Happy Birthday, Mr. Wonderful

I can’t begin this August 3 Friday reads round-up without mentioning that it’s my husband Bob’s birthday today (pictured above). I’ve known him since I was 16, and I’m not even kidding when I say one of the things I liked about him way back then was that he read good books.  Over the course of our dating life, we read lots of books together, including this one at left, OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET by C. S. Lewis. (This is the first in Lewis’s space trilogy; we also read two and three together in our pre-marriage days).  If you’re unfamiliar with this one, the story is about Dr. Ransom,  a Cambridge academic, who is abducted by a megalomaniac physicist and his accomplice and taken via spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, aka Mars. “His captors are plotting to plunder the planet’s treasures and plan to offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there. Ransom discovers he has come from the ‘silent planet’ – Earth – whose tragic story is known throughout the universe.” Ransom eludes his captors, risking his chances of returning to Earth, and becoming a stranger in a land that is enchanting in its difference from Earth but also instructive in its similarity. It’s speculative fiction at its finest, and not really about space travel at all, really. Lewis, well known for his deep thoughts on philosophy and religion, offers keen insights into the human condition in this novel. Not your typical date book, I guess. But I feel in love with the guy who read this book aloud to me when I was 17. Happy birthday, cutie. P.S. We were just talking about this book last night over dinner with a friend and we all decided to read it again and then get together and chat about it. Interestingly enough, Mars, which is as bright as it has been in our sky in 15 years, was shining down on us like a little scarlet diamond as we ate supper, sipped a nice Syrah and talked about books…

I usually have one audio book going on in my life, and until recently I was checking out books on CD from my library. I would listen to a book whenever I got into my car, no matter if it was a short trip or long trip I was headed out on. Audio books made any commute – even the worst, rush-hour one – a happy time. But we got a new car a little while back and it doesn’t have a CD player (that’s just how all new cars are nowadays). What it does have, though, is a little onboard computer and a USB port so that my phone can become the computer. Which means I can have Audible on my phone now, which I do, and the car can read the book to me.  So there’s always a physical book on the nightstand and an audio book in the car and I like it that way. Okay, so yes,  the audio book is on my phone which goes everywhere I go, but I save that audio book for car rides. So every trip to anywhere is, before it is anything else, a dip into that book. All that to say, in my car, I am listening to Celeste Ng’s LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE.  I have heard nothing but great things about this book, which is a bestseller all over the place and a 2017 Goodreads Choice Award winner. It’s about single mother and artist, Mia, who rents a house from the Richardson family. Soon Mia and her teenage daughter Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson young adult kids are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But as the back cover copy says, “Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.” When  Mia and Mrs. Richardson take opposing sides on an issue, Elena Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past, and her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.” I am enjoying the book very much (although if I’m being honest, and why wouldn’t I be, the narrator is not quite who I would have chosen) and I’m finding myself looking for reasons to get in the car and go somewhere.  Goodreads says this story “explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.” More on this book when I finish.

Lastly, fellow San Diegan, writer extraordinaire, and my friend, T. Greenwood, has a new book coming out on Tuesday. It’s her first hardcover. Tammy is a talented wordsmith and I’m sure the difficult subject matter in RUST & STARDUST will be made more bearable by her exquisite prose. Here’s how Goodreads describes it:  “When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth’s, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says. This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.” I’m thinking we will need the Kleenex for this one. One reviewer said, “This was an extremely heartbreaking story of loss and abuse, but also a wonderfully written account of the true-crime that inspired the novel LOLITA.”

There you have it. Hope your weekend is brimming with books to be read! Or listened to.  Have a good one.

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Author: Susan

This post has 1 Comment

  1. Harry A. de Vries on August 8, 2018 at 3:45 am

    Tues., Aug.7/18

    A relative who has been reading your books lately with some interest mentioned that your stories
    can combine historical events and individuals of today. Maybe my eye-opening experience may be of interest.

    One early spring Sunday morning the Italo-Canadian Band, in which I play, about 3 or 4 years ago was marching around several city blocks
    playing some marching numbers performed in the local saints parades. On the 3rd round trip, while we were waiting for the church parade to start, I suddenly wondered what the folks in the neighbourhood wanting to sleep in might be thinking. And I thought of the Old Testmant Jewish people circlingthe city of Jericho, 7 days in a row and then 7 times the last day. The Jericho people musn’t have been sleeping with the marauding tribe treatening their very lives, day in and day out. So they threw up their had and the city fell. A very similar situation to ISIS capturing Syrian cities in our time. One had just fallen with the Syrian as we were parading our own city’s blocks. Think of Isis very much regarded with great fear, similar to the Jewish army capturing city after city in those early biblical times. The Syrian soldiers abanded their latest and newest USA equipment of war and ran away to protect their own lives.The story of Jericho similary without a shot being fired – so to speak. Only Rahab’s house stood – meaning to me that she was not destroyed with all the other inhabitants. .

    My current day’s experience helped me understand the Biblical situation as very paralell to that very similar, biblical event in our time, whick seems not to have changed much. I read the Bible now as news reports. Not unlike our daily newspaper. There, to me, is nothing mystical about reporting then or now. But with a Jewish perspective. Sometime readers of biblical stories want to change the narratives to something spiritual ,beyond what they are, with emotional sensitiveiy.

    Bottom line is that two very similar events happened, years apart, with similar claims of “God is on our side. cries.

    I had been working on the “Jushua Fit the battle of Jericho” arranged by Mark Hays(10 Spirituals for Solo Voice, arranged by Mark Hayes and
    printed by Alfred Publishing. That helped me focus on the story similarities

    These are two evens that involved individuals. There must be a very relevant story in the lives of the captured folk in lives
    across the timeline.

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