The Call of the Wild

I think I must have first read The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, in high school, and it’s been ages since then, so I put it on my Classics Club list and reread it. Of course, with more life experience since my first time reading it, I found it to be much more profound and powerful than I remembered. The writing is beautiful, and this story of survival is very moving.

From the publisher:

The Call of the Wild is a novel by Jack London published in 1903. The story is set in the Yukon during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush—a period when strong sled dogs were in high demand. The novel’s central character is a dog named Buck, a domesticated dog living at a ranch in the Santa Clara valley of California as the story opens. Stolen from his home and sold into the brutal existence of an Alaskan sled dog, he reverts to atavistic traits. Buck is forced to adjust to, and survive, cruel treatments and fight to dominate other dogs in a harsh climate. Eventually he sheds the veneer of civilization, relying on primordial instincts and lessons he learns, to emerge as a leader in the wild.

A favorite quote (that shows the beauty of Jack London’s writing):

There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.
This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad in a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that fled swiftly before him through the moonlight.

As I reread it, the storyline came back to me. It’s such a powerful story of survival, betrayal, loyalty, trust, the brutality of civilization and the savage beauty of nature. I remembered the cruelty and the kindness, so it had made a strong impression on me. But as I said before, with a lifetime between first reading it and now, I understand the depth of the story much better at this age. So, if you read it in high school and haven’t revisited it since then…it’s a beautifully written book that will touch your heart and leave you thinking.

I chose to read this book as one of my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club.

 

 

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “WANDERLUST: Reading the States,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each of the 50 United States. This book took place in Alaska.

I Cherish… #3

I cherish my one and only Grandson, Kai. He has been the delight of our lives from the moment of his birth 14 years ago.

The word I chose to guide me through the year 2021 is CHERISH. I am keeping this word ever present in my mind, every day, and I thought I’d start sharing with you some of the people and daily kinds of things I am cherishing right now.

Down to Earth

 

First, I bought the audiobook of Monty Don‘s, Down to Earth, because I thought it would be fun and inspiring to listen to while I’m doing other things like knitting or cleaning up flower beds. It was!  But I quickly discovered that I needed a print version of the book, as well, because there was so much excellent information, and so many inspiring ideas, that I will need to refer back to throughout the year.  It is full of gardening wisdom and I loved listening to it, then reading it. There is so much for me to learn from this easy and enjoyable book.

One favorite bit from the book was the section about wildlife in the garden:

“An immaculate garden is a hostile place to most wildlife. Beautifully weeded borders, with every fallen leaf and twig gathered and disposed of, hedges kept constantly crisp and grass mown to within a fraction of its life may make a certain sort of gardener glow with pride but will provide little comfort for most of our birds, mammals and insects.”

I must admit that I do NOT have an immaculate garden! I call the east side of our property “the wilderness area” because the hedge is overgrown and there is little order to it at all. But, as a consequence, we get many little birds that visit us, a family of scrub jays nest there each spring, too many squirrels that think they own the place, and an occasional owl or hawk. The view out our kitchen window is a bit unruly, but always entertaining. Throughout our quarantine, watching the wildlife outside has been a huge comfort and entertainment for us.

So, for any gardeners out there, this book by Monty Don is highly informative and entertaining.  If it’s a little too early to start your planting yet, take a little time and enjoy this book. You’ll come away with great ideas for your garden.

A New Fascination: Korea

Seoul, South Korea

During this long year of quarantine for the COVID-19 pandemic, my husband and I discovered the pleasurable “escape” of watching South Korean dramas. Our 14-year-old Grandson is a great BTS fan, and is interested in learning the language, so we were on alert for all things Korean. I don’t remember exactly how we found it, but we watched our first K-drama, enjoyed it immensely, and then continued on from there. For us, it has been a refreshing change of pace from the things we had been watching, a fun connection with our Grandson’s interests, and the discovery of a new interest in Korean culture and history.

That interest lead us both to expand our “escape” by starting to read and learn more about the history and culture of Korea, about which we knew next to nothing. It’s been a lot of fun for us, so I wanted to set up this page on my blog so I can keep track of our Korean learning journey.

Please check back here occasionally to see what we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to. The list keeps expanding!

감사합니다. 

BOOKS/AUDIOBOOKS read:

  1. South Korea 101, by Mancho Soto
  2. Korea, by Simon Winchester
  3. Korea: A Very Short Introduction, by Michael J. Seth
  4. The Birth of Korean Cool, by Euny Hong
  5. Hanok, The Korean House, by Nani Park and Robert J. Fouser
  6. Stone House on Jeju Island, by Brenda Paik Sunoo
  7. A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park
  8. The Kite Fighters, by Linda Sue Park
  9. The Island of Sea Women, by Lisa See

K-DRAMAS we have watched:

  1. Crash Landing On You (my favorite, so far)
  2. Misaeng (Hubby’s favorite, so far)
  3. Stranger
  4. Stranger 2
  5. My Mister
  6. Run On
  7. Hospital Playlist
  8. Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung
  9. The Good Detective
  10. Signal
  11. Mr. Sunshine
  12. Prison Playbook
  13. Designated Survivor: 60 Days

 

Celebrating Black History Month

I’m very slow at posting about my February reading, but it was a wonderful reading month for me. Much of my reading was in celebration of Black History Month. I read some outstanding books by black authors, and my celebration of these writers will continue on and on, not just ending at the end of February. There are so many good books that I haven’t gotten to yet!

Here are the books I read for Black History Month. Some reviews will be coming soon.

 

Ruby Bridges

Painting of Ruby Bridges, by Norman Rockwell

Ruby Bridges was six years old when she was one of a few children chosen to be the first student to desegregate a public school in Louisiana. When the day came for her first day of First Grade, she was accompanied on this journey by federal marshals. The gauntlet of hate that this little girl walked through that day and through the rest of the school year, was horrific.

Last fall was the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of a New Orleans public school. I read two books about this milestone happening in the struggle for civil rights in this country. The first was a picture book written by Robert Coles, called The Story of Ruby Bridges.  It’s a powerful and moving telling of a little girl’s experience and her inner strength and faith that helped her through it. The gauntlet of hatred she had to walk through on that first day of school, and for most of that school year, was horrific. But this book is an excellent introduction to this historical happening for young people. Robert Coles is a Harvard professor emeritus, a child psychiatrist and author, who actually worked with Ruby Bridges during that school year in 1960, helping her cope with the effects of that experience.

The second book was Through My Eyes, by Ruby Bridges herself. She narrated the audiobook version, and I’m glad I listened to her read it. That incredible experience, described in her own words, was so powerful. I also enjoyed hearing about her life after that year, and about what she is doing now to help others and educate others about racism. She really is a hero…not just because of the courage she showed at such a young age, but because of the life she has chosen to live since that time.

I highly recommend reading both of these books!