55 Free Kindle Books Worth Reading

It seems to me that if one were to purchase a Kindle as a gift for a young adult or an older child and load it with all of the following books, the recipient would be happily fixed for reading material for several years. Older adults should enjoy most of these, too.

Alcott, Louisa May. Eight Cousins. My favorite LMA novel, this book tells the story of Rose and her many, many boy cousins who all live on Aunt Hill and grow up together as one big happy family.

Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women.

Allen, James Lane. The Choir Invisible. Set in Kentucky in the late 1700’s, this romance follows the fortunes of a schoolteacher, John Gray, and his romantic entanglements.

Austen, Jane. Emma. Emaa, like me, rushes in where angels fear to tread and gets herself into all sorts of trouble as a result. Emma is a book about the dangers of trying to run other people’s lives.

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Don’t we all have a little pride and a little prejudice to overcome in our relationships?

Barrie, J.M. The Little Minister. The novel was the third of the three “Thrums” novels set in rural Scotland, which first brought Barrie to fame. The other two novels with the same setting were Auld Licht Idylls and A Window in Thrums.

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Semicolon thoughts on Jane Eyre.

Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Emily’s classic romance about Cathy and Heathcliff takes some work to get into, but t is worth the effort. The problem is that neither Cathy nor Heathcliff is particularly likeable, but they did deserve each other. And such passionate, drama-driven creatures do exist.

Burnett, Frances Hodgson. A Little Princess, being the whole story of Sara Crewe now told for the first time. Burnett’s 1888 serialized novel entitled Sara Crewe: or, What Happened at Miss Minchin’s Boarding School, was originally published in St. Nicholas Magazine. If you’ve only seen a movie version of this story, I don’t think you can really get the flavor and feel of Victorian poverty and rags-to-riches.

Burnett, Frances Hodgson. The Secret Garden. I always wanted a secret garden after reading this book.

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. From Alice and from Lewis Carroll in general I learned: odd things happen in this world. You just have to go with it, and see what will happen in the end.

Chesterton,G.K. The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare. Another odd duck of a book. Semicolon thoughts on The Man Who Was Thursday.

Christie, Agatha. The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

Dickens, Charles. David Copperfield. My favorite Dickens novel.

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. We read Great Expectations out loud when my older children were probably 12, 10, 8, and 6 years of age, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Paris and London are the cities; historical romance and intrigue is the genre.

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. A collection of twelve Sherlock Holmes stories including A Scandal in Bohemia, The Adventure of the Red-Headed League, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, and The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.

Dreiser, Theodore. Sister Carrie. Classic tale of a fallen woman who actually ends up with nothing worse than a feeling of vague discomfort with her pointless life. Semicolon review here.

Dumas, Alexandre. The Three Musketeers. A celebration of Alexandre Dumas and his books.

Eliot, Geoge. Adam Bede. Semicolon thoughts on Adam Bede.

Gaskell, Elizabeth. Cranford. Note that the “serialized novel” aspect of this book make it quite episodic, not very plot-driven. I liked it anyway. Semicolon thoughts on Cranford.

Grahame, Kenneth. The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Grahame and The Wind in the Willows.

Hardy, Thomas. Far From the Madding Crowd. This novel, a “tragedy of errors”, was Hardy’s fourth published novel, and its success enabled him to give up architecture, get married, and become a full time novelist.

Hudson, W.H. Green Mansions. Semicolon thoughts on Green Mansions.

Hughes, Thomas. Tom Brown’s Schooldays. This one is the grandaddy of all boarding school books; the setting is Thomas Arnold’s Rugby School in Victorian England. Tom Brown is a typical English boy who grows up to epitomize the virtues of a British public school education and the essence of British manhood.

Hugo, Victor. Les Miserables. My. favorite. novel. ever. Read it all, even the parts about the history of the sewers of Paris and the Napoleonic wars.

Lang, Andrew. The Blue Fairy Book. The others in this series of fairy tale collections—red, green, orange, olive, yellow, violet, crimson— are also available in free Kindle editions or in low-cost illustrated editions.

MacDonald, George. The Light Princess and Other Fairy Stories. A princess is cursed with a complete lack of gravity, both physical and emotional.

MacDonald, George. The Princess and Curdie.

MacDonald, George. The Princess and the Goblin. More about author George Macdonald.

MacLaren, Ian. Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush. A collection of stories of church life in a glen called Drumtochty in Scotland in the 1800’s.

Malory, Thomas. L’Morte d’Arthur. “IT befell in the days of Uther Pendragon, when he was king of all England, and so reigned, that there was a mighty duke in Cornwall that held war against him long time. And the duke was called the Duke of Tintagil. And so by means King Uther sent for this duke, charging him to bring his wife with him, for she was called a fair lady, and a passing wise, and her name was called Igraine.”

