Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge

Tarissa at In the Bookcase hosts the Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge in June. You can read all the particulars here.

This year I’m reading The Orchard House by Heidi Chiavaroli. It’s a time slip novel with one story set in modern times and another in Louisa’s time, both connected to her. And isn’t that cover gorgeous!

I doubt I’ll read anything else connected with LMA this year–I have too many other things on my reading plate. But we’ll see. If this one goes quickly, I might try to work in another.

Reading Plans for 2021

One of my favorite things to do is chart out my reading plans for the year. I don’t want to be rigid about them: I like flexibility to pick up something unexpected during the year. But being intentional with my plans helps me get to the books I’ve long wanted to read plus expands my reading horizons.

Last year I participated in several reading challenges, thinking that they’d be easy to do since they overlapped and I could list the same books for several of them. But the record-keeping took way too much time and thought. Then one host just stopped blogging in February and one took her blog down during the year. So this year, I am back to the tried and true plans I have used for years plus a couple of new ones that worked out well last year.

Karen at Books and Chocolate hosts the Back to the Classics Challenge. Books have to be 50 years old and fit within the categories chosen for the year in order to qualify. Karen draws a name from participants at the end of the year to receive a $30 gift card towards books, and the number of categories you finish determines how many entries you get.

Here are the categories for this year. We don’t have to name what books we’ll read yet, but I have a couple of ideas (subject to change!)

 
1. A 19th century classic: any book first published from 1800 to 1899. Probably The Warden by Anthony Trollope, the first of his Chronicles of Barsetshire series. I read the middle book in the series, Doctor Thorne, last year and loved it.
2. A 20th century classic: any book first published from 1900 to 1971.
3. A classic by a woman author. Something from D. E. Stevenson.
4. A classic in translation, meaning any book first published in a language that is not your primary language.
5. A classic by BIPOC author; that is, a non-white author.
6. A classic by a new-to-you author, i.e., an author whose work you have never read. Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster. I’ve read a couple of books based on this one, so I need to read the original.
7. New-to-you classic by a favorite author — a new book by an author whose works you have already read. I’m working on reading what Dickens books I haven’t read yet. Maybe Nicholas Nickleby.
8. A classic about an animal, or with an animal in the title. The animal can be real or metaphorical. (i.e., To Kill a Mockingbird).
9. A children’s classic. Thinking about either Peter Pan or Tarzan.
10. A humorous or satirical classic.
11. A travel or adventure classic (fiction or non-fiction). It can be a travelogue or a classic in which the main character travels or has an adventure.
12. A classic play. Plays will only count in this category.
 

Bev at My Reader’s Block hosts the Mount TBR Challenge to encourage us to read the books we already own.. Every 12 books read is another level or “mountain” climbed. We don’t have to list the books yet, but we do have to commit to a level. I am committing to Mt. Vancouver (36 books). The one main rule here is that the books have to have been owned by us before January 1, 2021.

The Backlist Reader Challenge hosted by The Bookwyrm’s Hoard has the same idea as Mt. TBR. The main difference is we don’t have to own the books–they can be on our TBR list as well as actually on our shelves.

We don’t have to list what books we’ll read for the TBR or Backlist challenges, but these are some that I want to get to. I only asked for two books for Christmas—a record low for me!—because I had so many stacked up from previous gifts.

The Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted by Shelly Rae at Book’d Out should be easy, since I read a lot of nonfiction anyway. But the books need to fit in these categories for this year’s challenge.

  1. Biography
  2. Travel
  3. Self-help
  4. Essay Collection
  5. Disease
  6. Oceanography
  7. Hobbies
  8. Indigenous Cultures
  9. Food
  10. Wartime Experiences
  11. Inventions
  12. Published in 2021

There are different levels to choose from for goals. Though I know I’ll read more than 12, I am only going to aim for the Nonfiction Nibbler (6 books). If I come up with titles to fit the other categories–titles that I want to read for themselves and not just for the challenge—I’ll see how far I can get.

Finally, Tarissa at In the Bookcase hosts a Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge in June and a Literary Christmas Challenge in November and December. I’ll say more about those when they come up.

So that the plan for this year. I am excited!

