Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “Books”

Mail can be a happy place…


Amidst the current state of concerns arrived a day brightener:

Yes, a bit of celebration receiving a box of my debut picture book!

A happy moment holding my first published book

The premise of Someday We Will seems even more appropriate now. The anticipation of being together once again due to distance takes on different meaning.

In these times of uncertainty my prayer is that you and your family stay well and stay strong. Take care and celebrate being together in ways that bring you happiness.

Igniting a Discussion on Happiness


In my day job as an AP teacher I have the privilege of introducing students to literary works of merit. I look forward to their insights and perspectives.

Image result for f451 images are you happy

We have just begun Ray Bradbury’s classic dystopian tale of government control: Fahrenheit 451. This deceptively easy read contains complicated topics. One discussion topic is happiness. Guy Montag is not a happy fireman, or at least he was one until Clarisse asked him, “Are you happy?”

Image result for f451 images are you happy

So I put it to my students a discussion statement prompted by Clarisse: “Happiness is a choice, not a given.”

A lively discussion developed with a split between total agreement and a few who decided happiness was a complicated issue and they couldn’t come to complete agreement about it.

I then prompted them with this question: “What is the difference between happiness and joy?”

Their conclusions were opposite of my mine.

They said: “Happiness is long lasting, while joy is a temporary emotion.”

Hmm, I’ve always reckoned it to be the opposite. Happiness is a temporary state, dependent on outside circumstances, yet joy lives deep in our being, dwelling in our soul.

Nope. They didn’t buy that. Maybe I did have it wrong. I proceeded in the course of action that all teachers must do when wondering if what they are teaching to their students is baloney. I Googled it.

This is what I found: Joy or Happiness?

What are your thoughts? Is happiness dependent on outside circumstances? Does joy stem from emotional contentment from within?

Interestingly enough Guy Montag, F451’s protagonist, upon realizing he is not happy begins making decisions involving enormous collateral damage. Joy is never mentioned as Guy Montag seeks happiness. Does he find happiness or joy? I will have to reread it and decide if he actually did. And that’s why F451 remains a classic—it keeps asking the reader questions after the last page is turned.

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What are your thoughts about joy vs happiness?

Reader Round Up: February


Oh, Yay—made it to March. January and February are the funky winter months around these parts. Too much snow mixed with occasional icy windy Arctic blasts with a rounding off of a surprising amount of rain. Indoors weather for sure, as I no longer ski having learned to appreciate my extremities staying in one piece, thank you muchly.

February might be the shortest month, but this year is leap year which calls for an extra day of reading. Nice.

To celebrate leap year, February’s Reader Round Up consists of the usual star reviews and links to Goodreads reviews with the added bonus of one sentence teasers.

Image result for on the beach nevil shute book cover

On the Beach by Nevil Shute ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ The rabbits win.

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Tomorrow Is Forever by Gwen Bristol ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Fortunately the book was shorter than the war.

Image result for howards end book cover

Howard’s End by E.M. Forster ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Sometimes the movie is actually better than the book.

The Breaking Wave by Nevil Shute ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ In this case, it wasn’t the butler who did it.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️ Some people have a burning desire to read a good book

Reading Round Up: January


January is a complex month: it’s a fave in how it ushers in a new year full of promise, yet it drags in with it the continuance of winter. There is also a remainder of the semester, about two weeks before a week of finals with a scant couple of days into the second semester.

Not that anyone is asking me, but I would like January to be a reset month. Turn the corner, flip the calendar over, and it’s a new year, new month, new semester, new weather. None of this leftover stuff. Until that grand plan gets off the drawing board I will continue to forge on and meet my goal of reading 101 books this year (I’ve met my goal for the last three years with a bonus reading *woo hoo*).

Setting up the Goodreads Reading Challenge is a marvelous way to keep track of my books. Some I remember clearly, some are hazy. Some are “I read that?” I should read as Francis Bacon suggests, which is to savor and digest slowly; however, even he acknowledges some books end up being consumed quickly since they are so tasty, like in that chocolate truffle was so yummy that I consume it in one bite and can’t really remember how it tasted, except it was really, really good. Some books are like that.

Here are the highlights from January. I have added the links should you be prompted to read the review. Reading gets me through the gloom of January’s continuous wintry days.

Mozart’s Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Conan Doyle ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

The Diary of River Song: Series One by Jenny T. Colman, et al ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

The West End Horror: A Posthumous Memoir by John H. Watson, MD by Nicholas Meyer ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

The Breaking Wave by Nevil Shute ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

The Goodreads Challenge minder gently admonishes me to stay on track by letting me know how many books I am behind. This sets up a bit of panic as I imagine this growing pile of unread books trailing after me from month to month. I basically have to average eight books a month to hit my goal. Not always easy when there is a riveting PBS Masterpiece series on. We’ve been immersed in Howard’s End with Haley Atwell and Matthew MacFadyen. Of course the series prompts me to go and grab Forster’s book from the library. Maybe there will be a comparison between the book and the film (Emma Thompson) and the PBS series…hmm, is the library got late hours today?

