Book Tag: Something Old

It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.
Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. ~C.S. Lewis, Introduction to Athanasius’ On the Incarnation

Let’s play Book Tag again. In today’s edition of Book Tag, please suggest your favorite book or work of literature, fiction or nonfiction, written or published BEFORE 1800.

Remember the rules: “In this game, readers suggest ONE good book in the category given, then let somebody else be ‘it’ before they offer another suggestion. There is no limit to the number of books a person may suggest, but they need to politely wait their turn with only one book suggestion per comment.”

I’m going to start off the game with Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes or El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha as it was originally titled. Published in two separate volumes in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote was one of the earliest examples of a “novel” and has been influential in literature from the picaresque novel to modernist school of magical realism. At first people considered Don Quixote to be a comedy; the bumbling hidalgo, or gentleman, muddles his way across the Spanish countryside making a fool of himself and his faithful servant Sancho Panza. Then, later, critics sawa the book as a tragedy in which a cruel world destroys the idealism and gallantry of a good man and eventually drives him to insanity. Take your pick, but I think it’s a little of both.

En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no hace mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín flaco y galgo corredor.
In some village in La Mancha, whose name I do not care to recall, there dwelt not so long ago a gentleman of the type wont to keep an unused lance, an old shield, a skinny old horse, and a greyhound for racing.

Now it’s your turn. What Old Book can you recommend?

1957: Books and Literature

The National Book Award goes to a book called The Field of Vision by Wright Morris.

Albert Camus wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Dr. Seuss (Ted Geisel) publishes The Cat in the Hat, using only 236 simple words. The story, about a subversive cat who brings chaos into two children’s rainy day but then manages to resolve the problem before mom comes home, is an instant classic.

Published in 1957:
Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot. Mrs. Elliot tells the story of her husband, Jim Elliot, and the other men who in attempting to make contact with the Waorani Indians in Ecuador were killed by the very people they came to help.

Kids Say the Darndest Things by Art Linkletter. Art Linkletter had a daytime TV show, a talk show called House Party, and at the end of each show he had a panel of children that he talked with and interviewed.

4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie. Aren’t trains romantic? Several of Agatha Christie’s novels involved trains, train travel, death on a train, even romance on a train.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I’ve never read it, even though road trips are one of my many fascinations. The New York Times hailed it as “the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as “beat”. I’m just not interested in drug-hazy memories of taking drugs while driving across country looking for more drugs.

The Guns of Navarone by Alistair McLean. We watched the movie based on this book a few months ago, and it felt really hokey and unbelievable. I remember the book as a better experience, but I read it a really long time ago.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.

On the Beach by Nevill Shute. Semicolon review here.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I’m not an Ayn fan. Has anyone else here read it?

The Assistant by Bernard Malamud. I read this book when my mom was taking the aforementioned Jewish literature class, but I was too young to get it.

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. My opinion of this very long Russian romance is the same as her opinion, without the cursewords.

Setting: Turn of the Century, 1900-1909

Historical fiction is a great way to learn about history. In fact, I learned a lot of my history facts from novels. I’m often moved by a fiction book to go look up the story behind the story, to see if the author got her facts right. Here are a few adult fiction titles set in or around the turn of the century—nineteenth to twentieth, that is. No, I haven’t read all of these, but I have tried to give you a link to a review written by someone who has for each book listed. If you have reviewed any of these, leave a link in the comments, and I’ll add your review to the list. Or if you have read another book set in the early 1900’s that you liked, please share.

The Tale of Hilltop Farm by Susan Wittig Albert. Author Beatrix Potter solves mysteries in this book and the ones the follow in the series when she moves to Hill Top Farm after the death of her fiance. Reviewed by Allison at On My Bookshelf.

City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell. Highly recommended. A young Mennonite missionary in China meets and marries a fellow missionary and lives through the turmoil of civil war. Semicolon review here.

Anna’s Book by Barbara Vine. Mystery and suspense in early twentieth century London. Reviewed by Superfast Reader.