Do you have any plans for reading this year? Do you participate in any reading challenges? I’d love to hear about them.

(Sharing with Senior Salon)

Literary Christmas Challenge Wrap-Up 2020

A Literary Christmas: Reading Challenge // inthebookcase.blogspot.com

Tarissa at In the Bookcase hosts a Literary Christmas Reading Challenge to encourage reading and sharing at Christmas time.

I didn’t get to one book from my original plans, but I did listen to an audiobook I hadn’t planned to—so I guess it all worked out evenly in the end.

Here’s what I finished, linked back to my reviews:

  • Loving My Actual Christmas by Alexandra Kuykendall, nonfiction. Ways to enjoy Christmas as it is rather than an idealized version, with lots of tips.
  • Joy to the World: Daily Readings for Advent by Charles Spurgeon, nonfiction. Short excerpts taken from some of Spurgeon’s Christmas sermons and arranged as a 25-day devotional.
  • A Christmas Longing by Joni Eareckson Tada, nonfiction. A lovely book filled with Joni’s artwork and meditations about Christmas.
  • A Very Bookish Christmas by Sarah Holman, J. Grace Pennington, Kate Willis, and Rebekah Jones, fiction. Four stories each tie in with a classic book.
  • Mistletoe and Murder: A Christmas Suspense Collection of ten novellas by different authors, fiction. Very suspenseful!
  • A Tale of Two Hearts and The Old Lace Shop, two stories in Michelle Griep’s Once Upon a Dicken’s Christmas. I’m not quite done with the last one, but I wanted to get the wrap-up post in before the reading challenge closed completely.

Thanks to Tarissa for hosting once again! I always enjoy it.

Nonfiction Reader Challenge Wrap-Up

Shelly Rae at Book’d Out hosts the Nonfiction Reading Challenge . The idea is to read nonfiction books in the categories she has chosen and choose a level to aim for.

I do read several nonfiction books a year as it is. But I only aimed for the Nonfiction Nibbler (6 books), since I wasn’t interested in all the categories for the next level.

As it turned out, I read 10 books that fit the categories, and several more besides.Here are my choices for this year’s categories, with links back to my reviews:

  1. Memoir:Panosian: A Story of God’s Gracious Providence by Chris Anderson
  2. Disaster Event: Green Leaf in Drought by Isobel Kuhn
  3. Social Science: Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done by Laura Vanderkam
  4. Related to an Occupation:  True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal—and How Nearly Dying Saved my Life, by Kevin Sorbo
  5. History:The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home by Denise Kiernan
  6. Feminism:The Wonder Years: 40 Women over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty, and Strength, a collection of essays compiled by Leslie Leyland Fields (This is more about femininity that feminism, but I think it fits.)
  7. Psychology: Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises by Dr. Michelle Bengston
  8. Medical Issue:7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates by Susan Neal
  9. Nature:
  10. True Crime:
  11. Science: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  12. Published in 2020: The Answer Is…by Alex Trebek

Because I like to have these all listed in one place, other nonfiction I’ve read this year is:

  1. Be Amazed (Minor Prophets): Restoring an Attitude of Wonder and Worship by Warren W. Wiersbe
  2. Be Authentic (Genesis 25-50): Exhibiting Real Faith in the Real World by Warren Wiersbe
  3. Be Basic (Genesis 1-11): Believing the Simple Truth of God’s Word by Warren Wiersbe
  4. Be Concerned (Minor Prophets): Making a Difference in Your Lifetime by Warren Wiersbe
  5. Be Free (Galatians): Exchange Legalism for True Spirituality by Warren Wiersbe
  6. Be Obedient (Genesis 12-25): Learning the Secret of Living by Faith by Warren Wiersbe
  7. Be Resolute( Daniel): Determining to Go God’s Direction by Warren Wiersbe
  8. Be Reverent (Ezekiel): Bowing Before Our Awesome God by Warren Wiersbe
  9. Be Rich (Ephesians): Gaining the Things That Money Can’t Buy by Warren Wiersbe
  10. Be Victorious (Revelation): In Christ You Are an Overcomer by Warren Wiersbe
  11. Bedside Blessings by Charles Swindoll (not reviewed yet)
  12. Christian Study Guide for 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates.by Susan Neal
  13. A Christmas Longing by Joni Eareckson Tada
  14. Daily Light on the Daily Path compiled by Samuel Bagster
  15. God’s Very Good Idea by Trillia Newbell (children’s book about diversity)
  16. Good Tidings of Great Joy: A Collection of Christmas Sermons by Charles Spurgeon
  17. In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character by Jen Wilkin
  18. Joy to the World: Daily Readings for Advent by Charles Spurgeon
  19. Loving My Actual Christmas: An Experiment in Relishing the Season by Alexandra Kuykendall
  20. None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different From Us (And Why That’s a Good Thing) by Jen Wilkin
  21. The Women of Easter: Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene by Liz Curtis Higgs

