Tag Archives: What’s on my nightstand?

The Annotated Huckleberry Finn

_annotated_uncle_toms_cabin_Do you remember when The Annotated Uncle Tom’s Cabin sat on my nightstand?  It was an absolutely beautiful book, and I wished I had been able to spend longer perusing its pages.  But my timing was off.  We were reading Crime and Punishment.  I didn’t have time to go back and reread Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  I couldn’t go back to the south and slavery.  I had a Russian double-homicide to investigate.
And so The Annotated UTC sat on my nightstand, sadly neglected.

But, look what I picked up at the library today!Annotated-Finn

The Annotated Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Edited with an introduction and notes by Michael Patrick Hearn

Go ahead!  Click on the picture of the book and make use of Amazon’s “search inside this book feature“.


I think this is one “What’s on my nightstand?” book that will get plenty of attention.


Posted by on February 22, 2013 in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


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For this edition of “What’s on my nightstand?”, I found a sweet children’s biography about one of our recent authors.

Harriet and the Runaway Book
by Johanna Johnston and illustrated by Ronald Himler

I believe this 1977 elementary level biography is out of print, but it would be worth borrowing from your local library.

The book’s summary says, “A biography of the woman who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, stressing the experiences and impressions which caused her to write the famous book denouncing slavery.”

In one short sitting I quickly finished this charming book with simple text and lovely illustrations.  I read about how demonstrations of Harriet’s intelligence would cause her father to remark “If only she’d been a boy.”  Later Harriet would realize that “There was something she could do even if she was a girl.  She could write so that people paid attention.”

Harriet and the Runaway Book:  It was on my nightstand, but now I’m going to pass it on to the nightstands of my children so they can be inspired by Mrs. Stowe’s story.

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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Uncle Tom's Cabin


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Girl reads Gulliver

This installment of “What’s on my nightstand?” is about a book that’s been on my nightstand for weeks.  Every free moment I have, I’m reading Anna Karenina, so I did what I’ve done before… I pawned the book off on one of my children.  May I present…

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver
retold by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Chris Riddell

… and reviewed by this blogger’s daughter.

I chose to read this book because I thought it might be interesting.  The illustrations looked funny. (and because mom asked if anyone wanted to read the book and help her blog about it)

The book is about Gulliver.  He’s a sailor but he ends up going to all of these crazy places like with little tiny people, and huge people, and horses that talk.  He also visits an island and goes to Japan for a little bit.

Gulliver is pretty good in languages to be able to learn all the different ones so quickly.  He’s good with people.  He can talk himself out of the situations he gets himself into. 

My favorite section to read was the giants.  There’s no competition.  You know how girls like to play house with dolls?  That’s what it was like for Gulliver, except he was the doll.

My least favorite section to read was the house with all the ghosts.  I don’t like the idea of people coming back from the dead.  It was creepy how he talked to all the famous people like Alexander the Great.

The illustrations for this version were very good.  They helped you understand the story better.  With the Yahoos, you wouldn’t understand how bizarre they were without seeing the pictures.

I would read the story again.  It was fun to read and see all the places Gulliver went.

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver… It’s what’s on a blogger’s daughter’s nightstand.

PS.  I, Christine, did quickly peruse the book.  It’s very accurate and the illustrations are a great addition to the story.  Gulliver visits all of the same places as in the original.  Sometimes the book was even a little too accurate–going so far as to include an illustration of the Yahoos in the tree trying to… trying to… well, you remember the ban.


Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Gulliver's Travels


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Whaling Woes

Crime and Punishment is eating up all my reading time, and the titles are starting to pile up on my nightsand.  As soon as I close the book on Raskolnikov, this is what I’ll be reading …

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

You remember Philbrick.  He wrote Why Read Moby-Dick?  He was a featured expert in the PBS special “Into the Deep”.

I am not a huge fan of nonfiction.  When we finally finish the WEM novels and dive into autobiographies and histories, I’ll be as lost at sea as Ishmael was after the sinking of the Pequod.

But, I did read Why Read Moby-Dick?  and I enjoyed Philbrick’s style of writing.  I also liked watching/listening to him on the PBS film.  Months ago I put In the Heart of the Sea  on hold at the library, but library books have to be returned, and I have a five hundred page novel I’m supposed to be reading.  My husband saved the day when he picked up a used copy for me.  Maybe I’ve talked enough about whaling to interest him in the topic.

