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Showing posts from March, 2018

Ben-Hur - A Book Journal

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Oppressed by its own government, your native city is at the edge of a crisis.  The conquering war-spirit of Mars has found its next generation of followers, and the subjugated people feel it.

Till now, your family has always managed to be safe from the conflict.  Your father's prosperous work had earned the approval of the supreme leader and left you a fortune, as well as security.  Your future seems certain.

Then, one day, an accident scars you with a terrible accusation.  Everything changes suddenly, under the power of an angry mob and betrayal by your closest friend.


While going over the beginning of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, I was trying to think about the 19th-century reader and what their perspective might have been.  This is my second time reading the book, so personally I have a little bit of vague memory to go by, as well as the movie (ever ingrained in my consciousness) and the Focus on the Family radio drama (an excellent adaptation from what I recall).  Knowing what…

Please Look After Mom

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A glance at my blog will tell you I rarely read fiction published recently.  "In my younger and more vulnerable years," I was unfortunate to read a lot of poorly written historical fiction and Sherlock Holmes pastiche.  I thirsted for greatness and found mediocrity.  Back then, I wasn't part of a blogging community, or maybe this wouldn't have happened.  Anyways, I developed a prejudice against modern authors, which, based on my limited reading, was not well founded.

I stumbled across this book on Goodreads; not sure how, exactly.  Like everyone else, I've been following the news on North Korea with uneasy interest, and at the same time, I've become increasingly fascinated with Korean culture, introduced to it by some of my favorite YouTubers, like Jen ChaePlease Look After Mom, by Kyung-sook Shin, sounded like a novel I could learn from.

The focus of the story is universal.  When Chi-hon's elderly mother goes missing in a busy part of Seoul, the Park fa…

End of Season 1 - Taking a Short Break

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Hi all!  This is just a note to announce I am wrapping up Season 1 of Classics Considered and taking a little break.

Over three months, our auditory "voyage" has spanned a variety of topics, from dystopia to historical fiction and from reviews to not-so-rhetorical questions.  Thanks to all who have been listening along the way!  I've enjoyed sharing books I like and some I didn't, and it's been lots of good fun, technical difficulties included.

In April, I plan to release one or two special episodes, so please stay tuned for that.  Otherwise, watch for Season 2 the first Monday in May, which will hopefully - like every good TV series - exceed Season 1 in quality and entertainment educational value.

Ten Books for Spring - Classics and Beyond

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It's only taken me several days, but I think I've come up with a good list for this week's Top Ten Tuesday:

1. The Kill, by Émile Zola Making an exception in my "no more reading challenges" resolution - I plan to read The Kill for Fanda's Zoladdiction event next month.  It's one of Zola's shorter novels and, from what I hear, an interesting one!
2. Ben-Hur, by Lew Wallace (re-read) I just started Book 2, so I have a ways to go yet.  :)
3. North Korea's Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground Is Transforming a Closed Society, by Jieun Baek How do people share information that's illegal, and what information would a person risk their life to access?  This topic appeals to me for both historical and universal reasons.
4. The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea, by Bandi "Bandi" is an author in North Korea, whose short stories from the 80s and 90s were smuggled out and published recently.  Saw this while browsing my …

What Should I Read Next? - April edition

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April is rapidly approaching, and that means Camp Nanowrimo!  The bite-sized version of National Novel Writing Month, Camp Nanowrimo is my favorite of the two events, because you can define your own word count goal and work on any project(s) you have in mind.  I've been participating regularly since 2015, and next month I plan to continue working on my historical-fantasy saga and perhaps some fan fiction, too.

While I'll be taking a break from the podcast, I intend to continue reading through April.  Are there any books in particular you'd like to see me review, either here or on Classics Considered?  It could be a book from my lengthy TBR list, one that I've read before, or something completely new and different.  I have a few ideas in the queue, but I'd love to hear if anyone has a suggestion: fiction, nonfiction, anything goes!

If I get enough ideas, I'll see what's most easily available to help make a decision.  :)

Horror and History in A Pale View of Hills

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One day, Etsuko's quiet life is interrupted by a visit from her daughter Niki, who, though being independent and somewhat secretive, has taken time off from her London life to come visit her.  This visit prompts disturbing memories in Etsuko, from the recent suicide of her older daughter Keiko, whom she is still grieving, to her own life back in Nagasaki, Japan.