I had hoped to finish Write Better by Andrew T. Le Peau and The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion by Annette Whipple, but didn’t. Hopefully I will early this year.

Though I gravitate to fiction, I enjoy and benefit from nonfiction. If you’re interested in next year’s challenge, information for it is here.

TBR and Backlist Wrap-Up Posts

Two reading challenges I participated in encouraged us to get to those books we already had but hadn’t read yet. One was the the Mount TBR (To-Be-Read) Challenge hosted by Bev at My Reader’s Block. Every 12 books read is another level or “mountain” climbed. My goal was Mt. Vancouver (36 books). I surpassed that and made it to Mt. Ararat (48 books). Yay! Many of those had accumulated on my Kindle app through various sales.

mount-tbr-2017

The Backlist Reader Challenge hosted by The Bookwyrm’s Hoard had the same goal: reading already-owned books. So my result was the same: 48 books.

The Backlist Reader Challenge sign-up link

Each of these is also hosting the same challenges for 2021 if you are interested: Mount TBR here and the Backlist Challenge here. I’ll be joining in next week!

Here’s what I read, roughly in the order I finished them:

  1. Panosian: A Story of God’s Gracious Providence by Chris Anderson (2018)(Finished 1/11/20)
  2. Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke (2012)(Finished 1/18/20)
  3. The Shop Keepers by Nancy Moser (2019)(Finished 1/25/20)
  4. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle (1883)(Finished 1/29/20)
  5. Off the Clock by Laura Vanderham (2018)(Finished 2/4/20)
  6. Good Tidings of Great Joy by Charles Spurgeon (2017)(Finished 2/8/20)
  7. Hard Times by Charles Dickens (1854)(Finished 2/11/20)
  8. The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels (2019) (added 2/18/20)
  9. The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan (2017)(Finished 3/14/20)
  10. Be Reverent (Ezekiel): Bowing Before Our Awesome God by Warren Wiersbe. (1975)(Finished 3/25/20)
  11. Be Free (Galatians): Exchange Legalism for True Spirituality by Warren Wiersbe (2010, Finished 4/2/20)
  12. Green Leaf in Drought by Isobel Kuhn (1957) (Finished 4/5/20)
  13. Be Rich (Ephesians): Gaining the Things Money Can’t Buy by Warren Wiersbe (2010, Finished 4/10/20)
  14. The Women of Easter: Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene by Liz Curtis Higgs (2017) (Finished 4/11/20)
  15. A Portrait of Marguerite by Kate Lloyd (2011) (Finished 4/15/20)
  16. Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney (2012)(Finished 5/3/20)
  17. Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron (2019)(Finished 5/45/20)
  18. A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal. (2017)(Finished 5/12/20)
  19. The Wonder Years: 40 Women Over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty, and Strength compiled by Leslie Leyland Fields (2018)(Finished 6/1/20)
  20. Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises. by Dr. Michelle Bengston. (2019, Finished 6/6/20)
  21. The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick (2008)(Finished 6/16/20)
  22. Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
  23. Monday’s Child by Linda Chaikin(1999)(Finished 6/29/20)
  24. Rain Song by Alice Wisler (2008)(Finished 7/5/20)
  25. Be Concerned by Warren Wiersbe (2010, Finished 7/8/20)
  26. Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin (2016, Finished 7/20/20)
  27. If We Make It Home by Christina Suzann Nelson (2017, Finished 7/11/20)
  28. Hurricane Season by Laura K. Denton. (2018, Finished 7/20/20)
  29. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (1910, Finished 7/27/20)
  30. The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson (2016, Finished 8/2/20)
  31. Candleford Green by Flora Thompson (1943, Finished 8/4/20)
  32. Be Amazed (Minor Prophets): Restoring an Attitude of Wonder and Worship by Warren W. Wiersbe (2010, Finished 8/6/20)
  33. 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates by Susan Neal (2017, Finished 8/9/20)
  34. None Like Him by Jen Wilkin (2016, finished 8/15/20)
  35. Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words by Rachel Coker (2012, finished 8/17/20)
  36. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2019, Finished 8/22/20)
  37. Be Victorious (Revelation): In Christ You Are an Overcomer by Warren Wiersbe (2008, Finished 9/7/20)
  38. The Color of Hope by Kim Cash Tate (2013, Finished 9/7/20)
  39. Sandhill Dreams by Cara Putnam (2017, Finished 9/9/20)
  40. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2011, Finished 9/12/20)
  41. Five Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt (2012, Finished 9/15/20)
  42. The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke (2019, Finished 9/21/20)
  43. Be Basic (Genesis 1-11): Believing the Simple Truth of God’s Word by Warren Wiersbe (2010, Finished 9/22/20)
  44. An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M. White (2018, Finished 10/23/20)
  45. In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character by Jen Wilkin (2018, Finished 11/7/20)
  46. Under a Cloudless Sky by Chris Fabry (2018, Finished 11/9/20)
  47. Loving My Actual Christmas: An Experiment in Relishing the Season by Alexandra Kuykendall (2017, Finished 12/11/20)
  48. Bedtime Meditations by Charles Swindoll (12/31/20) (not reviewed yet)

