Gift goodies!

Today was music day!!!  Whew! It’s 9:50pm and I’m exhausted, but not too exhausted to check the huge bag of books I was given yesterday.  I love getting books and I don’t care if they are old, new,  water-logged or torn.  Bring it on!  It’s all good.  Boy were there some goodies!  Check them out:

The Awkward Age – Henry James

This is the story of Nanda Brookenham.  She is a young woman whose attempt to marry is foiled by members of her mother’s social circle. It’s set in 1899.

The Counterlife –  Philip Roth

He writes about  the paths a life can take and the motivation behind the decisions we make. He also talks about the reality of being a Jewish American.

Letters and Journals – Katherine Mansfield

Mansfield from New Zealand writes about her country.  Here’s a quote from her which is on the back of the book. “Here then is a little summary of what I need – power, wealth and freedom.  It is the hopelessly insipid doctrine that love is the only thing in the world…which hampers us so cruelly.  We must get rid of that boggery – and then, then comes the opportunity of happiness and freedom.”

Galileo’s Daughter – Dava Sobel

This is the story of Sister Maria Celeste the illegitimate daughter of Galileo Galilei. The story is based on the information found in 124 letters written between Galileo and a nun.

High Fidelity – Nick Hornby

The central theme in this novel is music.  The main character sells vinyl records and is an early  thirty-something having some trouble in love and growing up.

The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene

Greene explores the themes of good and evil and of course corruption.  The authorities are trying to eradicate the Catholic church in a Mexican state and there is a priest on the run.

A Severed Head – Iris Murdoch

This book is apparently about love, adultery, deception, jealousy.  It seems to have all the components of an exciting story.

The Bell – Iris Murdoch

This is a story about English society in the 1940s through the eyes of  Dora Greenfield.  This novel should be full of social commentary, which was  a common theme for Murdoch.

On the Road – Jack Kerouac

This is of course considered a modem classic and Kerouac was an American novelist who was part of the Beat Generation.  I would say this is one of those books that should be on your Must Read List.

The New York Trilogy – Paul Auster

This trilogy made Auster famous in France.  This trilogy is composed of 3 short novel called City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room.  He invented a new detective and mystery genre, while his main theme in this trilogy is  searching for who you are.

Really nice –  a little bit of classic and modern!  I think the only one I won’t read is Nick Hornby, unless for some reason I don’t have anything else to read.  I just don’t enjoy reading him, but the others are all interesting, especially Iris Murdoch.  I’ve always wanted to read her. When I’m finished with these I’ll probably sell them unless I don’t fall in love with the stories and wind up keeping them.  It’s hard for me to sell English books.  I just want to keep them all.  Not a good idea.  I’ve had to resort to storing a good portion of them in our garage.  Do I need to say anymore?

The Help

   This past summer I spent a blissful, hot and humid  5 weeks in my hometown New Orleans.  I usually spend the first week marveling over the changes and things that I’ve missed while living in France.  This time there was one thing I couldn’t miss and that was all the media attention that was being given to Katheryn Stockett’s The Help.  I couldn’t go anywhere without hearing, “What you haven’t read it, you better read it.  It’s great!”  All bookstores had The Help placed in the front of the store and in some right next to the cash register.  Being that I read quite a bit I started to feel left out, but then while watching television I was bombarded with critics on daytime talk shows.   The  trailer was shown constantly on television with its catchy upbeat music.  To me,  it seemed like a comedy.  I refused to go to the movie before reading the book.  It was the first book we would be discussing this school year with the NRs.  Needless to say, I spent most of the time with my eyes blindfolded and my ears plugged.  I felt as if I was on jury duty.

Finally when I got back to France I sat down exhausted from my long trip back and did nothing more for 3 days but read, sleep and eat.  When I finished the book I could see why some people were annoyed with it, especially those that lived through this period.  I could also see what people loved about it.  I think this book could get people talking about this period but not for the right reason nor the right discussion.  It seems to make light of some serious issues that black people were going through at the time.

What I liked about this book is the idea of learning about black maids during Jim Crow years, although this book doesn’t get into too much detail about that, since the issue of sexual harassment was not mentioned.   The character analysis was clear, lively.  They were described in detail. You could imagine what they looked like.   I must admit I fell in love with Aibeleen and Minny immediately.  The usage of dialect was a good idea although it didn’t look much like the dialect I had read in other novels.  it seemed to be extremely baby like.  It just looked like English sentences with words missing.  I’m still not sure why she kept writing Lord as Law.  Nobody says that in the south.

Anyway, this book will definitely be labeled the mini controversy of 20111.  I haven’t seen the movie but people have told me that it’s a tear jerker.  They also said that certain things were different.  Who knows maybe I’ll go see the movie when I have time. Check out the trailer below.  What do you think?

The Help Trailer

Been away…..

Well anyone who’s reading this is probably wondering, where the hell have I been; basically lost in the depths of teaching hell along with a bit of holiday.  I’m back now and you will be hearing from me more regularly.  Promises! Promises!

I’ve read as much as I can and primarily with my book club.  I’m going to call us the Normandy Readingales or NRs for short.  Everything started with a bang, but it seems as if we’ve chosen quite a few sad books this 2011/2012.  We’ve already read The Help, The Incredible Privacy of Maxwell Sim, and Sarah’s Key.  So far, the list doesn’t look very stellar but the best book we’ve read has to be The Incredible Privacy of Maxwell Sim.   I’ll post something on these books so you can get my take on things.

At the moment I’m only reading the Courrier International  (French magazine which compiles newspaper articles from all over the world. FAB! and informative!).  I can’t decide what novel I want to read next.  I’m torn between I’m Down by Mishna WOLF or In the Kitchen by Monica ALI.  They are two very different books, but interesting… I found I’m Down when I was on holiday this summer in New Orleans.  I was browsing in Barnes & Noble for something different to take back with me to France and the saleslady suggested it.  As for In the Kitchen that’s just a book I ordered from Amazon.fr a year ago that I haven’t gotten around to reading.  I think I went off the idea of reading this book when I started to read all the bad reviews.  I could only find one or two good reviews.  Unfortunately, I read the reviews after I had bought the book.  Although, I really enjoyed reading Brick Lane and thought it had some literary merit so I wanted to give this book a chance.  I knows it’s a little different from what she usually writes about. I like a good thriller!  I don’t often read this genre, and nor do I prefer it,  but now and then I like the change.

Concerning my teaching, things are developing….  I have to become a self-employed teacher if I want to live properly from this profession, teaching.  That means self-employment must take place November 2012.  Until then I have quite a lot of paperwork to deal with and things to organize.  I’m on the track so I’m sure I’ll be fine.  I’m still selling my books but mostly on the internet.  I don’t seem to have time to organize book parties with the clients.  I’m teaching all the time, but I will be going to sell at a private Christmas sale.  Maybe I’ll get some new customers/clients there.  Next time I’ll be back with some reviews of the books I spoke about in this post. Happy reading…..