"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Friday Quotes, May 1st

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader
The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice

Check out the links for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't select their favorite, coolest or most intellectual books, they just use the one they are currently reading. This is the book I'm reading right now:

Book title: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

Book Beginnings:
There are rumors the day Emily Beam arrives at the Amherst School for Girls--- in January, halfway through her junior year. She doesn't look like the other girls,, who look like girls in magazines. She doesn't sound like them, either, and she wears different shoes.
Friday 56:
You cannot hear me
through a stethoscope.
I do not say Ba-BUM, Ba-BUM.
If you cut the body open,
you would not find me...

My comment: Emily has arrived at the new school after her boyfriend committed suicide in front of her at her other school. Now she is writing poetry as if she is channeling Emily Dickinson. I like the poetry part of the book. The book dedication says: "For the ones who stay."

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Memorable Animals in Literature

 HelpUCover created a cool graphic of Memorable Animals in Literature.

Before you hop over to take a look at the graphic make yourself a list of animals from literature (don't forget children's lit) in my comment section. Let's see if we come up with more than they did. (don't peek below if you want to do it without looking at my list.)

Here are a few that came to my mind:
  • Aslan (Lion in Chronicles of Narnia)
  • Mr. and Mrs. Beaver (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
  • The Disreputable Dog (Lireal and Abhorrsen by Garth Nix)
  • Old Dan and Little Anne (Dogs in Where the Red Fern Grows)
  • The Cat in the Hat (Dr. Seuss)
  • Misty (Horse in Misty of Chinoteague)
  • Marley (Dog in Marley and Me)
  • Enzo (Dog in The Art of Racing in the Rain)
  • Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Tabitha Twitchet, etc (Animals in books by Beatrix potter)
  • Algernon (Mouse in The Flowers for Algernon)
  • Charlotte and Wilbur (Spider and pig in Charlotte's Web)
  • Manchee (Dog in The Knife of Never Letting Go)
 OK, your turn. Please list memorable animals in literature in the comment section below. Ditto animals on my list if you thought of them, too.  Then hop over to HelpUCover and check out their list (graphic.)

Cavalcade of Authors West is this Saturday.

This coming Saturday, May 2nd is the first Cavalcade of Authors West (west of the Cascades).

Here are the details:

Seventeen Young Adult and Middle-Grade authors will converge on the campus of Pacific Lutheran University for a day of seminars, author panels, and book-signings.

Who is invited to attend:
  • 20 students from each of the area high schools and middle schools were invited to attend. These students had to pay the registration fee, read books by a minimum of four of the authors, and get themselves to PLU on Saturday.
  • Students were also invited to submit their writing samples to be judged by college students.
  • Preregistration was required.
These authors will present workshops:
Sorry about the poor quality of this photo. It is a copy of a copy of the handout given to potential participants in the writing contest.
In case you can't read the authors names (imagine that!?) Here is a list of the authors and a few titles of their books.

Book titles (not an exhaustive list)
Royce Buckingham
The Terminals; The Dead Boys
Kimberly Derting
The Body Finder series; The Taking
Peggy Eddleman
Sky Jumpers; The Forbidden Flats (Mid grades)
Kevin Emerson
Breakout; Exile; The Dark Shore
Kristin Halbrook
Surfacing; Nobody But Us
Kazu Kibuishi
Amulet series (graphic novels) (Junior)
Mindy McGinnis
Not a Drop to Drink series
Lish McBride
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer series
Rachelle Mead
Vampire Academy series
Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles series (Cinder)
Alyson Noel
Immortals series; Soul Seekers series
Lisa Schroeder
The Bridge from Me to You; Far From You
Lisesl Shurtliff
Jack: the true story of Jack and the Beanstalk (Junior)
Terry Trueman
Stuck in Neutral; Life Happens Next; Cruise Control
Leslye Walton
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Stasia Ward Kehoe
The Sound of letting Go; Audition
Jim Whiting
The Story of the Seattle Seahawks; Many other nonfiction titles (most for Mid-grades)

This is the first year of Cavalcade of Authors West.  Apparently a similar event has been happening on the other side of the mountains for several years. I am sure that it will be a fantastic event and I am excited for Saturday.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Woman in White---update, the third

Classics Club Spin #9, third update on progress

Book: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Pages read: 370 of 609.

