Last week I continued my return to the theater by frequenting one of my favorite local playhouses in Hale Centre Theatre’s production of Emma. Of course, anyone who knows me … Continue reading [THEATER REVIEW] EMMA (Hale Centre Theatre Orem)
When people see how much I love movies they sometimes assume that I don’t also like to read. This is probably because in my experience many men choose movies over reading but I think both are essential to be a full complete person. I love movies but there is something about the experience of living in stories that only books can give you. Movies give you a 2 hour story but a book can delight you for weeks depending on its size.
Recently I enjoyed watching the kickoff program for The Great American Read. This is a 2 hour show on PBS that has compiled a list of the 100 best books of all time. Some are questionable such as 50 Shades of Grey and an embarrassing number I haven’t read but watching the show inspired me to do more reading and to tell you my lovely readers about the books that I love.
To start off I thought it would be fun to share My Top 11 Favorite Classic Novels. Classic is obviously a relative term but for the sake of my list I started at 1960 as the end point (the year To Kill a Mockingbird was written). Some of these books are helped by nostalgia but they are all excellent on their own. It is also interesting that 8 of the novels are written by women. So here goes:
11. Middlemarch by George Eliot (1872)-
There was always a high chance I would love Middlemarch because it is my Mother’s favorite novel. Still I put off reading it for many years because its length intimidated me. However, if you can brave it Middlemarch treats you to a beautiful story about a woman named Dorothea who is trying desperately to do the right thing over what is convenient and easy. She marries out of a desire for intellectual enlightenment and then is sorely disappointed when it proves cold and distant. Then she meets Will Ladislaw and the 2 become friends. Everything is kept honorable but the connection Eliot has with her characters is beautiful and gives you hope for the goodness that lies within all of us.
“If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.”
10. My Antonia by Willa Cather (1918)-
Like Eliot, Willa Cather is a novelist who always seems to find the humanity in her characters. It’s like she is writing about her dear friends not just people in a book. In My Antonia she captures the beauty and burdens of life on the American Prairie for orphan Jim and immigrant girl Antonia. We see them as children and then read as they grow up and life doesn’t turn out the way they think it will.
“Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past.”
9. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)-
Where Middlemarch is beloved by my Mother, Sherlock Holmes is beloved by my Father. I’m not sure why he loves him so much but he always has. What appeals to me about the character is how Sherlock uses his brain as his super power. He’s unpredictable and intense but in the end always comes up with what is just and true- and usually staring the victims/police in the face the whole time! This first book has 12 of his stories including A Scandal in Bohemia, The Red-Headed League, and the Man with the Twisted Lip. So fun!
“As a rule, the more bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it proves to be. It is your commonplace, featureless crimes which are really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is the most difficult to identify.”
8. Howard’s End by E.M. Forster (1910)
I love novels that have a sense of humanity for all its characters and that is what I get with Howard’s End. What I love the most about Forster’s writing is he doesn’t have villains. In a lesser hand the rich capitalist Wilcox’s would be the greedy villains but that isn’t the case. They are operating within their upbringing and doing what they think is right. When Mr Wilcox gives advice to the struggling clerk Leonard Bast he isn’t trying to be underhanded but is genuinely passing on knowledge without thinking of its ramifications. The Schlegal sisters are of an intellectual class that have the money to think about such things without having the burden of leadership. Every character has clear motivations and a story that feels real and moving and Howard’s End feels like a sanctuary we all yearn for and seek out.
“Life is indeed dangerous, but not in the way morality would have us believe. It is indeed unmanageable, but the essence of it is not a battle. It is unmanageable because it is a romance, and its essence is romantic beauty.”
7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)-
Little Women was the first big novel I recall reading and being proud I had finished it. I loved the story of each of the 4 girls. I loved the romance both scorned and returned. I cried my eyes out at poor Beth. As an adult, I can see the pulpy nature of especially the follow up book but I still love it. Just like most, I relate to Jo who wants to make a difference in the world and be independent and free. But I also relate to the selfish Amy, insecure Meg and shy Beth. I have all of those sides in me. And it always made sense to me that Jo refused Laurie. They were not only very different but she needed to go out and see the world and not get married in some stuffy house. With Professor Bhaer she got someone who was experienced and she had lived a little bit more. She needed a thoughtful yet adventurous spirit and that’s what she got in the Professor!
