Friday, September 2, 2016

My September Book List - another month of classics

I must say that last month's books were all incredibly good, but I guess that is to be expected when you combine C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, and John Steinbeck. C.S. Lewis' words were refreshing to me spiritually, Jane Austen was
full of true and genuine love, which just feeds my romantic soul, and John Steinbeck was purely brilliant.

Therefore, when considering what to read this month, I knew I wanted to continue in this direction of reading classics. Steinbeck was sure to be on the list, but I couldn't decide on what else to read until I came across a few books that had been used as part of my wedding decor. The first is Tales of a Wayside Inn, which is a compilation of poems written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the second book is the play, As You Like It, by William Shakespeare. Both works are unfamiliar to me, so I'm very excited to read them.


1. The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck

This novel was used during WWII as anti-German propaganda for the way it described the impact of war on human nature. You're given insight into the feelings of the captured and innocent, as well as how their conquerors feel by observing the effects of war on an emotional level.

2. Tales of a Wayside Inn by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The scene of Tales of a Wayside Inn is said to be inspired by the Wayside Inn in Massachusetts, formerly known as Howe's Tavern. The poems are tales told by each of the characters as they sit together around the fire. According to the introduction of this book, the characters represented actual people that Longfellow knew.

3. As You Like It by William Shakespeare

Considered a pastoral play and romantic comedy, much of the story takes place in the forest of Arden, where various characters are forced to flee. A bit of sibling rivalry, characters disguised as the opposite gender, and lovers on the search for each other all create a dramatic scene of events.

Review of last month's books:

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen

This book has become one of my favorite Jane Austen novels. I instantly admired and favored the main character, Anne. Despite the lack of affection from her family, she exudes so much maturity, awareness, intelligence, respect, and care for others. Although she is described to be simple in looks and pitied that her youthfulness is waning (being 27 was considered old for still being single), her character and personality make her seem like she must be beautiful. During the last half of the book, my heart was racing to find out whether Anne and Captain Wentworth would end up together, especially after her having been persuaded to break off their engagement years before.

As is common in novels written by Austen, fortune and class influence marriage, but with the love Anne and Wentworth once had for one another, in which "there could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved", you have to hope that circumstances change and they marry one another.

2. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

The story is a dream, in which the narrator gets in line with a group of people waiting at a bus stop headed for heaven. Each character has a ghostlike appearance and are met by solid people (those who have been saved). The narrator (a ghost) and a solid person (a theologian he's familiar with) observe the reaction of each ghost and their encounter with the solid people, to see whether they decide to return to hell or accept the message of redemption.

3. Of Mice and Men  by John Steinbeck

The characters and themes in Of Mice and Men were very interesting to me, even though the entire flow of the story felt bleak, as though hopes and dreams would never really come to fruition. I appreciate how Steinbeck provides a good look into what life was probably like for migrants, as they often moved from farm to farm alone, and without the resources to attain their American dream of someday owning their own plot of land. It's because of this picture of loneliness that makes the loyal friendship between Lennie (a big strong, but mentally disabled man) and George (small, smart, and protective) so unique. But it is also in this relationship, and how they interact with others that creates tension in the storyline and a continued anticipation that something terrible might happen.

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