Showing posts from June, 2019

Classifying the Classics, and Who to Trust

One does not just trust every critic — at least, a Discerning One does not trust every critic. But how does One determine who is worthy of that trust? For me, in the Case of The Beach-Book Critic, I used two factors: representation and Lolita . Recently, I read The Odyssey (technically, Claire Danes read it to me) and I was amazed at the crap Odysseus managed to get away with. He slept his way home, killed lots of people, wounded a god's child, made some dumb-ass mistakes, lost more crew than I could count — and still made it home to sex his wife and kill lots more men and women. It was a fascinating read, but I found myself asking the same rhetorical question: "Why is this a classic ?" I have begun to look beyond my lit class must-reads for some great titles, like Tales of the Genji , the first novel ever written, by Murasaki Shikibu, an eleventh century Japanese noblewoman. Also left off my lit class lists was The Heptameron of Margaret, Queen of Navarre , a book

When Book Worlds Collide: Unexpected Connections Between Fact and Fiction

Spoiler alert! This post references pivotal information in two books: The Lost Man (Jane Harper) and No Visible Bruises: What We Don't Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us (Rachel Louise Snyder).  If you do not want information, clues, observations, and possible plot complications revealed about either book, please stop reading now. Seriously. You have been warned. This summer, I experienced an unanticipated book collision. Two recently released books on my nightstand could not have seemed more different on their faces. One book is a novel written by an Australian woman that takes place in the Australian Outback. The third-person narrator is male, and most of the main characters are male. There are women in the story: family of the narrator and main characters, with only a few exceptions. The other book is a non-fiction tome written by an American woman, a journalist. The main story, and much of the follow-up, take place in Montana, USA (so far; I am only halfw

Reading About Animals: The Pleasure and Peril

When it comes to animals — in books, in movies, even in pop songs — I approach with caution. I worry that the poor beasts will be mishandled, will befall some terrible fate, or be sacrificed as a plot complication. Who among us can say with complete confidence that they have recovered from Old Yeller? (Looks around.) I thought so. On Memorial Day weekend, I began an Audible book as I walked to the library to return a few print books. I loved the sound of Sy Montgomery's voice in my ears as she read  How to Be a Good Creature . ( Full disclosure: I took a few days off when Tess started showing signs of old age. I can say it was because I didn't want to blubber like a fool on the elliptical — but the truth is, I wasn't brave enough.) I thought of Cisco and Khan, my cats who died within days of each other in October 2011. The brothers had entirely different types of cancer, but each fell ill suddenly, and died within days of their diagnosis. I was so grief-stricken,

Summer Reading Club Book: A Ghost of a Tale

Do you want to ramp up your summer reading? Join your fellow book-clubbers in reading a fascinating book selected by Intrepid Reader Karen. Karen has discovered a phantastic book titled The Ghost Studies: New Perspectives on the Origin of Paranormal Experiences by Brandon Massullo. The Ghost Studies, according to Google, provides scientific explanations for paranormal occurrences, including: New and exciting scientific theories that explain apparitions, hauntings, and communications from the dead The latest research on the role of energy and electricity in hauntings The role that emotions, bioenergetics, and the environment play in supernatural phenomena New research into why some individuals are more prone to ghostly encounters I am as skeptical as the next person, but I have had some inexplicable experiences that make me wonder what else there is in heaven and earth, and I'm willing to find out what Mr. Massullo has to say on the subject. Readers, let's

Review: The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster

So, the Polar Book Club book took me a little longer to read than I anticipated — but I have finished  The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster by Scott Wilbanks. Intrepid Reader Karen suggested the book for our Polar Book Club because it sounded amazing: a young woman in San Francisco wakes up one day to discover a 19th century Kansas wheat field in her backyard, along with a letterbox that contains a letter addressed to her — from the year 1890. The wheat field appears soon after Annie takes delivery of an old red wooden door purchased from a local antique shop. After a little digging, she discovers the door was once owned by the magician David Abbott, who was killed only days before it was sold at auction more than a century before. Her new "neighbor" Elsbeth dated her letter only days before the magician's murder. Can the crime be prevented and a life saved? From the beginning, I wasn't sure what to make of the characters: Annie, a recently orphaned, terminal