Sunday, February 22, 2015

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowlings Review

Is Harry Potter a classic?  I don't know.  The subject has been debated:

I'm going with yes, based on its influence as the most successful children's series of all time.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, # 1)Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What insight can be shared about a book with over forty-five thousand reviews? Probably nothing that hasn't been said before, so I will keep this one short. This first installment of Harry Potter is good kid's fiction. I read it with my own two kids, and they loved it. As for my own enjoyment, I liked it, but the writing isn't stellar. This is one of the few situations that I think that the movie is, probably, better than the book.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

The Secret Garden by Burnett Review

The Secret GardenThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This is a great book for kids and adults. It gave me exactly what I would expect from a kid's classic. It has a dual nature. Kids can appreciate it at its face value--an interesting story with intriguing characters. Adults can take in the deeper message, Burnett's attack on English classism.

I enjoyed this book a great deal. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone. I read The Secret Garden for the PrettyBooks’s Classics Challenge. The requirements of the challenge are to read one classic a month, review the book and answer specific questions. My Challenge blog is: http://linda2015classicschallenge.blo...

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WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I discovered this classic a few months ago.  I wanted to read a children’s classic, so I did some research on the internet to find a title.  This one was available at the library, so I chose it.

WHAT Makes It A Classic
This book is wonderful for kids.  It has an interesting storyline and intriguing characters, but it also has something to say to adults about the class, religion, nature and healing. 

WHY I Chose to Read It
I wanted to read something that I could read with my kids.  I have one child who loves gardening, so I thought he might like this one.

WILL It Stay A Classic
My son confirms that it is still interesting to kids.

WHO I’d Recommend It To
I would recommend it to any child and adults who have an interest in children’s literature.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall ApartI've chosen my next classic.  The "why" comes straight from wiki:

"Things Fall Apart is a post-colonial novel written by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe in 1958. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, one of the first to receive global critical acclaim. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and is widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world. It was first published in 1958 by William Heinemann Ltd in the UK; in 1962, it was also the first work published in Heinemann's African Writers Series. The title of the novel comes from a line in W. B. Yeats' poem The Second Coming".

More Ws:

WHEN I Discovered This Classic:  A few minutes ago

WHAT Makes It A Classic:  Refer to the Why

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

The Screwtape LettersI wanted to include Classic Christian themed literature.  I chose C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret GardenI'm reading two classics right now. The first is The Secret Garden by Hodgson Burnett.  It is beloved children's classic.  I missed this one as a child.  I read a lot, but nothing of very high quality.  Most of the children's classics that I have read, I discovered reading them to my own kids.  My kids are a bit too old for this one, but I think I can still get my 12 year old to read it.  I'm going to hook him in with the gardening theme.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois Review

The Souls of Black FolkThe Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The classics challenge offered the perfect opportunity for me to read Du Bois’ classic The Souls of Black Folks. It is an assortment of essay, some of which were published in the Atlantic Monthly Magazine, before being assembled and published as a book in 1903.

Each chapter in The Souls of Black Folks begins with a poetic epigraph including a musical score. The poetry was not written by Du Bois. Some are traditional spirituals. Others are poems written by African-Americans as well as white American and European poets. All of the poems share similar themes of suffering and liberation. I thought that the epigraphs were effective in setting the stage for the reader to have a personal experience.

Each essay deals with a different aspect of the issue of race in America. Some of the essays are very personal. Others are historical, while still others are political and philosophical. All are extremely thought provoking.

Du Bois’s writing is special, but it requires concentration. His style is poetic and erudite. It would have been wonderful to read this in college, when I was in the midst of academia. I was prepared for most of his historical references, but I was behind the curve when he referenced Greek mythology. I was glad that I read this on my kindle. Every time Du Bois referenced something that I wasn't familiar with, I could tap the term and do a wiki search. I couldn’t read this straight through like a novel. I read one or no more than two essays at a time.

Du Bois is, clearly, writing to a 1903 audience, but I was amazed at how many of the essays had contemporary application and meaning. This is an excellent book. I'm still thinking about several of the essays.

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WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I discovered Du Bois in college.  I became interested in this particular book about a 6 months ago.

WHAT Makes It A Classic
Du Bois was one of the most influential people of the 20th century. 

WHY I Chose to Read It
I wanted to read something by Du Bois.

WILL It Stay A Classic
Without a doubt, it will stay a classic.  The essays still have applicability, today.

WHO I’d Recommend It To
African Americans and anyone interested in the topic of race in America

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Review

Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I chose to read Pride and Prejudice, because it is one the most well liked and well known books of classic literature. Women, for generations, have and continue to love Jane Austin. I assumed that I would, too, but Pride and Prejudice did not meet my expectations. The reason was simple. I didn’t care about the girls or who they married. The girls thought about nothing but themselves, and they seemed to have no useful occupation. I thought that Austin was clever in that she was able to take something that was intrinsically boring, that is the life of five girls who sat around all day doing nothing, and breathed some life into their story with a bit of comedy. Austin wrote two appealing characters in both Liz and Jane, but, even so, I found my mind wondering. I didn’t have any “buy in” into these girl’s lives and futures.

Austin’s writing is good, but it isn’t spectacular. I would have liked this book more if my expectations weren’t so high. Pride and Prejudice is by no means bad, but I found nothing great about it. Austin does have a strong point of view, but it is obviously limited by her sex, class and race, and strictly anchored in the early 19th century. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but it isn’t what I expect from a classic. I think that the next Jane Austin book that I read, I will enjoy a great deal more, because will know what to expect.

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WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I discovered it in high school.  I may have read it, but I, definitely, have seen some kind of TV or movie adaptation.  The book was familiar.

WHAT Makes It A Classic
It has an audience.  Jane Austin has tapped into the souls of a lot of young women.

WHY I Chose to Read It
I wanted to compare it with Jane Eyre.

WILL It Stay A Classic
Without a doubt, it will stay a classic.  With all the movie adaptations, new readers will continue to find it.

WHO I’d Recommend It To
A young woman