Tag Archives: Writing

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

 

Empty Mansions

A couple of years ago, while visiting a small book store in Newport Rhode Island, I came across an interesting book titled, Empty Mansions. I didn’t buy it then but strangely enough, my brother gave it to me as a gift several months later. I always meant to read it but for some reason it sat on my reading shelf for over a year.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago and one of the blogs I really enjoy following is Book Club Mom. If you’ve never visited, I highly recommend giving her a look. Barbara does a terrific job reviewing all kinds of books and opening up interest where none existed before.
Coincidently, she reviewed Empty Mansions just as I was beginning to think it might be a good time to read it.

I have included the link to Barbara’s review of the book below since I could never do it as well as she did. In short, it is a story of Huguette Clark, an incredibly wealthy woman, who owned and maintained palatial homes in California, New York and Connecticut, though some remained empty and not visited for over fifty years. It’s the story of a woman who, in spite of her wealth, lived the last twenty years of her life in a simple hospital room, despite being in excellent health. She was 104 when she died, choosing to live in the strangest form of seclusion.

But there is much more which you will find here….

https://bvitelli2002.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/empty-mansions-is-the-story-of-huguette-clarks-reclusive-life/

One of the things which touched me the most and, in some ways, helped me to understand Huguette, was an old French fable titled, The Cricket.  Sometimes it is called, True Happiness and is included at the end of the book. It was written in the late 1700’s by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian.

The Cricket

A poor little cricket
Hidden in the flowery grass,
Observes a butterfly
Fluttering in the meadow.
The winged insect shines with the liveliest colors;
Azure, purple and gold glitter on his wings;
Young , handsome, foppish, he hastens from flower to flower,
Taking from the best ones.
Ah! says the cricket, how his lot and mine
Are dissimilar! Lady Nature
For him did everything, and for me nothing.
I have no talent, even less beauty;
No one takes notice of me, they know me not here below;
Might as well not exist.
As he was speaking, in the meadow
arrives a troop of children,
Immediately they are running
after this butterfly, for which they all have a longing.
Hats, handkerchiefs, caps serve to catch him.
The insect in vain tries to escape.
He becomes soon their conquest.
One seizes him by the wing, another by the body;
A third arrives and takes him by the head.
It should not be so much effort
To tear to pieces the poor creature.
Oh! Oh! says he cricket, I am no more sorry;
It costs too dear to shine in this world.
How much I am going to love my deep retreat!
To live happily, live hidden.

The fable, which was a favorite of Huguette, has a powerful lesson.

The book is both fascinating, and sad.

A Princess And Her Prince

A few weeks ago we were blessed to welcome our sixth grandchild, Taylor, into our family. She recently turned a month old and, like her sister at the same age, enjoyed a little photo shoot with her favorite pillow rest, Bailey.

Her birth reminded me of one of my favorite poems by the French poet, Yves Bonnefoy. I thought I’d share part of it with you…

The All, The Nothing

Its the last snow of the season,
The spring snow-the most skilled
At mending the rips in the dead wood
Before it’s brought inside and burnt.

It’s the first snow of your life,
Since yesterday there were only dots
Of color, brief pleasures, fears, chagrins-
Without substance for lack of words.

And I can see joy overtaking the fear
In your eyes which amazement opened
In one great, bright leap; this cry, this laughter
That I love, and that I ponder….

May the big snow be for you, the all, the nothing,
Child trying out your first uncertain steps in the grass,
Your eyes still full of the origin,
Hands grabbing at nothing but the light.

May the gleaming branches be the words
You’ll have to listen to, not understanding
The meaning of their silhouette against the sky-
Otherwise you’d only name them at the price of losing.

May these two values, one sparkling, be enough for you,
Of the hill glimpsed through the opening between the trees,
Bee of life, when in your dreams of the world,
The world itself grows quiet.

And may the water that wells up in the shadow
Show you that joy can survive in dream,
Even when a breeze from who knows where
Is already scattering almond blossoms-and yet the other snow.

