Friday, February 22, 2013

My Classics Spin title is...

Oliver Twist. The number that was chosen was 14 which meant Oliver Twist is the lucky Classic I get to read next. I haven't started it yet and actually probably won't until April 1st (which is actually when we are supposed to have it finished). But until March 31st, I am not reading any of my fun, light, entertaining reads. I am only reading works by C.S. Lewis and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Why am I doing that you may ask? Well, I decided that even though I am not Catholic I would participate in the celebration of Lent this year and the thing that I am fasting from is reading too many books just for entertainment. So, instead of making myself go crazy and give up reading completely, I decided to just focus my reading on Lewis and Bonhoeffer in the hopes that my faith would be tested and grown in this time of fasting. But once Easter has come I will go back to my Classics, TBR Pile and routine of alternating between fiction and non-fiction. So, here's to Oliver Twist, Lent, Lewis and Bonhoeffer. Wish me luck!

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Classics Spin...

The wonderful moderators over at the Classics Club decided to give us a little mini-challenge. A little spin on the Classics Club challenge to read at least 50 classics in 5 years. This mini-challenge is to make a list of 20 Classics from our lists that we haven't read yet...  they are calling it our Spin List. We can pick some that we are excited for, some we are dreading, some from our favorite authors or any number of combinations. We have to number the books 1 to 20 and then next week the moderators are going to pick and post a random number. Whatever that number is we have to read the corresponding book on our list by April 1st... even if it is one that we are dreading and just can't get into. I love this idea and am looking forward to it. I have been enjoying all of my reading so far this year, especially since I have been alternating between fiction and non-fiction. So, I think this is going to be a great way of picking what I read next. Without further ado... Here is my Spin List!

5 books I can't wait to read: 
1. Little Princess 
2. Portrait of a Lady
3. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
4. Age of Innocence
5. Anne of Green Gables

5 books I am absolutely dreading: 
6. Confessions of St. Augustine
7. Scarlet Letter
8. Romeo and Juliet
9. Treasure Island
10. Silmarillion

5 books by Charles Dickens: 
11. A Christmas Carol
12. David Copperfield
13. Great Expectations
14. Oliver Twist
15. Tale of Two Cities

5 books by Jane Austen: 
16. Mansfield Park
17. Northanger Abbey 
18. Persuasion
19. Pride & Prejudice (would be a re-read)
20. Sense and Sensibility

Friday, February 8, 2013

Jane or Agnes?

When I was at the cabin in Idaho for my honeymoon last year, I spent my days reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. At first it took me a while to get into the story and then about a third of the way (and half way through my trip) into it I began to see why so many love it. Why it has found its way into the list of classics that will never die away. It is definitely a story that has withstood the test of time. It is one that women of all ages can and do turn to when they are looking for a story that puts a bit of a spin on love and romance that is different from other romantic stories. It really is a great piece of writing and one that I would have no problem reading again one day. But I have to say that this week it got surpassed in favor for Agnes Grey by Charlotte's sister Anne.

I can't really put my finger on what made Agnes Grey so wonderful in my eyes. Maybe it's because it was written by a younger sister who got lost in the shadows at times in her family, especially when it came to her writing and the favor it was received and at times denied. Or maybe it's because it's a story with just enough detail, trouble, love, faith, family and personality to hold one's attention and keep the pages turning. Or maybe it's because it is beautifully written and easy to love. Or just maybe it's all of those things combined.

Most of the classics I buy are from the Barnes and Nobles Classics Collection. It's a collection that combines the story with a detailed introduction, timeline, questions and comments section from someone who has a fancy degree in literature. I love these editions because of the added information, not to mention they are very reasonably priced both in paperback and on Nook. Anyway... in my copy of Agnes Grey a man by the name of Fred Schwarzbach did the introduction and he said that some people will say or argue that Anne's first novel was (and is) far too religious, it's far too simple or it's far too realistic for her to have actually been the one to write it... But yet those are things that make it great and all of those things that people argue against are perfect because she wrote out of her own experiences and her own faith!

I absolutely loved how she wrote it more as a journal than a narrative story. The feel, the tone, the emotion was much better because of it. It was more like a conversation that I could listen in on and be a part of. I thought that Anne had a great way of painting the picture in a simple, straight to the point way. Much better than Charlotte did in Jane Eyre (but that is just my opinion). I saw this most when she was describing the families or jumping over periods of time so as to not bore the reader. She wrote what she thought would be important for the story as a whole. And she did it incredibly well.

The way she ended the story... Agnes finds her happy ending with Mr. Weston... I just smiled and held the book in my hands thinking about what I had just read over the course of 4 days (it was a busy week which didn't allow for much reading time). It was such a simple love story. It wasn't full of drama or endless talking or unnecessary flirtation. It was sweet, simple, perfect. And it left me thinking about how I wish there were more "romance" stories like that. More stories where the chivalry and respect shine through in the relationships more than the crazy personalities or the endless games that are played. Stories where men and women find a simple, yet true and lasting love.