“I want to do something splendid…something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”
6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1847)-
I have always loved a great romance and what makes Jane Eyre so great is it is about 2 troubled souls who find each other and just when all seems to be lost it all works out. As readers we start with Jane as a young girl being treated terribly by the Reed family and then being sent to Lowood School where she is beaten but finally finds a friend in Helen and Miss Temple (so sad with Helen). Then she is grown up and it is time to go to Thornfield Hall and meet Mr Rochester. These 2 have such chemistry because they both have been battered and bruised by the world. I love the dialogue between them and how it builds slowly over time. And then when his secret is revealed Jane’s morals must send her away and it is devastating. Then we get the contrast between those morals and the missionary whom she has no chemistry with at all. It’s a fantastic love story.
“I have for the first time found what I can truly love–I have found you… I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you–and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”
5. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery (1908)-
Much like Jo March, Anne Shirley was a literary hero for me as a child. I was not a child that loved fantasy stories with mysticism and lore but I did like to daydream and Anne is the ultimate daydreamer. You could say that daydreaming rescued Anne. I love the way she see’s everything through her own world and is confident enough to voice that world out loud. She doesn’t care what the locals call the pond. To her it is the Lake of Shining Waters. There is something so appealing about this kind of hope and dream. The rest of the characters are so lovely and it has such heart. It made me constantly search for kindred spirits and hope for a love I might want to occasionally break a slate over his head!
“Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it… Yet.”
4. A Christmas Carol (1843)-
We all know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge (you can read my Scrooge Month reviews here) but I fear our familiarity with the text causes us to forget how great a story it truly is. I love stories of redemption and Scrooge coming to know Christ through Christmas is one of the greats. Like so many Scrooge has become bitter because of the disappointments and tragedies of life. He has decided to separate himself from Christ and his fellow mankind because he doesn’t want to get hurt. This is the lesson he learns from his ghostly visitors and from the frail but faithful Tiny Tim.
“No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused”
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)-
If someone asked me for a novel that might help them become a better person I would give them To Kill a Mockingbird. Told from the innocent perspective of a young girl observing her father, we learn in the novel what it means to have integrity and to fight for lost causes. Atticus knows representing Tom is a futile endeavor but he does it anyway. He see’s the value in the mockingbird which is ordinary and worthless to others. To Kill a Mockingbird gives us hope that good people like Atticus will always do what is right and will love no matter what. Boo Radley in contrast is the quiet one who saves Scout when nobody else can. It’s just beautiful and perfect.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)-
I could easily put Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion on this list but when it comes down to it Pride and Prejudice is my favorite from Jane Austen. As a teen I got caught up in the romance of this book. Will Darcy forgive Lizzie after she so hotly rebuked him? Will they survive the shame of Lydia’s carelessness? Will Bingley and Jane ever get together? It was all very compelling stuff! But as an adult I appreciate the novel on a deeper level. Austen really doesn’t have much romance in her books but she has characters that have to make choices and that are brave for their time. Lizzie could even be considered reckless considering the financial state of her family for refusing Mr Collins let alone Darcy. This is what makes her story compelling and their final union so satisfying. It is also full of witty satire that still holds up and is funny over 200 years later.
“I am the happiest creature in the world. Perhaps other people have said so before, but not one with such justice. I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh.”
1. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (1855)-
Elizabeth Gaskell is my favorite author and I try to read her books each year. When I do I am always struck by how modern her characters feel. If they were to sub out more modern language the characters choices would feel right at home in a contemporary novel. In North and South she creates 2 fantastic characters in Margaret Hale and John Thornton. Margaret has been forced to move the Northern city of Milton where she meets the proud self-made Thornton. He is strong-willed like her but not a gentleman in her eyes. Then she and him get mixed up in the woes of the factory workers at his mill and the tension begins to mount. There is such chemistry between Margaret and Thornton from the first moment they meet, but it is not just a romance but an exploration of these 2 characters and how they let go of their pride to love. It will be too long for some folks but I adore it and find it endlessly re-readable.
“He knew how she would love. He had not loved her without gaining that instinctive knowledge of what capabilities were in her. Her soul would walk in glorious sunlight if any man was worthy, by his power of loving, to win back her love.”
