Peter is starting a lot of books but not finishing them. I think he's giving up too quickly. Sometimes I have to force myself to read the first 100 pages of a book before I fall into it, but he's not taking any advice from me these days.
I referred him to Nick Offerman. Nick Offerman, that manliest of men, who played Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation did an interview and had many wise things to say on many topics. His words on books are what stuck in my mind.
"I love a series of books that perpetually fleshes out a world," Offerman said, "like Wendell Berry's Fiction (start with The Memory of Old Jack or Nathan Coulter), The Lord of The Rings, Madeline L'engle's Wrinkle In Time series, The Horatio Hornblower series, Patrick O'Brian's 21-volume Aubrey/Maturin series, The Flashman Papers, The Sharpe series, Little House On The Prairie, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Martin Amis' Dead Babies and Time's Arrow, As I Lay Dying, Michael Pollan's entire catalogue, for a start."
Now, I'm not familiar with all of these titles, but LOTR, L'Engle, Horatio, Patrick O'Brian, and Little House are all stellar picks, so I'm thinking the rest are probably good too, except Dead Babies. Not going to recommend a book with that title, especially based on the Amazon review. (Yes, I've read the Faulkner, but I'm not a big Faulkner fan. Go ahead. Revoke my English degree. Just not into Faulkner.)
A week later and I am happy to say that Peter is just finishing The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings for the very first time. Actually, I'm a little ashamed to say that. Stupid movies ruining it for the bibliophiles.
Susan: Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility
She never did read the Anne books, but she's very much into Jane. I suppose I can deal with that. (Click here to get the complete collection of Anne books on your Kindle or eReader for only $.99! Yes, it's an affiliate link and I will get about a tenth of a penny for every click-through.)
Lucy: The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
Come for the cover art, stay for the Romantic-Victorian knock-off.
Susan and Lucy have read quite a few of these Julie Klassen books. I really need to read one myself. "Fans of the Janes (Austen and Eyre) won't want to miss it." High praise. Must check it out.
Edmund: Rivals by Tim Green
Once upon a time, I heard former NFL player-attorney-best-selling author Tim Green speak about writing for children. I bought loads of his books at that time.
Tim Green writes sports-themed mysteries and dramas for kids. Edmund chose this book for himself, and he loves to tell me what page he is on, and what is going on. His last update included bits about the kid who threw a bean-ball intentionally at the hero. Rather than take the base, the kid at the plate chose to finish the at-bat, which you can do apparently, according to the rules of the game in this book.
He's reading, he's reading at will, and he's enjoying it.
Jill: All the things but especially Kevin Henkes' Lilly's Big Day (which is about being a flower girl, something that Jill is an expert at now), Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, and Chrysanthemum.
NOT Kevin Henkes' Julius Baby of the World which is everything I cannot stand in a "new baby" book including the words "I hate the baby."
Me: So Big by Edna Ferber...a Grown Up Book!
Want to wow the hospital staff after your next delivery? Pull out a Pulitzer prize winner for those long nights and early mornings.
Giant and Ice Palace by Ferber have entertained me in the past and I recommended them to Susan and Lucy for summer reading, so I requested So Big from the library a weeks ago.
So Big is the story of Selina DeJong, on the outskirts of Chicago in the early part of the 20th century.
Beautiful, young Selina was raised in Chicago and many other cities by her widowed gambling gentleman father. When he dies suddenly of a gunshot wound, she is left alone with two diamonds and nearly $500 cash. She decides to become a teacher in the rural town of High Prairie.
High Prairie is settled by Dutch vegetable farmers, and though Selina is struck by the back-breaking hard-work of "truck farming" she finds herself doing exactly that after a whirlwind romance. Disaster strikes, then fortune comes calling, and Selina is able to raise her young son, Dirk, exactly as she likes giving him a college education and a bright future.
Then the novel switches focus from Selina to Dirk, and starts to read like The Great Gatsby as Dirk is entranced by the "plastic" people, the wealthy, the socialites, and starts to feel shame about his roots and the woman who sacrificed everything to get him where he is.
Dirk's education is not over til the very end. He falls for a girl who is the total package: smart, savvy, talented, successful, and she recognizes that the man she wants must have "scars on his hands," and that probably eliminates Dirk.
Despite the abrupt ending, I thoroughly enjoyed So Big. Ferber is an excellent writer (Pulitzer prize!) and her historical settings provide a rich backdrop to all of her novels.
I'd say her novels are appropriate for readers of any age, but probably only teens and up are going to be able to savor and appreciate the writing and the history.
Now it's your turn: