Sunday, December 31, 2017



Welcome to the 2017 Read 52 Books in 52 Week Challenge


Also the home of Well Educated Mind, Dusty and Chunky, Birthstone Bookology,
52 Books Bingo, Mind Voyages and various mini challenges. 


The rules are very simple and the goal - read one book a week for 52 weeks.



  • The challenge will run from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017. 
  • Our book weeks will begin on Sunday 
  • Participants may join at any time. 
  • All books are acceptable except children books.** 
  • All forms of books are acceptable including e-books, audio books, etc. 
  • Re-reads are acceptable as long as they are read after January 1, 2017 
  • Books may overlap other challenges. 
  • Create an entry post linking to this blog. 
  • Sign up with Mr. Linky in the "I'm participating post" in the sidebar
  • You don't have a blog to participate. Post your weekly book in the comments section of each weekly post. 
  • Mr. Linky will be added to the bottom of the weekly post for you to link to reviews of your reads. 

All the mini challenges are optional. Mix it up anyway you like. The goal is to read 52 books. How you get there is up to you.




**in reference to children books. If it is a child whose reading it and involved in the challenge, then that's okay. If an adult is doing read aloud with kids, the book should be geared for the 9 - 12 age group and above and over 100 pages. If adult reading for own enjoyment, then a good rule of thumb to go by "is there some complexity to the story or is it too simple?" If it's too simple, then doesn't count.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

BW29: First Hugo Award - Alfred Bester for The Demolished Man



The very first Hugo Award for excellence in fantasy and science fiction was awarded to Alfred Bester for The Demolished Man.   




"Back cover:  "In 2301 A.D., guns are only museum pieces and benign telepaths sweep the minds of the populace to detect crimes before they happen.  In 2301 A.D., homicide is virtually impossible--but one man is about to change that.   In this classic science fiction novel, the first to win the prestigious Hugo award, a psychopathic business magnate devises the ultimate scheme to eliminate the competition and destroy the order of his society.  Hurtling from the orgies of a future aristocracy to a deep space game preserve, and across the densely realized subcultures of psychic doctors, grifters, and police, The Demolished Man is a masterpiece of high-tech suspense, set in a world in which everything has changed except for the ancient instinct for murder."

The people in Bester's futuristic world are peepers and can read each other's minds.   There are three different classes of Espers - the most common class three types hear what others are thinking at the moment, Class two peepers read a bit deeper and hear inner thoughts.     Class one go even deeper and pick up on peoples most inner urges before they even think about them and are therefore all involved in law enforcement and the government.   Bester illustrates how high evolved peepers think and converse telepathically with and at each other and it looks something like this:






Which makes for some rather interesting reading until the characters start to think in cohesive patterns.  So what happens when Reich decides to break the law and is determined to find a way to disguise his thoughts.   He goes to a songwriter who teaches him a song that he won't be able to get out of his head for a month.  

"A tune of utter monotony filled the room with agonizing, unforgettable banality.  It was the quintessence of every melodic cliche' Reich had ever heard.  No matter what melody you tried to remember, it invariably led down the path of familiarity to "Tensor, Said the Tensor."  Then Duffy began to sing.

Eight, sir; seven, sir;
Six, sir; five, sir;
Four, sir; three sir;
two sir; one!
Tenser, said the Tensor
Tenser, said the Tensor 
Tension, apprehension 
and dissension have begun. 

"Oh my God!"  Reich exclaimed.

"I've got some real gone tricks in that tune," Duffy said, still playing.  "Notice the beat after 'one? That's a semi-cadence. Then you get another beat after 'begun.' That turns the end of the song into a semi-cadence, too, so you can't ever end it.  The beat keeps you running in circles, like:  Tension, apprehension, and dissention have begun.  RIFF. Tension, apprehension, and dissension has begun. Riff..."

What would be more annoying? All the people talking or getting that song stuck in your head? *grin* The Demolished Man is a fun and enjoyable read and has definitely withstood the test of time. Alfred Bester also wrote "Tiger, Tiger," which was released in the U.S. as "The Stars My Destination", plus many other short stories. He wrote the non fiction book "The Life and Death of a Satellite" in 1966. 

Be sure to check out Bester's books as well as the rest of the Hugo Award winners.


*******************************************************************************
Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.






