EVERYONE Has Read This but Me - The Catch-Up Book Club discussion

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, #1)
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CLASSICS READS > Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - *SPOILERS*

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Kaseadillla | 1349 comments Mod
Hello all - starting up discussions for the February 2017 BOTMs. This discussion is for the group's poll selection for the CLASSICS category: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

This discussion will be full of spoilers. If you haven't read the book already and don't want to spoil the ending, hop on over to the spoiler-free discussion HERE .

Happy reading!

message 2: by Mary (new)

Mary Adgate | 14 comments I can't believe it took me 4 days to read 67 pages, but I had a hard time getting through this book. I'll be interested to hear other people's opinions, cuz right now I feel like I may be one of the few people who actually couldn't wait to be finished with this book. The idea of a wacky, eccentric story sounded fun in theory, but I just found it tedious. And as much fun as people seem to have in recreating the Tea Party and the character of the Mad Hatter...I just expected something way more fun.

So, I will continue to enjoy the Jefferson Airplane song, and move on to the Neil Gaiman book. And I may try the Tim Burton movie, but I've read that he ruins it because he actually imposes a plot that isn't there.

Sarah | 729 comments I agree with you to an extent, Mary. It did become a little tedious after awhile for me as well, I definitely enjoyed the first half of the story more than the last half. I will be giving the book 4 stars because overall I thought it was a fun read and I was impressed by the creativity and the fact that someone could take such bizarre ideas and make me want to follow along. I also enjoyed that the book had illustrations. :)

Sarah | 729 comments I'm reading the book that has this story plus Through the Looking Glass, so I'm about to read the sequel. Then I will be watching the Tim Burton movie as well since it's on Netflix streaming! I also read Alice by Christina Henry last month. A twisted, disturbing version of the classic.

message 5: by Mary (new)

Mary Adgate | 14 comments Sarah, how was Alice? I have The Child Thief, which is a twisting of Peter Pan. And I loved Wicked, so maybe I'll try Alice. And I have the version with Through the Looking Glass too. I may look at it when I'm done with Gaiman, just to see what a sequel to this could possibly be, lol.

Sarah | 729 comments I gave Alice 3.5 stars. It is creative and I did find myself wanting to know what happened next, but there is a lot of murder, rape, and a variety of other disturbing topics like body mutilation so it's not such a pleasant book.

I just added The Child Thief to my want to read list! I had never heard of it before, thanks for bringing it up. The group just read Peter Pan not too long ago so this would be a good time for me to read that.

Wicked is a book I've been wanting to read for a long time, and I own The Wizard of Oz so maybe I'll do a classic/twist read on those soon.

Sarah | 729 comments The sequel so far is more silliness with chess as the central theme!

message 8: by Marcos (last edited Feb 03, 2017 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marcos Kopschitz | 1765 comments You girls are too fast for me! :-) I've barely started!

And yes, Through the Looking Glass has a chess motif. When I read it as a child I still couldn't play chess, so I didn't understand it all very well. If you play chess, you'll like it. If you're into chess problems (from a given situation in a diagram you must find the proposed solution), then you'll love it. But non chess players, don't be scared.

Sarah | 729 comments Haha, Marcos! I'm a very slow reader but I love reading, so I give myself 1-2 hours every night to read before I go to sleep. Clearly I don't have children! :P

I think I've played chess once in my entire life!

message 10: by Abby (new)

Abby I listened to the audiobook, which makes it more interesting than reading, with the narrator singing all the little songs. I've always found songs and poems and such in books to be difficult to read so that helped a lot.

Also, Alice is a little spoiled little brat!

Sarah | 729 comments LOL Abby!

Same here, my brain has no interest in keeping up with poems and rhymes.

message 12: by Leesa (new)

Leesa Just finished. I agree that songs and poems in books I'm just not a fan of, I do have an Alice themed chess board though which has pride of place in my living room!
Overall I just wasn't a fan. I don't know if it's just the current mood I'm in, or that I'm also reading another book that I'm loving and I didn't want to be away from it. I just found this the story lacking in something, maybe purpose or depth- I'm not sure, but I felt this was a forced story to shock its readers, more than delight.
Maybe if I read it as a child it would have made more sense. I have it three stars as the characters are what made the book for me... as annoying as Alice was, the other characters I enjoyed. I would possibly read through the looking glass- Sarah, you will need to tell me your thoughts when you've finished that one.

