Author Archives: Christina Joy

About Christina Joy

Wife, Mother of Five and Lutheran Church Musician who, despite what the college transcripts might say, missed a thing or two in school.

Year in Review

It’s been very quiet here on the blog, and you might have wondered what’s been going on.

Well, it’s been a pretty dark year.  Evil human hearts, drug overdoses, hit-and-run accidents, suicidal strangers, confounding legal predicaments, furnace problems, blinding heat, memory issues, incest, and financial and familial failure.

Gladly, that all happened in the book list, and not in our lives.  Our lives have just been busy.  Good busy, but busy.

But we’re still here, we’re still reading.  And on this, our third anniversary, I offer this as evidence:

Blogiversary Three

Here’s to another year.  Maybe one a little lighter on human catastrophe.


Posted by on March 24, 2014 in The Blog


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And the gold for smartness goes to . . .

The Olympics are on.

I’m going to ignore all the political barbs, social commentary, and ugly sweaters. Instead, its time to focus on what I know: Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy.

Whoa.  It felt good to write that sentence.  Isn’t this WEM Degree making you feel smarter by the minute?


Posted by on February 7, 2014 in Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment


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Tech Heavy

There’s something quaint about reading futuristic novels after the future is, well, the past.

Obviously, Orwell’s predictions have not come to reality.  My home decor doesn’t include a telescreen, I haven’t spotted a single Big Brother poster on my commute to work, my children haven’t donned spy apparel.

Those incredibly apparent places where he missed the mark give me a sense of relief.  Hoorah!  Society yielded his warning!  But, there were a few other spots where his prophetic genius was just slightly off target, and instead of a striking fear in my heart, it brought a smile to my face.

For instance, had Orwell only known how teensy tiny surveillance equipment would become, his initial love scene would have needed a new setting.

“Yes.  Look at the trees.”  They were small ashes, which at some time had been cut down and had sprouted up again into a forest of poles, none of them thicker than one’s wrist.  “There’s nothing big enough to hide a mike in.”

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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in 1984


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Last weekend I wished my brother-in-law a happy birthday a day early. I clearly knew that his birthday was November 17, instead the problem lay with my ignorance of Saturday’s date.

The good news is that I might find myself at home in Oceania.  Days, months, and years are all a little questionable there.  Was it 1984?  Maybe, give or take a year.  What about April?  I’d say Aprilish with a heavy dose of March’s lionlike behavior.  And what about that 7:15 call for physical jerks?  Wouldn’t you start to wonder if they’d teased you out of an hour or two of sleep, shoot, even our government does that every spring.

But this we know.  Difinitively.  Well, that is if we are to trust Big Brother Google:

May 2, 1984, the “Sunday” that Winston trips through the golden pools of light and misty bluebells to make his rendezvous with Julia, was a Wednesday.

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Posted by on November 21, 2013 in 1984


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You Can Count on It

Now that we’ve read twenty-four of the most important works of fiction in chronological order something keeps happening, and a while back Christine suggested the need for a series to document this phenomenon.

Connecting the Literary Dots

That’s right, it seems that at every page turn we run into some association with the fictional past, and it’s time to connect those points and see if any patterns appear.  Beware though, some posts could end up looking like the dot-to-dots my three-year-olds “complete.”

For our first official installment (if you’re really hungry for unofficial ones, you can find a good batch here) I bring you this quote only a page or two away from the end of Book One.  Winston just saw the dark haired girl on the street in prole territory and regrets his inability to conk her on the head with a brick then and there.

It struck him that in moments of crisis one is never fighting against an external enemy but always against one’s own body.  Even now, in spite of the gin, the dull ache in his belly made consecutive thought impossible.  And it is the same, he perceived, in all seemingly heroic or tragic situations.  On the battlefield, in the torture chamber, on a sinking ship, the issues that you are fighting for are always forgotten, because the body swells up until it fills the universe, and even when you are not paralyzed by fright or screaming with pain, life is a moment-to-moment struggle against hunger or cold or sleeplessness, against a sour stomach or an aching tooth.

