Libri

I read books.

BEARTOWN

I have no interest in ice hockey. However, this book is good, mainly because the writer, Fredrik Backman, has a wonderful way with words, and there are universal themes throughout the story.  Here are some of my favorites:

HOPE

…Places like this always have to pin their hopes for the future on young people. They’re the only ones who don’t remember that things actually used to be better. That can be a blessing. (4)

COST

This sport demands only one thing from you.  Your all. (8)

[David] didn’t have any friends, which is why he was able to devote all his time to hockey. He never bothered to acquire any other interests, which is how he’s managed to become the best. (38)

David doesn’t even know what “enjoyable hockey” is, he only knows one sort of hockey that isn’t enjoyable–the one where the opposing team scores more points…He’s uncompromising: he knows that isn’t going to make him any friends, but he doesn’t care. Do you want to be liked? It’s easy: just get yourself to the top of the podium. (39)

It’s only a game. It only resolves tiny, insignificant things. Such as who gets validation. Who gets listened to. It allocates power and draws boundaries and turns some people into stars and others into spectators. That’s all. (53)

GRATITUDE

His mom always says they must be grateful, the pair of them and he understands her. No one is more grateful than her, toward this country, this town, these people, and this club, toward the council, their neighbors, her employer. Grateful, grateful, grateful. That’s the role of mothers. But the role of children is to dream. So her son dreams that his mother will one day be able to walk into a room without having to apologize. (21)

WORK

–Please, Kira, I’ve got a meeting! If I’m late…” –“Absolutely, darling. Absolutely. If I get to work late an innocent person might end up in prison. Sorry, I interrupted you. Tellme more about what happens if you’re late?” (22)

PARENTING

Not a second has passed since she had children without her feeling like a bad mother. For everything. For not understanding, for being impatient, for not knowing everything, not making better packed lunches, for still wanting more out of life than just being a mother. (63)

Her work may be demanding and tough, but it’s straightforward and logical. and being a parent is never like that. If she does everything right at work, things usually go as planned, but it doesn’t matter if she does absolutely everything in the universe correctly as a mother: the very worst can still happen. (63)

Kira remembers every inch of the descent into darkness. The greatest terror of every parent, waking up and listening out for small breaths. And every night you feel so foolish when you hear them, as usual, for worrying about nothing. “How did I become someone like this?” you think. You promise yourself that you’ll relax, because of course you know that nothing’s going to happen. But the following night you still lie there wide awake, staring up at the ceiling and shaking your head, until you tell yourself,” Just tonight, then.” And you creep out of bed and put your palms to your children’s little chests to feel them rising and falling. And then one night one of them falls and doesn’t rise again as strongly. (68)

If they hadn’t had Maya, would they have bene able to go on living? How does anyone do that? …Then Leo came along. They were happy, or at least as happy as a family can be when it’s burdened by a grief too large to be absorbed by time. (68)

Her little Benjamin, the fighter with whom it’s far too easy for the girls of Beartown to fall in love. The boy with the most handsome face, the saddest eyes, and the wildest heart they’ve ever seen. His mom knows, because she married a man who looked just the same, and nothing but trouble lies ahead for men like that. (40)

A simple truth, repeated as often as it is ignored, is that if you tell a child it can do absolutely anything, or that it can’t do anything at all, you will in all likelihood be proven right. (79)

Being a parent makes you feel like a blanket that’s always too small. No matter how hard you try to cover everyone, there’s always someone who’s freezing. (110)

When the kids were little she saw so many other parents lose control in the stands at the rink, and she couldn’t understand them, but now she does. …Their significance eats its way even into adult brains. They start to symbolize other things, compensating for or reinforcing the parents’ own failures. (110)

But Kevin’s mother will always remember what she sees through the rear window that Saturday, and how her son looks as he stands in the parking lot. On the biggest day of his life he is the loneliest boy on earth. (117)

Everyone has a thousand wishes before a tragedy, but just one afterward. (185)

Kira and Peter felt a terrible, lacerating guilt every time they laughed. Shame can still catch them when they feel happy, making them wonder if it’s a betrayal of their child that they didn’t disintegrate entirely when he left them. (185)

…after a funeral, how to put the pieces of a family back together again, how to live with the jagged edges. So what do you end up asking for? You ask for a good day. One single good day. A few hours of amnesia. (185)

{When they lost their baby} They wanted an enemy. Now they’ve got one. And now they don’t know if they ought to sit next to their daughter or hunt down the person who harmed her, if they ought to help her live or see to it that he dies. Unless they’re the same thing. Hate is so much easier than its opposite.