Reader Round Up: December 


December, amidst traditional and expected festivities, is Christmas break. A lovely respite from the storms of education. Trust me, both teachers and students appreciate the time off from school. Parents might also appreciate the time with their kinder–that is a case by case decision (especially depending on the weather and inside time).

As an empty nester educator I look forward to getting some deep, uninterrupted reading accomplished. It’s my last push to hit my Goodreads goal, which is 101 this year. Oh, wait–I’m posting this in January so yes, I did make my goal and then some. Here are the highlights:

Surfacing by Mark Magro  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas (Elizabth Rokkan, translator)⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa (Stephen Snyder, translator) ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


On Fortune’s Wheel by Cynthia Voigt ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Revisit to a Perfect Club


Back in August 2018 I discovered the Perfect Club. This was my partial introduction:

I am always interested in reading what others are reading. Somehow I discovered The Classics Club, and the main requirement is to create a list of at least 50 classics and set a read-by date. This club and I shall become besties, I know it. They are friendly and flexible and have all kinds of reading activities going on all the time. This is a better discovery than a new gelato flavor.

I proposed I would complete my reading by December 31st, 2019. Well—that isn’t going to happen. I have strayed from my list a multitude of times to pick up a new shiny. No regrets. I do relish reading, new or classic. A good read is a good read. Below is my revised and tweaked classics list.

* indicates read and reviewed already in Goodreads.

  1. Green Willow by B.J. Chute*
  2. The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli*
  3. Blue Willow by Doris Gates*
  4. This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart*
  5. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl*
  6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl*
  7. Charlie and the Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl*
  8. Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson*
  9. Gilead by Marilyn Robinson*
  10. Princess Bride by William Goldman* (reread)
  11. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf*
  12. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin*
  13. The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurier*
  14. The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan*
  15. The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty*
  16. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte* (reread)
  17. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn*
  18. Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse*
  19. Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce*
  20. The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells*
  21. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisnero*
  22. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken*
  23. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving*
  24. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  25. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome*
  26. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines*
  27. Swallows and Amazon by Arthur Ransome*
  28. The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
  29. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver*
  30. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
  31. Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner
  32. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
  33. Call it Sleep by Henry Roth
  34. The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle*
  35. King Solomon’s Mine by H. Rider Haggard*
  36. One of Ours by Willa Cather
  37. The City of Gold and Lead by John Christopher*
  38. The Empty World by D.E. Stevenson
  39. The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner*
  40. The Least of My Brothers by Harold Bell Wright*
  41. The Stranger by Albert Camus*
  42. Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton
  43. . Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney*
  44. Agnes Gray by Anne Bronte
  45. Work by Louisa May Alcott*
  46. The Fair Miss Fortune by D.E. Stevenson
  47. Moonfleet by J. Meade Falkner*
  48. . My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin*
  49. On the Beach by Nevil Shute*
  50. . Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Any of these titles look familiar to you? What would you add to the list? Are you going to join me over at The Classics Club?

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An Invitation


The journey began with a thought tickle, “If visiting with my granddaughter is this much fun when she’s a baby, what will our future someday visits be like?”

That tickle grew into a smile of ideas: “Someday we will—“

Which eventually became a story-

Which eventually became polished enough to catch the eye of a publisher-

Who believed enough to coach the manuscript into a book that is laugh out loud delightful, at least those who have read the story seem to think.

Someday will be here in April 2020!

And in four months my debut picture book , Someday We Will: A Book for Grandparents and Grandchildren will arrive.

Laughter is contagious and I am inviting you to share in the joy of my first published book by being part of my launch team. For now, all that is required is to go to Amazon and place Someday on your wish list. No purchase obligation required. This simply indicates Someday is an anticipated book. And, yes, of course, you can certainly buy it when it goes on sale April 7th.

You can also tag Someday We Will “want to read” on Goodreads which boosts up anticipated reading status.

I am excited about this book as it fills in the overlooked niche of anticipating that visit grandparents and grandchildren look forward to so much.

Someday—Someday a book will be published with my name on the cover—and that someday is almost here!

Thanks for cheering me on this journey, and as copies become available I will have giveaways—stay tuned…

For now, I look forward to getting the word out and I appreciate your support.

