Monday, 22 January 2018

Reading Challenge Week 3 - A book published over 100 years ago

It's always good to engage in a spot of time travel when you can. Fortunately, with books, you've got a ready portal into the past.

This week's challenge was to read a book published more than 100 years ago. Did you find an interesting book to read? Here are some of the books the librarians have been reading:

I chose to read A Journey to the Centre of the Earth as it was a favourite childhood book of my husband’s and I thought I would give it a go.  The challenge this week was a book more than 100 years old and A Journey to the Centre of the Earth was first published in 1864 so fitted the bill perfectly.

The story involves an eccentric professor Otto Lidenbrock and his nephew Axel who travel to Iceland after discovering a secret document telling about the delights and intrigues of the tunnels under the earth.

After descending into the tunnels they have many amazing adventures, nearly die from thirst and discover an underground ocean.  They encounter prehistoric animals and plants and live through a horrendous lightning storm which nearly destroys their raft before abruptly coming to the surface again at Mount Strombali in Italy.

The book is thrilling and dramatic and draws you in to Otto and Axel’s adventures.  A great read at 840 VER in the Curriculum Collection.

Looking for something short, easy to read and laugh-out-loud funny? Is there such a book written over 100 years ago? The Importance of Being Earnest (820 WIL 1C IMP/HAR) by legendary playwright Oscar Wilde may just fit the bill.

Wilde’s farce of charades, mistaken identities and satire of 19th century upper class society is brimming with many of his most well-known and timeless witticisms:

“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.” 
“In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.” 
“Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon. Only people who can’t get into it do that.” 

While Earnest has been adapted many times for radio, film, opera and musicals, nothing beats the original play as “a trivial comedy for serious people”. You may even forget it was first performed in 1895.

Sharon Bryan read Seven Little Australians, by Ethel Turner

Seven Little Australians (c 820.94 TUR) has been on my “I should read that, someday” list for decades. Seriously. It was first recommended to me when I was in primary school. It just took me a while to get around to it. This reading challenge is doing me some good.

The book concerns the seven children of the Woolcot family: Meg, Pip, Judy, Nell, Bunty, Baby and the General. Most of those names are inexplicable nicknames – or at least Turner didn’t try to explain them in this book. These kids manage to get up to all sorts of high jinks, although nothing they do is particularly naughty or rascally – it just seems specifically designed to annoy their father, who fancies himself a disciplinarian.

The book is essentially divided into four episodes. There’s the bit where the kids are all just a bit unruly, and it culminates in Judy (the smartest and most troublesome of the children) being sent away to boarding school. Then there’s the part where Meg falls in with the wrong “crowd” (okay, actually just one teenage girl) and starts toying with corsets and boys (oh, the horror!). Then there’s the bit where Judy sneaks home from school and everyone runs rings around the adults to keep her presence secret. And then there’s the part where they go off to their stepmother’s parents’ property out west and… well…

Somehow I had managed to avoid having the ending of this book spoiled for me. I don’t normally care about spoilers, but I was glad that I encountered this particular event “organically” in the book, rather than expecting it all along. So, just in case you haven’t read the book, I won’t spoil it for you by talking about it here.

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