Tag Archives: History

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

 

Remembering

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, January 10, 1946

We sometimes have a tendency to glamorize war in books and movies. Those who have been there understand it’s much worse than anything that’s been filmed or written. It never captures the brutality or long-lasting consequences.

Last fall I had an opportunity to visit the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va. When we were planning a trip to NC/Va, I came across this town and wondered why The D-Day Memorial would be placed in a small farming town of a little over six thousand people in Central Virginia. In 1940, just before World War II, Bedford numbered less than four thousand residents.

During the Battle of D-Day, Company A of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division, were among the first wave of American soldiers to hit the beaches of Normandy. Nineteen boys from rural Bedford were killed in the first few minutes of landing. Another three boys were killed shortly after. In all, 22 young men from Bedford lost their lives, giving this small community the distinction of having the highest number of casualties, per capita, of anywhere in the country.

           

The story of this town and those that were lost is told in a book titled, The Bedford Boys. In many ways, the town of Bedford died on D-Day. The story of the boys that were lost, how if affected their families and the town itself is a reminder that war, though sometimes necessary, has consequences that can last for generations. It’s a book that should be read by all Americans.

Today is a day we remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and the freedoms we enjoy. Please remember them and their families.

God Bless them all.

It’s the Soldier, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It’s the Soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech

It’s the Soldier, not the politicians,
who ensures our right to LIfe, Liberty,
and the Pursuit of Happiness.

It’s the Soldier who salutes the flag,
who serves beneath the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag.

We live in the land of the free
Only because of the brave.
God Bless Our Military
Unknown


Meet The Beatles

“We were driving through Colorado, we had the radio on and eight of the top ten songs were Beatles songs.,, I Want To Hold Your Hand, all the early ones. They were doing things nobody was doing. Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous, and their harmonies made it all valid. I knew they were pointing in the direction of where music had to go.”
Bob Dylan

For most people, there is no middle ground with these four guys. Either you like their music or you don’t. Not many people are indifferent. Regardless of what you feel about them or their music, it’s impossible to ignore the impact they had on the music industry, and in many ways, the world.

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February 7, 2017 will  mark the 53rd anniversary of their first visit to America, where they broke all kinds of television records when they appeared on Ed Sullivan. But before we get to that appearance, here are some facts about them that many people outside the music industry probably don’t know.

They were the first band to have a record sell a million copies before it’s release. (Can’t Buy Me Love, 1964)

They were the first band to play in a stadium.

The first group to have its drummer sit higher than the band.

The first rock band to designate one of its members as lead guitarist. (George, 1962)

The first band to combine rock with classical music. (Yesterday, 1965)

The first band to create a song that faded out and then in again. (Strawberry Fields Forever, 1967)

The first band to create an album of all original songs. (A Hard Day’s Night, 1964)

The first band to create an album of more than ten songs. (Please Please Me, 1962)

The first band to print the song lyrics inside the album. (Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967)

The first rock group to use a harmonica in a song. (Love Me Do, 1962)

The first rock group to use a sitar. (Norwegian Wood, 1965)

The first popular band to use electric keyboards and synthesizers in some of its songs.

The first recording artists to use sound effects in their songs.

The first band to combine an early form of reggae called ska with rock and roll. (I Saw her Standing There, 1962)

The first band to create an album in which one song runs into another.

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When they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show soon after their arrival, this country was in a state of hysteria. Incredibly, seventy-three million people watched television that evening, which was the largest TV audience for an entertainment program, ever. The show was watched in more than twenty-three million homes. Remember, this was 1964.
While the program was being aired, much of the nation came to a standstill. It was near impossible to get a bus or taxi anywhere. Even more interesting was that between 8:00-9:00 pm that Sunday night, crime rates in many American cities fell to an all time low.

In 1965 when the Beatles once again toured America, they appeared at Shea Stadium in New York. Until then, the largest crowd to attend a rock concert had been twenty thousand people. More than fifty-five thousand showed up at Shea that night.

It was a different time, one that, for many reasons, may never be repeated. But on February, 1964, these four boys arrived.

imagesWhat happened next, was history.

Sliding Doors

“There’s no where you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.”
John Lennon/Paul McCartney
All You Need Is Love

There is a new television show this fall season called Timeless, about three people who are sent back in time to chase an individual from current time who is interested in changing history for reasons that are not yet quite clear. It’s not a great show but the historical aspect of it is interesting.
The show reminded me of a 1998 movie called Sliding Doors, staring Gwyneth Paltrow. It’s about a woman who is fired from her job. When she leaves early and rushes out to catch her train, two scenarios develop. In the first she catches the train and comes home to find her boyfriend in bed with another woman. She dumps the boyfriend and eventually finds happiness with another man in her life. In the second scenario the door closes shut as she is about to board and she gets home after the woman has left. Eventually, her life becomes miserable as  the coming years are filled with questions of infidelity.

Life is like that, isn’t it.

We often think about the big decisions we’ve made that have led us to a certain job, or marriage, or a life choice we never saw coming. But it really is the smallest of actions or decisions that sometimes have the greatest impact on our lives.

A turn or phone call we make. A decision to leave early or late. Where we chose to live or go to school. Where we decide to sit in a car or on a plane, train or bus.

An invitation we accept or decline.

People we meet who will significantly impact our lives or those we have lost the opportunity to ever meet.

