Cecilia Read-Along Book III: Briggs better have my money

Fair travelers, journey to the master post if thou art lost.

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Predictions about Cecilia’s suitors are running rampant in last week’s post, but this week, it’s all about money. Cecilia seems to the be only person with enough of it, but until she turns 21, she must rely on her guardians to access it – and none of them are making that easy. I am uneasy about her money being in the hands of these three peculiar, and in at least one case, horrid men. That usually doesn’t turn out well. Just ask RiRi:


A few readers are off the wagon, while a few are just climbing on. I’m reading ahead in Book V and believe me, you wanna stick around. Book III is short but can be confusing, so let’s break it down with gifs o’ plenty:

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Cecilia Read-Along Book II: It’s all happening

Fair travelers, journey to the master post if thou art lost.

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It’s all happening for Cecilia this week! Our Frances vs. Fanny discussion is still going strong in last week’s post. Rick of Read the North pulled some of Burney’s sickest burns in his Book I wrap up. Much discussion about who should be cast in the roles of Mortimer Delvile took place on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll get you caught up with all that in a minute. But first, this happened:



I’m still not sure why, after years of blogging about live Canadian authors, I got called by the CBC for blogging about a dead British one, but, I’ll take it. Have a listen here. Welcome CBC listeners: if you’re reading with us, please say hello in the comments!

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Cecilia Read-Along Book I: It’s Frances (Miss Burney if you’re nasty)

Fair travelers, journey to the master post if thou art lost.

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Don’t call me Fanny

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Before we get into Book I, we must address a controversy: Is it Fanny Burney, or Frances? Does it matter? AS A FEMINIST, must I go with Frances? Rick at Read the North weighs in, backed up by Lives of the Novelists, which I must obtain: Continue reading

Cecilia Read-Along: #SquadGoals

Fair travelers, journey to the master post if thou art lost.

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I trust you’ve all started reading? If not, read on for some more information about where to find the book, and if you have, I’ve started a running list of characters, which is helpful with these big novels.


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My line-up: Kobo ebook, Oxford World’s Classics print, and Project Gutenberg html for easy searching

As I noted in the master post, it’s not easy to get your hands on Cecilia. And it’s only become more complicated since then. Let’s break down the options, and read-alongers, if you post this week, please show off your edition!

  • Print: While difficult to find in libraries and physical book stores, you can order online. I believe the Oxford World’s Classics edition I have is a good one; it reproduces the first edition and does not correct “eccentricities of punctuation, spelling, and grammar” which would take all the fun out of reading an 18th century novel. You can order straight from the source.
  • Ebook: Earlier, I recommended an ebook because they’re readily available. HOWEVER. My cheapie Harper Collins edition is decidedly not the same text as the first print edition; comparing to Oxford, the ebook is watered down: unnecessary capitalization removed, “everytime” becomes “every time,” and so on. Not sure if this is reproducing a later edition, or is just modernized, or what. Same deal with the Project Gutenberg edition.
  • Audio: There is a free audio version on LibriVox and perhaps I’m being snobby here but shouldn’t the narrator be British?

Cecilia’s Squad: Who we’ve met so far

This is only up to about Book I Chapter 7 as of this writing. For those of you just beginning, this may help you get your bearings.

  • Our Heroine: Cecilia Beverley: 21, orphan, heiress
  • Her guardians:
    • Mr. Harrell, husband of childhood friend, chosen simply so Cecilia can live with said friend.
    • Mr. Briggs, a business man who will provide “vigilant observance” of Cecilia’s fortune.
    • Mr. Delvile, ” a man of high birth and character” who will make sure Cecilia “should in nothing be injured” – i.e. remains a lady in the streets… and the sheets.
  • Her suitors:
    • Mr. Monckton: married to a 76-year-old crabby pants, he’s probably in his thirties or forties and was real annoyed when, just a few years after marrying this old lady for money, a 17-year-old heiress moved in next door. Timing is everything!
    • Mr. Arnott: brother of childhood friend Mrs. Harrell, lays it on pretty thick, likes that Cecilia “isn’t like the other girls,” gag me…
    • Sir Robert Floyer: Fashionable, friend of Mr. Harrell, weird horse obsession
  • Her friends
    • Mrs. Harrell: A childhood friend who moved to the big city some years ago. A very “city and country mouse” reunion so far.
    • Mr. Morrice: Her friend whether she wants him or not. This guy cracks me up.
  • Her frenemies
    • Miss Larolle: “flirting, communicative, restless, and familiar” she is the 18th century equivalent of a basic bitch.
    • Miss Leeson: “silent, scornful, languid, and affected,” definitely afflicted with resting bitch face.

