Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Clarissa - Feb Post

Terri at Tip of the Iceberg and JoAnn at Lakeside Musing are co-hosting a Clarissa readalong if you want to join in - there's plenty of time to catch up!

The reading so far for Clarissa has been deceptively light. I'm afraid this is going to mean some heavy hitting months later in the year! That's one disadvantage to reading this on my Nook - I can't flip around easily to see how long each section is. Plus, the free public domain version I downloaded is in separate volumes, which is nice when looking at the smaller page count for each, but is again deceptive since that's only for one of nine volumes!

As for the actual letters, there wasn't much to read in February, but I think that did add to the story. Clarissa is blocked from sending or receiving letters to her friend and must find an alternate way to do so, and letter delivery would be slower then, so that adds to the realism of the reading the story this way.

One thing this month's letters made me question is how reliable a narrator is Clarissa? This is always an issue with epistolary novels. Do we believe everything our letter writers tell us? Is Clarissa's perspective true, or only true in her eyes? Is her family justified or even acting as horribly as she says, or is she writing them to be worse than they are because she's unhappy? We're told again and again of Clarissa's virtues, but that comes from her best friend. From having read Pamela, also by Richardson, I'm guessing that he wants us to take Clarissa's perspective at face value and believe her, but I tend to be more like Henry Fielding, who wrote a parady of Pamela, and want to think about what was more likely to be the case. This is probably why I prefer Fielding's writing to Richardson's, but oh well. Maybe after finishing Clarissa I will finally read Tom Jones!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The English Novel

The English Novel: An Introduction by Terry Eagleton provides a scholarly introduction to the major English novelists. A word of warning - don't read this if you don't like spoilers. It should probably be obvious that there are spoilers since it analyzes works of literature, but I should wanted to warn people!

When I started this book, it was when I prepared for my trip to London by reading my way through some of the English canon. I would read a work or two by an author, then would read the chapter on that author. At some point this plan fell by the wayside and it's just been lingering in my currently reading pile. This weekend I decided to just finish it and just skip over the parts about works that I didn't want to have spoiled. The last few chapters were about authors like Joyce and Woolf, which you can't really spoil anyway.

Overall, I thought this was an interesting read and would be a good intro for a college course on the English novel. I'm not sure if it'd be great for the lay reader unless you're interested in a more scholarly analysis. The only thing that bugged me about it is that Eagleton has a habit of inserting his opinion, which I didn't really feel was appropriate for this type of work, especially because he would present his opinions in the same way he was presenting facts. Something about it just rubbed me the wrong way.

One of the things is opinions made me think of was the hierarchy of how we tend to think of literature. Modernist/Post-Modernist literature > classics > literary fiction > mainstream fiction > genre fiction > chick lit. I feel like in a lot of cases, wherever people fall on this reading scale, they tend to think everyone above them is a snob and everyone below them isn't well read. I definitely got the feeling from Eagleton that he's of the "if it's not Modernist/Post-Modernist or at least a classic, why are you even reading it" camp. I'm not claiming to be innocent either. I read from up and down the scale, but do have a tendency to judge others who read only from one category. They aren't as well rounded as me, obviously. :)

Whatever you're reading this week, I hope you're enjoying it because that's what matters!

Monday, February 27, 2012


I'm extremely tempted to abandon my participation in CB's TBR Challenge - I miss the library! But I have SO MANY unread books. I've been doing a great job of sticking with my own books since Jan. 1 - and we're over halfway to April 1, the end of the challenge. I thought posting about it would make me stick with it. :)

I think that trying to read so many of my own books has taught me a few lessons. First, I need to stop buying so many books! I need to avoid library book sales - or just take a few dollars in cash. I can just donate money directly to the library to support them without buying so many books that I then have no need to go to the library...

Secondly, library books are so much easier to abandon. If I buy a book, even one for 50 cents, I feel compelled to finish it. Library books? Not so much. There's no commitment.

Lastly, my tastes have both saved the same and matured over the years. I've got quite a few books that have lingered for years, since high school or college, and it's interesting how some of them I really love and are items I'd pick up today, and then some others just make me wonder why I felt compelled to buy them.  I did go through and cull some of the books I knew I wouldn't like now, but for the most part I just can't get rid of books if I haven't read them.

Anyway, I'm going back to to my TBR pile and will avoid the library's temptations for another few weeks. Then April 1 I will have a library free for all! :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Uncle Tom's Cabin: Worth It?

