The Sunday Salon – Sharing Books

Every so often, I exchange books with some of my co-workers.  This week, I shared a few new favorites (The Girl Who Chased the Moon and The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen) and an old favorite (Good Omens by Neil Gaiman).  The person I loaned Good Omens to had never heard of Neil Gaiman.  It took every last bit of restraint I had to not say what was in my head — “What?!  How have you never heard of the most wonderful writer who goes by the name of Neil Gaiman?  What?!”  I thought everyone knew of Neil Gaiman.  Ah, the book bubble I live in some days.

My mother will also be the recipient of several books I liked and re-discovered while doing my semi-regular clean of the shelves.  She cracked me up when I was telling her about the books though and as it turns out, a good friend of her’s will also be getting some books because she said, “Ooo, that sounds like something Peggy would read.”  Guess what Peggy, you’re getting’ some books!

I know some of these books may not make it back to me, some many take months before I see them again, and I’m good with that.  I’ve read them all and enjoyed them and it makes me happy to be able to share with friends and family stories I liked.  I’m also interested to hear what people think of the books.  A small part of me wonders if they will love them as much as I do.  That’s what sharing is all about and I’m sure my mom is glad to hear I’ve retained my skills.  🙂

And now for some link love…

Want to read reviews of the worst book ever?  This made me giggle it was so strange.

Fictional character quiz.

I don’t belong to a book club but this profile has me intrigued. I think one of the reasons I never enjoyed book clubs was because they always turned to gossip, nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to talk about the book and that never happened.  Do you belong to any book clubs?  How does it work for your group?

This is completely unrelated to books but I can’t help sharing.  SHARK WEEK starts today! I can’t tell you how excited I am.

Happy Sunday.  I’m off to spend another day indoors hiding from the heat.

Thoughts on my re-read of Little Women

Little Women

By Louisa May Alcott

Grosset & Dunlap, Inc.

ISBN: 0-448-06019-1

I’m not going to call this a review because it’s not.  If you want to read more about the book, google it.  I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about what I thought of it on this go around instead.

When I picked this up, I was in a slight reading slump and thought a beloved book from my childhood that I’ve always considered a comfort read would pull me out of it.  By page 40, I was so annoyed with everyone — Meg for bemoaning being poor, Jo for her hyper personality, Beth for all her goodness could only talk about being even better, Amy took me to the heights of annoyance over wanting to be so prim, proper and rich, and even dear Marmee started to rankle.  They were too perfect.  They were too moral.  Everything was a lesson.  Then something changed.  It was that dear old scene where Beth befriends Mr. Laurence and when the little piano arrives, she boldly walks next door to thank him properly for the joy he’s brought her.  The two become a pair content in a friendship that comes of music and Beth’s simple nature.  My annoyances dropped away and once more I felt at home.  It took me a minute though and even when I thought about dropping it, I couldn’t.  I didn’t want to leave the story on a bad note.

Sometimes when re-reading a story that is so loved, there creeps in the need to change it or to imagine it with different endings.  I’ve heard others talk about wanting Jo and Laurie to get together and while I can see that as a possible ending, and at one point in my life I felt it should have been that way, I found this time that I wanted Jo and the Professor to be together instead.  Yes, Jo and Laurie fit together perfectly but they are so alike that it wouldn’t feel satisfying to me now.  Somehow just like Marmee said!  Jo finds someone who appreciates her outbursts and willingness to learn by throwing herself so fully into things that she forgets about the world around her and there’s something lovely in that simple ending for her.  She finds not only love but a partner.

While I still found Jo to be my favorite, Meg and Amy left me wanting this time.  They were still, I don’t know how to put this, but still too preoccupied with the thoughts of others.  Amy does redeem herself but she felt small and slightly inconsequential.  Her romance with Laurie isn’t so much of a romance as a settling for me and maybe that’s why years ago I felt cheated by it and wanted Laurie to be with Jo.  Meg has a way of wrapping herself up so tightly in small things that she forgets there are others in her life, and when this happens in her marriage, I didn’t feel for her.  It was a normal reaction and the lesson from Marmee felt more like preaching and I sort of glossed over it.  Marriage is tough and Meg needed to find that out.  Yes, Marmee let her but it didn’t stop any discussion of the lesson learned.