Be you VOLUBLE or SUPERCILIOUS (see ch. 5) we’ll meet back here next Monday to discuss Book I.

Cecilia Read-Along: Start Reading!


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Happy Canada Day and Happy Cecilia Day! Have you started reading yet? To give you a jump start, I’ve found us a theme song. No, not that one.

“Oh Cecilia” is by Canadian band Born Ruffians, and features Toronto’s dancing crossing guard Kathleen Byers. Incidentally, Born Ruffians are in Edmonton playing two free shows at A Taste of Edmonton on Juy 29 and 30. Cecilia meet-up, perhaps?

Start reading and I’ll meet you back here on Monday!

Cecilia Read-Along: Summer Reading for People Who Don’t Like “Summer Reading”

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What do you look for in a summer read?

  • Almost 1000 pages?
  • Obscure 18th century author?
  • Difficult to find in print?

You are in the right place, friend. It’s the #SummerofCecilia and over the next ten weeks or so, we’re going to polish off this old-school English classic: Cecilia by Frances Burney.


Frances Burney was a totally important author who wrote four novels and a ton of letters and diaries, was wildly successful in her day, and then was ignored by critics for decades, but she’s back, baby. Thanks to feminist scholars and critics, including BookTube’s own RonLit, and the ladies of Hidden Histories podcast, she and her pre-Austen contemporaries are back in the public conscious.

Virginia Woolf also called her the mother of English fiction. NBD.

Why Cecilia?

I’ve been advised by several smart people to start with Evelina, a shorter and more accessible work, but damn it, sometimes you feel like reading a thousand page novel that wasn’t written by some bro-ish literary darling *cough City on Fire cough*

And the premise is fascinating! Cecilia is an heiress, but there’s a catch: any man she marries must take her name if he is to get access to her cash. Pretty out there for 1782.

Oh yeah, and a quote from Cecilia inspired the title of another book you might have heard of…

The whole of this unfortunate business,” said Dr. Lyster, “has been the result of pride and prejudice. … If to pride and prejudice you owe your miseries, so wonderfully is good and evil balanced, that to pride and prejudice you will also owe their termination.

What do I have to do?

Cecilia is made up of ten “books”, each of which is just under one hundred pages. I figure we read a book a week for the next ten weeks, which will take us through the summer, and then some.

If you’ve done my previous read-alongs, you know I’m pretty low key. This is an approximate schedule, and I’ll aim to post on Mondays, but you can read and post whenever you like, or just comment on my posts, or just snapchat with me, whatever. I might do a little Booktube too. You can bookmark this post and I’ll link it all up:

Usually this is where I bribe you

The nice thing about reading-along (read-alonging?) Dead White Dude classics is that there are ready-made prizes galore at Out of Print Tees. Burney swag? Not so much. So let me think on that a little. But suffice to say, anyone who even tries to participate in this is a summer-reading rock star in my books.



This is the best I could find

Okay, where do I start

Now that you’re super excited about reading Cecilia, I have some bad news: it is not easy to get a physical copy of this book. My local library has nothing at all for Burney but an old biography, and it’s not on the shelves in any of the Chapters in town. I have the Oxford World Classics edition, which I got from The Book Depository, but not without a lengthy email exchange with customer service and almost two months of waiting. So I suggest you either order online (from somewhere reliable) or grab the ebook. I got a Harper Collins edition on my Kobo for 99 cents, and it works fine so far.

#SquadGoals: Here’s who’s signed up so far. Leave me a comment and join us!

If order of when they joined, this is #SummerofCecilia squad. If you’re in this list and want me to link to something else (or not) let me know

  1. My mom, who also goes by Mary and has the best tweets.
  2. Rainey
  3. CJ of ebookclassics who I will see in person during the read-along. I think we should go hat shopping in Cecilia’s honour.
  4. Emma of The Paperback Princess
  5. Kristine
  6. My sister Cait who is back at it again with her third read-along
  7. Vikzwrites of Weird Marginalia
  8. xkurwamacz
  9. Rick of Read the North (formerly Book-a-Week Project, and Canon Fodder, and Another Book Blog, and the original Book-a-Week Project… what’d I miss?)
  10. Lindy of Lindy Reads, best book club leader ever
  11. Sarah-Jane of Mercurial Vicissitudes
  12. Melanie Kerr, author of Follies Past and Mary Green
  13. Netta Johnston of Stonehouse Publishing, our resident Cecilia expert, meaning she’s actually read it before

Conspicuous Consumption #2: Podcasts

A feature in which I tell you about my book-related media consumption in a conspicuous manner.

