On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (Readalong announcement & schedule)
Filed under: Infinite TBR,Reader of the Stack Goes Canonical — Ibis at 10:20 pm on Saturday, September 19, 2009

Now, ordinarily I’d be doing this over at the BCReadalong blog (I see I haven’t actually utilised that venue in over a year!), but I’ve decided that I want to invite people from places other than just BookCrossing to join me (the discussion threads will still be on the Book Talk Forum over at Bookcrossing.com).

So what is this all about?

Well, Charles Darwin’s masterpiece, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. I thought this provided a perfect opportunity to read it, and what better way than to do it with company? So I’m setting up a “readalong” and inviting anyone who sees this to read On the Origin of Species along with me, and to come by BookCrossing to participate in (optional) weekly discussions. (I’ll be posting links to the appropriate threads on the BookCrossing Book Talk forum as soon as they’re created.) The schedule for the Readalong can be found below. I hope you’ll find it a reasonable pace (I’m finding it a bit hard to judge since my copy has a lot of pictures and materials from other sources). Don’t worry if you fall behind; previous threads will remain active. Remember: this is for fun, not for school.

The Book

From a publisher:
“’A grain in the balance will determine which individual shall live and which shall die…’. Darwin’s theory of natural selection issued a profound challenge to orthodox thought and belief: no being or species has been specifically created; all are locked into a pitiless struggle for existence, with extinction looming for those not fitted for the task. Yet The Origin of the Species (1859) is also a humane and inspirational vision of ecological interrelatedness, revealing the complex mutual interdependencies between animal and plant life, climate and physical environment, and – by implication – within the human world. Written for the general reader, in a style which combines the rigour of science with the subtlety of literature, The Origin of the Species remains one of the founding documents of the modern age.”

The Schedule
Week 1: October 4, Introduction, Chapter 1
Week 2: October 11, Chapters 2-3
Week 3: October 18, Chapter 4
Week 4: October 25, Chapters 5-6
Week 5: November 1, Chapter 7
Week 6: November 8, Chapters 8-9
**note: The reading for Week 7 was moved ahead one week, to allow participants to catch up**
Week 7: November 22, Chapters 10-11
Week 8: November 29, Chapter 12
Week 9: December 6, Chapter 13
Week 10: December 13, Chapter 14

The Participants

The Resources
Please let me know if you’d like me to add something here!
Dialogues With Darwin exhibit
Intelligent Design on Trial (a PBS doc on the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial)

The Vid
If you rate it, it’s more likely to come up in searches.

CanLit Challenge Book #34: Life in the Clearings Versus the Bush by Susanna Moodie
Filed under: CanLit Challenge,Infinite TBR — Ibis at 10:08 pm on Saturday, September 12, 2009

Book 34, Life in the Clearings Versus the Bush (1853) – Susanna Moodie
From the back cover:
“In Life in the Clearings versus the Bush (1853), the sequel to Roughing It in the Bush (1852), Susanna Moodie turns from examination of pioneer life in the bush to a portrayal of the relatively sophisticated society springing up in the clearings along Lake Ontario. During a trip from Belleville to Niagara Falls, Moodie acts as a meticulous observer of the social customs and practices of the times.

Invaluable as social history and as a candid self-portrait of a remarkable woman, Life in the Clearings versus the Bush chronicles, with wit and wisdom, Canadian society in the mid-nineteenth century.”

Other useful links:
the Wikipedia entry for Susanna Moodie

My thoughts:
First off, I have to say that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as Roughing It in the Bush. She spent far less time observing people, places, and customs and a lot more time talking about (the Christian) God. When she did describe life in Canada it was interesting as usual and some parts were fascinating (her observations of the “Lunatic Asylum” for example). There are a couple of essays that were interesting too, especially looking back on things from a century and a half later, like the one about wearing mourning. I don’t know if she would be happy or horrified to see how far those customs have been abandoned. I was particularly intrigued by the story of Grace Marks because I know that Margaret Atwood based her book Alias Grace upon this account. I have yet to read Margaret Atwood’s book, but I will do so soon while the memories are still fresh.