I've been trying to read Uncle Tom's Cabin, but I haven't made it past page 60. I know this is one of the most famous and widely read works of American literature. Practically the whole country read it during the Civil War. Many people loved it, and many people on both sides hated it. The controversy over it and its historical significance made me want to read it.

On starting it, however, I just can't get into it. The writing is awful! Where one adjective would do, Stowe uses four. She makes Dickens look subtle when it comes to pushing an agenda. And the dialect is pretty much incomprehensible. I don't always like reading dialects, but I'm usually good at reading Southern dialects since I'm from Oklahoma, where people have Southern-ish accents and I've traveled a lot in the deep South. But with this, I'm having to reread sentences several times to figure out what they're actually saying. The characters are all so flat and stereotypical too, and the minor characters are indistinguishable.

With about 400 pages left, I'm wondering if it's worth finishing? I may end up just setting it aside and trying again at another time, but I'm curious as to what other people think.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tom Sawyer

When I was organizing my TBR stacks, I wasn't quite sure where to put my copy of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. I knew I'd read the abridged children's versions a million times, but I honestly wasn't sure if I'd read the unabridged works. I was pretty sure I had, but since I couldn't quite remember, I thought I should go ahead and read them to make sure I had!

In reading (re-reading?) Tom Sawyer, I realized that it really is a book I'm glad I discovered and read as a child. I loved Tom as a child and his crazy adventures. As an adult, I sort of want to give him a beating and ground him for life. He starts off just sweetly mischievous, tricking other kids into doing his chores for him. But as he goes on to run away, hurt his loved ones, endanger Becky and more, I just got a little bored with his antics.

Since Huck Finn is the more grown up out of the two novels, I'm hoping I enjoy revisiting the story more! Plus, I liked Huck Finn best out of the characters in Tom Sawyer. I especially liked where Huck talks about the trappings on civilized life, how claustrophobic and trapped it can make you feel. Although I'm not an outdoorsy type at all and love my life, sometimes you do just feel trapped by the trappings of adulthood - the mortgage, the job, the bills, the worrying about other people, laundry. Sometimes you just want to run away to the woods and all the responsibilities, but like Huck, you realize that has it's own set of problems and well, I really like running water and electricity and even most of my responsibilities. :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

White Oleander

I really wanted to love White Oleander. But, I suppose the fact that it's been sitting on my shelves unread since 1999 I suppose I had my doubts! I'm really trying to make a dent in my TBR stack and wanted to clear off some of the books that have lingered on my shelves the longest before I give in and head back to the library, which I miss dearly.

For some reason, I love stories about crazy women. Why? I don't know. I also tend to like stories about realistic hardships, poor people fighting their way to something better, books like The Glass Castle or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. So, White Oleander should have been a winner. And it was good. It just wasn't great, and I was left feeling disappointed.

It started of promising. Astrid's mother Ingrid is straight-up crazy - in a selfish, free-spirited poet kind of way. Ingrid eventually loses her mind totally over a man, and goes to prison for killing him. Astrid is then sent off to the foster care system, struggling just to survive.

At first, I felt sorry for Astrid and was fearful for her as she finds herself in a bad situation. One of the things I enjoy about books like this is imagining being in these situations - what would it be like to be sent to live with strangers? Strangers who are gross, or creepy, or racist, or violent, or mean. What if you had nothing in life to call your own?

As we continue on Astrid's journey, however, I quickly grew bored with the series of unfortunate events and terrible choices that Astrid makes. I understand that in some of her choices, she's acting out or reaching for things the only way she can. But the whole things just seems so unrealistic. I get that most teens in foster care get shuttled around from bad situation to bad situation. But Astrid's experiences are so terrible and so plentiful that it just seems crazy and took me out of the story. It felt more like someone was cramming every bad story they'd ever heard about foster care into one storyline than something that could really happen.

Because of Astrid's choices, at some point I stopped really rooting for her. This made the last half of the book difficult to get through because I just wanted someone to kill her off already and put us both out of our misery. I also felt like the writing was just a bit overwrought, like someone trying really hard to write literary fiction instead of writing naturally. Don't get me wrong - I love literary fiction, and literary, poetic writing. But something about this just felt contrived. I'm not quite sure what made it different, because it certainly wasn't bad writing. Something just seemed off in some way.

While I didn't end up loving this book, I am glad I read it and I'm glad it's finally off my TBR pile!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Lessson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines is a story about a man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time who ends up on death row for a murder he didn't commit. The story takes place in the South, some time around the '50s. I don't think it ever said that specifically, but that's the feel I got anyway. The accused man is black, the victim is white. I thought the book would focus more on the trial and whether or not he should be convicted, but it focuses more on what happens afterward, when he's on death row.

