Are there any books that you can read over and over again, and never seem to tire of? Yes, but not too many times and usually there is a space of several years between readings. I have read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice three or four times, and some of her other novels twice. Like I said, I have to be in the right frame of mind, so it doesn’t happen a lot. There are just so many books and so little time!!
Have any of your favorite authors written any books that you just didn’t care for? Of course. No author writes a masterpiece every time, and of course, what constitutes a masterpiece is a matter of opinion usually. One of my favorite authors is Barbara Kingsolver, and I will usually buy and/or read anything she writes that I come across, but occasionally it doesn’t interest me much. Not all of Jane Austen’s novels are great, but the worst is the one she didn’t finish, and the version I have, the author who finished it for her wrote a very dull tale. Sometimes an author will write a trilogy or a series of books about the same topic, or set in the same place or with the same characters, but then I decide to read something else he/she has written, and don’t care for it. This happens especially with mystery writers who then write something else. I’m sure there are other examples but I can’t think of them right now.
When it comes books, do you prefer reading fiction or non-fiction? The genre is unimportant. I like both fiction and non-fiction. I actually got on a non-fiction jag for awhile, but non-fiction books often take more time to read so fiction is easier. But you know what they say: Truth can be stranger than fiction!
Also I am in some book groups so I read whatever the book selected is, whether fiction or non-fiction. I like book groups because I get out of my comfort zone and read something different, and often it is wonderful!
My favorite genre is historical fiction, where I can learn about a time and place and at the same time enjoy the story. The only problem is knowing which parts are true and which are not. But usually I don’t care too much.
Frank has some great questions this week for Truthful Tuesday about one of my favorite subjects: books and reading!!
Do you consider yourself an avid reader? Not “avid” but enthusiastic, for sure! (Avid is a woman in one of my book groups who checks out ten books a week and finishes them all! I actually have a life outside reading!) I grew up being encouraged to read, and I read a lot of the books kids, particularly girls, read in those days. But I wasn’t a great reader because it took me a long time to read most books. I avoided classes and majors that required a lot of reading, to my detriment. I now know why: I have ADHD, and get distracted, so if I’m not totally engaged, I will forget what I’ve read by the time I get to the end of a page or am thinking about something else and not what is on the page.
When I was in my early 30s, I resolved to become a better reader, and set a goal for myself of 12 books per year – doable, only one per month, but more than I had been reading. One of the authors that inspired me to read more was Jane Austen, and I read all of her books as well as some “spin-offs” and “fan fiction.” My resolve to read 12 books a year put me on track to read more and regularly. Especially after I retired, I’ve been reading more and more. Now I have an account on Goodreads, which has a reading challenge every year. I set my own goal (which is now 40 books a year) and am conscientious about achieving it! I’m also in two book groups, so I read different types of books.
What was the last book you read all the way through, and how long did it take you? Unmarriageable, by Soniah Kamal, picked by a book group I participate in. This book is Pride & Prejudice updated to Pakistan in 2000-2001. Being a Jane Austen fan, I found the story highly entertaining. It took me 4-5 days to read it. If I really love a book, I will spend hours reading, neglecting my blog for days!
Are there any books that, try as you might, you just haven’t been able to bully your way through? I’ve been trying to get through a book of speeches by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I read a page or two, then go back to another book I’m reading (I often read more than one book at a time) that I enjoy more. I’ve been on page 204 for weeks. I want to finish it, but I don’t know when and if I will.
Paula at Light Motifs II has a weekly forum for people to let off steam!! It’s the Monday Peeve!
Paula was talking about unreliable narrators in novels and it made me think about the book I just finished, which I really liked, calledHomelandsby Alfredo Corchado. The book is non-fiction, a memoir about binationality and immigration. Being an immigrant from Mexico, like three other friends, pulls him in different directions. Is he American or Mexican? Anyway, this isn’t a book review so I will get to the point!