Red Badge of Courage, anyone?

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Posted by on November 20, 2013 in 1984, The Red Badge of Courage


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From the Bottom

They’re above suspicion.

It’s that funny turn of phrase that we use to describe someone so thoroughly good that to imagine them in wrong-doing is unfathomable.  So, were you as surprised as I was to hear Orwell turn the expression on its head?

Promiscuity went unpunished; divorce was permitted.  For that matter, even religious worship would have been permitted if the proles had shown any sign of needing or wanting it.  They were beneath suspicion.

This excerpt from Book I Chapter VII  kicked off my proletarian disbelief, which held fast to the end.  Over and over I wrote in my reading journal phrases like this, “Proles are 85% of the population. 85%!?!?”  “Why are the proles so complacent?”  “So the proles don’t have telescreens?  What . . .?”

The revolt of the peasants on the estate of Prince Shahovskoy by Ivan Vladimirov

I didn’t understand how so many citizens could be left uncensored by Big Brother and not rebel.  I’ll admit that I’m fairly new to the study of history, but Peoples’ Rebellions are real things, right?

Later in the novel we learn from The Book that the lowest class of people does not concern the middle or upper classes, for the low is seldom able to strive for anything, and when they do, it is the grandiose and impossible goal of a classless society of equals.

So is this an accurate portrayal of those in poverty?  Are their stomachs so empty, their lives so unprotected, their minds so vacant that even when they constitute an overwhelming majority of the population they are unable to organize a rebellion?  Are they so deprived that they are even incapable of seeing the need for one?  What made the peasant revolts of the past work?  Or did they?

I feel like these are just questions, not stupid ones, but then again, I might be below suspicion.

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Posted by on November 18, 2013 in 1984


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Making Alive

This quote from 1984 opened my eyes.  Worried me.  Gave me pause.

It struck him [Winston] as curious that you could create dead men but not living ones.

But ultimately left me pretty speechless for an analysis.  You?

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Posted by on November 12, 2013 in 1984


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———- ————-

I’ve never been disappointed in a Penguin Classics edition of any of our WEM reads.  In fact, on more than one occasion I’ve been sad that I didn’t forego the other recommendations and spend the big bucks to invest in that familiar and reliable orange and black logo.

This is especially true with the copy of 1984 they released in January.  I want this cover.

Read more about it here.

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Posted by on November 9, 2013 in 1984


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Oops, I Forgot

We’ve all been there, right?  That uncomfortable conversation with a friend where it becomes painfully obvious that you’ve neglected to ask about something significant in her life.  The birthday glossed over as just another ordinary Thursday.  The date set aside to spend quality time with a loved one forgotten amid the routines of daily life.  The favor you said you’d be happy to do and then totally spaced when the time came.

I feel horrible when these oversights happen, even worse once I finally realize what occurred. I know I’ve completely bunged up, and that the one hurt by my negligence has every right to be thinking, “Man, she’s such an . . . ”

But I want to quickly butt in and say, “No, no, I’m not.  I’m just a memory hole.”

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Posted by on November 8, 2013 in 1984


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Mastering Doublethink

Classic Word of the Dayproletariat – n.  the lowest, working-class group in a society

Classical Usage:  The first time I stumbled across this word was Chapter IV of Book One.  It’s certainly possible that it appeared before this spot where we learn that the Ministry of Truth is responsible for supplying the “literature, music, drama, and entertainment” for the proletariats, and it’s even more possible that we encountered the term “proles.”  But Orwell’s term for 85% of the Oceania society didn’t click with me right away.  It’s almost as if I heard the word, and then instantly forgot it, and then forgot that I had anything to forget.

Classically Mad Usage:  There is no word to use.

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Posted by on November 7, 2013 in 1984


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