While on trial, the defense attorney refers to Jefferson, the accused, as a hog who can't be held responsible for his actions. The main character, Grant, is asked to visit with Jefferson after he's convicted and help him become a man. I got the feeling that Jefferson might have some developmental disabilities, which adds to the difficulties of trying to teach a man who knows he's about to die.

The lesson I learned from this book is that no matter what life throws at you, you have to handle it with dignity. Even when you're about to die, your life is worth something. For Jefferson, is able to be a hero to his "nannan" by dying with dignity, like a man.

The book also addresses feeling out of place - Grant is the only college-educated black man in the area. He's teaching kids whose priority is helping their families with farmwork, who are unlikely to go anywhere. He's trying to reach kids of all ages in a one-room schoolhouse with few supplies. He starts to see his situation as hopeless and has to learn his own lesson as he teaches Jefferson.

While I enjoyed this book, there was something just a little off for me. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I think it was something about the writing style. It wasn't anything obvious, just something that kept this from being a great book. It was good, just not great.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Old Curiosity Shop: The End

I finished another Dickens this week by wrapping up The Old Curiosity Shop. I enjoyed it, but it didn't displace any of my favorites.

I honestly can't say why I enjoyed it overall. Everytime I start writing something, it's really more of a negative. The characters do things that would drive me crazy in any other book. I usually hate to-good-to-be-true characters like Nell. I wanted to shake her almost as much as I wanted to shake her grandfather. Yet, she really didn't have much choice in a lot of her actions, and her grandfather is all she has. We love people despite their faults, even when they make it nearly impossible.

I also felt like this book dragged quite a bit in the middle. Nell and her grandfather travel from place to place and the same sort of things keep happening and I kept wanting Dickens to just get on with it already. We do meet some interesting characters along the way, which makes you manage to keep going, but it just starts getting old after a while.

This book does have one of the best villains. Quilp is an evil dwarf! He is definitely experiencing little-man syndrome and makes everyone around him miserable and shows his power as much as he can. For the Feb. prompt for November's Autumn's Classic Challenge, I thought I would write about him. Katherine's level 3 prompt is to write a paragraph as one of the characters. I kept picturing Quilp as a Gollum-like creature, so that influenced my response.

"Oh, my precious. Whose life shall we ruin today? Hee hee hee," Quilp said while stroking a stack of coins. "Ah, it's so nice to have this shop full of my goods. Mine! It's all mine, preciouses. I think today may be the day to spring the trap on Kit. That will teach him it will. What's that precious? My wretched wife is at the door? Let's hide behind this chair and jump out and beat her. Hee hee hee."

It's not the best paragraph in the world, but it shows how Quilp is only concerned about money and torturing people. I think it's funny that the actor who played Quilp did the voice for one of my favorite characters - Dobby! He also played the Dream Lord in Doctor Who!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Queen of the Big Time

Adriana Trigiani is one of those authors who I read one book by her and then felt compelled to by three more...and leave them on the shelf for years. Ugh. When reaching for The Queen of the Big Time, I had a feeling this was going to be one of those books were it's clear that my tastes have changed over time, but that was not the case!

The Queen of the Big Time looks like fluff - it's got a window shop on the front with a dress and hat box and shoes. But it's surprisingly deeper than I expected. In it, Nella grows up during the 1920s on a farm and dreams of living in town and continuing her education and becoming a teacher. When her plans are forced to change, she surprises everyone with how she handles it, including her self. Nella grows older through the novel, so you see the outcomes of her choices. It focuses on how we make so many choices in life, and we can't go back. We have to keep moving forward. We can't sit around questioning why something happened or what would have happened if we'd made a different decision. We'll miss what's right in front of us if we do that.

This is well written and is a great book if you're looking chick lit with some meat or something lighter that's not just fluff! I'm looking forward to reading the other books of hers I own now! Although I will warn you - it did make me crave Italian food because it's about an Italian-American community. Yum! Good thing that's what we're having tonight for Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Girl with a Pearl Earring

I'm really glad I've enjoyed all of Tracy Chevalier's novels so far, since for some reason I bought several of them before ever reading anything by her. They are quick, light, fun reads that don't feel like pure fluff. While at first I thought about not posting anything about The Girl with the Pearl Earring- it was good, but there's not a lot to really talk about - but then I realized how much it made me appreciate my life.