Sarah | 729 comments Since I read the book that has both stories in it I ended up giving it 3 stars instead of 4. By the end of Through the Looking Glass I was really ready to be done!

message 14: by Leesa (new)

Leesa Doesn't sound like it's any better then, I think I will give it a miss. I'm glad I read Alice but I'm also glad I didn't pay money for the book!

message 15: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Prock I listened to it for free as an audiobook. I feel that I got more out of it than the many times as a kid I tried to read it. It can be very confusing. There are puns and turns in conversations that I didn't understand before. I did like the poems that were recited. They were funny. It was interesting how everything was so different so Alice thought she was different too and how it would now be strange if things were normal. How many things in life change and then we could never think of living without them: internet, smart phones, etc.

message 16: by Cosmic (last edited Feb 08, 2017 08:54PM) (new)

Cosmic Arcata | 20 comments I got The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition from the library tonight.

I read the books last summer. Like many of you it want as much fun as i had hoped for. The more i read about the book the better it gets.

Also you might try the many musical versions of the Disney animation of the book.

message 17: by Cosmic (new)

Cosmic Arcata | 20 comments I have been reading
Alice in Wonderland Alice in Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, #1) by Lewis Carroll

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Decoded: The Full Text of Lewis Carroll's Novel with its Many Hidden Meanings Revealed Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Decoded The Full Text of Lewis Carroll's Novel with its Many Hidden Meanings Revealed by David Day

In it he says:

"In Wonderland, real things like hedgehogs and flamingos are treated as objects, while objects like playing cards and numbers behave like real things."

I have also been reading:
The Art of Being

I thought this was relevant to appreciating Alice in Wonderland:

"A person who has not been alienated; who has remained sensitive and able to feel; who had not lost the sense of dignity; who is not yet for sale; who can suffer over the suffering of others; who has not acquired the "having" mode of existence. Briefly a person who has remained a person and hasn't become a thing. Cannot help feeling lonely powerless isolated, in present day society. He can't help doubting himself and his own convictions, even his sanity. He cannot help suffering, even though he can experience moments of joy and clarity that are absent in his normal contemporaries. Not really will he suffer neuroses of a range man living in an insane society. Not really well he suffer from an neuroses that results from a sane man living in an insane society. Rather than that more conventional neuroses of that of a sick man trying to adapt himself a sick society."

"All forms of neuroses are indications of the failure to solve the problems of living adequately."

I think that Alice can be read on many levels! This is what makes it a classic! But i found this an interesting comparison. How is our world like having fallen down a rabbit hole? How do you know if you are following a rabbit down the hole or living among a lot of Mad Hatters and Queens with no heart even though they appear to have one? How can you make analogies of politicians that are for sale? And what Erich Forme says about the sane man verses the insane living in and adapting to a sick world?

message 18: by Cosmic (new)

Cosmic Arcata | 20 comments https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg...

George MacDonald

Was a mentor to Lewis Carroll as well as the father of the real Alice that Carroll wrote the story for.

Marcos Kopschitz | 1765 comments Great references, Cosmic! Thanks!

Kaseadillla | 1349 comments Mod
I was meh on this. I read when I was 7 maybe? and quickly remembered why it wasn't memorable for me... if that makes any sense. No plot, just wandering through the story. I feel like there were better whimsical stories that I read back then that I loved, most likely because I felt more of a connection with the main character. I remember thinking as a kid, "Alice... sucks". Haha

To Cosmic's point, I think there were parts where you could read more into this. Particularly, the point about animals/people being treated as objects and vice versa. Gave it 3 stars for this and the cleverness of some of the lines. But overall, a miss for me.

message 21: by Marcos (last edited Feb 15, 2017 11:38AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marcos Kopschitz | 1765 comments Kasey, Alice is considered a classic of of the literary nonsense genre. So it makes sense (!? :-) if we feel strange about it .

message 22: by Kaseadillla (last edited Feb 16, 2017 05:03AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kaseadillla | 1349 comments Mod
Not really a fan of the "nonsense" genre I guess... frankly never heard of it until now, probably for the better in my case.

message 23: by Cosmic (last edited Feb 15, 2017 08:17PM) (new)

Cosmic Arcata | 20 comments The White Rabbit

This is from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Decoded: The Full Text of Lewis Carroll's Novel with its Many Hidden Meanings Revealed

Ashmole is also easily linked to the mythological White Rabbit through his coat of arms, which is surmounted by the figure of the Greco-Roman god Hermes, or Mercury, the herald to the Olympian gods. Like the White Rabbit, Mercury was a psychopomp. He was the underworld guide for both dreamers and the dead. The White Rabbit guided Alice down into the underground world of Wonderland; Mercury guided Persephone from Hades back to the living world.