Weekly goal: I passed the halfway point. I managed to read 20 pages all but one day.

What I have learned so far:
  • This cover, featured on the right, is from the 1966 abridged edition of the book. This is the description on this edition: 
"What was the strange secret of the mysterious woman in white? What was the real identity of this ghostlike being? Was she sane - or mad? Was she living - or dead? And why did beautiful Laura Fairlie fear her presence in the dark corridors of Limmeridge House? The strange answers to these sinister questions haunt the thrilling pages of The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins' most brilliant Gothic novel!"
What pleases me:
Still enjoying the book and I am pleased with my progress.

The action (no spoilers):
No one is what they appear to be at first glance. Sinister situations and people abound. The narrator has switched several times this week from Miss Holcomb, to her uncle, and now the housekeeper.

Comments: the plot has me on pins and needles making me want to peek ahead to find out how everything turns out. No wonder fans stood in line to get the next installment of the story when it was originally serialized in a magazine.

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters who have triumphed despite parental neglect or addiction

 Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic: Characters Who _____ (are musically inclined, have lost someone, have depression, who grow up poor, etc.). I decided to select a tough subject.

YA novels that feature characters who have triumphed despite parental neglect or addiction.

Cover image1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexis
 (Junior sees the effects of alcoholism everywhere he looks near his home on the Spokane Indian  Reservation.)
“What's the difference between bulimics and anorexics?" I ask. "Anorexics are anorexics all the time," she says, "I'm only bulimic when I'm throwing up." Wow. She sounds just like my dad! "I'm only an alcoholic when I get drunk." There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away. Penelope gorges on her pain and then throws it up and flushes it away. My dad drinks his pain away.”
 Cover image2. Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes
(After Karl's father's death, his mother abdicates her responsibilities as a parent, choosing instead drink and other men. Karl must make his own way and be the rock for his other friends in the Madman Underground.)
“I always liked that time of day, when people were shutting up their shops, putting the town to bed for the night, going home to do normal stuff with their normal families. I wonder if they got to enjoy being normal, to know just how terrific it was, or whether it was just invisible to them like air? Sometimes I got so pissed off at how easy the normal people had it that I just wanted to walk down the street shaking them and screaming into their squishy self-satisfied faces.”
Cover image3. Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
(Felton just wants to be a normal high school boy but how can he when his mother disappears into her wine glass and his brother dresses like a storybook character?)
“Have you ever noticed you can't get away from yourself? There is no way to get away from oneself. You're always there with you.” 
Cover image4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
(Francis' father, an Irish immigrant, is an alcoholic but she loves him. She discovers within herself a true strength.)
 “[t]he child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing things too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination.”
Cover image5. Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick
(Amber Appleton remains upbeat even though she lives on a school bus with her alcoholic mother until circumstances threaten to swamp her.)
 “As I pedal, I start to get a bad feeling. I start to feel like I have everything all wrong, and that everyone else is right, and all my hopefulness is just childish bull-crap.”
Cover image6. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
(Beatrice wants to help Jonah whose family is abusive and neglectful before he disappears within himself.)
"There is a separation between parents and children that shouldn't be breached when the children are young. The parents' adult follies are private. They're disturbing and hard to understand. But eventually the kids wise up, the follies start leaking out, and the parents are revealed in all their flawed humanity. Dad and I were about to cross that boundary for good.”
Cover image7. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
(Sarah Brynes' father was abusive. Her friends and a school counselor step in to help.)
“It's a scary thing, moving on. Part of me wishes life were more predictable and part of me is excited that it's not. I think it's impossible to tell the good things from the bad things while they're happening. Once I thought being a fat kid was the worst thing that could possibly be, but if I hadn't been fat I would never have known Sarah Byrnes--I mean Sarah--and that would have been a true tragedy in my life. And what is a worse thing than living like she lived for all those years? Nothing I can think of, but someday some kid in a group home somewhere in Kansas--chronicled in LIFE magazine more than five years ago--may be touched by her courage, and I guarantee that will change his or her life forever.”
 Cover image8. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
(Ruby is abandoned by her alcoholic mother. She lives with her sister and must make her way in the world.)
“What is family? They were the people who claimed you. In good, in bad, in parts or in whole, they were the ones who showed up, who stayed in there, regardless. It wasn't just about blood relations or shared chromosomes, but something wider, bigger. We had many families over time. Our family of origin, the family we created, and the groups you moved through while all of this was happening: friends, lovers, sometimes even strangers. None of them perfect, and we couldn't expect them to be. You can't make any one person your world. The trick was to take what each could give you and build your world from it.”
Cover image9. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
(The main character feels all alone in the world. His parents are neglectful by their absence emotionally. A teacher steps in and pays attention to the symptoms that Leonard is displaying.) 
“I can tell you get it -- you're different. And I know how hard being different can be. But I also know how powerful a weapon being different can be. How the world needs such weapons. Gandhi was different. All great people are. And unique people such as you and me need to seek out other unique people who understand -- so we don't get too lonely and end up where you did tonight.”
Cover image10. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (NONFICTION)
(The author, Jeannette Walls, grew up in a very dysfunctional family brought on my alcoholism and mental illness. Yet Walls thrived and is now a renown author.)
“One time I saw a tiny Joshua tree sapling growing not too far from the old tree. I wanted to dig it up and replant it near our house. I told Mom that I would protect it from the wind and water it every day so that it could grow nice and tall and straight. Mom frowned at me. "You'd be destroying what makes it special," she said. "It's the Joshua tree's struggle that gives it its beauty.” 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Salon, April 26