Sunday, July 9, 2017

BW28: Octavia Butler

Courtesy of Goodreads


Octavia Butler, born June 22, 1947, started creating stories in her head at the age of four and by the time she turned 13, was writing stories about new worlds on her mother's Remington typewriter. After college, she earned a spot in the Screenwriters Guild Open Door Program where she captured the attention of Harlan Ellison who encouraged her to do the Clarion Science Fiction Writer's workshop, where she also met Samuel Delaney.  Crossover, her first story was published in an anthology of student work.  From there, she  went on to publish twelve best selling novels as well as numerous short stories. She won several awards and is the first and only science fiction writer to win the MacArthur 'Genius' Fellowship.   Butler passed away in February 24, 2006 at the age of 59.

Clockshop launched Radio Imagination in 2016 to honor Octavia on the tenth anniversary of her death with a year long celebration including a series of performances and literary events.  As they so eloquently state:  
With Black female protagonists, radical notions of kinship, and a keen understanding of power dynamics, Butler’s writing revamped the conventions of the science fiction genre. Butler’s bold imagining of the future has come to inform the way we live now. 2016 marks the 10-year anniversary of Butler’s death.
 Exploring far-reaching issues of race, gender, power and, ultimately what it means to be human, Butler broke ground as a black woman writing science fiction—a genre dominated by white men. “I’m black, I’m solitary, I’ve always been an outsider,” The Los Angeles Times quoted Butler as saying in 1998. Her work suggested new ways of thinking and new models of working for generations of writers and artists to come

Emanuela Grinberg on CNN.com talks more about Clockwork and how Los Angeles Celebrates Octavia Butler, a Visionary among Futurists



In January of this year, Abrams ComicArts released a graphic novel edition of Kindred 




More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler’s mysterious and moving story, which spans racial and gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century.

Butler’s most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.


She has written three different series over the years:  Patternist, Xenogenesis and Parables.  SWFA provides a excellent chronological list of how to read her books.  I currently have Dawn in my stacks waiting to be read.  Find out more about Octavia through Portalist's 15 Fascinating Facts about Octavia Butler.

Join me in celebrating our author of the month and reading one of her novels this year. 


*******************************************

Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.





Sunday, July 2, 2017

BW27: Scifi July




We embracing the heat with Scifi July, our author of the month, Octavia Butler as well as this month's gemstone, Ruby.  This month we are celebrating Independence Day in the United States in honor of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, 241 years ago on July 4, 1776.  July is also National Blueberry, Hot dog, Ice Cream and Cell Phone Courtesy month.  Let's not forget Video Game day, Embrace your Geekness day, Global Hug Your Kids day as well as Ugly Truck Day and Threading the Needle Day. 

Our birthstone of the month is one of my favorites - Ruby.  Is anyone else thinking of Dorothy with her ruby red slippers.   There's no place like home.   You may choose to spell out the word, reading one book per letter or read a book with the name or the colors of the stone in the title.  Or perhaps find an author whose name is Ruby.   You may decide to find a book set in the time period where the birthstone was discovered or surrounding the myth and lore or set in countries where the birthstone is currently found.

Rubies were originally discovered in Myanmar (Burma) in the ancient times and soldiers thought the stones made them invincible.  Rubies have long been believed to symbols of passion, protections and prosperity. They were traded along China's North Silk Road and the stones were buried beneath the foundations of building to secure good fortune. Thailand is the main source today and the gemstones area also found in India, Madagascar, Russia, Kenya, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  

Our armchair travels continue as we delve into Science Fiction this month.  According to the Gunn Center for the study of science fiction, the genre is the literature of the human species encountering change through science, technology, and cultural shifts as well as ideas and philosophy, alternative point of view and an approach to understanding the universe.  More simply put, it is speculative fiction about the future, taking us through time and space and parallel universes.  

The sub genres vary from alien invasion to steampunk to artificial intelligence to nanotechnology to space operas. World's Without End has always been a fun site to explore  when it comes to finding science fiction and fantasy reads.  Other sites include Unbound Worlds, Tor, and SFFworld.  Our mini challenge - Mind Voyages  - also provides a variety of Hugo and Nebula award winners and nominees from which to choose. Octavia Butler, our author of the month, won numerous awards for her science fiction short stories, novelettes and books.  I have Dawn in my book stacks to read this month and will talk more about Octavia next week. 

Happy reading! 



******************************************************

Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post






'


Sunday, June 25, 2017

BW26: Pearls, Pearls, and More Pearls

Courtesy of National Geographic and John Humbert 

Do you remember back in the 90's when pearl parties were all the rage.  One of my friends hosted and I 'found' three pearls. They are still in little pink folders in my jewelry box.  Occasionally I take them out, reminisce and back in they go.  One of these days I'll figure out what to do with them.  

