Thursday, September 28, 2017

Recap of Novels 81-90

Recap of Novels 81-90

Average rating of novels 81-90 - 3.6 out of 5 Stars

81. ★★★★½       Vanity Fair     by William Makepeace Thackeray
82. ★★                  The Golden Bowl     by Henry James
83. ★★★½           The Portrait of a Lady     by Henry James
84. ★★★              Tristram Shandy     by Laurence Sterne
85. ★★★½           A Handful of Dust     by Evelyn Waugh
86. ★★★★          All the King’s Men     by Robert Penn Warren
★★★★          The Picture of Dorian Gray     by Oscar Wilde
★★                  The Good Soldier     by Ford Maddox Ford
89. ★★★★          The Bridge of San Luis Rey     by Thornton Wilder
90. ★★★★★      The Chronicles of Narnia     by C.S. Lewis

Favorite: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle
Honorable Mention: Vanity Fair

Least Favorite: The Good Soldier

Best Hero/Heroine: This gives me a bit of a dilemma. I feel I should say Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia, since he is allegorical to Jesus Christ. On the other hand, I feel “hero” is insufficient for Christ who is incomparable, so I’m just going to say other than Aslan….best hero/Heroine is William Dobbin from Vanity Fair, even though the novel is subtitled: A Novel without a Hero. Honorable mention to Reepicheep from The Chronicles of Narnia.

Best Villain: The White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia.

Most interesting/Complex character: Toss up: Jack Burden from All the King’s Men or Rebecca (Becky) Sharp from Vanity Fair.

Best Quotation: I chuckled over it from time to time for the whole rest of the day. Because it does look very funny, you know, to see a black and white cow land on its back in the middle of a stream. It is so just exactly what one doesn’t expect of a cow. ~ John Dowell from The Good Soldier

Best Subtitle: Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero (though I disagree with the subtitle)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Finally Fall Book Tag

The Finally Fall Book Tag was created by Booktuber Tall Tales, but I saw it first at Dwell in Possibility.

I haven’t participated in many tags recently, but this one – being a bit different – appealed to me, and as Sheldon Cooper says, “What’s life without whimsy?!”

I don't really like to tag others...but feel free to join. Leave a comment with link and I'll be sure to read and comment on your Fall Book list.

1. In fall, the air is crisp and clear: name a book with a vivid setting!
The key here is “vivid” because The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles in not evocative of fall, or crisp and clear air, but the author does a marvelous job of describing the harsh and unforgiving beauty of Saharan Africa.

2. Nature is beautiful… but also dying: name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.
I just recently finished The Bridge of San Luis Ray by Thornton Wilder, that is about a tragic event, and yet Wilder uses his beautiful prose to deliver a message of hope and grace.

3. Fall is back to school season: share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.
The Mighty Fitz: This Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald is about a tale many of us know from Gordon Lightfoot’s haunting song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The author, Michael Schumacher fills in the gaps and corrects a few of the inaccuracies of the song (perfectly admissible creative license…I LOVE Lightfoot’s ballad.)

4. In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of.
I’m quite happy with my own family, but I’d love to be better acquainted with the Finch family of To Kill a Mockingbird.

5. The colourful leaves are piling up on the ground: show us a pile of fall-colored spines!
One of my more colorful shelves:

6. Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: share a book wherein somebody is telling a story.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein would be a good fall fireside tale…in fact, I think that is exactly how it came to be.
7. The nights are getting darker: share a dark, creepy read.
The Trial by Franz Kafka

8. The days are getting colder: name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day.
Nothing as short and heartwarming – and beautiful, as The Little Prince.

9. Fall (luckily, it’s my favourite season) returns every year: name an old favourite that you’d like to return to soon.
This has to be The Hobbit + The Lord of the Rings. I never read LOTR without first reading The Hobbit and I reread both every 10 years or so.

10. Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights: share your favourite cozy reading “accessories”!

Comfy chair in my library, glass of Malbec, sometimes some cheese, Pandora playing movie soundtracks.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (90 down, 10 to go)

“Yes,” said Queen Lucy. “In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”

I feel terribly inadequate as I attempt to express my thoughts and feelings of The Chronicles of Narnia.

“thoughts and feelings” being the key phrase, since for me, they are the measure of a great book. Did the author evoke profound thought or powerful emotion?

Yes!  Both!

The Chronicles of Narnia is C. S. Lewis’ timeless masterpiece – timeless is probably a good third criterion for literary greatness – and again it passes the test. It may be characterized a number of ways: children’s fantasy – yes, though countless adults have enjoyed it; High Fantasy – mostly; Christian allegory – at least in part; symbolic; beautiful; frightful; joyful; powerful; triumphant – yes and yes!

This was my first read, though as a Christian, I was vaguely familiar with the allegorical theme. I have often been surprised, in the past, when I’d encounter non-Christians who enjoyed – even loved – The Chronicles of Narnia.

It surprises me no longer; it is testimony to the greatness and versatility of the author.

And to his love. Please forgive my maudlin sentiment, but I felt Lewis poured a lot of love into The Chronicles of Narnia.

In the only other work I’ve read by C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, I marked his ability to make complex ideas simple, and then to make the simple incredibly profound. There’s more of that in the Chronicles. I am far from being an expert on Lewis, but I have concluded he possessed an extraordinary mind.

The Chronicles of Narnia is composed of seven distinct novels – any of which can be enjoyed on its own – though I highly recommend reading them together, and in publication rather than chronological order. Reason? Simple, it is the order Lewis intended. He presumes the reader to know later Narnian history, when reading an earlier story.

(It’s a little like watching Star Wars in chronological order: you don’t get the stunning reveal that Darth Vader is Luke’s father.)

Wanderer’s commentary on the primary Christian themes of the seven tales (in publication order):

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – Redemption of the lost
Prince Caspian – Corrupt religion restored to truth and purity
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – The spiritual life
The Silver Chair – Good vs evil
The Horse and His Boy – The calling and conversion of the lost
The Magician’s Nephew – Creation of the world and the entry of evil
The Last Battle – Evil’s imitation of the benevolent creator, the final conflict, end of the old world, beginning of the new

Individually they are marvelous. Collectively they are beautiful and masterful. The Last Battle moved me to tears. Have you read The Chronicles of Narnia? In whole or in part? What did you think?

My rating: 5 of 5 Stars

…Polly Added, “But we’re not quite as bad as that world, are we, Aslan?”  “Not yet, Daughter of Eve,” he said. “Not yet. But you are growing more like it. It is not certain that some wicked one of your race will not find out a secret as evil as the Deplorable Word and use it to destroy all living things. And soon, very soon, before you are an old man and an old woman, great nations in your world will be ruled by tyrants who care no more for joy and justice and mercy than the Empress Jadis. Let your world beware. That is the warning. ~ Excerpt from The Last Battle

I’m currently reading Planet Narnia by Michael Ward which offers a compelling argument that Lewis hid more meaning in the Chronicles than most have surmised. Lewis may have been laughing down his sleeve at those, including his good friend Professor Tolkien, who thought the Chronicles were simple and incongruous. Planet Narnia is fascinating, and I’ll give a few, more technical, thoughts about both the Chronicles and Planet Narnia when I finish that book.