Thursday, December 22, 2016

Finishing up the year with eleven books on my Kindle

Hello to all!  Miss me?  I have just returned from ten days traveling in Paris.  The journey was arduous, not on the scale of trekking to a mountain and fighting a dragon for jewels, but still very tiring.  

My journey started with my husband and I arising on December 11 at four a.m. We drove three hours to Dallas, deposited our car at a hotel and took the shuttle to the airport.  We flew three hours to JFK in New York,  and endured a four hour layover made worthwhile with good conversation over dinner with a very nice young man from San Fransisco on his way to scuba dive in the Canary Islands.  Eric and Josh and I disagreed on everything we talked about from religion to politics but developed a firm, if temporary friendship.  We hugged goodbye and I told him I was going to pray for him and he said, "Good!  I want you to!"

And I am.  Josh said that Eric fulfilled his man hug quota for the year, but I think he enjoyed the conversation as well.

The flight to Paris was eight hours.  I read several books on my Kindle.  I will be writing more on my adventures in Paris (the most magical week of my life-that's your teaser!) but suffice to say, that after walking over eight hours a day sight seeing, I fell asleep every evening around seven p.m., woke up wide awake at midnight, read for two or three hours before finally falling asleep around three a.m. then waking up again around six a.m. starving.  Unfortunately Paris does not wake up before nine.  More reading since I can't sleep with my stomach growling.

At the end of our trip we flew back, with all the hours of flying and driving in reverse.

In conclusion, I read eleven books in ten days on my Kindle.  None of them were very long, and my reviews here will be quite short as well.
Trivia by Logan Pearsall Smith

This is a collection of essays by Smith about his personal observations about his life, society in London, religion, and socio-political thought from the eyes of a Victorian/early Twentieth century man.

I thought his essays, were lucid, thought-provoking and charming.  I recommend this short book to anyone who likes to read the inner thoughts of a man who combines humor with realism.

The Mouse and the Moonbeam by Eugene Field

This very short book is a Christmas story told by a mouse and then a moonbeam.  A good children's book that has a moral about the consequences of the lack of faith as well as the actual purpose of Christmas.

My one complaint:  I know that at one time (perhaps still is), it was popular to take some license with Bible stories. In this story the moonbeam shares something he saw many years ago.  Jesus as a child is friends with
another boy who winds up being the thief on the cross who finally remembers Jesus and surrenders his heart and soul to spend eternity with Him. 

This never happened, the author just thought it would make a nice story.

To me, reducing  profound Biblical history to a children's story trivializes it into some sort of sentimental tale and robs it of its true power.
The Story of My Heart:  an Autobiography by Richard Jefferies

I don't know much about Jefferies, I'm not sure how this book ended up on my Kindle.  Probably an impulse buy since it was public domain and free.

Apparently Jefferies is one of the transcendentalist writers.  His reflections basically consider our aesthetic reaction to nature as the ultimate experience.  The supernatural is only the ecstasy our senses receive as they drink in the wonder the sky, the stars, earth, trees, etc blah, blah blah...breath into us.

There is no God, no metaphysical.  Anything created by, books, architecture, whatever... amount to nothing and living as a jungle beast alone in the forest is vastly to be preferred.

Whatever.  I read this in one setting, which is a good thing for the author because I wouldn't have bothered to pick the book up again.

Three stars for the quality of writing, not the substance.

Perpetual Light:  a Memorial by William Rose Benet

Benet wrote the poems throughout his lifetime for his beloved wife whose life was cut tragically short.

Hence the evolution of these poems are wonderful to read, beginning with the ones he wrote in his youth, expressing the first giddy excitement of being in love, mellowing with a rich enjoyment of being married to the love of his life and ending finally with the stark and barren wilderness that he finds himself thrust into as he endures his loss and loneliness.

Even in his darkest moments, there are undercurrents of strength and hope.  I enjoyed these poems and yes, I also read these in one sitting, which allowed me to better appreciate the transition of his life journey.

Poems and Ballads of Heinrich Heine

Our first morning in Paris, which was very early because the sun hadn't risen and our hostel room wasn't available yet, we walked to Montmartre Cemetery.  It was peaceful, though cold, as the sun rose, slowly illuminating the gravestones and chapels.  
While we walked among the tombs looking for famous graves a French woman walked up to us and pointed to a grave we were standing near.