We can make ourselves crazy thinking about all the possibilities, opportunities gained or lost, but the truth is that many times we never know what may have happened if we had chosen another path or made a different decision.

History was made for a reason; whether it affects the world, our individual lives or both. People become heroes because they stopped for coffee on their way to work. Others saved or lost their  own lives for doing the same thing.

Is it really that arbitrarily simple?

Is life just a series of sliding doors?

Or is there no where you can be, that isn’t where you’re meant to be?

Can’t Touch This

I have this condition not many people know about. I touch things when I’m not supposed to. So my guess is your eyes just got wide or you started to smile while your mind began to race.  Really? He’s going to go there? That’s out of the ordinary for him but okay, I’ll listen. For a moment.
Sorry to disappoint you but you need to elevate your thoughts.

My touching problem is related to times when I’ve been instructed by signs or people not to touch certain things.

As an example, if I walk into a store that’s selling expensive pieces and there’s a sign that tells me not to touch anything, it’s like an invitation for me touch everything I can put my fingers on.

Just because.

images

If I walk into a historic home and I’m told not to touch the wallpaper or pieces of furniture, guess who needs to find a way. I’m sorry but as I mentioned earlier, it’s just a condition I was diagnosed with years ago. It’s called PWCSTFTSTNST. That’s short for, People Who Can’t Stop Themselves From Touching Stuff They’re Not Supposed To.

Apparently it’s very rare. Or maybe it’s not.

I think it’s related to some kind of defiant disorder which I don’t have but use whenever I need to explain myself to the security guards who ask me to leave these establishments.

It’s like going for a test at the doctor or dentist’s office and they tell you not to move while they’re taking an x-ray. Why is it you develop an itch that you need to scratch, just at that moment. This is sort of like that without the historical or monetary issues behind it.

I just have a need to touch history and wealth. What can I say?

Anyway, I decided to leave you with this video since I think of this song every time I see one of these signs. Admit it, you love this song. If you were around in 1990 you probably have the album. The only question is whether you bought the pants.

Every Piece Has A Story

I’m not a person who walks into an antique store looking for something to buy. On occasion I have but our home is not filled with antiques. Instead I enjoy the nostalgia aspect of it; revisiting the past and seeing things that I grew up with on store shelves.

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I love opening or picking up pieces, imagining their history and where they began their journey. I know it sounds strange to say about inanimate objects but even they have a life. They were once new, bought by someone who was excited to have purchased that piece.

I wonder where that old suitcase has been. What trips it took and why it was originally purchased. A honeymoon perhaps? College? Did it fly when air travel was still in its infancy or did it cross the ocean on a three week voyage.

I try to imagine when that woman’s purse might have been purchased and what valuables it may have held. Did it go on dates? Was it held during a first kiss? Did it attend weddings?

That chest of drawers was new at one time and it held a wardrobe back then. How did it look new? How many addresses has it had?

The dining room table and chairs probably once had a family gathered around it. Who was that family? What holidays, birthdays and special occasions were celebrated around that table?

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Jewelry has always fascinated me the most because they are usually special pieces even if it’s only costume jewelry. Did someone purchase it for a special occasion or as a gift for someone special? I always believed the jewelry stories have to be the most interesting because they are not part of those items considered necessary or essential. So the meaning must have special significance.

I also always wonder how these pieces came to be where they are. Was it part of an estate sale or purchased at a flea market or garage sale? I once asked the owner of an antique store how he found some of these pieces and he said many people come in looking to sell them. I suppose they’re either cleaning out the homes of family members or in some cases, their own.

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That last thought always leads me to wonder what will happen to the items in our own home. Eventually, it will end up somewhere. Some things will be passed down, some sold, and some may even be thrown out. But every piece, like those I held in my hand in those antique stores, has a story attached to it. Every piece holds value, monetary or sentimental.

I wonder if one day someone will wander through one of these stores and pick up a piece that was once a part of our life. I wonder what they’ll think and if they’ll find it interesting enough to purchase.  If so, I wonder where in their home it might end up. I’d like to think it will bring someone happiness. I hope so anyway.

Because even inanimate objects can bring happiness.

Even inanimate objects have a life.

 

Elie Wiesel

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.
Elie Wiesel, NIght

Elie Wiesel died yesterday at the age of 87.

I don’t remember how old I was when I first read the book, NIght, and these words about his first night in Auschwitz as a young boy. I only know that I have never read anything that has conveyed a moment in time as powerfully as this passage.

You don’t have to be of a certain faith or race to appreciate his life and words. You only have to be human.

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
Elie Wiesel

Among Mr. Wiesel’s many awards are the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He helped establish the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and has campaigned for victims of oppression all over the world, including those in South Africa, Nicaragua and Sudan, among many others.

There may be times  we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
Elie Wiesel

If you have never read the book, NIght, I encourage you to do so. It’s a very short book, but as we’ve learned, the most important lessons of life rarely require elaboration.

No human race is superior; no religious race is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.
Elie Wiesel

We should listen closely to his words today, because as much as the world has changed, nothing has really changed.

Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out, swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving; the child, too light, was still breathing…
And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes. And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still red, his eyes not yet extinguished.
Behind me, I heard the same man asking; For God’s sake, where is God? And from within me I heard a voice answer: Where is he? This is where–hanging from this gallows…

That night, the soup tasted of corpses.
Elie Wiesel, NIght

God rest his soul.