So that is my list! What do you think of it? Let me know! I will be putting out a couple more book lists so let me know what you would like to see.
I’ve been having a great time the last few days. My sister Anna is here for a visit after having been in Japan for the last year. It has been great catching up and spending time together. As a special treat for her visit I decided I wanted to throw a little party.
I love entertaining but had gotten a little burnt out last year and so hadn’t done much. I also got a game from a kickstarter I sponsored called The Jane Game. It is all based on Jane Austen and was done by a woman here in Utah. I also got a party pack as a perk for my kickstarter, which I hadn’t used. It seemed like the perfect time to combine both needs and have a Jane Austen Tea Party!
The party turned out really well. I had teas/hot cocoa to choose from with sweeteners and cream. Then for food we had chicken salad croissants, cucumber sandwiches, meringue cookies, strawberries, shortbread and two treats from bake 360.
I think it all looked very pretty and I enjoyed putting it all together. I also dressed up in as close to a regency dress as I have! Most importantly in any party I enjoyed spending time with my friends and catching up since I don’t get to see any of them as much as I would like.
After visiting we played the Jane Game and it was a lot of fun. And I am proud to say none of us ended up as old maids! We also learned that all of us need to brush up on our Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park. I’m seeing a movie night in our future.
Overall the party was a great success and everyone seemed to have a good time. I feel encouraged to try again and get back to entertaining regularly. It’s a part of my life I really missed and had been feeling very discouraged about it last year. It seemed so hard to get anyone together for anything that I wondered if my party planning days were over. Today let’s me know it’s not.
Hurray! I think Miss Austen would approve. 🙂
I know I am about a year and half late on this review but I put off seeing Austenland because I hated the book so the movie didn’t hold much promise for me. However, enough of my friends and family encouraged me to see it, and claimed it was better than the book, I finally decided to watch it on my Netflix.
And the verdict is….
Basically the same as the book but I didn’t have to live in the movie for days so I suppose the movie is more tolerable.
So some things to mention before the review- I am a huge Austen fan. I read her 4 most popular books in the winter break of 1998 and was hooked. Since then I have read all 4 and even all 6 every year usually in the summer. They are witty and the heroines are bold and yet weak. Of course, I love the romance but it is the characters journey as told through romance that works. The romance itself is fairly predictable.
That’s where this book and movie are misguided. Austen’s stories are not great because they are romantic. They are great because they involve choices, judgements, forgiveness, foolishness and of course love. In the story of Austenland we lose all but the love and it makes for a very unsatisfying story.
The story of Austenland starts out with an interesting lead character. Jane, played by Kerri Russell, is a die hard Austen fan. This could be the female version of the many ‘manchild’ movies we’ve seen with men who can’t grow up (usually with Will Farrell or Seth Rogan). I would be interested to see more movies with these type of women.
Austenland was also directed, written, and produced almost entirely by women, which I think is great. In the words of Cate Blanchett ‘the world has curves’ and movies should reflect this. The fact that so many movies fail something as basic as the Bechtel test is very sad indeed. We should do better.
That said, I am not going to give it a pass merely because of it’s female pedigree. That would be unfair. I have to judge it like any other movie.
So, back to the story… Jane gets an inheritance and decides to fulfill her life dream and go to a living play experience called Austenland. It is similar to the murder mystery parties that were popular about 10 years ago but over a few weeks. All of the staff are actors playing parts down to the servants.
Jennifer Coolidge gets some of the funniest bits as a ditzy American guest (she has played this role many times before with funnier dialogue. See the Christopher Guest movies). But even her lines feel so strained and molded into this ridiculous premise. Whether in the book or movie I couldn’t buy this place existing and appealing to anyone, even the most die hard of Austen fans.
However, even if you accept the premise, so many of the jokes fall flat. For example, there is an extended scene with a play that I didn’t think was funny. There are pratfalls and falls on horses that weren’t funny. And a horse giving birth scene, which would have you believe a foal comes out in the time it takes a woman to grab a handful of hay or at least that Jane believes such a thing. Really, Jane?
Then things became awkward when a member of the ‘cast’ assaults Jane and yet she continues on with her stay. Did she just think that was part of the play? A little regency era attempted rape to complete your stay….Like I said it went from unfunny, to uncomfortable, to even a little creepy.