He often injects conversations into the narrative. Although he starts a new paragraph, he DOESN’T USE QUOTATION MARKS! So it gets confusing when you are not quite sure if the person is speaking or not. He doesn’t make a distinction, except to start a new paragraph. Further confusing the issue, he will refer to the person who’s speaking only as he or she, and because he often goes on tangents, it’s not clear who “he” or “she” is. The use of pronouns isn’t enough when you are reading a tangent about something that happened in the past, with no real break between that and the “present-day” narrative.
Relatively minor, but it’s only a peeve after all! I will give my rating on Goodreads as I do with all my books, but he loses a star for this lack of quotation marks and the resulting confusion!
I do recommend the book, however, for readers who want to know what it’s like to be an immigrant, especially from Mexico, from the inside – that is, the immigrant him/herself, not a narrative of someone looking at it from the outside.
English is such a crazy language! I’m glad I don’t have to learn it as a foreigner! We have many words with more than one pronunciation (homographs), and many words that sound alike but are spelled differently (homophones). Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week plays on the theme of red: a pair of homophones RED – READ; a pair of homographs READ (present tense) and READ (past tense); and another homophone pairing: READ and REED. So here are my REDS, READS and REEDS.
RED: (adjective) a bright primary color
READ: (verb) past tense of read: I read an entire book yesterday. But I have not read any of the books in the two photos below, which are written in other languages.
READ: (verb) present tense. I like to read every day.
REED: (noun) any of several species of large aquatic grasses, such as those pictured below.
I have to catch up again with Paula’s Month of Love, with the challenge to post something I love every day of this month!
Feb. 3: I love…books. I used to be in 3 book groups – it was hard to keep up and still have time to read other things. I gave up the two library book groups because it got too difficult to access the books and Zoom meetings after Covid quarantine kept us from in person meetings. In the meantime I’ve joined another group here at our senior community, and I’m still in one at our church. I post all my books on Goodreads. There is a challenge every year: you start the year pledging to reading the number of books of your choosing. Last year I pledged 35 and read 45. So this year, I’ve pledged 40 and will probably go beyond that again! I always read a mix of fiction and non-fiction in a variety of genres. My favorite genre is historical fiction.
One reason I haven’t been blogging much lately is because I can go an entire day never turning on my computer, instead preferring to sit near the fire and read for hours!
Feb. 4: I love…cats! I take photos of cats wherever I go. Here is a sample of cats I’ve seen or loved as pets.
Pick three words to describe this past year. (please keep them PG. Thanks). frustrating, appalling, anger-inducing
What were the best books you read this year? Or the best movie you saw? The best books I’ve read this year are not new: I don’t normally read Stephen King, but I loved the novel 11/22/63 which I read for a book group. Other than that, I have read a lot of novels written in the 1990s set in ancient Egypt. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and right now I’m kind of obsessed with ancient Egypt. All the books written by Pauline Gedge are excellent. I also read some political books, including Mary Trump’s book about her uncle: Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. Once I’d read that I could predict how Trump would react to losing reelection – he wouldn’t and doesn’t accept it! But the best political/social non-fiction book I read this year was Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. I highly recommend it.
One of the best movies I saw was on Netflix, Social Dilemma – it’s fairly new, and I encourage everyone to see it. You’ll never look at Facebook the same way again! I don’t see too many movies, unfortunately. I saw some old ones that either I never saw before or wanted to see again such as Out of Africa (somewhat of a disappointment) and Dr. Zhivago (because I just finished the novel The Secrets We Kept about smuggling the manuscript of the novel by Boris Pasternak out of the Soviet Union). I enjoyed seeing Dr. Zhivago again, although the copy we got from the library had a lot of scratches. A lot of what I watch are news shows and videos we watch on our community broadcasting channels. Also PBS series such as Nova and Masterpiece.
Because there was lots of time for looking inward, what is one big personal lesson you learned this past year? Perseverance – the pandemic has lasted longer than perhaps it should have due to mismanagement and lack of leadership. What galls me is how people just drag it on longer by refusing to wear masks (see answer to the next question). I have persevered by accepting what is. I don’t like wearing a mask any more than anyone else; I don’t like not being able to go out with my friends; I especially don’t like not being able to travel – but it’s what we have to do to stay healthy! I’ve read a lot of books and worked on my artwork, and have tried to take a walk every day that has weather I can tolerate.
