Thanks to Deb Nance of Readerbuzz for the loan of this fine birthday meme.

Here are the questions from Classic Club’s questionnaire:

  1. When did you join The Classics Club? late 2019 after seeing the club on Readerbuzz.
  2. What is the best classic book you’ve read so far? I liked most of them, so it’s hard to pick the BEST, but maybe Brideshead Revisited.
  3. What is the first classic book you read? Lord Jim
  4. What classic book inspired you most? The Secret Garden
  5. What was your most challenging classic? Don Quixote, I’d been trying to read it since high school
  6. What was your favorite movie adaption? I Capture the Castle, but Bridesead Revisited was well done too
  7. Which classic character reminds you of yourself? The ditsy mother in I Capture the Castle…I like to think I’m creative and a free spirit, but sometimes it’s just being scatterbrained
  8. Has there been a title you expected to dislike but ended up liking? Don Quixote
  9. What is one classic you definitely will make happen next year? I don’t know. Recently there have been enough classics “required” as book club selections or challenge books, but I may have to go back to drawing from a jar or using a spinner.
  10. What are some of the fond memories you’ve had of the classics club? Mainly it gave me a good feeling of completing a list given me during my junior year in high school titled, “Outstanding Fiction for College Bound Students, “but then it’s always fun to compare notes on Classics Club with close friend Deb Nance.

I hope you enjoyed reading the answers to these questions as much as I enjoyed answering them. Even if you do not “belong to the club,” you can reply to the reading the classic questions on your blog or in the reply box below.

CLASSICS COUNT!

Rae

A BOOK ABOUT BOOKS

I have enjoyed several books by Pat Conroy, best known for The Great Santini. His 2010 publication, My Reading Life introduced me to him as an essayist, and a good one at that.

An interesting wide-spanned topic inclusive book of essays.

Actually Conroy’s book is a collection of tributes to authors and books that helped form him as an author and as a man. His brutal father, depicted in The Great Santini, and the influence of his genteel, book-loving reader of a mother are evident in many of the essays about his childhood and early-college literary leanings. As a young boy, Conroy was a voracious reader, reading far beyond his chronological age. His books were selected for him by his mother, and often they would read and then discuss the same books. This book is “an array of wonderful and often surprising anecdotes, ” covering the author’s early “love affair with the local library ” through his great success as a contemporary man of letters. The book is written for those “who believe in the power of books to shape a life” and captivates the interest and attention of anyone who loves books, libraries, authors and other things “bookish.”

From his essay, “Why I Write:”

“Good writing is the hardest form of thinking. It involves the agony of turning profoundly difficult thoughts into lucid form, then forcing them into the tight-fitting uniform of language, making them visible and clear.” I will definitely expose my Advanced Writing students to this concept in the coming semester. Conroy’s mastery of word choice and magnificent turn of phrase are transferred from his novels to his collection of essays in this small book. It is a satisfying read.

Thanks Evin for the sign offs.

A REAL CHALLENGE

Ruth Ozeki’s The Book of Form and Emptiness was a real challenge to read.

A “different” book

To begin with, the narrator of this novel is a Book. Yes, you read that right, a book; a story, the story of Benny Oh, a young boy who hears the voice of the Book, his story. His mother Annabelle, is never the same after the death of Benny’s father, who is killed in a grotesque accident–meaningless and bizarre. In the novel she becomes a recluse and a hoarder. Benny takes “refuge [from his strange life] in the silence of a large public library.”He meets a homeless, wheelchair-bound philosopher and poet and a mesmerizing young woman, both classified as imaginary friends by the psychiatrist who takes on Benny’s case, but who turn out to be real people he met at the library. (Even the reader comes to doubt Benny for one awful moment–I did.)

There is a run in with CPS, incarceration in a mental hospital for Benny, and a job loss for Annabelle. All of these semi-unrelated events come together in an implausible but satisfying ending. The novel is at times humorous, and at times heartbreaking . Above all, the book is difficult to read, and I am still trying to decide whether sticking with it was worth the huge effort.

BOOK LOVERS by Emily Henry: A Review

A 2022 publication that deals with the publishing industry

Nora Stephens, an agent who almost always gets the best deals for her clients has been dumped at the beginning of the story. She misses her mother, who has died and feels responsible for her younger sister, Libby, but lives a driven life as a career woman. She meets Charlie, a hot-shot editor, for lunch only to be told he doesn’t want anything to do with her client’s latest effort. Their relationship develops along the lines of “a small-town love story” with “all the familiar tropes–” “hot-shot from NY or LA gets shipped off to Small town USA–to, like, run a family [owned business].” This outsider falls for a small-town farm/business “person who has true values and stays forever” on account of him/her.