In the Heart of the Sea…  It’s what’s on my nightstand.

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Posted by on August 18, 2012 in Moby-Dick


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Choose your own Austen Adventure

Oh, this next book is a fun one.  I picked it up at a used library book sale early this spring.  It’s been sitting on my nightstand ever since.  A few nights ago I picked it up so I could give it a quick perusal and write a post about it.  I never got as far as the post.

Do you remember “choose your own adventure” stories from grade school?  You would read a little and come to a choice:

If you choose the river route, turn to page 37.
If you choose the meadow path, turn to page 49.

Weren’t those fun books?  Here’s a “choose your own adventure” book Lizzy Bennet-style.

Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure
by Emma Campbell Webster

Here’s part of the book’s description from the back cover:

Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure begins in Pride and Prejudice, but your decisions along the way will lead you into the plots of Austen’s other works, and even newly imagined territory.”

The book suggests dividing a piece of paper into five sections with the following headings: accomplishments, intelligence, confidence, connections, and fortune.  As you read, you add or deduct points from certain categories.  Why do this?  Well, the books says, “While you can gain points, you can also lose them, which could harm your chances of marrying happily and affect the outcome of your adventure.”  I want to be happily married, so I’m keeping track.  What’s that you say?  I’m already married?  Oh, you know what I mean.  I’m a rule-follower, so I’m keeping track of my points.

RIght now I have 220 points in confidence but only 70 in fortune.  The heading “accomplishments” is divided into two parts: accomplishments and failings.  My only accomplishment so far is that I learned the Boulanger dance, but the book tells me this skill will have no effect on my marrying well.  Under failings I have no style, no taste, and no beauty (Thanks a lot, Miss Bingley.).

It’s been a hoot to read.  I’m still in the Pride and Prejudice section, but it will be fun to continue reading into other Austen tales.  When I need a break from Crime and Punishment, this will be the book I choose.

Lost in Austen… It’s one of the books on my nightstand.


Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Pride and Prejudice


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Rereading Uncle Tom

Here’s a book I wish I’d found a few months ago.

The Annotated Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Edited with an introduction and notes by
Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Hollis Robbins

It’s a hefty tome packed full of notes, explanations, and even questions about the text.  It also contains artwork: lithographs, posters, paintings, product labels and more.

Go ahead over to Amazon and click on “Search inside this book“.  I’ll wait…

It’s wonderful, isn’t it!  I would love to reread UTC using this version, but after a quick perusal, I will have to return it to the library and get back to Dostoyevsky.

But!  Readers, keep this in mind…  W.W. Norton & Co. has not only published this title, but they’ve published The Annotated Huckleberry Finn!  I’m putting it on my library hold list immediately!

The Annotated Uncle Tom’s Cabin… it’s one of the books on my nightstand.

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Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Uncle Tom's Cabin


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Hester: The Missing Years of The Scarlet Letter

Why am I only on chapter 3 of Crime and Punishment?

I blame this book:

Hester: The Missing Years of The Scarlet Letter
A Novel by Paula Reed

Last week when I should have been reading Dostoyevsky (That’s the spelling I’ve decided to use.  If it’s good enough for SWB, it’s good enough for me), I was speeding through this book.

Here’s a paragraph from the book’s flyleaf:

Upon the death of her demonic husband, Hester Prynne is left a widow, and her daughter Pearl, a wealthy heiress.  Hester takes her daughter to live a quiet life in England, only to find herself drawn into the circle of the most powerful Puritan of all time, Oliver Cromwell.

In this story, Hester’s “A” has given her the ability to see sin and hypocrisy in others.  I enjoyed how the author took Hawthorne’s characters and tucked them into the history of England.  Having read The Scarlet Letter, I knew things about Hester’s past that other characters did not.

Admit it.  You’ve wondered what happened to Hester and Pearl during those years in England.  What brought Hester Prynne back to Puritan New England?  What about those letters she receives with the royal crest?  Author Paula Reed answers all those questions.

Hester: The Missing Years of The Scarlet Letter… it’s what’s on my nightstand.

