Image

17 of the Best of the Ancient Classics (BC)

These are the classical texts I read in high school and college that I actually liked! Full of passion, love, sacrifice, fate, and prime storytelling, they contain deep insights into human life, and I highly recommend them!

What’s the oldest book you’ve ever read? Mine is the Epic of Gilgamesh, but I didn’t like that one very much! 😴😄

1. Homer’s The Iliad

2. Homer’s The Odyssey

3. Sophocles’s Agamemnon

4. Sophocles’s Eumenides

5. Sophocles’s The Libation

Bearers

6. Aeschylus’s Oedipus Rex

7. Aeschylus’s Oedipus at

Colonus

8. Aeschylus’s Antigone

9. Plutarch’s Parallel Lives

10. Thucydides’s The History

of the Peloponnesian War

11. Herodotus’s Histories

12. Julius Caeser’s The Gallic

Wars

13. Plato’s Meno

14. Plato’s The Symposium

15. Plato’s The Republic

16. Aristotles’s The Poetics

17. Aristotles’s The Politics

Image

50 BEST BOOKS OF ALL TIME

Do modern novels make you cringe? Does it feel like everything written after 1950 is shallow, immoral, or ridden with sloppy language?

If your soul is slowly shriveling away inside of you and your eyes are screaming at you to find something, ANYTHING, worth their time to read, I have a solution for you!

First, spend a couple minutes of cathartic laughter with Terrible Writing Advice, where you can enjoy that someone besides yourself notices just how awful most modern novels actually are!

Then… take a look at my list below! With 50 recommendations of classic, first-rate literature, you’re sure to find something new and wonderful to read! I have personally read every title, and not only do I recommend them, but I love talking about them! Please comment about your favorite classic, any modern books and authors that are gems in this current ocean of mediocrity, or anything else book-related!

  1. George Elliot’s Middlemarch
  2. Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea
  3. Antoine de Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince
  4. Gail Carson Levine’s Fairest
  5. Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond
  6. Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  7. Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three
  8. Lloyd Alexander’s The Black Cauldron
  9. Lloyd Alexander’s The Castle of Llyr
  10. Lloyd Alexander’s Taran Wanderer220px-The_Chronicles_of_Prydain_set
  11. Lloyd Alexander’s The High King
  12. Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman
  13. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
  14. Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
  15. Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  16. Robert C. O’Brien’s Frisby and the Rats of Nimh
  17. Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn
  18. Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time
  19. William Goldman’s The Princess Bride
  20. T.H. White’s The Once and Future KingOnceandFutureKing-768x1179.jpg
  21. C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce
  22. Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  23. C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces
  24. Noel Streatfeild’s Theater Shoes
  25. Shakespeare’s The Tempest
  26. Louis Sachar’s Holes
  27. Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth
  28. Frank L. Baum’s The Wizard of Oz
  29. George McDonald’s The Light Princess
  30. Charles Dicken’s Great Expectationsgreat-expectations
  31. Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera
  32. Frances Hodgson Burnett The Secret Garden
  33. Elizabeth Russell’s Halfbreeds (Yup, my shameless plug! But I’m not ashamed – I love reading my book, and I highly recommend it!)
  34. Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World
  35. A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh
  36. Mary Ann Shaffer’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
  37. Sigrid Undset’s Catherine of Siena
  38. Mark Twain’s Joan of Arc
  39. Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  40. J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan51f-7KjjFeL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
  41. Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
  42. Roald Dahl’s Matilda
  43. Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas
  44. Louisa May Alcott’s An Old Fashioned Girl
  45. M. Montgomery’s Anne of the Island
  46. Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy
  47. Fanny Fern’s Ruth Hall
  48. Catherine Marshall’s Christy
  49. Jane Austen’s Persuasion
  50. Gail Carson Levine’s The Two Princesses of Bamarreimages

BONUS: If you read ONLY 25 of the books on the list and email me with a 1-sentence comment for each of the ones you’ve read, I will send you a free copy of my next book Trinian, An Epic Fantasy!

I can’t wait to hear your opinions!

