nce more into the BEA, my friends! Even those of us who must celebrate from a distance can enjoy the week of new authors, titles and swag. ¶

Call me Meaghan. It’s pronounced like Megan or Meghan — not Meegan.

I’ve been blogging about books for longer than I care to remember. Maybe 8 or 9 years, I think. And this will be my sixth Armchair BEA. I can hardly believe it. This year I am so pleased to be helping with the event. I will be hosting one of the Twitter chats later in the week.

For those of you new to my site, here goes my wild introduction.

I am a sucker for the Victorian and the gothic. Favorites include The Woman In White and Armadale by Wilkie Collins, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, all of the Poe and Sherlock stories, The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox and the Erast Fandorin books by Boris Akunin. I also love a good detective story like the Nero Wolfe series by Rex Stout, classics like Agatha Christie, and new voices like Alan Bradley and the lovely Flavia de Luce series. I’ve been finding more classic mysteries that were previously unavailable in English through Pushkin Press. It’s a wonderful treasure trove.

I also love to fall into an historical epic, the best being The Count of Monte Cristo as far as I am concerned. It has a bit of everything — pirates, theft, murder, revenge, love, mystery, political intrigue — and I still would have read 1100 more pages. It’s hard to make such a long novel a coherent story but Dumas manages it brilliantly.

A playlist that reflects my shelves (ahem, piles) would definitely include Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony – dark, brooding, stormy – and Scherezade by Rimsky-Korsakov – layered storytelling, mystical undertones, faraway times and places. Then I think some classic swing and jazz like Benny Goodman, Django Reinhart, and George Gershwin help bridge the Victorian and the 1920s and 1930s with complicated rhythms and something completely new.

My shelves are a constant work in progress. There isn’t much of a system to speak of. I do try to keep series or authors grouped together so I can easily find them. And I have all of my Coralie Bickford-Smith clothbound classics from Penguin together.

I recently did a purge (difficult for me!) of books that I had read but knew I wouldn’t read again and didn’t need to keep. I sold about 150 titles to my local indie used (mostly) books store, so I know they are going to a good home, are helping keep The Book Lady in business, and they will find another reader. But I still I need to have another set of shelves built in my library!

library pano

Yes, I have a library. When we bought a home, the kitchen had a very large area for a full table and six chairs, plus a built-in bench for seating. What I assume was at one time a “formal” dining room has become a library. I painted it a bright green that I fell in love with at the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home. Luckily I am friends with the gentleman who did the historic restoration. He did a paint analysis in order to choose colors and came up with a paint formula. It is now listed at a local paint store as Jim’s Green, and it’s in my library.

I want to have lunch with Alice, the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter. Although I know it would be terribly frustrating, I do so love tea and scones! And maybe I could finally find out why a raven is like a writing desk.


23 thoughts on “ARMCHAIR BEA 16: Introduction”

  1. I really enjoyed The Count of Monte Cristo too even though it was so long. Have you read any of books by Dumas? Hope you’re having a great BEA!

  2. Hi! It’s so nice to meet you! I sort of have a library. I built a big bookcase for the room I set up as an office, though I don’t use it as an office (just to store important papers). So I’m starting to convert it to more of a library to see if I’ll use it more. But I like to have books in all my rooms so I’m also looking at setting up a book nook in my bedroom.

    Girl Who Reads

    1. Definitely have books everywhere. You can’t trust someone who doesn’t have a book at the ready. 🙂

  3. So much yes on The Count of Monte Cristo. I love it so much. I also love your library! I always said if I bought a home with a formal dining room that I would turn it into a library because I just know I wouldn’t get much use of it as a dining room. And I am 100% in love with everything about the story of the paint color up to and including the paint color itself. LOVE.

    1. I highly recommend creating some sort of special place for books and reading, even if it’s only a nook.

  4. I really love the Count of Monte Cristo as well! It has been years since I read it and I should probably do a reread soon. Thanks for reminding me about it!

  5. I love Edgar Allan Poe. I almost named my dog Lenore, but nobody got it. Purges are so hard to deal with. I did one at the end of last year and may still have a box in my closet that I need to take to the library. Lunch with those three characters would be so interesting. Looking forward to the Twitter chats!

    1. I named my dog Archie – half because it’s Cary Grant’s real name and half because of Archie Goodwin in the Nero Wolfe books.

  6. Have I got a book for you! I just read A Man of Genius by Janet Todd, about a woman writer of “horrid novels” (a la Northanger Abbey) who gets caught up in a Gothic plot herself. Very interesting book, and the author is an eminent scholar and biographer of Mary Wollstonecraft and Aphra Behn, so she knows her stuff. I hope you’ll check it out!

  7. Oh man. Power to you. I really struggle with getting rid of books. I know I need to do it every now and then, but they’re my babies.

    1. It was really hard. I did ok when I was sorting but when I actually carried them to the car and knew I would never see them again, I felt awful.

  8. I love that you have a library – that’s so cool! Thanks for your help with the organising this year. I’ll hopefully manage to join in the chat later this week. 😀

  9. I love this in so many ways.

    Thank you for reaching out to me on Twitter.

    I too am a huge fan of Gothic/Victorian things, books, and just the whole era.

    A Mad Hatter tea sounds like a blast and I hope they have petit fours and lots of jam.

  10. I still have not read The Woman in White. I need to get to that. How fun to have found another lover ot Gothic fiction. We’re good people. 🙂

    I love your luncheon guests. You will have a wild lunch for sure.

    I am glad to have met you!

    1. The Woman in White is fabulous. As is The Moonstone and Armadale. Hard to go wrong with Wilkie Collins.

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