The Nora-Charlie plot follows the “plot” of a fictional novel, Once in a Lifetime, which Nora is promoting and Charlie is forced by his publishing house to edit. Nora thinks to herself early on, “Charlie doesn’t want to work with me, and I don’t want” to work with him. Their relationship begins as a dislike and builds almost to hate category, all the while feeling a strong physical attraction which neither wants to admit. This makes for humorous miscommunications and misunderstandings. In this instance, both protagonists are Big City people, thrown together in tiny Sunshine Falls. A second love interest for Nora, Shepherd, a farmer with a heart of gold turns out to be Charlie’s cousin, which further complicates matters.

As you can tell, there are frequent twists and turns which all the while are underscored with a strong passion that torments both parties afflicted.

It is a modern romance complete with likable/unlikeable main characters and interesting secondary characters who fill out the novel’s cast. I checked this book out of my local library after reading a lot of positive reviews about it. I was only slightly disappointed.

Adam’s Ale

Random Specific Thoughts

They both listened silently to the water, which to them was not just water, but the voice of life, the voice of Being, the voice of perpetual Becoming.
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Hoarse visions and misty revolutions –
Shrivelled, turbid and warm,
Drip down civilization’s neck,
Littering mausoleums
Of forgotten gold and silver.

Cruelty sweet and apathy sour,
Flow out of these
Crusty cracks and ivory paths
Handcrafted to perfection, so
They may yield the curves of withered lives.

Placid as a water mirror
And sharp as forgotten promises,
These breaths of old,
Scatter the winds
To whispered worlds of tranquillity.

Fallen at the altar of apathy,
Souls depart in search
Of emerald worlds,
Hoping refuge is safeguarded
By beings who emulate Adam’s ale.

(featured image from Openverse – Water carvings in Africa)

Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to…

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SATURDAY MORNINGS FOR KIDS

Just as Saturday mornings were reserved for kids’ cartoons on 50s and 60s TV programming, PWR reserves Saturday Mornings for reviews of kids’ books. Today’s recommendation was previously used for a First Line Fridays’ post.

Thanks” Reading Is My Superpower” host for loaning the image.

Today’s book is the awaited sequel to…

…by my favorite children’s author…

Alda B. Dobbs

As noted in the “Friday Firstliners”post, The Other Side of the River begins minutes after The Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna leaves off. Barefoot Dreams ended with a cliffhanger, and now that River is coming out September 2nd, we can finally exhale.

Usually the sequel to a novel disappoints me, but this sequel is every bit as warm and suspenseful and adventurous as the original novel about the Mexican Revolution.

Petra Luna is a tween, but her responsibilities are those of an adult. Set in San Antonio, this historical novel, based on the stories of Alda Dobbs’ great grandmother, have been researched extensively to confirm the tales her grandmother spun of her early life. As an immigrant in the United States, she is the primary provider for her grandmother, her sister, and her baby brother. Dedicated to her promise to keep the family together after the death of her mother and the Federalies’ conscription of her father, Petra faces new adventures in her new home. Tricked by unscrupulous people and aided by others, Petra works hard and never forgets her dream of learning to read and write. As she meets the Chili Queens, the kindly nuns of the convent and other indigenous characters to the Mexican-flavored society of San Antonio, she manages to keep her family afloat and to search for news of her father.

The story is one that kept this reader turning pages, and although I was skeptical of whether this sequel could incorporate the adventures (or misadventures) of Barefoot Dreams, I was rewarded with breathtaking, edge-of-your-seat scenes that kept me up late because I was rooting so hard for Petra, and couldn’t wait until morning to see how the book “came out.”

It is definitely a darned good read for kids and adults alike. Even younger kids could enjoy Petra’s story when read to, and the novel has something for everyone. I highly recommend it.

NEW NON-FICTION

Although this book was published in 1984, it deals with a very current issue– CLUTTER!


Dan Aslett has written a hilarious self-help book on decluttering. Clutter’s Last Stand is at turns sympathetic, sarcastic, and sadistic. Aslett takes no “back talk” when he tells the reader to get rid of something and has no sentimentality towards personal treasures. The cartoon illusions are excellent and tend to take the “sting” out of giving up your “stuff.” Judith Holmes Clarke’s cartoonish characters shout out this message, “It’s time to de-junk your life!”

The author gives tips on decluttering your home, your job, your mind, and your keepsakes. At the beginning is a Junkee Entrance Exam. My score said, “100-150 pts. The End is Near…You’re in trouble. Read Clutter’s Last Stand three times, gird up your loins and start de-junking ruthlessly.”

This is the ultimate self-improvement book. “This book will make you happier, freer, neater, richer, and smarter…it will solve more home, family, marriage, career, and economic problems than any book you’ve read.” I’m not so sure about the author’s claim here, but the book comes close!

