Bookstore Adventures … and a GWTW Giveaway!

Yesterday, Alexa and I visited Borders … probably for the last time. Literary fiction and children’s books were all 20% off and I was still able to use my Rewards Plus 10% discount. The coupons and member discounts that Borders offered over the recent years allowed me to add so many books to my shelves that I otherwise might not have been able to afford, but I can’t help but feel sad that those savings were probably a large factor in the store’s ultimate demise. I will miss Borders for sure! ūüė¶¬†¬† The Loot:

I like to give books as part of any baby shower gift, so I picked up these two Curious George selections for my cousin. The one is a lift-the-flap book (I used to have a Paddington Bear lift-the-flap that I adored as a child) and the other is Curious George Visits the Library which I thought was fitting since I am such a book nut.

 

I was excited to grab the last copy of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood, by Ellen F. Brown and John Wiley, that was in the store. I also picked up Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations …

 

 

… and Middlemarch by George Eliot, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and an upgraded copy of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell … which brings me to my GWTW giveaway.

 

 

Erin at the Heroine’s Bookshelf is hosting the Great Gone With the Wind Read-Along this month (click on the button in my right column for a link to her site and more information) and since I have upgraded my copy of GWTW, I am giving away my gently used (read once) mass market paper back edition of the novel to one interested reader. All you need to do is comment on this post with your name, e-mail address (so I can contact the winner for an address), and tell me your favorite GWTW character. The giveaway will close next Wednesday, August 10th when the winner will be selected at random.

Hope you all are having an awesome August!

The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma …

“That is the best part of all, after all; even better than holding, touching, smelling, and hugging new books is taking them home and reading them in your own bed, under your own covers, with your own lamp shining beside you until someone yells for you to turn it off and get some sleep.”

Usually, that someone would be my husband. Last night the book of choice was The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared¬†which details the participation of James Brozina¬†and his daughter Alice in The Streak: 3,218 days (almost 9 years) of reading together every single day, without fail. On one level, this is a humorous, but loving look at the quirky relationship between an eccentric, single father and his daughter while on another level this is a manifesto, of sorts, for the value of childhood reading … specifically reading aloud. As someone who has studied and worked in the education field, I appreciated the message Alice imparts regarding the importance of reading, but I think I was most captivated by story of this pair’s relationship. What I wouldn’t have given to have my father read to me on a Streak … well, at all, really. As a child, I saw my father a couple of times a year and have not seen him once since I was 21 … 14 years. James Brozina is quite a man: someone who can eulogize a fish like nobody’s business, someone who can deal with middle school phobias involving the dead body of JFK, someone who will show up at play practice at 11:45PM to read to his daughter in the parking lot to make sure The Streak is not broken, someone who will read picture books aloud to the elderly … someone who keeps a promise:

“I promise to tell everyone I know how reading calms me down, riles me up, makes me think, or helps me get to sleep at night. I promise to read, and read to someone, as long as human thought is still valued and there are still words to be shared. I promise to be there for books, because I know they will always be there for me.”

What is your reading promise?

Bookstore Adventures…

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While browsing my local used bookstore and Goodwill, I found some great loot: nice, clean copies of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton, A Room With a View by E.M. Forster, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, and Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. All this for $10! What are your latest acquisitions?

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill¬†A Mockingbird is based, in part,¬†on memories from Harper Lee’s own childhood and is set in 1930s Alabama. This is a book that has won the Pulitzer Prize. This is a book that I read in high school; however, I remembered little about the story except the characters names and that it delt with racism. This is a book that many seem to count among one of their favorites. I certainly liked it, but I wasn’t necessarily blown away. I liked how the novel read like a slow southern summer. I loved the kind of man Atticus Finch was and the example he set for his children. I loved the story of Boo Radley and the person he turned out to be. And, I have to give Harper Lee credit. It took moxie to write and publish¬†(in 1960)¬†a book dealing with racism (and class and gender issues) in the south.

**** SPOILER ALERT****

I can’t really put my finger on why this was only a so-so read for me. Maybe because I had already learned the moral of the story long, long ago. Maybe because the African American characters felt under-developed. Maybe it arose from the distaste I felt for some of those in the story. For example, I knew long before the verdict that Tom Robinson’s jury would never acquit him … either because of their prejudices or because they simply would not have the guts. I am always bothered when our system of justice fails … when the innocent go to jail or when the guilty go free. This brings me to a question for you: Did you agree with how the Sheriff chose to handle the death of Bob Ewell?

¬†“I’m not a very good man, sir, but I am sheriff of Maycomb County. Lived in this town all my life an’ I’m goin’ on forty-three years old. Know everything that’s happened here since before I was born. There’s a black boy dead for no reason, and the man responsible for it’s dead. Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch. Let the dead bury the dead.”

Me? I was giving him a high-five in my mind for protecting Boo Radley after he saved the Finch children, but others may not agree.