A lot of good reading! I’m looking forward to reading more of what’s on my shelves and in my Kindle app this year.

Books Read in 2020

I had a good reading year. 84 books—I think that’s a record for me. I had quite a variety. Old and new: the oldest was published in 1854. A few were hot off the press this year (one I got to read before it was published). Fiction and nonfiction. Paper, Kindle, and audio. I discovered a few new-to-me authors, both classic (Cather, Trollope, and Stevenson) and contemporary (Roseanna M. White, Christina Suzann Nelson, Rachel Coker), whose other works I want to explore. I enjoyed the great majority of them.

I’ll publish my top ten or so of the year shortly, and I have a couple of reading challenge wrap-ups to post which will overlap with this. But I wanted to have a record of everything read this year. The titles link back to my reviews.

Classics:

  1. 1984 by George Orwell
  2. Amberwell by D. E. Stevenson
  3. Billy Budd by Herman Melville
  4. Candleford Green by Flora Thompson
  5. Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope
  6. Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
  7. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  8. Lark Rise by Flora Thompson
  9. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
  10. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  11. Over to Candleford by Flora Thompson
  12. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
  13. Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott
  14. Summerhills by D. E. Stevenson
  15. Wynema: A Child of the Forest by S. Alice Callahan

Nonfiction:

  1. 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates by Susan Neal
  2. The Answer Is…by Alex Trebek
  3. Be Amazed (Minor Prophets): Restoring an Attitude of Wonder and Worship by Warren W. Wiersbe
  4. Be Authentic (Genesis 25-50): Exhibiting Real Faith in the Real World by Warren Wiersbe
  5. Be Basic (Genesis 1-11): Believing the Simple Truth of God’s Word by Warren Wiersbe (2010, Finished 9/22/20)
  6. Be Concerned (Minor Prophets): Making a Difference in Your Lifetime by Warren Wiersbe
  7. Be Free (Galatians): Exchange Legalism for True Spirituality by Warren Wiersbe
  8. Be Obedient (Genesis 12-25): Learning the Secret of Living by Faith by Warren Wiersbe
  9. Be Resolute( Daniel): Determining to Go God’s Direction by Warren Wiersbe
  10. Be Reverent (Ezekiel): Bowing Before Our Awesome God by Warren Wiersbe
  11. Be Rich (Ephesians): Gaining the Things That Money Can’t Buy by Warren Wiersbe
  12. Be Victorious (Revelation): In Christ You Are an Overcomer by Warren Wiersbe (2008, Finished 9/7/20)
  13. Bedside Blessings by Charles R. Swindoll (not reviewed yet)
  14. Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises by Dr. Michelle Bengston
  15. Christian Study Guide for 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates.by Susan Neal
  16. A Christmas Longing by Joni Eareckson Tada
  17. Daily Light on the Daily Path compiled by Samuel Bagster
  18. God’s Very Good Idea by Trillia Newbell (children’s)
  19. Good Tidings of Great Joy: A Collection of Christmas Sermons by Charles Spurgeon
  20. Green Leaf in Drought by Isobel Kuhn
  21. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  22. In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character by Jen Wilkin
  23. Joy to the World: Daily Readings for Advent by C. H. Spurgeon
  24. The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home by Denise Kiernan
  25. Loving My Actual Christmas: An Experiment in Relishing the Season by Alexandra Kuykendall
  26. None Like Him by Jen Wilkin
  27. Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done by Laura Vanderkam
  28. Panosian: A Story of God’s Gracious Providence by Chris Anderson
  29. True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal—and How Nearly Dying Saved my Life, by Kevin Sorbo
  30. When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner (children’s)
  31. The Women of Easter: Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene by Liz Curtis Higgs
  32. The Wonder Years: 40 Women over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty, and Strength, a collection of essays compiled by Leslie Leyland Fields

