Several years ago, actually it might be many years ago at this point, a friend gave me a copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Knowing me and my penchant for reading the classics, she said, “You just have to read this!” So I put it on a bookshelf with every intention of pulling it back down and reading it the next time I was “between” reads. It sat forgotten on my shelves for decades until my wife pulled it down. “I’ve always meant to read this,” she told me. Well, what do you know? So had I! So we decided to read it together, our own little Husband and Wife Book Club…or at least we decided to read it concurrently as opposed to the cheesy You-read-to-me-and-then-I’ll-read-to-you model of spousal book clubs. Read More..
No. It’s not the classic question about which book you might choose if you were stranded on a desert island. It’s a question of how you might behave if you were stranded on a desert island. It’s a question that William Golding asks in his classic 1954 novel Lord of the Flies. It’s a story about a group of boys during a fictitious nuclear war that have crash-landed on an island as they are being evacuated from England. Golding makes sure that no adults survive the crash so that only these boys are faced with the questions…how will you survive? What will become of society? Read More..
Yeah, I know the month is almost over, but a few days remain. And who’s to say I can’t expand a bit and just make 2013 The Year of the Audiobook? I spend a lot of time listening to audiobooks…perhaps more than anyone else I know. I’ve mentioned before that audiobooks accompany me at any time I can possibly fit one in. Laundry, doing the dishes, driving, yard work and date nights that include chick flicks are all great times to do some audiobook listening. Mind you, some of these audiobook events involve well-hidden ear buds and no small amount of acting as if you’re paying attention but they’re great audiobook times nevertheless! Read More..
After digging into Orwellian literature last month, I really became a bit captivated by the whole genre of utopian/dystopian satire. So much so that I actually read a few of the really big ones…following Animal Farm with Huxley’s A Brave New World, and then Orwell’s 1984. But as I don’t find any real joy in putting anyone through a string of such gloominess (we’ll get back to dystopia in following months), I instead jumped into another favorite subject, Roman History. I know what you’re thinking! Blech! History? Isn’t school out for the summer? But this is different. I, Claudius by Robert Graves is a bona fide classic AND it’s a darn good read. Read More..
This month’s classic falls at a perfect time…election time! Not that my reading of Animal Farm in any way made me feel as if Lawrence is being controlled by tyrants or anything. But election time does always make me focus a bit on the electoral/political process. Election Day makes me thankful for the freedom we have as Americans and the rights we have, electing our leaders among those rights. Yet, even while reminding us how good we have it, a reading of Animal Farm can certainly serve as a cautionary tale of how bad it could be to live under a truly tyrannical regime. The story is an obvious satire of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath…Marx, Stalin, Trotsky, all of that. George Orwell did not even attempt to veil his critique of Stalinism, having virtually one-to-one correlations between his characters and their respective historical counterparts. Read More..
This month I was able to squeeze in two classics! It helped that both were nice & quick, action-packed, fast-moving adventures. It also helped that they were both by the excellent Jules Verne. As has been the case a couple of times during my Reading the Classics project, after my February Classic I was ready for something a bit lighter. Luckily, the library’s One Click Digital audiobook service had just the material I was looking for! I was ready for some fun rather than the deep philosophical examination that is so prominent in many of the classics of literature. So it was with a childlike giddiness that I checked out Around the World in 80 Days. Read More..
“The enemy is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he’s on.” –Yossarian, Catch-22
It’s not often that I pick up a “classic” that has so much timely relevance as this month’s read. Sure, you can find parallels to modern society in just about any classic you read…I think that’s essential in making a book a classic. But with our nation mired in numerous unpopular foreign conflicts for the past decade or more, Catch-22 really made an impact on me as to how absurd the waging of war really is! Joseph Heller’s masterpiece, and YES, I’d definitely call this a masterpiece, is the epitome of wartime chaos and absurdity. Read More..
Knowing that I’d basically be taking a month off from blogging about my Classics Reading Project during our library’s move to its temporary location, I knew I had plenty of time to read. And what better to fill that stretch with than another doorstop of a classic of Russian Lit? So it was that I picked up a copy of Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky…not exactly the cinderblock-sized book that is War & Peace (the Russian Literature that got me started with this whole Reading the Classics thing). But I was also under the impression that, while shorter than War & Peace’s 1300+ pages, Dostoevsky’s 630 page masterpiece was a bit deeper psychologically. Read More..
This month I accidentally discovered a novel that may very well rank among my favorites of all time! I had actually begun to read another book to serve as my “Classic of the Month”. It was a reread; again a re-visitation of a favorite from my college days that I felt I wanted to share…and it may yet become a blog post one day. But just as I was getting into it, fate intervened! And oddly enough it came in the form of rabbits from Richard Adam’s Watership Down. Read More..
Okay! Okay! No more Simpsons jokes. But you have to admit that when you mention Homer, certain things come to mind!
Anyway, last month I hinted that I might delve into some Homeric epic poetry as my “Classic of the Month”. I followed through with that idea lest I anger my faithful audience of followers! Admittedly, I did hint at The Odyssey but then realized that certain obsessive traits in me would not allow me to read the second part before the first so I picked up The Iliad instead. Read More..