Contented Reader

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  • My Antonia, by Willa Cather.  Enjoy it as a tale of female pioneers, or as a pseudoautobiographical, crypyolesbian novel.
  • The Hunting of the Snark, by Lewis Carroll.  I’m assuming you have read Alice in Wonderland, but have you read Carroll’s other great work of nonsense?
  • Departmental Ditties and Barrack Room Ballads, by Rudyard Kipling.  Everybody enjoys a good Kipling poem, don’t they?  Do you know about Michael Longcor’s Norman & Saxon?  It’s a collection of Kipling poems set to music.
  • Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomerey.  If you don’t already love the spunky, imaginative, redheaded orphan, you’ve missed an important part of your teen girlhood.  You can catch up now.
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Everyone learned in history class about the role this sentimental melodrama played in the Civil War, but have you actually read it?  You might be surprised at how well it reads.  You can’t start a war with a boring book, in general.

Written by Contented Reader

January 16, 2013 at 6:59 am

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For your reading benefit, I’ve sorted through and looked up the books that have been added or updated at Project Gutenberg lately.  Here are a few of the things that might be interesting to add to your Personal Reading Device.

  • This Simian World, by Clarence Day.  I didn’t realize I knew Clarence Day until I looked him up.  It turns out he’s the author of  Life with Father, a book I read repeatedly as a teacher and remember liking a lot.  On a quick skim, it appears to be a reflection on evolution, and the degree to which it is not all that offensive to be called an ape.  With whimsy.
  • Greater Britain: A Record of Travel in English-Speaking Countries during 1866-1867, by Charles Wentworth Dilke.  If you read here regularly then you’ll have noticed that I’m a sucker for old travel books.  They don’t even have to be especially well-written.  I’m just fascinated by one traveler’s experience of places that are changed or gone forever, filtered through the expectations and prejudices of that time.  I haven’t gotten far into this one, but it opens with a description of the southern United States, which Dilke apparently visited immediately after the Civil War.  With a chapter titled, “The Negro,” in which he will explain about that subject to the British reader.  It is, you’ll be shocked to learn, a little racist.
  • Half a Hundred Hero Tales.  Published 1913, a collection of stories from mythology, intended for children.  Aeneas, Theseus, and Hercules seem to figure prominently.
  • Through the Year with Famous Authors, by Mabel Patterson.  It’s a calendar, with dates associated with famous authors.  The interest, to me, is that many of the ‘famous’ authors Patterson describes and excerpts in 1925 are people I’ve never heard of.  It might make an interesting starting point for someone like me, who uses the electronic reader and the resources of Project Gutenberg to rediscover forgotten books.
  • The Queer, the Quaint, and the Quizzical: A Cabinet for the Curious, by Frank H. Stauffer. I’m not sure quite how to describe this.  Like an ancestor of the bathroom reader, maybe?  It contains lots of very short, one-sentence to one-paragraph descriptions of things you might find interesting.  A list of Puritan names.  A description of misprinted Bibles.  Short, amusing wills.
  • The City of Beautiful Nonsense, by E. Temple Thurston.  A woman is in love with a poor man, but feels obligated to marry for money.  This book was a bestseller and the source for two movies.  It isn’t usually difficult to find old silent movies online, but I couldn’t find the 1919 film anywhere I looked, though it seems to have been a good movie, from the little writing about it I found.  Now I’m curious.

Written by Contented Reader

January 9, 2013 at 7:56 am

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Written by Contented Reader

October 31, 2012 at 6:16 am

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  • Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, volume 1 and volume 2.  Laugh at Don Quixote’s ridiculous adventures as he wanders the Spanish countryside mistaking himself for a storybook knight-errant.  Then pause and ask yourself whether it’s better to be realistic, or to live in a happier world of your own imagining.  Hmm.
  • One Hundred Merrie and Delightsome Stories, by Leon Lebeque and Robert B. Douglas.  Not, as I hoped it might be, the ‘Hundred Merry Tales’ that is name-checked in Much Ado About Nothing.  This one is from 1899 France.  Besides being merrie and delightsome, the tales also look like they’re fairly naughty.
  • Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant.  Mark Twain admired President Grant immensely, and when Grant was ill and bankrupt, it was Twain who published the book, which they both hoped would help him return to solvency.  Unfortunately, Grant died just days after the writing was finished, and the profits went to his heirs instead.