CHALLENGE UPDATE

ONE OF MY 2022 READING CHALLENGES WAS TO READ 22 NOVELS IN 2022

TODAY I updated my Reading Log and filled in titles on my 2022 challenges. To my delight, I discovered I had FINISHED the Novel Challenge to read 22 novels from January to December. Actually, to date I have read 26 novels.

Novels are one of my main passions. At one time in my life, I read ONLY novels.

Here they are in the order I read them:

Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Saenz, the sequel to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe/ Summer by Edith Wharton, which I also used for the “What’s in a Name reading challenge and could have used for the Classics Club / Rez Dogs by Joseph Bruchac, a novel in verse which I read for the Cybil’s judging/ The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera, a lovely literary love story/ Interior China Town by Charles Yu, which was a book club selection for my Page Turners book club/ The Monk Downstairs by Tim Farrington, which taught me a great deal about Buddhism / The Van Gogh Cafe by Cynthia Rylant, a sweet, gentle story/ The Dependents by Katherine Dion, a contemporary novel/ The Paris Library, based on the brave people who kept the Paris Library open during the occupation of Germany in WWII, told in novel form/ Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristin Higgins, an author I have come to seek out/ The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Bully, a YA novel and a thriller/ Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, also used for The Classics Club/ The City We Became by N.K. Jeminsin, my new favorite sci-fi novel and the first in a series I look forward to reading / Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell, a book that taught me what fan fiction was/ French Braid by Anne Tyler, one of my favorite authors/ Welcome to the School by the Sea by Jenny Colgan, a YA novel about a British boarding school/ The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, also used for The Classics Club and a Third Tuesday Book Club selection / The Children Act by Ian McEwan, first read then watched the film version/ Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson, a thriller that had me holding my breath/ At Least You Have Your Health by Madi Sinha, a women’s novel/ Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland, an audio Book about Books/ Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly, the prequel to Lilac Girls, which I read last year/ Book Lovers by Emily Henry, a novel about the publishing industry/ Accordion Crimes by Annie Proulx, the only disappointment on this list/ The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, a novel narrated by a Book/ Arcadia by Lauren Groff about Hippies on a commune in the 70s.

Whew! That’s a lot of fine reading! What a good feeling to have one challenge finished for this year. Stay tuned to find out the total number of novels read in 2022.

Thanks to Evin for my elegant sign off.
This meme, hosted by Reading is My Superpower, encourages the blogger to post the first line of a book he/she is currently reading. This first liner is from a book I finished today.

A Christian look at setting your home as a place of comfort and hospitality to your family and to others.

” The adventure started on a whim. With a suitcase in my hand, a laptop case and tote bag on my shoulder, and a luggage cart dragging behind me, I stumbled against the door of 209 and pushed it open with my shoulder.”

…And so the adventure of writing this book began for Sally and Sarah Clarkson, mother and daughter who always wanted to write a book together. Ms. Clarkson always believed home should be “a haven of rest and joy that will encourage everyone who enters it.” This 2016 publication contains anecdotes from a real family, a Christian family, the Clarksons. It contains wise advice on creating special memories for one’s children and establishing family traditions , as well as suggestions for seasonal celebrations (my favorites were for fall, possibly because it is my favorite season). Although the Clarkson family moved fairly frequently, they took their sense of “home” with them, relocating their anchor each time. I took notes, and even though my “home” consists of one person now, I plan to celebrate occasions and seasons to ensure happiness and gratitude for the blessings I have been given. The ideas in this book will help me do that.

HOME

Thanks for the image to Carla of “Carla Loves To Read”. Check out her great book reviews and her delightful sign offs on each post.

WHAT ARE YOU READING WEDNESDAY?

I wish I had read these books in order, but they were written out of order. I just finished the prequel to The Lilac Girls, Lost Roses.
An excellent, warm and sometimes harrowing tale.

This is an excellent book for book clubs, and if I hadn’t already earned a reputation of recommending only novels to mine, I would do so. Kelly published Lost Roses as a prequel to The Lilac Girls, set in WWII (reviewed earlier on PWR). This 2019 publication is set just as WWI threatens in 1914. It is a historical novel which features the Russian Revolution and deals with women’s friendships.

Eliza Ferriday, an American, is a friend of Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Ramanovs in Russia. The novel deals with the rise and fall of that dynasty . As Austria declares war on Serbia, Eliza returns to America, never dreaming her dear friend Sofya and her family will soon be trapped on their country estate. As the Russian Revolution breaks out, and the peasants take things into their own hands, Sofya hires Varinka, a fortune-teller’s daughter to be a nanny to her toddler son, Max. The intersecting of the lives of these three women is what propels the plot forward, creating memorable characters as the author spins her remarkable tale. Each chapter is headed by one of the three characters’ names and by the year, which keeps things orderly and at the same time presents what is going on simultaneously in those women’s lives.

This is definitely a “find” and a darned good read.