Enjoy a blessed life, Taylor

 

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.

A New Kind Of Romance

There is a fine line between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Jimmy Buffet, Fruitcakes

This is one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett lines and I was reminded of it today during school. I have been working in the school library the last few weeks and almost everyday, these two ten-year old girls come in to read or look for books they can read together. They’re inseparable.
They’re both chatty and like to engage in conversation, which is okay with me as long as they whisper. No easy task for ten-year old girls.

So today they were talking with me about the books they’re reading and after a few minutes the conversation went like this..

Ten year old: My mom is strict with the books that I read, she only reads Christian books and wants me to do the same.

Me: Well, I’m sure there are a lot of good books in here that she wouldn’t have a problem with you reading.

Ten year old: I know but she only really likes Christian books and romance stuff like Fifty Shades of Grey.

Me: (after what seemed like a five-minute pause which allowed me to digest what I just heard) So she reads Christian books and romance novels like Fifty Shades of Grey?

Ten year old: (as she’s thumbing through her book) Yeah, that’s all she really seems interested in reading.

Me: Well, whatever makes her happy.

Ten year old: (nodding) Yeah, that’s what I say.

I guess I can elaborate a bit here and discuss the obvious but I think the obvious pretty much speaks for itself. So for all you folks out there who read the romance novel, Fifty Shades, those Christian books are just a little further down on the shelf, when you’re done. Then you can put on Jimmy Buffett and Fruitcakes. Somehow it will all come together.

 

A Man Called Ove

“People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.”
Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

I’m not a book reviewer and I rarely suggest one because everyone has different tastes when it comes to what they enjoy reading. But I’ll make an exception for A Man Called Ove.

This is a word of mouth book written by Swedish author, Fredrik Backman that has become an international best seller. It is a story of loss and love, how first impressions are not always reliable and why people should first be understood before we pass judgment.   It will make you laugh out loud and bring tears to your eyes in a matter of pages.

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A brief synopsis from the back cover…

At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet, a curmudgeon with staunch principles, strict routines and a short fuse. People think him bitter and he thinks himself surrounded by idiots.
Ove’s well-ordered solitary world gets a shakeup one November morning with the appearance of new neighbors, a chatty young couple and their two boisterous daughters, who announce their arrival by accidentally flattening Ove’s mailbox with their U-haul. What follows is a heartwarming tale of unkept cats, unlikely friendships and a community’s unexpected reassessment of the one person they thought they had all figured out.

If you’re looking for a gift this holiday season or just want an easy read to curl up with during the holidays, I have a feeling Ove will reward the time you spend with him.

One last passage from the book…

“To love someone is like moving into a house,” Sonja used to say. “At first you fall in love with everything new, you wonder every morning that this is one’s own, as if they are afraid that someone will suddenly come tumbling through the door and say that there has been a serious mistake and that it simply was not meant that you would live so fine. But as the years go by, the facade worn, the wood cracks here and there, you start to love this house not so much for all the ways it is perfect but for all the ways it is not. You become familiar with all its nooks and crannies. How to avoid that the key gets stuck in the lock if it is cold outside. Which floorboards have some give when you step on them, and exactly how to open the doors for them not to creak. That’s it, all the little secrets that make it your home. “
– Fredrik Backman , A Man Called Ove”

Enjoy!

Perhaps Love

Thirty-five years ago John Denver wrote a song dedicated to his wife Annie. They were separated at the time and headed for divorce.
As he prepared to record the song, someone decided it would be a good idea to pair a country singer with a Spanish tenor. So John Denver and Placido Domingo got together in a studio and recorded what I believe is one of the most beautiful love songs ever written.
Though it only had modest commercial success, rising to 59 on the billboard 100 and 22 on the on adult chart, it has sold over four million copies.

On this Sunday morning, following another difficult week in our world, I think we can all find time for a moment of love. What better way than through music.