Agnes Grey surpassed Jane Eyre in my mind this week. It was an incredibly beautiful story. One that I thoroughly enjoyed and will read again. It may not be counted as one of my favorites. But it is definitely an amazing classic. And it makes me excited to read her other novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall even though it is said to be a bit more complex and risky than Agnes Grey. But I think it will be worth it.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Walking His Trail

I wrote the other day about how one of my goals for this year is to start alternating what I read. And by alternate I mean that every other book I read will be fiction and the others will be non-fiction. It is a goal that I just started working towards in the last few weeks. So far, I have read 3 books... 2 non-fiction, 1 fiction. I have enjoyed all of them and I think that already it's helping me to engage better with what I am reading and to focus more on what I learn or explore. I am not sure how long I will stick with this goal/plan. I definitely want to stick with it until my TBR pile of hard-copy books has been defeated. The books on my Nook are mostly fiction anyway, so I think that if I can master my TBR pile of hard-copies I will feel quite accomplished and productive.

The latest book I read was called Walking His Trail by Steve Saint. Steve Saint is the son of a missionary pilot named Nate. Nate and 4 of his friends (Jim, Ed, Pete and Roger) were killed by a savage stone-age tribe in the Amazon Jungles of Ecuador back in the 50s. They were killed after an attempt to reach the tribe, the Waodani tribe, with the Gospel message of God's saving grace. 50+ years later... The Waodani is a tribe of God-followers. They are a people who have completely turned from their old ways of revenge killing and have become a group of people on fire for God. Steve started an organization called I-TEC (I forget what it stands for exactly) that helps indigenous people groups around the world be able to learn how to be dentists, eye doctors, mechanics and pilots with a very simple training program that is not limited by their inability to read or write or even speak common trade languages. It is an amazing organization and one that I have a pretty special place in my heart for.

Steve's book was written with his wife, Ginny. It's full of stories about how God has worked in their lives in some pretty big and amazing ways. They talked about how everyone has sandcastles (monuments) that mark where something big in their lives and faith happened. These sandcastles aren't necessarily physical. But they are seen as one looks back on life. The stories they shared were all connected by the fact that they are committed God-followers and strive to serve Him anywhere He calls them. Many of the stories were connected to the death of his father and how their story became so well known that, even now as a grown man, Steve's experiences are still closely tied to his dad. Their stories were full of real, raw emotion and faith. They were full of experiences that some people would never believe.

This is Steve and Mincaye
I read the book in one day. I just laid on the couch after cleaning my house and read it straight through. I did nap for a few hours at one point, but I just picked it right back up and finished it before going to bed that night. I know I cried over most of the stories. I just couldn't help it. They were some powerful stories. I have always loved the Saint family and their story. I got to hear Steve and one of the Waodani Indians, Mincaye, who killed his father (and since then has become a grandfather to Steve's children) when I was in 8th grade. They were a big reason for why I began to fall in love with missions and then went to Ecuador on my first mission trip. So to hear more of Steve's story was amazing and I couldn't help but cry.

I could rave and rave about this book. But I will leave it at that. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an inspiring, faith and love and family filled book that is all true and real. Steve is a great writer, a great missionary, a great man. His story is one that is definitely worth reading over and over.

Some other books about Steve, the Waodani, I-TEC and the 5 martyred missionaries are: 
Through the Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
Jungle Pilot by Russell T. Hitt
End of the Spear by Steve Saint
The Journals of Jim Elliot compiled by Elisabeth Elliot
The Fate of the Yellow Woodbee by Dave & Neta Jackson
Dayuma: Life Under Waorani Spears by Ethel Emily Wallis
The Great Omission by Steve Saint

There are also a couple of movies out about their stories: 
"Beyond the Gates of Splendor" -- a documentary
"End of the Spear" -- a full-length feature film

Friday, February 1, 2013

what happened to January?

Is it really February already? I went to work and couldn't believe my eyes when I looked at the calendar. I had to ask my husband how long we've been in a our new apartment because I have completely lost track of days, weeks, and time in general. It was a busy month and at times I didn't read much at all. But looking back over my stats I did pretty well overall and am looking forward to see how I do this coming month. I don't have anything planned out that I am going to read. I have decided that I need to even out my reading a bit and so I have decided to alternate between fiction and non-fiction. I am hoping that it will help me to focus on whatever book I am reading at the moment and cut down my TBR pile. Since I just finished Peter Pan I am going to switch to a missions book written by one of my favorite missionaries. It's called Walking His Trail. I am looking forward to it and I am already pleased with this plan to switch back and forth between types of books. So with that said here are my stats for January!

Books read: 
 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling 
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling 
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf 
Mission Guyana by Joan E. Lunney 
The Just Church by Jim Martin 
Peter Pan by JM Barrie
Favorite book read: 
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling 

Least favorite book read: 
A Room of One's Own Virginia Woolf 
Number of pages read: 

Number of Classics read so far: 
 12 of 76