Written by Contented Reader

October 24, 2012 at 5:21 am

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  • The Chapter Ends, by Poul Anderson.  A 1954 short story by the famous science fiction author.
  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.  Because if you don’t have a copy of this novel on your electronic reader, you are a barbarian and you can’t be my friend.
  • A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  You don’t have to be good to be awesome.
  • King Solomon’s Mines, by H. Rider Haggard.  The best of the novels about Allan Quartermain, Victorian adventurer in deepest and most improbable Africa.
  • The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu, by Sax Rohmer.  I’m sure this tale of the notorious Chinese master criminal will not be even a little bit racist.  Right?
  • Othello, by William Shakespeare.  Shakespeare’s second-least-funny play.  The least funny play, of course, is A Comedy of Errors.
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain.  My vote for best American novel ever has changed over the years.  After college, it was Beloved.  Then it was Moby-Dick.  For a long time, I iconoclastically insisted on Lolita as the best claimant.  But right now, I’m going with Huck Finn.

Written by Contented Reader

October 17, 2012 at 6:11 am

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  • Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert.  Provincial banality.  Adultery.  French people.
  • Barnaby Rudge, by Charles Dickens.  Murder.  Catholicism.  English people.
  • The Light that Failed, by Rudyard Kipling.  A painter struggles to finish his masterwork in the face of impending blindness.
  • Travels in Alaska, by John Muir.  Just what it says on the label: travels.  In Alaska.
  • The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe.  Just memorize it.  “Once upon a midnight dreary…”
  • Psmith, Journalist, by P. G. Wodehouse.  Because your ereader is incomplete without Psmith.
  • Pirate Cinema, by Cory Doctorow.  Will oppressive copyright laws end Trent’s remixing of film, and ruin his family’s lives?

Written by Contented Reader

October 10, 2012 at 6:11 am

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  • Miss Mapp, by E. F. Benson.  This book is hilarious.  It concerns the small-town petty drama and snobbery of the title character, and the writing just sparkles.  It was the basis, along with other books in the series, for the TV series Mapp and Lucia.
  • Sir Nigel, by Arthur Conan Doyle.  Because he didn’t only write Sherlock Holmes, although that’s all anyone reads now.  This is the story of the life and adventures of a medieval knight during the Hundred Years’ War.
  • The Career of Katherine Bush, by Elinor Glyn.  She was an author of mildly naughty romantic fiction.  I know her from Dorothy Parker’s little poem: Would you like to sin/with Elinor Glyn/on a tiger sin?/Or would you prefer/to err with her/ on some other fur?
  • Our British Snails, by John William Horsley.  I don’t know.  There’s just something appealing about this idea to me.  Here’s Reverent Horsley, who, in 1915, wrote a book about snails.  If any book could reasonably be expected to vanish entirely from the world, this is it.  And yet, here it is, and, in his tiny, tiny, snail-like way, Reverent Horsley is immortal.
  • The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar, by Maurice Leblanc.  By day, Lupin is a stylish man of taste and culture.  At night, he robs the homes of the rich.  Like Batman, but not.  And funnier than Batman.  Loads funnier.
  • The Great God Panby Arthur Machen.  This horror story inspired both HP Lovecraft and Stephen King.
  • Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda.  This spiritual journey is a classic of eastern mysticism.

BONUS FREE EBOOK!

  • Rapture of the Nerds, by Cory Doctorow and Charlie Stross.  Doctorow always releases his books under a Creative Commons license, and makes them available for free download.  In this one, humans get a choice between life on Earth, and having their minds uploaded to a community of minds.  I’ll be watching his web site for his newest book, which is supposed to come out this week, too.

Written by Contented Reader

October 3, 2012 at 6:14 am

Posted in Project Gutenberg