Greit, the main character, is forced to become a maid to help feed her family. She works all day at hard labor six days a week. On her day off, she goes back home to see her parents and go to church and turn over her wages so they can eat. When offered an opportunity for marriage, she has to take it, and will still have a life of hard work ahead of her.

When you think about that, I feel guilty for the things I complain about, especially when I've complained about work over the years. Even at my lowest career points, I've never had to do hard physical labor six days a week, morning to night! I've never had to put up with my bosses' bratty children trying to get me in trouble or make my job harder. Even in a bad economy, there were still options and places to move on to.

I would never be in a position where I need to marry someone for money or security. I didn't have to settle for someone I just liked because they could take care of me. Sometimes I think we complain inadvertently about the fact that we have choices. We choose our careers, our spouses, where we live - in most ways our lot in life is up to us. Instead of being grateful for having choices, we whine about it. So, while also having an interesting story, this book made me appreciate what I have!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Color Purple

Wow. Wow wow wow. Have you read The Color Purple? If not, go get on it!!! I've had this on my shelf for YEARS. Like I bought in high school kind of years ago. My junior year English teacher recommended Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston to me, and the introduction in my edition talked about how Alice Walker basically rediscovered Hurston - both her works and her gravesite, which had been unmarked. One I read and fell in love with Their Eyes Were Watching God, I wanted to thank Walker by reading her work. But for some reason it set on my shelf for a while, then I read Morrison and don't love her the way most people do and I was afraid I'd feel the same way about Walker and so I've put it off.

Since I'm trying to read all of the unread books I own and it's Black History Month, I made a stack of books by African-American authors from my shelves and decided to start with The Color Purple. And I'm so glad I FINALLY read this!

Walker creates an amazing story of Celie, drawing you right into the action. It starts off like a train wreck you just can't look away from as she tells her horrible story in a matter of fact manner. Something about her just sucks you and I couldn't stop reading. Dialect doesn't always work, but much like it works in Their Eyes Were Watching God, it clearly works here. The letters show the clear differences between Celie and Nettie, two sisters writing each other. They each have a distinct voice that shines through.

The Color Purple is more than a novel about race - it's about gender, will and humanity. What makes a person strong? What is the best way to show strength - through fighting or turning the other cheek? Why are some people so horrible? How can humans treat each other so poorly?

I adored Sofia. She's a spitfire! She's such a contrast to Celie - ain't nobody gonna git her down! She was just so vivid and alive and I identified with her more in the beginning because fighting has always been my first instinct, even if it causes more trouble. It was interesting to watch both Sofia and Celie change and grow through the novel.

One of the things that surprised me was Nettie becoming a missionary in Africa, and I really enjoyed reading those sections. Seeing her travel to London and have her eyes opened to how blacks can be treated in a white a society (in a good way) and then learning more about African history - the good and the bad. She learns about blacks in biblical times, in Egyptian times, the things they created. And she also learns how Africans participated in the slave trade, selling their fellow Africans. That's one of the things I love about travel - it makes you see things differently, even if it's not always comfortable. I was also surprised that she talks about female genital mutilation. Considering how long ago this book came out and that there's still little attention paid to that subject, that surprised me. I almost wish I was back in school so I could write a paper about all of the feminist stuff in this book! It would be such a great book to teach if I were a teacher (and didn't have to worry about censorship - I'm sure it's not allowed to be taught in most high schools).

Quotes I liked:
"But one thing I do thank her for, for teaching me to learn for myself, by reading and studying and writing a clear hand. And for keeping alive in me somehow the desire to know." Nettie talking about her teacher.

"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it." Shug - loved her too!

"I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ast. And that in wondering bout the big things and asting bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, he say, the more I love." Celie quoting Mr. _____.

If you haven't read this one, give it a try! It might take a little bit to get used to the dialect, but don't let that get to you!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy Birthday Mr. Dickens!

Well, I had good intentions and hoped to finish The Old Curiosity Shop in time to post about it today, but alas, I'm not quite finished. So instead, in honor of Charles Dickens' 200th birthday, I'll write about why I love Dickens! This is my last post in celebration of Amanda's Charles Dickens Month!