Weather: overcast and threatening to rain. The weather turned this past week from sunny and warm to rainy, cold, and wet. This typical for this time of year in the Northwest, but no one likes it.

Scouts honor: yesterday we attended an Eagle Scout Court of Honor for a friend's son who was earning his Eagle Scout award. In all my years I have never attended one of these events, nor have I really paid attention to the Scout Law by which they govern themselves. I was really touched by the whole ceremony and especially when their code was called out and explained. (See photo above.) Scouts are: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. If only we would all conduct ourselves this way.

The Boys in the Boat: the culmination for Pierce County Reads was an event with the author, Daniel James Brown, on Friday night. Brown was an excellent speaker, very knowledgeable and articulate. Don and I co-authored a blog post about the event. Please click the link to read about it. (If you haven't read the book yet, I hope it will encourage you to give it a go.)

SBAC testing (Smarter Balanced Assessment test): partially closed the library this week. With fewer kids in the library, except for those taking the test, we had another quiet week. Sigh. Quiet libraries often mean low circulation.

Prayers for: my friend who lost her brother to an accidental death. She and her family are all deeply grieving.

Books read this week: One only, The Art of Barbie Book by Craig Yoe. I picked this book up on the sale table at the public library for $4. Fifty artists and designers were asked to design a piece of work about or with Barbie. Being a big fan of the doll as I was growing up I just HAD to have it and loved it.

Currently reading:
  • What's So Amazing about Grace by Philip Yancey---this is for the adult Sunday School class I am co-teaching. insightful.
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins---I am making good progress on this Classics Club challenge selection. The plot is very tense at this point.
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach---my current audio selection.

Speaking of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: we rented the 1st movie last night so that we could go see the Second Exotic Marigold Hotel today at the Grand Cinema (an independent theater.) The book is quite different than the movie but I am enjoying it, too.

