Monday, January 27, 2020

That Time You Made Me Read Your Favorites

                     person reading book
If you're wondering what happened to my last blog post, the one you undoubtedly meant to go back and read over and over, I accidentally deleted it, and even after doing much internet research about how to get it back, I could not. Sad.

Moving on.

Back in October, many moons ago, I asked my friends on Facebook to tell me your favorite books, to nominate them in comments, and then to let the likes determine which were the top five favorites of my friend pool.

Make sense?

Probably not. Here's the post from October 4th:

"This is Your Chance to MAKE me read your favorite book!!! But wait, there’s RULES.
The Rules For Me: I must pick five titles from your recommendations and read them all in the month of November. I must take into account the number of times a book is recommended as well as the number of likes on each recommendation. I will then talk about each of these books in a blog post and shout out the recommender.
The Rules For You: Recommendations Must be Fiction, under 600 pages, and Must be something you LOVED and think I will love as well. Must not be part of a Massive Series that I will then take 12 years to complete. "

I then waited a month, selected the winners with only a Very Little Bias (I counted my own likes toward the winners, Sue me), and posted this:

"I'm here to announce the winners of the Make Abby Read Books in November Challenge otherwise known as Reading by Coercion. These titles were the nominations that received the most likes and seconds on my original post. They are as follows:

1) The Indiscretions of Archie by PG Wodehouse, recommended by Philip Bunn

2) A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, recommended by Christopher Hamilton

3) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, recommended by Danielle Hines

4) A Pilgrim's Regress by C.S. Lewis, recommended by Rodney Dowty

5) The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, recommended by R.e. Stinnette

Thank you so much for these recommendations! I have committed to read these titles this month, and putting out a blog post with my thoughts whenever I finish."

False. No. I only broke 25% of my promise. I did, in fact, read every single one of these books during the month of November, and not a day later. I am, in fact, giving you a blog post about it. It's just late, a fact which Christopher Hamilton so graciously reminded me.
Not that I forgot. I would never. But I have to admit, telling anyone what I think of their very favorite books is SCARY STUFF, PEOPLE. I have been for sure procrastinating. For sure.

Not that any of the books were bad. They weren't. And most were blessedly short, so that was nice too.

*Deep Breath* Here we go.

Image result for indiscretions of archie

To The Indiscretions of Archie by PG Wodehouse, I gave five out of five stars.
This was my first taste of Wodehouse, and while his voice and style are not what I would normally reach for, I had Such a grand time with this book. I loved to hate Archie. I loved to watch him fumble, and, err, and act selfishly, and ultimately end up successful, loved, and a blessing to others despite himself. This book is ultimately, I think, about the Common Grace God gives all of us: that stuff that mitigates some of our flubs, and adds beauty and hilarity back into the world despite us.

To A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, I gave four out of five stars, and for this I am ashamed. The whole way through this post-apocalyptic story about an order of monks, this commentary on post-modernism, etc. I couldn't help but think I'd enjoy it so much more if I got it. Mostly I just wanted Dr. Mitchell or maybe Dr. Grewell there explaining the whole thing to me. My lack of enjoyment translated to my own lack of philosophical versedness. And I truly didn't Dislike it. I had a good time watching about 25% go over my head. If I hadn't seen what was going over my head, I probably would have rated this a three. Solid like.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

To The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, I gave five stars. I was pleasantly surprised since I didn't particularly love The Graveyard Book, which I read earlier in the year. This book is a lightly-fantastical story about a man returning to his childhood home and all the memories that come rushing back like the tide from the ocean that probably might not exist in real life at the end of his lane. Or maybe it does. Maybe it's in that bucket by the porch. Anyways. I didn't love it in that 100% way so many of my friends do, but I did think it was sad and sweet and captured so much about childhood and its magic and the way we forget it. Would recommend. Would reread. Likely to love more in a couple years.

To A Pilgrim's Regress by C. S. Lewis I gave five out of five stars, but only because he takes the opportunity in the afterward (or the forward, one of the wards at any rate) to acknowledge and comment on the weaknesses in his story. I thought that was just So self aware and so Lewis and I loved it for everything that it was: a very young man's personal reaction to A Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan and the resulting unapologetic fanfiction. This was the very first book he wrote after his conversion, and as such, I loved it. I also loved it because like Lewis, I Did Not love A Pilgrim's Progress, and I love that we have that in common. I will say, for this book to really make sense, I would recommend reading both A Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, and Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis (his autobiographical conversion story) first. I do not think I would have enjoyed this without that context.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Oxford World's Classics)

And finally, to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, I gave five out of five stars.
I really loved this just as I have loved everything by every Bronte except Villette by Charlotte. I did not love Villette. I thought it read like a first, first draft of Jane Eyre. But anyway. Wildfell Hall was the one book of these five that was long, but I did not mind at all. It's about a woman who, in the Victorian Era, had the nerve to leave her wicked husband and hide in the country where rumors and unwelcome romance follow her. I was hooked on every word. All the intrigue. All the assumptions. All the scandal. Eek! So good.

And that is all. Thank you all so much if you nominated a book or voted or sat silently creeping in the corner. This was fun, and I would do it again 10/10.

What about you? Have you let friends force-feed you their favorites? How did that go? Leave a comment below, and tell me all about it.


  1. This is such a cool idea! I've been meaning to read The Ocean at the End of the lane.

    1. Thank you! It was so much fun and I ended up with five new favorites, so I highly recommend.