2017 In Review

Fresh Air (1878)
Winslow Homer
source Wikiart

2017 Reading Stats:

Number Of Books You Read: 23 (wailing and tearing my hair ~ well, no, not really)

Number of Re-Reads: 5 

Genre You Read The Most From: Classics

Best in Books

Best book you read in 2017: The Histories by Herodotus.  Yes, honestly.  It was a meagre year for reading.  No offense to Herodotus though …. it WAS good.

Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’tThe Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope.  Perhaps it wasn’t much of a surprise. However, while I’m used to this series being light, Trollope also manages to weaves some depth into these books.  With this one, it was all about love affairs and a very silly woman.  It was somewhat annoying.

Most surprising (in a good or bad way) book you read in 2017: In a good way, The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm.  It was recommended to me.  Fromm is very counter-cultural, but his assessment of people’s ability to love, or more the lack of it, made so much sense!  Our society does NOT practice any disciplines that will help us love better, and in fact, practices disciplines that hurt our ability to love.  We need to be aware this in order to be present in our relationships with not only those closest to use but humanity in general.  This is definitely a book that everyone should read!

Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did) in 2017:   I haven’t even finished it myself yet, but it was Plato’s Republic.  I really think this is a beneficial book to read and we should push ourselves, not only to get through it, but open our minds to it!  It can also be taken too seriously, but experienced in balance, I believe it may change us in ways that we can’t even imagine.

Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel? Best Series Ender:  Hmmm …… I didn’t intend to read the WHOLE series, but I, of course, thoroughly enjoyed my re-read of Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson  It’s probably one of my favourite books of all time!

Favorite new author you discovered in 2017:   M.M. Kaye is technically not new, but it’s been sooo long since I read anything by her, I’m going to call her new (and for lack of anyone else to choose from).  I love her writing, and how she is able to craft a story that draws you right in!

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/ out of your comfort zone:  High Fidelity by Nick Hornsby.  It was on my Guardian’s 1000 books list and in the library so I thought, why not.  Meh!  It was another one of those irresponsible coming-of-age books that are so annoying, where the writer can’t understand why his life is so unfulfilling even though, by his behaviour, it should be patently obvious.  

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year:  I really don’t have a candidate for this category, so I’ll say The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.  But it perhaps wasn’t action-packed and unputdownable in the conventional way, lol!

Book you read in 2017 that you are most likley to reread next year: None, but if I had to pick one, probably The Man Who Knew Too Much by G.K. Chesterton, only because I listened to it as an audiobook and I’d like to eventually read it.

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017: The Moomins and the Great Flood had kind of a fun cover.

Most memorable characters of 2017:  Mr. Pickwick (The Pickwick Papers) and Horne Fisher (The Man Who Knew Too Much)

Most beautifully written book read in 2017:  Hmmm …… well, probably  Shadow of the Moon by M.M. Kaye fits this category best.  Again, her writing craft draws you right into the story!

Most-thought provoking/ life-changing book of 2017: The Art of Loving.  According to Erich Fromm, there are few people who know how to love well.  But in order to love well, like anything else worthwhile, it takes dedication and consistent hard work.  Again, definitely a must-read!

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read: The Histories

Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2017: There were so many good quotes in  The Art of Loving but I’m going to go with this one:  “…. Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person; it is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines the relatedness of a person to the world as a whole, not towards one “object” of love.  If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to the rest of his fellow men, his love is not love but a symbolic attachment, or an enlarged egotism.  Yet, most people believe that love is constituted by the object, not by the faculty.”  ~~ Erich Fromm

Shortest/longest book you read in 2017: The Moomins and the Great Flood by Tove Jansson (52 pgs.) & The Histories by Herodotus (953 pgs.) 

Book that shocked you the most: High Fidelity probably because it’s puzzling how someone can be so self-destructive and so blind to one’s own behaviour at the same time.  Also rather depressing because I think we can all be blind in this way.  Some to a larger extent than others.

OTP of the year: Alex and Winter from Shadow of the Moon!  I thought, however, that their relationship would be rather rocky.

