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Post-It Flags

 


I tend to keep post-it flags near at hand. Then books that are more than just the story may find themselves innundated with the little things. For example, take the book I just finished, The Little Book.

This book highlights Vienna Austria, in 1897. At that time Vienna was rich and flying high. But the city and culture are at the edge of a precipice where everything is going to fall apart by the early 20th century. The city is at the apex culturally but is ignoring all the problems that are lying just under the surface. It is an example of the social problems of Europe that lead into the great world wars of the 20th century.

I have around 15 bright orange post-it flags sticking out of the book. They contain brief jottings of my thoughts as I see what is happening to the city and the culture. All my educational studies have been from an overview historical viewpoint with very little of the social and cultural effects observed or discussed. They help me understand what was happening and see what the author, Selden Edwards, is trying to warn us about in his book. It is too easy to see the parallels between the late 19th century Austria with the early 21st century United States. My flags and notes reflect what I discovered.

Part of the notes contain different information – the names of the famous people who get intertwined into the fictional character’s lives. Now, do I leave the flags in the book for the next time I pick it up? The librarian in me says no – the glue on post it notes are hard on book pages if left on. But the researcher and reader in me says differently. I’d like to remind myself of what I thought and learned while reading. I’d see more and new nuances.

For now the post it flags are staying. We’ll see for long term what I decide to do.

Family and Friends

 

Queen of Broken Hearts by Cassandra KingWe were discussing Pride and Prejudice at my book club last night. When Darcy first proposed to Elizabeth, he admitted that she really wasn’t suitable because of her family. But he was prepared to accept them because he loved her.

I’m listening to Queen of Broken Hearts by Cassandra King. Clare, the main character, is a divorce therapist. She also talks about the need to tolerate other people involved with people who are important to us. Clare doesn’t like her best friend’s husband, but has tolerated him for over 25 years because she doesn’t want to lose her best friend.

How often do we find we have to do that in our lives – bite our tongues and accept someone we would prefer not to? My ex-husband had a friend I didn’t appreciate. But I certainly never tried to ruin their friendship. It eventually waned on its own (as did my marriage, but that’s a different story). We often don’t like our children’s friends – but have to accept them anyway, especially if the child is grown.

It’s a good lesson to remember. Learn to accept your loved one’s other family and friends or figure you’ll lose your loved one.

I also learned that Pride and Prejudice was originally named First Impressions. (I’m sure all the Jane Austen fans have known this for years.) That was a good title choice.

Best Loved Author in the U.K. – Enid Blyton

 

Enid who?? Blyton. An incredibly prolific writer of children’s books in England. Just “voted” the Most Cherished Author. (þ: Literary Saloon)

From LazyGal

——–

I loved Enid Blyton’s books when I was a kid. I read every one our small library had numerous times. I believe they were my introduction to mystery novels.

The Costa Book Awards are sponsored by Costa Coffee in the U.K. The top ten best loved authors are:

Enid Blyton
Raold Dahl
J.K. Rowling
Jane Austen
William Shakespeare
Charles Dickens
J.R.R. Tolkien
Agatha Christie
Stephen King
Beatrix Potter

Check out their site for the rest of the top 50 list.

Reading Oddities

 

Have you noticed that when you read one sort of story, sometimes you end up reading others similar within a short time?

I recently finished High Noon by Nora Roberts. It’s a romantic suspense novel. The main character is a female hostage negotiator with the Savannah police department. Today I started an audio romantic suspense novel called The Negotiator by Dee Henderson. The main character is (guess what?) a hostage negotiator with the Chicago police department. It seems both of them were/are being stalked.

I am liking The Negotiator quite a bit – I think I may have to find more of Dee Henderson’s books.

Last night I finished Dance of the Gods (Nora Roberts again). It’s a paranormal romance that includes vampires – although the vampire isn’t the love interest in this particular book of the trilogy. Tonight I picked up the next book on my review pile – Lady and the Vamp by Michelle Rowen – another paranormal romance with vampires.

4/10 When I finished Murder in Havana, I started another audio book that had been recommended to me. I didn’t know anything about the story line other than it is fantasy. It is Twilight by Stephenie Meyer – and is yet another paranormal vampire romance, this time at the young adult level.

Sometimes I feel I’m reading in circles…

Just In Time – Middlemarch is Finished

 

Middlemarch by George EliotLast week I thought I had a week and a half to read 350 pages of this very dense book. No, the book club meeting is tonight, not next week. So as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been reading Middlemarch. I was able to finish it at lunch today.

The last third helps make up for the slowness of the first half. I still think Eliot is too preachy in the first half. In the second half she let the characters do more of the proselytizing than the overlooking narrator. That worked better. It was easier to see how self-centered Rosamund actually is – the early third person description didn’t work nearly as well as when her thoughts are revealed later when they are broke.