(Why this was important to me https://www.goodreads.com/group/comme... )


Thinking about the white rabbits in a magicians hat


Of course
Persephone is part of the inspiration of the rabbit hole.

Here is another way of looking at Alice In Wonderland. How many times have you been in a situation that wasn't as it seemed. Where people seem to d say one thing and do the opposite? Where there was fake news? Or words that you thought meant one thing clear as day and yet in a contract of law was of an entirely different script? How many words have changed meaning since you have been alive? Like the word gay?

Some times we are living in a rabbit hole....and i think Lewis Carroll has found an entertaining way to deal with the absurdities.

message 24: by Cosmic (new)

Cosmic Arcata | 20 comments I am writing this to the group to convince myself as much as anyone! When i first read this book it didn't really make me beg for more, but i felt this way about The Catcher in the Rye and found a lot of layers of meaning in that book!

See my group:

message 25: by Cosmic (new)

Cosmic Arcata | 20 comments Bill the Lizard.

"The anagram is even more appropriate given that “Dizzy” was the nickname given him by the popular press. In one famous Punch cartoon, Dizzy is a circus entertainer climbing what he called “the greasy pole” of politics; in Wonderland, he is the Lizard climbing on ladders up onto the roof, then down a chimney. In Through the Looking-Glass, Disraeli is caricatured twice, once as the man in the paper hat on the train with Alice, and in the second case as the Unicorn in a brawl with his great opponent the Lion— that other great Victorian prime minister, William Ewart Gladstone. Illustration for The Hunting of the Snark—with lizard suggested by Carroll— by Henry Holiday (1839– 1927). Aside from anagrams and climbing skills, there is one other reason that Disraeli is portrayed as the Lizard. Just as Bill the Lizard was kicked out of the Wonderland house, in 1852 Disraeli was the chancellor of the exchequer— finance minister—who first introduced what is now the modern form of income tax— that is, a variable income-based taxation system. The income tax bill became law, but it caused such a furor that Dizzy was kicked out of the House as chancellor, and his party ended up in the opposition benches."

"Further confirmation that Disraeli is the Lizard comes in Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876). There we find an illustration with a little pickpocket lizard at work with his hand in someone’s pocket. He is obviously a tax-collecting lizard, as we can clearly see a paper labelled “income tax” protruding from his own pocket. It appears Carroll continued to blame Disraeli for the institution of the income-based taxation system. In another poem, Carroll carps that “the worst of human ills … are ‘little bills’!” This also goes some way toward explaining Alice’s comment, “Why, they seem to put everything upon Bill!”

This is to show also that Alice In Wonderland is not so absurd as to not be understandable! It is understandable if you can "see". But if you are not well educated in the way Lewis Carroll was you might gain one from him by trying to understand Alice in Wonderland.

Kaseadillla | 1349 comments Mod
It's fascinating that there is so much symbolism and political commentary in a children's book. Reminds me of Wizard of Oz - how the yellow brick road was a metaphor for the gold standard or how the Emerald city, home to the fraudulent "wizard" of Oz, symbolized green paper money and its lack of true value.

At the end of the day, I didn't read Alice in Wonderland for the symbolism, which may have been to my detriment. Interested in your group, Cosmic! Sounds like you've done a lot of analysis on this book as well as others.

message 27: by Cosmic (new)

Cosmic Arcata | 20 comments Down the Rabbit hole of liberal progressive acts of the day:

"Charles Dodgson, too, was a staunch conservative who persistently conspired against virtually every one of the liberal progressive acts initiated by Dean Liddell. As Lewis Carroll—and through Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland—he has his heroine unwittingly engaged in a satire about most of the major social and political issues of his time: Christian socialism, theosophy, spiritualism, Darwinian evolution and liberal educational reform."

This shows with links how this debate was played out at that time, and how it became accepted as fact:

Today our Rabbit Hole might be Climate-Change (i.e. global warming):

Charts show our planet was hotter in the 1930's. And even hotter
It shows that global temperatures were actually far warmer in 1100 B.C. than today. In the 1600s, global temperatures plummeted into a “mini ice age” that only returned to normalcy in the mid-1800s."

What i think it's interesting about these two different events is that it is the textbooks that legitimized the fraudulent data.

But as we see Alice changing shape we can see the absurdity of evolution that Lewis Carroll is playing with. It starts to make more sense, especially when we look at our own accepted FAKE NEWS.

message 28: by Cosmic (new)

Cosmic Arcata | 20 comments Kaseadillla wrote: "It's fascinating that there is so much symbolism and political commentary in a children's book. Reminds me of Wizard of Oz - how the yellow brick road was a metaphor for the gold standard or how th..."

