Sunday, April 17, 2016

If you give a mouse a cookie . . .

Well, the 2016 Book Reading Challenge said to re-read a book you had read before.  That wasn't a tough sell - I have read GWTW about 30 times I suspect - that's not counting the times I've skimmed through it to just re-read my fave parts!!

I did notice this time that the book is significantly racist.  I have known that intellectually for many years, but I haven't really had it hit me in the face like it did this time.  It took a little away from my enjoyment.  But I noted that she could have left the racist descriptions out - and to my way of thinking most of the racism comes with the way she describes the black characters in the story - and the book would have been just as good a story - and quite a bit shorter.

That's probably a pretty simplistic way of looking at the issue.  But you do have to keep in mind that it was written in 1936 - and much of what she wrote and believed was the prevalent thought of the day. The same issue comes up every time some school teacher has the class read Mark Twain or Ayn Rand.  It's pretty essential to keep historical context in mind when reading "controversial" books.

I think that GWTW is a great story - and that has been its major appeal - and is why it's still read and enjoyed today.  I know the plot by heart.  I actually have lots of the dialogue memorized.  But the story still moves me!

In 1992, the Margaret Mitchell estate had a competition and authorized a sequel.  I was pretty excited when it came out and got the book and read it right away.  I also enjoyed that "story" a lot - but the writing was not nearly as evocative as Margaret Mitchell.  GWTW is the only book she ever wrote - and she did die young - but she was a skillful writer.

So much like the mouse who wants a glass of milk when you give him a cookie, I felt the need to re-read the sequel.  It was a good read - and it was only the 2nd time I'd read it, so it was a lot like reading a book for the first time.  But as I have said before, the writing was somewhat dull and tedious - and I was mostly reading to get the plot advanced!!  I have not seen the TV movie version of it - and doubt that I will.  Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable are Scarlett and Rhett - and there's no doubt about that in my mind!

The estate authorized another sequel in 2002 - Rhett Butler's People -  and I read that one also - was tempted to re-read it but the first few pages didn't really grab me this time, so I put it down in favor of Grapes of Wrath, the book my home/hospital student is reading.  That is a re-read for me too, but since it's so well-written, a re-read is a treat.

I don't often re-read books - GWTW, Grapes of WrathThe Pearl, and Mrs. Mike are the major repeaters in my repertoire, also the core lit selections from my years of middle school teaching - but sometimes it's fun to curl up with an "old friend" - especially on a rainy afternoon, which is how it worked out for me.

If you have not read GWTW though, you do owe yourself a read!!

Friday, April 01, 2016

"A book set in Europe"

Ara sent me a 2016 Reading Challenge that looks a little more extensive than the one I have - this one fits the category "A book set in Europe."  (I haven't done as much reading this year as I usually do - not sure what that says about my life!)

Anyway, Hannah recommended this one, and it is a good read.  The premise is that what would happen if your life ended - but then the scenario changed and you didn't die?

Ursula Todd dies at birth - at least at the beginning of the book - but then the scenario is replayed - and she doesn't die!  Her life continues on in this vein through World War I and World War II and goes up to 1967.  It might sound like it's pretty confusing, but it's not - you actually start wondering how each new life or scenario is going to play out.

There are some interesting and intriguing episodes involving Hitler and Eva Braun.  It is also a story about a family - the Todds - and how their lives intertwine and influence each other.

And apparently the novel after this, A God In Ruins, is kind of a sequel.  One I will undoubtedly get and read!!