Paper Sacrifices


A few days before Lent started I received an email asking about my Unread Library. It was a nice way of asking why I started buying books again in 2012, and I was glad for the email because it inspired my 2013 Lenten sacrifice. During Lent I am not buying, checking out, or borrowing a new book. I know that for some this sounds like giving up steamed okra, but for me it’s a huge sacrifice. I buy a book or more per week (especially now that I know how to find ebooks on sale), and check out even more than that from the library. I don’t read all of them. How else would I stock an Unread Library?


I can think of to two reasons for the dust gathering once again on all those books. One, I started the book club just three months after I finished the last book. It takes time to research the books, read them, and then write about them for book club. Not that much time, but one must grasp tenaciously to excuses when they are readily available, yes? Two, I sold the green secretary where I kept all the books and walked past them countless times every day. After that, I moved them to a trunk while we saved money for our bookcases. Out of sight, out of mind. Another poor excuse, but one I happily abused.


Those are the reasons I haven’t read from my Unread Library. I have no excuse for why the Unread Library has increased by many books. I’ll amend the list this week, but even if I was suddenly gifted with the ability to properly manage my time, I would not be able to read them all. I can strike two or three off the list, with The Historian being one of them. (One that I will both add and then strike from the list.)


The Historian is a book a reader recommended to me years ago, thinking it was something I would enjoy. I read the blurb and immediately bought it, but then it sat on my shelf for who knows the reason. I even tried reading it once or twice but couldn’t make it past the first chapter.

This is all tangentially related to the Civil War and Apache pictures. I’m almost there.


The Mister received an ipad from work which he turned around and gave to me. He didn’t do it because he’s nice (he is) but because he wants me to use it as a reader so I don’t keep him “up all night” with “the *$#^! light” while I read. His words: it’s a gift for you that’s really a gift for me. He is so sensitive about the whole lighting thing!

My kindle broke after only having it a couple of months years ago, so accessing it through the ipad was like getting all new books. One of the books I found is by self-published author Ellen O’Connell. I bring her up out of every other author in my old Kindle because I may have developed a reputation as someone who is intolerant or unimpressed with self-published authors. Not true! I’m just intolerant and unimpressed with crap. There’s a huge difference. 50 Shades of Gray and its progeny = crap. Ellen O’Connell and hundreds of other unsung authors = not crap. If I’m ranting and raving it’s because the authors writing tampon sex scenes (so I’ve heard) are the ones getting 7-figure book deals while those writing about the Apache Wars in the Arizona Territory in the late 1800s receive quiet accolades from a smattering of readers.


A good book isn’t one that comes from a major publishing house. For me, it’s one that inspires me to learn more. The characters stay with me long after the book is done and I am interested enough in the story that I want to immerse myself in the environment. Rereading Ellen O’Connell the last couple of weeks made me realize I love historical fiction. Historical fiction–not historical romance, which is usually more about setting than history. I love that reading about two characters in post Civil War Texas inspired me to read what I could find on the Civil War and line up some documentaries on Netflix. Dancing On Coals exposed me to the Apache Wars, something I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since. The day after Easter I am buying the illustrated edition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee to mark the end of my Lenten sacrifice.

Once I realized that historical fiction is what I truly love–a few of you said “Duh” to this revelation–I started researching historical fiction lists on Goodreads. Sure enough, The Historian was at the top of several lists. I was at my bookshelves faster than a jack rabbit searching for that book and later that night as I closed the book to go to bed I wondered why I didn’t read it years ago. Then I made a mental note to research the Ottoman Empire and Vlad the Impaler.

Images sources
Civil War: One. Two and three are from the US National Archives.
Apache Indian


Thoughts on Ellen O’Connell books

This wasn’t a review post, so I thought I would take a few sentences to highlight her books and what I thought about them. These are all categorized as historical romances on Goodreads, so kindly ignore what I said above about historical romances. Some are more historical, some are more romance and if you are looking for brainless fluff where everything is puffy hearts and LOLz, you won’t find it here. You won’t find literature, either. There is mature content in all of them, but if 50 Shades gets a 5 whip rating and Twilight gets a 1, all her books fall in around a 3. Nothing too crazy.

Sing My Name: This is the first book of hers I read, and at first I didn’t realize she was self published. (I couldn’t figure out why the publishing house would release a book with such a goofy cover!) I loved the first third of the book. Loved. The pace of the book slowed down after that, and with it went much of the history. It was fine, just okay, but the first third makes up for it. If you read the reviews, you’ll see most people agree with me on this. I adored the male protagonist. This book inspired me to create this Pinterest board.

Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold: This is the second book I read. I didn’t like it as much as Sing My Name, and I think that’s because this book is almost exclusively romance. I read it again a couple of weeks ago and liked it more the second time around. Better stated, I liked it consistently throughout, where Sing My Name I loved at first and then liked at the end.