My Email Address:

Elizabeth @ thefairytaleblog.com (delete spaces)

Image

Celestial Castles Beyond Our Own

To write of fairy tales is, as J.R.R. Tolkien once asserted, “a rash adventure.” For fairy tales are enigmas, difficult to define and impossible to believe. And yet we believe them, because they are ultimately more real that real life. They offer us a glimpse of a distant, approaching reality that we cannot see.

This is by far the most important aspect of the fairy tale. It is what makes it invaluable to the developing, questioning mind of a child and intriguing to the mature rationale of the adult.

Stories that are not strictly true often take hold of deeper realities than a story based on true events. Within the context of real life, we are limited. We are flawed, fallen, floundering creatures seeking just a brief taste of sweet happiness in a sea of salty, bitter sin. Pushing ourselves through this life is exhausting and restrictive. It narrows our vision so that we cannot see the entire ocean, the ship approaching us from a distance, or the land mass just off the edge of the horizon. All we see are the burdensome, capping waves that drown us in their persistence. But a fairy tale is a step away from the water. It is a moment of relief on the deck of a boat, catching a glimpse from its mast of a distant, welcoming shore.

A fairy tale is a story that suspends belief in the world of the senses; it looks beyond what we can prove exists, and believes in a distant, wondrous, confusing, and salvific power. The person who lives just at the crest of the ocean knows only two things: there is a small space in his existence where his head is above water, and there is a large opportunity for it to be dragged under. He cannot prove that there is a land, and he may even fear to hear of it; its existence makes his life that much more miserable. It is easier to only believe in the capped waves.

But if he denies and avoids the reality of the shore, he will do nothing to reach it. He will never hope and without hope, his strength will wear out and he will inevitably drown.

It is the fairy tale that saves us! With its magical, imaginative stories, it lifts us up and broadens our imagination to see something better, something greater, something meaningful. It places the mundane struggle of our souls into a broader context, encouraging us to live for others.

The fairy tale encourages the moral imagination to stretch its horizons and see beyond the obvious. Transcending the mundane, it infuses the soul with beauty, love, and hope. It equips it to rise above mediocre life and live in the shining castles beyond. While they may be castles in the clouds, they are not insubstantial; grasping at greater realities, they move the soul toward what is truly important.

Image

A Whole New World in the Hundred Acre Wood

(An add-on article for my original post: how to motivate children to read more and my 2018 reading list)

I grew up on Winnie the Pooh. I watched the classic movies, of course, and also the late 90’s and early 2000’s TV shows on Disney Channel on Saturday mornings,spaces but my fondest memories of Winnie the Pooh are of the nights before bed when my dad read the A.A. Milne books aloud. He would do all the voices – similar to the films, but just a little bit different – and would make those characters come alive for me and my brothers, make them more than something hidden behind a tv screen. He made them a part of us.

There really is such a difference between watching a movie and listening to a book. The movie experience is lovely and can enliven the imagination, but a book seeps into your bones and becomes a part of your DNA. The characters take up life inside of you, and a whole new world becomes just as real as the one we live in.

250px-TheNewAdventuresofWinniethePooh.jpg

I wanted my little brother Joseph, age 5,  to have the same experiences of Pooh Bear that I had, but my dad has been working two jobs lately and is often gone in the evenings, so this past year, I decided to read the books aloud to him myself – just like my dad had done.

poohcolour

I do all the voices just the same as my dad, and in doing so, I have realized for the first time just how much I remember from when I was little, and how inseparable the book characters are for me from his voice and presentation.

I have the feeling that had I read these books for the first time when I was an adult, I would certainly have enjoyed them, (as I have many child book classics that slipped by me in childhood) but never with the same complicated fondness , heart-warming laughter, and tear-jerking finish that I do now.

And, of course, my brother loves it! He loves it so much that when we finished, and I tried to pull out a new book (“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,”) he insisted that we start Pooh Bear all over again!

9780525467267.jpg

I can not recommend A. A. Milne’s masterpieces, Winnie-the-Pooh and House at Pooh Corner, enough!

