Appreciation, Books, Christianity, Creativity, Reading, Writing

“Company” During Covid-19

“My health fails; my spirits droop, yet God remains! He is the strength of my heart; He is mine forever!” (Psalms 73:26)

The library books I brought home from work have long been read…in one case, many times over (and I wish I had brought home the sequels ) so I’ve been resorting to re-reading beloved favorites…as well as perusing some of the short stories and even a couple of novels assigned for class. It’s been a hodge-podge but it’s been keeping me company. So I thought I’d share some of what I’ve been reading.

First of all, for class, we’ve been assigned To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This classic is one that I have overlooked over the years; reading it as an assignment is the first time I’ve ever picked it up. There’s a reason it’s such a classic. It’s a deep and riveting story, and all of the characters are finely-drawn, easy to “see” as they move about their lives upon the pages. Our theme this course is “loss of innocence”. Scout definitely loses hers but, also, her father, Atticus, loses his a bit, too. Again, riveting story and, if you haven’t read this classic either, I definitely don’t want to give anymore away.

We also have a short story compilation that we’ve been reading through. I just re-read Donald Barthelme’s “The School,” which is a bit bizarre, especially at the end, but you don’t ever really forget it. Last week it was “The Communist” by Richard Ford, and the week before, “Tony’s Story” by Leslie Marmon Silko. I’m finding that, so far, I have enjoyed the latter the best. According to Wikipedia (which is not always the most reliable source), Leslie Marmon Silko is of both Native American and Mexican American heritage. Though I have only read this one story so far, I am tempted to read more once I can get my hands on them. She writes a lot, or so I have read via the web, of the prejudices against both Native Americans and Mexican Americans, with a little bit of Native American spiritualism mixed in. She does it tastefully, but is also painfully honest about the racism that confronts both peoples. So far, all of them have been stories that make you think…which, as they are classroom assignments, is what they’re supposed to do. However, I might add, were it not for the fact that they’re assigned readings, like To Kill A Mockingbird, I might never have read them on my own; they’re not exactly the genre I typically look for. I would’ve missed out on some decent stories.

As for some beloved favorites, I’m re-reading Christy by Catherine Marshall. I plowed through the “Twitches” series by H. B. Gilmour and Randi Reisfeld a few weeks’ ago. And Those Miller Girls by Alberta Wilson Constant. I’ve plowed through the Stephanie Tolan series: Surviving the Applewhites, The Applewhites at Wit’s End, and now The Applewhites from Coast to Coast. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who reads more than one book at a time…). This last one I’m not so sure I like as much as the first two. Ms. Tolan wrote this last with her son and the characters’ personalities seem to have changed just a little bit. “Jake” suddenly goes from being this rather troubled teen who is really a decent guy at heart, to being the “bad boy” again, easily swayed and forgetting all of the lessons he learned in the previous books. And “E.D.” suddenly allows herself to be made over, sending a message that, if I had a Young Adult daughter reading this series, I’m not so sure I would like them reading this and thinking that they have to become something they’re not, that they cannot be themselves and still be liked, still succeed.

Out of the books I brought home from work, my favorite has definitely been Magyk by Angie Sage. This is the first in the Septimus Heap series. While the reviews I’ve read have likened it to Harry Potter (and I can see the reasons why with only this first book; mischievous older twin brothers, overly-ambitious older brother who turns against the family for a while before finally coming to his senses, etc.), it can stand on its own. I can’t help wondering, too, if Angie Sage wasn’t also influenced by Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I see a lot of Hannah Tupper in Aunt Zelda, living in her little cottage by the swamp with her cats and her goats.

And, as I type this, I wonder if people will see similar influences in my work once my novel is finished.

May God bless you & keep you!

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