Back to the Classics 2015, Book reviews

November Reading Updates

My most repeated phrase has to be, “I cannot believe how fast time goes by”.But here we are, two days from the middle of November, close to Thanksgiving, and close to Christmas 2015. I thought I had enrolled in a challenge called Back to the Classics. I wanted to, and wrote a post, but I never linked to the original post, so, I’m not going to be in the ruffle for some book money, but in truth, I read many of the titles I wanted to read, and some different ones, and even though I’d never turn book money away, I don’t need it either 🙂 This year has been wonderful. I’m chiseling my book edgy tendencies, and loving what I have at hand, finishing it, and savoring my time of thinking about what to read next. I don’t mind leaving some books unfinished if the timing is wrong, or the book stops fitting in my life for different reasons -none frivolous ones.

On the reading front, I’m making good progress. I finished this short book, Letters of a Woman Homesteader, such a jewel. Beth P. bought it for our Texan Retreat book exchange, and I got it. Epistolary genre is one of my favorites, and Elinore’s letters were delightful to read. I like to think I know her, I would have loved being her friend. Her letters give us a realistic picture of life in Wyoming, Colorado. Country life comes with lots of challenges, but Elinore surely appreciates its wonders too. She addresses her letters to Mrs. Coney, a neighbor of hers while she lived in Denver. Elinore’s personality comes alive through her words. Her sense of humor is a treat, and I do love her candor, her strength, and her sense of adventure. My life is surely different to hers, I don’t roam those hills, ravines on horse, with a young girl and a baby, through rain and snow, camping outdoors, to see my friend, but it was surely a feat to drive my girls with Heather to my husband’s workplace downtown Houston, drop them, and continue to the downtown movie theater at peek rush hour, and make it safe to see Hamlet. In case you want to know, it was wonderful.

I’m still reading (and having the time of my life with) Don Quijote. I’m on part II, 44 chapters out of 74. Chapter 33 is devoted to Sancho and his idioms. Chapters 42 and 43 are simply masterpieces where Don Quijote gives Sancho council on how to take care of himself, soul and body. I’m not putting those who have only read Part I on any guilt trip at all. This is a long two part book. Cervantes wrote them independently, so, if you have read Part I, you have read a full book in all its 600+ pages. But Part II is a real treat. There are stories too, but there is a great focus on Sancho, and more of Don Quijote’s discourses, so beautiful I can listen to them over and over.

And my other Spanish author current title, Trafalgar by Galdós, free for Kindle in Spanish, and it’s been translated into English.

I’m almost finished with it too. It’s a not too long tale of a fourteen year old who went to the battle. Historical fiction at its best. Never did a story about sailor men and war captivated me so much. Galdós is said to be our Spanish Walter Scott. This book, Trafalgar, is the first of his so called Episodios Nacionales, (National Episodes), historic fiction books on different events such as this, where French and Spanish lost to the English, even though Nelson died in battle. Galdós has a gift to make characters unforgettable, and his characters speak with the occasional wise or philosophical comments, never contrived, not moralizing, just as those who rise up to the moment will do. I believe his talent is in the details. He was a great observer and he loved people, cried with them, and laughed with them. Can you tell he is my favorite author? My friend Linda has discovered a favorite author in Trollope this year, I have discovered Galdós, and I’m tickled to know many of my non Spanish friends have read or are reading Cervantes, and Galdós too. Very soon I am going to start Dr. Thorne by Trollope, and I expect to like it much.

With the girls, apart from the school readings I support them with, we have started

The Landing of the Pilgrims, by Daughterty, and

Carry a Big Stick, the biography of Roosevelt.

We are also reading a recommendation by Jeanne, Miss Hickory. Lovely.