Tv shows: the New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the Book of Pooh

Image

The Terror and Thrill of Reviewing My Novel

Now that I have enough of Trinian, An Epic Fantasy put together to send into the world for review, I’m getting germinal feedback. I love it! But it’s also terrifying.

My sisters, who are geniuses with artwork, have already taken a stab at illustrating a couple characters, and my best friend Sophia has started marking up my first chapter. She says she’s being harsh, and I’m so grateful to her for that! I want the feedback as truthful as possible, so I can turn out a final product that will please my readers! And, of course, help me to achieve the highest level of writing ability that I can!

I’m thrilled and nervous all at once, and the emotions flow together inside me to create general excitement! Whether the manuscript is terrible or wonderful, it’s going out into the world, and that something!

Image

Literacy: The Phenomenon that made us Culturally Inept

Just joined Medium.com, and this was my first post! You can read the entirety here.

We see illiteracy as a negative thing because without being able to read, we lack the ability to effectively communicate ideas. But, ironically, our reliance on literacy has actually led to a degradation in our confidence to communicate through the written word.

While any average person on the street can tell you how to pronounce the sounds of the alphabet, or how to spell “Kardashian,” they stumble over writing a basic business email. And most wouldn’t have the confidence to sit down before a room of kindergartners and tell them a ten-minute story about a cat and a ball of yarn.

Yet this is a very simple process, drawn upon everyday experience, with a very simple audience who, if you make the cat fall down or get twisted in the yarn, will be very forgiving of your mistakes. They just want to hear about how a cat responds to the yarn because it helps them understand life. The illiterate children relate to storytelling better than…continue reading

It’s Not ORIGINAL – How to Write an Organic Story

My new series on Writing! So excited for this debut video – I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile.

I’ll still be publishing the Disney series. One writing video a week, and one Disney Video every other week.

If you want to see when I publish new videos, you can subscribe to my channel, CinderellaReads. Please feel free to share if you enjoy the info, and to let me know if you have any critiques! I’m totally open to suggestions on how to improve!

Covered in this Video:

  • A reaction to Amazon Writers Review Groups
  • What does it mean to be original?
  • The basic elements of storytelling

 

A Stubborn Story

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who refused to go into her story. It lay open beneath her with colorful illustrations of far off lands, enchanted castles, and speaking frogs, but she refused to go in.

“I am a free spirit, and I will sit out here as long as I want.” Her feet stuck out in front of her, her arms folded across her chest, and her chin projected in a stubborn tilt.

The storyteller cajoled, threatened, warned, did everything possible; he finally started to write, but it was no use…she would not go in.

Inside, there was a very lonely frog. All about him were colorful trees, rivers, and skies, but in his heart, he was inconsolable. One day, as he hopped beside a stream, he saw words writing themselves in the sand.

“Dear enchanted prince,” said the words, “your girl will not go into your story. I’ve done everything I can, but it looks like you’ll have to remain a frog forever. My sincere apologies, Narrator.”

The frog read the words, puzzled. “I did not know I was a prince,” he thought to himself. “That is very interesting. I wonder why this girl will not come into the story? Perhaps she is the reason I am so lonely, and why the company of no female frog is stimulating. I always thought they had very little to say about anything. Perhaps,” a sudden thought occurred to him, “I will leave my story. If the girl will not come to me, I will go to her.”

It was night in the storyteller’s house, and the Narrator was fast asleep on his desk. The girl stood up on the paper and looked down at the colorful illustrations, spying them out in the faint candlelight. They were very pretty, but rather two-dimensional, so she picked up her short skirts and jumped off the book, off the table, and to the floor. Then she jumped up on the ornate chair leaning against the bookshelf, and onto the bookshelf itself.

On one of the shelves was a large volume, much larger than her own story. Curious, she reached up, and with great straining, she tugged it from its place and toppled it over. Then, with all her might, she pulled back the big front cover. On the inside leaf was a full-page image of a tiger. It was a book about Africa.segur_seven_crow_princes

She sat up all night, turning page after page, and marveling at each image she saw. There was a mighty serpent, coiling larger than branches about the base of a gnarly tree. There was the slurping river sloshing muddy water up and down its banks, hiding crocodiles, water snakes, and bumbling hippopotamuses.. There were long giraffes with necks that stretched to the tops of trees. And finally, there was the noblest of beasts, the most frightening of creatures, the most beautiful of monsters – the massive elephant.

