Truthful Tuesday: Reading

Frank has some great questions this week for Truthful Tuesday about one of my favorite subjects: books and reading!!

The Questions

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.

Book Challenge: Love and Donald Trump

For Sandman Jazz’s 30-day book challenge, here are my answers for Days 22, 23, and 24.

Day 22: An LGBTQ love story: Two excellent novels are Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai.

I read The Great Believers last spring. The story moves back and forth between the 1980s AIDS epidemic in Chicago and 30 years later in Paris. The protagonist, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery, has witnessed friends dying from AIDS, including his partner, Nico. His circle of friends continues to narrow until all he has left is Nico’s sister Fiona. Meanwhile, we find Fiona in Paris looking for her daughter, whom she suspects has joined a cult. It is a different kind of love story, and very sad in parts, but I loved the book.

Song of Achilles was written by the same author, Madeline Miller, as Circe, which I chose for Day 17. The novel is set in ancient Greece and based on Greek mythology and sagas, such as The Odyssey and The Iliad. Achilles is the “golden boy” whose destiny is to fight in the Trojan War. Before that, however, the author takes us through how he matures into adulthood with his constant companion, Patroclus, whose only claim to fame is his friend Achilles. The story is about how and why Achilles and Patroclus ended up at a battlefield near Troy, centering on the love affair between Achilles and Patroclus. I highly recommend this book!

The Song of Achilles: A Novel By Madeline Miller P.DF And e.Pub

Day 23: A book quote you know by heart: Because of my ADHD brain, my ability to memorize a quote of any kind is shaky at best. So my memorized quotes are short. But I saw the Franco Zeffirelli movie version of Romeo and Juliet eight times! This is from that famous love tragedy by William Shakespeare and just about everyone knows it: Juliet is on her balcony, remembering the young Romeo who has captured her heart: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, so Romeo would…” Romeo meanwhile has heard this and makes his appearance known. After professing their love for each other, Juliet finally says good night: “Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night until it be morrow.”

9,309 Romeo And Juliet Photos and Premium High Res Pictures

Day 24: A book collaboration by two or more authors: A Very Stable Genius by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig. The title is ironic – using an exact quote by Donald Trump about himself, the book is a factual account of the first 30 months of the Trump administration.

Hardcover A Very Stable Genius : Donald J. Trump's Testing of America Book

30 Day Book Challenge: 16, 17, 18

Here’s my latest installment in Sandman Jazz’s June 30-Day Book Challenge.

Day 16: A book you’ve read more than once: I don’t often do this, much as I’m tempted, because there are too many other books to read! However, every few years, I need an injection of Jane Austen, so I reread Pride and Prejudice. Each time I discover something I didn’t notice before!

Day 17: A book with a person’s name in the title: There are so many! Two that I have read within the last year are 1. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Quite an interesting and humorous book – much of it is her interior monologue in judgment of other people, often people she hardly knows. It is wickedly funny!

2. Circe by Madeline Miller. Miller is an excellent writer and has written at least three novels which are based on Greek mythology. She is an expert in Greek classics, and her stories draw from The Iliad and Homer’s Odyssey. I admit that I have not read either one of these, but Miller inspires me to be tempted! She uses characters in these epic works and builds a very believable story around them. Circe was a minor goddess and hardly mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey except that she was banished to an island for all time. When men land there on their voyages, she turns them into pigs – well, not all the time; only if they behave badly! The whole novel is engrossing and clever, so much so that I as the reader began to think I really knew some things about Greek mythology! Circe (the book) has a definite feminist viewpoint. I loved it.

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Day 18: a book you like by an author no longer living: Many come to mind! My siblings and I were raised on the classics, and there were many complete collected works to choose from at our house. My favorite series as a kid was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series of books about her life in a pioneer family: Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, etc.

The most recent one I’ve read is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I was actually surprised I had never read it before! It is the story of the life of the four March sisters, who are very close growing up, and each of them follows her own path – women did not have as many options open to them in the 1860s as they do now. But the main character, Jo, is the sister who bucks the system and becomes a writer no matter what she has to do to get there! In the end, she also marries (even though she had vowed not to for years), and puts her writing on hold to start a school for boys with her husband. That is the subject of the next book in the series, Little Men.

Following is the official trailer for the latest (2019) movie version of Little Women.

30-Day Book Challenge – The Color Purple and Javelinas

This is another installment of Sandman Jazz’s 30-Day Book Challenge, which I am doing three days at a time.

Day 13: A book with a color in the title: The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, which happens to be one of my favorite books. It was made into a movie, which I liked, but the book was much better (which is what so often happens)!

See the source image

Day 14: A Fairy Tale Retelling: The only ones I remember are children’s books, which I read to my students. One that I thought was really cute was Las tres javelinas (The Three Little Javelinas in English), by Susan Lowell. Because my students were learning in both English and Spanish, sometimes I read the book in Spanish, sometimes in English. Either way, the kids really loved it and I’ve always had a strange affection for javelinas (which are basically an American version of warthogs, quite ugly in reality!) because of the book. The story takes place in the Southwest, with two of the javelinas having built houses out of tumbleweeds and cactus ribs (from a dead saguaro cactus). When the hungry coyote comes to capture them (he fantasizes barbecuing them and eating them with red chile sauce), they run to the house of their wise sister, who has built her house out of adobe bricks. The wolf tries to come down her chimney – with burning results!

Day 15: A book that makes you cry sad tears: One of them was The Color Purple, although it has a happy ending. Much of the story concerns Celie, who is abused and impregnated (twice) by her father, in rural Georgia. Her life is so horrible that she escapes by writing letters to God. There’s a line in the book, “God gets really pissed off when you walk past the color purple and don’t notice it.” (I don’t remember the exact words.) I found that line to be so profound because purple represents the person who goes unnoticed even though if you get to know her, she’s really beautiful – sort of like the color.  Anyway, after a lot of other things happen, Celie eventually gets away from an abusive husband through her pretty sister Nettie, who befriends a missionary couple who take the girls to Africa where they are doing missionary work. 

I tear up easily but not usually while reading books, more often when I watch sad movies.