20 (not 200!) reasons why I love Dickens!
  1. The lovable characters
  2. The wretched characters
  3. Spontaneous combustion
  4. Crazy coincidences
  5. Sprawling plots that tie up nicely
  6. His passion for caring for the poor
  7. Victorian London
  8. His sense of humor
  9. His bigger than life life
  10. I'm pretty sure he's the first true literary superstar
  11. People waited at the docks to hear what happened to poor Nell!
  12. Mrs. Jellyby even though I hate her
  13. The sense of hope his novels usually have, even in bleak circumstances
  14. He wrote way more books that most of my favorite classic writers
  15. He's still relevant today
  16. Our Mutual Friend will forever remind me of Desmond from Lost
  17. He reinvigorated Christmas
  18. He wrote about a range of classes - from the poor to the rich
  19. He helped invent the detective novel
  20. Bleak House Bleak House Bleak House!
That's not a comprehensive or well organized list - I just listed the first 20 things that popped in my head. :) As for the books, here are my favorites of the ones I've read so far:
  1. Bleak House
  2. A Christmas Carol
  3. David Copperfield
  4. Great Expectations
  5. Oliver Twist
  6. Nicholas Nickleby
  7. Little Dorrit
  8. The other Christmas stories
Still need to read:
  1. The Old Curiosity Shop (currently reading)
  2. Hard Times
  3. The Pickwick Papers (I've read excerpts, but not the whole thing)
  4. Our Mutual Friend (I'll probably save this for last!)
  5. A Tale of Two Cities (I'm hoping to have a French-themed month in July and read this...maybe I should have a reading month for French works/history/books about France?)
  6. Barnaby Rudge
  7. Martin Chuzzlewit
  8. Dombey and Son
  9. The Mystery of Edwin Drood (not sure if I can make myself read this unfinished work)
  10. The short stories, outside of the Christmas ones
Hmmm....I felt like I read a lot of Dickens until I made this list! I'm less than halfway there! Yikes! Although I have read most of the biggies at least. Maybe when I finish them all I can treat myself to a return trip to London and actually get to go in the Charles Dickens Museum this time! :) I hope you're having a lovely day celebrating Dickens!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The 19th Wife

I bought The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff at one of those stupid tempting 3 for 2 tables at Barnes and Noble at some point. As I'm reading through my TBR stacks, I'm realizing why it's good that I've stopped buying so much fiction like that and using the library more. Many of those books have been good, but rarely have they really been something I'd re-read and really want to own.

The 19th Wife started out very, very slow. I also made the mistake of not re-reading the back cover and being reminded that this isn't just a story about the woman known as Brigham Young's 19th wife. In my head, this was purely a historical novel. However, I quickly realized it's only partly a historical novel - it also tells the modern story of a gay former prostitute who was kicked out of the Firsts, a sect of the Church of the Latter-day Saints, and his mother who is being held in jail for killing his father. It took me a few chapters to adjust to the change in narration!

I picked this book up because I've read a few memoirs of girls who were part of the LDS sect run by Warren Jeffs, the one that's been in the news the last few years for polygamous marriage, child abuse/neglect, rape,  and underage marriage. That's all here in The 19th Wife as well. This culture fascinates me. How does something get so twisted? Why do the women go along with this? How did it all start? Those answers come much more strongly in the historical portion of the novel.

Ebershoff clearly put a lot of effort into his research. The historical parts actually made me question whether they were actually fiction or excerpts from real documents. Apparently they are fictionalized accounts based on real documents, such as Eliza Ann Young's (the 19th wife) memoirs. They seemed real to me and really brought those characters to life. He shows how Joseph Smith and Brigham Young introduced polygamy into their religion and how they slowly made it the norm and convinced people that it was the only way to salvation. While I still don't get how people could go along with it, I do have a better understanding of their motivations. They truly believed that their salvation was based on what the Prophet said, and the thought of not going to Heaven convinced them to go along with things they wouldn't normally do. Later on, it became such an ingrained part of culture that the people just didn't know any better. (Although the amount of people who runaway tells me that most people still know right from wrong deep down.)

While I enjoyed the mystery portion of the modern storyline, I just felt like it was a little over the top. And I just didn't care for any of the characters in this section. A lot of the action was unbelievable, from Tom falling for Jordan practically at first sight to Jordan's conversations with his mother to the runaway kid they help to the trouble they get into trying to solve the murder. I liked that he shared how the kids who do runaway - or are kicked out - of the Firsts often had to turn to prostitution to survive. He also detailed how the boys are often kicked out because they are competition for the older men who want pretty young wives. And he details how polygamy dehumanizes the men as well as the women.

