Tag Archives: classic novels

December Reading List

Hello everyone! Sorry for releasing this later than usual, but this one was a little tricky for me to put together. December’s theme for our “one book per week” challenge is “Month of Holidays.” My intention was to find books that would cover all the holidays in the month of December, but it was hard to find books to represent any holiday other than Christmas. I was a little ashamed that the book store had three aisles dedicated to Christian books and Christian fiction, but half a shelf dedicated to Judaism, and perhaps three shelves dedicated to “Eastern Religions.” I checked the comedy section and found plenty of books by Jewish authors, but nothing holiday related. I found tons of books online, but nothing downloadable, and nothing I wanted to pay $25 for.

So… I pieced together a list as best I could, and hope no one feels left out this month!

Dec 1 – 7 – Holidays on Ice – David Sedaris


I am a big fan of Sedaris, who writes comedic novels about his life. In this book, Sedaris tells short stories about his family holidays in his youth, which will probably be hilarious and exceptionally entertaining! This will be a fun one to read along with, and I hope you can find it at the book store or the library (it has also been made into an audio book, so if you’re busy prepping for the holidays, this one will keep you entertained on your long drives). I’ll be honest – this book is short. I picked it for this week because I have three major essays due this week, and need to be able to spend my time focusing on my finals for my classes, rather than reading for pleasure. This one should be a good relief from the tension of finals week!


Dec. 8 – 14 – ‘Twas the Night After Christmas – Sabrina Jeffries


I came across this one during a late night visit to Target with my husband. The store had put out their Christmas books, and I don’t think I’ve ever really paid attention before, but… there were shelves and shelves of trashy paperback Christmas books!! We had fun picking up the ones with the most ridiculous titles and reading excerpts aloud in the store, and we decided ‘Twas the Night After Christmas had the best potential to induce both giggles and blushing. I am not a huge fan of trashy paperback novels (oh, I’m sorry… “paperback romances”…) but I am doing this challenge to expand my horizons, and pick up books I never would have before. The cover alone was reason enough to know this was a winner (the most skin showing in Target’s aisles). I hope you can find it at the library or used book store – if not, you can get it on sale at Target or Walmart.


Dec. 15 – 21 – Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul – Arielle Ford


Like I said before, I had a hard time finding books to represent other religions at this time of year, and this one was one way I could do that. This book takes short stories from people of all walks of life – different religions, backgrounds and countries – who have had experiences with angels, miracles and healings. I always find this time of year to be very magical, and I think a cup of hot chocolate is a great way to support our mystical souls during the holidays! This one might be a total dud, but it also might be enlightening and inspiring! I found it for $2.50 at the used book store, so … extra bonus!


Dec. 22 – 28 – A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens


Well, I couldn’t get through the holiday season without picking up this classic! I have never read it before – although I have seen about 100,000 movie adaptations (slight exaggeration). The week of Christmas is the best time to read this book, and I look forward to reading Dickens’s classic novel! I hope you’ll read along with me this week!


Dec. 29 – Jan. 4 – I Am Regina – Sally M. Keehn


This one isn’t really holiday related, but I added it because, well, I am Regina! My birthday is December 31 and falls in the middle of this week, so I wanted to take the chance to read a book with my name in the title! This historical fiction novel is technically for children, but involves some pretty adult themes (a young girl’s family is killed by Native Americans, she is kidnapped and forced to live among them). I’m really looking forward to reading this one, and finishing out 2013 with a good book!

So there you have it – December’s “Month of Holidays” reading list! I hope you have time to get your books from the library or used book store (or download your ebook), and will join me for at least one book this month!

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Week 12 Reading: Gulliver’s Travels

Hey everyone! This week we start the third book of November (how fast is this month going?!), and in keeping with our “Month of Travel” theme, we are picking up Jonathan Swift’s classic Gulliver’s Travels.


I’m a little embarrassed to say I’ve never picked this one up before, but am really excited to finally tackle it. The added bonus is that it’s this week’s required reading for my “17th and 18th Century British Literature” class for my BA in English. I swear I picked out this book well before opening the syllabus for this book (otherwise I wouldn’t have bought my own copy if I had known I was going to get it as part of my textbook), but I did schedule it for this week so I could kill two birds with one stone. Reading an entire novel in a week is daunting enough, but it’d have been even tougher to read this entire novel AND a novel for my class, so I’m looking forward to the little break in my reading schedule!

I hope you’ll read along this week. If you’ve already read this one, I hope you’ll participate in the book club/review at the end of the week!

Happy trails!

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November Reading List

Wow! We are rapidly approaching the end of October (where did the time go?!), and our Halloween reading is coming to an end. One book (Guilty Pleasures) and two reviews (Guilty Pleasures and this week’s reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) left, and then it’s time for our November reading. I figured I should probably release the list (which just got finished now) so you can pick up the books you need if you are following along! Remember, the library is a great resource (and will more than likely have all of these books), or you could more than likely find these books at a used book store and save some money!

November’s theme is the “Month of Travel.” I don’t know why I thought that up, but… we’re stuck with it. I was having a hard time making selections, but I think I put together a good list:

Nov. 3 – 9 – Letters from Amelia – Jean L. Backus


Backus uses real letters from Amelia Earhart, the famous and doomed pilot, to piece together Earhart’s private life. I’ve always found Amelia Earhart to be an interesting subject – mostly because of the mystery surrounding her death – and thought this would be a good chance to pick up a book about her life. The book is a biography, and will be the first biography of our reading challenge.

