Monday, April 28, 2008

May's books

Greetings all! Awesome posts for Beloved (Carly and Michelle) – thank you!! It looks like not that many people read Beloved - I don't know if it was too hard of a book or just poor timing since everyone was really busy - so - for the month of May we are going to read something easier and more light-hearted. I've picked 2 books - you can read one, none, or both – it’s totally up to you.

Book one – Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. She is an author that I really like and I think a lot of you will enjoy her books. You can read about the book here:

And try not to be turned off by the description – I got one of her other books from the library (Goose Girl) on a recommendation – but when I read the book’s teaser I decided I didn’t want to read the book – it sounded too fanciful for my tastes. I eventually gave in and read it (mostly because I had nothing else to read and I was sooo bored). Now I am happy to say that I loved it and promptly went out and got the other 2 books to complete the series. So … give this one a try. You might like it. And I think it has the potential to lead to some good discussion.

Book two – The Host by Stephenie Meyer. This book is being released on May 6th. You can read about the book here:

I am going to be useless at work all day, I’m sure, then as soon as it’s 4:00 I’m running to the nearest bookstore to purchase this book. I read the excerpt for the book that it teases on her website and I was hooked. Normally I don’t do sci-fi … but it’s Stephenie! And to be honest – it looks really good. I would love to have a discussion about the book when I’m done – that’s why I am inviting all of you to read it with me.

We'll try to have the books done by the end of the month - around May 26th or so to allow time for discussion. As always, the "deadline" is a fluid concept, so if we need to adjust the date, we can.

Happy reading to all! And happy spring, too! I love this time of the year!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It's a BOY!!

Here is Preston Thomas Jamison. He was born on April 11th and weighed in at 8 lbs 1 oz and 20.5 inches long. He is adorable and we are so happy to have another family member! Dave is excited to have the numbers even and Hailey is loving being a big sister!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More on Beloved

I was intrigued by Toni Morrison's way of presenting this story. Just when you thought you had a handle on what may have happened, another flashback will come and give you more of the picture. That's part of what kept me reading. I rarely felt like I'd heard all the details so I had to keep going to find out what had really happened. (That's why I also avoided reading the summaries Sarah had linked to until I finished the book - I wanted to read and draw my own conclusions before I had it handed to me. But the links were great after I'd finished the book!)

I also thought Morrison was very subtle in telling her story while at the same time presenting so many different topics to the reader. At the very beginning she gives a description of Sweet Home that sort of summed up a major theme of the book for me, that things aren't always how they seem. "It never looked as terrible as it was and it make her wonder if hell was a pretty place too. Fire and brimstone all right, but hidden in lacy groves" (page 6). (And don't you think hell probably is really like that? Deceiving?)

There are many themes running through the book that we could discuss; in the interest of length I think I'll only touch on one more here and perhaps save the others for another post. It is sad to think of what people are capable of doing to other people. The animal theme ran throughout the book. Sethe and other slaves were treated, spoken of, valued like animals. The schoolteacher not only referred to her as "the breeding one" and her babies as "foals" but also had his pupils list the animal characteristics of slaves. In the case of people like Amy Denver, talking about and seeing slaves as animals may purely be the result of education and environment. That's all she's ever seen or heard; she doesn't treat Sethe like an animal though, helping her with the birth of her baby and caring for Sethe's wounds. But I wonder if some of the other people, and perhaps how it all started in the first place, decide that slaves are like animals simply to excuse or justify their behavior. In order to make it okay to treat a person so cruelly, they have to dehumanize the slaves or servants. So instead of employing an actual person, an animal is used to do the work, making the slaveowner feel a little more at ease with whipping or overworking or whatever. (Not that cruelty to animals is okay. Calm down PETA!)

Any one else have any thoughts along these lines? Or on any other theme?