As a young, pregnant mother and married to her first husband, Jiro, Etsuko's earlier life had been a witness to sweeping changes in Japanese society, as well as to the physical and cultural presence of the Americans, post WWII.  Most troubling of all, however, is her recollection of her friendship with Sachiko, a confident, middle-aged woman who had moved in to a nearby cottage.  Sachiko had a little daughter named Mariko, who suffered trauma from the bombings of Tokyo and other scenes of the war.  No matter how much Etsuko tried to help Mariko, it seemed her mother had wished to brush it all aside.

Through her memori…

What Is a Classic? - Kazuo Ishiguro's A Pale View of Hills - Episode 18

"Classic" - this word holds so much weight, yet what does it really mean?  Today we discover Kazuo Ishiguro's novel A Pale View of Hills and examine the different facets of what makes a classic book.

Sources / Further Reading:
"The Definition of a Classic in Literature" by Esther Lombardi
"In Literature, What Makes a Classic?" (NPR)
Kazuo Ishiguro and Malcolm Bradbury, in conversation (Interview, plus discussion of A Pale View of Hills)
"Kazuo Ishiguro becomes Nagasaki honorary resident" (NHK)
The Buried Giant - My thoughts

Crusader Castles - A Young Lawrence of Arabia

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Having resolved to read everything written by T. E. Lawrence, I inevitably picked up his college thesis, published posthumously under the title Crusader Castles.

It's a very rare book, but happily a New Year's discount made the Folio Society edition a good option, and I couldn't have been more pleased with the customer service, shipping, and, of course, the edition itself.  The FS release is a reprint of the original two-volume edition, and it includes an excellent introduction by biographer Mark Bostridge, whose interest in WWI history makes it a worthy addition.

Through the introduction, you learn that T. E. Lawrence completed his thesis just four years before the outbreak of WWI.  For his research, he had already traveled extensively in Britain and France, and even to Syria and Palestine - his first exposure to the Middle East and its climate, both in a geographical and political sense.

His topic?  In his own words, he set out to prove "The Influence of the Crusades o…

Finding Alice: From Wonderland to Looking-Glass - Episode 17

What makes Alice in Wonderland a beloved classic?  This week, I review one of my childhood favorites and some of its creative film adaptations.

Links Mentioned:
"Pig and Pepper" - Disney concept
"In a World of My Own" - Diana Panton

What I'm Reading: Alice, Castles, and a Book Journal...

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If it's seemed quiet this past week, I've actually been reading (hee).  I always find this time of year to be trying, for whatever reason, and so I've been indulging myself with two re-reads and a new book that is becoming close to my heart...

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass - I've finally begun reading this sweet little hardcover that my parents got me for Christmas.  It includes both books and Tenniel's illustrations (my favorite).  This may be the topic for my next podcast episode.  I love Alice, and it's just occurred to me what a great protagonist she is, and why.  More on that to come...

Crusader Castles - After making it my unofficial mission to become a complete Lawrence nerd, I had to read his research paper about Crusader castle architecture.  It's really quite interesting, and even though I don't understand all of it, I can see the scientific side of him through his diagrams and careful eye for details.  Obv…

Reading Classics on a Budget - Episode 16

My goodness, I repeated myself quite a bit in this one...  Well, I got very excited about this week's topic - buying books (and saving money)!

Links Mentioned / Resources:

Budget Paperbacks:
Wordsworth Classics - also on Amazon
Dover Thrift Editions
Barnes and Noble Classics - also on Amazon

Free Ebooks:
The Literature Network
Project Gutenberg
Lithium - EPUB reader - Forgot to mention this in the episode, but I've just recently started using this app for Gutenberg .epub books on my Android tablet.  It has note-taking, highlighting, and bookmarking features like a dedicated e-reader, which really brings Gutenberg .epubs to a whole new level!
OverDrive
Internet Archive
Wikisource

Free Audiobooks:
Basil Rathbone reads "The City in the Sea" by Edgar Allan Poe
LibriVox
Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis - David BarnesG. K. Chesterton's The Club of Queer Trades - David BarnesR. L. Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - David BarnesSun Tzu's The Art of Wa…