Of course the biggest issue (which still plagues mankind today and probably always will) is lack of communication. If Causabon had spoken to his wife rather than listened to his own internal pride, he would have known Dorothea only thought of Will as a friend at the time. If she had deeper feelings, they were so deeply buried even she didn’t recognize them. He had not acted on his feelings, either, except the occasional manufactured meetings. The communication lack is true of most of the relationships except Fred and Mary’s. She told him what she expected from him and he tried to live up to it.

There is a line near the end of the book that sums up my feelings about it exactly. Dorothea has learned Will loves her and is waiting around her home trying to keep busy.

“…she found herself reading sentences twice over with an intense consciousness of many things, but not of any one thing contained in the text.”

I couldn’t concentrate on and understand so much of what Eliot was saying despite reading sections two and three times. But it finally came together by the last third, which I appreciated reading.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

 

(OK, I know it’s really tomorrow, but my friends had their annual party today).

One lady in my book club and her husband throw a big St. Patrick’s party each year. It includes corned beef and cabbage, a band singing Celtic songs, and “home brew” which was not bad as far as beer goes. Over 100 people wandered in and out during the 3 hours or so I was there.

My friends are smart – they invite everyone on their street. The neighbors don’t complain about the parking, then, because they come too. People of all ages come, the youngest I saw only being a couple months old and the oldest – I don’t want to guess ages.

Of course us readers got together and started talking books and movies and poetry and Renaissance Faires and science fiction conventions and jewelry making and television shows cell phones and technology and… You know how those conversations ebb and flow and circle back on themselves.

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth PetersThere’s one lady in my book club who I really respect. She was an English major while in college and takes apart a book and puts it back together so we see the ideas and structure as well as the story. I knew she liked fantasy novels. It was exciting today to discover how many books and authors we share. She told me how she even went to a Halloween party dressed as Amelia Peabody. She started reading science fiction when she was young and the Golden Age of Science Fiction writers were putting out all their work (Heinlein, Asimov, Herbert, etc.). She remembers when Dune was first published and how it changed the science fiction world. (I didn’t discover it for another 10 years or so. I probably missed it because I was reading Georgette Heyer and romances at the time.)

I had so much fun this afternoon, then came home and immediately got onto the public library web site and reserved one of the many titles we discussed – although the title I chose was mentioned by someone else in our group.

Now I have to return to Middlemarch. I thought I had another week – our meeting is this Tuesday. I’ll be close…

Spoilers

 

Lazygal and I have had discussions about book spoilers and when it is OK to finally reveal secrets within a book’s story line. I have run into the same issue when discussing movies or television shows in the past.

She found an article at New York Entertainment that spells out the statute of limitations for spoilers.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

 


Although I didn’t buy it, I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the day it was released. I made sure I reserved it as soon as the library allowed people to do so. Then it was passed on to my daughters.

I read it quickly. But my friend LazyGal read it in less time.

I liked the book, but I felt cheated at the end – it fell flat. I refuse to post any spoilers (telling events from the book before others have read it). I liked it and felt Rowling did a good job tying up the series. I felt like something was just beyond my grasp that never quite came together when I put it down with a fairly satisfied sigh.

Call for Jury Duty – a Good Time to Read

 

Today I sat in the Jury Duty Waiting Room all day. When we first arrived we were told the courts have a full docket and we were all fairly certain to go to some courtroom for the day. But that didn’t happen. I sat reading Sheri S. Tepper’s new novel The Margarets. At lunch I walked down the street about 7 blocks to a favorite used bookstore in downtown San Diego, Wahrenbrock’s Book House, and bought a 20 year old copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Bluebeard to read for the August Book Club meeting.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldThis afternoon I got into a conversation with a man who belongs to a different book club. He pulled out The Great Gatsby, the book he is reading. We had a great conversation about what we had read for our different clubs. His concentrates on the classics a la the old Great Books book discussions. I already told you about what mine reads. Around 2:30 about half the room was still there. Only 5 or so jury panels had been called. But we were sent home. I guess the other trials couldn’t come to enough agreement to get a jury in the room.

The Fifth Sacred Thing by StarhawkBefore jury duty, I finished an interesting young adult urban fantasy novel, The City Not Long After, by Pat Murphy. In a post plague world, the city of San Francisco protects itself and its artists’ colony from invasion. I couldn’t help compare it to Starhawk’s Fifth Sacred Thing. Both novels deal with approximately the same generation of older people. Both have San Francisco residents sustaining their community without outside help. Both have military type invaders who want to take the city. But the two novels are very different in tone and solution. Both give a fascinating look into a post-apocalyptic world and the reason for the fall.

For you teachers, I have added a review of a book my friend Molly highly recommends. Classroom Under Construction by Rich Grimes is a book that can help teachers do their job effectively. She says she plans to give copies of it to her student teachers.