Sunday, January 27, 2013

BW5: Book News

The Bookworm by Carl Spitzweg

 Book News

Pride and Prejudice is 200 years old and Jane Austen fans are celebrating with a Readathon on Monday at the Jane Austen Center in Bath with a 12 hour internet broadcast.

I'm currently reading Michael Crichton's Pirate Latitudes and have enjoyed reading many of his books including the Andromeda Strain and  Congo among others.   I have yet to read Micro which was published posthumously in 2011 and finished by Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone.  I just finished listening to NPR's Science Friday Book Club discussing The Andromeda Strain, speaking with Richard Preston and talking about Crichton's writing.  It's interesting so grab a cup of coffee or tea and sit back and listen. It's about 25 minutes long. 

Publisher's Weekly is talking about the 10 Most Anticipated Book Adaptations for 2013 which includes Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale which I have in my stacks.  The cast includes Russell Crowe, Will Smith, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Connelly which guarantees it's going to be an extraordinary movie (I hope).  The book has been calling my name more and more lately saying read me, read me now.  

Drop by PW's blog PWxyz and vote in their Who is the Greatest American Writer Poll.  I think I need to read a few more books from these classic writers because I can't decide.

Authors and bloggers you should put on your check it out and follow lists:

Stainless Steel Droppings 

Literary Escapism 

Whatever - author John Scalzi

Murderati  - group of murder mystery writers 

Since Charles Dickens birthday is February 7th, I am declaring February Read Dicken's month so start thinking about which Dicken's books you'd like to read. I failed my own challenge to read Oliver Twist last year, so here's my second chance.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read something by Dickens during the month of February.  

Link to your reviews:    Please link to your specific book review 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, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

BW4: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

The 5th fiction book in Susan Wise Bauer's Well Educated Mind list of great reads is Charles Dicken's 2nd Novel Oliver Twist.  Originally published in serial form in Bentley's Miscellany, it ran monthly from February 1837 through April 1839. For those who aren't familiar with the story, it's about a young orphan who ends up living in London with a gang of pickpockets. Dickens used the story to call attention to the treatment of orphans, child labor, poverty and the seedier side of London's criminal element. 

Chapter One

 Chapter I

Treats of the place where Oliver Twist was born, and of the circumstances attending his birth. 

Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.

For a long time after it was ushered into this world of sorrow and trouble, by the parish surgeon, it remained a matter of considerable doubt whether the child would survive to bear any name at all; in which case it is somewhat more than probable that these memoirs would never have appeared; or, if they had, that being comprised within a couple of pages, they would have possessed the inestimable merit of being the most concise and faithful specimen of biography, extant in the literature of any age or country.

Although I am not disposed to maintain that the being born in a workhouse, is in itself the most fortunate and enviable circumstance that can possibly befall a human being, I do mean to say that in this particular instance, it was the best thing for Oliver Twist that could by possibility have occurred. The fact is, that there was considerable difficulty in inducing Oliver to take upon himself the office of respiration,- a troublesome practice, but one which custom has rendered necessary to our easy existence; and for some time he lay gasping on a little flock mattress, rather unequally poised between this world and the next: the balance being decidedly in favour of the latter. 

Now, if, during this brief period, Oliver had been surrounded by careful grandmothers, anxious aunts, experienced nurses, and doctors of profound wisdom, he would most inevitably and indubitably have been killed in no time. There being nobody by, however, but a pauper old woman, who was rendered rather misty by an unwonted allowance of beer; and a parish surgeon who did such matters by contract; Oliver and Nature fought out the point between them. The result was, that, after a few struggles, Oliver breathed, sneezed, and proceeded to advertise to the inmates of the workhouse the fact of a new burden having been imposed upon the parish, by setting up as loud a cry as could reasonably have been expected from a male infant who had not been possessed of that very useful appendage, a voice, for a much longer space of time than three minutes and a quarter. 

