Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape.  You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.

1 Challenge Books 003

I have started reading Gregory Benford’s Deep Time and the result is awe at the number of books that I am able to access right now.  He has made me feel like a tiny dot in the universe of time with the epochs stretching out behind me and those in the future zooming out for light years ahead.  He points out that book materials decay.  If it had not been for the monks who copied manuscripts we would not have even the few that are left from previous cultures.  The Swerve by Greenblatt explained how books would crumble and how a few book hunters would search old monasteries for things to copy.  

Tonight, I am not here to worry, but to celebrate that books are being written and published and made available to us.

It is still a huge wonder to me to walk into a library with shelves and shelves of books of all types or to browse the shelves of bookstores and internet sites.  So many choices!

As I slowly proceed through Inwood’s book, A History of London, which is packed with statistics and studies by other authors, I am in awe of his research.  I could never have found all his sources and read them.  He has done the work of finding, organizing and putting the best parts on display.  Kudos to those writers that provide information for us.

I am also reading the beautiful prose of Bruce Catton about the Civil War.  It has been years since I read several of his other books and I had forgotten how carefully and beautifully he writes.  I cannot read This Hallowed Ground fast because it is too rich.

I try to imagine a world without such books in it and fail.  

In Fahrenheit 452, Bradbury warned of a world where having books made you a criminal and the books were burned.  I read this story many, many years ago and it still makes me afraid.  I celebrate that at this moment in time, we still have powerful books to read.

I have said before that we need many choices of books to examine issues from all sides including the fiction representations which involve us in the lives of characters and make the history come alive.

The voices and thoughts of authors who have died live on because of books.  The printing press changed the world and I am the beneficiary.  My small library and even the city library an hour from me were not able to buy all the books that I wished to read so the catalog that I still get from The Science Fiction Book Club became a real help before the internet.  

My house is full of all kinds of books…science fiction, fantasy, poetry, plays, books about writing, memoirs, biographies, history, historical fiction, mysteries, travel, short stories, political books, and essays.   I have joy in looking at them and re-reading them over the years.

I never lose the awe and wonder of having them.  

Books are beacons lighting up the past and safe-guarding the future and I will never take them for granted.

People argue about The Canon or the books that every American should be familiar with or about reading more books by authors from other countries and I embrace them all.  The lovely words, the images, the answers to questions, the books that raise my awareness, the books that lift my spirits, the ones that enrich my mind and make me think…for all of these I am grateful.

Tonight, I open the door so my readers can share books they loved in the past or ones they are reading, now, or hope to read.  New books, old treasures, books that are obscure and different…they are awesome!

The pleasure of reading small essays and sharing the mind of the author is felt in this little book:

Platero and I by Juan Ramon Jimenez, Translation by Antonio T. de Nicolas

Pg. 26


We were both returning laden from the woods, Platero with marjoram and I with yellow lilies.

The April evening was waning.  All that in the sunset had been gold crystal was now silver crystal, a plain and luminous allegory of crystal lilies.  Later the vast sky was like a transparent sapphire turning to emerald.  I was feeling sad…

From the slope, the village tower crowned with shining tiles appeared in the rising of the pure hour like a monument.  From near, it looked like Sevilla’s Giralda seen from far away, and my nostalgia for the cities sharpened by the spring, found in it a melancholy comfort.

Return…where? From where?  For what? …But the lilies I was carrying with me became fragrant in the warm freshness of the arriving evening; their scent grew more intense and at the same time more vague, coming from the flower while the flower could not be seen, a flower made of scent only, intoxicating the body and the soul from the solitary shadow.

    “Soul of mine, lily in the shadows!” I said.

And I suddenly thought of Platero, who, though walking under me, I had forgotten as if he were my own body.

The beauty of words are found in This Hallowed Ground by Bruce Catton:

Pgs. 15, 16

For the bitterly divided men who, unable to phrase a nobler appeal, had asked fear and anger to judge between them were being compelled to cope with an issue greater than any of them.  They had not chosen to cope with it; they had been willing to go to almost any length to avoid coping with it; but it was there, and now it had to be faced.  At the very bottom of American life, under its highest ideals and its most dazzling hopes, lay the deep intolerable wrong of slavery, the common possession not of a class or a section but of the nation as a whole.  It was the one fatally limiting factor in a nation of wholly unlimited possibilities; whatever America would finally stand for, in a world painfully learning that its most sacred possession was the infinite individual human spirit, would depend on what was done about this evil relic of the past.  Abraham Lincoln had once called it “the great Behemoth of danger,” and now it was forcing men into war.