Nov. 10 – 16 – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams


This “travel” book takes place in outer space, and is a great sci-fi comedy book to add to our reading list. When you pick this one up at the library, don’t be intimidated by the size. The book is the first of a series, and has been grouped together with the subsequent books to make one gigantic volume (you might find it under The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), but we’re just reading the first part, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, for this reading challenge. If you continue reading the other books, that’s great! I hope you do (and I hope I’ll get a chance to eventually, also).

Nov. 17 – 23 – Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift


I’m a little ashamed to say I’ve never read this classic novel! I’m looking forward to picking this one up … especially because my new 17th and 18th Century British Literature class requires me to read it this semester, so I’ll be knocking out two birds with one stone! I swear I had this book picked out and paid for (yay used book store $1.50) before this class opened (otherwise I wouldn’t have bought it at all because it’s in my textbook). I’m looking forward to reading this book for the first time, and discovering all about Gulliver and his travels.

Nov. 24 – 30 – The Sea Shall Embrace Them – David W. Shaw


This book is a historical, non-fiction account of “The Tragic Story of the Steamship Arctic.” Shaw writes about the 1854 collision between two steamships, and the “harrowing events” that followed. The book came with a wonderful recommendation from my mom (thanks, Mom!), and was passed on to my husband (who needs to be really bored to read a book), so I am making good use of it and putting it into our book challenge. If my mom liked it, I know I will!

So there you have it, folks! Our reading list for November. It’s hard to imagine we’re so close to the end of 2013 already! Head out to your library and get prepared to read along!

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Book Review: The Great Gatsby

Well, I have to be honest – I’m glad I happened to pick this short book for this exceptionally busy week! I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the prospect of selling my house, moving across the country, my college courses, and my leadership society induction process that I didn’t make a whole lot of time for reading. That being said, here is this week’s review! Three books down, 49 to go!


F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby is a tale of romance, power, corruption and the destructive force of jealousy. The novel is short, but it is packed with strong characters who drive the plot along, and contribute in abundance to the overwhelmingly flighty setting of the Roaring 20s. Nick Carraway, Fitzgerald’s narrator, settles in for a quiet summer in an affluent area of Long Island, but his quiet summer is interrupted by a cast of characters who’s personal dramas set things into disarray. Romantic affairs, abusive relationships, a mysterious neighbor and (dun, dun, DUN) murder fill the East and West Eggs of Long Island.

The most attractive part of Fitzgerald’s novel is not the plot (although that is exciting at times, and frustrating at others) – it is the characterization of every member of the novel’s cast. Carraway seems to be the only “normal” person in the novel, and yet we are exposed to his failings in his romantic entanglements and his judgmental character in the beginning of the novel. Daisy Buchannan is flighty, attractive, and easily controlled, while her counterpart in the “female lead” department, Jordan Baker, is strong, smart and independent. Tom Buchannan is an aging “man’s man,” who tries to use his money and his physical stature to intimidate both men and women to do his bidding. Even secondary characters like the Wilsons are strong in their characterization, both as the blind husband and the proud mistress. The utter silliness of the supporting characters helps set the setting of Gatsby’s parties, and support the underlying theme that money cannot buy happiness.

The most interesting character, of course, is Jay Gatsby. His image is built around his mystery, and it isn’t until halfway through the novel that we even start to understand some truths about this attractive and enigmatic man. Gatsby stands for everything that is “wrong” with the Roaring 20s (at least through the eyes of “civilized people” like the Buchannans – parties, bootlegging, new money and a mysterious persona. His love for Daisy is the reason for everything in the man’s past and present. His desire to impress her is what has brought him to his current station in life (the new millionaire), to the West Egg, and ultimately to his destruction – it is all for and because of Daisy.

Fitzgerald’s novel is chock full of symbolism. From the eyes on the billboard watching, like the eyes of some god, the destructive behavior of the mortals below, to Gatsby’s shirts, which represent his new-found money and obtain Daisy’s approval. While The Great Gatsby may be short, a reader can take a lot away from it if you give it the opportunity.

Now folks, this isn’t my first reading of The Great Gatsby. Much like Gone With the Wind, Fitzgerald’s novel is one I pick up periodically because it is a novel I have always enjoyed. Each reading I find something new to appreciate, some new symbol or social commentary or insight into a character. Most of you probably read this book in high school as required reading, most likely for an American Literature class. I encourage you to pick it up again, as an adult, and see what you missed looking at the novel with the eyes and experience of a 15 year old. I promise you, you’ll understand it a lot more, and appreciate it a lot better, as a more “worldly” adult.

I picked a book I had already read simply because I wanted a good thorough re-read before I watched the movie. My goal for this weekend is to get my hands on the new movie (I’ve already seen – and love – the Robert Redford version).

So – what is your opinion of The Great Gatsby? Do you only have frustrated memories of a forced high school reading? Have you re-read the novel in your adult life? Do you think the story is a love story?


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Week 3 Reading: The Great Gatsby

In keeping with the Movie/TV Show Theme for September (that is, books that have been adapted into movie or TV shows), this week’s reading will be F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic – The Great Gatsby.

While most of us probably read this book in high school, I thought it was time to revisit it! The movie, staring the fabulous Leonardo DiCaprio (who else could follow in Robert Redford’s footprints?!), just came out on DVD, and I’ve been holding off on watching it so I could finish my re-read.

Now, if you’re wanting to read it, but don’t want to pay a ton of money for it, try visiting the library. If you can’t find it there (it is a popular book, and required reading in most schools), you can find the FREE ebook here


Who doesn’t like free?!

So I hope you’ll read this classic American novel along with me!

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