As Oliver gave this first proof of the free and proper action of his lungs, the patchwork coverlet which was carelessly flung over the iron bedstead, rustled; the pale face of a young woman was raised feebly from the pillow; and a faint voice imperfectly articulated the words, "Let me see the child, and die." 

The surgeon had been sitting with his face turned towards the fire: giving the palms of his hands a warm and a rub alternately. As the young woman spoke, he rose, and advancing to the bed's head, said, with more kindness than might have been expected of him: 

"Oh, you must not talk about dying yet." 

"Lor bless her heart, no!" interposed the nurse, hastily depositing in her pocket a green glass bottle, the contents of which she had been tasting in a corner with evident satisfaction. "Lor bless her dear heart, when she has lived as long as I have, sir, and had thirteen children of her own, and all on 'em dead except two, and them in the wurkus with me, she'll know better than to take on in that way, bless her dear heart! Think what it is to be a mother, there's a dear young lamb, do." 

Apparently this consolatory perspective of a mother's prospects failed in producing its due effect. The patient shook her head, and stretched out her hand towards the child. The surgeon deposited it in her arms. She imprinted her cold white lips passionately on its forehead; passed her hands over her face; gazed wildly round; shuddered; fell back- and died. They chafed her breast, hands, and temples; but the blood had stopped for ever. They talked of hope and comfort. They had been strangers too long. 

"It's all over, Mrs. Thingummy!" said the surgeon at last. 

"Ah, poor dear, so it is!" said the nurse, picking up the cork of the green bottle, which had fallen out on the pillow, as she stooped to take up the child. "Poor dear!" 

"You needn't mind sending up to me, if the child cries, nurse," said the surgeon, putting on his gloves with great deliberation. "It's very likely it will be troublesome. Give it a little gruel if it is." He put on his hat, and, pausing by the bed-side on his way to the door, added, "She was a good-looking girl, too; where did she come from?" 

"She was brought here last night," replied the old woman, "by the overseer's order. She was found lying in the street. She had walked some distance, for her shoes were worn to pieces; but where she came from, or where she was going to, nobody knows." 

The surgeon leaned over the body, and raised the left hand. "The old story," he said, shaking his head: "no wedding ring, I see. Ah! Good night!" 

The medical gentleman walked away to dinner; and the nurse, having once more applied herself to the green bottle, sat down on a low chair before the fire, and proceeded to dress the infant. 

What an excellent example of the power of dress, young Oliver Twist was! Wrapped in the blanket which had hitherto formed his only covering, he might have been the child of a nobleman or a beggar; it would have been hard for the haughtiest stranger to have assigned him his proper station in society. But now that he was enveloped in the old calico robes which had grown yellow in the same service, he was badged and ticketed, and fell into his place at once- a parish child- the orphan of a workhouse- the humble, half-starved drudge- to be cuffed and buffeted through the world- despised by all, and pitied by none. 

Oliver cried lustily. If he could have known that he was an orphan, left to the tender mercies of churchwardens and overseers, perhaps he would have cried the louder.

 Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review 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, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post. 


Sunday, January 13, 2013

BW3: Pierre Berton

Pierre Berton July 12, 1920 - Nov 30, 2004

Pierre Berton, born and raised in the Yukon, had a long career as a journalist, writer and television show host and was considered one of Canada's best known personalities who enjoyed writing about his country's history. He earned many awards throughout his career including an award named after him -  The Pierre Berton Award from Canada's National History Society.

From 1956 until 2004 he wrote many books about the history of Canada including 

If you have any interest in writing, check out The Berton House Writer's Retreat program which is held in Berton's childhood home in Dawson, City, Yukon.

 Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review 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, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

BW2: Audible Atwood

Since we are starting out the new year with traveling through Canada, I thought we'd take along an audiobook or two or three.  Before you turn up your nose at audiobooks, you have to know that I haven't always liked them either. Up until last year, I  had great difficulties even listening to one.  My problem is voices.  If I find a voice annoying, then forget it.  So I have to listen to all the samples, make sure I like the narrator.  Then I discovered I have a preference for female narrators versus male.   The ladies just seem to do a better job of male voices.  The males end up sound like those performers in those off broadway female impersonator shows and throw me completely out of the story.  Just think Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes in To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar and you'll understand.   

