I'm a rabid Poe fan. Just thought I would pass this along to others out there who have a fondness for all things Poe. There is word from John Cusack's Twitter feed that he will be playing Edgar Allan Poe in a film called the Raven. With the success of the film "Sherlock Holmes", it's a good bet that this film will be an action packed film too, and I think Cusack is a wonderful choice for the role. Let's hope there is a corresponding jump in readers of Poe's books and poems. That would be nice.
Here's another amusing posting on a blog concerning book owners who were so worried about theft and damage to their property that they included book curses on the inside covers. Gee, as a librarian who has to deal with people NOT returning our books all the time...maybe we should reinstitute some of these!
This is truly a most amazing book. If you are a fan of Yann Martel's after reading "Life of Pi", his fantasy adventure novel that was a huge success a few years back, then this is a natural follow up. If you have not read "Life of Pi" yet, I highly recommend that you do this first. Then read "Beatrice and Virgil". You will be exactly in the right frame of mind.
What's the book about? Well...it's about a donkey called Beatrice and a howler monkey called Virgil. They are characters in a play that a very creepy taxidermist has written. This taxidermist approaches the main character in the book, Henry, a famous novelist, for advice and help. This is the bare bones skeleton of the story. But Martel hangs so many psychological layers upon this framework to shape his story that by the end of the book your head is spinning and your heart is breaking.
This book is being put forward as a satire of the holocaust, and some have said it's not worth the emotional toll...but I highly disagree. This book represents writing at its most powerful. A writer who can manage to speak volumes between the lines of a simple basic story structure and who can work your emotions like a concert violinist playing a stradivarius is one who is a master storyteller and magician.
I think the best I can do to convey the nature of this book is to quote the author himself. In an interview, Yann Martel says this about Beatrice and Virgil:
"I often get asked the question why I use animals in my stories. Life of Pi was set in a zoo and featured a number of animals, and animals once again play a prominent role in my new novel, Beatrice and Virgil. Am I a great animal lover? Well, I suppose I am; nature is indeed beautiful. But the actual reason I like to use animals is because they help me tell my tale. People are cynical about people, but less so about wild animals. A rhinoceros dentist elicits less skepticism, in some ways, than a German dentist. I also use animals in my fiction because people rarely see animals as they truly are, biologically. Rather, they tend to project human traits onto them, seeing nobility in one species, cowardice in another, and so on. This is biological nonsense, of course; every species is and behaves as it needs to in order to survive. But this animal-as-canvas quality is useful for a storyteller. It means that an animal that people feel kindly towards becomes a character that readers feel kindly towards.
Why did I choose to write a novel about the Holocaust? There’s nothing personal to this interest; I’m neither Jewish, nor of German or eastern European extraction. I’m a complete outsider who’s been staring at this monstrous massacre of innocents since I first learned about it as a child living in France. It’s as an artist that I’ve kept coming back to the subject. What can I do as an artist about the Holocaust? I believe that if history does not express itself as art, it will not survive in common human memory. And so I took what I knew of the Holocaust, the cumulative knowledge of my reading and viewing and visiting (both to camps in Poland and Germany and to Yad Vashem in Israel and to various museums), and I set it next to that part of me that wants to understand through the imagination. Then I sat down and wrote Beatrice and Virgil."
Now, I strongly urge you to read this most amazing and powerful book. At the end I weeped for humanity, for the holocaust that took place emphasizing man's inhumanity to man, and for the animal holocaust that is currently raging. And I, like Henry, missed Beatrice and Virgil.
Anne Marie Roche is a widow and lives alone in an apartment over a book shop she owns. Her life has certainly not turned out the way she had expected it to. On Valentine's day, she and several other widows get together and decide to make a list of twenty wishes...not really a bucket list per se, but just things they always wanted to do but just hadn't gotten around to yet. Anne Marie's list starts with "Find one good thing about life", then she adds "learn to knit", etc. When she volunteers at a local school to be a "lunch buddy", she crosses paths with eight-year-old Ellen. As Anne Marie becomes more and more involved in Ellen's life (due to a life threatening illness concerning Ellen's grandmother, her primary caretaker) she finds that this isn't the casual relationship she thought it was going to be going in. In the meantime, we see how the twenty wishes lists of some of the other women play out in their lives.
This is the first Debbie Macomber book I've read, though she checks out very well at our library; after all, she has 60 million books in print and is a New York Times best selling author, as well as a leading voice in women's fiction. Now this quote comes directly from her website, but I find it really tells you all you need to know about the style of her books: "Debbie is best known for her ability to create compelling characters and bring their stories to life in her books. Drawing on her own experiences and those of her family and friends, she demonstrates an almost uncanny ability to see into the souls of women and to express their emotions, values and concerns. In every book her sense of humor enlivens her writing."
