Are “the classics” actually good? Wuthering Heights is!

So I’ve been making an effort recently to read some of “the classics” – my husband seems bemused by this, but I feel like I’ve reached a point where I can appreciate literature in a way I just didn’t when I was younger. I’ve always loved to read – but it was all about being wrapped up in the story. As I’ve gotten older, read more, become a mom in need of intellectual stimulation, and become more experienced as an editor and beta reader I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the art of writing. You can get a three-star review from me for an engaging story without amazing writing, but the fives are reserved for those that do both and also convey some sort of life message – communicate some great truths about life.

This year so far I’ve read 1984 and Animal Farm (George Orwell) and I’ve begun reading The Innocence of Father Brown (G.K. Chesteron). In 2019 I read Les Miserables (Victor Hugo), Under the Lilacs (Louisa May Alcott), and Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte). In 2018 I read The Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia #4, C.S. Lewis), Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen), and The Valley of Fear (Arthur Conan Doyle). I only actually enjoyed two of those: The Silver Chair and Wuthering Heights. The rest I’m glad to have read, but didn’t love while I was reading them, if that makes sense.

Since I let this post sit for four months without touching it and don’t remember at all where I was going with it, I’ve decided to offer my quick takes on each of the books I mention above:

The Innocence of Father Brown — It is SLOW. Father Brown always solves the crime, and he usually imparts some bit of Catholic wisdom in the process. But it is slow.

1984 — I finally understand so many cultural references to Orwell. I also do not understand how people do not see the parallels to our modern life. Telescreens remind me an awful lot of Alexa…or Facebook. Scary stuff.

Animal Farm — I never took a European History class, which put me at a great disadvantage when it comes to understanding this book.

Les Miserables — Would any editor anywhere let this book get published nowadays? I LOVE the musical and know all the songs by heart, and the core of the story is wonderful. But we need to slash like…half the book.

Under the Lilacs — I just feel ambivalent about this one. I reread Little Women and Little Men as a kid (rereading books is not something I typically do) because I loved them so much and this one…was just harder to get into and love.

Wuthering Heights — This book is SO DARK. In the past I’ve found it hard to get into books where I can’t identify with the characters, or where the characters are unlikable. Pretty much everyone in Wuthering Heights in unlikable, but I think the story is wonderfully written and so heartbreakingly realistic. Maybe I’ve just reached a point in life where I realize there are no perfect people and so I’m not looking for perfect characters? I think, though, it might be that I found it a fascinating look at why people do horrible things. What makes these people tick? That understanding brings empathy, even the face of human awfulness.

The Silver Chair — Narnia is eternally captivating and all the books have been spectacular so far. I should get back to that series!

Sense and Sensibility — I really, really, really WANT to like Jane Austen. I’m just not sure I do. Some of the characters are infuriating and I’m glad I didn’t live in that society.

The Valley of Fear — I was largely unimpressed, to be honest. Which was a little disappointing.

Have you read any of these books? What do you think of them? Are there any classics I should be sure to read?

Mom’s Day Out at the Great Valley Bookfest – it was awesome!

Two weekends ago I had the awesome opportunity (thank you, my dear husband!) to go to a local book festival for a few hours BY MYSELF and it was amazing. I truly could have stayed there ALL DAY LONG. I met and chatted with some interesting local authors, bought some indie books (I’ve already finished two of them!), and picked up some used books from the Friends of the Library sale (I was there for the closing of the Bookfest and all the used books were free!). I also have some ideas for next year’s Bookfest: 1) bring business cards (duh!) – I missed out on some great opportunities to leave my info with authors; 2) sign up to offer a workshop on editing; 3) block off the whole day and go earlier so I can sit in on some of the speakers. So much potential!

I took some pictures, but then my phone broke and I got a new one soooo they’re not accessible at the moment. Instead, I will share some links! First, the Bookfest itself:

GVBF logo The mission of the Great Valley Bookfest is to create a family-friendly festival that celebrates literacy and promotes the written word in the heart of California’s Central Valley. It benefits the following local literacy organizations: Friends of the LibraryGreat Valley Writing CampsGive Every Child A Chance; and San Joaquin County Office of Education (SCHOOLS)

Next, some of the books I picked up and authors I met:

Britt Nunes – Etched  – I met Britt Nunes, her twin sister, and her adorable baby nephew at the Bookfest and bought her first book, Etched. While it wasn’t flawlessly executed–it read like a first book–it was interesting and engaging, and I enjoyed it very much. When I finished it, I bought myself the e-book versions of the sequel and the prequel, and I look forward to reading more from Britt Nunes in the future! Find her here: brittnunes.com

Britt Nunes  33844215. sy475

Susan Lowe – Josie – I met Susan Lowe and her husband, and just had to buy the book — which I read in one day! It is the story of Josie, Susan’s mother, and her experiences as an ethnic German in post-WWII Yugoslavia. It’s spectacularly well done and I’m thankful to have met Susan and had the opportunity to read her book. Find more info here.

Susan A.  Lowe Josie: A Story of Faith and Survival

Major Mitchell – The Dona (historical fiction)

The Doña

Kathy Goosev Howell – The Perfectly Purple Sneakers (picture book)

The Perfectly Purple Sneakers

Brian Weisfeld – The Startup Squad – Find Brian here: www.thestartupsquad.com

The Startup Squad

 

I met a lot of other authors whose books I did not buy that day, but I’ll certainly be looking out for – and maybe I’ll see them again at next year’s Bookfest! 🙂

Emotionally mature and complex, one of the best short stories I’ve read! “Wings” by Kia Thomas (a review)

Last week, author Kia Thomas (@kiathomasedits) put out a call on Twitter: for her birthday, help get her short story, Wings, to #1 in Amazon’s Literary Short Story category. For $1.29, I bought the book, and I recommend you do, too! (Looks like she got to #11 that day, which is awesome!).

Wings: A Short Story by [Thomas, Kia]

The Hunters hunt.
The Elders rule.
The women care for the young.

Everyone knows their place. Except for one young woman. Every day, she sneaks away to a clearing in the forest. One morning, she finds an injured creature in her secret hideaway, and she decides to nurse it back to health.

But she is not where she should be, nor doing what she should be doing. And this will not be tolerated…

The power of the book lies in its depth of emotion and the complexity of the characters. The story’s short chapters are told in the first person, from the points of view of the woman, a hunter, and an elder. Thomas weaves so much content into such short chapters – I really felt like I knew the characters. I rooted for (or against) them; I felt connected to them; I saw and felt them learn and grow. Wings, in a completely non-pushy way, makes a statement about challenging societal limitations and allowing oneself the space to grow; about the ability to think for oneself and stand up for what’s right rather than what’s expected; about the willingness to show vulnerability. I particularly like how the characters process their emotions without necessarily being able to name what they’re feeling — they don’t need to, they just feel them, and assess them, and use them to make decisions about how they will act.

Overall, it’s a very emotionally mature story, capturing both male and female, young and old characters. I’m impressed by the depth of the writing and look forward to seeing more from Kia Thomas!

5 Stars! (PS – It’s worth your $1.29!)