Another lesson is gratitude: being grateful for the blessings I have, appreciative of people who put their lives on the line to save others, and not taking anything for granted. I see happiness in small things: reading a good book, watching flowers bloom, and baby chicks grow. Nature continues on as usual.
Do you think Covid has strengthened or weakened societal bonds? I would love to say strengthened, and I think on an individual level, that may be true: developing or solidifying relationships, appreciating the different jobs people do that may put their lives in danger during a pandemic, and working together to solve problems. But societally, our country is even more divided. I am somewhat surprised at this. I am surprised that in spite of the federal government’s terrible handling of the pandemic, over 70 million people in this country voted to reelect Trump! Fortunately they did not prevail, but I am appalled at how people have protested the dumbest things, such as wearing masks as an infringement on their freedom. Sorry, but their freedom ends where the next person’s begins so they need to take some responsibility for their behavior and not infect other people when they leave their home! And the denial of science – there are still people who are sick with Covid, go to the hospital and when told the diagnosis, deny it and say it’s a hoax! Why don’t some people believe doctors and nurses who put their lives on the line to save others? It’s all become politicized and it didn’t have to be. Trump and his Republican lackeys politicized it, instead of helping to unify the people of this country in combatting it.
It’s really shaken my confidence in the citizenry of this nation as supporting democracy and our values, such as stewardship, responsibility, and compassion. It’s also made me fear we can no longer have a dialogue – there are alternate messages of what is truth. How can one dialogue with a person that doesn’t share the same reality?
What is a New Year’s Wish You’d Like To Share With the World?
May 2021 give us 2020 hindsight and may the new year bring us the light at the end of the tunnel!
Welcome to another edition of PCGuyIV’s Truthful Tuesday! Here is the question for this week: With the exception of blogging (assuming it’s a hobby and not your profession), do you have any unique hobbies or pastimes?
UNIQUE?? Hmmm….I don’t think any of my hobbies are particularly unique. I like to write, draw, blog, read, garden…these are not exactly unique.
I thought of the collections I have. I do have several collections: cats (images, figurines, etc. – I always try to buy a cat sculpture when I travel), Mexican alebrijes (little figurines of animals, carved out of wood and intricately painted), creches (Nativity scenes – I have about eight of them so far, from different cultures), photo albums (I used to make them by hand, now I do it on Shutterfly – and for what? They take up room and when I die, no one will want them and they’ll get thrown away – but this year I love them because we can’t travel due to the coronavirus and it’s nice to look at the albums I worked so hard on when it’s cold and dreary – like today – I can “travel” back in time), “refrigerator” magnets (which are not on my refrigerator, they’re on my file cabinets – I buy magnets everywhere I travel), and it looks like I will soon have a collection of unique face masks!
I decided to ask my husband, who always thinks of things I never come up with. He said, “You’ve become an ancient Egyptophile” which is true! We went to Egypt two years ago and since then I’ve developed an obsession with ancient Egypt. I made two photo albums on Shutterfly (because I had too many photos I wanted to include for only one), I have researched historical fiction about ancient Egypt and bought a lot of books from Amazon, as cheaply as possible, because most are no longer available at libraries. Libraries tend to cull books that were written over twenty years ago and not in demand any longer, unless they are classics. Apparently ancient Egypt was a fad in the 1990s, because nearly all the books I’ve gotten were written at that time, and most of the authors haven’t written anything new. (I vaguely remember my mother getting all excited about “King Tut” because items found in the tomb of Tutankhamun were in a traveling exhibit at museums around the world – perhaps that’s when it was.)
