Category Archives: Book notes

Persuasion

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen book. I love Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice, but it is Persuasion that steals my heart every time I read it.

From the publisher:

At twenty-­seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune nor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.

I love the character of Anne Elliot in this book. She’s a strong, intelligent and practical woman who is very kind and caring to her family and friends. She must have been more like her mother because she’s the polar opposite of her vain and shallow father and sister. I also love the character of Captain Wentworth, who shares so many of those same good qualities. I cheer for them all through the book, hoping that they will finally find a way to be together because they are so obviously meant for each other. I never tire of this story, and have reread it numerous times. It’s a wonderful audiobook, as well.

My favorite selection from the book is the letter Captain Wentworth writes to Anne, hoping beyond hope that they can finally declare their love for each other. It is perhaps the most passionate love letter I’ve ever read. The way it comes about in the story is a wonderful exchange between these two characters who are so well suited to each other. 

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W. “I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.”

This is a story I will reread and enjoy many more times throughout my lifetime.

Persuasion was one of my choices for my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club.

Ready Player One

It’s so much fun when a friend recommends a book, and tells you that the audiobook version is just terrific, and you listen to that audiobook, and then you totally agree with her! That’s what just happened to me! Recently, Les (@Coastal Horizons) and Kay (@Kay’s Reading Life) and I visited a wonderful bookstore, Third Street Books, in McMinnville, Oregon. While there, Les mentioned how good the audiobook version was of Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, narrated by Will Wheaton. So, I downloaded it and thoroughly enjoyed listening to it this month!

I thought this book was wonderfully creative and fun. I kept thinking of my son throughout the story because much of the computer and video game stuff was from his growing up years, but I felt the fun was ageless. It really was a love letter to the 1980s that everyone can enjoy!

From the Publisher’s Summary:

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut – part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m looking forward to it. My friend, Adam (@Roof Beam Reader), has already warned me that it is quite different from the book, but I will give it a try and see if it is as fun as the book.

Thanks, Les, for your recommendation!

Feeding the Dragon

Feeding the Dragon, by Sharon Washington, was offered as an audiobook special from Audible last week. I didn’t know anything about it, but when I read that it was the story of a little girl who grew up in the New York Public Library, I knew I had to listen to it. It was quite a delightful listen — Sharon Washington wrote it and was the reader, and I learned after listening to it that she has also performed it as a very successful play.

It is her family story. Her father was the maintenance person at the library and kept the ancient coal-fed furnace stoked at all times, thus the idea of “feeding the dragon.” The family lived in the apartment on the top floor of the library, and Sharon grew up amongst the books downstairs.

From 1969 until 1973 my family lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. At 444 Amsterdam Avenue in an apartment on the top floor inside the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library:
my father George, my mother Connie; my grandmother, my dog Brownie, and me.
A typical American family.
Living in a not-so-typical place.

I enjoyed listening to this book and would love to see Sharon Washington’s performance of her story!

Connections

I am awake early this morning. Sadness woke me from a grieving dream about a friend who is moving away.

So I made some tea and opened a book of poems from the library. Poems by Ursula le Guin. I read her introduction and then a couple of random poems. Poetry touches me like music, going straight to my heart in a way that bypasses all my filters and protections. I was touched by her words — words that describe similar experiences and familiar feelings — we have shared common ground, the Poet and the Reader.

And then I found her poem called “Dos Poesias Para Mi Diana.” There, inside this poem, was an electrical connection!  Without knowing anything about the personal life of this writer, her words alone, without explanation or history, let me know that we have walked the same pathways, shared two far-distant places on this planet. I am thrilled, touched, overwhelmed momentarily by the synchronicity of this magical connection. And it’s like the voice of a friend from far away gently reminding me that distance, and time, are irrelevant. Our connections, our friendships, transcend time and space.

Good morning, my friends!

January Reflections

January is one of my favorite months. I love new beginnings and the New Year. It’s my birthday month, my brother’s birthday month, my nephew’s birthday month, and my blogging anniversary month. Lots of happy things! Lots of celebrating!

I started the month by setting a new reading goal for myself on Goodreads, and lowered the goal number from last year’s 75 books to 52 books. A lower number because I have some long books, or series of books, I want to read, so I’m giving myself extra time for them. I want to read slowly and get lost in some good long stories. Here’s a sneak preview of a couple of the chunksters I would like to read this year and some of the series that I’d like to read or that are already keeping me busy.

January turned out to be a good reading month for me and was a real pleasure! I finished 10 books in all, and I’m also continuing on with my very enjoyable rereading of the Harry Potter series. My favorite book read in January was The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning! It certainly inspired some ongoing cleaning up here at home! I’m trying hard to keep that momentum going!

Two books this month had a tremendous emotional impact on me and I am still processing them. A Very Easy Death, by Simone de Beauvoir, was beautifully written and touched me very deeply. My review is here.  Also, Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book, Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race, is a powerful must-read book. I’ve decided that I will need to reread it because there is so much in it to think about and question oneself about…I need to revisit it soon as part of my processing!

