Timelines, India, More Dune, and Can You Forgive Him?

I was in the middle of several library books when we precipitously moved, and my new library doesn’t have them. Blah. I don’t know if I should take them off my currently-reading list, or just leave them on, and eventually get them on Kindle or something. We’ll see. In the meantime, here are some finds from the new library.

Timelines of HistoryTimelines of History by The Smithsonian Institution

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oooh, I LOVE this book. It is amazing. DK has really out-done itself this time. I am working on finally getting up a homeschool timeline (now that I have a long, empty hallway), and this book is my inspiration. From the earliest origins of humans to last year’s Arab revolutions, every page is lavishly illustrated and packed with well-organized historical happenings. The timeline runs along the bottom of each page, and above it is a nice summary of major events during whatever century/decade/year is being portrayed. I could (and have) browse through it for hours, taking in everything that was happening worldwide during, say, the reign of William the Conqueror, or the early 19th century when Jane Austen was writing, or around 600 B.C. when Lehi left Jerusalem. So fascinating to have a visual portrayal of what Charlotte Mason called “the pageant of history.”

It was so weird to me to get to the end (the book devotes a whole page to 2011), and see the Tunisian revolution, and think back to how I was there, and following it day by day as it unfolded. There it was, the history I had witnessed myself, right there written up the same as the Battle of Thermopylae. History marches on.

A Passage to IndiaA Passage to India by E.M. Forster

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not my favorite E.M. Forster (but perhaps that’s just because I am more in love with Italy than India). However, it is a masterful portrait of colonialism and the damage it does to both oppressors and oppressed. I really enjoy Forster’s formidable abilities in characterization. Even minor characters are vivid and realistic. No pasteboard here. Also, it’s right up there with Kim in evoking the sights, smells, sounds, and essence of India. It was obvious he’d lived there for quite a while. Definitely a worthwhile read from an excellent author.

Od MagicOd Magic by Patricia A. McKillip

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, I enjoyed reading this book as much as I usually enjoy Patricia McKillip. But it is not her best. Occasionally, she gets preachy at the end of a book, and to the extent that she lets it overtly creep in, the artistic genius seeps out. The theme of this one was freedom and oppressive government. I think she should really stick to writing about relationship issues.

Children of Dune (Dune Chronicles, #3)Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Just O.K. It got pretty weird towards the end. It’s becoming not worth it to read them even for the influence on Star Wars. And anyway, Star Wars is already in the works by 1977, so George Lucas is probably not relying heavily on Dune sequels anymore.

God Emperor of Dune (Dune Chronicles, #4)God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I’m officially done reading these books. I think he’s just churning them out for cash by now.

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Can You Forgive Her?Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope

This book has been sitting on my Kindle since November. I’m approximately a quarter of the way through, and currently bogged down and bored stiff by what seems to be an endless 19th-century fox hunting scene. The book seems to have some potential, and Trollope’s prose is amusing, but I’m just not sure if it’s worth going on. He is extremely verbose. This might be forgivable if his characters were escaping from inescapable dungeons, experimenting with opium, plotting fantastical revenge, or returning in dramatic disguise after 14 years, but as it is, they’re just Victorians, forever politely snubbing one another. Has anyone read this? Should I persevere?

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