Every child in every town in every country has at some point played games that are dangerous to the point of being lethal. Every gang of friends includes someone who always takes things too far, who is the first to jump from the highest rock, the last to jump across the rails when the train comes. That child isn’t the bravest, just the least frightened. And possibly the one who feels he or she doesn’t have as much to lose as the others. (275)

“I know you’d have killed for me, Mom. I know you’d have given your life for me. But we’re going to get through this, you and me. Because I’m your daughter I’ve got wolf’s blood. ” (323)

The love a parent feels for a child is strange. There is a starting point to our love for everyone else, but not this person. This one we have always loved, we loved them before they existed. No matter how well prepared they are, all moms and dads experience a moment of total shock, when the tidal wave of feelings first washes through them, knocking them off their feet. It’s incomprehensible because there’s nothing to compare it to. …It send the soul flying. (357)

AGE

There are two things that are particularly good at remind us how old we are: children and sports. (37)

WINNING

“Don’t pay any attention to what people say, Benji. They’ll like us well enough when we start winning.” (40)

We love winners, even though they’re very rarely particularly likeable people. They’re almost always obsessive and selfish and inconsiderate. That doesn’t matter. We forgive them. We like them while they’re winning.

Adrenaline does strange things, especially when it leaves you. When he was a player, Peter kept getting told how important it was to “control your adrenaline” but he never understood that. For him, his complete, unquestioned focus and concentration out on the ice, his ability to live absolutely in the moment, came quite naturally. It was only when he had to watch the game from the stands for the first time that he realized how close adrenaline is to panic. What rouses the body to battle and achievement are the same instincts that instill mortal dread in the brain. (148)

TEAM

They weren’t old enough to know their multiplication tables, but they knew that a team didn’t mean anything if you couldn’t depend on each other. That’s both a big and a small thing. Knowing that there are people who will never abandon you. (50)

SIGNIFICANCE

Sune has never told Peter he loves him. It can be just as hard for father figures to say that as it is for real fathers. But he knows how afraid Peter is of disappointing everyone. All men have different fears that drive the, and Peter’s biggest one is that he isn’t good enough. Not good enough as a dad, not good enough as a man, and not good enough as GM. (94)

Benji always sought out the strongest physical sensations because they displaced other feelings. Adrenaline and the taste of blood in his mouth and throbbing pain all over his body became a pleasant buzz in his head. He liked scaring himself, because when you’re scared you can’t think of anything else. He’s never cut his own skin, but he understands those who do…Because sometimes, when it seriously hurts on the outside, it hurts a little bit less in other places. (275-276)

Ana is standing naked in front of the mirror in her room, counting. She’s always been good at that. Top grades in math all her life. When she was little she used to count everything…mostly she just counted faults. She would stand in front of the mirror and point at them: all the things that were wrong about he. Sometimes that made it feel more bearable, when she had already said them out loud to herself before anyone at school did. (315)

–“Do you think I’m less of a man because I can’t fight,” he whispers? –“Do you think I’m less of a woman because I can?” she asks.

When a child learns to hunt, they are taught that the forest contains two different sorts of animal: predators and prey. The predators have their eyes close together, facing the front, because they only need to focus on their prey. Their prey, on the other hand, have their eyes wide apart, on either side of the head, because their only chance of survival is if they can see predators approaching from behind. When Ana and Maya were little they used to spend hours in front of the mirror trying to work out which of them they were.

COMMUNITY

A door opens. A voice calls out to her””Would you like to come over for coffee?”…Difficult questions, simple answers. What is a community? It is the sum total of our choices. (312)

 

 

 

 

 

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The Hunger Games

Most compelling thing I’ve read in a long time…made me shiver to think about how controlling our government is becoming. In the style of the city-states of the Roman Empire, each district owes its allegiance to the Capitol, whose cruel totalitarian control is climaxed each year in the “Hunger Games”, where young representatives from each district are pitted against one another to the death. And the winner? Well, that is the story for Book Two in this fast-reading trilogy. Cheer for the human spirit as the young heroine, Katniss Everdeen struggles to maintain her dignity and her sense of humanity when faced with unspeakable circumstances. Don’t start reading until you have time to read all three books, because you will. Highly recommended!