You also see the behind the scenes of the actors which makes the scenes in costume feel even weirder. And yet with all that they tag on the most unbelievable ending. Like I said earlier, Austen’s romances worked because of choices the characters make, tough choices. They are often brave and loyal to a fault. The characters that are impetuous, romantic and silly, are all either taught to be more sensible or are unhappy in their choices (Lydia, Marianne, Mary Musgrove, Catherine and even Emma).
Aside from coming to the park and then leaving, Jane in Austenland, doesn’t really make any tough choices. Everything happens to her not by her, making the story less gripping. There is not the sense of a character growing and the viewer isn’t left wondering ‘will Jane’s foibles spoil her chance at real love?’.
Austen’s heroines do not need rescue, and they would not have had dramatic romcom scenes at airports. Maybe a letter perhaps (or lengthy email). but I can’t think of any bold romantic gestures in any Austen book. Perhaps Darcy fixing Lydia’s problem but even that expected no fanfare. and he didn’t even want Lizzy to know of his involvement. Such soft and subtle characters build tension and makes the endings so satisfying. They are not simply wild passionate love but the careful consideration of two hearts meant to be together, that almost weren’t.
The couple in Austenland don’t spend much time together, and they have even less actual conversations (and a lot of that is staged for a long time or we don’t know how much is staged by either one). The ending would have been a lot more satisfying if she had sued the place and changed her life (actually learned something…).
In the end, it just didn’t make me laugh. A big problem in a comedy. I think I’ll go watch Mr Collins propose. Now that is funny…
Overall Grade D
Content Grade B+ (It’s pretty innocent. Even the assault is tame, birth tame, some heaving bosoms, no bad language)
I’m always open for others opinions. Don’t worry I have thick skin, so please comment.
If you want a more satisfying, if still imperfect, modern version of women confronting Jane Austen try The Jane Austen Book Club.
(part of this posted yesterday without my realizing it. Sorry)
We decided to do something different this month for book club. Instead of all reading the same book we decided to each read a Jane Austen and then we would meet and discuss them. I’m looking forward to it. So, I had to decide which Jane Austen to tackle. I have read all of them, of course, so it would be rereading for sure but which one? I realized I haven’t read Pride and Prejudice for years, maybe since college, and it seemed ripe for another perusal.
So this week I started to read it again, both via traditional and audiobook, and I wondered at first if I would be as dazzled as I was at 17. That year I was going to community college, living in California with no friends and I had a month long winter break to fill up. In desperation I decided to read Sense and Sensibility.
Its funny because its probably Jane Austen’s most challenging book (its pretty slow moving) but being a big fan of the movie I loved it. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I immediately read Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion within the course of my break. Its hard to say what I responded to so quickly in Jane Austen’s prose. They have such austere characters within the confines of a culture so distant from my own; yet, I was completely engaged.
(so I didn’t realize this blog was published yesterday. Sorry guys. Here’s the rest of it)
In the end, the long lasting effect of Pride and Prejudice and other Austen novels persists because her characters are fully-rounded, strong-willed women. This translates to any era and gives all women something to hope for. The fact is marriage and romance will always be the grand desire of the human heart because we all seek to be understood by at least one person with that one person being forever loyal to us. All of Jane Austen’s characters spur social customs and refuse to settle for anything other than complete understanding in the marriage relationship
Pride and Prejudice is her masterpiece. It creates characters who do not even know their own hearts until they meet. It is a story that teaches the reader about human frailty. If left only to our own devices (as Darcy remarks about his childhood) we will develop certain flaws that will cause us to see the world incorrectly. It is only when someone points out those flaws that our world is opened and we can truly love.
Both Darcy and Lizzie fail to see anything but their own perspective or point of view. That is such a hard lesson to learn and how great to have characters in a novel help educate us!
Pride and Prejudice also shows that the human brain knows intrinsically what will make us happy. It is only when we listen to the world’s definition of happiness that we are left cold. Lizzie knew that a marriage of convenience, despite its worldly benefits could never make her happy, and what is life if it is not happy? Darcy must have also known that Lizzie was the person who could make him happy despite her refusals. Both characters learn that when your soul is telling you to go a direction, even if socially divergent, go, run if you have to.
