Category Archives: Favorite authors

E.B. White on New York

I’ve only been to New York City once in my life, long ago, and I would love to return, especially after reading E.B. White’s Here is New York!  E.B. White is a wonderful author and one of my favorites. I’ve loved everything I’ve ever read by him, and this little book was another one I thoroughly enjoyed.

It is a love letter to New York and it captured the city of my imagination and my long ago experience there. The book was written 70 years ago, so of course much has changed, but even so, I think he described in many beautiful passages, the essence of the city.

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.

…New York blends the gift of privacy with the excitement of participation; and better than most dense communities it succeeds in insulating the individual (if he wants it, and almost everybody wants or needs it) against all enormous and violent and wonderful events that are taking place every minute.

This book is a must-read for anyone who loves New York, or who is interested in it, or who has always wanted to visit there, or who visited it long ago and needs to return!

 

I read this book as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old.

Lonely Road

Nevil Shute is one of my favorite authors. I love his books, so it felt a bit strange when I started Lonely Road and struggled to get into it at first. I actually started it twice, because the first time I set it aside for another time. The time came and, in the beginning, I was once again very confused and didn’t much care for the main character. I stuck with it this time, however, and it became clear that the confusion I felt was actually the confusion the main character was feeling after a car crash and serious head injury. The mystery of the story was to sort through what actually happened that night on that lonely road. And alongside and intertwined with that mystery was a love story of a lonely man.

A short summary from the publisher:

Malcolm Stevenson, a wealthy ex-naval officer haunted by his memories of the war, finds his lonely life turned upside down one night when he runs into trouble on a road near the coast. What at first appears to be an accident leads him to discover an international conspiracy against his country—and to fall in love with a dance hostess who seems to have something to do with it. Malcolm’s determination to expose the plot will put his life—and that of the only person who has brought him any happiness—in grave danger.

It ended up being an interesting read, but is not my favorite of Shute’s works. I still love his writing, and I think this book will stick with me for awhile…anyway, I keep thinking about it. I admire Shute for experimenting with different ways to tell his stories, and I do think this was a worthy creative effort.

 

 

I read this book for my 2019 TBR Pile Challenge.

Rose Cottage

I couldn’t help myself! I just had to read another Mary Stewart for my R.I.P.-XIV challenge! I do love Mary Stewart’s books, and Rose Cottage has been on my TBR list for quite awhile, so this weekend I picked it up and read it almost in one sitting.

from the publisher…

Rose Cottage, a tiny thatched dwelling in an idyllic English country setting, would appear the picture of tranquility to any passerby. But when Kate Herrick returns to her childhood home to retrieve some family papers in the summer of 1947, she uncovers a web of intrigue as tangled as the rambling roses in its garden. The papers are missing. The village is alive with gossip. Did her elderly neighbors, suspected of being witches, really see nighttime prowlers and ghosts in the cottage garden?

This was a fun read for my PERIL the FIRST for the R.I.P.-XIV challenge. A very nice read for a rainy weekend.

Jane Eyre

 

Thank you to my big brother, Curt, for telling me 57 years ago that he thought I’d like the book he’d just finished reading: Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. I read his copy and it’s been my favorite book ever since. And having just finished listening to the audiobook version, fabulously narrated by Thandie Newton, I can say without reservation that it is still my favorite book!

from the publisher, Penguin Random House:

Charlotte Brontë’s most beloved novel describes the passionate love between the courageous orphan Jane Eyre and the brilliant, brooding, and domineering Rochester. The loneliness and cruelty of Jane’s childhood strengthens her natural independence and spirit, which prove invaluable when she takes a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall. But after she falls in love with her sardonic employer, her discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a heart-wrenching choice. Ever since its publication in 1847, Jane Eyre has enthralled every kind of reader, from the most critical and cultivated to the youngest and most unabashedly romantic. It lives as one of the great triumphs of storytelling and as a moving and unforgettable portrayal of a woman’s quest for self-respect.

I know from experience that this is a classic that should be reread at different times in one’s life. Each time I read it I see something new, receive the story in a different way. This is the first time I’ve listened to it read aloud to me, and my narrator did an incredible job! Thandie Newton’s narration was an absolute gift…so perfect, so insightful. It added a whole new dimension to the story for me.

