The Haunted House by Charles Dickens

This book was originally written as a Christmas book. Apparently, Dickens’ adoring public wanted more Christmas stories after That Big One. But he got tired of churning them out alone, so he invited some friends to join in on the fun. The result is The Haunted House. The narrator finds a lovely old delapidated house to move into, but the servants won’t stay because they think it’s haunted. He gets some friends to come live with him for a few months as an experiment. At the end of a pre-determined amount of time, they agree to all come together to tell if their rooms are haunted. The book is the resulting tales. There is one by Dickens himself, of course, and one by Wilkie Collins, and one by Elizabeth Gaskell.

I have to say, here that I tried and tried and tried to read A Whisper in the Dark. I did. But I only got about 50 pages in because every time I tried to read it, I fell asleep! Like, after 3 pages. It was awful. I didn’t even really know what was going on. So, with CarlV’s permission, I’m going to substitute my reading of The Thirteenth Tale for Whisper’s spot on my list of 5 for the RIP Challenge.

Which means I’ve read my 5 books! Go me.

On Blogging

Michael Benton of Reconstruction asked me why I blog. I had to think about this for awhile. I started blogging because my husband wanted to try setting up a blog, but I don’t think he actually wanted to do the blogging. At first, I didn’t know what I was going to talk about. There’s nothing worse than trying to come up with something to say to a crowd of strangers, unless it’s trying to come up with something to say to a crowd of strangers you can’t see, and who may not even care that you’re saying anything. My husband suggested I just blog about books. I thought, “OK. I can do that. That’s not too personal. We’ll give it a shot.”

So that’s how I started blogging a year and a half ago, but why do I still do it? I have found that the best way to meet like-minded individuals is to post my opinions on what I have read, and invite others to comment on what I’ve written. There is no better way to learn the opinions of others, than to state your own. Then I find out that I am not alone in not being able to get through that book. Or I get encouragement from someone who made it through. “It does get better,” they tell me.

I’ve made some “friends”. I’ve never met jmfausti, but we found out we share a birthday and traded cards last year. There are several people I worry about when they suddenly stop blogging with no warning.

The best part about blogging is that you can stay in touch with people, hear what they are thinking and what’s going on in their lives, and you don’t have to both be available at the same time. I “hear from” my blog people nearly every day, even if they’re on the other side of the world.

I don’t have any brilliant theory on blogging. Those are my motives, but I can’t answer for anyone else.

Do I Dare?

Yes, I dare! I dare!

Over on A Work in Progress, I found this list. I love lists. They make me happy. So, I will repost with the one’s I’ve read in bold. You can do it, too!

1. Don Quixote – Miguel De Cervantes (Ok. Only half.)
2. Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
3. Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
4. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
5. Tom Jones – Henry Fielding
6. Clarissa – Samuel Richardson
7. Tristram Shandy – Laurence Sterne
8. Dangerous Liaisons – Pierre Choderlos De Laclos
9. Emma – Jane Austen
10. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
11. Nightmare Abbey – Thomas Love Peacock (I’m afraid I have never heard of this one…)
12. The Black Sheep – Honore De Balzac
13. The Charterhouse of Parma – Stendhal
14. The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
15. Sybil – Benjamin Disraeli
16. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
17. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
18. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
19. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
20. The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
21. Moby-Dick Herman Melville
22. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
23. The Woman in White -Wilkie Collins
24. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
25. Little Women – Louisa M. Alcott
26. The Way We Live Now – Anthony Trollope (tried it. Hated it.)
27. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
28. Daniel Deronda – George Eliot
29. The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
30. The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
31. Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
32. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
33. Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K. Jerome
34. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
35. The Diary of a Nobody – George Grossmith
36. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy (reading this now)
37. The Riddle of the Sands – Erskine Childers
38. The Call of the Wild – Jack London
39. Nostromo – Joseph Conrad
40. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
41. In Search of Lost Time – Marcel Proust
42. The Rainbow – D. H. Lawrence
43. The Good Soldier – Ford Madox Ford
44. The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan
45. Ulysses – James Joyce
46. Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
47. A Passage to India – E. M. Forster
48. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
49. The Trial – Franz Kafka
50. Men Without Women – Ernest Hemingway
51. Journey to the End of the Night Louis – Ferdinand Celine
52. As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
53. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley*
54. Scoop – Evelyn Waugh
55. USA – John Dos Passos
56. The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
57. The Pursuit Of Love – Nancy Mitford
58. The Plague – Albert Camus
59. Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
60. Malone Dies – Samuel Beckett
61. Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
62. Wise Blood – Flannery O’Connor
63. Charlotte’s Web – E. B. White
64. The Lord Of The Rings J. R. R. Tolkien
65. Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis
66. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
67. The Quiet American – Graham Greene
68 On the Road – Jack Kerouac
69. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
70. The Tin Drum – Gunter Grass
71. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
72. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
73. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
74. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
75. Herzog – Saul Bellow
76. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
77. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont – Elizabeth Taylor
78. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – John Le Carre
79. Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison
80. The Bottle Factory Outing – Beryl Bainbridge
81. The Executioner’s Song – Norman Mailer
82. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller – Italo Calvino
83. A Bend in the River – V. S. Naipaul
84. Waiting for the Barbarians – J.M. Coetzee
85. Housekeeping – Marilynne Robinson
86. Lanark – Alasdair Gray
87. The New York Trilogy – Paul Auster*
88. The BFG – Roald Dahl
89. The Periodic Table – Primo Levi
90. Money – Martin Amis
91. An Artist of the Floating World – Kazuo Ishiguro
92. Oscar And Lucinda – Peter Carey
93. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera
94. Haroun and the Sea af Stories – Salman Rushdie
95. La Confidential – James Ellroy
96. Wise Children Angela Carter
97. Atonement – Ian McEwan
98. Northern Lights – Philip Pullman
99. American Pastoral – Philip Roth
100. Austerlitz – W. G. Sebald

