Let me start this post with saying:
Nate and I are BIG "Downton Abbey" fans.
If you're not familiar with this amazing PBS series, I won't describe it here. Wikipedia can do that for me. Let me just say, it is one of the best TV shows I have seen in a long time- a perfect mix of drama, humor, suspense, and history. Due to the great interest I now have in Edwardian England thanks to this show, as well as the need to immerse myself in that world while waiting desperately for the third season, I am now listening to an audiobook written by the Countess of Carnarvon, whose home, Highclere Castle, is the setting for the show. The book is a history of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon's wife, Lady Almina, whose life provided inspiration for the plot of the show. So far, it is a fascinating read and I look forward to learning more about her and the times she lived in.
For a change of pace today, I have decided to fill out a "Get to Know You" survey, mostly concerning literature, created by my friend Jillian at A Room of One's Own for her blog readers. Here we go!
- Sum yourself up in twenty-five words or less. Passionate, obstinate, dreamy, a Christian, a reader, a writer, a wife, daughter, sister, a friend, compassionate, helpful, smart, hopeful, inspired, determined, stubborn, funny, emotional, dramatic, and a seeker of beauty. (Oops, that was more than 25!)
- Do you read? If so, why, what, and how often? Absolutely! I also breathe, eat, and sleep, which are also necessary parts of keeping me alive. Without a book, I am lost, a ship without a rudder. I read anything I can, though I'm drawn to history, the classics, some fantasy, some contemporary, and some memoirs. I am not really interested in slasher/horror/thriller books, and have never been captivated by the Western or Mystery genres. How often do I read? Every day. I have a purse that is big enough for most normal-sized books and I usually pack one with me wherever I go.
- Do you blog? If so, your blog’s name & focus (classic books? YA? art? college? writing? movies? miscellaneous? etc?) – if you don’t have a blog, what would most likely be your focus if you did have one)? I do blog, and you are reading it right now. While I blog about what I read, it is not a book review blog, for I like to write about my perceptions in my reading journey. I also use my blog as a way to write about my life and my thoughts outside of books as well.
- Your favorite adult book(s) &/or children’s book(s)? My favorite adult book is Jane Eyre, while my favorite children's book has to be either the Laura Ingalls Wilder series (although I argue that counts as adult fiction too) and Caddie Woodlawn. Maybe those count as Young Adult fiction?
- Your favorite movie(s)? Little Women, the 1994 version. I love it not only because of the acting, the plot, the beautiful way in which it was made and kept true to the story, but also because it is something I share with my sister, and watching it with her is a beautiful tradition that I cherish immensely.
- Your favorite quote(s) from literature? I have a quote book filled with quotes that move me or inspire me, but my favorite is from Jane Eyre: "I remembered that the real world was wide, and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had courage to go forth into its expanse, to seek real knowledge of life amidst its perils." Inspiring, isn't it? It always gives me chills.
- Most challenging book you’ve read in your life? A book I read for one of Dr. Byman's classes, whose title I cannot remember but which I never enjoyed the entire time we read it. I wish I could remember the name! I'm sure it will come to me while I'm sleeping tonight. Mary, Jenn? Help me out here...what was it called?!
- Book(s) you’re currently reading, if any? Daughter of the Forest, which is one of my favorite fantasy reads, part of a trilogy, set in Ireland. (Reading it at the age of 14 actually sparked my initial interest in Irish mythology). And the Lady Almina audiobook, which I have already described above.
- Book(s) you’re most looking forward to reading? I am looking forward to all of the books on my current list, but I am really excited for a new one I just found and ordered called Inishmurray Voices. It is a history of Inishmurray Island, which was the most sacred and amazing spot we visited in Ireland. I can't wait to learn more about it and the people who lived there.
- Author whose works you’re curious to explore soon? Maybe Charlotte Bronte- I have never read a work of hers beside Jane Eyre, so I'm curious to read more of her writings. However, I have also put it off, because I am scared of being disappointed in her other works, since I love Jane Eyre so profusely.
- Book you’re most scared to read but might read eventually, anyway? War and Peace. My dad and sister loved it and want me to read it, but so far I have never had good luck with Russian writers. Eventually though, I would love to say I have read it.