Melville, Herman. Moby Dick, or The White Whale. Semicolon thoughts on Moby Dick.

Meredith, George. Diana of the Crossways. Semicolon thoughts on Diana of the Crossways.

Mulock Craik, Dinah Maria. John Halifax, Gentleman. More about Dinah Maria Mulock Craik and her novel.

Orczy, Baroness Emmuska. The Scarlet Pimpernel. Several sequels are also available for free.

Pyle, Howard. Otto of the Silver Hand.

Scott, Sir Walter. Ivanhoe. Brown Bear Daughter started reading this one aloud to us, but I guess it will have to wait for us to finish after her return from a month long mission trip to Slovakia.

Sewell, Anna. Black Beauty. Best horse story ever.

Sidney, Margaret. Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. Five children–Ben, Polly, Joel, Davie, and Phronsie— live with their widowed Mamsie in poverty in a little brown house.

Sienkiewicz, Henryk. Quo Vadis: a narrative of the time of Nero.

Spyri, Johana. Heidi. Read Heidi. It’s a wonderful story about a feisty little girl, Heidi, and her friend Peter and how they are tempted to do wrong, confused about spiritual things, and finally loved and forgiven. The themes of the story—-broken relationships, reconciliation, forgiveness, sin and temptation–-are woven into the story in a way that teaches and entertains at the same time. Modern writers of “Christian fiction” could learn a few things from reading and emulating Johanna Spyri’s classic book.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. A Child’s Garden of Verses. First poems for children and lovely memories of childhood for adults.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. More about Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships. The first and second books of this four-part satire are the best. Parts three and four are extremely odd, and Lemuel Gulliver ends up preferring the company of horses to men.

Tarkington, Booth. Penrod. Just as funny and insightful as Tom Sawyer about a boy’s life and thoughts.

Thackeray, William Makepeace. Vanity Fair.

Trollope, Anthony. Barchester Towers. Thackeray isn’t quite as hopeful about life and human nature as Dickens, and Trollope is gently cynical, but all three Victorian novelists knew how to create memorable characters.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

“But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can’t stand it. I been there before.”

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Wallace, Lew. Ben-Hur, a Tale of the Christ. Judah Ben-Hur = Charlton Heston, however, the book is worth reading.

Wharton, Edith. House of Mirth. Edith Wharton and House of Mirth.

Wiggin, Kate Douglas. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I know I’m in a minority, but I enjoyed Rebecca just as much as I did Anne of Green Gables. And I couldn’t find a free Kindle version of Anne of Green Gables, even though several of the sequels were available for free.

Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde certainly knew how to show that the “wages of sin is death.”

Wodehouse, P.G. Right Ho, Jeeves!

“It is impossible to be unhappy while reading the adventures of Jeeves and Wooster. And I’ve tried.” ~Christopher Buckley.

Advanced Reading Survey: Eugenie Grandet by Honore de Balzac

I’ve decided that on Mondays I’m going to revisit the books I read for a course in college called Advanced Reading Survey, taught by the eminent scholar and lovable professor, Dr. Huff. I’m not going to re-read all the books and poems I read for that course, probably more than fifty, but I am going to post to Semicolon the entries in the reading journal that I was required to keep for that class because I think that my entries on these works of literature may be of interest to readers here and because I’m afraid that the thirty year old spiral notebook in which I wrote these entries may fall apart ere long. I may offer my more mature perspective on the books, too, if I remember enough about them to do so.

Author Note:
Honore de Balzac, son of an officer in Napoleon’s army, was greatly influenced and impressed by the great emperor’s career. He once wrote, under a picture of Napoleon, “What Napoleon could not do with the sword, I will accomplish with the pen.”
Balzac wrote at an incredible pace throughout his life, and although much of his work was of negligible value, stuff written solely to support himself and pay his creditors, he did manage to turn out a few masterpieces, including Eugenie Grandet and Le Pere Goriot. Balzac died in Paris in 1850 at the age of 51, possibly weakened by his intense writing schedule and his incessant coffee drinking.

Gustave Flaubert on Balzac: “What a man he would have been had he known how to write!”
Victor Hugo: “Balzac was one of the first among the greatest, one of the highest among the best.”
Henry James: “Large as Balzac is, he is all of one piece and he hangs perfectly together.”
Marxist Freidrich Engels: “I have learned more [from Balzac] than from all the professional historians, economists and statisticians put together.”

Plot Summary:
Eugenie Grandet falls in love with her cousin, Charles, but her father is a miser who refuses to allow her to marry a penniless man. Eventually, Eugenie becomes wealthy and miserly herself, following in her father’s footsteps.

