I am about to start a new book called Lion in the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevlet. It’s a biography of my favorite American President. Though I haven’t done a lot of research on President Roosevelt, I remember in elementary school I did a project on “Teddy”, and I remember being really inspired by what I learned about him. I’m hoping to be equally inspired now.
This is a change in genre for me. I usually prefer fiction over biography. This may be a challenge for me. But sometimes it’s good to challenge yourself when you read. You never know what you may find.
I started a new book while I was on vacation last week: The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy. I absolutely love the movie with Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin, so when I found this book for sale, I snatched it up quickly. The poor book has been on my shelf for a few years, so I think it’s about time I actually read it.
Here is the story briefly – I’ll write a summary when I finish. The Red October is a Soviet nuclear submarine with many secrets. When it suddenly drops off of all radar, the Americans and the Soviets must race to find both submarine and crew. Who will find it first? How and why did the sub go dark? The movie is exciting; I expect the book to be even more thrilling. I’ll let you know when I finish it. Now, back to reading!
One of the things that stuck out to me when I read Mary Oliver’s Poetry Handbook was that a poet must read poetry avidly. I took Oliver’s advice and bought several poetry books recently.
One of Oliver’s favorite poets was the medieval Rumi, an Islamic mystic and founder of the Mevlevi Oder (the dancing dervishes). I have enjoyed the poems I’ve read thus far, though some I had to read a few times to gather the full meaning. I’m looking forward to sharing the poems I enjoyed the most.
I decided that I wanted a short, easy read for the month of October, so I’m starting a new book called Five Children and It. I had never heard of this book ’til my mom gave me a little paperback copy. There is a picture of an ugly creature on the cover. He’s surrounded by children who look very curious. I will post a picture later as well as update My Library. But for now, I’m off to read my new book, Five Children and It.
I just started this new book by Mary Oliver called A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry. Oliver was a world renowned poet, with works like “The Summer Day”, “Wild Geese”, and “The Swan”. I’ve shared a few of her poems here, and will continue to do so as I read them.
I would like to write, someday, like Mary Oliver did. That’s why I got this little Handbook. In her own sweet and simple way, Oliver relays to both amateur poets and readers of poetry tips on how to read, understand, and write poems. What makes a poem? What elements are important in a poem? She doesn’t write like this is a textbook. Rather, it is more of a conversation, maybe even a lecture she might have given to her students. She offers technical terms, but uses examples so that anyone can understand what she is saying. For Oliver, poetry is a way to communicate emotions and feelings of the heart. She wants her readers to be able to communicate their own emotions, feelings, and experiences in their own poems. She is an encourager, not just a teacher.
I wish I could have taken writing classes from Mary Oliver. I feel like I would have learned so much. Maybe I would have started writing publicly when I was much younger. Anyway, the past cannot be undone, but the future has yet to unfold. I plan on reading and rereading this book while I practice Oliver’s teachings. Maybe one day, I can be a poet too.
I think I have mentioned before that the Sherlock Holmes volume I am reading includes 4 novels and 44 short stories and is called The Greatest Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. So, as soon as I finished The Valley of Fear, I began reading the final collection of short stories, His Last Bow. This collection, originally printed together in 1917, includes:
“The Cardboard Box”
“The Red Circle”
“The Bruce-Partington Plans”
“The Dying Detective”
“The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax”
“The Devil’s Foot”
“His Last Bow”
Although I recognize the name Lady Frances Carfax, I don’t remember if I know any of these stories. I am looking forward to reading them. Each story and novel has been a delight, and I think I’m a greater Holmes fan than I was before. I fully intend, once I finish these, to find the twelve which were not included in my volume.
Now, I’ve got my coffee and my book, and it’s a lovely, rainy afternoon. I’m going to finish reading “Wisteria Lodge”.
I finished The Hound of the Baskervilles this week, and the next novel in my Sherlock Holmes volume is The Valley of Fear. I will write about The Hound later; I just wanted to give you an update on my new book. TheValley ofFear begins with Holmes and Watson discussing Professor Moriarty and Holmes’ hope that he has at last found the professor’s weak spot. This novel takes place, then, some time before the short stories “The Final Problem” and “The Empty House”. I am only on the second chapter, so I’m not sure if The Valley of Fear will delve into Holmes’ pursuit of Moriarty, but I’m excited to see if it does. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has only given Moriarty two short stories thus far, so I feel like it is time for a novel about Holmes’ greatest nemesis. Now I must get back to The Valley of Fear.