Favorite non-romantic relationship: Pickwick and Sam Weller from The Pickwick Papers.

Favorite book you read in 2017 from an author you’ve read previously:  The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton.  And I finally did enough research to “get” what Chesterton was trying to communicate.  Yippeee!

Best book you read in 2017 that you read based solely on a recommendation from someone else: The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm, recommended by my aunt.

Best world-building/most vivid setting you read this year:  Shadow of the Moon.  But Herodotus did a good job with his narrative and Dickens is always a good romp!

Book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read: Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome.  His writing is fabulous and I laughed so hard much of the book!

Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2017: None this year.

Hidden gem of the year:  The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm.    

Most unique book you read in 2017: The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton.  Chesterton has the most unique style of writing that I’ve experienced.  His books take work, but boy, they’re worth it!

Book that made you the most mad: High Fidelity by Nick Hornsby.  Again, don’t act stupidly, with little regard for others and expect your life to turn out well.  Don’t be surprised when you’re alone and isolated.  Don’t be delusional ……  

Your Blogging/Bookish Life

New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017:  The award goes to Mudpuddle’s Mudpuddle Soup blog.  For a long time he’s been populating our blogs with insightful and amusing comments.  Now he’s launched his own blog.  Check it out.

Favorite review that you wrote in 2017: The Great Ideas ~ Opinion and Majority Rule by Mortimer J. Adler, only because it spurred some excellent conversation.

Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog: see above.

Best event that you participated in:  The Shadow of the Moon Read-Along hosted by Cirtnecce at Mockingbirds, Looking Glasses and Prejudices …… and the finish of the very long read-along of The Pickwick Papers hosted by O at On Bookes.  I really would love to be part of more read-alongs.

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017:  I must say, I was very pleased that I posted by book/chapter of both The Histories and The History of the Peloponnesian War.  It was an arduous job but very satisfying.  It’s made me more consoled at my terrible book total for the year.

Most popular post this year on your blog: My Hamlet, the Prince or the Poem? an essay by C.S. Lewis was again a leader this year, followed by The World of Tomorrow by E.B. White

Post you wished got a little more love:  None.

Best bookish discovery:  I will sound like a broken record but, The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year: I can hardly talk about this.  I didn’t complete the Back to the Classics, or my Deal Me in, nor have I progress well through either my Well-Educated Mind Project or My Great Ideas Project, although the last I was most happy with.  

Looking Ahead

One book you didn’t get to in 2017 but will be your number 1 priority in 2018: The Republic by Plato.  I need to finish this.  I also want to get to The Last Chronicle of Barset to finish The Barsetshire Chronicles.

Book you are most anticipating for 2018 (non-debut): A hard one because I don’t want to commit to anything but possibly The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake.

Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2018: The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope.  This answer is the same as last year.  How depressing …. 😉

One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2018:  I’ve started a food blog called Journey to the Garden, which is taking up much of my time.  The start-up and promotion takes a big chunk, so I envision, as we get more well-known, that I will have more time to get back to reading.  When this will happen is not known but hopefully sometime in 2018.  And if I’m honest, with better time-management, I should have more time for reading.  Wish me luck.

A long and prosperous reading year for everyone in 2018!!

The Magdalene Reading (1445)
Rogier van der Weyden
source Wikiart

Thanks again to Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner for hosting this survey!

The Pickwick Papers or The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club by Charles Dickens

“The first ray of light which illumines the gloom, and converts into a dazzling brillancy that obscurity in which the earlier history of the public career of the immortal Pickwick would appear to be involved, is derived from the perusal of the following entry in the Transactions of the Pickwick Club, which the editor of these papers feels the highest pleasure in laying before his readers, as a proof of the careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination, with which his search among the multifarious documents confided to him has been conducted.”

