C is for…

CC is for controversy, courtesy, and social commentary:

Card, Orson Scott
Castiglione, Baldesar
Carvantes, Miguel de
Chaucer, Geoffrey
Clavell, James
Coatsworth, Elizabeth Jane
Crow, Kirby


A friend gave me Ender’s Game in university and told me it was a life changing book. While I’m generally wary of book recommendations given by friends (complete strangers seems to give my no problem) I did in fact, enjoy Ender’s Game quite a lot. I have also liked some of Orson Scott Card‘s short stories in the past. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to enjoy Card’s writing as much as I did before I learned about his stance in regard to LGBT issues. The case could be made that the art should not be punished for the artist, but I don’t think an artist can remove his or herself entirely from their art, therefore I won’t be able to read anything else by Card without seeing negativity in it. Just my thoughts.

The Book of the Courtier by Baldesar Castiglione is the third book on my 2014 reading list. It is a courtesy book or a book of good manners, and much like Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji is exemplary of Japanese Heian court life told in fiction, The book of the Courtier exemplifies Italian Renaissance court life. In this book written over the course of many years, aspects of what makes a respectable courtier are told through fictional dialogue. This book is a research read for me, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t also be pleasurable.

Published between 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra is considered to be the first modern European novel. Cervantes had a few adventures of his own before writing Don Quixote among which included his capture by pirates while working for the Spanish Navy, five years of slavery, and arrest for bookkeeping discrepancies while working as a tax collector.

In high school, we read selections of Geoffry Chaurcer‘s Canterbury Tales and I remember liking them a lot. Chaucer uses the stories of the pilgrims in the book to criticize English society of the end of the 14th century, though he himself was a courtier.

I have been itching to read James Clavell‘s Shogun for a long time, having received several glowing recommendations for it. Alex added it to our mutual book shelf from her collection, and so it is now on my reading queue to be read I don’t know when.

The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Jane Coatsworth is one of Alex’s favorite childhood books. Her descriptions of it remind me of Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richarch Bach, which I’ve read twice and both times received a different message.

I bought Kirby Crow‘s Scarlet and the White Wolf as another tentative step into LGBT fiction. I have been disappointed by the genre before, but I have also been charmed by it. It’s really hit or miss, so I’ve been hesitant to read this one. I get a lot of recommendations to read Crow’s writing though, so maybe this one will be an experience of the latter kind.


Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Are there any others by the above authors you would personally recommend? Let me know in the comments.

21 thoughts on “C is for…

  1. It will only take you about three hours to read “The Cat That Went to Heaven”… no excuses! Also… I’m in the same boat; I never read Orson Scott Card before I found out his stances… and now I’m not sure I want to even attempt to. :/ Sorta like how J. D. Salinger leaves a sort of sour taste in my mouth these days.

  2. I read Shogun after reading Gaijin. Hated Gaijin – found it a bit too “male” I guess is the only word I can think of. Sexist, but then that’s indicative of the time, but really told from a male perspective. Shogun wasn’t as bad.

  3. Today I can say that there’s an author I know 🙂 Cervantes!! I must confess I haven’t read the whole book (not the original one is bigger than the ones they are on sale). In Spain there’s once a year a non-stop reading of El Quijote (48h) 🙂

    Shere y Paul

  4. Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ are wonderful, and particularly if read in the original English, they are a great study of language and culture. I shall look into the others.

    • Agreed. I can’t remember now which of the stories we read in the original English–it was only one or two. The rest our teacher summarized for us in class. I’m going to have to crack this copy open and see if it has been modernized or annotated.

  5. I haven’t read Don Quizote or Canterbury Tales–classics I need to get to some day! I read Shogun ages ago and really enjoyed that and the other books in the series, though I think Shogun was the best. Thanks for your post!

    • I really want to read Don Quixote, and the Canterbury Tales again. I know for sure I’d get more out of the latter than I did in high school; that’s always the way with me.

      No problem! Glad to see you here, too. 🙂

    • No shame in that 😀
      I’m edging into a big dump of classics on my shelf right now. They seem to all clump together. Hope you find something interesting in there.

  6. I haven’t read any of your C author books other than Chaucer, which was actually kind of a cool read albeit a bit challenging with the middle English. My son has Ender’s Game in his bedroom and I cast an eye its way every now and then, but it’s siren’s call hasn’t been nearly loud enough so far.

    • I enjoyed The Canterbury Tales more than Beowulf in school, even though we read modernized versions of both after the original text. Chaucer’s stories were just more entertaining than the tales-to-tell-in-the-dark of Beowulf.

      Ender’s Game is a good book, I can’t lie. I just don’t agree with the author’s politics, which is unfortunate. Sometimes it’s best not to know. :/

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