Tuesday, April 30, 2024

1000 Books Project - The Moonstone Final Discussion


If you have not been reading along, be aware of potential spoilers ahead.

I really enjoyed this book! I think I'm liking Collins' books almost as much as Dickens. 

The conclusion was quite satisfying, especially since I suspected Godfrey Ablewhite, and before he was revealed as the dead sailor, I knew it was him. Not sure why...he just rubbed me the wrong way. Goody two shoes, gold digger. Ha!

I was impressed with how Collins dealt with such kindness to characters like Ezra Jennings and Gooseberry. He illustrated that smarts, usefulness, and merit are not solely attributes of those who look normal. Ezra Jennings' story was particularly heartbreaking. His selflessness in not bringing a shadow into Franklin Blake's happiness because of his death was remarkable. Such a sad passing that was.

This was a first class mystery with no real murder until the end. It was fun reading the techniques that were adopted to find out the truth behind the stealing of the diamond.

What did you think of the book? Share any and all thoughts in the comments.

Next up...

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. Because he is Dickens after all, Mustich does not focus on just one book by the prolific author. His write up about Dickens in 1000 Books can be found on pages 215 - 222, with commentary on Nicholas Nickleby on page 218. He refers to the book as "Pure Storytelling Bliss." (This text is from the introduction/sign-up post for this year's project.)

This read-along will run from June to September. I will post the reading schedule in May.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

1000 Books Project - The Moonstone Discussion Three


If you are not reading along, be aware of potential spoilers ahead.

What started off as a seemingly boring reading section quickly turned into quite the labyrinth! The revelations from Rosanna Spearman's letter, which seemed to obviously point to the fact that it was she, in her jealousy of Rachel and Franklin's relationship, who showed Franklin's dressing gown to Rachel. Thus, causing Rachel to believe that he had taken the diamond. Diabolically, we find that this is not the case and that, in fact, Rachel actually witnessed Franklin enter her sitting room and take the diamond from her Indian cabinet. 

I quickly started thinking that perhaps someone had hypnotized Franklin unbeknownst to him, and to us, the readers. However, I couldn't quite come up with how that could have occurred, except by some mysterious Hindu magic. But when could this have occurred, and where? Thankfully, enter Dr. Candy and his assistant, Ezra Jennings, and now perhaps we have the answer. 

How they will bring about the reenactment of the circumstances of that night is yet to be seen. In my own mind, I am utterly convinced of Franklin's innocence, though certain twists have been known to come about in mysteries such as this. We shall see how it all plays out. I'm excited to get to the bottom of it!

What did you think of the this section of our reading? Share any and all thoughts in the comments.

Here is the reading schedule if you need to reference it again. (Click link and scroll down)
I'll be back on April 30 with the final discussion post.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

1000 Books Project - The Moonstone Discussion Two


If you are not reading along, be aware of potential spoilers ahead.

To begin, can we rename Second Period, First Narrative to Second Period, The Tiresome Miss Clack? Asking for a friend. 

I am quite stumped as to why Collins chose Clack to narrate. I'm reminded of the Tom Bombadil part in The Fellowship of the Ring, which I felt was quite tedious and unnecessary. Yes, Clack's narrative did advance the story, but I'm wondering if it was meant as comic relief, or was it a way for Collins to show his disdain for Christianity? I did read that adding this narrative was a way to show the opposing forces of Christianity and Hinduism. Collins professed himself a Christian, but he was also a freethinker, and he did oppose dogmas and creeds because he felt they led to persecution and war. As a non-religious freethinker myself, I just found Clack to be tiresome (as noted above). I was also reminded of Ichabod Crane, who is written as comic relief in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Clack's self-awareness (even though she would deny it) is very much like Ichabod's. Yet, where his inflated perception of himself falls to more secular leaning (a singer with a talent like no other, intellectual superiority due to his education), Clack's inflated self-perception comes from her thinking she is beyond reproach because she is a Christian. Honestly, some of the things she thought and said brought to mind a certain subset of Christians in this country who use their Christian status to declare superiority, but to also state quite publicly that Christians are persecuted. Oh, and I forgot to mention...don't get me started on her proselytizing. She is relentless!!

Here are the passages I highlighted...

"...the true Christian never yields. Neither public nor private influences produce the slightest effect on us, when we have once got our mission."

"We are above reason; we are beyond ridicule; we see with nobody's eyes, we hear with nobody's ears, we feel with nobody's hearts, but our own. Glorious, glorious privilege! And how is it earned: Ah, my friends, you may spare yourselves the useless inquiry! We are the only people who can earn it--for we are the only people who are always right." 

"Oh, Rachel! Rachel!...Haven't you seen yet, that my heart yearns to make a Christian of you? Has no inner voice told you that I am trying to do for you, what I was trying to do for your dear mother when death snatched her out of my hands? I don't understand your reference to my mother," [Rachel] said. "Miss Clack, will you have the goodness to explain yourself?"

