Friday, 28 February 2014

Same book..different reaction

This is the story of Dale and Betty.  They attend book club together and usually enjoy the same books.
One day, because of their book club requirements, they both were reading the same book: "The Orenda".
Dale thought, "This book is interesting".
Betty thought, "This book is too violent".
Then they both had to switch to reading "Emma" by Jane Austen. 
Dale thought, "Boy, is this boring!"
Betty thought, "Ahh, how enjoyable".

The story of Dale and Betty.  How interesting!


Thursday, 27 February 2014

In-Laws from Hell

 "The Orchard" by Theresa Weir
   I really enjoyed reading this memoir, written by Theresa Weir, who also writes under the pen name Anne Frasier.  Although Theresa had been writing for 20 years, her publisher would not publish her memoir and so, she put the manuscript away.  Eventually she found another publisher and it is a lovely story.  I especially like this cover.  It emphasizes the love story, but the orchard is so important.  You may not be able to see the swirl of design around the title and central picture. Perhaps it represents the chemicals, which are most important to the plot.  The chemicals represented the dream of a perfect orchard with the perfect apple.  But the cost...
The Orchard

  Adrian’s parents, particularly his mother Ruth, vehemently opposed the marriage, and constantly tried to sabotage it by trying to maintain control over Adrian and by disparaging Theresa. Adrian was always caught in the middle.  He had always known his responsibility to continue the family farm, but he loved Theresa and wanted to please her.  He could not do both.  The ending is very poignant.

"The Little House" by Philippa Gregory

  When I told my friend Christina that I was writing a blog on 'the in-laws from hell', she suggested that I read "The Little House" by Philippa Gregory.  So I did.
  As I'm reading along, I'm thinking, "What is Christina thinking? These in-laws are so helpful and wonderful". After finishing the book, I'm still not sure if the in-laws were evil or not. Were Ruth's in-laws just trying to do the best thing for Ruth and her husband?  Or was there a sinister aspect?  
The Little House

  Well, I have just read that this book is considered a psychological thriller.  I didn't know that while I was reading and I am not familiar with this style of writing.  I just took it at face value.
  But the in-laws were controlling in a very covert manner.  I was more upset with the husband who lived and breathed the opinions of his parents.  In questioning the sanity of Ruth, after she had a baby, they pushed her to the limit.  There is a feeling of suspense all through the novel and it has a most surprising, even shocking, ending.  
  I was aware that the author was using adjectives to set your nerves on edge.  And there was an unreal aspect to the story.
  So I guess this is a psychological thriller- the first that I have read.  And the lovely, helpful, thoughtful, considerate in-laws were pushing Ruth over the edge.  But were they evil? 

Well, here is a factual memoir and a psychological thriller about in-laws.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Why I Love To Read, part 2

Why I Love to Read- Monday special
Reason Number Two:

   I love to read because I love to explore and sometimes an author allows you to explore without leaving home.
   A journey book has always fascinated me and I just finished reading "Wild", where I had the chance to travel along with Cheryl Strayed as she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from Mojave, California to the Bridge of the Gods in Oregon.
   Her writing is extremely eloquent as she describes not only the physical journey, but also the emotional journey.  She was 22, her mother had died and her marriage had dissolved. She was very confused and conflicted.
"Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren't a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.  Alone wasn't a room anymore, but the whole wide world, and now I was alone in that world, occupying it in a way I never had before."
   So beautifully written!  Even Oprah thinks so.  She chose this book for her first reading club 2.0 selection.


                                          Another author that I like to travel with is Bill Bryson.
I enjoyed "A Walk in the Woods" which is about hiking the Appalachian Trail.
   It is less an emotional journey but very humorous.

   "In a Sunburned Country" was even more enjoyable for me because I have been to Australia.
    He had interesting facts about many of the places that I have visited and I greatly enjoyed travelling along with Bill throughout Australia.

     I love to read because I love to explore.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Why I Love to Read, part 1

Why I Love to Read- Monday special
Reason Number One:
I love meeting interesting characters!  They delight me while reading, they keep me company, they stay with me over time, they remind me of the joy of the novel they populate, they never change, they never disappoint, they never move away or die!
Here are some of my favourites:
Bathsheba Everdene

Gabriel Oak

Bathsheba Everdene- saucy, flighty, proud beauty.  Don't want her for my friend- just want to read about her antics.
 Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd
Gabriel Oak -steady, reliable, ooh-la-la!
“And at home by the fire, whenever you look up there I shall be— and whenever I look up, there will be you.
-Gabriel Oak” 

Moll flanders

                                 Moll Flanders
"The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, &c. Who was Born in Newgate, and during a Life of continu'd Variety for Threescore Years, besides her Childhood, was Twelve Year a Whore, five times a Wife (whereof once to her own Brother), Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at last grew Rich, liv'd Honest, and died a Penitent. Written from her own Memorandums." (Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe)
What could be more entertaining? 

