thoughts on books: alias grace

I loved Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. The pacing was excellent and the story compelling. The fact that it is a true story of a double murder and no one really knows (or likely will ever know) what really happened was handled in a way that seemed to enhance rather than ruin the ending. The fact that so many aspects of human nature and the mind and memories and dreams were not well explored in the mid-1800s also adds to the mystery.

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thoughts on books: the great gatsby

I first read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald back in high school and liked it on a more “romantic” level – not so much about the love story component but the overall pathos of the book, if that makes any sense. There was a sense of characters being swept up into their storylines, which seemed new and different and a bit exciting. When I reread it about seven years ago, I really felt sad that there were so many people in this story who were either unhappy with their choices in life or uncomfortable with who they were as people.

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thoughts on books: children’s books

It’s always interesting to re-read books from your childhood. Will they still have that magical quality? Have I grown too cynical or “sophisticated” to enjoy them again? A couple of books still hit that sweet spot. I re-read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (and Through the Looking Glass) by Lewis Carroll and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery a few years ago and they were lovely.

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thoughts on books: anna karenina

Anna Karenina, another tome by Leo Tolstoy, is a magnificent and sweeping book that focuses on two story lines – and three marriages: Anna and her husband Karenin, Dolly and her husband Stiva Oblonsky (Anna’s brother) and Kitty (Dolly’s sister) and Konstantin Levin. The dashing Alexei Vronsky is also in the picture as a key source of intrigue in two of the marriages. The book encompasses the history of Russia in the late 19th century by exploring how the changes in Russia affected and were affected by these characters who are trying to adjust to underlying evolution that sometimes seems a little too slow in their estimation. Because this book is so driven by the individual storylines, it’s difficult to summarize this evolution and the eventual changes to the characters – it is the movement by many small steps driven by a series of events.

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thoughts on books: a tale of two cities

Such a lovely book that captured the full range of emotions! I’m a fan of Charles Dickens – from my first read of Oliver Twist when I was in middle school and through Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, and so on. The books often have elements of fun and adventure as well as unflinching views of poverty, oppression, injustice, and vulnerability. There is a reason why the word dickensian has entered the vernacular. And this is a fairly short book, especially for Dickens!

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patience is a virtue

Between work and a virus, I’ve been flat out in November! Trying to come back now ….

I wish I was a more patient person. On many fronts, I require patience – with my mother, may cat, my renovations and life in general. I thought I was starting to de-stress as the renovations near completion and I feel like I can relax a bit more. Some stress has seemed to melt away, but the reality is that some stress has just shifted to other things. I don’t feel as irritated at little things but am still impatient with regard to the renovations. I don’t feel as angry that the renovations are not completed but still need to take some deep breaths to keep from screaming sometimes! I have cut down on the junk food but still pull out the Cheetos a little too often. And we’re coming into hot chocolate season ….

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thoughts on books: the first circle

The First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (published in 1968) is a truly remarkable book. The story plays out over a few days in December 1949 in Moscow. Although I loved One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, I had not read one of the tomes by Solzhenitsyn (e.g., The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956 or Cancer Ward), so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I knew this was set largely in a prison, so was prepared to read about a lot of physical pain, starvation, and so on. What I got was different … and so much more.

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thoughts on books: the bell jar

I read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and really loved the book – though in a sad way. I have read novels that dealt with mental illness, as well as (auto)biographical accounts, and even non-fiction. This book really touched me. The initial impact of this book in 1963 must have been something to see! It is easy to forget or minimize how influential some books (or movies or art or TV shows) were – the “first” is groundbreaking but after a while what was new becomes part of life. It seems now that just about everything is discussed in the public arena, so the impact of mental health discussions being taboo seems a bit strange.

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