Monthly Archives: December 2013

Week 14 Reading: “Holidays on Ice”

Well I’m super excited about this week’s book! It is the first of December’s “Month of Holiday” books! A comedy and a memoir from a very funny man, David Sedaris, who’s books I really enjoy reading! This week’s book is “Holiday’s on Ice.”

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The book is a group of short stories by Sedaris, memories about his holidays growing up. It is bound to be funny, and the artwork on the cover (a lovely glass of something alcoholic) hints that Sedaris had interesting family experiences during the holiday! I am really looking forward to getting some laughs from this book!

If you chose to read along and pick up this VERY skinny book, please don’t persecute me! It is finals week and I have three MAJOR essays due! I’ll be writing approximately 20 pages of research paper for my classes, and I purposely chose a small book so I could focus on my papers instead of on trying to make my way through a huge novel. I also chose this book specifically because I think it will provide some much needed comic relief from my hectic and stressful week.

It wouldn’t be the holidays without being hectic or stressful, now would it?!

I hope you’ll join me this week to enjoy the comedic stories by Sedaris! I have previously read (well, listened to on an Audio Book) his book Me Talk Pretty One Day, and my husband and I were laughing out loud hearing Sedaris himself read his very funny book! I can’t wait to pick this one up, and I hope we can be laughing out loud together!

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Book Review: “The Sea Shall Embrace Them”

So sorry for the delay in releasing this week’s book review. My family (husband and two children) and I spent our entire day (16 hours) in the car, making our way from my in-laws in Arkansas to our home in coastal North Carolina. It was a long drive, but we’re home safe, and ready to get the holiday season kicked off properly by putting up all our holiday decorations this afternoon.

This week was challenging for me to get all my reading done. Not only did I have a novel’s worth of reading for this challenge, I had a novel to read for my 17th and 18th Century British Literature course, Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews. I could very well have “doubled up” again this week (and would have if I knew a month ago what I know now), because Joseph Andrews was not only a story of a young man traveling from the busy city of London to a home in the countryside, but a coming of age story (which is travel in it’s most important form). 

Without further ado…

This week, the final of the November “Month of Travel” reading, and the 13th book of our challenge, we tackled David W. Shaw’s historical novel The Sea Shall Embrace Them: The Tragic Story of the Steamship Arctic.

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This novel came as a recommendation from my stepfather (hi Grant!) for my husband (the man-boy who doesn’t read… at all). It’s a dramatized telling of a very true story that takes place in 1854, and tells of the tragic collision between two steamships. Shaw and the reader follow the steamship Arctic from its beginning to its destruction, and tells a harrowing tale of the lives lost in the cold Atlantic ocean.

What a sad, sad story! It is truly heart wrenching to read this story. Shaw introduces a cast of characters who were easy to relate with, and hard to say goodbye to. I found myself having moments of anxiety, sorrow, shock and heartbreak while reading this story! Much like watching Titanic, this book tells of a massive destruction and really puts into perspective the loss of life – and how so many people can come to a watery grave in a matter of hours.

I found it shocking to read about the death toll – 400 people were killed in hours, plunged into the cold sea, or dragged down by the sinking ship. Of the survivors (86 in total) only 33 were passengers, and not one woman or child made their way onto the lifeboats. It was so sad to read about men – sailors at that – pushing women and children out of the way (and into the water) to gain a spot in the lifeboat. The resolute Captain Lace fought for the women and children, but was overcome by the desperation of the crew.

While the story was terrific, the writing was brilliant! Shaw really sucks you into the story, making his characters seem like people you have always known, and making the setting feel like you’re there along side the captain, crew and passengers. Shaw did spend a bit of time in the first quarter of the book describing the history of steamships, the Collins line (the company that owned the Arctic) as well as the history of the captain and the ship herself. I felt this was all pretty unnecessary to the story, but it provided a good foundation for the reader to build upon and truly understand the massive devastation the collision caused on both a personal and business level.

I really enjoyed this book, and found the roller coaster of emotions were heightened by the realization of “This story is true! These people all experienced the fear and anxiety and acceptance of their fates!” How terrifying! I am hoping I can convince my husband to pick it up at some point – like me, he is a fan of history, and nautical and military history are his areas of interest.

Did you enjoy the book? What part did you find particularly interesting?

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