One January read that I thought I would love, but didn’t, was The Alchemist. I had heard so many people tell me it was their favorite book, and I think it could have been a favorite of mine if I had read it when I was young. But although I’m  glad I read it, I just didn’t love it.

The end of January was filled with family time — birthday celebrations, news from the Seattle part of our family that a new baby girl had arrived, and a short medical crisis here at home with my husband fighting a kidney stone (he’s doing well now.). So I’m happy to welcome February and have actually managed to finish one book so far.

January reads:

The Series of 2017

All the Books of 2017” is a December reading challenge created and hosted by Ann, from @annreads on Instagram.  I’ve almost completed the challenge on my Instagram page, posting a photo for most of the prompts, but I’m waiting until the very end of the month to post the last few prompts because I’m still reading like crazy and am not finished with this reading year of 2017!

Do you love getting caught up in a series? I do, and this was a year that I wanted to read or re-read numerous series. After the election of November 2016, I felt a tremendous need to revisit my favorite series of all time: The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien.  I love the books and have lost track of how many times I’ve reread them, but I also love the movies. I just wanted to re-immerse myself in Middle Earth, and it turned out to be a very healing place for me to spend time in 2017.  The Return of the King was definitely my choice for the prompt: “Best Conclusion to a Series.


But I am enjoying reading a number of other series this year, as well. Some I’ve completed, and others on ongoing for however long they take.

I loved reading The Green Knowe Chronicles, by L.M. Boston, this year! They’ve been on my TBR list for many years and were a real treat when I finally got to them.

I’m almost finished with Jean Craighead George’s survival series that starts with the Newbery Award winning My Side of the Mountain. It’s been a fun series to read, and I understand better now why these books were some of the popular ones in my class library when I taught 6th grade!

Other series I’ve immersed myself in this year:

  • I’m just finishing the 4th book in my rereading of the Harry Potter series. I love this series even more this time around. Does it just get better and better each time you read it?
  • Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series is fun to read. I’m somewhere in the middle of the series, with lots left to read, so I know I’ll enjoy it for a long time yet. 
  • New-to-me author, Nnedi Okorafor, is writing the Binti series, a very interesting and creative science fiction series. I’ve read two of them, and look forward to the third volume which comes out mid-January.
  • The most powerful series I read this year was by far the March graphic novels series, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. It’s an especially important subject today, and beautifully done.

I’m always looking for new (or old) series to discover, new worlds to immerse myself in. If you have some suggestions of your favorites, please let me know!

The Best Sequel of 2017

“Best Sequel I Read” is the prompt for day 3 of the “All the Books of 2017” challenge hosted by @annreads on Instagram.. This year’s best was Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling. I’m enjoying a slow, leisurely re-reading of the Harry Potter series, and this time around, I absolutely loved The Prisoner of Azkaban! It was just so much fun!

My favorite quote from the book is, of course, “…when in doubt, go to the library.” But the former teacher in me also got a big kick out of this quote:

History of Magic was the dullest subject on their schedule. Professor Binns, who taught it, was their only ghost teacher, and the most exciting thing that ever happened in his classes was his entering the room through the blackboard. Ancient and shriveled, many people said he hadn’t noticed he was dead. He had simply got up to teach one day and left his body behind him in an armchair in front of the staffroom fire; his routine had not varied in the slightest since.

SaveSave

The Shortest Book of 2017

Shortest book I read in 2017” is the prompt for day 2 of the “All the Books of 2017” challenge hosted by @annreads on Instagram. I looked closely at my list of books read so far in 2017 and found that the book I posted about yesterday, We Should All Be Feminists, was actually the shortest one I read this year. So instead, I am posting about the second shortest book.

Ajax Penumbra 1969, by Robin Sloan, is the prequel to the very popular Mr. Penumbra’s 24- Bookstore, a book which has been on my TBR list for years! But when I realized there was a prequel, I decided to read that first, and then the novel. I enjoyed both books, but actually liked the prequel better.  I think the reason for that is that 1969 was a very important year in my own life — my husband and I got married in 1969!  So I got a real kick out of the time setting of this book, as well as the location setting — 1969 in San Francisco. We were there!

These are both books for book lovers, and both are very enjoyable reads.

SaveSave

SaveSave

All the Books of 2017

 

A new challenge appeared on Instagram this morning, and I thought it looked like a lot of December fun! It’s called “All the Books of 2017” and is created and hosted by Ann, from @annreads on Instagram. So I will be posting for the next 15 days on the books I’ve read so far in 2017.

Prompt #1 is the “first read of the year.”  My first read of 2017 was an intelligent little book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists, and was a great book to start out the new year. It was a very positive and important book, and I think should be required reading for everyone! Click here to watch her presentation of the book on Ted Talks.