Dancing on Coals: I loved this one. The history and action I loved in the first third of Sing My Name accounts for the majority of this book. The romance between the characters is slow building, there is a refreshing absence of “misunderstandings” or he-said/she-said, and spoiler [the romance doesn’t happen until the last 1/3 of the book]. I could have done without the epilogue. This book inspired me to create this Pinterest board.

Beautiful Bad Man: This one was my least favorite. Like Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold, it’s a historical only because it’s set in the past. This book is about a woman with a black and white view of morality and a man who sees everything in shades of gray, the redemptive and healing power of love for two flawed people, and a little bit of land conflict that resolves a little too neatly.

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    I love historical fiction, too. (I love the photos in this post, too!) Have you read City of Dreams by Beverly Swirling? A wonderful account of New Amsterdam/New York – it’s a lovely series. (And yes, I probably didn’t help the book buying, but what’s to enjoy if you don’t have a list?!)

    • says

      Actually, I would love recommendations! Let me go amend the post. Now that I know what I love, I’m on the mission to find great books and authors. :)

  2. Kirsten says

    Loved this post. I so enjoy when good reading spawns further interest in the subject!

    I have added 15 books to-be-read on Goodreads this month thanks to you. (I may be addicted to book recommendations.)

    Working on my own Unread stack – I recognize the extent of your sacrifice of new and borrowed paper this Lent!

  3. Susana says

    Please please please host a discussion on The Historian…I read it a few years ago and have been dying to talk about it with someone. (I can’t convince anyone in my real life to read it.) For starters, what do you think the last chapter means (it would have to be a spoiler alert if I gave my opinion)?

    • says

      Okay, I think this is Susana I’m replying to–I hope it is!–because I saw what might be a spoiler and since I have finished the book yet I scrolled passed super fast so I wouldn’t be tempted to read. I’m going to email you my thoughts when I finish! :)

  4. Kat in Canada says

    I felt the exact same way about The Historian. Took me FOUR TRIES to get into, and then I couldn’t put it down. It helped that I was trapped on a plane for 6 hours and I didn’t have an iPod or other electronic device- I KNOW, I was so deprived- but my choices were: read, or stare out the window at the Pacific Ocean for hours and hours.

    I would love to re-read it, although I to recall having terrifyingly vivid nightmares the night I finished it- populated with a vampire that was out to get me, except the vampire was Linsday Lohan. That I would blame more on the eleven billion pounds of sugar I ingested while in flight, than on the book itself. And I’m fairly sure LiLo has joined the ranks of the undead, so maybe I was just 4 years ahead of my time.

    • says

      I haven’t reached the end of the book yet, so I only quickly skimmed your comment in case of spoilers. I can’t wait! So excited to discuss this with you!

  5. says

    First of all, I didn’t know there was such a thing as a “whip rating”, and dare I ponder what that means exactly? Second of all, please share your method for getting ebooks on sale!

    • says

      I don’t know that there really is a whip rating–I made it up–but I would bet my bottom dollar that there is. People are weird.

      There is a little button on the Amazon website! It’s hard to fine (naturally) but its there! It pulls up all the super sales.

  6. Susan G says

    Ah – wondered what had sparked the pins. How interesting – I might have to try some of these. I’m reading The Brief Wondrous Life right now – no problem with the Spanish sprinkled in (a la the Diaz quote you pinned) but footnotes????? Gah! Why must there be footnotes? I am incapable of NOT reading them as soon as I see that little superscript number, but they so interrupt my flow. I do really like the book (which is why I care that there are footnotes).

    • says

      Yes, I was incapable of leaving the footnotes alone! Some were really good, but the longs ones I left until there was a paragraph break after a while.

  7. says

    I’m on a book buying ban as well. Already adding this to the list for when I start buying again though. In the meantime, I’m getting heavy use out of the free Classics section of the Kindle store. I’m working through the 1001 Books to read before you die list, so the buying ban encourages me to tear through the free classics.

  8. says

    I have a huge stack of books I need to read, along with a huge stack of work-related books I should read, especially since I’m on sabbatical. Once I get caught up on my library reserve list, I’m going to take a couple of weeks and see how many books I can whittle down from either stack.

    I’m not a big historical fiction person but I love books like The Historian, which move between past and present. Hope you enjoy it!

  9. LauraC says

    I would love to know your opinion of James Michener, if you are a great historical fiction fan. I read Hawaii in high school and read just about everything else (not all) I could get my hands on. Hawaii and Texas are my favorites. Also, have you read any of Edward Rutherfurd’s books? Right up there with Michener, only less prolific, but he covers my favorite: all things British/Scotish/Irish. LOVE The Forest. (Just discovered he’s a Michener disciple, makes sense.)

  10. says

    Did I ever discuss/recommend “1000 White Women” with you? Historical fiction, awesome read. Enjoy.
    Did you read Follow the River or Panther in the Sky? What about the trilogy (might be out of print now)
    The Trees
    The Village
    The Town

    I love Historical Fiction…Might have to try this one that you posted about.

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