Characters:
Monsieur Felix Grandet: an old miser
Madame Grandet: His wife
Eugenie Grandet: the daughter
Nanon: the family’s only servant
Charles Grandet: Eugenie’s cousin

Quotations:
“Innocence alone can dare to be so bold. Once enlightened, virtue makes her calculations as well as vice.”

“Flattery never emanates from noble souls; it is the gift of little minds who thus still further belittle themselves to worm their way into the vital being of persons around whom they crawl. Flattery means self-interest.”

Other reviews:
Beyond Assumptions: “As it turns out Balzac has penchant for good story-telling and a fine eye for writing interesting and humorous characters.”

Wuthering Expectations: “Eugénie Grandet has some of Balzac’s best descriptive passages, and three or four really fine characters, and a snappy story. But it’s the combination of the characters, and the structure, and the details of the house and town that amaze me.”

Constance Reader: “every character in this novel is fully fleshed out and fully-realized, including secondary characters like the family housemaid and even tertiary characters like the village butcher, whom we only see once. The result is that you get a perfect idea of what life in a little town was like, at that time, from the top to the very bottom.”

The Music Man:
Maud: I shouldn’t tell you this but she advocates dirty books.
Harold: Dirty books?!
Alma: Chaucer
Ethel: Rabelais
Eulalie: Balzac!

The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith

I’ve decided that on Mondays I’m going to revisit the books I read for a course in college called Advanced Reading Survey, taught by the eminent scholar and lovable professor, Dr. Huff. I’m not going to re-read all the books and poems I read for that course, probably more than fifty, but I am going to post to Semicolon the entries in the reading journal that I was required to keep for that class because I think that my entries on these works of literature may be of interest to readers here and because I’m afraid that the thirty year old spiral notebook in which I wrote these entries may fall apart ere long. I may offer my more mature perspective on the books, too, if I remember enough about them to do so.

Author: Oliver Goldsmith was born November 10, 1728, the son of a poor Irish clergyman. He was educated at various borading schools and one of his schoolmasters called him a “stupid, heavy blockhead.” You can read his most famous play, She Stoops to Conquer online. The Vicar of Wakefield, Goldsmith’s novel, is also available here. Said novel starts with this line:

“I was ever of opinion that the honest man who married and brought up a large family did more service than he who continued single and only talked of population.”

This line was written back when populating the world was still considered a service. The book goes on to tell the story of Dr. Primrose, the vicar of Wakefield, and his family and his many troubles.

Goldsmith himself was an unknown literary critic in poor financial straits until he became a protege of Samuel Johnson. Samuel Johnson said of his friend Goldsmith: “Goldsmith, however, was a man, who, whatever he wrote did it better than any other man could do.” High praise, indeed. Goldsmith, however, said of Samuel Johnson: “There is no arguing with Johnson; for when his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt end of it.“

His association with Samuel Johnson brought Goldsmith recognition but not financial success. When Goldsmith died in 1774, he was in debt for 2000 pounds, a great deal of money in that day.

Characters:
Dr. Primrose–the vicar of Wakefield
Mrs. Primrose–his wife
George, Sophia, Olivia, and Moses–the Primrose children
Mr. Thornhill–a gentleman
Sir William Thornhill–Mr. Thornhill’s uncle
Miss Wilmot–George’s fiancee

Summary:
Dr. Primrose and his family endure various trials and vicissitudes, including the seduction of one daughter, the loss of their fortune, a fire, and the imprisonment of the title character. It’s supposed to be funny, folks.

Quotations:
“Man little knows what calamities are beyond his patience to bear till he tries them . . . As we descend, the objects appear to brighten, unexpected prospects amuse, and the mental eye becomes adapted to its situation.”

“Her own misfortunes engrossed all the pity she once had for those of another, and nothing gave her ease. In company she dreaded contempt and in solitude she only found anxiety.”

More reviews:
Hope at Worthwhile Books on The Vicar of Wakefield: “The language was not singularly beautiful nor were the characters richly developed. In fact, the calamities and coincidences in the book were so unbelievable that I had to force myself to finish it. “

Advanced Reading Survey: Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope

I’ve decided that on Mondays I’m going to revisit the books I read for a course in college called Advanced Reading Survey, taught by the eminent scholar and lovable professor, Dr. Huff. I’m not going to re-read all the books and poems I read for that course, probably more than fifty, but I am going to post to Semicolon the entries in the reading journal that I was required to keep for that class because I think that my entries on these works of literature may be of interest to readers here and because I’m afraid that the thirty year old spiral notebook in which I wrote these entries may fall apart ere long. I may offer my more mature perspective on the books, too, if I remember enough about them to do so.


