I had to share this one by George, the Poet.
I had to share this one by George, the Poet.
I’ve made up a reading challenge for myself. I have done Goodreads.com‘s challenges where I read a certain number of books per month. This time I’m adding some themes and other specifics to spice things up.
January – read a memoir and another book that’ll help me change my outlook (i.e. achieve a resolution)
February – read a 19th century novel and a religious book (for Lent)
March – read a book written by a Russian author
April – read a play by Shakespeare and commentary in a Norton Classic edition
May – read a detective story
June – read a book of historical fiction
July – read a travel book
August – read a humorous book
September – read a book by a Japanese author
October – read something scary
November – read a book a friend has recommended
December – read a children’s book and a story or book with a Christmas theme
No one has to join this, but you’re free to do so.
I am curious about what sort of challenge you’d set for yourself. Share in the comment section below.
One of the most influential experiences in my life was my parents putting me in Junior Great Books. It made me learn to read difficult books and to look more deeply at literature and essays.
Now I’m thankful that Northbrook Public Library offers a monthly Great Books Discussion group. I’ve gone when I can in recent years. Currently we have an exceptional leader who provides excellent background information and keeps us on track. The group includes brilliant people who share perceptive comments and ask intriguing questions that help and challenge me not just as a reader, but as a person.
If you can, give Great Books a try.
For my online book club we read Romeo and Juliet, which my students are now reading as well. Once I get to Act 4, I want to just ask Friar Laurence why on earth he thought this plan with Juliet taking a sleeping drug would work. Why not tell her parents, Friar? Since she’s already consummated her marriage to Romeo, wouldn’t the Capulets and the Montagues have to make the best of things?
The Friar even tells Paris he doesn’t like the hasty marriage to Juliet. That’s a great start. Just tell the truth or if he’s such a coward, tell the parents they have to wait a certain amount of time after Tybalt’s death to marry. Then have them tell the truth. One of them would get the courage to.
I realize Shakespeare took the story from another source, a poem by Arthur Brooke and he saw that it had a lot of powerful elements, but there are some glaring mistakes in the plot.
Émile Zola continues his stories of the Rougon-Marquart clan with The Kill (La Curée), which tells the story of Aristide Rougon, who is introduced to readers in The Fortune of the Rougon-Marquart’s as a slothful (accent on full) son of the matriarch of this clan. Aristide changes his name to Saccard when the gets to Paris. He hits his well connected brother to get a cushy government job with loads of status. He’s disappointed at first with apparently low level job till he realizes that he will get all sorts of information on city plans that enable him to make real estate deals, quite questionably ethically ones, that will get him a fortune. Saccard is slimy for sure, but the house of cards he sets up is compelling. As a reader, I was just wondering when this all would fall.
Along with Saccard, his second wife Renée is equally questionable ethically. She’s materialistic, superficial, self absorbed and incapable of loyalty. The marriage was arranged to get Renée out of trouble. Her early life was pitiful, but by the time of the story she’s in control and for much of the story rather powerful and independent. Her undoing is her relationship with Saccard’s son.
The writing is beautiful and this portrait of a corrupt society feels real and moves quickly. It was fascinating to learn about the corrupt real estate market of 19th century France. Wall Street didn’t invent financial malfeasance..
Now winter nights enlarge
The number of their hours;
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers.
Let now the chimneys blaze
And cups o’erflow with wine,
Let well-turned words amaze
With harmony divine.
Now yellow waxen lights
Shall wait on honey love
While youthful revels, masques, and courtly sights
Sleep’s leaden spells remove.
This time doth well dispense
With lovers’ long discourse;
Much speech hath some defense,
Though beauty no remorse.
All do not all things well;
Some measures comely tread,
Some knotted riddles tell,
Some poems smoothly read.
The summer hath his joys,
And winter his delights;
Though love and all his pleasures are but toys,
They shorten tedious nights.