Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle" by Hugh Lofting

1923 Newbery Winner.  I think that the Doctor Dolittle books were a series, and I'm not sure where this one fits in.  I grew up watching the Rex Harrison movie, so I hope I like the book as much as the movie when I was a child.

December 21:  I thoroughly enjoyed this little story, and learned there are about a dozen books in the Dolittle series.  I also learned that they have been altered a bit in more modern publications.  The world these books were written in is quite different from the political-correctness of today.  From what I gathered after some light research is that the author wasn't racist or white-supremist, he simply reflected the social culture surrounding him.  Therefore, some wordage was altered and tiny bits of plot rewoven to avoid giving unintended offense.

But that's all neither here nor there. I genuinely did enjoy the story and the characters and I wouldn't hesitate to share this book with my own children.  I find it interesting that of the two first Newbery books I've read, there are many commonalities.  Both being published a few short years after World War I, they both embrace being away-from-home by encouraging education of the world outside the front door.  I wonder if the Newbery awards had been given any earlier in the 20th century if such a permeating theme would be as appealing.  Bothb books are indirect reflections of the Great War, as well.  "The Story of Mankind" of course is a reflection of the war in a great sense of the history of the world; and the Dolittle books were inspired by letters the author wrote home to his children when he was battling on teh front.  Both books were illustrated by the authors themselves, which I personally find quite charming. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" by Lewis Carroll

December/January book club books!  I finally finished The Story of Mankind so I'm just scratching the surface of Alice.  Now, I've seen the Disney animated and newer Johnny Depp movies.  As trippy as those are, I've heard these stories are still pretty 'out there'.  But after reading a 600 page history book, I think I'll dig a little psycho.  Cheers!

December 8, 2011:  A quick read.  And as of now, I wouldn't call it psycho or out there.  Frankly, I'm surprised this book has been made into movies or is known as a children's classic.  No meaningful plot (at least as I can yet detect) and no character depth.  Makes about as much sense as the stories Maren makes up at bedtime about dragons.

December 12, 2011:  I was really hoping as I kept reading my opinions about this book would change for the better.  Can't say they have!  Really, I'm surprised that this has been heralded as classical children's literature, unless there were no other books of children's literature written contemporarily.  A fantasy book written for children (ANY book, for that matter, I'm just not giving it any slack based on it's intended audience) should have a beginning, a middle, and an end; well-developed characters; cause and effect.  A nonsensical story can still be well-written.  I like my daughter's stories much better, because you can't blame a 3-year-old for her own innocence.  The only character I liked was the White Knight, which is really sad because it means I can't say Alice was my favorite character.  I mean, WHO was she?  Just a little girl to whom everything happened.  It was so annoying to find her Here doing Such-and-Such then then the next moment her surroundings are different and she is There doing This-and-That.  It's just too random.  The only redeeming quality of this book was its brevity.


Friday, November 18, 2011

"The Story of Mankind" by Hendrik Willem van Loon

When I decided to read Newbery books, I wasn't ready for my first pick to come from the non-fiction section.  What, that can't be written for children, and it can't be fun to read!  I was never friends with a history book in all my life.  It's not a short children's story, either, with no less than 592 pages.  But the subtitle "The classic history of all ages, for all ages" made me tell myself I wouldn't like it but it wouldn't kill me.  And guess what.  It's a quick, easy read.  I didn't think covering the ancient history of civilization could be written pleasantly, but I was wrong.  Now, I won't go out there and say this is a book any child will enjoy reading.  It's still mature, and if you had no prior knowledge about some of these histories and civilizations it might be daunting. But I'm on page 44 about to learn about the Indo-Europeans.  I like van Loon's style and the quick-pace the book keeps with brief chapters.  And there are several fun, old-school-styled maps and illustrations.  There you have it...the first tastes of the book are favorable and I've already found myself wanting to stop whatever home activity I'm in the middle of and pick up my history book.

Updated 12/7/11:  I finished last night around 12:30.  I took like a three-hour bath to try to get it done!  The intereting aspect of this book is it evolves.  The first edition printed in 1922, but since then the author's grandson(s) have written addendums to make-up for the fact that history is always happening.  The last addendum was added in the mid-80's, when oil and computers and space exploration weighed heavy on the author's mind.  Some of his future preditions where spot-on, others made me laugh.  But considering the latest update was added when I was a small child, I would really hope they keep this process up.  I want to see someone else add to the perspectives of the Gulf War, 9/11 and the War on Terror, the Internet.  At least, those are the huge world-wide milestones in the simplest terms I can come up with from my 30 years of memories.  So, there thou hast it.  I finished a 600 page history book.  I'm pretty darned pleased with myself.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Reading Goal

Yesterday at the library I was looking at a poster listing all the Newbery Award winning books.  Did you know they started giving the award in 1922?  That means currently there are 89 Newbery books out there.  And I have read some of them, but most I hadn't even heard of.  So I decided that I would read Newbery Award books in between my book club books.  I don't know how long it'll take me to read 89 of them (well, sometime next year it'll be 90) but I'm guessing since they're children's books they're probably not as long or difficult to read, so I'm thinking by the end of 2012 I'll have this goal completed.  Whaddya think?