Author: As Anthony Trollope’s mother, Frances, and his older brother were both writers, Trollope was following in a well-established family tradition when he bagan writing novels. Barchester Towers is the second novel in a group of six on the theme of clerical life in Victorian England.
“Of all novelists in any country, Trollope best understands the role of money. Compared with him even Balzac is a romantic.” — W. H. Auden

Characters:
Dr. Proudie: newly appointed bishop of Barchester.
Mrs. Proudie
Dr. Grantly: archdeacon.
Mr. Slope: Dr. Proudie’s chaplain.
Eleanor Bold: a young widow.
Mr. Septimus Harding: Mrs. Bold’s father.
Charlotte Stanhope
Bertie Stanhope
La Signora Madeline Vesey Neroni
Mr. Arabin

Summary:
Bishop Proudie and his unpopular and managing wife are the new occupants of the see of Barchester. As Mrs. Proudie interferes in almost all the cathedral affairs, the bishop’s chaplain, Mr. Slope, makes himself disliked by his pursuit of Eleanor Bold, a wealthy young widow and daughter of Mr. Harding, the warden of the hospital and hero of Trollope’s previous novel, The Warden. Church politics rule the day, until all misunderstandings and double dealings are unravelled, and romance wins out in the end.

Quotations:
“Till we can become divine we must be content to be human, lest in our hurry for a change we sink to something lower.”

Mr. Arabin: “It is the bane of my life that on important subjects I acquire no fixed opinion. I think, and think, and go on thinking, and yet my thoughts are running ever in different directions.”

“There is no way of writing well and also of writing easily.”

“There is no happiness in love, except at the end of an English novel.”

I do think I need to read more Trollope.

Bonnie reviews Barchester Towers.
Becky’s Book Reviews on Barchester Towers.
Between the Covers: Barchester Towers A-
Carol at Magistramater.

Sunday Salon: Twelve Projects for 2010

The Sunday Salon.comFor the last couple of years, instead of resolutions, I’ve been thinking in terms of projects, lots of projects that I wanted to complete during the year. I wouldn’t say I was any more or less successful with my projects than most people are with resolutions, but I like the tradition anyway and plan to to continue it this year. So here are my twelve projects for 2010, with evaluations of how I did on some of the same projects in 2009.

1. Bible Reading Project. Last year’s Bible reading project was a qualified success. I didn’t read every day, and I didn’t study the books and passages I chose as intensely as I wanted, but I did read and study some. This year’s Bible reading plan is the same as last year’s: choose a book or part of a book of the BIble for each month of the year, read it daily, and study it using some good study tools. Take notes in my Bible and maybe this year in a journal, too. The selections for this year:

January: Esther. The women of my church are going on retreat in early March, and we’ll be studying the book of Esther. So I thought I’d get a head start.
February: Revelation 1-11. My pastor is preaching through Revelation this spring, so I thought I should be reading it. Revelation is my least favorite book in the Bible, so I’ll need some major self-discipline and encouragement from the Holy Spirit to finish this project.
March: Exodus 1-12 in preparation for Resurrection Sunday (April 4, 2010) and remembering Jesus, our Passover lamb.
April: Revelation 12-22.
May: Exodus 13-20.
June: I Timothy
July: Exodus 21-30.
August: II Timothy
September: Exodus 31-40.
October: Titus
November: Psalms 11-15.
December: Psalms 16-20.

2. Pulitzer Project. This year for the Pulitzer Project I read Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor and found it very absorbing and thought-provoking, one of the best books I read this past year. This next year I plan to read March by Geraldine Brooks and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.

3. My Newbery Project for last year was also something of a bust. I think I got stuck because the winners for 1925 and 1926 were both story collections, and I don’t like story collections. I may skip the storybooks and get back on track this year.

4. Homeschooling Project: I need to focus on homeschooling the three remaining students in our homeschool.
Karate Kid (age 12)
Betsy-Bee (age 10)
Z-Baby (age 8)
You’ll see posts about how that project is going, plans for school and reading and science and history and field trips and all manner of educational schemes and visions. Perhaps you’ll also see a few desperate pleas for HELP! Just because I’ve graduated four students doesn’t mean I know how to homeschool the rest of the bunch.

5. Operation Clean House. I thought last year that if I took a room or area of the house and concentrated on that section each month, I might get somewhere with the de-cluttering and cleaning. Maybe. I didn’t. So this project is a repeat.
January: My closet and dressing area.
February: The rest of my bedroom.
March: Front hallway and entryway.
April: Living Room.
May: Kitchen.
June: Laundry room.
July: Half of the gameroom.
August: The other half of the gameroom.
September: Front bathroom.
October: Z-baby’s bedrooom.
November: Karate Kid’s bedroom.
December: Sit back and enjoy my reorganized home?
I might even, if I’m brave enough, post before and after pictures to keep myself motivated.