Have you managed to spell Pearl or read a book about pearls or by an author named Pearl or one with Pearl in the title yet?  If not, you are in luck.  This week, Monday June 26th is Pearl S. Buck's birthday.   In 1938, she was the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature - 


"for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces".

I remember reading Pearl S. Buck's books way back in my 20's, but I think it was my mother's Readers Digest condensed versions which is probably why I didn't appreciate her works as much as I should have at that age.  As we say with age comes wisdom and since I've finally developed a fondness for historical fiction, I'm ready to dive in.  How about you?  

We have many choices since she wrote over 70 books including novels, story collections, biographies, autobiographies, poetry, drama as well as Chinese translations.  Learn more about Pearl with Peter Conn's Rediscovering Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography or through writer Anchee Min's Pearl of China.  Plus check out writers following in her path at the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center and read author contributions in the Spring 2017 Literary Journal


Stories with Pearl in the title include: 






You can follow a few rabbit trails and read about Pearl Harbor, the band Pearl Jam or even art in the Islamic empire with Pearls on a String.


Happy reading! 

*********************************************************
Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post









Sunday, June 18, 2017

BW25: June Equinox



Happy Father's Day to all our dad's.  Are you ready for the June solstice - the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest day in the Southern Hemisphere?   The Solstice is upon us Wednesday the 21st and Summer officially begins here on the northern side of the world.   However, it seems to have arrived a few days early.    We are in the midst of a heat wave with over 100 degree temps expected for a week or more, so I'll be hibernating at home, cool and cozy.    

You can jump into summer or winter reads, depending on your location,  choosing books that are synonymous with the season. Or you can dive into one (or two or three) of those chunky and dusty books sitting on your shelves that you haven't had to time to read during the busyness of the year. A number of Well Trained Mind 52 Books readers are taking the plunge with Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, including myself. 

If you've haven't read War and Peace, now would be a great time to do so.    If you've already read the story, it is the perfect opportunity to  reread it.  I read it a few years back and devoured the story in a couple weeks, so I'm looking forward to reading it a bit more slowly and taking in all the fine details.  

Tolstoy blends history with fiction to create a fascinating, educational, classical story about war, politics, society, family, love, culture, and power. A character study during the early 1800's and impact the French invasion of Russia had upon five aristocratic families. 

Synopsis (Briggs translation):  "At a lavish party in St. Petersburg in 1805, amid the glittering crystal and chandeliers, the room buzzes with talk of the prospect of war. Soon battle and terror will engulf the country, and the destinies of its people will be changed forever. War and Peace has as its backdrop Napoleon's invasion of Russia and at its heart three of literature's most memorable characters: Pierre Bezukhov, a quixotic young man in search of life's meaning; Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, a cynical intellectual transformed by suffering in war; and the bewitching Natasha Rostov, whose impulsiveness threatens to destroy her happiness. As they seek fulfillment, fall in love, make mistakes, and become scarred by conflict in different ways, these characters and their stories interweave with those of a huge cast, from aristocrats to peasants, from soldiers to Napoleon himself. Battles, love affairs, births, deaths, changing family fortunes, unforgettable scenes of wolf hunts, Russian dancing, starlit troika rides, the great comet of 1812--the entire spectrum of human life is here in all its grandeur and imperfection."


Have I talked you into it yet?  *grin*  If you aren’t completely convinced, check out Andrew Kaufman’s Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times.  Also check out Tolstoy Therapy’s  Why Read War and Peace: Reasons why I love Tolstoy’s Masterpiece  and also his  Tips for Reading War and Peace


We're going to take it slowly with plenty of time built in to talk about the story.  There are four volumes, with three to five parts each and the epilogue.  Each volume will probably take you approximately two to three weeks depending on your reading speed, plus the density of the story.  

Volume One

Part 1  Ch 1 to 25 (110 pages)
Part 2  Ch 1 to 21 (95 pages)
Part 3  Ch 1 to 19 (100 pages)

Volume Two

Part 1 Ch 1 to 16 (56 pages)
Part 2 Ch 1 to 21 (78 pages)
Part 3 Ch 1 to 26 (79 pages)
Part 4 Ch 1 to 13 (54 pages)
Part 5 Ch 1 to 22 (75 pages)

Volume Three 

Part 1 Ch 1 to 23 (87 pages)
Part 2 Ch 1 to 39 (154 pages)
Part 3 Ch 1 to 34 (122 pages)

Volume Four 

Part 1 Ch 1 to 16 (57 pages)
Part 2 Ch 1 to 19 (49 pages)
Part 3 Ch 1 to 19 (49 pages)
Part 4 Ch 1 to 20 (60 pages)

Epilogue 

Part 1  Ch 1 - 16 (157 pages)
Part 2  Ch 1 - 12 (41 pages)

Join us in reading Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace!



