American Elephants


Book notes: What do you read over and over? by The Elephant's Child
April 8, 2009, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Freedom, History, Humor, Literature | Tags: , ,

How could I resist a picture that combines a yellow lab with a book?  I want to talk about books and reading.  In particular, about the kind of book that you get lost in; and the kind of book that you want to read and re-read, over and over.  Those are fairly rare.

There are, of course, thrillers that you cannot put down, speeding through the pages to learn how it turns out.  They can be absorbing and fun, but once you have found out what happens, it is spoiled for a second reading, for the suspense is all that was there. Thrillers often are inflicted with wooden characters, improbable situations and are acceptable only because the author manages his plot and suspense well.

What have you ever read that has it all?  Fully developed characters, fascinating detail, believable situations, and you want to read them over and over.

There are the books that are “should” books, those that conventional wisdom says you should have read.  Many of them you probably read in high school: The Scarlet Letter, Hamlet, Macbeth, Red Badge of Courage and 1984, for example.  And there are lots that you should read to appreciate milestones in literature and the influence that literature has had on people through the ages. But, assuming you went on to become an adult reader, are those books the ones that gave you the most pleasure?

My favorites are Patrick O’Brien’s series of the Royal Navy adventures of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin.  There are 20 books in the series, and I have read them all over and over.  The characters are clearly defined in the first chapter of the first book, and you are hooked. The books are dense with science and action right out of the pages of  the real captain’s logs of the Royal Navy in the early 19th century. I have read them all at least 7 or 8 times.  I loved the movie of Master adn Commander as well, though the movie combines episodes from several books.

Then there is Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, a story of a classical hero in the age of the Renissance, a series of 5 books, beginning with  The Game of Kings. I also like Anton Myrer’s Once an Eagle, and The Last Convertible, which each stand alone.  And currently, I am enjoying Alan Furst’s atmospheric stories of Europe as the shadow of World War II descends.

There are many books that I admire, that I would recommend to anyone; but not so many that I read over and over.  Do you have any that you return to again and again?



Daniel Hannan warns us about universal health care. by The Elephant's Child
April 8, 2009, 6:09 pm
Filed under: Freedom, History, Socialism, United Kingdom | Tags: , , ,

(h/t Bookworm Room)




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