The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne – 4 stars I read this for my 19th-century American literature class and really enjoyed it. It’s probably my favorite work by Hawthorne, and Zenobia is such a fantastic character. Full Review
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë – 4 stars This was a reread for my Victorian women novelists independent study. It’s not my favorite Brontë novel, but I enjoyed rereading it and getting to discuss it in an academic setting for the first time.
Bread Upon the Waters: A Governess’s Life by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik – 2 stars This was my first book by Craik, and wow was it bad. Flat characters, boring plot, and just constant misery. Hopefully the second book I’m reading by her this semester will be better. Full Review
Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon – 4 stars I had so much fun reading this, and it’s by far one of my favorites of the independent study so far. It’s ridiculous, exciting, and just a good time. Full Review
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe – 2 stars I didn’t like this when I first read it at fifteen, and I didn’t like it this time either (yet somehow I’m writing a paper on it). But I will acknowledge that it’s an important book in American history, even if it is quite racist by modern standards. Full Review
Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling by Philip Pullman – 4 stars This is a lovely collection of essays by the author of His Dark Materials. I enjoyed his insights on writing and seeing the creative process behind one of the best modern children’s fantasy series. Full Review
East Lynne by Ellen Wood – 3 stars I fail to see how this was a bestseller in the Victorian period. I really don’t get why they loved it so much; it’s just misery after misery. But there were so many ridiculous plot points that I just had to keep reading. Full Review
Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave by Henry Bibb – 3 stars This autobiography describes Bibb’s life in slavery and how he escaped to freedom multiple times. Though I wasn’t a big fan of the writing style, it’s an important and fascinating read that should get more attention.
Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell – 4 stars This was another book for my Victorian women novelists independent study. It’s not nearly as long as Wives and Daughters, and Ruth is a far more compelling main character than Molly. It’s still not as good as North and South, but it is a lovely read. Full Review
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones – 5 stars I treated myself to a reread of my favorite fantasy novel as a reward for finishing some tedious assignment. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and loved it just as much as I did the last few times I read it. Full Review
Walden by Henry David Thoreau – 2 stars This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve read this book, and I hate it every single time. I find Thoreau so pretentious and just generally insufferable. That being said, I did bump it up from 1 star to 2 stars because there are some lovely descriptions.