                      Hagar Shipley
"Cantankerous, cranky and often befuddled at 90, Hagar isn't ready to give up her independence and go into an old-age home. But she is trapped in a body that is betraying her bit by bit and a mind that overwhelms her with passionate, painful memories."
Her feisty resilience makes her one of the most remarkable and appealing characters in Canadian literature.

"Stone Angel" by Margaret Lawrence
Don't want to be related to her, or even meet her, just like to read about her.

Now 3 women that I would like for friends.  Fascinating stories of struggles and resilience.


In 'The Poinsonwood Bible", Orleanna Price attempted to support her husband as well as teach and protect her children.  She wasn't able to do both and lived with regret.
Heart-breaking and poignant.  I would love to chat with Orleanna.

Morgan Hazzard (in "The Wife Tree") was 75 when her husband died and she was left to find her way in a world that had been controlled by her husband.  With limited vision, she forged ahead to begin a new life.  Love her!

Sal Thornhill (in "The Secret River") went to Australia with her convict husband.  She also tried to support her husband as well as raise children in an unsettled country.  When her husband got caught up in a combative relationship with the Aboriginies, she stood firm.  I loved her kind, loving, but determined manner.


The father that I wish everyone had:
Atticus Finch ("To Kill a Mockinbird").

I started with a male character and will finish with one. Atticus Finch- the epitome of manhood!  A kind and loving father and a strong advocate for the rights of all.  I realize that these pictures show Gregory Peck but he stands for the lawyer who stood up for a black man because he thought it was the morally right thing to do.  He showed tremendous courage.
He is my literary hero!  I wish there were more like him!

These are a few of the characters that entertain and delight me.

  They sit on my bookshelf waiting for me to visit them whenever I desire.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Why I Love to Read- the beginning

My daughter challenged me to write a blog on this topic.
I will begin with a quote:

"Language is fundamental to being human. 

 Language is stored in usable and reusable models called stories, poems and essays."

This quote came from a book called "Read For Your Life" by Joseph Gold.

And so, I have taken on the project of trying to describe why I read.  And I do read a lot, so perhaps I should be able to verbalize why I read.
But first let's hear it from the professional:

"The act of reading, and especially of reading narrative fiction, does two things for the reader which are crucial to personal development. The first is the activation of the pre-frontal cortex of the brain and the temporal lobes where some of the major language control centers are located. These sites are connected to many others to form a web activity that creates thought. The second important function of reading literature is to assist in building personal identity in narrative form."

  Once again, these are Professor Gold's words.  I don't really think about developing my pre-frontal cortex, or building a personal identity.  But I do have other reasons and I will post a blog each Monday, giving the reasons why I love to read.  Let me know if I miss a good reason.

My retirement quilt made by my daughter

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Another man Who Loves Jane Austen

Yesterday we celebrated Alan's birthday.  When I looked at the celebration pictures, I thought of my last blog -"The Man who Loved Jane Austen" and I realized that I needed to add Alan to my blog.
Alan is another man who loves Jane Austen.  And during dinner, he initiated a conversation about the reasons that Jane Austen is still so popular.  What a great way to spend time with friends! Discussing literature - Jane Austen in particular.
Alan's 88th birthday
Alan's favourite Jane Austen book is "Mansfield Park".
I'm sure there are lots of 'men who love Jane Austen'.
The birthday bash

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

What's John reading?

"The Man who Loved Jane Austen" by Sally Smith O'Rourke

A story of time travel, mystery and love.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Books that change your life

Canada Reads is following the theme of "Books that can change the nation".
Check here for the books that are being considered.
Can books really change the nation?  The change would have to come one person at a time.  So what can really change a person?
   This morning I read this on A.Word.A.Day:

   It is nearly impossible to say how much Harry Potter has changed my life and made me the person I am today. The Harry Potter series was my childhood and its life lessons helped me grow. Whenever I have been in a bad mood, Harry Potter has been there for me. When I didn't have friends at school, I didn't feel so bad because I knew Harry, Ron, Hermione, and everyone else was just a turn of a page away.  In these books, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore stands out for me. He says many wise words that have stayed with me. One time he says to Harry, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." Dumbledore is telling Harry not to dwell on the past, and to live out his life to the best of his ability even though his parents aren't with him anymore. It made me feel as if he was saying, if you want something you have to go and get it, rather than sit around and dream, waiting for something to happen. Also, don't sit around worrying about the past and things that you can't change.

I loved this comment because childhood is the greatest time to read a book that will help to give you confidence and support. "Harry Potter" was condemned by many people.  Some parents didn't want their children reading it because of the dark themes.  Rowling states that the main theme is death.  But there are other themes that children pick up on.  And perhaps with the theme of death, children can learn how to live.

But how is Canada Reads going to convince us that the books they have chosen can 'change the nation'?