Sunday, 27 April 2014

What's Pat reading?


Book clubs are a great way to meet interesting people.  Pat has been a welcome addition to our library book club and I had an opportunity to have coffee with her recently.  What a delight! One of the joys in my life is chatting with other readers.
And Pat exudes a love for books.  Growing up in the country, reading was very important to her family.  Her mother belonged to a book club that sent out the books for purchase. The children were able to read some of those books and it made reading important and exciting.
The result is that Pat and her sister are both avid readers.  Her  sister lives in Toronto and they chat on the phone every day.  Books are often part of the conversation.  Do they always agree on a book?  Often, but not always.  So they discuss the book thoroughly and agree to disagree!
Pat's visual limitations have in no way limited her connection with books.  She has two avenues of reading- one is a device known  as CCTV.  This machine projects the written words onto her computer.  Thus, while reading in this format, Pat needs to be at her computer.  And so, Pat supplements that reading with an e-reader that is portable.  Actually she uses an ipad for this purpose, where she has a large screen with its own light.
               Two books on the go!
                                                     And what are her favourites?
                                                                                              Stories from a variety of countries.

"Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese

Marion and Shiva Stone are twins born of a union between a nun and a British surgeon.  When they are orphaned, they both become doctors in Ethiopia.

"The Colour of Tea" by Hannah Tunnicliffe.

In Macua, Grace Miller's life is in turmoil.  Her marriage is disintegrating and her dreams of a family seem impossible.  She resolves to do something bold- she opens a small cafe.

"A Walk Across the Sun" by Corban Addison.

Two sisters in India are orphaned by a tsunami, kidnapped and delivered to a brothel in Mumbai.

And her most favourite is......
 "Pride and Prejudice".
Pat's favourite

Pat also enjoys mysteries (Louise Penny, Giles Blunt) and legal thrillers (Robert Rotenberg).
For encouragement and support, Pat goes to Joyce Meyer, author of "Battlefield of the Mind".
What a delightful variety of reading styles and content!  
I appreciate knowing Pat!


Thursday, 24 April 2014

A Tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez died on April 17 at 87 years of age.  He was born in Colombia and died in Mexico City.
Marquez wrote 6 full-length novels.  They were tales of love, loss and magic, rooted in Latin American history.  He wrote many non-fiction books and short stories. He popularized a literary style known as magical realism, which uses magical elements and events in order to explain real experiences.
His biography, titled "Living To Tell the Tale" documented his life from birth to 1950.  It is believed that he had intended to write his life story in 3 volumes. Several other authors have written biographies of Marquez' life.
Marquez is world-renowned and received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.
Colombia has declared 3 days of mourning.  Tributes have come from many sources. Bill  Clinton praised the legacy of García Márquez, adding: "I was always amazed by his unique gifts of imagination, clarity of thought, and emotional honesty. He captured the pain and joy of our common humanity in settings both real and magical. I was honoured to be his friend and to know his great heart and brilliant mind for more than 20 years."

"One Hundred Years of Solitude" is considered to be Marquez' masterpiece. It was first published in Spanish in 1967, and subsequently has been translated into thirty-seven languages and has sold more than 30 million copies.
I read this book in 1999.
Alas!  It was beyond my understanding.  Sample: "Time also stumbled and had accidents and could therefore splinter and leave an eternalized fragment in a room". I could not tell you what that book was about until I found the Spark Notes version.  Aha! 

My friend Terri has a great appreciation of Marquez' writing and has a collection of his novels and biographies.  She informed me of his death.  Terri's favourite book is "Love in the Time of Cholera". She certainly has a feel for this man's writing and this particular book really touches a chord in her heart.  She has a real connection with the man and his writing.

