Novels of the Nineteenth Century: Top 10 List
Literature , Top 10 List / October 12, 2016

These are my Top 10 Novels of the Nineteenth Century!  When it comes to reading older books, it is important to remember that the conventions and style of the times will be quite different than modern tales.  I have noticed (especially during my time as a teacher) that many people tend to shy away from older material in favor of more easily accessible writing.  Whether you are already a fan of classic literature or simply are interested in experiencing some of the greatest literature of the past, I hope that this list points you to some of your new favorite books. Some of the most inspirational and thought-provoking books I have ever read were penned during this pivotal and revolutionary century.  To be clear, I am including only novels (and a couple of novellas) in this list, so many of the ground-breaking short stories that were written during this time will not be listed.  So many of the books on this list are credited with starting or igniting their particular genre that it was difficult to make my selections. Yes, I am aware that Charles Dickens is not on my list.  I am not a fan!  These are novels, so short stories…

Go Set a Watchman: Book Review
Literature / October 12, 2016

Go Set a Watchman is Harper Lee’s prequel novel to the literary classic To Kill a Mockingbird.  Although the first draft manuscript of Go Set a Watchman was written prior to To Kill a Mockingbird, it took 55 years to be published. I actually put off reading Go Set a Watchman for a week after its release because I dreaded writing this review. Unfortunately, as I feared, the first draft status of the manuscript shows and mars what might have been another classic.  I also experienced mixed feelings regarding the propriety of reading the novel because I feel that at the age of 89, it is questionable just how involved Harper Lee was in the decision to publish this novel. These qualms aside, my experience in reading Go Set a Watchman was heavily mixed.  I devoured the book after purchasing it, mostly because I wanted so desperately to find out what had become of my favorite characters from To Kill a Mockingbird.  Go Set a Watchman features and at least references many characters from Mockingbird, although some of their fates are highly depressing.  The Radley’s are notable expectations and are not mentioned even once.  I can’t help but wonder if the Radley’s were created after Go Set a Watchman was written and if Harper Lee…

The Screwtape Letters: Book Review
Literature , Religion / October 10, 2016

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis is as classic as it is difficult to define. Although C. S. Lewis is normally credited with writing The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters is far more subtle and thought-provoking for adult readers.  While Lewis’ book could be categorized as fiction, it also reads as an apology (meaning reasoned defense) of the Christian religion. Comprised of a series of letters from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew demon, Wormwood, The Screwtape Letters read like a series of lessons in the art of temptation.  Screwtape is attempting to instruct his nephew so that Wormwood can successfully guide his human target (referred to as the Patient) toward the devil rather than God.  Wormwood has all of the arts of a demon (deception, seduction, doubt, etc.) at his disposal, and he attempts to throw as many obstacles in the Patient’s path as possible. C. S. Lewis’ style is masterfully ironic and witty.  The voice that he creates as Screwtape, despite the fact that he is a senior demon, is full of a wary sort of humor.  Even more humorous is the fact that Wormwood quickly proves to be an incompetent screw-up who will surely fail without his uncle’s advice.  I cannot help but…