So how many is that? 31? Not too bad. Almost a third. I’d say there’s definitely some skewing toward the 19th century, there.

What is a Classic?

Inspired by reading this post at Work in Progress, I thought about my classics reading. I love classics. I’ve read a lot of them. Then I read the comments where there was a discussion about what is a big classic and what is a minor classic. I’ve probably read a good portion of the “major” classics. Or have I? What are the major and minor classics? Can anyone help me out here? What books are classics?

Book Bog

I’m reading soooo slooowly. I can barely get in 10 pages before I fall asleep in my book. I guess there is so much life happening, that I’m too tired to read. Darn life!

Blood and Gold by Anne Rice

Blood and Gold (Vampire Chronicles)3 down. 2 to go. This was one of my selections for Carl V.’s RIP Challenge (see sidebar for a link if you’ve been in a cave for the last month and don’t know what I’m talking about.) It took some work to get into. It is the story of the Vampire Marius, but it starts out with this random vampire up north buried in ice, Thorne. Thorne wakes up, and goes looking for his Maker. He’s really pissed at her for making him a vampire. So Thorne meets up with Marius and they hang out at Marius’ house for awhile and Marius tells Thorne his life’s story. All 2500 years of it. That part is great. Especially since we got the other side of some of it in The Vampire Armand. The ending is extremely strange. Thorne meets up with his Maker. He destroys a slimy, cowardly vampire she’d been protecting as payment for his own life when she made him a vampire. He tried to choke her. Then he gives her his eyes because she doesn’t have any. Wait. What? I thought he was angry with her. Then he gives her his eyes? I do not understand. Anyway, it was a really great book right up until that last page. I’m convinced there is a continuation in some other book. That must be it.

Wish Me Luck.

Tomorrow, I will accompany (on the piano) a group of Mid-High singers in church. 3 services. The song is very difficult. Both to sing and to play. The kids have done a great job learning their part, but I just cannot get this darn piano part down. Right now, I am praying that I will be able to play it decently without any places where I get so messed up I just have to stop playing and catch up later. I’d hate to get fired from my volunteer job as youth choir accompanist. HAHAHAHAHA! Who am I kidding? They’d never find anyone else stupid enough to take it on. Anyway. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that I don’t embarrass myself in front of hundreds of people. Well, you keep your fingers crossed. I’ll keep mine on the piano keys.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel Some people prefer to write a review after some time has elapsed since reading the book. This is hard for me. It’s been over a week since I finished the book, but I haven’t had the necessary combination of time and a working computer. So, this review will probably seem less gushing and heartfelt than it would have been had I written it immediately after finishing the book. Just know that I did LOVE the book.

For those of you who have been under a rock for the last month, I will describe the story a little. A young woman receives an invitation from the foremost writer in England. Vida Winter wants the young lady to come to her house on the moors and write her life’s story, which till this time she has kept a secret. She is dying, and she wants the secret written down before she goes. And what a secret it is!!!

I know tons of people have compared it to Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. But they’re so right! Not because of any similarity in events (well just the one), but because of the atmosphere of the thing. The way it makes you feel. It also reminded me a lot of Wuthering Heights. Again, the atmosphere more than events, although the seclusion of the family in the house is quite similar. And, of course, Jane Eyre turns up over and over.

All in all, it was quite wonderful. It was dark and mysterious, but only mildly scary. I don’t go in for horror, so this combo worked for me. Two thumbs up.