I decided to start at the beginning.  The 1922 Newbery Award winner was "The Story of Mankind" by Hendrik Willem Van Loon.  I have it on-hold at the library.  I'm excited for the email telling me it's ready for pick-up so I can get it and get started on my goal!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Completed!!! The Anne Series (and a Veteran's Day tribute)

I was able to get a lot of reading done yesterday.  I blatantly ignored housework and personal hygeine and the children's meals and indulged in a much-needed reading day.  I my goal had been to finish "Rilla of Ingleside" before Tuesday, when I will receive my next book club book (don't know what it will be...I'm sure I've been told...).  But when I realized today would be Veteran's Day and the final book of the "Anne" series is all about WWI, I decided to finish it in honor of this day.  I feel very educated about the Great War and how much had to be sacrificed.  I know I really only have seen a drop in the bucket, and I selfishly declare I'm not sure I want to know more than that about wars.  I'm glad I'm not in the armed forces and I'm glad my husband has so many health issues there's no way they'd let him sign up.  But my brother, brother-in-law, and father-in-law have all served in National Guard and I'm grateful for what they and countless others have done for our liberties.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jamie Ford

Author's Website

I'll get this started after I finish "Rainbow Valley" from the Anne series.
Update (10/22/11):  I'm a few chapters into it, and I'm hooked.  So if you're thinking about reading this, jump right in!

Update (11/3/11):  I finished this a few days ago.  It was such a thoroughly delightful book.  It made me reflect upon my own adolescence in a new light.  I've been to Seattle a few times, and I live just a few hours away from the Minidoka area.  If I make it to Seattle again I'll make time to visit the Panama Hotel and dive into that unique history of the city.  I don't know if the Minidoka camp area still exists; that merits some research and perhaps a visit, too.  This was a wonderful read.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Current Book: "Anne of Green Gables"

I grew up watching the Anne movies with my mother and I attempted to read the book when I was in jr. high, but I didn't like it then.  Last summer my lovely mom gifted me a box set of the series, which I have been picking away at for the past couple of months.  I am right now in book 5, "Anne of Ingleside", but it is now on hold as I finish my book club book.

I have enjoyed the series tremendously.  I'm in awe of Montgomery's capacity to create multi-dimensional stories, such evolved and whole characters.  In "Ingleside" Anne is a mother of 5 (with one on the way) and I'm anticipating the rest of the book because it's so similar to the stage of life I am in now (save the 'one on the way' part). 

From what I remember of the Anne movies I have seen, I also admire those who wrote the screenplays from the novels.  The first book and movie were virtually identical, but the second movie incorporates "Anne of Avonlea", "Anne of the Island", and "Anne of Windy Poplars."  To fit so much story into a movie timeline takes great care and arranging, and even though many things were taken out of chronology and even some characters invented to make it fit, I think it was an amazing job.  I can't speak for any of the other movies, and it's been quite a time since I've seen the first two.  When I finish the series I intend to watch them all afresh.

Update (9/25/11) -- Having finished "The Forgotten Garden" (if you haven't picked up a copy yet, you must) I am now commencing "Anne of Ingleside".

The Screwtape Letters

"The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis was my book club book for September 2011.  I volunteered to host for the month.  Much of the letters' content was over my head while other parts genuinely resonated truth to me.  The methodology and principles are frighteningly applicable to the modern 21st century.  I wrote a few of my favorite quotes from book.  All I have are page numbers for references, which I know will vary by edition of the book.  I'll try to be more careful with my annotations in the future, if I make any.


"We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons.  We want to suck in, He wants to give out.  We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over.  Our war aim is a world in which Our Fatehr Below has drawn all other beings ito himself:  The Enemy wants a worldfull of beings united to Him but still distinct" (37).

"You will find anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his wandering attention.  You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or him work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday's paper will do.  You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes, but in conversations with those he cares nothing about on subjects that bore him.  You can make him do othing at all for long periods.  You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room.  All teh healthy and out-going activities which he want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at least he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, "I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor waht I liked" (59).

"When He talks of their losing their selves, He only means abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personaility, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever" (65).

"The great thing is to make him value an opinion for some quality other than truth, thus introducing an element of dishonesty and make believe into the heart of whatever threatens to become a virture" (70).

"The Present is the point at which time touches eternity" (75).

"We want a whole race perpetually in persuit of the rainbow's end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now" (78).

"In the humans the Enemy has gratuitously associated affection between the parties with sexual desire.  He has also made the offspring dependetn on the parens and given the parents an impulse to support it--thus producing the Family, which is like the organism, only worse; for the members are more distinct, yet also united in a more conscious and responsible way.  The whole thing, in fact, turns out to be simply one more device for dragging in Love" (95).

"Prosperity knits a man to the World.  He feels he is finding his place in it, 'while really it is finding its place in him'" (155).

"The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton

I am approximately 120 pages into this novel and I like it very much.  I'm already recommending it to friends.  This is my book club book for October 2011.

Update (9/25/11) -- I had the chills, aches, and a fever this weekend, so I got a lot of reading done.  I finished "The Forgotten Garden" this afternoon and I'm reeling from all the mystery and layers.  I loved the story going on in three different timelines and how they all follow in the same revelation of clues.  Also how the stories within the story reflect what's gone on in the past and what will happen in the future.  Two thumbs up.

Post Number 1

I'm not the first of my friends to start a book blog.  I'm not sure I even want to share this with anyone.  It's mostly for my own purposes in tracking what I read. 

I just tried to access my LivingSocial booklist, which I've been tracking what I read for a few years, to link to this blog.  I didn't realize they were closing that application, and since I wasn't aware of the discontinued service I've lost all that information as of a month ago.  Even more reason to get this blog going.  I am sad, however, that information is lost.

Many of my books will be from the book club I'm a member of.  The club started when Isaac was a few months old in the Vista ward in Boise.  The Vista ward doesn't exist any longer, but the club still persists, and even though I've lived in Kuna for over 2.5 years, I still go every month.

I'll be sure to indicate how I heard about each book and why I selected it.