though I do think I participated once upon a time. The Historical Fiction Reading Challenge at The Intrepid Reader. Choose your era and go to town! I think I'll attempt the Medieval Level at 15 historical fiction books. Use hashtag: #histficreadingchallenge on social media.

I actually have quite a bit of Georgian/Regency books on my TBR. I love this era!


This is a set-it-yourself challenge that runs for 5 years. Commit to reading at least 50 classics in 5 years.  You can see my list here: The Classics Club.

Daughters of Promise runs the Brighter Winter Reading Program during the months of January and February. They offer a challenge sheet and prizes!


What great reading challenges have you discovered for 2022?