"...I stated the view with which sound doctrines does not scruple to regard the awful calamity of dying unprepared. Rachel started back from me...with a scream of horror. [Rachel said] "Come away, for God's sake, before that woman can say any more! Oh, think of my poor mother's harmless, useful, beautiful life! You were at the funeral, Mr. Bruff; you saw how everybody loved her; you saw the poor helpless people crying at her grave over the loss of their best friend. And that wretch stands there, and tries to make me doubt that my mother, who was an angel on earth, is an angel in heaven now! Don't stop to talk about it! Come away! It stifles me to breathe the same air with her! It frightens me to feel that we are in the same room together!"

[Clack] 
"Is there more to be added to this plain statement of facts--to this touching picture of a Christian persecuted by the world?"  

"And when I die--to complete the return on my part of good for evil--she will have the LIFE, LETTERS, AND LABOURS OF MISS JANE ANN STAMPER left her as a legacy by my will."


My goodness...to say to a person that has just lost a loved one, to imply that said person is going to hell. That is not Christian goodness. We also see that she plans to proselytize even beyond death. Relentless woman! 

So, we are past this "tiresome" narrative. Whatever the true reasoning Collins had in presenting this part of the narrative in such a way, I can only imagine the discussions it has provoked over the many years since it was written. 

From this narrative, we now know that Rachel was set to marry Franklin Blake, but had discovered something about him that makes her not want to be with him, but she also feels she cannot be with anyone else. I'm sure we will see what Blake has done to warrant Rachel's decision as we continue on in the story. 

What did you think of the this section of our reading? Share any and all thoughts in the comments.

Here is the reading schedule if you need to reference it again. (Click link and scroll down)
I'll be back on March 31 with the next discussion post.


Thursday, February 1, 2024

1000 Books Project - The Moonstone Discussion One


If you are not reading along, be aware of potential spoilers ahead.

I wasn't sure what to expect upon beginning this book. I have read The Woman in White, which I loved. But this book takes an entirely different tone. I'm reminded of Agatha Christie and other similar mystery authors. I can easily see that Collins could have been influential for many mystery authors. Sergeant Cuff reminded me of a Hercule Poirot/Detective Columbo mashup. His whistling of "The Last Rose of Summer" reminded me of a tactic used by many a detective to "throw them off the scent" so to speak, though Mr. Betteredge seems to have thought of it as more of a tell, indicating that Cuff has had a breakthrough. Maybe it was that too.

I have to mention a couple of passages that make this very indicative of the time it was written. 

In Chapter IV, Mr. Betteredge is speaking with Rosanna and, as she was sitting beside him, his thought was "When you want to comfort a woman by the shortest way, take her on your knee. I thought of this golden rule." Um, that certainly wouldn't fly in this day and age. I know he's a kindly older gentleman, but still. It seems it would be odd to have someone sit on your lap that was not your daughter. As I said, a sign of the time this book was written.

This one was a doozy. In Chapter XVII, Penelope asks her father (Betteredge) to speak with Rosanna. His inner thought again..."But it is a maxim of mine that men (being superior creatures) are bound to improve women..if they can. When a woman wants me to do anything (my daughter, or not, it doesn't matter), I always insist on knowing why. The oftener you make them rummage their own minds for a reason, the more manageable you will find them in all the relations of life. It isn't their fault (poor wretches!) that they act first and think afterwards; it's the fault of the fools who humour them." In my experience, men act first and think afterwards, but I digress. No wonder it took so long to get the right to vote when men had this kind of attitude toward us. Sadly, there are some who would love to go back to this (and some women who wouldn't even care..egads!). Poor wretches indeed! Ugh.

Now that my outrage is out of the way. Ha! I will just say that this is a first rate mystery and I can't wait to read the next section. 

What did you think of the first section? Share any and all thoughts in the comments.

Here is the reading schedule if you need to reference it again. (Click link and scroll down)
I'll be back on February 29 with the next discussion post.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

2023 Yearly Challenges - Wrap-Up Post

This is the wrap-up post for the 2023 yearly challenges...

2023 Book to Movie, 2023 Read Your Shelf, and the 1000 Books Project: Banned Books 2023.

I'm posting the links to the 2023 challenges below. If you completed the challenge (or even if you didn't) and you post a wrap-up, please link up in the original linky on the challenge sign up post. When you put your name/blog name, just add "wrap-up." Like so: truebookaddict/wrap-up

Here are the links to the 2023 challenges:

2023 Read Your Shelf Challenge

2023 Book to Movie Reading Challenge

1000 Books Project: Banned Books 2023

Be sure to leave a comment on the post so I know you added your wrap-up.

In case you missed the sign-up for this year's yearly challenges, you can find them below.

2024 Read Your Shelf Challenge

2024 Book to Movie (and TV) Reading Challenge

Here's to a new year of reading!

Sunday, December 31, 2023

2024 Read Your Shelf Challenge


As you know (hopefully), Read Your Shelf had an overhaul in 2023. Previous incarnations weren't working for me and then I found this article on Book Riot...

Basically, the premise is to take one shelf on your bookshelf (or some other designated place where you can place books for this challenge) and think of it as your "holds shelf." If you buy or receive a book you haven’t read, it automatically goes onto that shelf. 