And we continue with some lighter lessons (instead the full days and weeks), which is helping us staying abreast of history, which is a favorite subject at home for all of us. I also read to the girls from Platero y Yo. (I truly read this one for me, -grin). The book exist in its English translation. Platero y Yo, by Juan Ramón Jiménez (one of our great Spanish poets), is a deceiving title. We were all introduced to it at a young age. It seems to be a story for children, but it’s more a book for grown ups that we should read to our children too. It has short standing alone chapters (one side of a page or two), that also have a progression (from the beginning of the relationship between author and his donkey, until the donkey dies). But, since Juan Ramón is a poet, his prose is another type of poetry, and it fills my soul. Today I was in for a beautiful surprise,

Capítulo LVIII, Los gallos

Tal vez una bandera española sobre cielo azul de una plaza de toros… mudéjar…como las estaciones de Huelva a Sevilla. Rojo y amarillo de disgusto, como en los libros de Galdós, en las muestras de los estancos, en los cuadros malos de la otra guerra de Africa…

It was a surprise to see that a favorite poet reads and admires another favorite author.



8 thoughts on “November Reading Updates”

  1. I love the update! I'm excited to read Don Quixote… when the time is right for me. I think I'm going to choose a single author to focus on for next year's reading.


  2. 'I'm chiseling my book edgy tendencies' That's an interesting way to put it, Silvia. I've deviated from my original challenge list, which I always knew I would but I don't just want to read a book in order just to tick it off a list.


  3. That's where I'm going to myself, Sarah.

    Carol! I did not put it that well. I did not mean to curve my tendencies to read off a list (cause I do that as I follow my instinct), I meant I'm learning to be MODERATE (since you see by my personality, I'm not a measured or composed woman, but very impatient and “edgy” as in feeling I have to read this title, that one, 20 more, and read them NOW). I'm learning to slow down the process (which does not mean necessarily my reading speed, since different books call for different speeds), learning to savor the time and attention to each title, write in my common book from them, re read more -a second time one perceives more things in the book, etc. That's what I meant by chiseling my book edgy tendencies.

    I read from the challenge and outside, but it happened that some of those outside of the challenge books I could fit in the list -that's why I completed, ha ha ha.


  4. Love bookish posts, Silvia! I also haven't done a ton with my Book Challenge. Note to self, those are hard for you to stick with Amy! 🙂

    I haven't read Miss Hickory, but we have it somewhere, I'll have to bump it to the top of the list! 🙂

    I've heard of the homesteading book, so glad it was good! I must resist starting new things. 🙂


  5. I always enjoy hearing about your books! Last summer at the library sale I picked up a book similar to your Letters of a Woman Homesteader. It's titled The Life of an Ordinary Woman by Anne Ellis, “the story of her girlhood and young womanhood in the mining camps of Colorado” in the 1880's – 1890's. I started it but laid it aside in order to continue with the Classic Challenge.

    I am ticking the books off my Classic Challenge list and only lately has it been more difficult. I'd much rather just meander my way through the books that grab me.

    I can't wait to start my next Galdos, Fortunata and Jacinta. The book sits on top of my bookcase and seems to stare at me when I walk by, inviting me to pick it up, but so far I'm resisting. I know for sure that as soon as I've finished the last Classic Challenge title I will be reading Galdos! I so appreciate you introducing me to him.


  6. Thanks, Amy. I think the same about your book posts.

    Linda, I'm also behaving well and waiting until I finish DQ (which it's getting closer) to start Dr. Thorne. I wanted to read Trollope last year, but I lost interest until you talked to me about his books and qualities as a writer.


  7. I also love reading “bookish posts” 🙂 We enjoyed Landing of the Pilgrims together a couple years ago. Our dd just finished Carry a Big Stick. She mentioned how strange it was that Roosevelt died half way through the book. Most books/biographies, the main character lives to the end.

    I started the year strong with the Classics Challenge, but somehow it fell by the wayside. I've been pondering this in hopes to finish the year strong. Either way, I'll try again next year.



  8. Hi Melissa!
    So nice to hear from you here. Thanks for your comment.
    Good to know about Carry a Big Stick, it also started with him being shot, and it said he died the day after he was shot, then it starts with his life from the beginning.

    I read some because of the challenge, and other books I wanted to read and read this year, happened to accommodate to it, but in truth, I did not read the 12 titles I set up to read either, lol. However, it led me to nice books.


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