Christian fiction:

  1. Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron
  2. Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker
  3. The Color of Hope by Kim Cash Tate
  4. Colorfull: Celebrating the Colors God Gave Us by Dorena Williamson (children’s)
  5. Discovering Jesus and His Love by Scott Leone
  6. Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney
  7. Five Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt
  8. An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M. White
  9. If We Make It Home by Christina Suzann Nelson
  10. Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words by Rachel Coker
  11. The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke
  12. Monday’s Child by Linda Chaikin
  13. A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White
  14. The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White
  15. On the Wings of Devotion by Roseanna M. White
  16. A Portrait of Loyalty by Roseanna M. White
  17. A Portrait of Marguerite by Kate Lloyd
  18. Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke
  19. Rain Song by Alice Wisler
  20. The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson
  21. Sandhill Dreams by Cara Putnam
  22. A Season to Dance by Patrica Beal
  23. The Shop Keepers by Nancy Moser
  24. A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White
  25. Termination Zone by Adam Blumer
  26. Under a Cloudless Sky by Chris Fabry
  27. A Very Bookish Christmas by Rebekah Jones, Sarah Holman, J. Grace Pennington, and Kate Willis
  28. A Very Bookish Thanksgiving by Kelsey Bryant, Rebekah Jones, Sarah Holman, J. Grace Pennington, and Amanda Tero
  29. Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin
  30. The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels

Other Fiction:

  1. Hurricane Season by Laura K. Denton
  2. The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick
  3. Old Town in the Green Groves by Cynthia Rylant
  4. Stranger Planet by Nathan Pyle (a lot of fun but not reviewed)
  5. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

I read two that I chose not to review or name for various reasons. One dealt with an issue I just don’t want to get into on the blog. The other I didn’t really care for, but I sort-of know the author online and didn’t want to be negative about her book publicly.

I’m looking forward to starting a fresh new list next year!

(Sharing with Booknificent Thursday)

Back to the Classics Challenge 2020 Wrap-up

I enjoy participating in the the Back to the Classics challenge hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate. I wasn’t exposed to many classics growing up, and I’ve determined to educate myself with several of them. The categories help me expand my reading horizons. The titles link back to my reviews. I included the publication dates to verify that the books are 50 years old, as required:

1. 19th Century Classic: Hard Times by Charles Dickens (1854)
2. 20th Century Classic: My Antonia by Willa Cather (1918)
3.Classic by a Woman Author: Eight Cousins by Louisa My Alcott (1875)
4. Classic in Translation (originally written in something other than your native language): Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (1910)
5. Classic by a Person of Color: Wynema: A Child of the Forest (1891)
6. A Genre Classic:
1984 by George Orwell (1949)
7. Classic with a Person’s Name in the Title: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle (1883)
8. Classic with a Place in the Title: Lark Rise (1939), Candleford Green (1943), and Over to Candleford (1941), the Lark Rise to Candleford trilogy by Flora Thompson
9. Classic with Nature in the Title: Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott (1876)
10. Classic About a Family (multiple members of the same family as principal characters): Amberwell  (1955) and Summerhills by D. E. Stevenson (1956)
11. Abandoned Classic (one you started but never finished). Billy Budd by Herman Melville (1924)
12: Classic Adaptation (Any classic that’s been adapted as a movie or TV series): Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope (1858)

Anthony Trollope, D. E. Stevenson, and Willa Cather were all new-to-me authors whose other works I look forward to exploring.

