Monday, November 20, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday

Happy Thanksgiving Eve-Eve!


It's Tuesday and that means a new Top Ten list brought to you by the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is the top ten books you are thankful for. Please be patient with me, because you know this list is going to be more than ten. I will try my very best to keep it under twenty - no promises though.

Here they are in no particular order:

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1. This one is a given, isn't it, for those of you who have seen many of my other TTT lists? This is the book where I met Eleanor of Aquitaine, and where I fell in love with Plantagenet history. This is THE BOOK that made me the BookDragonHistoryNerd that I am today. I have always loved to read, but the gravitational pull of non-fiction that I embrace is because of this book and now it is very rare for me to read any works of fiction. Plus, Dan Jones is pretty awesome. We are practically BFFs 😆


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2. Everything else Jones has written, because.

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3. I love Erik Larson's books. If you really are not into non-fiction, these read as though they are fiction. Another fantastic writer who brings history to life.

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4. Man, I loved this show and for years had cable and never missed an episode. I still love it, but I no longer have cable, so I have to rely on the show's website and clips posted on Facebook. Jon Stewart was so very comforting in those rough years of W's administration, and Trevor Noah has successfully helmed the ship for a couple years now in these very bizarre times. I greatly appreciate all he has done to keeping the show as quality now as it was when Stewart sat at the desk.

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5. Not only these, but a myriad of other texts written by contemporaries of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II, and their children. My research and writing would not be where it is at today if not for these immensely valuable texts, as well as slews of surviving charters, letters, and objects even from the era - not to mention the Journal of Medieval History, from which I have dozens of articles to help paint a full an accurate picture of who Eleanor was and why she is so important. 

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6. Just a few of the many wonderful texts that are leading me to more sources and contemporary chronicles from Eleanor's time.

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7. I read this book every year starting on Palm Sunday. It breaks down Christ's final week day-by-day. The book also puts the books of the Gospel side by side, discussing the differences in each account. It is a very important book and one I cherish.

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8. All of the small groups at my church right now are reading The Story and it is wonderful. My daughter's Sunday School class is also reading the age-appropriate kids' version and we read her copy together every night before bed also. Nothing compares to the real thing (and I myself am partial to the King James Version, which will shock NO ONE who knows me), but for those who feel overwhelmed by the Bible, this is a great way to be introduced to the most important book ever written.

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9. I love Love LOVE this one. Though I recognize the need for William the Bastard to conquer England in order for my beloved Plantagenets to come to power, I can not ignore my love for the Anglo-Saxons and their way of life that was completely destroyed by the Normans. I treasure this book because it gives a variety of options for how things might have gone different in 1066, at varying times throughout the year, not only at the Battle of Hastings. There were many stories that were plausible and could truly have been the way things went had different people made different decisions. There were also some that were a bit more fanciful, but incredible reads none-the-less. A must-read for those who love the era.

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10. Two topics near and dear to my heart, by the same author. It absolutely guts me to think of that library and all the knowledge that was lost when it was destroyed. If I think about it for too long, I can occasionally nearly be moved to tears. And what else can be said about Alfred, the only English king to be called 'the Great'. Well-deserving, as it was all his work that paved the way for his grandson to unite the country.

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11. I have a love/hate relationship with the title of the book, but I truly love everything else about it. The title bothers me in that it seems to be defeating the purpose of the book as a whole. The purpose is to showcase strong women who have made very distinct changes to our world throughout history. We should not be encouraging little girls to think of these women as rebels, but as powerful women who left their marks. If we continue to think of them as rebels, then we are further perpetuating the idea that these behavior and abilities are uncommon. Still, a wonderful collection of stories about women who followed their dreams, stood up for what they believed in, advanced our society, and fought for those who could not fight for themselves. My Mighty Girl loves this book and it is a treasure.

Here are a few others I am also thankful for, for my Mighty Girl. Reading to my sweet girl at bedtime is my favorite time of day. We love each of these books and in some cases the entire series. Seriously, do you know how hard it is to choose a most favorite Elephant and Piggie book? I recommend each of these books very highly; they are our go-tos for long car rides and cuddly rainy-day reading time. And really, pretty much any time.

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12. There are so many more books to include here but I could go on a while. I am thoroughly obsessed with the 5 boroughs and Manhattan in particular in the Gilded and Jazz Ages, but the city in general. I can not wait to see it for myself someday with my daughter and to take in the history and wonder of the City that Never Sleeps.

I feel like this is the best place to stop. I am pouring over my shelves and Kindle and trying so hard to determine which books truly deserve a place on this list and to continue choosing is almost too difficult. Plus, this might be one of my longest TTTs ever if I keep going.

Let me know what you think of my list and leave a link so I can take a look at the books you are thankful for also.

Happy Reading and Happy Thanksgiving,
Sarah

Monday, November 13, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday!

***EDIT*** I totally forgot to add From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil. E. Frankweiler and have failed as a parent. Even though Eleanor is only four and can't even read chapter books yet.



