Thursday, January 5, 2017 – I Like Books. I Like to Read. Go For It, Bibliophiles.
For Christmas I received these two books in the same gift – Hugs – Daily Devotionals for Women and The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm. Maybe my family knows me better than I think they do. My sister only received the one about hugs. She then stated regarding the second title, “Why did you get the other one? You certainly don’t need a book to be sarcastic.”
I started keeping this book list in June.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. We learn so many behind the scenes, resistance and sacrifices made during WWII. Viva la France!
Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen – From the opening pages when you determine why the book is so titled you will not stop laughing. Florida and Hiaasen at their best.
Adding to my Grit Lit Syllabus
William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom. Each year I read a work of Faulkner. While Absalom, Absalom is considered to be one of Faulkner’s greatest works, it took me three months to read the 300 page novel about The South during the 1930’s during a time of poverty, illiteracy, race, mixed races, rape, incest; War Between the States memories; honor, greed, family secrets, grave yards, hooped skirts; half breeds, former slaves still tied to their masters; the old South refusing to die; and sentences like this one that trail off into who knows where, forcing the reader to become lost and forgetting who the characters are or what we are even talking about and then there is that one sentence that is supposed to be 1118 words long that continues for pages. The previous paragraph was 114 words for comparison. But what a story of The South! And no one writes it better than Faulkner.
Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell. OMG! I cannot believe this was on my high school reading list at McC. I really should have read it before putting it on the reading list. Just think how TW parents reacted to The Chocolate Wars! Thank goodness only Bert Cohn read it and was mature and smart enough to understand it, but then he was in the Sons of the Confederacy. Think Faulkner with shorter sentences and more direct sentences about The South and rape, race, incest, poverty and illiteracy.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. While listed under fiction, I so wish this was a tale of fiction, but history tells us it is not. Every school child when he or she first learns of The Underground Railroad thinks it is a train that run beneath the earth. We later learn it was a path to freedom. This book tells of the horror and the kindness witnessed when the train makes stops headed north. A must read for history lovers. Have tissues close by.
Hillbilly Elegy. A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance. This was one of the most influential books of 2016. Faith, Appalachia, poverty, family love and a Yale Law School graduate. Educators need to look at a First Generation college graduate and prestigious law school grad and the norms and mores he still carries. It also examines what that background and upbringing reveals about Trump, The Rust Belt and America.
The Whistler by John Grisham. I forgot the plot and this one did have a plot unlike his last. Hey, it’s Grisham – some lawyers, some bad people, some good people and this one takes place in Florida. Fun read.
The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg. This is the kind of book that keeps a smile on your face with every word. When you get to the last page, you want to start it all over again. Worth the hardback because you feel so good at the end.
Gone at 3:17 – The Untold Story of the Worst School Disaster in American History by David M. Brown and Michael Wereschagin. One needs only to grow up in Texas and exam the nine pages of In Memoriam listing the names and grave sites to understand the magnitude of the horror that occurred in New London, Texas on March 18, 1937 when the school exploded taking the lives of an entire generation.
What Hath God Wrought – The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe. This Pulitzer Prize winner for history is not for the faint of heart, (or the weak of arms) but the lover of history. This 850+ page monstrosity examines a time in United States history that is remarkably similar to today. It starts with a dying generation of white men from The Colonial Era moving into a time frame when a seemingly unqualified man was elected President of the United States, whose cabinet was infamous for infighting over the morals of their wives and other issues; a First Lady who was vilified in public, a campaign to remove an entire race and culture of people, and brand new technology called the telegraph that told the entire world about it all. There is also the other technology of the time period – The railroad. Like President Elect Trump, Andrew Jackson had bad hair too.
Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne. Speaking of the extermination of a race and culture, this Austin, Texas author tells the story of Quanah Parker, the Comanches and the most powerful Indian tribe in American history. This is an easy, but powerful read with lots of Texas history that the Daughters of the Texas Revolution probably do not want one to know about. For example, the POTUS of the time, Andrew Jackson had a plan called The Indian Removal – just move them somewhere (See Oklahoma). The second President of the Texas Republic, Mirabeau Lamar’s was known as The Indian Exterminator – kill them. If one follows the same logic today about removing statues of individuals during a time of slavery, then there would not be an elementary school in the state of Texas named after The Father of Texas Education.
Mighty ambitious list. My little Mama read everything Faulkner wrote. I can still see her at the kitchen table (her favorite readin’ spot so she could keep an eye on the stove) with a cigarette going in the ashtray. If I may add a recommendation…Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy. Grit Lit at its best, I think. Remarkable debut novel and equally as powerful in audio. I like to do both…if I like a book I’ve read, I LOVE to listen to it (with a decent narrator, natch). So many nuances and additional resonance.
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Thank you so much for suggestion. Will get it asap. I hope others will add to the reading list. I knew you would get the Faulknerian paragraph. I can see your Mama reading. Of course, always on the Grit Lit List is HRH Jill Conner Browne.