Gabriel Garcia quotes:
"The secret of good old-age is none other than an honest pact with solitude". 
"It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams".(Memories of My Melancholy Whores)

"Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom. Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to anything, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself." (Love in the Time of cholera)

"If I knew that today would be the last time I’d see you, I would hug you tight and pray the Lord be the keeper of your soul. If I knew that this would be the last time you pass through this door, I’d embrace you, kiss you, and call you back for one more. If I knew that this would be the last time I would hear your voice, I’d take hold of each word to be able to hear it over and over again. If I knew this is the last time I see you, I’d tell you I love you, and would not just assume foolishly you know it already." (One Hundred Years of Solitude)

“One minute of reconciliation is worth more than a whole life of friendship!” ― Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezOne Hundred Years of Solitude

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Why I Love to Read- the end

Reading is a wonderful pastime because it is cheap and always available.
You can spend great amounts of money at the book stores, or get free books from the library.
You can read if you are in great health or failing health.
You can read books on an e-reader for comfort and ease.
You can listen to books on tape if you have visual problems.
There is no end to stories.

This is where I would like to be....cozy and content, each book waiting to be read.

But more often, I feel like this... frustrated that I can't get keep up with all the books that I want to read.

Darn it!  Wait your turn!

Happy reading!

A Tribute to Alistair MacLeod

Alistair MacLeod died today- a great author, a great man!
Born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan on July 20, 1936,
Alistair's family moved to a farm on Cape Breton Island when he was ten.
Alistair began his career teaching public school.  After more education, he taught university in Indiana and Windsor.  His summers were spent in a cottage near Inverness on Cape Breton Island, where he wrote lots of short stories.

  Can you believe that he only wrote one novel?
And what a novel!
This novel was published in 1999 and I have been in three discussion groups when this book was discussed.  So I have read it many times.  I believe that it is a 'perfect novel'.

In 2002, Waterloo Region began One Book One Community and I was hooked from the start!  This novel was the first book chosen!  I was so excited about the book as well as the concept that I arranged to read the whole book at Fairview Mennonite Nursing Home.  Three days a week I arrived with music to set the scene while people were arriving.  I read in spite of coughing spells and listeners falling asleep.  Nothing could limit my enthusiasm.  I played great Scottish tunes while the residents left the room.  I really looked forward to these readings.  I had the last reading booked for the week before I was going on a holiday.  The ending of the novel is fabulous and I was so excited to read it aloud. The recorder and book were ready as I prepared to leave the house, when the phone rang.  It was the announcement that the nursing home was in quarantine. By the time the quarantine was lifted, I was on the road.  Possibly no residents recognized the absence of the ending, and I accepted that I had a great time reading this delightful book aloud from beginning- almost to the end!

When Alistair came to speak for O.B.O.C. I was there with bells on.  He was delightful and I had an opportunity to ask a question.  I forget the question, but remember that Alistair responded that it was a great question and I was thrilled to be in conversation with him.

I had another encounter with Alistair at Eden Mills Festival.  It was a very relaxed setting where several authors speak outside at different locations.  After listening to him talk about his writing, a group of us chatted with him about his O.B.O.C experience as well as other things.  It was very informal and he was delightful!  We were all charmed!
Alistair MacLeod won many awards, including The Dublin Literary Award - the highest paying award at $172,000.00.
In the book "Atlantic Canada's 100 Greatest Books, his book is listed as the best Atlantic book of all time.
                                       What an author!  What a man!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Gayle's bookshelf

I met Gayle at a book club.  She is a great reader and we clicked because we often enjoyed the same books.  We both love interesting characters and we really prefer a linear story!
Because of a disability, Gayle is not always able to get to book discussions and so John and I visited to chat about books- our own little book club!
John loved "Emma" and had a great chat with Gayle about it. Gayle also wanted to discuss "The Woefield Poultry Collective", but John  didn't like that one and didn't finish reading it.
We had tea and scones and a lovely chat.

