What can you learn from a single chapter of a classic novel?

September 26, 2014

How much can you learn about a novel from the first chapter? That was my experiment in today’s literature class (for homeschoolers in grades 9-12). I read the first chapter of Jane Eyre aloud and asked my students to tell me everything they noticed that might provide a clue to the rest of the novel. Here […]

A Melville-Mitford Monday Mash-Up

November 26, 2013

Call me Bibliophile. Some hours ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and no patience left with the incompetent and oblivious people I encountered in a long day of shopping, I thought I would travel about a little and revisit Mitford. It is a way I have of driving off […]

Literature of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation

October 18, 2012

One of the things I love about homeschooling is the opportunity for students to read whole books rather than textbook snippets. Every Friday I teach 18 students in grades 9-12 as part of a weekly homeschool co-op, and it’s thrilling to see these young people reading and discussing classic literature. We spend most of our […]

Real Men Read Austen

May 29, 2011

“Real Men Read Austen.” That’s the title of chapter 1 of Peter Leithart’s excellent book, Miniatures & Morals: The Christian Novels of Jane Austen. Leithart says if he could have dinner with a dozen of the greatest British and American writers, he’d want the seat next to Jane Austen because she would be the most […]

Why do (some) men like Jane Austen?

May 29, 2011

Just read a fascinating article by Brian Brown at Humane Pursuits. Here’s the gist of his answer: “I think we like Jane Austen because we like stories with men in them. Do not misunderstand me. We don’t watch a Jane Austen movie because Indiana Jones and Jason Bourne aren’t men. But we face—and have been […]

Eudora Welty, 1909-2001

April 14, 2011

One of my favorite authors, Eudora Welty, was born 102 years ago today. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 10 years since I attended her funeral, which I wrote about for the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook. I was privileged to meet Miss Welty at a writing conference in the late 1980s. In this […]

Book Madness!

March 29, 2011

Back when sports fans were filling out their college basketball brackets, I wrote on Facebook that these were the only brackets that interested me: [ ] ( ) { } < > I was wrong. Even better than punctuation brackets is a book bracket. Now this is a competition I can really get into! Voting […]

Baseball Team of Great American Authors

March 22, 2011

David Kern of the Circe Institute proposed a baseball team of America’s greatest authors. I especially like his choices of F. Scott Fitzgerald as shortstop and William Faulkner in left field. Clever!

“Greenmantle” by John Buchan

January 17, 2011

If you’ve ever heard of John Buchan, it’s probably because of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie adaptation of his novel The Thirty-Nine Steps. Buchan was an amazingly productive author of over 100 works of fiction and nonfiction, averaging five books a year from 1922 to 1936. He wrote a 24-volume history of World War I during the […]

Alternate Endings to Jane Eyre

November 6, 2010

Jane Eyre provoked quite a heated discussion in my literature class for 9th-12th-grade homeschoolers. Some loved the book; some despised it; and others liked only parts of it. St. John Rivers was universally despised. To bring out the students’ creativity, I asked them to write an alternate ending to the novel. My only requirement was […]