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I took the book quiz to see what I am–and this is it. Oh well, at least it’s a classic by a Nobel Prize winner!  The link follows if you’d like to see what book you are.

Ms. W.

You’re The Sound and the Fury!
by William Faulkner
Strong-willed but deeply confused, you are trying to come to grips
with a major crisis in your life. You can see many different perspectives on the issue,
but you’re mostly overwhelmed with despair at what you’ve lost. People often have a hard
time understanding you, but they have some vague sense that you must be brilliant
anyway. Ultimately, you signify nothing.

Take the
at the .

January 30, 2009

“The Reader” by Bernhard Schlink, translated from the German by Carol Brown Janeway

Although “The Reader” is one of those books about which little can be said without giving away the ‘secret,’ it’s a great novel in the way that it approaches guilt and moral responsibility. Since it has been made into a movie that’s coming out in a few weeks (January 9, 2009), I thought I’d review it now.

“The Reader” is set in post World War II Germany, starting in the 1950s. Michael Berg, a 15 year old becomes so sick from hepatitis that he vomits in the street. Hanna Schmitz, who is much older than he—in her thirties–helps him. After months of recovery, Michael goes to Hanna’s house to thank her for her assistance. The two begin a love affair. Right away, we wonder about the moral ambiguity of the characters as Michael is only a minor. (Note that this is not a book with any sexual description; the things that the reader will find offensive or at least question are the decisions and actions of the characters, not graphic scenes.)

Soon Hanna makes Michael read to her each time he visits. When Hanna disappears without a trace, Michael is forlorn. Several years latter, when Michael is a law student, he is assigned to follow a trial in which Hanna is one of the defendants, accused of Nazi war crimes as a former SS officer.

When other defendants place the blames for many atrocities on Hanna in order to mitigate their own guilt, she is both evil and a scapegoat. Why she allows this is one of the secrets of the novel. “The Reader” raises questions about whether a person can be both evil and benign and about society’s responsibility to remember its history, including its atrocities. Though a quick read at just over 200 pages, the novel is thought provoking.

December 10, 2008

“Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Although you are younger than Elizabeth Gilbert and, hopefully, have not experienced the kind of life crisis that prompts the journey detailed in this memoir, I think you’ll be able to relate to the idea of trying to pull your life together after some sort of loss. Since Gilbert is an excellent writer, you’ll also enjoy the wry way she is able to poke fun at herself at the same time that she works through some serious life changes.

When she was thirty years old, Gilbert realized that her marriage wasn’t working and that she had no desire for children. She spends nights crying on her bathroom floor, wondering what she should do. She comes to understand that she should get a divorce, and then all hell breaks loose. Her husband makes it as difficult as possible, and she gives him all her assets (house, etc.), just to get out. At the same time, she falls in love with a man whom she describes as wonderful, but who is also a bad choice for her. She’s a human shipwreck—too thin, too sleepless, lost and sinking fast.

Gilbert decides to go away for a year and visit three countries for four months each—Italy, India, and Indonesia (specifically, Bali). In Italy, she learns to speak Italian simply because it is such a beautiful language—and she eats the most delicious food she’s ever had, gaining some much needed weight. In India, she stays in an ashram to learn how to meditate and pray with the intensity that she believes spiritual life requires. In Bali, she befriends two traditional healers and falls in love.

All of the author’s experiences help her along a journey of self-discovery where she gains spiritual insight and finds the balance she seeks in her life. Her good-humored writing style will make you feel like she’s just chatting with you across the table, and yet will help you gain insights into life as well. A good choice when your teacher assigns a biography/memoir—or when you seek balance in your own life.

December 10, 2008


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