Elizabeth Gaskell’s Travel Reading & Other Literary Entertainments

I kept exclaiming last week over the fascinating lore in Leah Price’s new book, What We Talk About When We Talk About Books. And I know you’ll enjoy the following anecdote:  in the nineteenth century, novelist Elizabeth Gaskell read her neighbor’s book over his shoulder on a horse-drawn omnibus.

Price writes,

Eyeing the first installment of Dickens’s Little Dorrit over the shoulder of a passenger on a Manchester bus in 1855, Elizabeth Gaskell complained that her fellow traveler “was such a slow reader… you’ll sympathize.… [with] my impatience at his never getting to the bottom of the page.”


Actor Paul Giamatti at the Willa Cather Center

1 . The Willa Cather Center announced that actors Paul Giamatti and Clara Wong recently visited Red Cloud, Nebraska, where Cather grew up.  They toured the Cather Center, her childhood home, the Willa Cather Prairie, and other historic sites and stayed overnight in the Cather Second Home guest house.

“My mother was a high school English teacher,” Giamatti said. “My Ántonia was something she taught a lot, and so Cather was always around.” Giamatti was an English major before becoming an actor and shared that he was currently reading Cather’s The Song of the Lark and had particularly enjoyed Death Comes for the Archbishop, a novel he would love to see adapted for the big screen. For Wong, a native of Illinois, this visit marked her first Cather experiences. Both actors live and work in Brooklyn, New York, and appreciated their quiet visit to Red Cloud, eating at local restaurants and exploring on their own.

2.  At Bustle, Kerri Jarema writes about the popularity of vlogs at BookTube.

Reading vlogs — in which YouTube users, often called BookTubers, read and review books while sharing tidbits from their every day lives — are growing in popularity among readers. These videos usually run anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes. The more popular accounts, like PeruseProject (which boasts over 271,000 subscribers), can fetch up to 50,000 views per video. Reading those numbers, you might be asking yourself, “Why would someone enjoy watching someone else… read?”

Well, it turns out there are some fascinating psychological reasons why readers love BookTube.

Happy Reading, everybody!  It’s so hot  I sat outside in my pajamas tonight and read.  I hope you have better reading weather where you are.

10 thoughts on “Elizabeth Gaskell’s Travel Reading & Other Literary Entertainments”

  1. That’s a lovely anecdote about Eliot. Reading while travelling by coach must have been an ordeal – all that bumping around would make it difficult to focus on the page.

    1. It *must *have been bumpy. I’ve never been able to read over anyone’s shoulder somehow…

      On Wed, Sep 11, 2019 at 2:20 AM Thornfield Hall: A Book Blog wrote:


    1. Yes, transportation can be challenging for us readers. I’m so impressed she could read over someone’s shoulder. I agree, Little Dorrit is compelling.

      On Wed, Sep 11, 2019 at 2:56 AM Thornfield Hall: A Book Blog wrote:


  2. //”Living vicariously through these vloggers feel similarly to connecting with a friend.”//
    (quote from linked article from Bustle).
    This makes me feel a little queasy. What’s wrong with connecting with real human friends? are they an extinct species? or is human connection/making conversations begin, simply too difficult now?

    1. It’s a new world. I haven’t found what I’m looking for at vlogs, with the exception of the middle-aged Lonesome Reader, who provided a very interesting view of the Booker list. Most of the vloggers don’t know how to edit. Perhaps they grew up with selfies and Youtube, and so this is natural for them? Is human contact on the wane? I’m so out of it. I have enjoyed online friendships, but I agree it’s better to have “human” friends.

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