Yet for a long time men would refuse to admit that this was the dreadful inevitable beneath all of their differences.  They would look instead at symbols; at swaggering Border Ruffians, at gaunt John Brown, or at something else.  And in April 1961, Fort Sumter itself had suddenly become the most compelling of these symbols.

When southern men looked at the fort they saw a squat, ugly obstacle standing in the path of romantic destiny, the visible sign that there were cold and designing folk who would not let the lovely, white-pillared, half-imaginary past perpetuate itself; they lined the mud flats and the sand dunes around Charleston Harbor with batteries, and eager young men in gray uniforms tossed palmetto flags into the wind, until Major Anderson at last calculated that if his government ever tried to force its way in to rescue him it would need all of its navy and an army of twenty thousand men besides.

Most Northerners, so far, were hardly looking at the fort at all.  Secession had been threatened for years and now it was here, but there was something unreal about the situation.  Sumter was no more than an unpleasant reminder of a distasteful possibility.  Yet there it was, a solid block of a thing, holding the national flag in the light between Charleston and the sunrise, and the indifference of the North was only apparent.  For beneath everything else, North and West, there ran a profound, unvoiced, almost subconscious conviction that the nation was going to go on growing-in size, in power, in everything a man could think of-and in that belief there was a might and a fury that would take form instantly at the moment of shock.  If just one of these encircling guns should be fired an immeasurable emotional flood would be released.


Fun and tongue-in-cheek fantasy for those who love humor:

Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones

Pgs. 1, 2

“Will you all be quiet!” snapped High Chancellor Querida.  She pouched up her eyes and glared around the table.

“I was only trying to say-“ a king, an emperor, and several wizards began.

“At once,” said Querida, “or the next person to speak spends the rest of his life as a snake!”

This shut up most of the University Emergency Committee.  Querida was the most powerful wizard in the world, and she had a special feeling for snakes.  She looked like a snake herself, small and glossy-skinned and greenish, and very, very old.  Nobody doubted she meant what she said.  But two people went on talking anyway.  Gloomy King Luther murmured from the end of the table, “Being a snake might be a relief.” And when Querida’s eyes darted around at him, he stared glumly back, daring her to do it.

What is your favorite fun book?  Are you reading something poignant?  Do you like descriptions in stories?

Diaries of the Week:

Write On! of publishers and the like
by SensibleShoes

Hero for Hire (Eno the Thracian)

A new book by a DKos author, wonderful world:

HERO FOR HIRE is the first in C.B. Pratt's new action & adventure e-book series starring Eno the Thracian. If you have villainy in your village and basilisks in your barnyard, who are you going to summon? When you can't afford a big-name hero, and they're all fighting in Troy anyway, Eno will deal with your mythological and/or mortal monsters for one low, low price.

Available on Amazon, B&N, and Kobo. I-Tunes coming soon!

Jamais vu to déjà vu: Books that have changed my life
by northsylvania

Authorial Matters: References, Plagiarism, and Copyright
by DrLori

Monday Murder Mystery: Tana French's Dublin
by Susan from 29

Monday Night at the Theater: Phantom and Pratchett
by Youffraita

Contemporary Fiction Views: Neil Gaiman writes a literary fable for grown-ups
by bookgirl

Ducking Death; Surviving Superannuation
by Robert Fuller

Robert Fuller says:

I've just posted Chapter 11 of "The Rowan Tree" - only 2 more chapters to go for Part 1.


If any Kossacks have been reading "The Rowan Tree" online, I hope they will consider writing a review somewhere. I created a Wikipedia page for the book, but apparently the entry won't be accepted until the book is ratified by independent reviews.

Also, I'm running another Goodreads Giveaway for free copies of "The Rowan Tree". I've received good feedback from some of the previous winners, so I will keep running Giveaways as long as I have extra copies of the book.



NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.


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