******************************************************************************
Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post






Sunday, June 11, 2017

BW24: Happy 20th Anniversary to Harry Potter!





In 1990 the imaginary world of Harry Potter began while J.K. Rowling traveled on a train from Manchester to King's Cross.  J.K. Rowling was twenty five at the time and over a five year period, mapped out the seven books in the series.  The first book was published on June 26, 1997 by Bloomsbury Children's books, titled Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.  A year later,  the book was published in the United States as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  


This month Bloomsbury is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and has released four new editions, in both hardback and paperback of  The Philosopher's Stone, each with the crest of the family houses on the cover. The books are also available on Amazon.uk and I've ordered the whole set.   Beginning October 2017, the British Library will launch an exposition, inspired by and including Harry Potter and the history of magic.   

The story caused quite a turmoil within many religious communities leading to debates over the the use of witchcraft and magic and how it would influence children.   The controversy stirred my curiosity so I read the book and fell in love with Harry Potter's world and went on to read the whole series.  When my son was old enough to read the series, we read them together and currently listening to the series in audio book.  We're just finished Harry Potter and the Half Book Prince.


If you haven't had the opportunity to listen to the books yet, they are available on Audible.   Jim Dale is an awesome narrator, capturing all the character's voices, bringing the story alive, pulling you into their world.  

Join me this month is reading Harry Potter! 


***********************************************************
Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.






Sunday, June 4, 2017

BW23: Fantasy June




American Gem Society 



Adieu fair May, bonjour sweet Fantasy June.   June is turning into a very busy reading month. We are celebrating all things fantasy including the 20th anniversary of the publication of J.K.Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  We are also celebrating Father's Day and well as the June Solstice which ushers in Summer in the Northern Hemisphere and Winter in the Southern Hemisphere. With the beginning of Summer, we will be also diving into a summer read-along of  Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace starting on June 18th. 

We have three birthstones to choose from the the June Birthstone Bookology reading challenge - Pearl, Moonstone or Alexandrite.  You may choose to spell out the word, reading one book per letter or read a book with the name or the colors of the stone in the title.  Or perhaps find an author whose name is Pearl, Moonstone, or Alexandrite.   You may decide to find a book set in the time period where the birthstone was discovered or surrounding the myth and lore or set in countries where the birthstone is currently found.

The first recorded mention of natural pearls was in 2206BC by a Chinese historian. Cultured pearls (those grown on pearl farms) were produced by the Japanese and Chinese sometime in the 20th century.  Moonstones were discovered back in ancient times and Pliny wrote of how the stone's appearance shifted with the moon phases. The discovery of Alexandrite dates back to imperial Russia where it was found in the emerald mines in the Ural mountains. 

We'll be exploring both Fantasy and Science Fiction over the next two months.  Our armchair travels this month are taking us into the world of Fantasy as we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, as well as the imagery worlds that exist outside of ordinary life, time and/or space.  More on the world of Harry Potter next week.    The fantasy genre encompasses a wide range of subgenres from fairy tales and myth to alternative history to magical realism to alternative histories to romance fantasy, just to name a few.   

There are a plethora of fantasy sites with plenty of books and articles including:

Unbound Worlds 
Tor
Literary Escapism
Fantasy-Fiction
Best Fantasy Books
SFSignal


Plenty of rabbit trails to follow and opportunities to fill your shelves with intriguing and entertain and/or fun beach reads.  

Happy Reading! 



******************************************************************************
Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.






Sunday, May 28, 2017

BW22: Bookish notes and birthdays




It's time for another round of bookish notes and birthdays.  A potpourri of books and birthdays as we usher out Eastward/Emerald May.

When you think of emeralds, what comes to mind?  How could we forget the emerald Isle's.   How about reading story set in  Emerald Isle, North Carolina or Emerald Isle of Ireland?  Check out Irish Central's Top Ten Irish novelists in History.  Nor should we forget Cleopatra, since emeralds were her favorite gemstone.  I have Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra: A Life currently on my shelves and have been wanting to read Michelle Moran's Cleopatra's Daughter for some time.  Browse through Goodread's list of nonfiction and fiction reads about Cleopatra and delve into her life.

Monday is Memorial Day here in the United States where we honor those who died fighting for our country.  Writer's Relief lists Our Memorial Day Reading list: A Tribute to Those who served.  The Art of Manliness has a great post with 43 Books about War every man (and woman) should read.

On the 50th anniversary of the publication of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, Alvaro santana-Acuna ponders in The Atlantic: How It Became a Classic.


