Tag Archives: books

Everything’s Not Black or White in Go Set A Watchman

“Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience.”

I finished reading Harper Lee’s new book which is actually her first book and was not released until now. This book is about a grown up Scout and a more grown up take on life in Maycomb. When I first saw spoilers about the character Atticus, I worried I would be upset and not like what I was going to read about him. But after reading the book, I like what Lee has done with this character.

In this book, Atticus becomes a human being. He is a human being with faults. This is appropriate for a grown up story. Although I have always loved the story of To Kill A Mockingbird and I still do, I realize it was about an idealized version of a father. Harper Lee shows us this in her new book. Like for any child growing up,  Scout’s father had to be the perfect hero. She did not see that he had any failings. In Go Set A Watchman we see he has failings. It makes his character much more complex. At first this realization about Atticus almost destroys Scout and she wants to run as far as she can away from it. Then, with the help of her uncle, she comes to see that this experience has been necessary for her to see herself as a grown person and separate individual from her father. It is about Scout making this transition to adulthood.

I, like Scout, never thought I would want to know this new Atticus. But now I see he is a more complex character and he is not all bad either. He is a Southern man of that era, when the South was transitioning with the Civil Rights movement and desegregation. I think this is more realistic depiction of what he would be. We like to be able to put people in one category or another. Good or bad. See things as black or white. This book asks us not to do that but asks us to grow up and see people as they are and not  run away, but try to find a meeting place.

|Around the World Reading Challenge, 2015|

Go Set a Watchman To Be Released This Week

Barnes & Noble announces all pre-orders of the hardcover edition* of Go Set a Watchman placed on BN.com on or before 12pm Eastern time July 13 will be delivered on July 14**, the on-sale date.

Harper Lee’s new  book is being released this week. I am due to get my copy in the mail around mid-week according to the nice customer service rep I spoke with at Barnes and Noble. I had pre-ordered the book and then I lost my email record of it.

I am very excited to read this book. If you have been following the story, Harper Lee wrote Go Set A Watchman before she wrote To Kill A Mockingbird but her publisher wanted her to write a book about a younger Scout. So no one ever heard of Go Set A Watchman until recently. Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for To Kill A Mockingbird and then never wrote another book that we knew of.

I am very excited to read this “new” book. And I really don’t want to hear a lot about what the book is about before I read it. I hate spoilers. When I do a review I don’t like to give away the whole story either and spoil it for other people. When I saw a recent headline in the Huffington Post about Atticus Finch, and what his character is like in the new book, I saw red. Every time I see that post I scroll quickly past it. Now that element of surprise has been taken from me. But I am blocking it out until I read the book for myself.

I am the same way about films. I don’t like to read a review that tells the about the entire film before I get a chance to see it. A big part of the pleasure for me is the mystery. Do you like to read reviews that give away the whole story?

Writer’s Quote Wednesday-Be Still

“Be still, and the world is bound to turn herself inside out to entertain you. Everywhere you look, joyful noise is clanging to drown out quiet desperation.”–Barbara Kingsolver

This reminds me to take time to pause and really look around me. Especially when I contemplate nature. There really is so much to see every day. It doesn’t matter if it is sunny, cloudy, warm, or rainy, there is always something beautiful. Today it has been mostly cloudy. I noticed this morning that some of the clouds in the sky were beautiful, like the way the marine clouds crept over the tops of the local Santa Monica mountains this morning, as a I drove off to do literacy tutoring. I could have been preoccupied with my plans for the morning and distracted by the traffic. It was worth the effort to gaze up at the sky and take notice. I noticed the hills around my neighborhood are still green, with some goldenrod and wild California poppies blooming. Just seeing all the pretty wild grasses, shrubs and wildflowers was uplifting.

About Barbara Kingsolver from her website:

“Barbara Kingsolver was born in 1955, and grew up in rural Kentucky. She earned degrees in biology from DePauw University and the University of Arizona, and has worked as a freelance writer and author since 1985. At various times in her adult life she has lived in England, France, and the Canary Islands, and has worked in Europe, Africa, Asia, Mexico, and South America. She spent two decades in Tucson, Arizona, before moving to southwestern Virginia where she currently resides.