I’ve been driving for about seven years now, and I’ve wasted so much time listening to the radio.

It took me more than five years to realize I could borrow audio books from the library. That was great and all, but I’m trying to cut back on reading this year, so rather than go back to terrible radio commercials, I finally figured out podcasts.

If you are thinking “what is there to figure out?” please remember I am old and that those audio books I listened to were on CD. Anyway, here’s what I needed:

  • Android app: Pocket Casts
  • Speaker  (Not affiliate, just a tip so you don’t have to go through two duds like I did)
  • Some good podcasts. See below.

The must listens

overdueOverdue: I love this concept: each week, one of the hosts reads a book that “you should have read by now” and explains it to the other. These guys are funny and take the books just seriously enough, which is to say, not terribly. I enjoy the episodes about books I’ve read more than those about books I haven’t, but, you can definitely still enjoy an episode without reading the book. That’s kind of the point.

Try this episode: Peter Pan


writereadsWritereads: Yes, I am a frequent guest host, but hear me out! CanLit is woefully under served in the literary podcast world, and Writeread’s monthly themes ensure there’s something for everybody. Writereads is a book club, so you really should read the book before listening to the podcast, but when I haven’t, I just listen to the first portion in which Kirt and Tania talk about their current reads and CanLit happenings.

Try this episode: The ones with me, but also a classic Tania-and-Kirt one like this one, about an L.M. Montgomery book that features filthy language (…the episode, not the book.)


cantlitCan’t Lit: Besides having the best name, Can’t Lit fills in a very specific niche by interviewing Canadian writers with a heavy focus on poets. No stuffy pretentiousness here, the interviews are offbeat and funny. No need to do the reading, though you’ll probably want to read all the author’s stuff afterward.

Try this episode: Michael Christie



backlistedBacklisted: British writers John Mitchinson and Andy Miller (also an excellent Twitter-er at @i_am_mill_i_am) resurrect a forgotten backlist title every two weeks and it doesn’t matter if you’ve never read it, or heard of the author, or even intend to read it, the discussion is fascinating. I do hope to read one of the backlisted titles one day, and might start with this one:

Try this episode: Good Morning Midnight


hiddenhistoriesHidden Histories: This six-episode series is over, but it’s worth going back and listening. The topic at hand is “the great forgetting” of British female authors prior to Austen. I’d heard of Frances Burney and Mary Wollstonecraft, but I learned about Aphra Behn and Hester Thrale and many more. And the episodes are blessedly short.

Try this episode: Bluestocking culture: how did women become writers?


Honourable Mentions

  • Reading Envy: A recent episode features “book speed dating,” in which the host reads the first 50 pages of a bunch of books and decides which ones to continue and which to get rid of. Brilliant!
  • Lit Up: Interviews with totally important authors, like Nell Zink.
  • No Resemblance: This podcast hasn’t even put out an episode yet, but check out the intro: writers submit short stories, which will be read by the host. This one’s local and I’m excited to see what kind of stuff comes in.

So, do you like stuff? Specifically podcasts? Tell me which ones!



NYT By The Book Tag

I was so inspired by compiling my favourite Booktube channels that I made another contribution to my own. This is my very first “tag” video, which is kind of like Top Ten Tuesday except people do them for months or even years after they’re created. I like that. This one was created three months ago by Marie Berg and has spread like wildfire through the literary-inclined Booktube community.

Here are the tag questions:

1. What book is on your nightstand now?
2. What was the last truly great book that you read?
3. If you could meet any writer – dead or alive – who would it be? And what would you want to know?
4. What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
5. How do you organize your personal library?
6. What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet? Anything you feel embarrassed never to have read?
7. Disappointing, overrated, just not good: what book did you feel you were supposed to like but didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?
8. What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of?
9. If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
10. What do you plan to read next?