I also subscribe to the online Ancient History Encyclopedia, where I look up things I want more background about, and I’ve even made lists of the pharaohs, women rulers in ancient Egypt, and timelines. Actually, I have recently become interested in ancient history in general, which I never studied in high school or college. The Egyptian civilization is the oldest of all of those long gone civilizations, and it lasted three thousand years, more than any other, I think. It is amazing that we have been able to learn so much about them. They left so many writings, monuments that contain writing, tombs that have been preserved for centuries. They were a proud, egocentric people, and did want to leave behind their life histories for posterity. We know quite a bit about their customs and culture, but of course there are many gaps and lots of speculation. Every so often, some archaeologist uncovers something new that sheds light on a missing piece. Tutankhamen, for example, was not an important or long-lived pharaoh. His reign started when he was 10 and he died at 19. He is so well-known to us because his was one of the very few tombs that was found intact due to its location underneath another tomb. There used to be a lot of speculation that “the boy king” was murdered, but in the 2000s, they did a DNA test on his mummy and found that he died of malaria. At least, that’s what our Egyptologist guide told us.
I wonder if two millennia from now, what will be left over of our civilization that people in the future will be interested in? Everything nowadays is so fleeting, temporary – much of what we’ve written and done will be lost; we don’t build many monuments these days, and everything we buy is not made to last. If we don’t destroy the planet before then, perhaps someone in that far distant future will find elements of our cultures that they will try to piece together.
We have an expression when we want to say something is not a strict rule: “It’s not written in stone.” That describes our attitude today, I think! The ancients, however, DID write in stone! We have sent samples of our culture out into space for extraterrestrials to find. But who will find us? And will they want to?
I realize I’ve strayed far from the question, but it’s more of a justification for this obsessive “hobby.” I don’t know how long it will last, but it’s definitely Covid-19 driven! Lots of time to read and immerse myself in the lives of people – real and fictional – who lived along the Nile River several millennia ago! It makes the time we are stuck at home a lot more interesting.
Fandango’s Provocative Question this week is: What movie adaptation of a book you have read before you saw the movie has done the best job when it comes to casting the actor (or actors) in the movie to match your image you had of that character (or those characters) in the book. Conversely, what movie adaptation has done the worst job of matching the casting of the characters to those you envisioned in your head.
I thought it would be impossible for me to answer this question, because I really don’t see many movies these days. But then I remembered the Harry Potter series.
I read the first book long before the movie came out, but as I watched it, I remember thinking that the casting and set design were perfect – as if Hogwarts jumped out of my brain the way I had envisioned it and projected that way on the screen. I think overall I enjoyed all the Harry Potter movies more than the books, but the books were good, too. And the best adaptations (at least the ones I thought about) were the first four books.
Rupert Grint with his fiery red hair and zany expression was a perfect Ron Weasley. And Alan Rickman as Snape – nobody could have done that role better, with his deep voice and cynic tone. Daniel Radcliffe as Harry was perfect – his dark hair with bangs hanging over his scar, his round glasses – the glasses made him seem vulnerable and I think the author, J.K. Rowling, intended it that way. She was involved in the making of the films, so that may be the reason why the adaptations – characters, sets, everything – were so good. The photo below is how they looked in the first movie – so British and a look of mischief on Ron’s and Harry’s faces!
Now for the worst – it was easy to come up with several candidates for worst casting, but the most glaring difference, in my opinion, between book and film was A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson. The director of the movie, Ken Kwapis, cut a lot of the plot because it didn’t make sense with the actors chosen for the two leads – aging Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. While these guys are both fine actors, and perhaps their star status was what the casting director was thinking of, the story was ruined by the fact that these actors were TOO OLD! In the book, the two guys hiking the Appalachian Trail were middle aged, and one of them was quite physically fit. Some of the things that happened in the story (the book) were just not plausible for two old guys to do. As a result, the movie was nearly unrecognizable as the same story as the book. In fact, I read the book and saw the movie to participate in a Book-to-Film group at by our public library. While I was in this group, I saw several very good matches of book to film, but this was not one of them. The other people in the group had similar feelings.