6. LOST Reading Project. I really want to get back to this project this year. I read Lathe of Heaven by Ursula LeGuin, enjoyed it, and tried a couple of others on the list that I didn’t care for at all (A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien).
This year I think I’d like to read Laughter in the Dark by Vladimir Nabakov and perhaps, Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor. I’m not sure I’m sophisticated enough to “get” Flannery O’Connor, but I’ll give it a try.

7. The U.S. Presidents Reading Project has a list of all of the U.S. presidents and suggested reading selections (non-fiction) for each one. The challenge is to read one biography of each one. Last year I read biographies of George Washington, John Adams, James and Dollie Madison, and Alexander Hamilton (I know, not a president, but closely related). This year I plane to continue with biographies of James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson, not necessarily in that order. I skipped Jefferson because I don’t like him very much.
atournamentofreading
8. Tournament of Reading Project. Probably the only reading challenge I sign up for this year, The Tournament of Reading is a challenge to read nine medieval books in three categories: history, medieval literature, and historical fiction. Most of these books that I plan to read come from my TBR list anyway:
History:
Byzantium by John Julius Norwich.
Justinian’s Flea: The First Great Plague and The End of the Roman Empire by WIlliam Rosen.

Historical Fiction:
The King’s Daughter by Sandra Worth.
The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner.
The Master of Verona by David Blixt.

As for actual medieval literature, I’ll have to ask Eldest Daughter to suggest something.

9. Poetry Project: I would like to continue having my urchins memorizing and reading poetry. I would like to read and memorize poetry. I would like to have more Poetry Parties. Poetry Friday is the place and time to get an update on the Poetry Project. Plus, I’ll be celebrating Poetry Month again in April.

10. Prayer Project. I need to spend some daily concentrated time in prayer and meditation. My plan is to pray and read my Bible before I get on the computer each day so that I can bathe all these projects and all my children and my husband in prayer.

11. Book Club Project. I’m re-starting my book club this year. If any of you are interested in participating (virtually), email me at sherryDOTearlyATgmailDOTcom, and I’ll send you the details. I’ll also be posting the book club selections for each month of 2010 here at Semicolon soon. I’m also leading a middle school girls book club at our homeschool co-op, and I’ll be posting the book list for that club before long.

12. Advanced Reading Survey Project. I decided last year that on Mondays I was going to revisit the books I read for a course in college called Advanced Reading Survey, taught by the eminent scholar and lovable professor, Dr. Huff. I’m not going to re-read all the books and poems I read for that course, probably more than fifty, but I am going to post to Semicolon the entries in the reading journal that I was required to keep for that class because I think that my entries on these works of literature may be of interest to readers here and because I’m afraid that the thirty year old spiral notebook in which I wrote these entries may fall apart ere long. I may offer my more mature perspective on the books, too, if I remember enough about them to do so.
Texas Tuesday Project. I also plan to keep posting about books set in or published in or related to Texas on Tuesdays. Or at least on most Tuesdays.

Bonus Project: I’ll keep blogging, the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, and I’ll keep you all updated on all my projects for 201-.

Advanced Reading Survey: Green Mansions by W.H. Hudson

I’ve decided that on Mondays I’m going to revisit the books I read for a course in college called Advanced Reading Survey, taught by the eminent scholar and lovable professor, Dr. Huff. I’m not going to re-read all the books and poems I read for that course, probably more than fifty, but I am going to post to Semicolon the entries in the reading journal that I was required to keep for that class because I think that my entries on these works of literature may be of interest to readers here and because I’m afraid that the thirty year old spiral notebook in which I wrote these entries may fall apart ere long. I may offer my more mature perspective on the books, too, if I remember enough about them to do so.

Author:
William Henry Hudson was born to American parents who emigrated to Argentina and spent most of his adult life in England. He was an ornithologist who published studies of Argentine and British birds. His fiction and nonfiction books are greatly concerned with nature and the beauty of the natural world. Appropriately, a bird sanctuary is established in Hyde Park in London as a memorial to Mr. Hudson.

Characters:
Abel: a young Venezuelan man.
Rima: a bird-girl, survivor of a lost race.
Nuflo: the old man with whom Rima lives.
Runi: an Indian chief.

Summary:
A young man meets a mysterious and beautiful bird-girl in the depths of the Venezuelan jungle. The two fall in love, but the perfect love between them is spoiled by the appearance of both primitive envy and the encroachment of civilization.

Quotations:
“Caring not in that solitude to disguise my feelings from myself, and from the wide heaven that looked down and saw me—for this is the sweetest thing that solitude has for us, that we are free in it, and no convention holds us—I dropped on my knees and kissed the stony ground, than casting up my eyes, thanked the Author of my being for the gift of that wild forest, those green mansions where I found so great a happiness.”