Left to Right, Top: Barbie in Beatsville by JD King; B-Girl in A-Line by D. Madeleine Coates; Housebroken by William Wegman; Barbie by Andy Warhol
Bottom: Jazzed by James Flora; Deco Doll by Tim Lewis;  The Color of the Evening by Nerio Gussoni

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

The 1936 U.S. Olympic rowing team from the University of Washington. From left: Don Hume, Joseph Rantz, George E. Hunt, James B. McMillin, John G. White, Gordon B. Adam, Charles Day, and Roger Morris. At center front is coxswain Robert G. Moch. Photo: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collection
We arrived early yesterday evening at the Clover Park Technical College conference center to secure good seats to hear Daniel James Brown talk about his book, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The author event, hosted by the Pierce County Library System and sponsored by The News Tribune (Tacoma's daily newspaper), was the culmination of the 2015 Pierce County Reads. Now in its 8th year, the library selects a title each spring for Pierce County Reads, then promotes reading and discussion by book groups, school and community groups, as well as sponsoring other special happenings related to the book's subjects and the pinnacle event with the book's author. We've attended many of these annual author evenings, but it's a good thing we arrived early last night because the place was packed with over 1400 readers waiting to hear Brown talk about his phenomenal book and the people and stories we shared through his writing.

Georgia Lomax, executive director of the Pierce County Library System, kicked off the evening talking about her reaction to the book. "I knew how the book ended up," she said, "but as I was reading it I wasn't so sure because the action was so tense." Everyone in the audience chuckled. We all felt the same way. We all knew the boys in the American boat were going to win their event at the Berlin Olympics -- it is in the history books after all -- but it sure didn't seem possible as we read the incredible details of the gold medal race.

David Zeeck, publisher of The News Tribune, offered some context for Boys in the Boat and what it tells us about being from the Pacific Northwest. He reminded us what a special thing these young men; from Puyallup, Anacortes, Montesano, Sequim, and Deming; had accomplished. Especially important because Seattle seemed like such a remote outpost to most people in America in the 1930s (and perhaps still does for many today!).

Daniel James Brown began his remarks describing a homeowner's association meeting. This seemed like a weird way to begin talking about his book, but we soon learned that's where he met Judy, the daughter of Joe Rantz, one of the nine members of the 1936 US Olympic crew team. Joe, who was over 90 at the time and on hospice care, had read one of Brown's earlier works and wanted to meet the author. Not long after meeting Joe started talking about his rowing experiences and Daniel wondered aloud if he could write Joe's story. "But not just about me. It has to be about the boat," he told the author. By "the boat" he didn't mean the crew shell -- The Husky Clipper -- he meant the boys in the boat, his teammates.

As Brown talked about his research and writing, he also shared reactions from fans who send him e-mail. Several people informed him they thought reading a book about rowing would be really boring. But anyone who has read this book knows it's about so much more than rowing and crew races. In fact, Brown said, many themes exist in the book along side the incredible crew rowing story: life during the Great Depression; Joe Rantz's personal story of abandonment as a child and how he overcame his feelings of inadequacy; George Pocock, the best racing-shell builder of the day; building the Grand Coulee Dam; Joseph Goebbels and the German Ministry of Propaganda; and Leni Riefenstahl and her powerful propaganda films for the Third Reich.

Midway through his talk, Brown showed us film footage from the Olympic finals race. The eight-man crew race begins at about 1:00 and the American boat is in the outer lane farthest from the camera. Shots taken inside the boats were filmed the day after the race and spliced into the footage. As the German and Italian crews approach the finish line, the American boat appears at the top of the frame, right at the end of the race, nosing out the narrowest margin of victory.

Brown read us two selections from his book. The first described the action from the 1936 Poughkeepsie Regatta, where Washington beat the University of California and other crews on their march toward the Berlin Olympics.