As you can see from the image below, my holds shelf has grown exponentially. I did manage to read some of the books I placed there that I received in 2022, and I've added books acquired in 2023, including those I received for Christmas. When I did read a book from my holds shelf, I shelved it on my main shelves and chose a book from my main shelves to replace it. So, out of the original 25 books I placed on my holds shelf in 2023, I managed to read six. Not great, but I'll take it.


Further challenge details

For this challenge, you will only read the books on your holds shelf. When you have read one of the books, you put it back on one of your other shelves (think of it as "main circulation"). By design, there is no room in main circulation for this new book (probably not the case in some instances) so you must take a book from main circulation and place it on your holds shelf.

If you want, you can leave some space on your holds shelf for any new books you might receive or buy, just be sure to set a number of spaces available so you don't go over. Remember, the ultimate goal is to read books you already own. Not only are you reading newer books you were excited about when you bought them, but you're knocking out books that have been languishing on your shelves for years. 

From the original Book Riot post (linked above): "This revolving door system has turned my bookshelves into my own mini library. Each time I finish a book I own, I return it to main circulation, and then I get to spend a few minutes browsing the stacks. I pick out a new book I’m excited about reading, and get the satisfaction of putting that book on hold (i.e. on my TBR shelf).

The best part: eventually all the unread books in my house will either get cycled onto the holds shelf, or I’ll realize there aren’t any unread books left in main circulation that I still want to read, in which case, I’ll donate them."

The goal of this yearly challenge is to see how many books you can get through on your holds shelf, and your "main circulation," by keeping track of how many you read from each. You can set a personal goal of a set number, or just see how far you get. There's no winning or losing here. It's all in fun.
  • Challenge runs January 1, 2024 to December 31, 2024
  • You can use books from your holds shelf for other challenges (this will give you even more incentive to get them read!)
  • Hashtag for social media #ReadYourShelf
  • Any questions? Leave me a comment below, or contact me via the button in the sidebar.
Sign up in the linky below, and grab the button at the top of the post. Sharing is appreciated. Happy Reading in 2024!
 
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Saturday, December 30, 2023

1000 Books Project 2024 - Collins/Dickens


Challenge Backstory:
I picked up a copy of James Mustich's amazing 1000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life Changing List and upon looking through it, I realized it really is a well-rounded reading recommendation book. I was pleased to discover I have read quite a few of the books he lists, and that many of them are on my personal reading lists (and they are books I own). So, to ever expand my reading horizons, and include others in the journey, I decided to create a read-along challenge, or project, if you will.

Very proud of myself because this year I managed to read and post discussions for all four 2023 1000 Books selections! You can take a look at discussions for all four books under the 1000 Books Project label here.

One thing I did realize is that it's not a good idea to schedule these read-alongs during the holidays so in 2024, I will avoid that. This year we will only be reading two books with the first read-along January to April, a month break between, and then the second in June to September.

So, what are we reading? Well, in honor of Wilkie Collins' birthday on January 8, 2024, we will be reading The Moonstone. Now you're probably wondering where Dickens comes in. Well, since Collins and Dickens were good friends (until a late-life falling-out), we will be reading a Dickens book for our second selection which is The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.


You can reference The Moonstone in the 1000 Books to Read Before you Die book on pages 168 - 169. To sum up Mustich's summary of the book, it is considered Collins' masterpiece, and "Psychological acuity, formal virtuosity, the social and human amplitude of a Victorian novel, and the narrative pulse of a thriller add up to make The Moonstone the prototype of (as T.S. Eliot said) 'the book you can't put down.'"
 
Since we are starting The Moonstone on January 1st, I'm posting the reading schedule for it now. 

My edition: Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller (April 22, 2014) - Kindle edition, 384 pages.

Discussions will be posted here on the blog on the dates indicated in the schedule. Feel free to stop by the discussions any time. Post your thoughts in the comments, or share a link to a blog post.

Note: Because of the way the chapters and sections in this book are arranged, the reading may be heavier some months. Since this Kindle edition does not give page numbers, it's very difficult to determine the number of pages. Hence, the lack of page numbers in the schedule.

Reading Schedule
  • January: Prologue - First Period Ch XXIII (Ch 23)
    Discussion post: January 31
  • February: Second Period, First Narrative, Ch I - Ch VIII (Ch 8)
    Discussion post: February 29
  • March: Second Narrative, Ch I - Third Narrative, Ch X (Ch 10)
    Discussion post: March 31
  • April: Fourth Narrative - Epilogue, Ch III 
    Discussion post: April 30
I hope the schedule isn't too confusing. Strange arrangement of sections and chapters!


Our second selection for this year's project is The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. Because he is Dickens after all, Mustich does not focus on just one book by the prolific author. His write up about Dickens in 1000 Books can be found on pages 215 - 222, with commentary on Nicholas Nickleby on page 218. He refers to the book as "Pure Storytelling Bliss."

This read-along, as stated above, will run from June to September. I will post the reading schedule in May.

If you would like to join us, sign up by leaving a comment below (and a link, if you post about it on your blog or social media).