Once I got into it, the book picked up and I read the second half quickly and did end up enjoying it. There was just something that kept me from loving it, and I don't think I'd ever re-read it. I do think if you're interested in in understanding how the polygamous sects of the LDS started and continue on today, I do think it's a worthwhile read, and it did make more want to read more non-fiction about the founding of the Mormon church.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Old Curiosity Shop: The Middle

I'm a little behind on this week's post for Amanda's Charles Dickens Month, although I have been enjoying The Old Curiosity Shop. Hopefully I will manage to finish it up before the final post on Tuesday. Warning - this post has spoilerish things in it from the first half of the book.

At this point, Nell and her grandfather have fled London and the evil dwarf Quilp. It amazes me that they just leave with little money and have to rely on finding odd jobs and the kindness of strangers along the way. I can't really imagine doing that now. It just seems so dangerous.

Along their journey, the meet a plethora of unusual characters. They join fellow travelers putting on a Punch and Judy show and later join a traveling wax works show. It's hard to know who to trust and if they'll be safe. However, Nell soon learns she can't even trust her own grandfather.

It broke my heart when Nell caught her grandfather stealing from her and gambling the money away. He's no better than her brother Fred. This is a reminder that the enemy of your enemy isn't necessarily your friend. Just because he sees that Fred is bad doesn't mean that he's good. It also shows the destruction that a gambling habit can cause. I want to reach in the book and throttle gramps. Ugh. How can he do that to poor little Nell?

Despite this, I'm still really enjoying the story and like that I don't quite know where the story is going. Hopefully I can finish it up this weekend, so back to reading for me!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Prince

Ryan, my husband, is currently going back to school to become a history teacher. In one of his classes he has to read The Prince, so I decided to read it with him. It was nice to be able to talk about it with him after we both finished!

One of the fun things about reading this was the references to Francesco Sforza. I had happened to read a National Geographic article about the Sforza family the night before I started The Prince. It's weird how things like that happen. That's one of the things I like most about reading - all of the connections.

Overall, I really liked most of the points Machiavelli makes. I think the book gets a bad rap based on just a few of his points, or some of his points taken out of context. Ryan mentioned that someone in his class described Maciavelli as amoral, not immoral, and that seems accurate.

He talks a lot about the importance of planning: "When trouble is sensed in advance it can easily be remedied; if you wait for it to show itself any medicine will be too late because the disease will have become incurable." How often do we let problems go until they develop into some massive issue? It's usually so much better if we think ahead and address things before they get out of control.

I also thought this was interesting: "you cannot have good laws without good arms, and where there are good arms, good laws inevitably follow." I think this is something people miss about the second amendment - it's there so the people have a way to protect themselves from the government. If the government tries to take over the people, like what happened in Soviet Russia, people who are armed can prevent that, just like how the Americans rebelled against the British. When you take away people's arms, you take away that protective barrier.

He also talks about how you will fail if you use another army to fight your battles. This made me think of the Middle East and all the conflict there that is probably made worse with outside intervention. His example was that Rome fell when they started using the Goths as their army. The Goths eventually turned on them and took over.

This was a quick little read and even with all the historical references that may not be familiar to everyone, I don't think that would take away from the main points. I'm glad I finally read the whole thing instead of just the excerpts I'd read in various classes!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Projects/Challenges Updates

I thought I'd do an update post about my reading for January and the progress I've made oon projects and challenges. I enjoy reading other people's updates and it will help my stay organized!

TBR Double Dare/Project
I'm focusing on finally clearing off my TBR stacks. I've read 15 books from my shelves so far (not all in Jan.), and started and abandoned (and donated) three others. Woohoo! As part of this personal goal, I'm participating in CB's TBR Double Dare. So far so good! I've only read from my stacks so far in 2012. My one cheat book was supposed to be Claire Tomalin's Dickens biography, which came in from the library reserve list at the end of Dec., but since I gave up on it after 100 pages, so it barely even counts as an exception. I even went to the library once to pick up a book for my husband and resisted temptation! I think I'm enjoying marking stuff off my list so much I managed to stay strong. :) I did break down and buy one new book though. I was buying a baby gift for a friend at the bookstore and couldn't resist. I can't remember the last time I came home from a bookstore with just one book though! And I wouldn't read it until the double dare is over.

Greek Classics Challenge
I've read three plays by Euripides in January for Jean at Howling Frog's Greek Classics Challenge. It's been easier than I thought, so hopefully I can meet my goal of reading the rest of his and Aristophanes' plays this year.

A Classics Challenge
I read A Room with a View for November's Autumn's A Classics Challenge and posted it and it's author, EM Forster. I'm looking forward to reading more of him in the future!

I'm looking forward to making more progress on some of the other challenges in February and reading some books for Black History Month. Should be fun!