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The Great American Read

PBS has just finished their Great American Read program with the final results airing last evening. Readers were given a list of 100 books, from contemporary to classic and asked to vote as many times as they liked, for their favorites. Over four million voted were cast with the results listed below. The voting was close in some areas but the winner, To Kill A Mockingbird, led from beginning to end.

I was a little disappointed that my all time favorite,The Great Gatsby, finished in 15th place. Must have been the ballot stuffers that pushed it down and out of the top five. The list is pretty interesting, though I have to wonder how seriously I should take this if Fifty Shades go Grey is on the list. I mean, seriously?

Anyway, here is the list. For all I’ve read, it appears there is so much more out there to read.

Is your favorite on the list? Do you agree with the top five or ten?

Enjoy…and keep reading!

P.S. I wonder why The Bible didn’t make the list.

 

To Kill a Mockingbird cover

Best Loved

1

To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee

Outlander (Series) cover

Finalist

2

Outlander (Series)Diana Gabaldon

Harry Potter (Series) cover

Finalist

3

Harry Potter (Series)J.K. Rowling

Pride and Prejudice cover

Finalist

4

Pride and PrejudiceJane Austen

The Lord of the Rings (Series) cover

Finalist

5

The Lord of the Rings (Series)J.R.R. Tolkien
Gone with the Wind cover

6

Gone with the WindMargaret Mitchell
Charlotte's Web cover

7

Charlotte’s WebE. B. White
Little Women cover

8

Little WomenLouisa May Alcott
The Chronicles of Narnia (Series) cover

9

The Chronicles of Narnia (Series)C.S. Lewis
Jane Eyre cover

10

Jane EyreCharlotte Brontë
Anne of Green Gables cover

11

Anne of Green GablesLucy Maud Montgomery
The Grapes of Wrath cover

12

The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn cover

13

A Tree Grows in BrooklynBetty Smith
The Book Thief cover

14

The Book ThiefMarkus Zusak
The Great Gatsby cover

15

The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald
The Help cover

16

The HelpKathryn Stockett
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer cover

17

The Adventures of Tom SawyerMark Twain
1984 cover

18

1984George Orwell
And Then There Were None cover

19

And Then There Were NoneAgatha Christie
Atlas Shrugged cover

20

Atlas ShruggedAyn Rand
Wuthering Heights cover

21

Wuthering HeightsEmily Brontë
Lonesome Dove cover

22

Lonesome DoveLarry McMurtry
The Pillars of the Earth cover

23

The Pillars of the EarthKen Follett
The Stand cover

24

The StandStephen King
Rebecca cover

25

RebeccaDaphne du Maurier
A Prayer for Owen Meany cover

26

A Prayer for Owen MeanyJohn Irving
The Color Purple cover

27

The Color PurpleAlice Walker
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland cover

28

Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandLewis Carroll
Great Expectations cover

29

Great ExpectationsCharles Dickens
The Catcher in the Rye cover

30

The Catcher in the RyeJ.D. Salinger
Where the Red Fern Grows cover

31

Where the Red Fern GrowsWilson Rawls
The Outsiders cover

32

The OutsidersS. E. Hinton
The Da Vinci Code cover

33

The Da Vinci CodeDan Brown
The Handmaid's Tale cover

34

The Handmaid’s TaleMargaret Atwood
Dune cover

35

DuneFrank Herbert
The Little Prince cover

36

The Little PrinceAntoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Call of the Wild cover

37

The Call of the WildJack London
The Clan of the Cave Bear cover

38

The Clan of the Cave BearJean M. Auel
The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy cover

39

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The GalaxyDouglas Adams
The Hunger Games (Series) cover