Her books, in order of publication, are: The Bean Trees (1988), Homeland (1989), Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike (1989), Animal Dreams (1990), Another America (1992), Pigs in Heaven (1993), High Tide in Tucson (1995), The Poisonwood Bible (1998), Prodigal Summer (2000), Small Wonder (2002), Last Stand: America’s Virgin Lands, with photographer Annie Griffiths Belt (2002), Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (2007), and The Lacuna (2009). She served as editor for Best American Short Stories 2001. Her books have been translated into more than two dozen languages, and have been adopted into the core literature curriculum in high schools and colleges throughout the nation. She has contributed to more than fifty literary anthologies, and her reviews and articles have appeared in most major U.S. newspapers and magazines.”

I have not read her books but have heard of The Poisonwood Bible, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, and The Lacuna.

The Poisonwood Bible partial summary from her website:

“The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.”

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is about how Barbara and her family commit themselves to eating only locally grown foods, or food they have grown themselves, and what is available seasonally.

“The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.” The two nations are the United States and Mexico. It includes the famous Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in the story. I think I want to read it just because of those two artists.

Remember to be still…

640px-Korea-Mountain-Jirisan-17  by eimoberg via wikipedia

Writer's Quote Wednesday


The Around the World Reading Challenge 2015-The Rosie Effect

The Rosie ProjectThe Rosie Effect

This is my first book review for The Around The World Reading Challenge 2015 on Booking It. I have read both of Simsion’s books but I will review the most recent one, “The Rosie Effect.” This is sequel to “The Rosie Project.” The author is based in Melbourne, Australia.

Both are novels and humorous stories about a man, Don Tillman, who is a bit quirky and is unidentified as having Asperger’s Syndrome. He is a believer in having his whole life scheduled down to the minute and uses spread sheets to make important decisions like how to find a suitable mate through the internet. He designs a 16 page questionnaire to help him determine his ideal partner.

In the second book, he is now married to Rosie and living in New York City. Don has trouble with his social skills and interpreting the nuances of conversation. This often gets him into awkward situations. He has a few close relationships and really cares about them. Don has learned to be more flexible due to his relationship with Rosie. He still has trouble with things that are unplanned, like the news that Rosie is expecting their first baby. He works valiantly to adjust to this major life-changing event. He really wants to be supportive of Rosie and learn about being a father. He enlists the help of his male friends who give him the benefit of their perspectives on marriage and fatherhood. This leads him into some crazy situations. Especially when he follows the advice of his friend Gene which gets him into trouble with the NYPD.

At times, I wasn’t sure if Don and Rosie’s marriage would survive and he would be able to adjust to his new role. I became frustrated with the messes he got himself into at first. But in the end, I can say that I really enjoyed this book. It has a positive hopeful message about human relationships.

The Great Divide

When reading for fun, do you usually chose fiction or non-fiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?


4421317209_d3b87b9490_z    Adam reading a book

When reading for enjoyment I usually chose fiction. It is not that I greatly dislike non-fiction because I do read it for pleasure as well but not as often.

I like fiction because it can ignite the fires of my imagination and emotions. I can become involved in the story and invested in the characters and what happens to them.

Fiction can give me insight into people’s feelings and behavior. It gives me a glimpse into all different walks of life, places, cultures and history.

Fiction can give me a first person view of a time, place and situation. It can help me see another point of view better than non-fiction because it helps me see through the characters eyes.

One of the genres I am a big fan of is Mysteries. I love trying to analyze all the clues and discover the answers before the end of the book and it is great fun when I find I was correct in my deductions.

Character development is very important to my liking a book. I want to know about how the character got to be who they are and what is motivating them. I want to understand their struggles. Even with mysteries my favorite authors are those who develop their characters.

In non-fiction it can be a similar experience if the author can bring the topic alive for me. It helps if it written in a style that flows smoothly along and does not get hung up on too much technical jargon.

I have really enjoyed some of David McCullough’s books such as 1776 and John Adams. McCullough is able to write in a way that it reads more like a novel than non-fiction. He is able to bring the people and time period alive and make it very relatable.

To get engaged with any genre it must pull me into the story and not let me go until the end.



Books, Pens and Paper

Morning Note with Coffee

I love books. Books printed on heavy paper with hard cloth covers. Have you noticed that a new book has a certain smell. Is it the paper or the glue that is binding the pages or the ink? Old books smell musty. I like holding a book better than reading off an electronic device.

I like good quality paper to write on. With different colored pens. When I was in elementary school I used to have fountain pens with ink cartridges that you inserted into the barrel. There is beauty in using a fountain pen. Writing with liquid ink is like painting the words on the paper.

Maybe I was a scribe in a former life or worked in the ancient library in Alexandria.  Copying books onto papyrus scrolls.