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and a fun way to see what other bloggers are reading.

This week's theme is "Top Ten Books I Want My Future Children To Read". Seeing as how I already have a child, my Mighty Girl named Eleanor, this list is tailored specifically for her and not some imaginary child that may or may not ever exist.

Note: If you have checked out my blog regularly, you might know that I am currently writing a biography on Eleanor of Aquitaine. As a result, I have come across tons of material relating directly or indirectly to the mighty queen. As I am collecting these books, it is my goal to pass this collection on to my Eleanor when she is old enough to read them (right now she is four). As such, in the list below you will find more than one book about the queen.

Here they are, in no particular order:

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1. I began reading this one to Eleanor when she was still in utero. I read it to her every night from about six months into my pregnancy, right up to the night before she was born. It was the first book I read to her after she was born, and if you are skeptical about what a newborn might "remember" from prior to birth, consider this: Eleanor was not a fussy baby by any means, but in those first few months she would have short periods of unrest a few times a week, between 6:30 and 8:30 PM. When I would begin reading this book, it never failed to capture her attention and she would lay quietly in my arms as I read.

Every. Single. Time.

Books are magic, people. Start 'em young.

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2. Of course. I am so seriously excited for Eleanor to read this one, because we both love books so much - I may even start reading it to her in the next couple months.

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3. Every time I even look at this book, I get that knot in the pit of my stomach like, "Oh man, this is such a lovely, heart-wrenching, beautiful book." It is not terribly long, but it is one that will stay with you forever.

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4. Another favorite from my childhood that I hope Eleanor will love as much as I do.

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5. Really, I hope she loves this whole series. But this, of all the books, is the one I went back to time and again when I was younger. My own copy is so worn and falling apart, but that's how you know a book is well-loved.

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6. I want to BE Jo March. I wanted her to marry Laurie and be a writer and I cried and cried when she could not do both. Yet I read it over and over, and each time loved it more than the last.

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7. Normally I am not one for books about the Vietnam War, but for this one I will always make an exception.

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8. Obviously because dinosaurs are awesome. My mom told Eleanor that she did not need to like dinosaurs just because Momma likes dinosaurs, and I said there will be no malarkey in our home about 'not liking dinosaurs'. I don't even know what that means. Luckily, Eleanor figured out on her own how cool dinos are, so I am sure she will find her way to this one in the future.

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9. I first read it in high school, and have read it multiple times since then. Such a well-crafted murder mystery from the master. I do hope Eleanor will appreciate this one as well, though it shows its age.

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10. Another must, one I fell in love with in high school. Knowing about the lives of Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda add an additional layer of appreciation to this novel.

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11. The first time I read this book was the summer between 5th and 6th grade. My youngest, uncle who was in college, had an office area in the basement of my grandparents' home with bookshelves full of books and records and cassettes. I could amuse myself for hours in the basement, playing the music and reading the books. I found To Kill a Mockingbird one such afternoon and became so engrossed that I stopped listening to music and my grandma noticed how quiet I had become. She hollered down to me asking what I was doing and I showed her the book I had started. I thought she was going to have a heart attack right then and there because she was so sure my mom was going to be angry with her for letting me read a book at such a young age with some very adult themes. And yet, with the story being told through the eyes of a child a few years younger than me, I understood everything that was happening, and went on to finish the book the same afternoon. Mom was not angry, but Grandma checked on me a lot more often after that.

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12. I would like to think I could be as brave as the family in this story, but I hope I never have to find out.

I know, right?! You might be wondering where all the non-fiction has gone. Never fear, those gems are next.

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13. It's not a Top Ten Tuesday without a little Dan Jones, is it? While I have enjoyed all of his works thus far, this book holds a special place in my heart because I read it while I was pregnant with Eleanor, and it is the book where I first discovered who Eleanor of Aquitaine is. It would not be a stretch to say that Dan Jones named my baby, would it? It would? Oh well, he thought the statement was funny WHEN I GOT TO MEET HIM AT A BOOK SIGNING IN ST. LOUIS. I really hope Eleanor loves history in general, but that she might find some affinity for those wacky Plantagenets that I have grown to love so dearly.

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14. One of the best biographies of Eleanor that I have read so far.

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15. I want Eleanor to be able to look at information from the period, examine the potential bias, and analyze why we view Eleanor of Aquitaine as we do today, based on how historians and chroniclers wrote and continue to write about her.

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16. A little background information never hurts.

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17. A good look at not only Eleanor, but other queens from Medieval England before and after. Very well-done and their various reigns weave together nicely.

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18. A fantastic collection of essays regarding Eleanor and various aspects of her life and reigns.

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19. Perhaps my Eleanor will be an unapologetic history nerd like myself, and give these primary sources a go when she is older. If so, I hope she will be able to pick out the biases and connect the information from one chronicle to the next to figure out what is true and what is embellished.

There you have it! Let me know what you think and if we have any books in common.

Happy Reading,
Sarah