When she reached the back cover,  she stood on top of the massive book and pulled down another. This was smaller, and the pages more crinkly; it was an old, old book. The stories inside told of flying, flying over the earth, flying into the sky, catching a flight of birds and flying to another planet1. She felt as if she were flying herself. Possessed of a mysterious mania, she pulled down book after book, devoured story after story, until finally, daylight edged between the windowpanes and the sputtering candle extinguished. The Narrator woke up.

“Why, little girl!” he cried, his eyes wide with awed wonder. “You’re not so little anymore!”

Indeed, she was not a little girl, nor even a little character: she was a full grown woman, as tall as him, with beautiful straight brown hair pulled into a practical ponytail, and wise brown eyes behind dark-rimmed spectacles. She was beautiful, intimidating, and magical.

“What will you do? You will never fit into my story now.”

“No indeed,” she smiled, and then laughed. “But then, I never wanted to go in there. I will go live my life now. Good bye.” She opened the door to the outside world and disappeared into it.

The Storyteller sat a moment flabbergasted, scratching his head and marveling that a thing he created could move away from him so easily.

“Ahem,” said a voice. “If you don’t mind, I’m looking for Narrator.”

The storyteller looked down, and what should he see but the frog sitting on top of the story in front of him.

“Well, what are you doing?” he cried. “You were already in the story.”

“And now I have come out. To look for the girl. Are you Narrator?”

“I’m not sure anymore. The stories don’t seem to need much narrating.”

“Well, if you don’t mind, I would like to find this girl.”

“I don’t mind, but I think I should warn you. She’s not a girl anymore, and I don’t think she can break your curse. This is the real world, you know, and she’s become a part of it now.”

“Ah, yes. I see. I suppose, then, I must become part of it as well. What must I do? What should I learn?”

The Narrator looked at the bookshelf where all the texts the girl had read still lay open. He squared his shoulders.

“We must read,” he said. “If I can not tell a new story, I will tell many that are old, and so give life and understanding to what is new.”

He pulled down the texts and the two got to work reading all the books in the storyteller’s home. After three days, they had read them all, so they went out and down the street to the booksellers. In the cluttered, dusty, wonderful shop, they continued to read and learn, and after three years, they had read all the books there. They were rather legendary in their town, the man and the frog who read aloud together, and many people came to see them over the years and listen to the stories. One day, the Narrator left his hat on the ground by accident, and by the end of the day, it had collected thirty dollars. So he always did it from then on, and though they were not rich, they did not starve.

One day, word came to a newspaper company in the big city that there was a man and a frog who read aloud in a little town. One of the reporters there, a girl with a brown pony-tail and dark-rimmed glasses, wondered at the story, and went there to listen and write a story.

They were reading The Little Prince, and the words stirred something long forgotten in her heart. img_4700She looked and saw that the Frog, companion to the man, was crying. With her article as an excuse, she asked him why.

“The Navigator has lost the prince, and the prince may have lost his rose. It reminds me of a girl I came here to find, and I may now have lost her forever.”

The woman’s heart went out to this poor creature, so apparently sensitive and intelligent. She forgot that he was a frog, but leaned in and kissed him tenderly on the top of his head.

Then the Narrator, closing the book and reaching for the next one, caught sight of the girl from the corner of his eye. He dropped both volumes, started up, and gave a great cry which made all the spectators startle in surprise.

“My friend!” he cried to the Frog. “This is she! The girl you came to this world to find.” He looked at his friend, but he was gone. In his place stood a tall, lanky, handsome young man with green eyes and a mop of dark blonde hair.

They were all joyously happy and embraced in rapture all around. Eventually, the Man and Woman married, moved in with the Narrator, and all three of them told stories together for the rest of their lives.

The End

Attributions:

Antoine de St. Exupery. The Little Prince. (Picture taken by me from Scholastic Inc. 1943 edition)

Artwork courtesy of artpassions.net