An afternoon trip to Powell’s (at Cedar Hills Crossing) yesterday, and there were readers everywhere!
On our walk around town this morning, we found another Little Free Library! This town is full of them now! But we also found a very special, slightly different, sharing box. This one is my favorite so far!
My family is fascinated with birds of all kinds, but especially with owls! We have learned so much by watching the web cams of nesting birds this summer. In March, we followed an owl family in Northern California (click here to read my post), but then we found the Texas Barn Owls cam on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology web site, and we’ve watched them all summer long. Fascinating!
One of my favorite publishing groups, Open Road Media, has recently published a wonderful series of e-books by the award-winning naturalist/author, Jean Craighead George, who wrote Julie of the Wolves, and whom I admire a lot. This series of books for young people (of all ages!) is called “American Woodland Tales,” and each book focuses on a different animal from the woodlands. Of course, I chose to start the series by reading Bubo, the Great Horned Owl, because I actually saw a Great Horned Owl once, and it was a thrilling experience! This little book is beautifully written and so interesting. I look forward to reading all the others in the series!
Mutiny on the Bounty was a book I first read as a young teenager and loved! The series was quite a story, quite an amazing true-life adventure! I remember being completely lost in the three books one summer long ago. Mutiny on the Bounty was followed by Men Against the Sea, and then by Pitcairn’s Island, all written by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. Great summer reads! (There is also a children’s version of this story, called The Mutiny on the Bounty, by Patrick O’Brien. Click here to read my review.)
Okay…I’ve been posting about all the “Little Free Libraries” that have just recently started popping up in our town, excited that I live in a town full of readers. This morning on our walk we ran into another new one in the neighborhood! As always, I photographed it and checked out the books inside, and much to my surprise, I found a book that I had just donated to our local library last Friday! I know it was mine because I pulled it our and looked inside and found this bookmark that I’d forgotten to remove before I donated it. I’m wondering if this “Little Free Library” was built by one of our librarians or library volunteers? And I’m very pleased that my donations are finding new life in the town’s libraries both big and small!
On our walk this morning across the campus of Pacific University, we found a new “Little Free Library” in the middle of campus. What a nice way for the University to encourage reading and sharing books … for the college students and for us townsfolk, too!
I just finished reading a really good book, The Keeper of the Bees, by Gene Stratton-Porter, and as always when I finish a book I’ve been completely immersed in, it’s hard to decide what to read next. With the publication of Harper Lee’s book, Go Set a Watchman, I am very tempted to start that one right away. However, I’m scared! I’m afraid to read it because it might damage my relationship with Atticus Finch, one of the most decent men in literature, and it feels to me that decent men in literature are somewhat of a rarity these days. Three come to my mind immediately: Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird; Danny’s sparky Dad in Danny, the Champion of the World; and now I can add Jamie MacFarlane in The Keeper of the Bees. These are kind, caring, compassionate men who are not afraid to take a stand, who give wholeheartedly, who are not afraid to cry, and who remind us of all that is good in the world. I think I’ll wait to read blogging friends’ reviews before I start the new Harper Lee…just in case.
The Keeper of the Bees, one of Stratton-Porter’s last novels before her untimely death in 1924, was also about a decent man. Jamie MacFarlane was an American war hero (of Scottish descent) who had been seriously wounded in the war and who had just spent the last two years of his life in a military hospital with wounds that would not heal. His spirits were deeply damaged, too, and the doctors treating him had given up on finding a way to help him. He overheard them talking about his case and deciding to send him to a sanitorium for the terminally ill. He decided to walk out of the hospital, since he is going to die anyway, because he would rather die out in nature than in the sanitorium. So he began his “great adventure.”
As he had made his way down the driveway from the hospital to the road, it had occurred to Jamie MacFarlane that for a man in his condition to walk out of the only shelter on earth to which he was entitled without a penny in his pockets was a Great Adventure.
The story is a poignant search for self and for meaning in the face of death, and in the process of that search, he also finds health and life. It’s a very human story, all about relationships and about the deepest questions we all face. It’s also a book that I’d describe as maybe a little “old-fashioned,” because there’s a bit of moralizing, a bit of preaching that were more common in stories written in the late 1800s/early 1900s. But I was so drawn to this kindly character, Jamie, and so immersed in Stratton-Porter’s beautiful descriptions of the natural world, that I couldn’t put it down. I just wanted so much for Jamie to get well and to find the happiness he so deserved.
A passage late in the novel details Gene Stratton-Porter’s intent in writing this story, and describes the decent man young Jamie MacFarlane became:
“To my way of thinking and working, the greatest service a piece of fiction can do any reader is to leave him with a higher ideal of life than he had when he began. If in one small degree it shows him where he can be a gentler, saner, cleaner, kindlier man, it is a wonder-working book. If it opens his eyes to one beauty in nature he never saw for himself and leads him one step toward the God of the Universe, it is a beneficial book, for one step into the miracle of nature leads to that long walk, the glories of which so strengthen even a boy who thinks he is dying, that he faces his struggle like a gladiator.”
I was saddened to hear the news today of the passing of Omar Sharif. As with any of these losses, a bit of my past goes, too. Dr. Zhivago was one of those books and movies that stay with you forever. I loved reading the book, by Boris Pasternak, as a teenager. Such an epic tale and passionate story of a man and a country! And I loved even more the movie by David Lean…a stunningly beautiful film. I always felt they were one of the best book/movie/music combinations ever! And, oh my, that beautiful and passionate actor with the most expressive eyes, Omar Sharif! He WAS Dr. Zhivago! In remembrance, I think I’ll watch David Lean’s movie again, and also see if I can find my old, well-worn copy of the book.
A few weeks ago I received an email from my beloved KCLS (King County Library System). They have started up a new program called “Book Match.” You fill out a short questionnaire about your reading interests, listing favorite books and authors. Then, a librarian reviews that information and hand picks some books you might enjoy, and sends you your own personalized reading recommendations!
Yesterday, I received the nicest email from librarian, Michelle, who told me she enjoyed putting my list together, named the list “Excellent Stories, Excellent Writers”, and hoped I would like the recommendations. I was thrilled with the list and with what felt like having my very own librarian! Here’s a screen shot of her recommendations. I’m going to enjoy reading these selections!