I underwent surgery this month, so my reading slowed a bit.  But I did check out a few things.

First, I continued my read-along with the wonderful Norton Library Podcast by reading Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.  This was a fun read (and a fun listen).  It tells the story of the young Jane Eyre as she receives an education and enters early adulthood. Some people think it is quite romantic.  I’m not so sure of that, but let me know what you think.  Anyhow, the book is more accessible than many of the works in the podcast, and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to someone who wants to hone their English skills by reading some classic English literature.  It isn’t a particularly good way to prepare for the TOEFL, but one can’t always be preparing for tests.  You can find a cheap copy of the book on Amazon.

Next, I read the November 2023 issue of “History Today.”  A few articles stood out:

  • The Flies, Fleas and Rotting Flesh of Medieval Monks.  Yes, the article is as gruesome as you might expect.  It turns out that in Medieval Europe it was a sign of one’s faith to purposely infect one’s self with fleas and body lice (and worse) to bring about a state of constant discomfort.  This one is quite a read.
  • Still on the topic of religion (happy Easter, by the way), Christianity’s Bloody History in Japan traces the rise and fall cycle of Christianity in Japan, starting with the voyages of St. Frances Xavier.  Fascinating stuff.

History Today remains just about the best source of TOEFL-level readings, both in terms of vocabulary and length.  I always get subscriptions when the publisher offers me a deal, but you can find plenty of stuff for free on their website.

That’s all for this month.  More in April.


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