40

The Hunger Games (Series)Suzanne Collins
The Count of Monte Cristo cover

41

The Count of Monte CristoAlexandre Dumas
The Joy Luck Club cover

42

The Joy Luck ClubAmy Tan
Frankenstein cover

43

FrankensteinMary Shelley
The Giver cover

44

The GiverLois Lowry
Memoirs of a Geisha cover

45

Memoirs of a GeishaArthur Golden
Moby Dick cover

46

Moby DickHerman Melville
Catch-22 cover

47

Catch-22Joseph Heller
Game of Thrones (Series) cover

48

Game of Thrones (Series)George R. R. Martin
Foundation (Series) cover

49

Foundation (Series)Isaac Asimov
War and Peace cover

50

War and PeaceLeo Tolstoy
Their Eyes Were Watching God cover

51

Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston
Jurassic Park cover

52

Jurassic ParkMichael Crichton
The Godfather cover

53

The GodfatherMario Puzo
One Hundred Years of Solitude cover

54

One Hundred Years of SolitudeGabriel García Márquez
The Picture of Dorian Gray cover

55

The Picture of Dorian GrayOscar Wilde
The Notebook cover

56

The NotebookNicholas Sparks
The Shack cover

57

The ShackWilliam P. Young
A Confederacy of Dunces cover

58

A Confederacy of DuncesJohn Kennedy Toole
The Hunt for Red October cover

59

The Hunt for Red OctoberTom Clancy
Beloved cover

60

BelovedToni Morrison
The Martian cover

61

The MartianAndy Weir
The Wheel of Time (Series) cover

62

The Wheel of Time (Series)Robert Jordan / Brandon Sanderson
Siddhartha cover

63

SiddharthaHermann Hesse
Crime and Punishment cover

64

Crime and PunishmentFyodor Dostoyevsky
The Sun Also Rises cover

65

The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time cover

66

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeMark Haddon
A Separate Peace cover

67

A Separate PeaceJohn Knowles
Don Quixote cover

68

Don QuixoteMiguel de Cervantes
The Lovely Bones cover

69

The Lovely BonesAlice Sebold
The Alchemist cover

70

The AlchemistPaulo Coelho
Hatchet (Series) cover

71

Hatchet (Series)Gary Paulsen
Invisible Man cover

72

Invisible ManRalph Ellison
The Twilight Saga (Series) cover

73

The Twilight Saga (Series)Stephenie Meyer
Tales of the City (Series) cover

74

Tales of the City (Series)Armistead Maupin
Gulliver's Travels cover

75

Gulliver’s TravelsJonathan Swift
Ready Player One cover

76

Ready Player OneErnest Cline
Left Behind (Series) cover

77

Left Behind (Series)Tim LaHaye / Jerry B. Jenkins
Gone Girl cover

78

Gone GirlGillian Flynn
Watchers cover

79

WatchersDean Koontz
The Pilgrim's Progress cover

80

The Pilgrim’s ProgressJohn Bunyan
Alex Cross Mysteries (Series) cover

81

Alex Cross Mysteries (Series)James Patterson
Things Fall Apart cover

82

Things Fall ApartChinua Achebe
Heart of Darkness cover

83

Heart of DarknessJoseph Conrad
Gilead cover

84

GileadMarilynne Robinson
Flowers in the Attic cover

85

Flowers in the AtticV.C. Andrews
Fifty Shades of Grey (Series) cover

86

Fifty Shades of Grey (Series)E.L. James
The Sirens of Titan cover

87

The Sirens of TitanKurt Vonnegut
This Present Darkness cover

88

This Present DarknessFrank E. Peretti
Americanah cover

89

AmericanahChimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Another Country cover

90

Another CountryJames Baldwin
Bless Me, Ultima cover

91

Bless Me, UltimaRudolfo Anaya
Looking for Alaska cover

92

Looking for AlaskaJohn Green
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao cover

93

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoJunot Díaz
Swan Song cover

94

Swan SongRobert R. McCammon
Mind Invaders cover

95

Mind InvadersDave Hunt
White Teeth cover

96

White TeethZadie Smith
Ghost cover

97

GhostJason Reynolds
The Coldest Winter Ever cover

98

The Coldest Winter EverSister Souljah
The Intuitionist cover

99

The IntuitionistColson Whitehead
Doña Bárbára cover

100

Doña BárbáraRómulo Gallegos

 

Double Edged Laughter

Interesting headline, don’t you think? So what was the first thought that came into your head when you read it? Come on, be honest. How about the second thought?

