Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tribute to the library

"A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life." said Henry Ward Beecher.

I have to agree with him on that. But how often do we consider how privileged we are to have the libraries that we have in this country? A copious reader goes through many more books from a library than (usually) they could afford to buy. My reading marathon of last week was only possible because the books were readily available in the local library. The second to last book arrived in time to be gulped down and now I await eagerly the final installment of the Shadow Children series. Admittedly, I'm starting to tire of the repetition necessary to bring readers up to speed who haven't read previous books in the series, but overall, the story line was intriguing.

Back to libraries. An amusing children's picture book about a bibliophile is The Library by Sarah Stewart. I can fully relate to a house overflowing with books and will be happy one day to start giving the books away to my children's children.

One amazing feature of our library is the interlibrary loan service. By requesting books that aren't available locally, you can read books from all over the country - and maybe further, I don't know. My latest acquistion came from Tumbler Ridge, entitled "Forbidden City" by William Bell. Again, a young adult book. The writing style wasn't very "heavy", but the content more than made up for it. This is the story of events leading up to the Tian An Men Square massacre. Very first-hand; very informative. Knowing that his significant other is from China leads you to believe that what he writes about is as factual as it can possibly be.

Tian An Men Square

Monday, April 16, 2007

A reading marathon...

How can it be, that with a great pile of started books waiting to be finished, I picked up something different to read? Wanting to preview a YA novel for my kids, I took out a stack of Margaret Peterson Haddix books from the library. She writes copiously. One series is Shadow Children. A classic "what if" scenario. What if the overpopulation zealots managed to bring in a law that only allowed two children per family? And then, what if some families happened to/decided to have a third? How would that child manage to remain undetected? What if these children got the notion that they should have rights? I love that "what if" concept in SciFi fiction. These books managed to keep me glued to the page (between all the "stuff" I have to do, like housework and meals and kids needing rides and doing school). I read the first 5 books one after the other, but have to wait to get the last two which I have reserved. Then I went on to her "Running out of time" novel - similar theme as the movie The Village. I finished off my Haddix marathon with "Turnabout", which has an immortality theme. I found all these books to be perfect for what I was needing this week - diversion. The concepts and characters were interesting and the writing not too juvenile that I felt at any time that I was being dumbed down.
But then, just to top off the week, on Sunday I listened to an award winning book (on tape) - Rockbound by Frank Parker Day. This book won the 2005 Canada Reads contest. Now this was a great book! The book takes place on the south shore of Novia Scotia and has all the classic elements of good literature. Drama, suspense, romance, jealousy, hatred, murder. Very Shakespearean in flavour. But it also reminded me of Moby Dick, which I also listened to as a book on tape. Maybe that's because of the sea/fishing atmosphere. The narrator does a remarkable job of getting the accents of the characters down so well - that really adds authenticity to the story which I wouldn't have necessarily gotten if I had read it. I highly recommend this book.

"Fishing boats at Sea" by Vincent Van Gogh

Saturday, April 7, 2007

My body succumbed...

After many false alarms over the winter, my body finally gave in and got really sick. My doctor thought it might be step throat. I almost hoped it was, so that I could take something and get better. But alas, just a really bad cold. No voice for three days and only a squeak for several after that. Almost two weeks later I'm still recovering. All this to say...I haven't been reading at my regular pace. Taking stock of books on the go - Norman Mailer The Spooky Art, Oliver Van DeMille A Thomas Jefferson Education, Israel My Glory magazine, The Artist's magazine, Richard Powell Wabi Sabi for Writers, Rob Bell Velvet Elvis, Lewis Thomas The Lives of a Cell, AND Holley Pierlot A Mother's Rule of Life.

The only book I have finished in the last 3 weeks is P.D. James's The Children of Men. I had been warned not to watch the movie because of the bad language so I opted for the book instead. I have to admit that it took me till about one-third into the book to really get hooked on it. I enjoy science fiction, but this wasn't your usual sci-fi novel. Once hooked though the story line was interesting. It brought to mind the book The Lord of the Flies. How will we behave when the structure of society that we have always counted on is gone? Our true character comes out when the going gets tough. Scary thought.