One of the most flawed characters in Pride and Prejudice is Mr Bennett. He makes no choices in his life and is content to let it pass him by. A lazy parent at best, Mr Bennett doesn’t intervene with Lydia or the girls until disaster strikes and even then he admits he will get over the shame more quickly than he should. Lydia is an idiot, but she is young and at least she has made choices and has passion. I can respect that much more than idly sitting by and doing nothing.
Wickham is of course the true scoundrel of the story. Having all the appearance of good nature but none of the moral fortitude he oils his way into every situation, getting what he wants at great cost to others. However, he does provide an important boost to the plot. By being true evil, he lessens and then removes any remaining angst the reader feels about Darcy’s pride and conceit. Perhaps pride is not so bad when it helps avoid wreckless abandon, theft, lust and depravity of Wickham? He also gives Darcy a dramatic way to show his love for Lizzy that leaves her (and the reader) overwhelmed. There is no doubt Darcy LOVES Lizzy after what he has done.
I happen to believe that all modern romantic comedies can be traced back to Pride and Prejudice and Taming of the Shrew. In both stories you have strong willed souls who are right for each other but just can’t see it. This tension makes the reader route for them along the way. Both are written with a wit and satire that makes the journey fun (something most rom coms have lost today).
With both, you feel immediately that the characters are good, if flawed people and you want to see them happy. That is what most rom coms today miss when they borrow the old formulas. Yes, the characters don’t like each other at the beginning, but they are both quickly presented as good people who you want to be happy. The reader is rooting for some resolution all the way and when it seems to be the most impossible the book is at its finest.
I think this is why Pride and Prejudice bears so well to all kinds of treatments whether it be Bollywood, the 5 hour BBC, or the 2005 Kiera Knightly version. Its hard to make me not like these characters and get drawn into the story.
Yes, we know how it will turn out but its the delightful journey of ‘how’ that makes Pride and Prejudice so great.
It is truly a masterpiece and I enjoyed reading it again. You should read it again too!
Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 and is 200 years old this year. Happy Birthday!
Readers to this blog are aware of my favorite author Elizabeth Gaskell. Jane Austen is a close second. (I know it is a cliche for girls to like Jane Austen but what can I say? I love her books!). I love the characters (particularly the female), the plots, and the romance in all of their books. They are the kind of books that I can read over and over again and get continual pleasure. In fact, sometimes I finish rereading one, just to start repeating another. (I think I read North and South four times last year. I’m not kidding and its a big book.).
The problem I have is Austen only wrote 6 books (Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park) and Elizabeth Gaskell only wrote 5 (North and South, Cranford, Mary Barton, Wives and Daughters, and Ruth) This leaves me yearning for a new book but having depleted all 11 books multiple times. I am consequently left adrift without any books? What’s a reader to do?
That’s where I turn to you my fabulous online community. What are some other author’s similar in characters, plots and tone to Elizabeth Gaskell and Jane Austen?
Let me give you an idea of other books I enjoy-
I LOVE Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Adam Bede and Middlemarch by George Eliot, and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.
I also like modern books but it is difficult to find author’s that are at least moderately clean and that don’t have sullen weepy characters. (I don’t mind a tragedy but there has to be something redeeming in them or at least in the story).
An author from the 20th century I liked is Willa Cather. Her books have a poetry and a depth I find moving. By the end of her books you really love her characters and want them to be happy.
Cry the Beloved Country by Allan Patton is another book I love. It paints a beautiful setting while sparing nothing of the horrors of apartheid. The two main characters maintain a purity and love for their sons that is gorgeous.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is another great book. Is there a more noble man in all of literature then Atticus Finch? I certainly can’t think of a better father.
Finally, I enjoy a well-written memoir about an interesting person facing challenges or experiencing new lands. Red China Blues by Jan Wong is a long-time favorite. I also like Yak Butter and Black Tea: A Journey into Tibet by Wade Brackenbury (crazy book about this man who travels to China with a tour and on a whim decides to traverse forbidden Tibet with an unknown french man he met in a cafe. Crazy!). On a more somber note I just finished the Hiding Place by Corie ten Boom for the third time- what a remarkable book about an amazing lady. Another of my favorites on that vein is Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs- the most stirring memoir on slavery I’ve read.
