A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the lane, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (that she had claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie--magical, comforting, wise beyond her years--promised to protect him, no matter what.
Some books you read, some books you just immerse yourself in; Neil's fall into the latter category. The book started out as a short story and grew into a novel. This haunting look at childhood, magic, and myth is both beautiful and horrifying. Like all of Neil's books, it is full of rich quotable passages like this: “Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.” Or, this: "Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences." It starts off with a quote from Maurice Sendak, which aptly sets the tone for the story: "I remember my own childhood vividly...I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn't let adults know I knew. It would scare them." Neil helps us remember the powerlessness of childhood in a very poetic and imaginative way, and helps us examine memories and the boundaries between worlds that can sometimes shift and open doorways to nightmares, fairy tales, and magic.
"Like The Help, that showstopping work by Kathryn Stockett, The Healing is another Mississippi-born work of art, and Odell's Polly Shine is a character for the ages." This quote by Pat Conroy on the cover of the book is about one of the main characters. And I admit, she was my favorite character as well. Full of back woods wisdom about herbs and remedies and the source of some of my favorite quotes from the book. "Sometimes when you look at a person all you see is the tangle and you miss the weave." Or this one: "A flapping tongue puts out the light of wisdom."
Odell's beautiful historical novel illustrates the connective power of story to heal body, mind, and community. Rich in mood and atmosphere, this story about the unbreakable bonds between three generations of female healers is a marvelous book of reverberating beauty.
Plantation mistress Amanda Satterfield's grief over the loss of her daughter crosses over into madness. She takes a newborn slave child as her own and names her Granada. Troubled by his wife's disturbing mental state and concerned about a mysterious plague sweeping through his slave population, Master Satterfield purchases Polly Shine, a slave woman reputed to be a healer. But Polly's sharp tongue and troubling predictions cause unrest. Polly recognizes "the gift" in Granada, and a domestic battle of wills ensues . Seventy-five years later, Granada, now known as Gran Gran, must revive the buried memories of her past in order to heal a young girl abandoned to her care.
Jodi Picoult likes to tackle hot button issues in her fictional narratives, and this time out the framework of The Storyteller is World War II and Nazi war crimes and the huge issue of "forgiveness."
A 95 year old widower and retired school teacher in New Hampshire, Josef Weber, claims to be a Nazi war criminal. He confesses this to Sage Singer, a woman he meets in a grief support group, who is a 25 year old baker with a nasty facial scar from an accident. More importantly, Sage is Jewish. Josef asks Sage to help him die. Sage has a grandmother, Minka, who is a holocaust survivor (from Auschwitz). Sage never really knew her grandmother's story. In the process of trying to decide how she will react to Josef's confession and his plea for her to help him die to atone for his sins, we learn Minka's brutal story of survival.
Our attitudes, fears, hopes, and values are strongly influenced by storytelling. Before literacy or written language, storytellers functioned like today's mass media: they could entertain, they could inform, they could explain, they could transmit the culture's myths and treasured stories from one generation to the next. And because they did these things in an engaging and interesting manner, people paid attention and learned. Fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than writing that is specifically designed to persuade through argument and evidence. The more we are absorbed in a story, the more it can change us. When we are absorbed in a story, we drop our intellectual guard and are moved emotionally. At its heart, storytelling is a gift.
Picoult is a good storyteller. This book grapples with complex moral issues and peels back the layers of human emotion while examining the human condition up close and personal. She takes a penetrating look at the nature of good and evil to produce a powerful and thought-provoking book. The seed for writing this book came from Simon Wiesenthal's The Sunflower, about his time in a Nazi concentration camp, and Picoult includes an Author's Note at the end recommending several additional resources she found helpful in writing the book for those who would like to learn more about that period of our history.
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- )