The second selection was from the end of the book where Brown reflects on the exceptional group of boys they were and what they represented. Brown visited Grunau, the site of the 1936 Olympic crew races.
“Standing there, watching them, it occurred to me that when Hitler watched Joe and the boys fight their way back from the rear of the field to sweep ahead of Italy and Germany seventy-five years ago, he saw, but did not recognize, heralds of his doom. He could not have known that one day hundreds of thousands of boys just like them, boys who shared their essential natures—decent and unassuming, not privileged or favored by anything in particular, just loyal, committed, and perseverant—would return to Germany dressed in olive drab, hunting him down.” ― Daniel James BrownThe Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics  
The passage goes on to describe birds dipping their wings in the sun-glistened water, flying low, and then gone. Brown equates that image to all the young men (and women) of the Greatest Generation who accomplished the unimaginable, but went on about ordinary lives raising families, working at their careers, and then passed from this earth and into our memories. I don't know if there was a dry eye in the auditorium at that moment. I know we were both in tears as thoughts of grandfathers, favorite uncles, and dear friends now gone filled our hearts.

The Boys in the Boat is much more than a sports book about crew racing, this is an inspiring story about determination, friendship, and teamwork. And ultimately it is a story about love. We both recommend The Boys in the Boat wholeheartedly.

Anne and Don Bennett

* Don co-authored this blog post with me today.

Friday, April 24, 2015

SYNC Free Summer Audiobooks program

Yay! SYNC Free Audiobook Program is back for another summer of listening to great books. Word to the wise however, since I've missed the kick-off for two years running, set your calendar to download the first two books the week of May 7th! The books are only available for one week to download. But once you download them they are yours forever. FREE! Sign up to received TEXT alerts to help you remember to download the books. Can't wait! (Watch the little gif above for the text info!)

 I realize the poster is hard to read.  Go to the SYNC website for better viewing and audio-clips.  Get psyched!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Friday Quotes

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader
The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice

Check out the links for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't select their favorite, coolest or most intellectual books, they just use the one they are currently reading. This is the book I'm reading right now:

Title: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach

Book Beginnings: 
Muriel Donnelly, an old girl in her seventies, was left in a hospital cubicle for forty-eight hours.
Friday 56:
Dorothy started making breakfast. No oranges. Yesterday she had hobbled out to her greengrocer's only to find it had turned into a Snappy Snaps. Her own face, in the mirror, had been replaced by that of an old woman. 
Comment: I enjoyed the movie and didn't even know it was made from a book .until I was perusing a list of book club kits at my library. The book is actually quite different than the movie so I am not able to predict upcoming action.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

Writing a review for The Neverending Story by Michael Ende feels a little like writing a review for a Harry Potter book. Many people who haven't read the book have seen the movie (and remember it fondly) and, therefore, have no intention of going back to read the book. With this in mind I will give you the barest of summaries, in case you are the only other person in the world who hasn't seen the movie besides me, then I will focus the rest of this review on information on the author and what symbolism I could glean out of it.

Summary: A young boy named Bastian Balthazar Bux is chased by his tormentors from school in to a bookstore. While there his is enticed to steal a very pretty book, The Neverending Story. He hides out in an attic at his school and begins reading the book. The plot then jumps to the story and back to Bastian. In the story we are introduced to a young hero, Atreyu, who is tasked with saving Fantastica from the NOTHING by locating a human child willing to enter the magical land to give the Childlike Empress a new name. The NOTHING is taking away all dreams and fantasy from the land.

At some point while reading the book Bastian enters the story and he starts to recognize himself. He thinks it is an hallucination. But eventually he realizes that he is the human child who must go to Fantastica to save it. And after he figures out how to get in he finally does enter the realm where all kinds of fantastic adventures of his own making await him.

The book is divided in two parts: before and after Bastian enters Fantastica. Apparently the movie ends after part one so if you have only seen the movie then you really should read the book to get the full story! There. That is my plug for reading!