Charlotte Bronte’s writing, though, is superb. I didn’t want to miss one word of it as I listened.  Her plot is compelling with an amazing level of detail about Jane Eyre’s experiences and her responses to them. I know that when I first read it I was carried away by the romance of it, and it is a deeply romantic book. This time, I was completely carried away by her struggle for independence and for her right to live her life by her strong sense of right and wrong, without compromise. That was a personal strength that was in her from a very young age, strength that  helped her survive an incredibly cruel childhood, a difficult pathway into adulthood, and was the source of her courage and resilience as an adult seeking to find her place in the world.

Once again, after finishing this reading of the book, I find myself deeply admiring Charlotte Bronte. She created a complete and totally engrossing world in this novel, and she created a main character that continues to inspire me.

 

I chose this book to read for The Classics Club, as one of my 50 books in 5 years. I also count it as one of the books on my list for R.I.P.-XIV.

Christmas in Absaroka County

Christmas in Absaroka County is a collection of short stories by Craig Johnson. He has added some novellas and short story collections to his Walt Longmire  mystery series, and they are a lot of fun to read.

from the publisher…

I am very fond of the character of Walt Longmire and am enjoying slowly reading through this mystery series. The extra glimpses of Walt that we see in these short “in-between” books give us a deeper understanding of the character and just add a lot of interest and fun to whole experience of this series.

 

I read this book for the R.I.P.-XIV reading challenge.

The Lost One

Mary Stewart is one of my favorite authors, so when I found that Audible had The Lost One available (one of her short stories that had recently been republished), I downloaded it immediately knowing that it would be a perfect beginning for my RIP-XIV reading challenge! I was going to wait to listen to it until September 1st, but I have no self-control and decided to go ahead and start my challenge a few days early. So on this hot afternoon, I hunkered down inside with some knitting and my earphones on and listened to it. PERFECT book for this challenge! Great narration and non-stop suspense. I do love Mary Stewart!

…from the publisher:

The recently rediscovered short story ‘The Lost One’, perfect for fans of Daphne du Maurier, Santa Montefiore and Anya Seton.

First published in Woman’s Journal in 1960, and set against the backdrop of unfenced country and dark winding valleys at night, the aptly named ‘The Lost One’ features The Wind off the Small Isles heroine, Perdita West, who brings her characteristic pluck and courage to this classic Mary Stewart tale of suspense and intrigue….

I listened to this short book for the Readers Imbibing Peril XIV challenge.

An Agatha Christie Film Festival

…photo I took at The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake CIty.

I wish there was an actual go-to-the-movies “Agatha Christie Film Festival” in town, but since there isn’t, we are having our own right here at home. As part of the Readers Imbibing Peril XIV reading celebration of mysteries and all things spooky in September and October, the hubby and I will be watching as many old movies of Agatha Christie stories as possible. My parents used to love the old Agatha Christie movies, starring Margaret Rutherford, and would take our whole family to the movies every time one would come to town. So of course I am including some of those in this film festival, along with the TV series of Miss Marple and of Poirot. We are definitely going to enjoy our evening TV times for the next two months!

I invite you to check back every once in a while to visit my page for keeping track of the books I read and the movies I watch for this fun reading challenge.  Click here or on the little RIP-XIV symbol on my sidebar to see my growing list.

 

Watching these old films is part of my “PERIL on the SCREEN” in the Readers Imbibing Peril XIV.

Currently Reading: At Seventy

May Sarton’s books have been part of almost all of my adult life. I discovered and read Journal of a Solitude when I was a young mother. And then, over the years, read most of her journals, some of her fiction, and much of her poetry. This year, I turned seventy and am celebrating it with a year-long reading festival of books related to Seventy, so I happily added her journal, At Seventy, to the top of my reading list. I’m reading it slowly, savoring some of the wonderful passages like the one below, and simply enjoying  being with May Sarton again at age seventy!

What is it like to be seventy? If someone else had lived so long and could remember things sixty years ago with great clarity, she would seem very old to me. But I do not feel old at all, not as much a survivor as a person still on her way. I suppose real old age begins when one looks backward rather than forward, but I look forward with joy to the years ahead and especially to the surprises that any day may bring.

 

I am reading this book as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old.

 

Island Treasures

Island Treasures, by Alma Flor Ada, is a collection of two of her books, Where the Flame Trees Bloom, and Under the Royal Palms, plus a new set of stories called “Days at La Quinta Simoni.”

