What Did Lucy Read?

What literary works have had an effect on you? Who are your favorite writers, and how have they influenced your perspectives or improved your life?

Have you ever wondered what literary works influenced your favorite writers?

I recently read The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery: The PEI Years, 1889-1899, about the woman considered Canada’s most widely read author, who wrote the Anne of Green Gables series and many other books.

I picked it up because I love to read journals in general, and also because I know that the author took great enjoyment from spending time outdoors, enjoying the natural environment on Prince Edward Island, Canada.

This photo of L.M. Montgomery’s Cavendish National Historic Site

of Canada is courtesy of TripAdvisor


I wanted to read about her experiences there, and was curious to know what influences and lifestyle produced such a successful author. Was it the solitude of living in a remote area? Did she have siblings, or did she enjoy a quiet household? (Yes, no, and yes.)

This large book seemed daunting, and I didn’t think I’d read the whole thing, but I couldn’t put it down until I’d read the last page. Her style of writing is so engaging —even in her journals.

Throughout her journal entries, she mentions books that she is reading. I was excited to find that I have read a few of the books she read! Here is a partial list of the most well-known titles, about a third of the complete list. (And by the way, as she was born in 1874, she would have read these books between the ages of 14 and 24!)

The Aeneid

The Bible

The Ascent of Man

The Diary of Virginia Woolf

(Ralph Waldo) Emerson’s Essays,

George Eliot’s Life as Related in Her Letters and Journals

King Solomon’s Mines

Last Days of Pompeii

The Last of the Mohicans

Midshipman Easy

More Tramps Abroad (also called “Following the Equator”)

Paradise Lost

Quo Vadis

Rip Van Winkle

The Scarlet Letter

To Have and To Hold

Vanity Fair

With classics such as these under her belt as such a young age, it’s no wonder she produced such quality writing of her own.

Which ones have you read? If you are interested in reading some of these books on the list for free, electronically or online, you very well might find them at Gutenberg.org or Archives.org.

And if you like reading journals and diaries, here are some of my previous posts about some interesting ones:

Mark Twain’s Exerpts from Adam’s Diary and Eve’s Diary

The Diary of Anna Green Winslow

The Real Diary of a Real Boy

Illustration from a 1908 publication of Anne of Green Gables



Health Problems are a Write-Off

Health Problems are a Write-Off

After spending the first warm day in weeks at the park with my camera, I was surprised to find my back and knees aching by the time I got home. That annoyed me, because I didn’t think I was doing anything particularly strenuous, so yesterday when I went to the library I picked up some books on natural healing for arthritis (which the doctor says I probably have in my knees). One of the books, The Arthritis Foundation’s guide to Alternative Therapies, has a fascinating summary of many “complementary therapies” (in the text, they usually don’t use the term “alternative” because they want people to use traditional western medical procedures as their main therapy), including Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Biofeedback and Tai Chi. I have heard about these, but never really knew what the origins or philosophies were, so this was quite interesting.

One of the side bars shown in the “Mind, Body and Spirit” chapter is entitled “Helping Your Arthritis with the Write Stuff”. It tells about a study which has found that writing about stressful experiences improved the health of people with mild to moderately severe rheumatoid arthritis or asthma. “Rheumatoid arthritis patients in the study averaged a 28 percent decrease in overall disease symptoms. Their asthma counterparts had a 19 percent decrease (Smyth).” The participants were asked to write continuously for 20 minutes, three days in a row. Some were asked to write about the most stressful experience they ever had; others about their plans for the day. The second group showed little change in their health.

The authors also mention that other studies have shown that people who express their emotions in writing improve their health, and improve their immune system. Many find relief from their health problems by keeping a journal, or writing letters that they don’t intend to send.

I browsed around the websites listed as resources and found interesting information in both. In the second resource are additional helps such as the Journal Café, poem of the day, journal writing prompts, and information about online journal writing classes. The websites are listed below.

Intensive Journal Program, New York, New York http://www.intensivejournal.org
Center for Journal Therapy, Lakewood, Colorado, http://www.journaltherapy.com

Since it initiated this whole topic, I figured I’d also feature a photo from the trip to the park!