The author, Michael Ende was German. The book was first published in Germany in 1979 and translated in to English in the early 1980s. Though Ende was one of the most celebrated German authors of the 20th century he was often felt diminshed when people referred to him as just a children's writer." In 1985 he wrote,
One may enter the literary parlor via just about any door, be it the prison door, the madhouse door, or the brothel door. There is but one door one may not enter it through, which is the nursery door. The critics will never forgive you such. The great Rudyard Kipling is one to have suffered this. I keep wondering to myself what this peculiar contempt towards anything related to childhood is all about.[1]
Ende wanted his work to speak to the human condition, issues that children aged 8-80 grapple with. Born in Germany in 1929 he lived through the Nazi era. He was horrified by the war and action of the Nazis. His father, a surrealist painter, was deemed a degenerate by the party and so had to paint and work in secret. By the end of the war, though he was only 14, Ende was drafted but tore up his papers and worked for the resistance in the Munich area. Up until his death in 1995, from stomach cancer, Ende used his writing to shine a light on cultural and spiritual problems in the world, drawing upon his experiences from the war years.

"Rich with symbolism, The Neverending Story is a classic children's tale designed to teach young people to come of age emotionally." [2] Children might miss all the lessons because they are painlessly presented in fantastical imagery and wild tales of adventure.
The story is an important contribution to literature because it addresses the dangers of tyranny. While Adolf Hitler and his Nazis are not directly mentioned in the story, the tale nonetheless reveals an understanding of the emotionally stunted mindset that leads dictators to hunger for power. Through the character of young Bastian Balthazar Bux, the reader gains an intuitive understanding of how life's tragedies can lead one to commit atrocious acts. The author, through Bastian, is reaching out to the youth of the world, telling them that the journey from pain to joy is achievable. [2]
Bastian learns eventually that he has to accept himself and has to give up any preconceived ideas about himself (both good and bad) if he is able to move on and actually be any help to his world.

The last chapters of the book are sublime. They are so full of symbolism and important messages we should all heed. For these messages alone the whole book, even the slow bits in the middle, make the book worth a second look. I originally selected the book because it was referenced in another book: 501-Must Reads by Emma Beare, where the concluding sentence hooked me. "This is a wonderfully satisfying and uplifting novel for readers of all ages." [3]

I listened to the audiobook which was magically narrated by Gerard Doyle, who, if I am not mistaken, was the reader of the Eragon series. I have all kinds of pleasant associations with his voice, that is for sure! I wholeheartedly recommend it in this format, though, be sure to go back and look at the print edition which is divided into 26 chapters and each chapter begins with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. Very clever.

Example chapter heading, The Neverending Story. Photo source [4]
Rating 4.5/5

Audio Edition: Tantor Audio, 2012. Borrowed from my public library.


Monday, April 20, 2015

The Woman in White. Update, the second

Classics Club Spin #9, second update on progress

Book: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Pages read: 215 of 609.

Weekly goal: I'm feeling pretty confident and accomplished. I met my goal of reading at least 17 pages per day on average. Surprisingly, it is a very manageable number of pages to read and I never felt like I had to read them but I did think, "Oh good, I get to read The Woman in White right now."

What I have learned so far:
  • I mentioned this last week but It was very evident in the sections I read this week, because the book was serialized each chapter ends on a bit of a cliffhanger or something that made me want to keep reading. Very clever.
  • Wilkie Collins was most proud of this book and directed that the epitaph on his tombstone read: "In memory of Wilkie Collins, author of 'The Woman in White' and other novels." He was most proud of this novel, though he wrote many others.
  • His novels are very atmospheric and he uses nature as symbols and signs for upcoming troubles. I am just at the part where the character talks about the suffocating effect of trees. I like trees but not if they are portents of death.
What pleases me:
The book is surprisingly readable and I'm enjoying my time with it.

The action (no spoilers):
The plot just keeps getting thicker and the plot more and more sinister. Nothing terrifying has happened yet but I keep getting the feeling that it will at any minute. I am struck anew about the powerlessness of women in the 1850s. Decisions that are made that dramatically affect them yet their opinion is not considered. Collins writes as if this is normal. 

Comments: I'm starting to sound like a disciple but let me say this---the hardest part of reading classics in getting started. Just pick up one you've been wanting to read, set yourself smallish daily goals, and go!