The moral of the story is certainly a strong one and the reason why I think this novel should be taught in schools:

“An’ they chased him ‘n’ never could catch him ’cause they didn’t know what he looked like, an’ Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn’t done any of those things … Atticus, he was real nice …”

His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me.

“Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”

Harper Lee 1926-

Favorite Quotes:

“There are just some men who-who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one …” – Miss Maudie

“As you grow older you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it-whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.” – Atticus to Jem

“Jem, how can [people] hate Hitler so bad an’ then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home?” – Scout

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks. ” – Scout

And the winner is…

Kelly W.
Congrats!

Thanks to all who stopped by to enter and check out my blog! I enjoyed hearing about everyone’s favorite classic. To Kill a Mockingbird was a popular choice … so I have chosen it as my next read off my project list…

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (Part II)

*Warning, this post may contain spoilers for those who have not read Vanity Fair.

Although the writing itself was still quite humorous at many times in the second half of Vanity Fair, the second portion seemed to take on a much¬†darker¬†tone than the first. I suppose it is the sign of a talented writer when one can be funny and create feelings of desperation and sadness¬†at the same time. There is so much desperation amongst the characters of Thackeray’s story. Many of them are desperate for money, but beyond that they all seem to¬†have an acute need¬†for acceptance, validation from someone: Dobbin from Amelia, Amelia from her son, The Rawdon Crawley’s from the Pitt Crawley’s, Rawdon from Rebecca, Rawdon Jr. from his mother, and Becky from society. Perhaps the saddest story of all is¬†Rebecca’s treatment of her son. Her utter lack of feeling for and attention to the boy broke my heart.

Rebecca¬†is for sure “no angel”, but despite her often cold-hearted, scheming, manipulative ways I could not dislike her, even though I wanted to. I wonder if what Thackeray says is¬†true: “that it was only a question of money and fortune that made the difference between her and an honest woman?” If Becky had been born into money and position maybe she would not have become the great manipulator that she was. But there is also the chance that this¬†was simply a part of her personality that she¬†could never have escaped. Either way, I certainly got a laugh out of her presentation to the King:

“If she did not wish to lead a virtuous life, at least she desired to enjoy a character of virtue, and we know that no lady in the genteel world can possess this desideratum, until she has put on a train and feathers, and has been presented to her Sovereign at Court. From that august interview they come out stamped as honest women. The Lord Chamberlain gives them a certificate of virtue.”

I am wondering if this ceremony and certification was really a rite of passage for certain women in this society … I need to research this further as I found the whole thing to be such an interesting concept.

In the same way that I could not dislike Rebecca, I could not feel sorry for Amelia, even though I wanted to. When Dobbin finally left her, I wanted to stand up and cheer. I was shocked when he took her back despite having lost most of his real passion for her. She simply did not deserve him.

At times, the story rambles. I am sure Thackeray could have accomplished his goals in a slightly shorter form; however, this issue is no doubt a product of the novel having originally been published in monthly installments. It appears that his outlook on society is a quite dreary one, that history is destined to repeat itself due to the unwavering foolishness of human nature. I thought this was evident in the fact that there was no real happy ending in the novel. Even the marriage of Dobbin and Amelia is tainted. And what about Rebecca and Jos Sedley? It appeared to me that Thackeray was hinting that Rebecca had somehow slowly poisoned Jos for his life insurance money. Do you think it was murder?

Some last gems from Thackeray:

“Many a glass of wine have we all drunk, I have very little doubt, hob-nobbing with the hospitable giver, and wondering how the deuce he paid for it!”

“And let us, my brethren, who have not our names in the Red Book, console ourselves by thinking comfortably how miserable our betters may be, and that Damocles, who sits on satin cushions, and is served on gold plate, has an awful sword hanging over his head in the shape of a bailiff, or an hereditary disease, or a family secret …”

“To know nothing, or little, is in the nature of some husbands. To hide, in the nature of many women? O ladies! How many of you have surreptitious milliner’s bills? How many of you have gowns and bracelets, which you daren’t show, or which you wear trembling?”

“As they say the persons who hate Irishmen most are Irishmen: so, assuredly, the greatest tyrants over women are women.”

“Did we know what our intimates and dear relations thought of us, we should live in a world that we should be glad to quit, and in a frame of mind and a constant terror, that would be perfectly unbearable.”

My Freedom Hop Book Give-Away!

The Freedom Giveaway Hop is here! Since this blog mainly focuses on the “classics”, I have like new paperback copies of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Writings to give away to one lucky winner. The winner will be chosen at random, out of at hat, from those that enter.

To enter:

1. You must be 18 years of age or older and live in the USA

2. Comment on this post to tell me your favorite classic book and your e-mail address (so I can contact the winner) by July 7th.

3. Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in this Hop @ the site of one of the fabulous hosts, Kathy: http://iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com/p/giveaway-hops.html (I tried to post the linky list via my html, but couldn’t get it to show up…)

Happy 4th of July!