We’re allowed up to three children’s books: mine were Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, and Robin Hood.

Karen has a points system where the number of categories we complete gives us a corresponding number of entries in a prize drawing she holds. I don’t get extra points for reading more than one book in a couple of the categories—I did so just because I wanted to keep reading a series. Karen likes for us to calculate our number of entries. For completing all twelve categories, I get three entries.

If you are interested in participating next year, the rules, categories, and sign up post are here at the Back to the Classics 2021 post. Thanks to Karen for hosting! I enjoyed it very much.

Literary Christmas Challenge 2020

A Literary Christmas: Reading Challenge // inthebookcase.blogspot.comI enjoy reading Christmas books after Thanksgiving through the end of the year. Tarissa at In the Bookcase hosts a Literary Christmas challenge for that purpose. You can find the details here, but the basic idea is to read Christmas books and write posts about them.

I have ten unread Christmas books on my Kindle app, plus one I’ve read but don’t remember and would like to reread. I don’t think I can get through them all in a month. I don’t want the challenge to be pressured, especially during a month with a lot else going on. So I’ll start with these and add some in if I have time and inclination.

An advent devotional—either Joy to the World: Daily Readings for Advent by Charles Spurgeon or A Christmas Longing by Joni Eareckson Tada. Haven’t decided yet.

Loving My Actual Christmas by Alexandra Kuykendall, nonfiction.

A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson. This appealed to me because I grew up on the Texas coastline, so my early Christmases were more seaside than wintery.

Mistletoe and Murder: A Christmas Suspense Collection of ten novellas by different authors. Not the usual Christmas fare, eh? I’ve only read two of the authors and heard of a couple more. I’m mainly reading it for Adam Blumer’s entry, but I hope to enjoy all of them.

A Very Bookish Christmas by Sarah Holman, J. Grace Pennington, Kate Willis, and Rebekah Jones. A series of stories based on classic books. I loved the Thanksgiving version so much, I couldn’t wait to get the Christmas one.

That gives me a good start! Do you like to read Christmas stories? Do you have plans to read any this year?

(Sharing with InstaEncouragement, Booknificent Thursday)

Rose in Bloom Review and LMA Challenge Wrap-Up

Rose in Bloom in Louisa May Alcott’s sequel to Eight Cousins. In the first book, Rose was orphaned as a young girl and sent to live with her uncle Alec. She was also surrounded by several other great aunts, aunts, uncles, and seven boy cousins.

In this book, Rose and a few of her cousins are in their early twenties and about to embark on adulthood. They wrestle with possibly occupations, projects, and potential love interests. Evidently it was considered acceptable to marry first cousins in that era, because there’s a lot of speculation about whether Rose will marry one of hers.

Rose is set to come into a large inheritance, and her uncle has tried to train her well to be responsible and philanthropic rather that frivolous, self-important, and wasteful. She faces some temptations in these areas and wants to try the lifestyle of her friends for a while. This seems to involve a lot of parties and dancing at friends’ houses until the wee hours of the morning. She learns that some people are only interested in her because of her wealth. She has to decide between the “fast” life and a sedate but more useful one.

One of her cousins, Charlie, also known as Prince, has been indulged all his life and is in danger of going the wrong direction, especially in regard to one particular bad habit. Rose tries to help him overcome his wayward tendencies.

Louisa says in her preface that “there is no moral to this story. Rose is not designed for a model girl, and the Sequel was simply written in fulfillment of a promise, hoping to afford some amusement, and perhaps here and there a helpful hint, to other roses getting ready to bloom.”

When I was growing up, I warmed to stories like this that encouraged being good, or becoming better. Modern readers might feel it goes a little overboard. But I still find it a sweet story, and I think others would if they gave it a chance.