Conspicuous Consumption #1: Booktube

A new feature in which I tell you about my book-related media consumption in a conspicuous manner.

I can’t imagine a scarier scenario than being forced to sit down and watch, listen to, or read every single thing I subscribe to: every video on my YouTube feed, every new podcast on PocketCasts, every blog post on WordPress.

Okay, scary is a but much. Excruciating? Exhausting? Can’t-even-ing?

My feeds are way out of control. While there’s plenty of incentive to “curate” media that forces you to consume everything – think scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook- it’s all too easy to stay subscribed to stuff you don’t care about when you can just stop clicking. Eventually, though, it gets to be too much and steps must be taken.

Let’s stay positive. While I curate my feeds (i.e. unsubscribe like whoa) here’s what’s made the cut, starting with Booktube.

The must watches


Steve Donoghue: Daily videos, reads everything, fastest Booktube-drama outrage-to-redemption cycle I’ve ever witnessed (#fakereadergirls, what?) and most of all, he has so much fun with this. He’s always on the verge of a laugh. Happy one thousand subscribers!

The Poptimist: High production values, hilarious, great taste, and (extremely important to me) a soothing manner and voice. His videos are the only ones I watch twice in a row, because they are that entertaining; and so packed with goodness, I miss things the first time around.

WhatKamilReads: Great taste (in books and style) and seems so warm and humble. His book recommendations are genuine and heartfelt. His video always make me smile.

exlibris: Makes classics seem just as vital and relevant as the new releases everyone else is reading.

Virginia Woof: As the kids say, I am “here for” everything she does: book hauls, book unhauls, condom hauls… yep. CanLit and LGBTQ focused and her makeup is always “on point.” (you watch too much Booktube and you just start talking like this, sorry.)

Jason Purcell: Guess who’s back? Take everything I said above and combine it in one Booktuber and you’ve got Jason.

Honourable mentions

  • Amanda Centre: Delightfully off kilter. Become one of her fellow cyborgs, you won’t regret it.
  • Emma Tobias: The only #fakereadergirls response I deigned to watch and it was a gooder.
  • Brixton: A brand new channel, endorsed by Jason Purcell.
  • Books Beauty Ameriie: It’s just one thing that’s got me subbing… if you get that reference, you should get why I died when I realized who this Booktuber is.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a blogger, so tell me, is Booktube a big part of your book-related media consumption? Who are your must watches?




Talking Birdie


May is new release month at Writereads, your favourite-with-a-u Canadian book club podcast. I am guest hosting once again, which means I get to choose the book, and I’m taking liberties. Birdie by Tracey Lindberg will be nearly one year old by the time the podcast comes out, so it doesn’t really qualify as new. But we need to talk about it. Not just because it’s by a local author, or about a contemporary Indigenous woman, or because it’s brilliant, but because I don’t think it got a fair shake on Canada Reads.

Birdie was the third book to get booted off Canada Reads this year (Americans: this is our public broadcaster’s annual books game show, like a televised Tournament of Books, and we are super smug about it,) and it was frustrating to see so much left unsaid. To be fair, there’s not enough time to really get into any of the books, even with four hours of air time (though they could cut down on the trailers and title sequences and dramatic pauses.) Here are a few thing I want to talk about:

  • Contestants were frustrated that Birdie’s timeline is not linear. At one point, Birdie’s defender, Bruce Poon Tip, said that to want Birdie to conform to the type of narrative we’re used to, we’re “colonizing” the book. What does that mean? We didn’t get to find out.
  • There was little mention of humour. Birdie’s teenage obsession with The Beachcombers and The Frugal Gourmet are so absurd and so specifically Canadian. Skinny Freda’s penchant for white guys, all of whom she refers to as “Phil,” reminded me of Cher Horowitz’s “Barneys.”
  • A lot of time was spent on how “other” this book is. Non-linear. Stream of consciousness. Compound words and Cree poetry mixed in. Yeah, it’s different (and made the other books sounds BOR-ing) but it also reminded me of so many other books! It has the unrelenting focus on interior life of Villette, the absurdity of Malarky, the horror and hope of Push. Birdie is unique but it’s also part of a tradition of women writing about women.

So, read Birdie, subscribe to Writereads, and listen in as Kirt, Tania, and I try to cram all this in to a one-hour podcast. It should be up in mid-May.

The trailer from Canada Reads.