I started listening to audiobooks in the car which had the interesting side effect of not worrying about all the idiot drivers on the road and enjoying the ride.  After a period of time found myself listening while gardening or drawing - relatively mindless, put your mind on auto pilot tasks, otherwise I'd tune them out.  Now I love audiobooks and have been working my way through J.D. Robb's entire series of In Death. I've already read the series twice but listening to it is an experience in itself.

Alright, have I talked you into trying an audio book yet?  Which brings us to our tour through Canada with Canadian authors.   Who better to start with than Margaret Atwood. She is most well known for the dystopian story,  The Handmaid's Tale,  which I read eons and eons ago.  I'm trying to decide which one of her other stories I should try now.

And if you enjoy dystopian, then you would probably enjoy the world of werewolves and demons with Kelley Armstrong  or William Gibson's world of cyberpunk. I just started reading Neuromancer which is supposedly the book that captured the imagination of lots of writers and inspired the film, The Matrix.  Looks like I'll be doing a book to movie comparison at some point. 

If fiction isn't your thing or you just want to learn a bit of Canadian history check  out  Pierre Berton, or Farley Mowat, or relax listening to the stories of  Alice Munro or Jane Urguhart or Miriam Toews.

Sterling Point Books: Stampede for Gold: The Story of the Klondike Rush | Pierre Berton Mowat: Never Cry Wolf | Farley MowatDear Life: Stories | Alice MunroThe View from Castle Rock (Unabridged Selections) | Alice MunroA Map of Glass | Jane UrquhartThe Flying Troutmans | Miriam Toews

There are a variety of free audio book sites online for your perusal:  


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks

Welcome to the 2013 Read 52 Books in 52 Week Challenge

Also the home of the Mind Voyages, Well Educated Mind, Inspiration Reading Project and various mini challenges.  
The rules are very simple and the goal is to read one book (at least) a week for 52 weeks.

  1. The challenge will run from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013. 
  2. Our book weeks will begin on Sunday  
  3. Participants may join at any time.
  4. All books are acceptable except children books.**
  5. All forms of books are acceptable including e-books, audio books, etc.
  6. Re-reads are acceptable as long as they are read after January 1, 2013.
  7. Books may overlap other challenges.
  8. Create an entry post linking to this blog. 
  9. Come back and sign up with Mr. Linky in the "I'm participating post" below this post.
  10. You don't have a blog to participate.  Post your weekly book in the comments section of each weekly post.  
  11. Mr. Linky will be added to the bottom of the weekly post for you to link to reviews of your most current 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.  

Week 1 - Journey to your imagination
Courtesy Robert Bartow
Happy New Year and welcome to Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks.  Welcome back to all those who are joining me for another round and to those who are joining in for the first time. 

Are you ready to climb the stairs of your imagination and take another mind voyage.    You can dive down into the deepest ocean, climb the highest mountain,  or blast off in a rocket that will take you to the outer edges of the galaxy.   There are no limits when you read.   I think it going to be a fun, interesting, educational, entertaining, enlightening year.  

The rules are very simple. Read 52 Books. That's it. How you get there is up to you.  We have several optional challenges which are listed in the link bar above to stimulate your imagination and help you on your reading journeys.   Also throughout the year, I'll be presenting you with random mini weekly challenges such as pick a book by its cover, your birth year or one with a certain number or color.  Challenge you to read a book in a different genre or a new to you author.    

Your first mission, should you choose to accept it, involves reading across the continents.   We are starting off the year in Canada and will eventually end up Antarctica.  Every couple months we'll travel to another continent.  You can travel along or meander your way around the world.  So put on your reading shoes, get comfortable and enjoy.  I think 2013 is going to be an amazing year and I'm looking forward to hearing all about your reads.

Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review 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, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post.