Then there is the moral; make that morals.  There’s a lesson to be learned by one and all every day, rich or poor.  I felt preached to in the end by people better than me and that frustrated me.  Not because I think I’m a bad person, I think the contrary actually, but this time it weighed heavily.  It was probably my mood considering how busy life has been during the last few weeks but I was looking for comfort and I got a sermon.  I don’t remember it being this way on other reads but somewhere along the way I saw it all differently.  And I’m grateful for that.  I appreciate being able to take a book I’ve read and loved, re-examine it and look at it from a new perspective.  In some ways it became a more satisfying read this time even if I didn’t enjoy it as much.  I still adore this story and nothing in the world will change that but it’s interesting to see how my current life and experiences changes my reading and memories.


Today’s Book(s) and a Movie

I’ve still got two Harry Potter books — The Half-Blood Prince and The Deathly Hallows — to finish for my re-read this year.  Since we’re planning to head out of town today (traffic gods please be on our side, say 3PM, if that’s good for you), I decided there’s no better time to finish up the series than during the holidays so in the suitcase they went.  I’m not sure if I’ll actually be able to finish but I’m going to give it a good try.

I did get the chance to see part 1 of the Deathly Hallows the other night, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts on that too since I’m already talking about the boy wizard.  It’s not really a review, just a few thoughts.

First, I’m not a book purist.  I consider movies and books completely different mediums and I never believe that a book, especially a large book like Deathly Hallows, should follow exactly the same lines.  It’s just not feasible and I’m good with differences — even major differences don’t bother me.  That said, here’s what I thought.

I liked it.  Honestly, I thought about leaving it at that but it seemed like cheating.  I saw it on Imax so the special effects looked great, the acting was good, and you know right from the start that you’re no longer watching a cutesy movie about a kid learning spells.  People die, but there’s still some humor to put things in perspective. There are some very sad moments (When Hermione erases her parents memory is one.) and some very funny ones (Ron’s awkward way of telling Hermione that he’s in love with her and trying horribly to apologize for leaving both her and Harry in a rage.) that left me wanting more and very glad that I decided to re-read the series even if I hadn’t yet gotten to book seven.  I said the acting was good, and in particular, Emma Watson’s performance.  She’s matured dramatically and it shows.  And of course Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes are phenomenally bad in a good way.  I never imagined Voldemort as creepy as Fiennes makes him and there’s something to be said for that.

While I’m not a fan of two part movies like this, they did end it in a somewhat logical spot so I can’t complain about that other than I immediately wanted to see part two.  I’m trying not to give too many things away and realize this isn’t making much sense, so in my continuing attempts to remain spoiler free, I’ll just leave you with a trailer.

Have you seen the movie?  Any thoughts?

Booking Through Thursday – The Favorites Game

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks — Who’s your favorite author that other people are NOT reading? The one you want to evangelize for, the one you would run popularity campaigns for? The author that, so far as you’re concerned, everyone should be reading–but that nobody seems to have heard of. You know, not JK Rowling, not Jane Austen, not Hemingway–everybody’s heard of them. The author that you think should be that famous and can’t understand why they’re not…

Hmm, this is a tough one and the author I’m going to pick is not a complete unknown. I’m going to go with Michelle Moran (Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, and Cleopatra’s Daughter). I know, a lot of book bloggers talk about her but I found that people who don’t spend their time with noses buried in books (not a criticism, I always have my nose in a book too ;-)) don’t know about her. I introduced her to two of my co-workers who absolutely loved The Heretic Queen.

She creates great characters and her first three books were all set in Egypt or at least had Egypt as a central theme and it was a fantastic setting. Her descriptions are subtle but it’s obvious she knows her subjects and easily transports you back in time. Anytime anyone asks me about a book or an author that I like that’s a good, entertaining read, I recommend her.

Got any favorites of your own to share?