"That is Anrish Ann. He is a German poet."

We looked at the grave which had a bust of the poet on top. The poet's name was Heinrich Heine, which I would pronounce differently than the French woman, but who am I to correct others?

When I woke up the next morning around two a.m due to Jet Lag, I opened up my Kindle and discovered that I had a collection of Heine's poems.

This is a beautiful set of poems by a preeminent 19th century German poet. He writes of love, of longing, of spiritual fulfillment in excellent verse. Another book I refused to put down and read in one sitting.

The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories by Algernon Blackwood
I started this collection earlier in the year but finished it one early Parisian morning.
This is a fine collection of scary, suspenseful short stories, reminding me of Lovecraft, Steam Punk and other mystery/supernatural stories of the turn of the last century.,204,203,200_.jpg

The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

Another book I'd been reading for several months but finished in Paris.  

The King in Yellow is a series of short stories written in H.P. Lovecraft style.  The common thread is horror and a mysterious set of letters, documents, or other metaphysical phenomena that leads to the death or tragic conclusion involving the narrator.

The stories are in turn suspenseful, scary and sometimes funny as a few of them turn out to be merely dreams.

The writing is style can be a little archaic and after the fashion of a lot of Steam Punk or lesser known authors of the time period, which can be seen now as somewhat melodramatic and sentimental.

Women are described after the fashion of many late Victorian writers in poetical turns.  There are often depicted as goddesses, often unattainable or if attainable, not sustainable because of a tragic ending.  Oh, those Victorian writers. 

Fables for Children, Stories for Children, Natural Science Stories, Popular Education, Decembrists, Moral Tales by Leo Tolstoy 

I don't know if Tolstoy wrote these stories or compiled them.  They are small moral tales like Aesop's Fables, each only a paragraph long.  Still they are interesting and worth reading.

The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley
This book started out very interesting and written in a lively style.  It quickly turned into a story of imagination with a tremendous amount of detail.  I suppose for a child of the Victorian age who has not suffered the modern child's affliction of information overload, it would be a magical journey.

In a nutshell, a little chimney sweep who experiences nothing but abuse and neglect finally, in a panic, runs away but finally collapses at the edge of a spring.  There the Queen of the Fairies turns him into a Water Baby. 

When he wakes up, he finds himself only a few inches high with gills on the sides of his neck.  The rest of the story is filled with his new discoveries of his environment and the various animals and sea life.

There is also a moral tale of the wrongness of child abuse and also redemption for even the most hardened heart.
Fast and Loose by Edith Wharton
This is the first story in the Complete Edith Wharton I have on my Kindle.
It is very short and I read it in a few sittings shortly before I left Paris.  (I had quite a few early morning readings. 
It was written when Wharton was fourteen years old and though has much that is tragic about it, there is none of the cynical "modern realism" that readers expect from Wharton.  I was surprised to see how positive and even moralistic the story ended.
A young girl, Georgie, breaks off her engagement to her cousin Guy, because, even though she loves him, she would rather be the wife of a Baron.  
She marries the Baron and has a brilliant career among the rich and elite who find her brazen sauciness both shocking and irresistibly attractive.
As the story progresses we see how the jilted Guy lives under heartbreak and also how Georgie eventually comes to repent of her selfishness.
Overall, I thought the story transpired rather nicely even if it ended on a rather melodramatic, if not typically Victorian moralistic tone.
A worthy read for Wharton fans.
The Christmas Child by Hesba Stretton

Miss Priscilla Parry adopts a young girl Rhoda and later an even younger girl, Joan.  She has plans for the girls, none of which includes getting married.  She firmly believes that women should stay single, be strong and independent.  When Rhoda runs off and gets married, Priscilla can't forgive her.
Filled with rage and hatred, she shuts herself up and neglects  poor little Joan.
Every Christmas Eve Joan and Rhoda would go into the barn to look for the Christmas child.  After Rhoda is gone, Joan continues to look by herself.
One Christmas Eve, much to Joan's surprise and delight, there is a child in the manger!

This is a sweet Christmas story, very old fashioned and Victorian but also a timeless message of how hard-heartedness can impact the ones we should love the most, the need for forgiveness as well as to forgive.