I read the two books that are included in this collection many years ago, and I read this new collection in February of this year but didn’t review it. A few weeks ago, I found that it was available as an audiobook on Audible, so I downloaded it and listened to it. What a lovely way to experience this book! The narrator, Trini Alvarado, is absolutely perfect! She has a beautiful voice for both reading and singing! It was fun to hear the little songs included in the book…a wonderful addition to the experience of reading these beautifully written stories.

from the publisher:

The author of My Name Is Maria Isabel offers an inspiring look at her childhood in Cuba in this collection that includes “Where the Flame Trees Bloom”, “Under the Royal Palms”, five new stories, and more. These true autobiographical tales from renowned Hispanic author and educator Alma Flor Ada are filled with family love and traditions, secrets and deep friendships, and a gorgeous, moving picture of the island of Cuba, where Alma Flor grew up.

Told through the eyes of a child, a whole world comes to life in this audio: the blind great-grandmother who never went to school but whose wisdom and generosity overflowed to those around her; the hired hand, Samone, whose love for music overcame all difficulties; the beloved dance teacher who helped sustain young Alma Flor through a miserable year in school; her dear and daring Uncle Medardo, who bravely flew airplanes; and more.

Heartwarming, poignant, and often humorous, this wonderful collection encourages listeners to discover the stories in their own lives – and to celebrate the joys and struggles we all share, no matter where or when we grew up.

I discovered Alma Flor Ada’s work while I was teaching because one of her picture books for young readers was included in our second grade reading text. My students and I both loved the story, and I followed up my own interest by researching the author. I discovered a dedicated educator, wonderful award-winning writer, and delightful human being!  And I found a treasure trove of stories for young and old!

about Alma Flor Ada (from her Amazon page):

Alma Flor Ada, Pro­fes­sor Emerita at the Uni­ver­sity of San Fran­cisco, has devoted her life to advo­cacy for peace by pro­mot­ing a ped­a­gogy ori­ented to per­sonal real­iza­tion and social jus­tice. A for­mer Rad­cliffe Scholar at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity and Ful­bright Research Scholar she is an inter­na­tion­ally re-known speaker and the author of numer­ous children’s books of poetry, nar­ra­tive, folk­lore and non fic­tion. Her books have received pres­ti­gious awards; among many: Christo­pher Medal (The Gold Coin), Pura Bel­pré Medal (Under the Royal Palms), Once Upon a World (Gath­er­ing the Sun), Par­ents’ Choice Honor (Dear Peter Rab­bit), NCSS and CBC Notable Book (My Name is María Isabel). She is also the author of a book of mem­oirs, Vivir en dos idiomas, two nov­els for adults, En clave de sol and A pesar del amor, and sev­eral pro­fes­sional books for edu­ca­tors, includ­ing A Mag­i­cal Encounter: Latino Children’s Lit­er­a­ture in the Class­room, as well as a wealth of edu­ca­tional mate­ri­als. Her work, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with F. Isabel Cam­poy in pro­mot­ing author­ship in stu­dents, teach­ers, and par­ents is the con­tent of their book Authors in the Class­room: A Trans­for­ma­tive Edu­ca­tion Process. Alma Flor Ada has been awarded the Amer­i­can Edu­ca­tion Research Asso­ci­a­tion [AERA] His­panic Issues Award for Research in Ele­men­tary, Sec­ondary and Post­sec­ondary Edu­ca­tion and the Cal­i­for­nia Asso­ci­a­tion for Bilin­gual Edu­ca­tion [CABE] Life Long Award. She has received the Virginia Hamilton Award, for her body of work, as well as the OHTLI Recognition from the Mexican Government for her support of Mexican communities abroad.

These stories are full of beauty and wisdom and poignant memories of growing up in Cuba. Each one is a little gem.  I have my copies of Where the Flame Trees Bloom, and Under the Royal Palms, that I bought years ago. Now I have the audiobook of Island Treasures, and I have ordered a hardcopy of the book, as well. Alma Flor Ada has a special place on my bookshelves and in my heart!

Please read my review from 2008 of her book Where the Flame Trees Bloom. (And if you read the comments to that post, you will see that after I published it, she wrote me a sweet note!)

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “Wanderlust,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book based on a true story from Cuba.