- Book you have re-read the most times in your life (or if you hate re-reading, just write that!) Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows the answer to that question is Jane Eyre. :)
- If you could spend a day in any era, where would you go (including “I would not go anywhere! I LOVE the 21st century!”)? Oh gosh. Medieval Ireland maybe, to visit a monastery and learn first-hand about life in that era. Or perhaps go back to the 1800s or 1700s and visit some of my ancestors. There are so many times and events that I would love to have a front-seat viewing of, like a fly on the wall. As a historian, I have asked myself this question many times, but it always comes back to the answer that while there are so many time periods I would love to visit, I would never want to permanently live in any of them. I believe we were all put where we were meant to be, even if it doesn't feel that way.
- If you could be any character in literature, who would you be (and why)? Wow, hard one. Probably Anne of Green Gables, because we have such a similar personality and because she has such a beautiful world. I would love to dream in the Dryad's Bubble with Diana, or explore Green Gables, or sail in a boat, pretending to be the Lady of Shallott. Anne is a pure spirit, one I would like to be friends with, or perhaps learn to exemplify.
- Do you love Jane Austen or want to “dig her up and beat her over the
skull with her own shin-bone”? (Phrase borrowed from Mark Twain).
- Why? (for either answer)? While I think Jane Austen doesn't deserve all of the hype she gets (not because it's unwarranted but because there are so many other wonderful female writers of her age that are overlooked by a majority of Austen fans), I think she was a brilliant writer with a great talent for expressing herself through her characters. So no, I wouldn't beat her over the skull. Wow, Mark.... that was a bit harsh!
- Favorite and/or least favorite Austen novel? Favorite: Sense & Sensibility. Her other novels never drew me in the way this one did, nor did I really like any of her other characters as much as I liked Elinor and Marianne. (Except Fanny from Mansfield Park. I did like her). Least Favorite: Emma. I didn't enjoy the plot and I found myself annoyed with Emma herself. When I don't like the main character, I usually don't enjoy the book.
- Your favorite season? Autumn. The smell and feel of the air, the crunch of leaves, the bright colors, and the array of fruits and veggies available make it the perfect time of year.
- Do you prefer dawn or twilight? Dawn- the start of a new day, with new possibilities. Although I do love driving home, watching the sun set.
- Your favorite memory from childhood? I had a wonderful childhood, with many good memories. Most of my favorite memories revolve around playing with my sister- we were very imaginative and invented many worlds to play in, from the Oregon Trail to Hogwarts. (We were both avid readers, even then). Other great memories center around spending time at Oma's house next door, watching her cook, helping Opa in the garden, or playing in the back room. I have great memories of my dad's farm, where I learned that cows are the most amazing creatures you'll ever find. And finally, I have lovely memories of life at home, being supported by my mom who made sure to encourage and support our passions and interests. I wouldn't be me without all of the people who played such large roles in my life.
- Some of your interests beyond books? Spending time with Nathan, cuddling with my cat Hobbes, genealogy, baking bread and cooking/experimenting with new recipes, singing, writing/blogging, and I just started gardening this year, which I now love to do.
- Added after I posted, thanks to Payton’s suggestion: “Who is hands-down the best literary hero, in your opinion? Likewise, who is the best heroine?” Again, another hard question! I don't think I can answer these, because there are so many wonderful characters in the books I have read and to choose just one is nigh impossible. Of course, I believe the best heroine would be Jane Eyre, but how can I make that decision, for what about Anne Shirley or Jo March or Hermione Granger? What about Marianne Dashwood or Honora Kelly or Sorcha? I don't have an answer, although it is a great question.
- What question do you wish I had asked? (Ask and answer it!) I don't know, these were good questions. Perhaps the question: what inspires you? Inspiration is the key to happiness, in my opinion, and I strive to find inspiration in any of my passions and hobbies. I am inspired by the creation I see around me: my tomato plants, a sunrise, rainstorms. I am inspired by others: my family, my husband, my Savior, my friends, and my literary companions. I am inspired by stacks of books sitting on my end table, a perfect cup of tea, kneading bread, folding laundry, decorating my apartment. I am inspired to learn, to dream, to hope, to remember, and to create by noticing the little things around me and appreciating them for the blessings they are.