The real story behind this sports headline from several years ago was that Alex Rodriquez (A-Rod) hit a homer, (goes deep) and the Yankees pitcher, Chien-Ming Wang, (Wang) was injured running the bases in the same game. Did the newspaper intentionally print a suggestive double entendre headline? I’m sure they did. Did they accurately report the facts? Absolutely.

But here’s the thing. There were people who read that headline, like me, and laughed at the creativity and fun you can have with language, while others rolled their eyes, found it distasteful and hid it from the kids. I sometimes wonder what leads us to our individual reactions.

Personally, I can trace mine back to my mother. She wasn’t exactly June Cleaver. (Sorry, some of you may not remember this all American mother from the 50’s). She was different, someone who wasn’t afraid to say what she was thinking, even if those thoughts made some people blush. My mother didn’t really swear. She’d occasionally use the word hell or ass in a funny way but not in general language and nothing beyond that. Instead, she preferred using the double meaning of words in a humorous way. Sort of like the headline above.
She was funny. She loved to laugh and she loved seeing others laugh, which is why there were always people around her at a party. She loved hearing a good joke as much as telling one and if it was a bit racy, that was fine with her. She taught me about the power of humor early on, how it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself, how it can bring people together, the broad scope of it and how to play with the language in a fun and sometimes irreverent way. She had few boundaries and didn’t worry about who might be in the room. If someone was offended, she’d laugh and say they had “delicate ears.”

I was young when we started sharing jokes. If I heard a good one, I couldn’t wait to come home and tell her. I would watch as she made people laugh by twisting words into different meanings. My mother was Italian but father’s side of the family was very English and more conservative.  I can still see my very conservative Aunt Lydia blush at a story my mother was telling and laugh so hard her face turned red and her eyes watered. I can see my Aunt Sadie, whose lips never came near a curse word in her life, laugh so hard she couldn’t catch her breath, which in turn made me laugh just as hard. It was suggestive,  harmless fun.

Would all these relatives and friends be better people/christians/parents/spouses/aunts/uncles/cousins,  if they turned away from her suggestive humor and questioned her parenting abilities? Would my brother and I be better human beings if we never heard those jokes? Would we have been kicked out of Catholic school, the church and  not allowed to be altar boys for as long as we were if , God forbid, the priest and nuns knew of this “sinful” humor? Seems to me we grew up pretty well, married great ladies and raised terrific children. I don’t think anyone was scarred by her brand of humor and the jokes we heard or she told us.

As far as I know, laughter that wasn’t mean or hurtful never scarred anyone.

I just know that when I think of her, I smile. When I remember the irreverence of her stories and language, I laugh. Humor had few boundaries for her. She was a good person who enjoyed laughter and loved  sharing that laughter with others.

I would say that’s a life pretty well lived.

 

 

 

 

 

Intercourse

We always enjoy visiting Amish country around Lancaster, Pa. While retail outlets, hotels, entertainment venues and restaurants of every kind have taken away some of the simplicity and quaintness during the past thirty years, it still remains a peaceful, pretty place, as long as you where to go.

Pennsylvania Dutch Country has towns with unique names, (including the one below), which the retailers seem to have fun with.

During our last visit, I took some photos of the t-shirts for sale in some of the stores. I wonder what the Amish must think.

And yes, the town of Intercourse is actually between the towns of Blue Ball and Paradise. And yes, I own that baseball hat.

How could I not?

Carter

It was the end of the school day and the second grade class I was a substitute for that day was packed up and waiting to be called for their individual buses. Some were talking, some were playing games and some were showing off a bit, as second graders sometimes do.

When I looked over at Carter, he had a piece of construction paper out and was drawing what looked to be a card. Curious, I walked over and asked him what he was making. He told me it was a card for his mom. I asked him if it was for a special occasion, her birthday or something else but he just shook his head, smiled a little and said, “I just want to make her a card, but I don’t know what to write.”