On the flight home I was sitting next to a young woman from Tunisia.  She was staying in New Jersey for a couple of months with relatives.  She asked where we were going.

I told her how many hours we had before us.  I added that the day after we arrived, my in laws were coming in from North Carolina.  When they left, the day after Christmas, my parents would be arriving.

After New Year's my son and I will drive them back to Florida and stay with them a week.

So it is lively at the Wilfong home. 

 Which is how I like it!

I pray you all have a similarly blessed time.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 


Ruth @ with freedom and books said...

Only a couple of these I have even heard of. I appreciated your response to Jefferies. I know how you feel. Ugh.

I commend you on your ability to read so much while on vacation. I'm only sick and stuck at home, and I haven't read for five days!

Looking forward to seeing some great pictures from your Paris travels...maybe???

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Ruth! Sorry you're feeling under the weather. People at my house are fighting sickness as well.

I will most definitely be posting Paris photos. :)

Feel better and have a Merry Christmas and blessed new year.

Carol said...

Nice! Look forward to seeing some photos. We're heading off interstate the day after Christmas & hoping to be up at an early hour to avoid the traffic. 4 am would be an ideal time but I can't see that happening. Have a wonderful time with your family over Christmas, Sharon. Have appreciated your online friendship :)

Brian Joseph said...

Welcome back Sharon!

I The little that you have revealed about your trip sounds fantastic.I never seem to get much reading done when traveling.

Your reading accomplishments also seem very impressive.

I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas Sharon!

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Carol! It has been a pleasure getting to know you as well. One of the things I value most about my blog is being able to reach across the world and get to share my passion (books!) with people I would never have otherwise been able to know.

Have a safe journey. I hope one day to travel cross country through Australia!

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Brian! Your reading accomplishments are equally impressive to me. I hope you and your wife will one day be able to visit Paris.

Merry Christmas!

Mudpuddle said...

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!!

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Mudpuddle! A very Merry Christmas and blessed New Year to you!

R.T. said...

Merry Christmas

FYI . . . My blogging is going in a different direction at a different address:

Please join me there.

Sharon Wilfong said...

Merry Christmas, R.T. I will gladly look at your new blog!

Barbara said...

Hello Sharon, I’m just putting together a post about five of my favourite blogs from 2016. I’m hoping you will give me permission to include your blog. I intend to write a very few words about each of the five blogs and then direct readers to a post I’ve particularly enjoyed – in your case it was Coming Up for Air a novel by George Orwell – I will include a link to your blog and another link to the actual post. I would also like to use the image of George Orwell from the end of your post. Would you be happy for me to do this? You can email me at books (at) marchhousebooks (dot) com if you like or leave a comment on my blog
Happy New Year
Thanks so much, Barbara

Cleo said...

I always love the books that you choose .... such an eclectic mix of interesting titles! Can't wait to see your photos! I hope you had a Merry, Merry Christmas and many blessings for the new year!

~ Cleo ~

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Cleo! I hope you get to read some of these books. I did have a wonderful Christmas with in laws (I mean that seriously, they are great people). And will spend New Year's with my parents.

May you have a very blessed New Year!!

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Barbara! Thanks so much for thinking of my blog. Please feel free to link, print, copy whatever you like. I'm so flattered!

Anonymous said...

Ten days in Paris. How glorious!
I admire you for being open to meeting another traveler during your layover. I think that happens less often for so many of us, but we have met the most remarkable people during our travels and have learned so much through their stories of their own travels and the place that they call home.
Wow! You really powered through your Kindle. I am trying to get better about reading what is already in mine, but I really should go through and purge the books that I have had in there that I know I will never read. I may be less distracted when trying to figure out what to read next. I have had a kindle since they first came out a number of years ago, and have accumulated quite a pile. I don't hoard books at home, but they are quite out of the way on the electronic device, so I rarely think to get rid of them.

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Toady! I know what you mean about hoarding books, especially since there are so many free downloads for the kindle.
The reason I read so many books on my kindle in Paris is that I had such bad jet lag I would fall asleep at 7pm and then be wide awake at 2am and starving. There was nothing I could do about it so I read. Thanks for visiting my blog. Have a great week.