Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wading Through My Wishlist


Recent additions to the Great Monstrosity that is my wishlist....

 Children's Literature: A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter by Seth Lerer
(Found at Rebecca Reads)

The erudite Lerer, whose Inventing English was enthusiastically reviewed in these pages, has now undertaken an ambitious, one-volume history of children’s literature. He begins in classical antiquity and ends with the salutary likes of Weetzie Bat (1989) and the Time Warp Trio, giving particular attention along the way—he being a philologist—to the language of literature, whether critical or narrative. Lerer does an extraordinary job of expanding our understanding of individual titles by richly contextualizing them in the world of their creation and stimulates readers’ imaginations by some surprising juxtapositions (Darwin and Dr. Seuss!). Though the book’s principal audience will be an academic one, general readers will find much of interest here as well.

Desperate Passage: The Donner Party's Perilous Journey West by Ethan Rarick

In late October 1846, the last wagon train of that year's westward migration stopped overnight before resuming its arduous climb over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, unaware that a fearsome storm was gathering force. After months of grueling travel, the 81 men, women and children would be trapped for a brutal winter with little food and only primitive shelter. The conclusion is known: by spring of the next year, the Donner Party was synonymous with the most harrowing extremes of human survival. But until now, the full story of what happened--and what it tells us about human nature and about America's westward expansion--remained shrouded in myth. A fast-paced, heart-wrenching, clear-eyed narrative history, Desperate Passage casts new light on one of America's most horrific encounters between the dream of a better life and the harsh realities such dreams so often must confront.

Governess: The Lives and Times of the Real Jane Eyres by Ruth Brandon
(Found at book-a-rama)

In nineteenth-century England, girls were most commonly educated by governesses; the system was also a way of absorbing the country’s "huge pool of spinsters." (The 1851 census found that thirty per cent of women above the age of twenty were single.) For upper- and middle-class women forced to earn a living, it represented one of the only respectable employments, and often a dreaded inevitability: after succumbing to the profession, in 1820, Claire Clairmont, the cosmopolitan stepsister of Mary Shelley and the mother of Byron’s child, wrote in her journal, "Think of thyself as a stranger and traveller on the earth, to whom none of the many affairs of this world belong." This exploration of the lives of six governesses is as entertaining as the contemporary works of fiction such lives inspired ("Jane Eyre" chief among them), and although the bulk of the primary source material is not new, Brandon displays a keen understanding of a complex educational system that kept its subjects ignorant even while purporting to enlighten.

13 comments:

Cleverly Inked said...

love the new layout

StephTheBookworm said...

Oooh, love the new header!

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Thanks, guys!

Marie said...

First of all, I'm loving the new header- beautiful! Second, I hope you enjoy the history of children's literature- it's great!

Zibilee said...

Ooh! Desperate Passage and Governess look like really interesting reads. Thanks for opening up your wish list. I am adding these to mine!

Lisa said...

And now I have to add the Children's Literature book to my wish list as well!

SariJ said...

I like the new look. I am still playing with my new blog set up.
The children's book of lit sounds wonderful. I hope you get all that you wish for soon.

Ann said...

I like the new header on your blog. Finally got around to looking at it tonight.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Thanks, mom :)

Veens said...

No way! this is a post I totally avoid reading on your blog :) :)

Eva said...

That Governess book sounds really neat! And the children's lit one had already caught my eye over at Rebecca's. :)

Like everyone else, loving the new header!

readingandrooibos said...

Desperate Passage sounds fascinating! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Anonymous said...

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I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

Cheers
Christian, iwspo.net