Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “novels”

Continuing the Love for LOC

Cover of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Pi...

Cover via Amazon

Visiting the Library of Congress is high on my BIG list, yet that one wish won’t be actualized until time and funding match up. For now I continue visiting it on-line for research and serendipity surprises. For instance, as I browsed for Idaho pioneer entries my screen popped up their Books that Shaped America entry. I’m thinking somewhere there is a book about pioneers in Idaho? It didn’t matter because I became lost through the eras as I browsed, read, and absorbed.  Fascinating, illuminating, and enlightening how the books reflected the times and influenced future reading. For the entire link go to Books That Shaped America.

Here are some titles to ponder:

Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard Improved (1732) and The Way to Wealth (1785)

Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820)

L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906)

Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936)

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat (1957)

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)

Ralph Nader, Unsafe at Any Speed (1965)

César Chávez, The Words of César Chávez (2002)

I know, I know–I’m hearing the “what about _______!” I was surprised at what made the list and what didn’t. I hope you check it out and let me know what you think should have made it.

Interior Library of Congress, by G. D. Wakely

Interior Library of Congress, by G. D. Wakely (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How Not To Write Now


Writers, yes you. Why are you reading this post? Wait, don’t go quite yet. While you’re here you might as well avoid that write now feeling a bit longer.

Write now?

Yes, write now. I should be, and you should be writing right now instead of avoidance tactics. Oh yes, they exist. Beats me why I will suddenly germinate 50 + 1 excuses to avoid sitting down and getting down to business. It’s really no excuse that I have excuses because I have plenty of motivation. Look at this incentive list:


  • The novel is almost finished.


  • My writing group likes it.


  • A New York editor critique it favorably.


  • An agent from the same conference asked for sample chapters because she has clients looking for this genre.


  • I still like the manuscript, even after years of research, rewrites, and still more rewrites.


So why avoid writing right now?

I have to eat breakfast and since I’m really craving granola to go with the new lemon vanilla Greek yogurt I just bought I need to make a fresh batch and while I’m waiting for the granola to bake I might as well scrub the stove top, the Faberware pot, the sink, and start the dishwasher. I should check the woodstove–might need a poke or a new log. I should sweep up around the hearth, maybe sweep in general. I’ll get these papers out of the way, wait these are bills–I should sit down and pay these. But first I should check the granola.

Before you tsk at my total lack of discipline I did fire up the laptop with good intentions.


But, you know how it is…


Emails have to be checked, lesson plans filed, the classroom website updated. Check the granola again.

The morning has slipped into early afternoon, which is not my best time of creativity, since I am a morning energy person. I best take a nap and recharge the mental batteries.


Two hours later…


The MEPA brought home a new batch of movies from the library and I haven’t spent much time with him today. He wants to know how the novel is progressing. Right now? Yes, I should write now.




Later that night…


Five chapters roughed in (what revision number is this again?) and I squeezed in a movie. It’s amazing what a little fresh granola can do for the creative muse.


A bowl of granola.

A bowl of granola. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



A Slice of Pi

Too often I realize I am a book snob. Certain subjects, authors, or just because it is crazy popular will place me in snub mode. My shame, especially since I am a professed Book Booster. Isn’t confession supposed to be part of the cure?
This is why I am even more embarrassed I have put off reading Life of Pi for so long.

image from

When it first came out I did my huffy verisimilitude snort and bypassed it. “Oh, please, really? A boy and a tiger on the ocean in a boat and he lives to tell about?” I had no problem with C.S. Lewis creating a horse and a boy as pals, let alone a lion mentoring three British children? I really must get my veracity meter checked one of these days.

With Pi I broke THE rule and saw the movie first–home version, sans Blu-Ray or 3D glasses. My review? Magical.
And that’s it. You don’t need yet another review among the surfeit of Pi commentaries. The movie motivated me to read the book.. Fortunately, our school librarian, in the midst of checking in end-of- the year materials, hasn’t had time to shelve new books and she allowed me to take it home over the weekend. There’s nothing like a long weekend and a mesmerizing novel.
I will say this–I appreciate the novel so much more having experienced the film (possible even in plain everyday vanilla DVD fashion). Frankly, parts of the plot were a bit hard to visualize, such as the raft and the meerkat island, without the aid of movie inserts. It’s not that my imagination station is broke it’s just that Ang Lee created such a wondrous palette of preprogrammed living color the plot danced more as the movie played in my head. Then there is Richard Parker; I couldn’t have imagined him as well as his CGI counterpart. He is such a handsome tiger. Of course,  meerkats by the thousands is visually is much more impressive via the wide-screen than by my mental viewing station.

The novel contains much more detail (I, uh, flipped past some of the more colorful aspects of oceanic survival); however, aspects of the movie were better, such as the family dynamics.

The most important takeaway of both stories is this quote:

“And so it is with God.”

This quote absolutely resonates with me. The ambiguity of the story’s ending reminds me so much of Inception, allowing us the intelligence of denouement possibilities.

I wonder if there is a correlation between my initially snubbing Life of Pi because I did not grow up with pie–seriously, I don’t remember my mom serving up chocolate cake, apple pie, or cookies (I have compensated and I taught myself the art of pie making and make a mean apple custard pie complimented by “my goodness!” flaky crust). Pie didn’t interest me until I reached adulthood.

And so it is with this Pi, of which I will ask for another slice.

Cover of "Life of Pi"

Cover of Life of Pi

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