“It was as if Nature herself, in supreme anguish and abandonment, had cast herself prone on the earth, and her great heart had throbbed audibly, shaking the world with its beats.”

“Our souls were near together, like two raindrops side by side, drawing irresistibly nearer, ever nearer; for now they had touched and were not two, but one inseparable drop, crystallised beyond change, not to be disintegrated by time, nor shattered by death’s blow, nor resolved by any alchemy.”

I’ve written about this book before in a post entitled Under the Radar: An Adult Fiction Trio.

Advanced Reading Survey: The Christ of the Indian Road by E. Stanley Jones

I’ve decided that on Mondays I’m going to revisit the books I read for a course in college called Advanced Reading Survey, taught by the eminent scholar and lovable professor, Dr. Huff. I’m not going to re-read all the books and poems I read for that course, probably more than fifty, but I am going to post to Semicolon the entries in the reading journal that I was required to keep for that class because I think that my entries on these works of literature may be of interest to readers here and because I’m afraid that the thirty year old spiral notebook in which I wrote these entries may fall apart ere long. I may offer my more mature perspective on the books, too, if I remember enough about them to do so.

Author Note:
Methodist preacher and theologian E. Stanley Jones went to India as a missionary in 1907. He began by preaching to the lower caste Indians, the Dalits, but found his mission as he began to give talks and seminars for the more educated classes. He subsequently became friends with poet Rabindranath Tagore and with Hindu leader Mohandas Gandhi.

Jones sympathized with the burgeoning Indian independence movement. He saw Christianity growing among the Indian people, but it was a Christianity that leaned toward syncretism, a philosophy Jones was sometimes accused of holding himself. However, Jones maintained that he held firmly to the fundamentals of the Christian faith, especially to the person and work of Christ. “I don’t hold my faith,” he said; “my faith holds me. It’s Christ or nothing, and you can’t live on nothing. I’ve been a very ordinary man doing extraordinary things because I was linked up with grace.” (TIME magazine, January 1964)
Mr. Jones wrote many books and articles, but his most popular book, The Christ of the Indian Road, was published in 1925. The book gives an account of of Jones’s work among the Indian people and his presentation of the gospel to them.

Quotations:
Life is bigger than processes and overflows them.

A very severe criticism is beating upon this whole question of missions from many angles and sources. Personally, I welcome it. If what we are doing is real it will shine all the more. If it isn’t real, the sooner we find it out the better.

If those who have not the spirit of Jesus are none of his, no matter what outward symbols they possess, then conversely those who have the spirit of Jesus are his, no matter what outward symbols they possess.

Greece said, ‘Be moderate—know thyself.’
Rome said, ‘Be strong—order thyself.’
Confucianism says, ‘Be superior—correct thyself.’
Shintoism says, ‘Be loyal—suppress thyself.’
Buddhism says, ‘Be disillusioned—annihilate thyself.’
Hinduism says, ‘Be separated—merge thyself.’
Mohammedanism says, ‘Be submissive—assert thyself.’
Judaism says, ‘Be holy—conform thyself.’
Materialism says, ‘Be industrious—enjoy thyself.’
Modern Dilettantism says, ‘Be broad—cultivate thyself.’
Christianity says, ‘Be Christlike—give thyself.’”

The Christ of the Indian Road by E. Stanley Jones is one of the books listed in the book 100 Christian Books That Changed the Century by William J. Peterson and Randy Peterson. SInce I’m planing a detailed study of the twentieth century sometime in the next couple of years, I think this book would be an excellent resource. In the meantime, here’s the list of 100 books. Of the 100, I’ve read 35 or so, dabbled in a few more. It looks like a good list of what influenced evangelical Christianity, in particular, for better or for worse.

Advanced Reading Survey: Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

I’ve decided that on Mondays I’m going to revisit the books I read for a course in college called Advanced Reading Survey, taught by the eminent scholar and lovable professor, Dr. Huff. I’m not going to re-read all the books and poems I read for that course, probably more than fifty, but I am going to post to Semicolon the entries in the reading journal that I was required to keep for that class because I think that my entries on these works of literature may be of interest to readers here and because I’m afraid that the thirty year old spiral notebook in which I wrote these entries may fall apart ere long. I may offer my more mature perspective on the books, too, if I remember enough about them to do so.

Author Note:
Charles Dickens was born near Portsmouth in 1812, the son of a government clerk. His parents, being rather incompetent in money matters, put young Dickens to work in a London warehouse at the tender age of ten. The time of chid labor in his life was brief, and DIckens soon returned to school. Nevertheless, the experience affected him deeply. Nicholas Nickleby was Dickens’ third novel, published after The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist.