Author Birthdays:

May 28 - James Bond novelist - Ian Fleming and Australian Nobel Prize winner for literature - Patrick White

May 29 - Essayist - G.K. Chesterton and British novelist - T.H. White

May 30 - Children's writer - Countee Cullen and Argentine poet - Juan Gelman


May 31 - Essayist - Walt Whitman and poet - Elizabeth Coastworth

Have fun following rabbit trails!


**************************************************************

Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.



Sunday, May 21, 2017

BW21: Happy Birthday Ralph Waldo Emerson

May 25, 1803 


This week is the anniversary of Ralph Waldo Emerson's birthday so thought I'd leave you with one of his poems.  His complete works including essays and poems are available online at RWE.ORG.








The House

There is no architect
Can build as the muse can
She is skilful to select
Materials for her plan;

Slow and warily to choose
Rafters of immortal pine,
Or cedar incorruptible,
Worthy her design.

She threads dark Alpine forests,
Or valleys by the sea,
In many lands, with painful steps,
Ere she can find a tree.

She ransacks mines and ledges,
And quarries every rock,
To hew the famous adamant,
For each eternal block.

She lays her beams in music,
In music every one,
To the cadence of the whirling world
Which dances round the sun.

That so they shall not be displaced
By lapses or by wars,
But for the love of happy souls
Outlive the newest stars.






*********************************************
Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

BW20: Happy Mother's Day

In the Garden - George Goodwin Kilbourne


Happy Mother's day, my lovelies. Whether your child is 6 months, 6, 16, 26 or even 36, you are there for middle of the night feedings to middle of the night heartfelt chats. Motherhood's nest is always open and ever comforting.  And when you need wisdom, a dose of I told you so, a good laugh, a healing cry or a not so patient nudge out the door, you can rely on your mom to know the right thing to do.

Your mission is to read a book about mothers.  There are many different avenues to pursue from essays to humor to self help to real life to fiction. Books about mothering, motherhood, mothers and son or mothers and daughters. Nurturing and creating, cooking and tending.  Relationships and life, rights and wrongs.  Books talking about traditions and different cultures and how mothers are honored around the world.   Find a book with mother in the title or challenge yourself to read several books with one letter in the title to spell out mother.  












Happy reading!


******************************************************

Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

BW19: W. Somerset Maugham

W. Somerset Maugham - Courtesy of Carl Van Vechten 



It is a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything 
but the best, you very often get it. ~ W. Somerset Maugham



Our armchair travels are taking us to India as we follow in the footsteps of W. Somerset Maugham. This post is brought to you by Jane, one of our 52 Books Well Trained Mind Book a weeker's, who kindly offered to guest post this week.


************************************************

If I had only one word to describe W. Somerset Maugham's writing, it would be "exquisite." Not that I have read everything produced by this prolific novelist and playwright, but those works that I have read never disappointed.

Maugham was a best selling author in his day with many of his novels being made into films. What is often called his masterpiece, Of Human Bondage, was transformed from page to screen three times. The same is true for The Painted Veil. I can't help but wonder if the exotic settings of many of Maugham's novels contributed to his popularity in the teens, twenties and thirties. The Moon and Sixpence, loosely based on the life of painter Paul Gauguin, is set in Paris and Tahiti, The Painted Veil in China. The book we are about to read, The Razor's Edge, will carry us to India. But more on that book later.

Maugham was born in 1874 into a family of lawyers. He lost his mother at age 8, his father two year's later. His childhood under the care of his uncle was dismal and lonely.

Eventually Maugham finds his path. He attends medical school, but on the side he is always writing. London's turn of the century slums where he does medical work provide insight into the human soul.

When WWI begins, Maugham is too old to enlist but joins other literary comrades in the so called Literary Ambulance Corps. Before America's involvement in the war, Hemingway, E.E. Cummings, Archibald MacLeish were among the volunteers. Robert Service and Jerome K Jerome were also among the drivers. (Idea for a 2018 Bingo square: WWI Literary Ambulance Corps author!!)

After the war, Maugham joins British intelligence which leads to another book, Ashenden: Or the British Agent.

The Razor's Edge comes later in this career. Published in 1944, this novel focuses on a wounded WWI veteran who abandons his comfortable American life to pursue truth. From war to the Depression, from Chicago to Paris to India, we shall follow Larry Durrell as he seeks to find the meaning of his life.

I suspect when all is said and done that many of you will also find the writing of W. Somerset Maugham to be exquisite.

Please join me in reading Razor's Edge or the book of your choice by W.Somerset Maugham.

*****************************************************


Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.