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.