Read the book A Walk in the Woods. Don’t watch the movie. Here’s a photo of the book cover:
Because of the state-wide quarantines many of the local SPCA’s are having an influx of animals. You have decided that you would love to have a new pet. Would you go the normal wizardry route and pick an owl, a cat, or a toad? Or would you become a more eccentric wizard (like Hagrid, the games keeper) and seek out a three-headed dog, a dragon, or a unicorn? Please explain your answer. I’d get a cat. I love cats and have one already, so why not another one? I would not want to clean a bird’s cage or maintain a terrarium for a toad. Besides, I don’t particularly like toads. Hagrid’s animals would be too difficult to take care of and I don’t have room for them.
Neville Longbottom was gifted a Remembrall. This was a glass ball that would assist you in maintaining memories of things that you often forget. What would you want your Remembrall to help you remember? That’s a good question! I have trouble remembering everything, so I would probably give it new instructions every day, depending on what would be most important to remember that day. I could get rid of post-it notes!! I might give it a list of things, including some I need constant reminders about, such as don’t forget to always have a full water bottle and drink plenty of water; don’t forget to work on a photo book project; etc.
Professor Dumbledore gave Harry Potter an invisibility cloak that Dumbledore said was from Harry’s father. Now, you have inherited a cloak with similar powers. Would you use it? When? Of course I would use it – who wouldn’t? I think I’d mainly use it when I don’t want to be found – i.e. when I want to be alone. Sometimes I just want to read a book and not have my husband bugging me to do something else. I might have used it when I was working so the evil principal or co-worker wouldn’t be able to find me. It would also be good for following someone around, but I can’t think of a time recently when I’ve wanted to do that.
While cleaning your attic, you have discovered the Mirror of Erised. (“Erised” is “desire” spelled backwards, as if reflected in a mirror) The Mirror of Erised is a magical mirror, which, according to Professor Dumbledore, when you gaze into it, it shows the “deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts.” You have chosen to look in the mirror. What do you see? I see all the places I want to travel to and those I have traveled to that I particularly love. This would be sad, because right now I can’t travel anywhere due to the pandemic and other countries barring Americans from entering their territory. I would also see myself doing the most awesome photography on those trips – better than I usually come away with. I would see myself returning to places I want to learn more about.
Please have a bit of fun with the answers. Even if you aren’t a Potter fan, the questions are (to me anyway) fun ones which could be answered ‘outside of Harry Potter’s world’. Imagination might be required though. These are good questions because they are what in elementary school teacher lingo would be called “on your own” questions. They relate to the book but you can answer them without having read the book.
Now for the ‘traditionalists’ who like “just the questions m’am (or sir)”. Here’s three random questions I found.
Would you rather live 120 years that are comfortable but boring, or live half as long, but have an exciting adventure-packed life? Well, since half of 120 is only 60, I would be dead already, so I will propose a compromise: How about 90 years of a life that has some excitement and some boredom? After all, without boredom, would I be able to appreciate the exciting, adventurous times? And sometimes after an extended period of excitement, I would just crave a period of relative boredom.
What’s something that overwhelms you? Too much paper. I get notices and mail and newspapers that I don’t know what to do with – it might be something I want to keep but don’t need it currently, so it goes in a pile. Then that pile becomes two piles and pretty soon every surface that isn’t used for sleeping or sitting is covered with paper and I can’t stand it. It’s too overwhelming. I wish I more often felt the urge to purge.
What do or did you take for granted? When I was young, I took life for granted. I was determined that everything I felt was important to me would occur because I would make it so. Now I take comforts of modern life for granted: such as running water; electricity – my husband and I both leave too many lights on and it’s very wasteful; sunshine; being able to keep warm and well fed. Many people around the world even in our modern world do not have any or few of these things. Homeless people, for example, can’t afford to take anything for granted. Desperately poor people don’t know whether they will have anything to eat each day when they wake up. I try to be mindful of these things and be grateful for them. No resource is infinite.
Gratitude: I’m grateful for summer days. I’m grateful for running water. I’m grateful for the ability to walk on my own two legs and to take care of myself. I am grateful for the bounties I enjoy on planet Earth.