Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Melody from Redeeming Qualities


Please welcome Melody, who blogs at Redeeming Qualities. Melody's blog is known for classic novels.


NAME OF MY BOOK BLOG(S): Redeeming Qualities. I started it with the intention of reviewing books that were, objectively, not very good.

I HAVE BEEN BLOGGING SINCE: March 2007, after reading Marie Conway Oemler's A Woman Named Smith for the first time. I recounted the plot and my thoughts on the book to probably four different people before I realized that no one cared. And then it occurred to me that I could probably find people who cared on the internet.

MY BOOK BLOG STANDS OUT FROM THE CROWD BECAUSE: I primarily review public domain books that are available as free e-texts. It probably stands out less than it used to, because there are a few similar blogs around now, but I think that's a great thing. It's been really nice to see more people delving into the mostly forgotten, frequently super weird fiction of the late 19th and early 20th centuries over the past few years.

FIRST BOOK I READ OVER AND OVER: Probably a picture book, but the thing that comes to mind if the abridged version of David Copperfield I read 13 times in a row when I was nine or ten (I've since read the full version four or five times. I am nothing if not a rereader.) Later that year I did the same thing with Gordon Korman's Our Man Weston, which at this point I have almost no memory of. I think there was a particularly funny bit about a dog?

THE BOOK I HAVE RE-READ THE MOST TIMES: David Copperfield probably wins if I count both that abridged version and the original. I reread most of my favorite books once every couple of years, so the ones I've loved since I was a kid are the ones I've read the most -- The Pushcart War, An Old-Fashioned Girl, Trumpet of the Swan.

MY MUST-HAVE READING ACCESSORIES: My Kindle. I used to feel like I had to defend myself for buying an ereader and failing to support the publishing industry, but I don't read that many new books anyway, and when I got my first Kindle it was because I didn't want to cart my laptop around in order to read the Project Gutenberg etexts that were already almost all of what I was reading. And I actually buy more new books now that I can have them delivered directly to my Kindle.

With paper books, I'm a bit of a bookmark packrat: I start with one -- often a paint sample -- and it breeds, so that by the time I finish a book it's full of receipts, business cards, and torn pieces of newspaper. And I love opening up a book I've read before and trying to remember where the bookmarks came from.


MY TBR LIST/PILE IS: Multiple? I have physical piles on my shelves and my floor and TBR lists on my phone, my Gmail tasks list and my Pinboard account. And then when I'm choosing something to read I often go looking for something I've never heard of before.

A BOOK THAT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE IN SOME WAY: Middlemarch, by George Eliot. I love it for many reasons, but the biggest one is that everyone in it seems to have their own interior life, their own way of looking at things, and their own perfectly reasonable rationale for doing the things they do. Thinking about it helps me remember that people I disagree with aren't being willfully stupid, and I think that's made me a (slightly) nicer person.

A BOOK I LIKE THAT NO ONE ELSE SEEMS TO: Joseph Vance, by William de Morgan, and it's less that no one else likes it than that no one else has read it. That's true of the majority of books I review, but this one is particularly disappointing because contemporary reviewers and I agree that it should have been a classic.

A BOOK THAT INTIMIDATES ME: Whatever's the most recent thing I've failed out of. Currently The Car of Destiny, by A.M. and C.N. Williamson. I haven't turned on my Kindle in weeks because I don't want to finish it but I also don't want to admit defeat. As long as I don't read anything else on my Kindle I can pretend I'm still reading The Car of Destiny.

MY FAVORITE NON-BOOKISH ACTIVITY: Ugh, I don't know. What else do I even do?

MY FAVORITE BOOK TO MOVIE ADAPTATION: I never know if this counts, because it's actually a miniseries, but: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre. I love the book, but most of the time I love the 1979 BBC miniseries more. It makes the right decisions about what to leave out and what to reorder, and includes some great performances, including Alec Guinness doing about fifty different awesome things with his face. If you want to hear me rant sometime, ask me about the unimaginative, antifeminist 2011 movie adaptation.

I can also be found on Twitter (@glassglue) and on Pinboard (pinboard.in/u:redeemingqualities)

Thank you for joining us today, Melody! Remember to check out Melody's blog, and leave a comment or question.


  1. I love my Kindle, too, no worries! lol I think it's great that you go paperless since you do reads so many public domain books. That is how I get classics now, too. I've never read David Copperfield, but I hope to one day! Great interview!

  2. David Copperfield is great. With most of the books I like, I can kind of see that they're not for everyone, but David Copperfield is legitimately awesome and you should definitely read it.

    My Kindle guilt is totally residual at this point -- it really is perfect for my reading habits.

  3. The day I discovered there was someone else out there with a similar passion for early 20th century novels (and a similar name, as well!) , I discovered what the Internet is for. I love RQ for Melody's writing, and for a great comments section. I've discovered a lot of great titles reading this blog. And some hilariously bad ones, which is just as much fun.

  4. Great interview! Melody's blog is completely new to me and we have been around the same amount of time!

    I have never read David Copperfield, but have always wanted to. One of these days, I will actually get to it, hopefully sooner rather than later!

    And, I never thought about using paint samples as book marks!! What a brilliant and bright idea!! :)


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