So that should give you an idea for the type of books I like to read. I don’t mind something long so don’t be afraid to recommend them! I’m not a huge fan of fantasy but it can have some fantastic elements. I also like some chick-lit but it has to be relatively clean and well-written (I liked the first two shopaholic books and the Devil Wears Prada). Another tip- if it is an Oprah book I probably won’t like it. Her books are so pointlessly depressing.
Some books that I hated are the Scarlet Letter, the Awakening, A Separate Peace, A Fine Balance, Julie and Julia, The Jungle, Brave New World, the Princess Bride, Catch 22, the Invisible Man, Catcher in the Rye, and Netherland. All were about crass unfeeling people that I hated and didn’t care a lick about their story. They are all very annoying in their styles, tones and plots. I also hate books that are preachy and manipulative in forcing their world-view upon the reader (ie David Sedaris, David Foster Wallace- overrated, condescending, foul-mouthed, and preachy). Such books drive me crazy even if I agree with the world-view presented.
So, friends give me your suggestions. Help me find my new Elizabeth Gaskell, my new Jane Austen. Many of the author’s I mentioned above only wrote one or two books, so I’ve already tapped them out. It’d be great if I could find an author with a number of must reads that I haven’t read yet! I can already envision the many happy days of reading ahead of me!
To see what some of my favorite books are look at this post.
A few weeks ago my friend Camille did a blog posting entitled Ten Things You Might Not Know About Me. I have thought about this entertaining post for a while and wondered what my ten items would be. To be honest, I can hardly think of anything that would surprise my friends. I guess I am a pretty out-in-the-open person. Most of my friends know what I like to do, my weird quirks, and my other interests and likes. I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing? Maybe I am the kind of person that is reliably simple. I have never been a big dreamer. A friend of mine has this bucket list of things she wants to do in life such as visit every state and read the “1000 Must Read Before You Die” books.
I never did. The only thing I have passionately wanted to do since I was a little girl was graduate from BYU- and I did that nearly 8 years ago. Yes, I’ve wanted to to get married, have a family and contribute to society for most of my life; however, I was never specific about what type of family, home or career I want. I knew that I wanted to be dynamic and interesting- make a difference in the world. For the most part I think I have done that but even today I do not have specific things that I dream about doing or secret surprises about my life. I don’t know why, I just don’t? Does that make sense?
The fact that I can’t come up with a bucket list or even a list of surprising things makes me wonder if I am the dynamic, interesting person I wanted to be. On the other hand, if the world knows your interesting then does that make you any less interesting?I don’t think so. I like my life. For the most part, I am happy and content.
In the end, I can only live my life in the best way I know how. Whether it surprises others is out of my control.
So, here are a few things that are interesting about me. If a few surprise you all the better.
1. I enjoy jazz music. I just recently downloaded a singer called Jimmy Scott, and he is amazing. My new favorite. Here is one of his songs. What a voice! He had a genetic abnormality that made his voice never mature. I think it is beautiful.
2. I hate tomato juice. V8. Yuck!
3. I am a cheese snob.I hate Velveeta, cheese singles wrapped in plastic, nacho cheese…you get the idea.
4. My favorite flowers are lilies and orchids. (flowers welcome anytime!) I love pink and purple.
5. I am foodie and have recently become a huge fan of Julia Child. (More to come on that later).
6. I’ve had 3 surgeries in my life.
7. I went to the principal’s office twice growing up, both times were in middle school. Both times over silly things.
8. I occasionally like to watch a cheesy romantic movie on lifetime or hallmark channel- especially with a good friend like Camille.
9. There are more times than I would care to admit that I have almost purchased stuff from an infomercial. Somehow I always stop myself.
10. I am the one person in my family that is not a good photographer. I can’t seem to keep the camera steady enough.
11. I think most handicrafts are really dull- sewing, knitting, quilting, even scrapbooking…not for me.
12. I enjoy wrapping presents. I used to hate it but now it is one of my favorite parts of buying a present.
13. I wish I had a pen pal that I could write juicy, rich, letters to. Sadly I must be happy with my blog.
14. I love kitchen appliances and already have a food processor, kitchenaid mixer, stick mixer, toaster, rice cooker, electric fondue pot, electric tea pot, and crockpot.
15. I dream of having a nice kitchen with beautiful french pots and knives that really do slice a tomato a centimeter thin with ease.