Because we like the same books, I find Gayle's bookshelf intriguing. She had to down-size recently when she moved and, since her husband is building a house on Lake Huron, she is trying to get as many books read as possible before the next move.
Gayle had a career with Bell Canada, as a manager.  She also spent three years working at Chapters where she must have spent her paycheque on books.  This is only one of her shelves, but the most fascinating.

Gayle's book shelf

I have read some of the books on this shelf and there are others that are on my list of must-reads.
I can't wait until Gayle reads "A Round-Heeled Woman". The protagonist,  Jane, was 66 and felt 'a little dying' happening to her.  She had been celibate for 42 years and wanted to have one last fling.  It is a bizarre, crude, quirky book.  Quick and fun to read.  Entertaining. 
I'm also interested in Gayle's reaction to Mark Haddon's book "A Spot of Bother".  Mark Haddon takes mental health issues and writes from the perspective of the patient.  "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" was hugely popular.  Wonderful to get inside the mind of an autistic boy. Now Mark has written about a 57-year-old retired hypochondriac.  Sounds interesting, but some of his fans were disappointed.  What will Gayle think?
Gayle has been reading for 20 years and "The Life of Pi" is her favourite book. Many people agree and it was made into a movie.
Gayle just finished reading John Grisham's "Painted House". Written in 2001, this book is very different from the legal thrillers that Grisham usually writes.
Gayle enjoys when she can learn from books.  I love discussing books with her!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Why I love to Read, part 9

Why I Love to Read- Monday special.
Reason number 9: Reading develops bonds within the family.

229123  When John had his first eye surgery, about 40 years ago, I read aloud to him.  We still remember "Christy"- a novel about a young well-to-do young girl from South Carolina who goes to the Appalachians in Tennessee in 1912 to teach impoverished children.  The way these people lived was fascinating for both of us.  The novel was based on the experience of the author's mother.

A Lesson Before Dying novel.jpg                               We also enjoy reading while on road trips.  We remember reading "A Lesson Before Dying" by Ernest Gaines.  It really was a fascinating story of a young black man in Louisiana in the 1940's.  He was about to go to the electric chair for murder.  His grandmother wanted her grandson to die like a man, so she begged the school teacher to teach Jefferson some self-esteem and pride in his identity as a black man.  It was about 'dying with dignity'.
As we were finishing our trip, we were driving in the rain while I was trying to get the book finished.

Over the years, we have read many books in the car, on the road or in the park. We remember "Hawaii" by James Michener and "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck, both being great 'park' books.

I also have 'reading' connections with the grandchildren.  I remember reading "Anne of Green Gables" with Kaitlyn on the riverbank in the park.  When David was very little he was fascinated with "Journey to the Centre of the Earth".

We often talk about books and they tell me what they are reading.  Sometimes I am able to get a copy and read the book so that we can discuss it.  "The Hunger Games" was discussed often. 
Hunter, at 15, convinced me to read "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier".  Grim! 
The grandchildren in Michigan read the books for the Troyberry Awards.  I often read some of those titles.
I am always delighted when the children are required to read "To Kill a Mockingbird" or "Lord of the Flies" for school. 
We chatted about books on their recent sleepover. 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The McCourt boys

Teacher Man (2005)'Tis: A Memoir (1999)
Singing my him song (2000)A Monk Swimming (1998)
                                                Frank and Malachy McCourt 
These brothers are both great storytellers.  They have each written two biographical books that are fun to read.
I always thought that Frank was the more steady, educated, professional man, while Malachy was the drinking, fighting, womanizer.
But they both have that Irish wit and Irish temper.  Frank was married three times and died in 2009.  He is best known for winning a Pulitzer prize for "Angela's Ashes".
Malachy had a radio show and made appearances on T.V. shows like "The Tonight show".  He acted and dabbled in politics.  He is now 82.
Both were interesting men with charm and fascinating stories.
In later years, they did a two-man show called "A Couple of Blaguards".

"Teacher man" is our current book club selection.  I had read the other books five years ago, so I am enjoying reading this book now and remembering the McCourt brothers.