Arthur and George by Julian Barnes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle attempts to exonerate a falsely imprisoned man named George.

Beautiful Dreamer by Joan Naper. Chicago, 1900. Reviewed by Sarah Johnson at Reading the Past.

The Birth House by Ami McKay. A midwife in a Nova Scotia fishing village. Reviewed at Maw Books Blog..

Empire by Gore Vidal. Caroline Sanford runs a newspaper dynasty during the years 1898-1907–with insights into the Spanish-American War, the Hearst newspaper conglomerate, and the presidencies of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, among other historical events and persons.

A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick. In 1907, a fifteen year old girl dreams of a career in photography, a dangerous job reserved for men. Reviewd by Tracy at Relz Reviewz.

Jack London: Sailor on Horseback by Irving Stone. Biographical novel about the eponymous author.

Lake of Fire by Linda Jacobs. Romance blossoms in Yellowstone National Park, June, 1900. Reviewed by Sarah Johnson at Reading the Past.

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. Highly recommended. Will’s grandfather elopes with a woman half his age three weeks after his wife dies in 1906, causing a scandal in their small Georgia town. Cold Sassy Tree is on my list of the 100 Best Novels of All Time.

City of Light by Lauren Belfer. 1901 in Buffalo, New York as Niagara Falls is being harnessed for electricity.

The Outlander by Gil Adamson. Idaho and Montana, 1903. A nineteen year old woman murders her abusive husband and then runs away from his brothers who are thirsty for revenge.

The Quickening by Michelle Hoover. American Midwest in the early 1900’s. Reviewed by Caribousmom.

Painted Ladies by Siobhan Parkinson. A community of artists in Skagen, a fishing village in the north of Denmark, live a Bohemian lifestyle while producing great works of art. Reviewed by Sarah Johnson at Reading the Past.

For more historical novels of the twentieth century, look at

BBAW: Forgotten Treasure

Sure we’ve all read about Freedom and Mockingjay but we likely have a book we wish would get more attention by book bloggers, whether it’s a forgotten classic or under marketed contemporary fiction. This is your chance to tell the community why they should consider reading this book!

I have so many forgotten treasures on my bookshelves that I don’t even know where to start. In fact, I’ve written on this subject before.

Under the Radar: An Adult Fiction Trio. Don Camillo, Andrea Orsini, and Rima the Bird Girl: if you don’t recognize the names of these fictional characters, you should. They’re all fascinating characters from popular fiction of the past.

Under the Radar: Christian Fiction. “Christian fiction” has gotten a bad rap, partially deserved. Some so-called “Christian fiction” (just like some YA fiction and some post-modern fiction) is nothing more than a bad sermon disguised as an even worse story. However, some of the fiction published by Christian publishing houses is not only exemplary and literary, but also just good reading.

Madeleine L’Engle. I don’t know if Ms. L’Engle is under-appreciated or not. But my favorite of her books, The Love Letters, is out of print. Even so, I’ve managed to get a few bloggers to read it. Maybe you would enjoy this story of failed promises and redemptive love. Check out the discussion at Amy’s review, Deanna’s thoughts, and Carrie’s journal.

Lin Yutang’s The Importance of Living was a bestseller in its day (1937), but it’s out of print and forgotten nowadays. If you enjoy light-hearted essays from a Chinses American perspective, you’ll love Mr. Lin’s book. It’s an antidote for those who take themselves too seriously.

Finally, if you’re still searching for more treasure, my unfinished list of the 100 Best Fiction Books of all time is a great resource. Claim a treasure and please be sure that if you do, you come back and tell me about it. We all like to know what treasure troves we’ve unlocked for other readers.

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

OK, so I’m registering for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and they want a list of my five best posts (from this year?). I’m not sure what those are , so I think I’ll just choose something from each month, January through June. Those of you who want a review, enjoy.

