|Independent People |
|Independent People |
Posted by Janie at 7/15/2014
Posted by Janie at 7/10/2014
After several reluctant-reader students, in years past, had read The Outsiders and pushed it on me, I thought it only fair to read it, particularly because I push books on so many others.
I had my doubts about becoming interested in the story, a '60s coming-of-age, gang-related short novel. Recently, I'd read for the first time two other coming-of-age stories (Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Joy in the Morning). Those two had a female protagonist; The Outsiders, a male named Ponyboy. Somewhat reluctantly, I began the book and was drawn into the story enough to finish. Had I been a teenager reading it instead of a fifty-something, I'm sure my take on it would be different.
I was impressed, though, that the author was female. I always read the back cover, then any postscripts first and discovered that early on. I had fallen for why S. E. Hinton used her initials; since she wrote the book in the '60s, she did not want reviewers to discount her work because she was female. Smart move. But a better impression was made on me -- along with another strike in the reluctance camp -- when I read that she wrote this book when she was sixteen. Impressive, but how could a sixteen year old's first book be a winner? I was nine years old. (Interestingly, I'd never heard of the book until the last decade.) Hinton did what successful authors do; she wrote about what she knew and where she lived.
Growing up in the sixties and visually familiar with the "Fonz" from Happy Days who loved his hair, I heard those terms "hood" and "greaser," too, referring to the boys from the blue-collar class. The "greasers" I knew did not use hair grease from which the name came. Those were the boys that "good" girls didn't go out with. Those were the boys in my school who left lunch early and went out behind the cafeteria to smoke, just like in the book. I guess I was a Soc.
What I found satisfyingly curious was that these recent three coming-of-age books had protagonists who were all readers and read a lot. Hmmm. I'm still intrigued by that one. In The Outsiders, the one book that was a connecting, maybe a healing, point was Gone with the Wind. I revel in connections and convergences, and the one for me, now, is that Gone with the Wind was one of Pat Conroy's favorite books. And Pat Conroy has become my 2014 author idol. (A Pat Conroy post is in the making.) Even though I typically do not re-read books, I do plan to re-read Gone with the Wind. I had read it in high school but now remember very little of it. And I have a brand new copy of it on my shelves. When I do read it again, it will be interesting how Ponyboy and Pat Conroy will figure into my mind's eye.
The best reading audience, in my opinion, for this book would be teenage boys.
Posted by Janie at 5/01/2014
Posted by Janie at 4/25/2014
The Wednesday Wars (Schmidt) was not on my to-read shelves. In fact, it wasn't even on any shelf. Rather, it was on someone PaperBackSwappers shelf before mine. I do wish I could remember what rabbit trail I followed that caused me to end up with the book. Especially now when I've been in a half-a-year-long book cull-and-purge. But it made it onto the shelves very recently.
I walked home under gray clouds whose undersides had been shredded. (Can't you just see that?) They hung in tatters, and a cold mist leaked out of them. The cold got colder, and the mist got mistier all through the afternoon, so that by suppertime a drizzle was making everything wet and everyone miserable -- especially m y sister, who believed that she had hair that belonged in southern California, where it would be springy and bouncy all the time, instead of in gray, cold, misty Long Island, where it just hung.
Posted by Janie at 3/29/2014
Posted by Janie at 3/24/2014
Why I chose this post title, I don't know. It just floated into my mind. And it seemed to fit. Here's how: For the past several years, I've rubbed shoulders with the title of the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I had several students ask me if I'd read it and push it on me, because I hadn't. Although the title was familiar from long ago, I'm sure I'd never read it. But I recently put it on my want-to-read list and requested it from PaperBackSwap. When it became available and arrived, I shelved it with all the other recently received PBS books waiting to be ordered onto my bookshelves.
After finishing a planned book, I decided to start A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, even though it wasn't on my list yet. I can get a little OCD about doing things out of order. The first night I was tired and only read about fifteen pages. It was ho-hum, nothing grabbed me and told me this was as good of a book as everyone lets on. Sunday afternoon, I picked it up again for a few more pages to see if maybe there was a yes-I've-got-to-read-this-book sign. Nope. But I did finish a couple of pages before naptime overcame me, and I was up to the beginning of chapter two. Picking it up again later that night, I silently told myself that if I wasn't grabbed after this nightly dose, back on the shelf it goes. I had far more books I knew were waiting, and I couldn't afford a time-waster, even if I do have a 50-page rule. (The 50-page rule is to try my best to get through fifty pages, and if nothing grabs me to finish, I give myself permission to put the book aside.)
Well, here was the curve ball. An unlikely throw that not only grabbed me but knocked it out of the park for me. If you've never read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, bear with me and read all of this quote, delighting in the words and thoughts:
"The library was a little old shabby place. Francie thought is was beautiful. The feeling she had about it was as good as the feeling she had about church. She pushed open the door and went in. She liked the combined snell of worn leather bindings, library paste and freshly-inked stamping pads better than she like the smell of burning incense at high mass.
"Francie thought that all the books in the world were in that library and she had a plan about reading all the books in the world. She was reading a book a day in alphabetical order and not skipping the dry ones. She remembered that the first author had been Abbot. She had been reading a book a day for a long time now and she was still in the B's. Already she had read about bees, and buffaloes, Bermuda vacations and Byzantine architecture. For all of her enthusiasm, she had to admit that some of the B's had been hard going. But Francie was a reader. She read everything she could find: trash, classics, time tables and the grocer's price list. Some of the reading had been wonderful; the Louisa Alcott books for example. She planned to read all the books over again when she had finished with the Z's."
Posted by Janie at 3/10/2014
|Bluestone cairns in Pembrokeshire, Wales|
. . . the kingdom and provinces of Europe in which the merchants operated remained related to each other by family ties. the ties were endless. They crossed the continent like huge and intricate spiders' webs; and the shifting family ambitions and alliances of the rulers frequently overrode all considerations of peace, prosperity, or even common sense.
[M]y books contain both fiction and non-fiction. I think they're an easy way to learn history. But above all, I try to tell gripping stories that move along with pace. It's the storyline that excites me, the art of telling a tale. . . . I believe I've some ability to absorb complex information and retell it in a compelling way. I'd like to think I might have made a good schoolteacher.
. . .The books also popularize history; and I believe that a knowledge of history is one of the most important things any citizen can possess.
Posted by Janie at 2/08/2014
I'd seen the pictures. And read the procedure. I just found it hard to believe that you could clean silver so easily and without harsh chemicals.
But, it's true!
The pictures don't lie. While I think I need to do this a second time to get the little remaining tarnish, I'm satisfied with it right now.
Posted by Janie at 1/23/2014
“The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade.” ~ Anthony Trollope
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