I also have enjoyed looking at the symbolism of The Wizard of Oz as pointed out in

I don't know if this group has read the Wizard of Oz with the emphasis on the symbolism, but i would enjoy possibly leading such a group.

All the Oz books by Frank L. Baum have this symbolic quality that also talks about political events of the day.

I knew the first time i read Alice that the reason i want enjoying the book was he was talking over my head. But i enjoy going down the rabbit hole and getting an education from a Dean at a university like Oxford, which i otherwise never would be entitled to!

I actually felt the same way about Salinger! I knew he went to Valley Forge Academy and had been privy to an elite education! After reading the Catcher i was dumbfounded by the lack of plot. I returned around and re-read it and found a metaphor that made me think i was reading the book wrong. Once i looked at the symbolism i found WAR AND POWER written between the lines.

Sometimes authors could not come out and say what they knew to be true without jeopardizing their career or life. All we have to do is look around art all the mysterious deaths we have of celebrates in high places and we can see that telling the Truth has a price.

Another interesting book to look at, along these lines is Bambi . Also a children's book with incredible symbolism. It was banned by Hitler. It was completely changed by Disney who thought the story had too many adult themes. It is rarely read today because of Disney! I would not have known about it except i made a rule that if my kids saw a movie they had to read the book....at that time i was reading to them. I though i had discovered a gem!

That is what these books are to me GOLD MINES. You have to excavate them for their riches. But it is worth it!

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 558 comments My generation saw Alice in drug metaphors. See a popular song by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers back when:


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 558 comments This is supposedly the first ever film of Alice (1903):


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 558 comments Well, gee whiz! Am I the only one here who thinks the book is charming and funny just for itself?

Kaseadillla | 1349 comments Mod
haha I know we got deep in metaphors here.

Marcos Kopschitz | 1765 comments I just like like plain Alice as well! :-) And all the other possible readings!

Sarah | 343 comments I'm about halfway through it and enjoying it.

Its weird, but fun.

Even if I find myself yelling at Alice quite often. I keep saying "seriously, Alice, what are you DOING? Stop it!"

message 35: by Jessica (new)

Jessica I've just started reading this today and already find myself at the trial scene. I quite like so many of the lines and phrases that have slipped into pop culture. I felt like I was moving through the story too quickly, aware that there are undercurrents of meaning that I was barely whiffing. After scanning the comments here, it's clear that the story is literature. Love how art speaks so differently to different folks. Quite enjoying this at a superficial level and looking forward to seeing what sticks in the upcoming days.

message 36: by Marcos (last edited Mar 08, 2017 04:53PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marcos Kopschitz | 1765 comments Slow progress in my three edition reading...

message 37: by Karen (last edited Sep 28, 2018 07:27PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Karen (rhyta) | 79 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "My generation saw Alice in drug metaphors. See a popular song by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers back when:


Don't forget Jefferson Airplane in the 60's totally psychedelic
video isn't great but good song

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 558 comments Right on, Karen! Solid.

Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) | 1108 comments Hi all! This is the Bookshelf Catch-Up selection for October 2018 of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Please note that this is NOT A SPOILER FREE discussion.

Some Possible Discussion Points:
What are your thoughts on this read? Did you like it or not? Why? What stood out to you while reading? What makes this a classic or not in your view?

Kimberly Wendt | 201 comments Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this book and finished it in one sitting. I didn't think it would be my type, but there were multiple times that I laughed out loud at something. I definitely had the visual from the old Disney movie in my head as I read, which may have added to my enjoyment. I've seen the Tim Burton version as well but absolutely hated that one! I'll be moving on to the sequel next...I'm glad to see Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum will be making an appearance in that one (from the chapter headings). :D

message 41: by Kelsey (new) - added it

Kelsey Springer (gloom) I read this book not too long ago and was surprisingly saddened by it. The characters shooed off Alice as a pest, were quick to scold her, or treated her cruelly. Considering that it is a dream sequence, I interpreted it as she was reflecting the process of learning to navigate the complexities daily life (as all children are, because it's bewildering) while the Victorian adults in her reality had about as much patience with her as the dream characters. I'm aware that it is layered work of history, parody, and comedy but this was my main takeaway.

message 42: by Nova (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nova Papasodora (awickedreaderslist) | 145 comments Kelsey wrote: "I read this book not too long ago and was surprisingly saddened by it. The characters shooed off Alice as a pest, were quick to scold her, or treated her cruelly. Considering that it is a dream seq..."

