Books I Read in the First Half of 2018

January:

Behind a Mask, or A Woman’s Power, by Louisa May Alcott (under the pen name A. M. Barnard) — I felt like reading something that wouldn’t take any brain-power. This worked. It was interesting to get a glimpse of Alcott’s early works. The subject may be different from her more domestic stories, but the style is the same.

Northanger Abbey: An Annotated Edition, by Jane Austen, edited by Susan J. Wolfson — This book was one of my Christmas gifts. The editor doesn’t quite approve of Henry Tilney. She thinks he bullies Catherine. My favourite annotations were those which discussed the Gothic literature of Jane Austen’s (and Catherine Morland’s) time.

February:

The Abbot’s Ghost or, Maurice Treherne’s Temptation, by Louisa May Alcott (under the pen name A. M. Barnard) — Another of Alcott’s sensational and sentimental tales.

Belles on Their Toes, by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey — I finally got around to reading this sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen to my youngest siblings. Like the first book, it was a hit.

Colour Bar: The Triumph of Seretse Khama and His Nation, by Susan Williams — The true story on which the movie A United Kingdom (2016, with David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike) was based. I didn’t manage to quite keep track of all the individuals involved, but I was still able to follow the story. It was an excellent book and a fascinating story. I liked the movie, but the book covered so much more and followed Seretse’s entire life. I’d like to read this one again.

March:

The Seagull, by Anton Chekhov (New York: Hartsdale House, 1935) — I have no idea who translated my copy of The Seagull. Nearly everyone in this play seems to want what they can’t have and the one or two who do get what they want find that it doesn’t make them happy. If I understood more about the time in which this play was written, it might have made more sense to me.

May:

Doctor Thorne, by Anthony Trollope, read by Nicholas Clifford for LibriVox.org — I’ve read this before, but I wanted something easily gotten onto my iPod to listen to during an airplane trip in April. I finished it while doing various housecleaning jobs.

June:

The Simple Path to Wealth, by J. L. Collins — A fairly simple book about investing in stocks. The book is a compilation of articles from the author’s blog: jlcollinsnh.com.

Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin, read by Patrick Lawlor (Tantor Media, 2006) — Not a very well-written book, but a fascinating story. Honestly, I do not believe I would have finished it if I hadn’t been listening to the audiobook, but I’m glad I did. Mortenson is the son of missionaries and grew up in Africa. When he was 15 years old, he and his family moved back to the states. After he graduated, he went into the army for a couple of years. Then he became a nurse and a mountaineer. His sister had meningitis, probably developed from a vaccine she was given, and died of a seizure. Mortenson decided to climb K2, the world’s second-highest mountain, in her honour. He failed, but after taking a wrong turn and becoming ill, he ended up in a village in Pakistan called Korphe, where he was taken care of. Seeing the dedication of the children there to learning, despite only occasionally having a teacher, and having no schoolhouse or paper but writing their lessons outside in the dirt, even in inclement weather, he promised to come back and build them a school. It took a lot of time and work to finally get it built, but he did. He got funding from Jean Hoerni, who founded the Central Asia Institute to support Mortenson’s work so he could build even more schools. Mortenson views his work as a peaceful way of fighting terrorism. He was in the Middle East on September 11, 2001 and offered an interesting perspective on the events of that day.

— — —

I didn’t accidentally skip April — I didn’t finished reading any books that month.

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Paintings: “Alice in Wonderland” (circa 1879) by George Dunlop Leslie (1835-1921) & “La devozione al nonno” (1893, roughly translated “Devotion to the grandfather”) by Albert Anker (1831-1910).

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