Bookish Delights

The Reader’s Thoughts in March

Thank goodness I managed to squeeze in my four-book requirement in the month of March! It was a month of discovering new favorites and re-living old favorites … and along the way, many favorite quotes as well. To begin with …

1. Surprised by Joy, by C.S. Lewis [A book by an author I love, but haven’t read yet]
This book has been on my “to-read” list for quite some time, and now presented itself as the perfect time to read it. C.S. Lewis himself claimed it wasn’t an actual autobiography, although it did tell the story of his youth and young manhood with his ever-increasing search for the elusive “joy” he so desired. Parts of it did get a little too philosophical for my tastes, but the heart and soul of the book revealed why I so greatly enjoy this author – and why he is such a kindred spirit. To prove this – my favorite quotes from this book:

“Nothing, I suspect, is more astonishing in any man’s life than the discovery that there do exist people very, very like himself.”

“Hence while friendship has been by far the chief source of my happiness, acquaintance or general society has always meant little to me, and I cannot quite understand why a man should wish to know more people than he can make real friends of.”

“I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for Joy.”

“Joy itself, considered simply as an event in my own mind, turned out to be of no value at all. All the value lay in that of which Joy was the desiring.”

“The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”

2. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell [A book with a one-word title]
I’ve read bits and pieces of this book in the past, and knew it would instantly be a favorite. So why has it taken me so long to read it? Call it forgetfulness and procrastination … but I was more than right. I loved this book & all of the ideas presented by Malcolm Gladwell [such a fascinating thinker …you should read him when you get the chance]. I’ve always been intrigued by the snap judgments we make, and how often our “intuition” tells us things we can’t always explain – which is exactly what Gladwell explores in this book [the subtitle of which is “The Power of Thinking without Thinking”]. To illustrate this more fully, some quotes –

“When it comes to the task of understanding ourselves and our world, I think we pay too much attention to those grand themes and too little to the particulars of those fleeting moments.”

“ … because we take it as a given that first we experience an emotion, and then we may – or may not express that emotion on our face. We think of the face as the residue of emotion. What this research showed, though, is that the process works in the opposite direction as well. Emotion can also start on the face. The face is not a secondary billboard for our internal feelings. It is an equal partner in the emotional process.” (How true I have found this – and how useful – in acting! It’s amazing what emotions you can conjure up by the way you form your face or physical posture.)

“Too often we are resigned to what happens in the blink of an eye. It doesn’t seem like we have much control over whatever bubbles to the surface from our unconscious. But we do, and if we can control the environment in which rapid cognition takes place, then we can control rapid cognition.”

3. Trixie Belden and the Mystery of the Uninvited Guest by Kathryn Kenny [A book from your childhood]
Oh how obsessed I was with the Trixie Belden, girl detective, mysteries as a child! And how I spread that obsession to Kimi & Kelsey as well! I still have almost the entire collection of all 34 mystery novels, which I considered to be far superior to their contemporaries of the 1950’s – Nancy Drew (Nancy Drew simply didn’t have the spitfire that Trixie Belden did – nor the fun-loving gang of friends who helped her solve her mysteries!). Re-reading this particular book as an adult brought back all the warm fuzzies from childhood, reminding me that book characters who become your friends as a child will always remain your friends – even if the writing is predictable & a little lacking in well-polished form!

4. The Forbidden Schoolhouse by Suzanne Jurmain [A book based entirely on its cover]
Taking a page out of my mother’s book [pun intended!], I meandered over to the children’s section of the library for this one, just to be on the safe side. I must confess, I did pick it up and peek at the inside flap before checking it out, but it truly was the cover that drew me to the book more than anything. It was the true story of Prudence Crandall, living in a small town in Connecticut in the 1830’s who opened a school for black girls. It told of the persecution she faced, and her commitment to her convictions that they deserved an education just as much as the white girls she had formerly taught. As a teacher myself, my heart had a fire lit within it by her inspiration to teach everyone, no matter what their background … although the ending to her story was rather sad.

I do so love the variety of books that this book challenge is making me read … books that I’ve wanted to read for quite some time, and books I never would have originally considered. Although I’m only on book 12 right now (and not number 21 like my mother!), I love the adventures I have so far encountered, and the ones still promised to me by the list of waiting books. Stay tuned for more reports!

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