I really agree with what your interpretation! I think something that I would add onto that is that the overall "magic" and fantasy of the story is supposed to illustrate childhood imagination as well, which only influences the whole "navigation through daily life" aspect. Being a kid is hard partly because our life and mind is governed by totally different rules. Magic is more plausible as a child. I think that was part of what was being attempted to shine through in this story, but the author was slightly crazy so that should for sure be taken into account as well.

Gil-or (readingbooksinisrael) (meirathefirst) | 96 comments This is a re-read for me. For maybe the zillionth time.

Mary wrote: "I can't believe it took me 4 days to read 67 pages, but I had a hard time getting through this book. I'll be interested to hear other people's opinions, cuz right now I feel like I may be one of th..."

Actually, Mary, most people I know hate the book and say that it creeps them out.

Marcos wrote: "You girls are too fast for me! :-) I've barely started!

And yes, Through the Looking Glass has a chess motif. When I read it as a child I still couldn't play chess, so I didn't understand it all v..."

I actually learned how to play chess today since Through the Looking Glass is my favourite book. I found it boring, but I still love Through the Looking Glass. Maybe I just like the bizareness of it all. And the weird characters. I definitely love the references to classic nursery rhymes like Humpty Dumpty (and I know more of them in Through the Looking Glass than Wonderland-there I only know one).

Also, this read-through I noticed something I never saw before:

"'Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with,' the Mock Turtle replied: 'and then the different branches of Arithmetic-Ambition, Distraction, Uglification and Derision.'"

I did see Reading and Writing, Addition and Subtraction before, but only now I figured out Division. And more:

"'Well, there was Mystery...with Seography-then Drawling-the Drawling master was an old conger-eel, that used to come once a week: he taught us Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils.'"

History, yes. Then Geography, Drawing, Sketching and Painting in Oils!

"'I went to the Classical master...He taught Laughing and Grief..."

I always thought this was a reference to the Greek plays, but now I realize it's Latin and Greek.

Also, I was reminded of how much I love that the Red Queen's decrees are never done. Also, how much I loved the morals part with the Duchess when everyone was trying to throw morals at me and I just wanted to read Fantasy.

message 44: by Robert Macias (last edited Oct 07, 2018 12:31AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robert Macias I love the humor in this one, I'm a punny person at best so I enjoyed the wordplay immensely. One aspect I see that hasn't been touched on much is Carroll's use of imagery. Although the edition I read had the classic original illustrations by John Tenniel, the text itself is so accomplished in creating this upside-down fantasy world in such a short page count. Not only that, the lack of a real plot had us following Alice on adventures that were mostly events that were mostly common events in Wonderland, such as the Queen's croquet matches and the Mad Hatter's tea parties. From a world-building standpoint, it's awesome to see how Carroll so expertly established the look and culture of Wonderland in around 100 pages.

Jessica Ballance (jessileeb) | 5 comments Kelsey wrote: "I read this book not too long ago and was surprisingly saddened by it. The characters shooed off Alice as a pest, were quick to scold her, or treated her cruelly. Considering that it is a dream seq..."

Kelsey, I felt the same way, too! However, you took it one step further with referring to child rearing in the Victorian Era. I never made that comparison, and I appreciate you opening my eyes to it.

RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) I enjoyed this for what it is: an enduring children's story that appeals to all ages. Reading it I could almost imagine Carroll telling his daughter a bedtime story with various cliffhangers "to be continued" the next night. I'll read Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There sometime soon, maybe in the next few weeks if I have time.

Renee (elenarenee) This book lost all its magic for me.

(view spoiler)

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 558 comments It truly is a dilemma when finding out an author’s biography. When I first ran across an unsavory and even criminal writer, I felt like you, Renee. But as I came across dozens and dozens more (Charles Dickens, for example, or Orson Scott Card) who either hold abhorrent prejudices or were men of their times, I realized I couldn’t reject them all. So, I read and admire the books, mostly. Oh well.

Renee (elenarenee) April, that is a good point. I still read these authors. I almost wished I had not attended the lecture on Carrol. It ruined the magic for me. Alice is an amazingly creative story. I still love it but its lost much of its luster.

message 50: by RJ - Slayer of Trolls (last edited Oct 10, 2018 11:25AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Renee wrote: "This book lost all its magic for me.

(spoiler redacted)"


But I agree with aPril that I prefer to try to appreciate the art separate from the artist. It's great when I can admire both but when the artist holds abhorrent beliefs or has done regrettable things I try to keep it all about the art itself.

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