Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “classic books”

Reader Round Up: December

December found me coasting into an attempt to best my best Goodreads challenge by scooting into the finish line of 165 books for 2020. Woo Hoo! My previous best was 140 last year. That is the upside about staying close to home: more time to read.

With Christmas Break comes two weeks of no school, which means nothing to plan and nothing to grade. The weather was not conducive to walking much and my library provided most of my inter-library loan requests. Recliner, book stack, open schedule—reader bliss. Here are December’s highlights:

The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

What is Jasper Fforde’s genre? Erudite Absurdism? He is indeed unique in his style. This is a amusing read, if one can get past any hidden or unconfessed squeamishness towards talking rabbits. Jimmy Stewart’s Harvey made me a wee bit uncomfortable and I can’t claim to be a Beatrix Potter fan. Perhaps if C.S. Lewis had ennobled the rabbit in Narnia I would be more at ease with Fforde’s tale of talking rabbits.
However, my feelings aside, Fforde’s writing is oh so clever. He takes on issues ranging from reality TV to politics to human behavior and even jabs at his own double consonant last name. Having embraced Thursday Next, I was ever so happy that Mr. Fforde has not lost his way with wit and wordplay.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Considering this book was written twenty years ago, it still resonates so much. Esperanza lives a privileged life in Mexico until her father dies. Consequently she and her mother immigrate to California to find work on the farms picking produce. Life is vastly different for Esperanza living in the rough conditions of the camps. She must endure and live in hope that times will become better. Well-written and containing thought-provoking ideas of perspective, especially when it comes to the issues of immigration. The story is based on the author’s grandmother’s life providing a richer understanding of the harshness of prejudice and the sorrow of loss. Yet, there is a sense of possibility and hope in the story that is appealing and creates a sense of hope.

Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

When a story makes me cry that’s the litmus test for a memorable novel.Where to start? First off, a unique plot device involving Grand Central Station and a fairytale of an impossible romance. Next, full characterization of all characters, be they the lost and found clerk to the MCs. I came away knowing these people and became genuinely, emotionally involved in their story. If you appreciated The idea behind The Time Traveler’s Wife Grunwald’s book is suggested.
Then there is the plethora of historical detail that is presented as a tribute to the various eras of New York from flappers to returning WWII soldiers to a city rebuilding and reshaping itself. But the double-punch ending is the real wow of Grunwald’s story of love found, lost, and found again.

Oh, if there is a movie? I nominate Paul Rudd for Joe.

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, Roma Gill ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, is presented in an accessible student edition by Roma Gill, that provides thorough side notes to this lively play. The ancillary includes discussion questions and other useful classroom study aides. A slim, yet efficient textbook for better understanding the play.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafazi, Christina Lamb ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Even without all the attention Malala received after the Taliban’s bullet nearly ended her life, this well-spoken young woman from Pakistan would still be a notable person. Her zeal for education and desire for peace are notable and admired. Her voice is clearly heard around the world and she has taken on the UN, American presidents, and the Taliban expressing her beliefs.
A book that combines her story, her beliefs, and her country’s history makes for illuminating reading.

It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I remember this book from my child and it was a welcome reread in my personal challenge to read all Newbery award winners during this past year.

This is a true tribute to sixties NYC. Neville creates a likable narrator in Davey, a fourteen year old who is starting to figure out life. He realizes he doesn’t have to argue with his father all the time and he can be choosy about his friends. He can also chose a pet and he adopts Cat from Kate, the neighborhood cat lady.
Even though it was written in the sixties the story still holds relevance since many of the issues in the book remain the same: family dynamics, friendship flurries, the search for identity. Just the prices have changed and no iPhones are in sight.
I like to think of this as a positive Catcher in the Rye.

I won’t have as much time in January with school starting back up, but I have some fabulous reads lined up. Did you have some memorable reads last month or are you looking forward to some new ones coming your way?

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.

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