It’s hardly believable but O’s 2 year read-along of the Pickwick Papers has finally come to a close and I have her to thank for finally being able to finish this 800-page marvel.  We read it in installments mirroring its original release which was an enlightening experience in itself. Looking back, I enjoyed reading only 2 to 3 chapters at a time, but the space between them, for me, was too long.  It’s not that I necessarily forgot what had happened, but I found that when I picked it up again, I was somewhat disengaged with the characters.  It was almost like starting a book over and over again and never really getting traction.  If I was to do it over, I’d read a chapter per week instead of three at once and that way hopefully remain more present in the story.

Mr. Pickwick slides on the ice
source Wikimedia Commons

And the book itself ….. ?  I quite enjoyed Mr. Pickwick and his marvellous, and at times unbelievable, adventures.  At the beginning of the book, Mr. Pickwick, founder and president of the Pickwick Club, decides that he and fellow members, Nathaniel Winkle, Augustus Snodgrass, and Tracy Tupman, will leave London and travel the countryside to discover the wonderful qualities of life, each reporting to the others what they find. Their adventures lead them to saving ladies in distress, getting embroiled in circumstances they only want to avoid, courting offers of marriage, unwanted offers of marriage, interaction with criminals, jail and even love itself. Dickens imbues this novel with his own brand of humour by having an old confirmed bachelor find himself in all sorts of uncomfortable circumstances.  From finding himself unexpectedly sleeping in a lady’s bed, to being sued for breach of promise of marriage, poor Pickwick finds his dignified sensibilities tried by unexpected challenges yet he always manages to respond in a measured and honourable manner that increased our respect for this lovable character.

Mr. Pickwick’s first interview
with Sergeant Snubbin
source Wikimedia Commons

In Chapter XVI, Pickwick attempts to catch a swindler, Jingle, who is slipperier than an eel.  Jingle plans to run away with an heires and by hiding in the bushes outside the girls’ boarding school, Pickwick attempts to subvert the scheme and expose the criminal.  But through various misadventures and bumbles, he manages to find himself locked in a cupboard by the headmistress and the ladies of the establishment. Rescued by Sam Weller, his valet, and his friend, Mr. Wardle, Pickwick rains imprecations upon the head of the absent Jingle.

Even more amusing, was the incident of the mistaken beds.  Late at night at an inn, Pickwick returns downstairs to retrieve his watch and upon returning, enters the wrong room!  He is just settled into bed when a lady enters and begins her own toilette. Horrified, Pickwick reveals his presence and attempts to assure her of his mistake and innocence, but the woman is frightened senseless, and Pickwick makes a quick exit. Not wanting another repeat of the disturbing and undignified experience, Pickwick plans to sleep in the hall, but is once again rescued by Sam.  The novel has so many amusing anecdotes, that is has to be read to enjoy them all.  And I finally managed it!

Mr. Pickwick, picnics
source Wikimedia Commons

At the time of the writing of this first novel, Dickens was working as a roving journalist and a reporter of Parlimentary news.  After his successful Sketches by Boz, Dickens was called in to write copy for certain illustrated sporting plates created by illustrator Robert Seymour.  Dickens soon began to write the instalments before the plates were produced, therefore changing the illustrative focus of the project to storytelling and he never looked back.  We all know of his illustrious writing career following The Pickwick Papers and I still have to read quite a few Dickens’ novels yet, as I’ve only completed The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, A Tale of Two Cities, Dombey and Son, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, and, a long time ago, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  So many great novels of his still to go.  Perhaps a project for 2018 ……???



December ~ It’s Gotta Get Better

Actually life isn’t too bad at the moment, although I’m still having a challenge getting traction on most things in my life.  One thing comes together and another goes sideways and I’m having a hard time keeping up …… as you can tell, as my post for December is rather late.  Not to mention most of my photos have food as a theme, so right away you can tell where the majority of my time has been spent.

© journeytothegarden.com

Thankfully, I’m healing up well from my biking accident.  My cast is off and although my thumb has very little strength in it, I do feel it improving.  Otherwise, my sprained wrist is feeling nearly back to normal in the last few days, my terribly bruised elbow almost has no pain, and although my head still hurts a little where I hit it, it’s improving as well.  Another month and hopefully I’ll be 100%.

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