Summary:
After the death of his father, young Nicholas must make his own way in the world, and serve as protector to his sister and mother, in spite of harsh schoolmasters, a grasping and greedy uncle, and other characters who are ready and willing to exploit the innocence of Nicholas and of his sister, Kate.

Characters:
NIcholas Nickleby: a young man who must come of age quickly when his father dies without leaving him any money.
Ralph Nickleby: Nicholas’s avaricious uncle.
Newman Noggs: Ralph Nickleby’s clerk and drudge.
Wackford Squiers: a one-eyed Yorkshire schoolmaster, head of Dothebys Hall.
Madeline Bray: an unfortunate young lady.
The Cheeryble Brothers: Nicholas’s patrons.
Mrs. Nickleby: Nicholas’s mother.
Kate Nickleby: Nicholas’s sister.
Miss La Creevy: a painter of miniatures.
Smike: Nicholas’s friend.

Quotations:
Persons don’t make their own faces, and it’s no more my fault if mine is a good one than it is other people’s fault if theirs is a bad one.

There are many pleasant fictions of the law in constant operation, but there is not one so pleasant or practically humorous as that which supposes every man to be of equal value in its impartial eye, and the benefits of all laws to be equally attainable by all men, without the smallest reference to the furniture of their pockets.

Mrs. Nickleby: “I would rather, I declare, have been a pig-faced lady, than be exposed to such a life as this!”
(Sometimes so would I. So would I.)

Two of my children were in a play a couple of years ago based on this novel, so I got to re-visit it then. I found it just as absorbing and full of life as a drama as I did when I read it thirty plus years ago. Has anyone seen this movie version? Is it any good?

Other bloggers talk about Nicholas Nickleby:
Books and Border Collies: “I have a literary crush on Nicholas Nickleby! And on his creator, Charles Dickens. Those of you who are veterans of Dickens’ writing will please forgive the silly gushing of a neophyte. He is such a joy to read! His characters are beyond memorable and his descriptions are so creative that I’m constantly thinking I would never in a million years have written something so imaginative.”
Bookphilia: “Dickens’ writing, for me, is always a joy to immerse myself in; as well, I liked many of the characters and wasn’t always irritated by how un-subtly Dickens employed them. It’s just that Nicholas Nickleby is so obviously the work of a writer much younger and perhaps less thoughtful than the writer who, 20-25 years later, produced A Tale of Two Cities and Our Mutual Friend. But it’s still brilliant because it’s still Dickens.”

If you’ve written about Nicholas Nickleby, leave me a comment and I’ll link.

Advanced Reading Survey: The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

I’ve decided that on Mondays I’m going to revisit the books I read for a course in college called Advanced Reading Survey, taught by the eminent scholar and lovable professor, Dr. Huff. I’m not going to re-read all the books and poems I read for that course, probably more than fifty, but I am going to post to Semicolon the entries in the reading journal that I was required to keep for that class because I think that my entries on these works of literature may be of interest to readers here and because I’m afraid that the thirty year old spiral notebook in which I wrote these entries may fall apart ere long. I may offer my more mature perspective on the books, too, if I remember enough about them to do so.

Author Note: (See last week’s post on Adam Bede.) In her novels, George Eliot often drew from her early life in Warwickshire where she grew up in an ancient red brick house as the daughter of a carpenter. This particular novel, The Mill on the Floss, was first named Sister Maggie, and later the name was changed.

Characters:
Tom Tulliver
Maggie Tulliver, Tom’s younger sister.
Philip Wakem, Maggie’s childhood friend.
Stephen Guest, fiance of Maggie’s cousin, Lucy.
Lucy Deane, Maggie’s and Tom’s cousin.
Tom’s and Maggie’s aunts: Aunt Moss, Aunt Glegg, Aunt, Deane, and Aunt Pullet.
Mr. Tulliver, Tom’s and Maggie’s father.
Bessy Tulliver, Tom’s and Maggie’s mother.

Summary:
Maggie Tullliver, an intelligent and highly introspective young lady, is imprisoned by the expectations of society and of her family. As Maggie grows up all of the men in her life are obsessed with various goals –revenge, money, status –and they thwart Maggie’s growth as a person and her ambitions.

Quotations:
These bitter sorrows of childhood! when sorrow is all new and strange, when hope has not yet got wings to fly beyond the days and weeks and the space from summer to summer seems measureless.

Maggie hated blame; she had been blamed all her life and nothing had come of it but evil tempers.

In natural science, I have understood, there is nothing petty to the mind that has a large vision of relations, and to which every single object suggests a vast sum of conditions. It is surely the same with the observation of human life.

The religion of the Dodsons consisted in reverencing whatever was customary and respectable.

She thought it was part of the hardship of her life that there was laid upon her the burthen of larger wants than others seemed to feel, –that she had to endure this wide hopeless yearning for that something, whatever it was, that was greatest and best on this earth.