I must say I found the book very heartwarming and funny. I think I laughed out loud several times in just the early pages, so I was pretty well drawn into the story and characters from the beginning. Macomber writes a whole series of these Blossom Street books and based on my reading of this one I would definitely pick up another volume from the series, if not another one of her other books in general.
NPR's audience nominated 600 novels to its Killer Thrillers poll of the best all time mystery novels. Here's the final 100 list of "fast moving tales of suspense and adventure" and unexpected darkness.
Good books. Good times. Good stories. Good rhymes. Good beginnings. Good ends. Good people. Good friends. Good fiction. Good facts. Good adventures. Good acts. Good stories. Good rhymes. Good books. Good times.
Yeah, Reading is Sexy
A Whale for the Killing by Farley Mowat
All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
At Play in the Fields of the Lord by Peter Matthiessen
Beach Music by Pat Conroy
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
How Now Shall We Live by Charles Colson
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Parchment of Leaves by Silas House
River of Earth by James Still
Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg
The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A. J. Jacobs
The Mitford series by Jan Karon
The Stand by Stephen King
This quote from Eudora Welty captures perfectly how I feel about books and reading
"I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them -- with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself."
Get Caught Reading
Want to find time to read? Fall in book love. Seek out the books that fire your passions. Follow your intellect and your heart. Then time will find you. ...Steve Leveen
Stop thinking this is all there is...
Realize that for every ongoing war and religious outrage and environmental devastation, there are a thousand counter-balancing acts of staggering generosity and humanity and art and beauty happening all over the world, right now, on a breathtaking scale, from flower box to cathedral.
Resist the temptation to drown in fatalism, to shake your head and sigh and just throw in the karmic towel.
Realize that this is the perfect moment to change the energy of the world, to step right up and crank your personal volume; right when it all seems dark and bitter and offensive and acrimonious and conflicted and bilious...there's your opening!
And, finally, believe you are part of a groundswell, a resistance, a seemingly small but actually very, very large impending karmic overhaul, a great shift, the beginning of something important and potent and unstoppable.
...Mark Morford, Newspaper Columnist and Yoga Instructor
CONAN THE LIBRARIAN
I read as if time were running out, because technically it is. As I grow older, I find I'm increasingly impatient with mediocre entertainments: I want books that will take my breath away and realign my vision...Barbara Kingsolver
Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill...Barbara Techman (Writer)
Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul...Samuel Ullman
Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order...John Adams, 2nd President of the U.S.
Every page allows me to live in the main character's thoughts and marvel at how all of us who grew up poor and female are bonded, regardless of where we were raised or who raised us. I not only feel I know this person, but I also recognize more of myself. That's just one of the great joys of reading. Insight, escape, information, knowledge, power. All that and more can come through a good book...If you're going to binge, literature is definitely the way to do it...Oprah Winfrey
"I'm of a fearsome mind to throw my arms around every living librarian who crosses my path, on behalf of the souls they never knew they saved."
Asking a Librarian her favorite book is like asking a Mother her favorite child
So you want to become a librarian? Welcome to a vibrant and exciting profession. Click here.
The best of all things is to learn. Money can be lost or stolen. Health and strength may fail. But what you have committed to your mind, is yours forever...Louis Lamour
You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture.Just get people to stop reading them. ..... Ray Bradbury
I LOVE NEIL GAIMAN
Do yourself a favor and read American Gods, Anansi Boys, Fragile Things, Smoke & Mirrors, The Graveyard Book, MirrorMask, or Good Omens
Love the Fantasy/SciFi genre
Many good authors to try, John Scalzi is one of the newer ones
Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant, interesting...Aldous Huxley
The Chronicles of Narnia are an excellent read!
I was an adult before I read these books...how sad...
BOOKS: The Other Channel
My lifelong love affair with books and reading continues unaffected by automation, computers, and all other forms of the twentieth-century gadgetry. — Books in My Life Robert DOWNS (1903- )
A room without books is like a body without a soul. .....Marcus T. Cicero
To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry. ......Gaston Bachelard
The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries. — Cosmos Carl SAGAN
The library is not a shrine for the worship of books. It is not a temple where literary incense must be burned or where one's devotion to the bound book is expressed in ritual. A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas - a place where history comes to life. — Cited in ALA Bulletin, Oct. 1954, p.475 Norman COUSINS (1915- )