I kneeled down next to him and asked him what he wanted to say. He looked at me and said, “I want to thank her for what she does for me.” I told him that was nice of him and maybe he can think of two or three things to write that stand out the most. He turned away from me, stared out the window and said, “She does everything for me. I don’t know how to write that.”

Before I could answer him or suggest some words, his bus was called and he had to leave. As I was driving home behind a school bus, I was wondering how his card would turn out and what he might write. Then the school bus stopped and I saw Carter step off, run over to a young woman, wrap his arms around her waist and press his head against her.

Maybe he finished the card that night, maybe the next day. Maybe he found the words he needed or maybe he’s still working on it. I’m not sure. But I smiled when I saw him hug his mom, not because he wanted to write that card or how his words made me feel. I smiled because…

Carter was home.

 

Three Quotes And A Photo

We took a two-week road trip recently through Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, (another blog), and I came across three quotes or phrases that I thought were fun, along with one very interesting photo.

The phrases first…

What is a bookshelf other than a treasure chest for a curious mind.
(I like this for all the obvious reasons)

Say what you will about the south but no one retires and moves north.
(I never thought about this before but there is some truth to the words)

Intoxicated people, children and leggings, never lie.
(Well now, we can go on forever about this line)

As for the photo, I was stopped at a light in Lexington, Kentucky and saw this window advertisement for the attached business.


Now, I’m not really sure what kind of establishment this is. Is it a bait and tackle shop? A bar and grill? I was thinking maybe both but the fine print right next to her lips and below the anchor says…you’re sure to catch something.

That altered my mindset just a bit. While I was tempted to investigate, I thought better of it and left when the light turned green. Not that I wasn’t curious but you know what they say about curiosity.

Besides, I just wasn’t in the mood to catch anything from a place called Ole Hookers.

Five Things

I read an article recently by Dr. Travis Bradberry who is the author of a bestselling book called Emotional Intelligence 2.0. In it, he speaks about how each of us are weighed down by at least 70 decisions each day; how we handle each of those decisions and how they affect our lives.
He also speaks about a palliative care nurse by the name of Bonnie Ware who works with people every day who are usually three to twelve months from dying.

According to Dr. Bradberry, Bonnie has made a habit of asking her patients, during their conversations, if they had any real regrets in life. The following five responses made the list every time.

** They wish they hadn’t made decisions based on what other people think.
They realized when they lived life for others, they either made poor career choices or compromised  their own morals.

** They wished they hadn’t worked so hard.
We are programmed or taught that hard work leads to certain results or rewards in life; that we are providing for our families, their futures and well-being. But balance has always been the key when it comes to how much time we spend at our jobs. When work compromises a person’s ability to communicate and connect with those we love most, then our priorities need to be reassessed. As the old saying goes, no one on their death-bed ever said, I wish I would have stayed at the office longer. 

** They wish the had expressed their feelings.
We always think we have more time to say the things we need or should say to others. When time runs out, the regret of not having said those things is sometimes difficult to accept. In the words of John Mayer, Say What You Need To Say

** They wish they had stayed in touch with their friends.
With our day-to-day routines pulling us in many different directions, it’s easy to lose track of friends. Then thirty years go by and you wonder how and why it happened. Reach out.

** They wish that had let themselves be happy.
This was an interesting one for me but as I thought about it I understood why it would be there. Michael J Fox was on a magazine cover no long ago; an individual who has battled Parkinson’s disease since he was thirty years old. On the cover he was quoted as saying, Happiness Is A Decision.
He’s absolutely right. We all encounter challenges in our lives. Some more so than others. How we face those challenges and live our lives is our choice. It may not always be easy to accept or live with those challenges but our lives would be much richer and rewarding if we can allow ourselves to be happy.

Happiness is our choice.

Five things that can make a difference in each of our lives. All we need to do is listen to the suggestions of those who truly understand.