16. I want to go to England some day and take the Jane Austen book tour, see all the sights from the movies and her life (and Elizabeth Gaskell while I am at it). Then I want to take the chunnel and go to Paris for another week visiting the art, cafes, bridges and markets.
17. I hold onto grudges way longer than I should. For instance, when I think back to my high school choir teacher I still feel a little upset. Silly I know, but she was evil.
18. I wish I could have nice furniture, clothes, purses and shoes. In reality, I probably couldn’t justify the expenses even if I had the money but a girl can fantasize.
19. If I had money I would install a year round infinity pool in my house.
20. I have a Dwight bobblehead that smiles at me while I work. My friends gave it to me with love and excitement. In an odd way it reminds me that I am loved and to laugh at life.
Please make some comments. Let me know how surprising your life is…
So, I thoroughly plan to elaborate on each of these books, but I thought my blog readers might be interested in a listing of my top 16 favorite books. I have met illiterate people, and I feel so sorry for them. It makes me sad that the only world open to them is the one before them. When I read I can escape to the 18oo’s, enter Middle Earth, marry a high school sweetheart or any other adventure I want to take. I read at least 2 books a month and most of the time more (depends on the length of the book and the month).
My book selections usually fall into categories. First of all, there’s the classics. As all my blog readers will remember I love Elizabeth Gaskell. Her books are all amazing. They make me want to be better- to live a fuller life. I also love Dickens, Elliott, Austen and more. I love how the classics were written like a movie- full of minute details to soak up.
The next set of favorites are political science/sociology books. Again you will remember I love books analyzing society such as The Great Good Place, Bowling Alone and Urban Tribes. I loved studying political science at BYU because of the way it made me think. Instead of just looking at something like a Starbucks, I am encouraged by these books to think about the impact, effects and social trends involved. I know some people think these books are boring, but I just love them. For instance, when I first read Urban Tribes by Ethan Watters it made me feel connected to the world in a new way- like there was a whole new group of singles out there who knew exactly how I feel. I felt validated in a way I hadn’t in years. I read it with a highlighter and a notebook and just LOVED it.
Another category is memoirs. I have always been fascinated by interesting stories about unique people. These memoirs can run the gambit from lighter fare like Cheaper by the Dozen and Mama’s Bank Account, and more intense stories such as The Hiding Place and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. These books make me want to be a better, more interesting person- to conquer challenges and write down my humorous experiences.
Moving on, I also love children’s books- particularly ones I read growing up. Reading wasn’t always easy for me. I was a later reader (which is funny because now I am a ferocious reader and can read books much quicker than most of my friends) and although I was never diagnosed I think I had a little bit of dyslexia. It was always hard for me to focus, take tests, follow directions and explain what I felt inside. I always felt I knew the material better than anyone else but the grades would never show. This was true all the way through college. It’s funny because you would think someone with such difficulties would hate reading but for some reason I plowed on through, almost forcing myself to enjoy it. A couple of books that spoke to me when I was young were Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Woman, Girl of Limberlost, Caddie Woodland, Narnia, Roald Dahl stories and more. Later on I loved Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
The last category is totally random. There are some books that I just like. Any good books are Ok by me. I am up for any type of book, time period, and writing style. I especially love the experience of reading a book with others and talking it out. There have been a few times when I read a book and kind of liked it but after talking it over with others I liked it much more. Their vision made me see the book in new ways- made me understand it in a more completely. I love it!
Finally I will give you my top 16 favorite books:
1. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3. Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
4. Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank and Lilian Gilbreth
5. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
6. Urban Tribes by Ethan Waters
7. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriett Jacobs
8. Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes
9. Red China Blues by Jan Wong
10. Delicacy and Strength of Lace by Leslie Marmon Silko and James Wright
11. Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
12. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
13. Complete Poems of Elizabeth Bishop
14. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
15. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
16. Howards End by EM Forester
So, there you have it. My favorite books. Some others I love are Wives and Daughters and Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, My Antonia by Willa Cather, On Gold Mountain by Lisa See, Harry Potter, Screwtape Letters and Narnia books by CS Lewis, Lord of the Rings, Little Women, A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. So many good ones. I just read a new book called Lying Awake by Mark Salzman that I LOVED! I could go on and on.