I was surprised that young people this age were still considered boys and girls at the time of this writing, and not read to marry or launch out on their own yet.

Much is said about Rose being a strong-minded girl. Evidently this was pushing the envelope even in Alcott’s day. A few sentences from the last paragraph of this exchange were included in the newest Little Women movie:

Rose’s voice was heard saying very earnestly, “Now, you have all told your plans for the future, why don’t you ask us ours?”

“Because we know that there is only one thing for a pretty girl to do: break a dozen or so hearts before she finds one to suit, then marry and settle,” answered Charlie, as if no other reply was possible.

“That may be the case with many, but not with us, for Phebe and I believe that it is as much a right and a duty for women to do something with their lives as for men, and we are not going to be satisfied with such frivolous parts as you give us,” cried Rose with kindling eyes. “I mean what I say, and you cannot laugh me down. Would you be contented to be told to enjoy yourself for a little while, then marry and do nothing more till you die?” she added, turning to Archie.

“Of course not; that is only a part of a man’s life,” he answered decidedly.

“A very precious and lovely part, but not all,” continued Rose. “Neither should it be for a woman, for we’ve got minds and souls as well as hearts; ambition and talents as well as beauty and accomplishments; and we want to live and learn as well as love and be loved. I’m sick of being told that is all a woman is fit for! I won’t have anything to do with love till I prove that I am something besides a housekeeper and baby-tender!”

That’s not quite as anti-domestic as it sounds, because Rose values both housekeeping and baby-tending. But she wants to accomplish something else before that stage of her life.

I enjoyed this exchange about novels with Rose and her friend, Kitty:

“I’m sure I’ve read a great deal more than some girls do. I suppose novels don’t count, though, and are of no use, for, goodness knows, the people and things they describe aren’t a bit like the real ones.”

“Some novels are very useful and do as much good as sermons, I’ve heard Uncle say, because they not only describe truly, but teach so pleasantly that people like to learn in that way,” said Rose, who knew the sort of books Kitty had read and did not wonder that she felt rather astray when she tried to guide herself by their teaching.

In Eight Cousins there was also much discussion of books one aunt felt were harmful to the younger cousins. I wondered how these compared to the “blood and thunder” books Louisa enjoyed writing.

I also smiled at a section where Rose and cousin Mac discuss the benefits of reading Thoreau and Emerson, knowing that both men were friends of Louisa’s family.

Although the Alcotts were ahead of their time in many ways, Louisa still seemed to hold to the idea that different classes ought not to marry: either that, or she was illustrating problems with that idea by her characters. Phebe started out as a maid from the orphan house in the last book, but was so sweet and industrious and bright that Rose and her uncle sought to give her a good education. Now grown up, everyone loves Phebe—until one of the cousins falls in love with her. Since she’s an orphan of unknown origin, her family tree could contain anybody, and what would it do to the good Campbell name if it should be joined with someone that could be unsavory? That seemed to be the thinking of the aunts, but Rose and Alec and a couple of others had no problem with Phebe becoming part of the family. But Louisa had Phebe prove herself worthy in other ways.

Overall, this was a sweet story of the choices and trials of growing into maturity.

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge

I’m going to wrap up my reading for Tarissa’s Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge here instead of in a separate post. I read:

I also watched the newest movie version of Little Women that was in theaters last year.

I always love spending time with Louisa and appreciate Tarissa’s challenge every June.

(Sharing with Books You Loved, Booknificent Thursday)

The Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge

Louisa May Alcott Reading ChallengeTarissa at In the Bookcase hosts the Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge in June. You can read all the particulars here. She’s also offering a nice little prize here.

Louisa is one of my favorite authors, so I am happy to be joining in again. I plan to read:

  • The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick, a modern story about four girls who read through Little Women with their moms.
  • Eight Cousins by Louisa
  • Rose in Bloom, the sequel to Eight Cousins, if there’s time.

I’ve read Little Women multiple times, Little Men and Jo’s Boy’s just a few, but some of Louisa’s other books only once. So I wanted to reread a couple of those this time.

If you’ve wanted to read, or reread, something by or about Louisa, now is the perfect time!