I was going to tell you that I had started a new book, but it’s not really a new book. I’m still reading my volume The Greatest Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, so it did not feel like I was starting a new book. However, “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is a novel itself, so I can call it a new book. Except that now it’s not really a new book because I’ve been reading it for a week, and I’m about halfway through.
Every time I read or listen to this story, I wish that I could travel to the moors of Devonshire and see the gloomy yet beautiful countryside Watson describes. I was looking for pictures of the moor to share with you when I came across this neat website called Unique Devon Tours. They offer a “Hound of the Baskervilles” tour, and now I really want to go! Here is a lovely photo of the moor from their gallery.
Once I’m finished with the novel, I will write up a summary, but in the meantime, just know that the story is filled with mystery, intrigue, possible hauntings, lies, deceit, troubled ladies, and strange neighbors. If you never read another Sherlock Holmes story, you really ought to read this one.
Today I started to listen to The Scarlet Pimpernel. Again. And I couldn’t wait to tell you about it, because it’s one of my favorite stories! Although I would usually tell you that I prefer a nice hardback book, there are times when I must listen to a book instead. And the next best thing to a hardback is a well-recorded audio.
I was first introduced to The Scarlet Pimpernel when my childhood friend showed me the 1982 movie. I fell in love with it. The actors, the storyline, everything about it. We watched it three times that day, and I have watched it at least 100 times since. Did I say it’s one of my favorites?
Then I found out that the movie was based on a book, so of course the first time I came across that book, I bought it. If you ever get the chance, read it, listen to it, and watch the movie. I think you will enjoy it too.
Now for the story: The Scarlet Pimpernel is set in the middle of the French Revolution, when the French commoners were killing French aristocrats. Their weapon of choice was Madame la Guillotine. An Englishman, known only as “The Scarlet Pimpernel” begins to rescue the imprisoned aristocrats. Using elaborate disguises and well-planned schemes, he and his band of men smuggle the former nobles out of Paris and away from death. Who is this man? Can the French Republic capture him before he steals away any more “aristos”?
The story is told from the view of Lady Marguerite Blakeney. Once the “Queen of Intelligent Society” in Paris, the Lady finds herself in a loveless marriage to a lazy, “foppish” English gentleman. One day, she is approached by a representative of the French Republic, a former friend named Chauvelin. He tasks her with finding out who this Scarlet Pimpernel is. He threatens to turn her brother over as a spy if she will not help him. Though she is angered and initially refuses, she eventually agrees, for she fears her brother is the only soul left on earth who loves her.
Lady Blakeney learns too late that when she betrays the Scarlet Pimpernel, she also betrays everything she ever loved. She faces great danger when she tries to right her wrong. She must hide in the shadows, tread barefoot through the night forest, and risk being caught by those who would do her harm before she can find the forgiveness and undying love she always craved.
The first copy I bought of The Scarlet Pimpernel was a Penguin Press paperback that I may still have in my library (if I haven’t given it away). But on one of my trips to St Augustine, I found a beautiful collector’s edition at the used bookstore, Second Read Books. It has a box cover and several glossy pictures. It was printed in 1997 by The Folio Society. When I don’t have time to sit and read, I will listen to the audiobook on Spotify or YouTube. It is a LibriVox recording performed by Karen Savage, who does a wonderful job.
I hope that you will decide to pick up a copy for yourself. I am sure you will thoroughly enjoy The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Along with starting another Kathy Reichs book today, I decided to add a new tag to the blog. “New Book” will lead you to the first post I write about each book that I’m reading. My goal is to give you a brief introduction to the book. Then when I finish the book, I’ll write my summary. This tag will give you, my readers, just a quick glimpse at when (and sometimes why) I start a new book as well as the Title and Author so you can look it up too.
So, as I said, I am starting a new Kathy Reichs book, Speaking in Bones. I’m only one chapter in, but it was a chilling introduction. Dr Brennan is listening to what sounds like a kidnapped girl’s thoughts and torments. I wonder if Dr Brennan will be able to find the girl before it’s too late. Well, back to reading!