I like to think of myself as a fun person- as a social person that people enjoy being around and for the most part I am. However, as I get older it seems to get harder to make friends and form groups? Does anyone else find this to be the case? I don’t know if it is because I have such great friends and do not feel the need to make new ones or if other people are too busy, or perhaps I’m not as agreeable as I used to be? It’s funny because I think my skills as a host have only improved as I’ve gotten older- and yet there seems to be less to host!
What brought all of these thoughts up is I have been trying to organize small groups for our church ladies organization called Enrichment. These groups are supposed to focus on a variety of topics and help all the women in the congregation feel included. In past wards I have had success in gathering girls for book clubs, cooking groups, and movie nights, but not in this ward. It is like pulling teeth to get anyone to come to anything. Yesterday we had book club and I picked a Jane Austen- Persuasion (so good!)- and I am embarrassed to say nobody came except for my roommate. A bunch of people had said they could come on Sunday but then nobody showed. Only 2 called with excuses (one had a flooded basement and another had a bad flu). On a side note- whatever happened to the notion of RSVP’ing. I grew up in Maryland where a little of that Southern hospitality creeped into the culture. If you said you were going to be somewhere, you better be in a hospital if you don’t show up. At least a call explaining why you can’t come should be common courtesy.
Don’t worry- I wasn’t devastated or anything merely disappointed that I couldn’t talk about the book and that my pretty tea party went unappreciated. Boo hoo! Thankfully Megan had read the book for her book club last month and so I called and we had a good discussion. Plus, my cute nieces and sisters are coming into town so we will have a tea party together! (In fact, on Saturday we are going to the Princess Festival in Lindon- how fun will that be!). The whole family is arriving tomorrow, and I can’t wait. It has only been a couple months since I saw them but it feels longer. Baby Nelle is crawling and pulling herself up already! Wow!
I am not intending this posting to engender pity- I have great friends, and I have a full life. I am merely puzzled by my recent inability to attract new friends. It isn’t just with Enrichment but the few times I have had parties the turnout is low. I used to be able to always attract a crowd. Weird, hah? I’ve even offered to have a party up at the rental homes with a hot tub and pool table, but nobody has taken me up on it. What do you all think? Is there an age where movie nights and game parties are passe?
This is a funny entry on SWPL that applies to the need to host dinner parties. Enjoy!
Though many would have you believe that white people come of age at Summer Camp, it’s simply not the truth. Immediately following graduation but prior to renovating a house, white people take their first step from childhood to maturity by hosting a successful dinner party.
It is imperative that white people know how to host a good dinner party as they will be expected to do it well into retirement.
At the most basic level, these simple gatherings involve 3-6 couples getting together at a single house or apartment, having dinner and talking for 5-6 hours. Though it might seem basic these events are some of the most stressful situations in all of white culture.
Hosts are expected to deliver a magical evening. The food must be home made with fresh, organic ingredients, the music must be just right (ambient, new, but not too loud), and the decorations inside the house should be subtle but elegant. The ultimate goal is to do a better job than the couple at the last dinner party while attempting to make everyone jealous and sort of dislike you.
The dinner party is the opportunity for white people to be judged on their taste in food, wine, furniture, art, interior design, music, and books. Outside of dictatorships and a few murder trials, there might not be a more rigorous judgment process in the modern world. Everything must be perfect. One copy of US Weekly, a McDonalds wrapper, a book by John Grisham, a Third Eye Blind CD, or an Old School DVD can undo months and maybe even years of work.
Even before guests arrive the pressure on the host is immense and it does not let up once people begin to arrive. While eating, drinking, and conversation are expected to fill up 5-6 hours, sometimes it’s just not enough. In order to fill the silence, white people will often turn to board games (Cranium!) or Wii Bowling. This lets everyone have fun together without having to really talk to each other, which is usually more fun anyways.
It is strongly encouraged to bring a gift to these dinner parties, usually either wine or some kind of dessert. If you are able to bring a particularly rare dish from your culture, you will be the star of the party. To seal the deal, be sure to explain as much as you possibly can about the dish: history, availability, and the proper way to eat it. Every white person at the party will be taking mental notes and will be in your debt for introducing them to something new and authentic. If a white person says they have eaten the dish before, it is best to respond by saying “you ate a watered down version. They don’t even sell this to white people, it’s that intense. Even I had to show ID.”
The entire party will universally acknowledge you as the top guests, even the hosts will appreciate you for bringing diversity to the table in both food and person form.