Tag Archives: bookworm

A Lady of Quality by Francis Hodgson Burnett

If you are anything like me, the name Francis Hodgson Burnett brings to mind books like A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, or Little Lord Fauntleroy. And what do those books share? They are all sweet, beloved children’s stories without an ounce of vice in them. Can you think of a more perfect main character than Sara Crewe from A Little Princess

I did not expect much more from A Lady of Quality. Yet almost from the moment it began, the book took all my preconceived notions about Burnett and threw them out the window! I kept double-checking the author because I could not believe she wrote this. 

The heroine of the story, Clorinda, behaves horrendously. She beats servants, belittles peers, swears, breaks commandments, and a whole lot more I won’t get into so that I don’t spoil anything. The point is, she is not a nice character. And yet, unlike what you would expect from a Victorian novel, she never gets her competences for her actions. If anything, the plot pardons it all! The story is heavy on melodrama and certainly sanitizes her by the end, but the process of getting her sanitized is what I found truly remarkable. 

She isn’t a character you like, and yet precisely because of that she become redeemable. There is no really likable character in this book, but neither is anyone truly evil. (Okay, maybe one guy. But even the book pities him!) I did not expect the level of nuance that I found within the characters. 

The story is a melodrama and a romance in the traditional sense and, at some level, it follows that line exactly. Everything builds up for the final, grand marriage at the end. Yet romantic love is not the only thing pushing this plot. Self-love and sisterly love and sacrificial love all play important roles in developing the characters and the story. While I might look for such themes today, I did not expect to find them in a little remembered book from 1896! 

I think I need to read more by this author, especially her adult works!

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A 2019 Reading Goal

“I saw that you read 124 books in 24 years!” cheerfully exclaims my new friend. “Congratulations!”

“124 books in my 24th year,” I say. “From July 6 to July 6.”

She looks shocked. “124 in one year? Not all 24 years?”

The very idea of it taking me 24 years to read 124 books is somewhat insulting, but she means well.

I glance at my Goodreads, wanting to give an accurate number. “Try 1,820 books since 2009, excluding re-reads.”

She looks stunned.

Trying to soften it a little, I say, “But you know, I still have 928 books on my to-read list, and that is always growing!”

It doesn’t help. “You have 920 books you want to read?” she gasps.

I nod, forbearing to add the 8 at the end.

She leaves the room shaking her head, but I’m now curious. How soon till I hit 2,000 read books? 180 short…probably not possible by the end of this year but with effort and fewer re-reads maybe by the end of 2019…

I think I have a new reading goal. To pull it off I will need to read 30-40 more books this year and then stay on track for my average 150 next. Seems a little steep with my travel plans for 2019 thrown in. But what is life without something to strive for? 


A Bad Beginning: My 2018 Reading Challenge

Of the 11 books I have read so far in 2018, 4 of them have been 1 star reads. 4! And not one of the remaining 7 books were worth 5 stars. I’m quite dismayed about this beginning. I hope it is not a sign for the rest of 2018!

P.S. My reading goal this year is 118 books, but I’m not sure I’ll make it. Especially if I continue choosing such lousy books! 


The 3 Books I Chose

Because I know you are all breathlessly waiting to find out how yesterday’s saga ended…here is the result. I decided to highlight: 

Entrepreneurship For Human Flourishing by Peter Greer
Overrated by Eugene Cho
Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton 

 

If you had to pick 3 books that most impacted your life, which ones would you choose? 


How Am I Supposed To Pick Only 3 Books?!

What three books, besides the Bible, have had the greatest impact on your life? Why and how so? asks the essay prompt. Answer in 600 words.

You would think this would be the easiest prompt ever. I did when I first saw it. However, after several days of agonizing, I am no closer to narrowing down three books than I am to cleaning my room. (And both need to happen pronto.) 

But really, how do you approach something like greatest impact? Does that mean books you have read the most? Or books that blew your mind? And what timeline should we consider for the greatest impact? I read so many books each year that the ones that most impact my life change from year to year, and I feel like I could make a case for all of them. Even the one stars. 

For example, is it weird to put down John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government? I did not read it till my junior year of college, but I stayed up till 2 am to finish it because I liked it so much. The book influenced my political philosophy long before I read it. But then really, if I am tracing political influence maybe I should mention Basic American Government by Clarence B. Carson because that is where I first read snip-its of Locke and other political philosophers. Then again, who names books about foundational political philosophy when mentioning books that had the greatest impact? Isn’t that weird?

So I think, what book is foundational to my reading? Good Profit! I read all business books through the lens of Good Profit and my time at AFP. I read that one twice I liked it so much. But…isn’t it really AFP that had the impact on my life, not the book? So is it really one of the most impactful books I have read? 

Perhaps I ought to consider the books I re-read the most. Like…Georgette Heyer! I can see it now. “The Grand Sophy is a Regency romance novel full of wit and charm and it has had the greatest impact on my life.” Um, how ’bout no. 

The Witch of Blackbird Pond – my go-to favorite book of all time? I certainly could make an argument that it played a foundational role in my early reading. Then again, so did the Mandie series and Hardy Boys. That doesn’t mean they deserve a shout-out. 

C.S. Lewis! There is an author whose writings I love and don’t need to be ashamed of. But which writing? The only books of his I have re-read are the Narnia series and Till We Have Faces! But have those had The Most Impact on my life?! Surely Mere Christianity ranks higher. 

So there. I have one. Mere Christianity. When did I read that one again? 

Agghhhhh! In conclusion, I’ve been influenced by too much fiction and I do not know how to answer this essay prompt and blogging about this predicament has not clarified anything at all. 


What am I getting myself into?

There are two words that have never been used to describe me: athletic or outdoorsy. This is so patently obvious to those who know me that I can’t think of a way to stress how ridiculous my traipsing off to Idaho must seem. It is crazy. I’m the girl who has never worn sports shorts in her life, now I own enough to get me through a week easily. I’ve stocked up on sports bras and flannel and even considered buying chacos. I’m going to spend a summer without books or K Dramas or Facebook messenger. It is insanity! 

And yet…I’m excited. This is so not me that it is going to be a crazy, new adventure. I’m going to face my fears, be separated from my comforts, and hopefully grow in my walk with God. I’m going to learn new skills. For three months, I get to step away from everything and try something different. 

At the risk of sounding cliche, I’m also excited to find a new side of myself. I’ve been defined by my job for so long that I looking forward to discovering who else I can be. Who is Amy when you stick her 45 minutes from civilization and throw a cabin full of kids at her? My hope is that she will be someone who learns to live more fully in the present. 

Am I slightly terrified beginning this new adventure? Definitely. But I am also super excited. It isn’t quite backpacking across the Himalayas, but camp in Idaho for the summer is going to be a really fun, challenging experience. 


Two New Books

Shhhh, don’t tell my sisters, but I bought two new books today! The first is The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination by Daniel J. Boorstin. It is 811 pages and I’ve never heard of it before. However, I found it at the bookstore and became intrigued. It was written in 1992 and reviews are few and far between on Goodreads. Who knows? Perhaps I have found a treasure, perhaps a flop. 

The second book I got is Enough Rope by Dorothy Parker. This book contains poems written in 1926 (re-published in 1940) and is only 110 pages long. Dorothy Parker is a biting, brilliant, and fun author to read. The subtitle on this book is, “A brilliant collection of witty verses guaranteed to dispel gloom. By the author of SUNSET GUN and DEATH AND TAXES.”

I don’t know about you, but simply seeing the title of Death and Taxes makes me want to find it. At any rate, Dorothy Parker doesn’t disappoint.