Maggie: One gets a bad habit of being unhappy.

Confidences are sometimes blinding even when they are sincere.

Philip: You want to find out a mode of renunciation that will be an escape from pain. I tell you again, there is no such escape possible except by perverting or mutilating one’s nature.

Other bloggers:
Chris at Book-a-Rama: “Maggie grows into a gorgeous dark-eyed woman, receiving attention for being an exotic beauty but misunderstood because of her intelligence. Maggie finds herself trying to choose between two lovers.”

Ready When You Are, C.B.: “Mrs. Tulliver and her three sisters, their husbands and children all make up a very entertaining group and provide George Eliot ample opportunity to show off her skill at creating wide ranging characters.”

Bookish: I didn’t enjoy George Eliot’s (Mary Ann Evans) The Mill on the Floss (1860) as much as other books she’s written – this one was decidedly more Victorian, and what with watching Friday Night Lights and reading this (and living in the world), I’ve just about had it with patriarchal societies.

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Advanced Reading Survey: Adam Bede by George Eliot

I’ve decided that on Mondays I’m going to revisit the books I read for a course in college called Advanced Reading Survey, taught by the eminent scholar and lovable professor, Dr. Huff. I’m not going to re-read all the books and poems I read for that course, probably more than fifty, but I am going to post to Semicolon the entries in the reading journal that I was required to keep for that class because I think that my entries on these works of literature may be of interest to readers here and because I’m afraid that the thirty year old spiral notebook in which I wrote these entries may fall apart ere long. I may offer my more mature perspective on the books, too, if I remember enough about them to do so.

Author Note: George Eliot was the pseudonym used by author Mary Ann Evans, esteemed by some as the most distinguished English woman novelist. She used a male pen name to ensure that her works were taken seriously. Mary Ann was an educated woman, and as a young woman she fell in with a set of free-thinkers and liberal Christians and subsequently “lost her faith.” In 1854, she met George Henry Lewes, her companion for twenty-four years. Lewes was already married and cold not obtain a divorce, so he and Mary Ann lived together and regarded themselves as husband and wife despite the lack of legal sanction and despite adverse public opinion.

Characters:
Adam Bede: a carpenter.
Seth Bede: Adam’s brother.
Dinah Morris: a Methodist preacher.
Hetty Sorrel: a beautiful young woman.
Arthur Donnithorne: a gentleman.
Martin Poyser
Mrs. Poyser
Mr. Irwine: the village vicar.

Summary: Adam Bede, a salt-of-the-earth village carpenter, falls in love with Hetty Sorrel, a flighty young woman whose lack of judgement and whose yielding character bring her to ruin. Adam’s brother, Seth, loves another woman, Dinah, whose sterling character and devotion to God preclude her commitment to any mere man.

Quotations:
Adam: “God helps us with our headpieces and our hands as well as with our souls.”

Although he would probably have declined to give his body to be burned in any public cause, and was far from bestowing all his goods to feed the poor, he had that charity which has sometimes been lacking to very illustrious virtue —he was tender to other men’s feelings and unwilling to impute evil.

Imagination is a licensed trespasser: it has no fear of dogs, but may climb over walls and peep in at windows with impunity.

Dinah: “It seems as if I could be silent all day long with the thought of God overflowing my soul—as the pebbles lie bathed in the Willow Brook.”

People who love downy peaches are apt not to think of the stone, and sometimes jar their teeth terribly against it.

The human soul is a very complex thing.

Sleep comes to the perplexed—if the perplexed are only weary enough.

The beginning of hardship is like the first taste of bitter food—it seems for a moment unbearable; yet, if there is nothing else to satisfy our hunger, we take another bite and find it possible to go on.

God’s love and mercy can overcome all things—our ignorance and weakness and the burden of our past wickedness—all the things but our willful sin, sin that we cling to and will not give up.

Adam Bede is my favorite book by George Eliot. It’s on my list of Semicolon’s Best Fiction of All Time.

Other bloggers on Adam Bede:

Sonderella: “This was Mary Evans’ first published novel under the pseudonym George Eliot. An amazing first novel I might add. She has an uncanny ability to paint beautiful pictures with her words as she brings characters to life on the pages.”

Chris at Bookarama: “I did feel for Adam but I was aggravated with him for not seeing Hetty for what she really was. Most of the female characters were either harpies or whiners. It wasn’t enjoyable to read those parts.”

Incurable Logophilia: “Thankfully, there wasn’t a kitten to be seen in those last 100 pages of Adam Bede – my opinion of George Eliot remains firmly positive.”

Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book cover here to go to Amazon and buy something, I receive a very small percentage of the purchase price.
These books are also nominated for a Cybil Award, but the views expressed here are strictly my own.