My quest

I decided a while ago that what I was going to do was read a book by each Nobel Prize winner in literature. This has met with some criticism. Mom says everything I read shouldn’t be determined by some Swedish group I don’t even know. Rosie says the Nobel committee is a bunch of hoity-toities who just read books and see which one has the best-hidden symbolism, and it’s just a nerd-off contest. Well, here’s what I say.

I like to read. However, I’m not that great at picking random books off the shelf. That strategy led me to pay something like twenty-five dollars for, and read all the way through, The Ethical Assassin, which turned out to be not a very good book at all, and a vegetarian manifesto to boot. So a little guidance couldn’t hurt in my selection process. And the Nobel committee is a group I put a good amount of stock in, because it’s composed of such lettered people, and because it’s been doing this for quite a while. Besides, what are my alternatives? The New York Times? Oprah? No thanks. And, I’m not reading only Nobel laureates. For example, I’m currently reading the excellent Walden. The other day at Borders I saw a book on the shelf that I thought would be pretty good, from the summary on the back – Babbitt, by Sinclair Lewis. I was considering buying it, and then I read on the back that Sinclair Lewis got a Nobel, so I reasoned that I was going to come around to him eventually anyhow, so I’d buy the book, which I had thought looked good anyhow.

So far, here’s a list of what I’ve read.

  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding – read it for class, then found out Golding was a laureate.
  • Blindness by José Saramago
  • Approximately 2/3 of Independent People by Halldór Laxness. Then I lost the book, so I had to order another from amazon.com. The original was a library book, so I’ll end up paying for that one too.
  • The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway- I just now found out Hemingway was a laureate.
  • some The Jungle Book stuff – Rudyard Kipling too, huh. I’ll probably read some other stuff by him.

Things I plan to read include The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk, Cien Años de Soledad por Gabriel García Márquez, Enemies, a Love Story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, and of course Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis.

So there you go. What else has happened? Not much. Pit practice for the musical starts today despite our day off of school. The musical is South Pacific. Micah’s now a level 60 in RunEscape. It’s rained a lot. Rain, a lot of it. Every day, seems like. We’ve got prodigious puddles in our front yard. It’s impossible to walk in Warder without getting your feet wet (unless you stay exclusively on the semi-paved trail, which isn’t an option for me). A weatherman said that if this had all fallen as snow we’d be up to our waists. That’s probably understated. But the fact remains that it didn’t fall as snow. I don’t think we’re even going to have winter this year. Just fall followed by spring. Not my fault but it affects me anyhow. It really burns me. Also worth noting is that my waterproof shoes are no longer waterproof. Whatever.

AAAAAAAAAARHHHHHHHHHHGGGGGGG

File under: reading


Anonymous

History

How about a little Tolstoy? Wait a minute- Tolstoy only comes in large doses. Ditto for, who is it, Cooper? Now there is a person whom many criticized for being loooooong-winded but JH Cooper created some memorable characters (Natty Bumppo, e.g.) and I really loved Last of the Mohicans. No one describes the New England autumns like an author who can spend a page describing the sound of a twig breaking (Hence the nickname for his books “Dry Twig Series”).
Mom

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Anonymous

History

Sorry, that should be JF Cooper (James Fenimore).

The five tales reveal an extraordinary fullness of invention. … One of the very greatest characters in fiction, Natty Bumppo… The craft of the woodsman, the tricks of the trapper, all the delicate art of the forest were familiar to Cooper from his youth up.


–Professor Matthews

This prof was quoted by Mark Twain who writes an essay in which he really slams Cooper’s stuff!

To each his own. Read ‘em both and Tolstoy, too.

Mom

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Anonymous

History

“Thoreau always retained a belief, even if at times residual, that God`s mind lay behind nature, and the world of the microscopic, the insect, crystallized his perceptions on this - “What kind of understanding was there between the mind that determined that these leaves should hang on during the winter, and that of the worm that fastened a few of these leaves to its cocoon in order to disguise it?” As a writer he was concerned to capture - in words - the miraculous detail of nature. “

What I have always called The Fingerprint of God…the more you observe the creation of God, the more you can see His mind at work.

(I’ll give you the essayist’s name later- have to go back for it-)


Mom

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Toy

History

Those are the titles you read for fun?? Good heavens, I suffered through those for AP English and that was enough of that. I went back and re-read the Grapes of Wrath a couple of years back, at Thanksgiving (mistake) and all I can say is what a depressing book. If you want to break out of your mold a bit I can recommend some good mystery books, many sci-fi and fantasy books. Perhaps they aren’t your genre but since I live in reality every darn day I read for escape and enjoyment. If I could figure out a way to score myself a dragon I would be one happy camper.

Dylan and Austin recommend Captain Underpants but they are 5 and 8 after all. Hank the cowdog is great irregardless of your age. Sense of humor required however.

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Anonymous

History

I reread The Grapes of Wrath a couple of years ago also, but I had the opposite reaction of Toy’s. It gave me a far greater understanding of what my own grandparents and Don, Tommy, and Jeanne had to face when they arrived in El Monte in 1936. Jeanne, particularly, who was about 11, was ridiculed mercilessly by her new classmates. Grandma had to grow a garden for their food, and raise a goat to milk so baby Buddy could survive, as he was allergic to cow’s milk. Depressing, maybe, but that was the real world then.

Aunt E.

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Anonymous

History

I recommend Sinclair Lewis. I read both Babbitt and Main Street many years ago and was very impressed by them. Don’t suppose you are considering Dickens? Is he too mundane? Oh, right, he’s 19th century. I could recommend Les Miserables and The Count of Monte Cristo for classic French novels. I had to read the Count of Monte Cristo in seventh grade and really liked it even then. And if you like classic short stories, read Guy de Maupassant. His stories are the best, probably even in translation. Grandma

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Anonymous

History

I also read Main Street some years ago and I still think about it. Even though it can get a little slow at times, it is a GREAT period piece and about small-town Minnesota, no less, and paints a great picture of the Scandinavian immigrants who were considered so ignorant by the rest. I still think about Carol Kennecott’s contemplating that her children might live to see the year 2000.
Your old mom

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Anonymous

History

PS Question for Ellen: I thought great-grandma nursed all her kids…was she unable to nurse him? How old was Buddy at that time?
Why did they make fun of Jeanne? Did they consider her just an ignorant poor farm girl? Just wondering-
Ann

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Anonymous

History

We are talking a different generation here. I am working on a real document to pull all this together, but for now let me say that Buddy was Great Grandma Ellen Hilbert’s grandson, not her son. Buddy’s father, Ellen’s oldest son, was named Harold, and he was in the Navy at sea in 1936 when his wife in California suddenly died, leaving 20-month-old Gina and 4-month-old twins, Buddy and Pauline. Your Great Grandma and Grandpa and some of their kids left South Dakota to go to California to live and take care of Harold’s children. There was no one to nurse Buddy.

Jeanne was a poor farm girl from South Dakota who wore overalls, talked funny, and was ignorant of young girls’ sophisticated California social structures. She was overwhelmed and unaccepted by her classmates.

Aunt E.

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Anonymous

History

To keep this history in perspective, “Buddy” is the cousin we all visited in Michigan for the family reunion in 2003.

Aunt E.

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Matt

History

On my visit to Bowling Green today I won a free copy of Night by Elie Wiesel. He won the Nobel Peace Prize, does that count? I would be willing to lend it to you if you’d like. After all, I’m reading your copy of The Metamorphosis.

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