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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in The Scarlet Letter


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Graphic Oliver

For my next installment of “What’s on my nightstand?” I had to ask for an expert’s help: someone who was familiar with the graphic novel format.  I chose to move this book from my nightstand to my nine-year-old’s nightstand because the next book is Oliver Twist: The Classics Illustrated Deluxe Graphic Novel.

Here’s a portion of my interview with the expert.

Hello? Mom?  It’s not going to be an interview if there are not any questions.
So what do you think I should ask you?
Whatever you want.
Did you like the book?
Yes. I liked it.
Do you think you might consider reading the original?
What were your favorite parts of the book?
I liked the Maylies and how they helped Oliver.
Did Oliver work for Mr. Soweberry?
Who’s he again?
The undertaker.
Does Oliver say, “Please, I’d like some more, sir.”
Did you know that that’s the most famous line from the book?
Who was your favorite character in the book?
I liked Oliver Twist.  He didn’t steal.
What did you think of Fagin?
I didn’t like him.  He used his boys to get money.
Were there any evil characters in the story?
Yes.  Fagin, definitely, and Bill.
How did the story end?
The the police hang Fagin.
What happens to Oliver?
He’s happy with Mr. Brownlow in the end.

It took my expert about forty-five minutes to read this version.  Unlike some graphic novels, the illustrations were not overly scary.  The “bad” characters are meaner looking but still in a cartoony way.  For example Fagin has an enormous nose. Oliver’s depicted as a red-head with a round face.  In the little I flipped through the book, it seems more faithful to the original text than other versions I’ve read.

Oliver Twist: The Classics Illustrated Deluxe Graphic Novel.… it’s what’s on my nine-year-old’s nightstand.

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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Oliver Twist


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Her what?!

For my first installment of “What’s on my nightstand?” I’d like to share a book with a great title.

Madame Bovary’s Ovaries: A Darwinian Look at Literature

Oh yes, classic novels interpreted through the lens of science.

The book was written by a father-daughter team: David P. Barash and Nanelle R. Barash.  Dad is an evolutionary psychologist and, at the time of publication, his daughter was an undergraduate student.

It’s disclosure time.  I am a Christian who believes God created the world in six days.  Soooo I’m not buying into Darwin’s theory.  But, what I’ve read so far in Madame Bovary’s Ovaries (the intro and one chapter) has been interesting.

Each chapter focuses on a different subject commonly found in literature: jealousy, love, family relationships, etc.  Each chapter also uses examples from literature to support the evolutionary argument.  Or maybe it’s that evolutionary theory is explaining the classic literature?  The chapter titled “Madame Bovary’s Ovaries” discusses “The Biology of Adultery”.  There’s another chapter titled “The Key to Jane Austen’s Heart: What Women Want, and Why”.

Here’s what the authors have to say about their work.

“Our basic premise is simple enough, although oddly revolutionary at the same time: that people are biological creatures and that as such they share a universal, evolved human nature.  Add to this our second basic principle: that evolutionary psychology, a decidedly nonfiction science, has been discovering why human beings behave as they do, and that it offers a raft of refreshing, rewarding, challenging insights into the world of fiction no less than that of fact.”

Madame Bovary’s Ovaries… it’s one of the books on my nightstand.


Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Madame Bovary


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What’s on my nightstand?

You mean besides the alarm clock, chapstick, bobby pins, and box of tissues?

Books related to classic novels I’ve read.
Lots of books that I’ve been trying to read so that I can write blog posts about them.

How’s that extra reading coming?

Not well.
Have I mentioned that this reading group is starting Crime and Punishment, and I haven’t gotten far enough in Dostoevsky’s novel to read about crime or punishment.  As a result, the companion literature has suffered.

Maybe you are as interested in these companion books as I am.
Maybe you are looking for a book to read in the car as you travel for your vacation.
Maybe you’ve been curious about what Hester did during her years in England.
Maybe you’ve missed the Bennet sisters.
Maybe you’ve wondered about the whaling tragedy that inspired Melville.

Maybe you’ll read one of these books and tell me about it!

So, I bring to you… “What’s on my nightstand?”

It’s a shorter title than “What I’m trying to read while not getting terribly behind on the current novel.”

Stay tuned for my first installment
Madame Bovary’s Ovaries.


Posted by on July 17, 2012 in The Blog


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