Reader Round Up: November


Finding time to read in November was as tricky as it was needed. The stress of parent teacher conferences, along with the trials of squeezing in continuity of lessons, made reading difficult due to a spate of interrupted days. But, oh, how I enjoyed my week off for Thanksgiving–so worth those two twelve hour days of trade off. Sitting down with a book in down moments proved a necessary tonic to abate frazzlement. The bonus being I found some really terrific reads (thus avoiding true frazzlement). 


The Girl Who Reads on the Metro by Christine Feret-Fleury

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


A fairytale of improbability, yet delightfully refreshing. It’s difficult to resist such a little charmer, especially when it involves spreading the joy of reading books.

Jim the Boy by Tony Earley

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


The story of Jim Glass, a winsome boy of ten being raised by his bachelor uncles and widow mother during the Depression. Laugh out loud prose that captures an era and the perspective of a well-loved boy, the definitive product of the South.

The Blue Star by Tony Earley

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


The sequel to Jim the Boy finds Jim as a teenager looking to enter war and facing broken dreams and a broken heart. Not as endearing as when he was ten, Jim is still a character worth knowing as he sets out to become a man sooner anticipated.

The Literature Lover’s Book of Lists by Judie L.H. Strouf

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


A bit dated (1998), yet it definitely provides bibliophile contentment.

My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


Written when the author was a teenager in Australia, it is cousin to other heroine novels of discontent such as A Room with a View and Jane Eyre. Sybylla holds her own with Lucy and Jane. I imagine them enjoying tea together as they spout off their passionate observations about the world.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


I had no clue the classic sci-fi film began as a novel. And of course it is sooo much better than any of the adaptations. The edition I picked up (60th anniversary) had a forward by Dean Koontz which was quite enlightening.

The End of the Magi by Patrick W. Carr

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


A riveting supposition concerning the Magi, those wise men who faithfully followed the prophecies of Daniel. 

Letters to Julia by Barbara Ware Holmes

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


An epistolary novel of a teen girl desiring to become a writer who forms an unlikely friendship with Julia, a New York editor.

Having all these bonus good reads made November tolerable. Hope you find a title in the list that intrigues you.

Reading Round Up: October


The ability of freely reading after a long day of teaching and grading becomes an increasing struggle. Books are still a go to for defragmenting my brain, yet I find myself falling asleep way too soon as I relax while reading. It’s taking sooo much longer to get through my TBR stack. Sundays are becoming my reading days. And napping days. I do a bit of both.

Here are October’s highlights:

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Realistic slice of how one neighborhood copes with diversity.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Overall, a thoughtful contemplation about what to do when the realization that life might be shorter than initially expected. While the foreign names and places were sometimes difficult to keep straight, the challenge of absorbing deep truths proved worthwhile.

NOTE: As much as I appreciate Jeremy Irons, I found the film adaptation so different from the novel I had to resort to my “the movie is the movie and the book is the book” philosophy. The book, of course, is so much better.

  • Reading Goal Update

Though my usual reading time is cut almost in half with my attention diverted to school again, I’ve managed to read past my yearly Goodreads goal of 101 books, and I am now at 121 titles for the year. Should I reach for 135 like I have previously? Ooh, that might be a challenge to consider…

Movie Musings: Genius


During my weekly library stop I loaded up book titles and found some possibilities on the free rack. Now to find the time for them all. Stocking up on movies for the weekend I focused on the “G” section at our library pulling old favorites such as The Giver and found Genius next to it. Realizing it was about the friendship between an author and an editor I added to my fare. Good choice.

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Image result for look homeward angelImage result for maxwell perkins

I know nothing about Thomas Wolfe beyond him being a well-known writer who couldn’t go home again. Oh yes, he was also tall enough (6’6″) to use the top of his refrigerator as his writing desk. I also recall something about wearing a white suit. I later discovered there are two writers by name of Thomas Wolfe. This Thomas Wolfe is the writer from the Jazz Age, not the writer of The Right Stuff. This Wolfe did not wear white, but he proved fairly distinctive in his own way.

The 2016 film Genius added much more to that knowledge. Yet, the film isn’t so much about Tom Wolfe (played by Jude Law) as it is about Max Perkins (Colin Firth), his editor at Scribner’s. Apparently Maxwell Perkins was a legend amongst the publishing community having discovered Hemingway and Fitzgerald, among other writers.

As the movie unfolds we understand that Max and Tom form a bond that goes much deeper than a working relationship. Max loved his five daughters, yet wanted a son. Tom, losing his father earlier in his life, needed another father figure. For a time these two men met each other’s needs and also produced some brilliant books that are still referred to today.

Often books are sourced to become movies and less often a movie inspires a book. In the case of Genius, I am intrigued enough to find the books of Thomas Wolfe and read about the man who encouraged an undisciplined writer to produce laudatory prose. It makes one wonder who the true genius is in this film.

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