I thought about doing a vlog of my bookshelves. But I don’t have a good way to do so. Plus, I’m feeling kind of in a rush to finish some books, so time is at a premium. Among others, I still need to finish my book club book (The Painted Veil) for next week, as well as one of my Classics Circuit books (Strong Poison) for Monday’s post, not to mention Milton, who is getting the shaft this week.
All that to say I am not sharing a vlog of my bookshelves. But surely a picture is worth a thousand words, right?
We got a surprising amount back with our tax return, so I convinced my husband to put a new bookshelf on the “what to do with it” list. I have not had a new bookshelf (for myself) since the year 2000 or so, when I bought two cardboard-backed fake-wood Target bookshelves for about $25 each to store my college collection of books . (We did buy a small bookshelf for our front room when we bought our house last year. It stores our pretty coffee table books in it.) I hope it’s needless to say that my books (of which I’ve been acquiring rapidly over the years) do not fit on those two four-shelf Target things. I had books crammed in them and even then I had some of my books in a box.
When I first read about I Kill Giants at Nymeth’s and Amanda’s blogs, I thought it was a fantasy. Actually, fifth-grader Barbara Thorson is the only one living in a fantasy world. Barbara wears animal-ear headbands so she looks like a rabbit or a mouse in the illustrations. Playing Dungeons and Dragons is a escape from life for her, and when she says “I kill giants,” she means it, for in her imagination, her giants are fantastic wild creatures that must be overcome.
Her role as giant killer is quite apropos, given her surname. Thor was the god of thunder, wielding a giant hammer in his fight against giants. Barbara’s giants exist in real life, but they are genuine problems, and ones we can all relate to.
I love this blend of fantasy and realism. Barbara’s story of learning to fight her giants is both entertaining and emotionally draining. We cheer for this sarcastic yet zesty young girl because we can relate to both her imaginary world and her realistic world. (more…)
Welcome to week two of the Paradise Lost read-a-long and Milton in May, a month-long celebration of John Milton’s writings. Below, I have some possible discussion questions if you aren’t quite sure what to write for this week’s post or if you want to “discuss” the book with the rest of us.
Contrary to what I wrote in last week’s post, I’ve decided to just keep this read-along to one Linky. That will remain on the first post of the project. I have a link in the upper right hand column of my site (underneath the Milton in May button) so you can find it again easily as the month progresses.
Discussion questions and my thoughts after the jump.
I love the sweeping grandeur of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. The characters built on each other, and I felt I was living through the experiences with them. Steinbeck’s purpose to the novel is found in the subtle and not so subtle conversations and actions of the fleshed-out characters, and in my two reads of the novel, I’ve been amazed by Steinbeck’s command of the language.
Of Mice and Men is a sixth the size and, unfortunately, I thought had a comparatively lesser portion of the grandeur and subtly. It is unfair to compare the two: one is a novella, the other a sweeping generational epic. Yet, my read of Of Mice and Men was colored by my comparisons to East of Eden. Reading Steinbeck’s novella reminded me of reading Wharton’s novella Ethan Frome recently: it just didn’t equal the longer, better work by the author, although it was still well-written and emotionally charged, and addressed an intriguing subject: innocence and guilt.
I still loved the characters (who felt real), the setting (a community near Salinas), and the story. But Of Mice and Men was so short, I found it lacking simply for what it was not. I wanted more: I wanted to be swept away.
In 1948, hundreds of Segenalese railway workers along the main rail line left work in a strike against the French colonist’s repression of the native’s way of life and status as employees of the railway. In God’s Bits of Wood, Sembene Ousmane tells their story.
Ousmane’s writing was impressive. Although I’ve never been to Senegal, I could picture the setting. He also did a wonderful job of capturing the people in action. It was not a comfortable read given the subject matter, and it was not a novel to be rushed. It was, ultimately, rewarding.