12 Tips for New Bloggers, Especially Book Bloggers

Boarding School Books

Poem #1: Psalm 23 by David, King of Israel, c. 1000 BC

Sunday Salon: On Reviewing Books

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

And here are a few bonus “blast from the past” posts from before 2010:

The End of the Alphabet, Wit, and John Donne

Where I Am From . . .

Inspired by . . . Book-loving Books

Narnia Aslant: A Narnia-Inspired Reading List

If you’re book blogger, you should register, too. It’s going to be lots of fun.

12 Best Semicolon Posts of 2009

SInce I’m on blog break for Lent, I thought a few posts from the past might be in order. Enjoy.

Schuyler’s Monster by Rober Rummel-Hudson.

Biographies of the U.S. Presidents. One of my project post about the U.S. Presidents Reading Project. I managed to read biographies of three presidents this year: George Washington, John Adams, and James Madison. I also read a biogrpahy of Alexander Hamilton and bailed out on Thomas Jefferson because my admiration for Mr. Adams prejudiced me against him.

Education Week: April 11-17, 2009. The continuing trials and second-guessings of a homeschool mom.

Favorite Poets: Ogden Nash. “I love Ogden Nash. He had a common-sense sort of view of the world, and then he wrote about it —in verse.”

John Adams’ Advice to HIs Children. “Perhaps John Adams’ children, in light of their sometimes poor decisions in adult life, should have taken his advice more to heart. At any rate, here is some of what Mr. Adams wrote to his children, in case you want to take advantage.”

The End of the Alphabet, Wit, and John Donne.

Kids, Drugs and Depression “Kids, and some who should be past childhood, still think that illegal drugs are harmless, that maybe taking a few pills or a shot of something will make them feel better, will medicate the depression and the pain out of existence.” NOT. TRUE.

52. Having spent fifty-two years on this planet, mostly in Texas, I could be expected to say something profound upon the anniversary of my birth. However, all I can think of are lists.

Adventures in (Homeschool) Education.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore. An essay on commitment and marriage and social mores disguised as a book review.

100 Apple-y Activities for Home and School.

Perelandra and Truth.

BBAW: Best History/Historical Fiction Blog

Voting is now open at the Book Blogger Appreciation Week Awards.

Age 30+ A Lifetime in Books Heather is one of the most faithful contributors at the LOST Books Challenge Blog, and she reads and comments here at Semicolon, too. Heather likes historical fiction, but she says she needs “to have a real connection with the characters; their stories need to be the focus of the book.” Me, too, I think.

A Reader’s Respite: “Book Reviews, Author News, and Hot Reads with a bit of Sassy Comentary.” Michelle’s blog is also nominated for funniest, most humorous book blog, and I’m leaning toward voting forA Reader’s Respite for that one. Definitely sassy.

Carla Nayland Historical Fiction Carla is an author of historical fiction and a blogger about same, and her blog includes architecture, recipes, reviews, historical notes, news –and that’s just on the front page.

Steven Till Steven Till is also a writer and a blogger. His novel is still in process as far as I can tell from a quick look at his blog. His focus looks to be medieval history and historical fiction. He’s a Lewis/Tolkien fan, so I’m sold on his excellent taste in authors, at any rate.

TOCWOC A Civil War Blog If you’re a Civil War (aka the War Between the States) afficionado, TOCWOC is the go-to blog. Lots of book reviews, all having to do with the War, and some dates and trivia thrown in to make it interesting.

I choose Heather’s blog, Age 30+: A Lifetime in Books because she’s a real reader who happens to visit here and whose reviews have made me want to read the following:
The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner.
The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne.

I’ve gotta get around to both of those soon.

Petrarch’s Real Secretum

Eldest Daughter, I got this from Dave Barry. It looks as if Petrarch really did have a “secretum.” And he just couldn’t get his head on straight? See ED’s post on Petrarch.
Best quote from a spokesman on the disappearance of Petratch’s skull:
“Think of all the craniums in the world – where would we look?
Our only hope now is to make an appeal in the hope that someone who is the descendant of the thief might return it anonymously.”