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Books Last Year’s Club Members Recommended

The Biographer’s Tale
Eat, Pray, Love
The Secret Life of Bees
Outlive Your Life
Bel Cantu
The Namesake
Ahab’s Wife
Tea Rose
Deep Dish
Fast Food Nation
Raney
Life at the Bottom
Seven Layers of Organization
Daughter of Fortune
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Animal Dreams (Barbara Kingsolver)

I love Barbara Kingsolver’s ability to craft an image with words – this is one of my favorite of her books! While it has a political theme (as usual) – this time the U.S. is on the wrong side of the rebellion in Nicaragua – she still captivated me with her believable characters. Codi and Hallie are sisters from Grace, Arizona (fictional), reared by a widowed father who is caring but distant. When Codi has to return to her hometown to care for her ailing father, she confronts all her fears and insecurities that she had been running from her whole life. This small town life was very familiar to me, and I empathized deeply with Codi’s struggles to deal with the past. I loved her passionate relationship with her sister – their letter-writing was especially sweet. I also found the native American insights intriguing, and really liked Loyd (with one “l”).

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ( Steig Larsson)

Suspend your literary taste and just read this one for the plot. That was my reading strategy on this morbid thriller that started as a missing person investigation and turned unexpectedly dark about halfway through the book. This was not a book I would have chosen had I known the content, yet I found myself unable to put it down once I had started; I had to know how it would resolve!

I was particularly interested in the strange woman-child, Salander. I felt genuinely sad for her twisted little life. On p. 589 she is described  this way:
“She had no faith in herself. Blomkvist lived in a world populated by people with respectable jobs, people with orderly lives, and lots of grown-up points. His friends did things, went on TV, and shaped the headlines. What do you need me for? Salander’s greatest fear, which was so huge and so black that is was of phobic proportions, was that people would laugh at her feelings. And all of a sudden all her carefully constructed self-confidence seemed to crumble.

That’s when she made up her mind. It took her several hours to mobilise the necessary courage, but she had to see him and tell him how she felt. Anything else would be unbearable. ”

I won’t spoil it for those of you that haven’t read that far  yet, but suffice it to say it does NOT go well for her when she makes herself vulnerable to Blomkvist. I felt so sorry for her!!

Speaking of sympathy, none for that sick psychopathic killer. How does an author think this stuff up?? And this book won’t do anything to promote Swedish tourism! Usually when I read a book set in a foreign locale, it makes me yearn to visit there. Nothing about this country appealed to me, honestly.

Finally, I was struck through the novel with the stark absence of any spiritual life with any character in the book.

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The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)

Reading this one for the second time…this book should be required reading for anyone who plans on doing foreign missions. Written by master storyteller Barbara Kingsolver, she wields a heavy handed-critique of Christians in general, and in particular those who plan to import their prejudices and preconceived ideas into another culture. She alternates points of view between the mother and her four daughters who are dragged to the Congo by The Preacher, who is trying to assauge his guilt for surviving VIetnam by devoting his life to missions.

Recommended, but watch for Kingsolver’s bias toward American capitalism and her affinity for communism.  She also feels called to correct “official history” with her literary offerings…but I can’t help but feel that she is equally biased. Is there such thing as an objective account? This viewpoint is even more prevalent in her latest novel, The Lacuna (this according to my eldest daughter, who is currently reading it.) I think I will probably skip it.

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Wuthering Heights

I am realizing as I look at my copy of WH, that some of the quotes I marked are also noted in the front of the book…Perhaps I could have saved some time and just read the end flap. ha

Anyway, I liked the quote in Ch. XIV, where Heathcliff says to Isabella, ” I was a fool to fancy for a moment that she valued Edgar Linton’s attachment more than mine. If he loved with all the powers of his puny being, he couldn’t love as much in eighty years as I could in a day. And Catherine has a heart as deep as I have: the sea could be as readily contained in that horse trough as her whole affection could be monopolised by him. Tush! He is scarcely a degree dearer to her than her dog, or her horse. It is not in him to be loved like me: how can she love in him what he has not?”
I am wondering with you what exactlyl his worldview tells him that LOVE is, and how he fancies that he is so great at it.
Have you seen a movie of this book? I remember one with Timothy Dalton that came out when I was in high school, and I remember liking it. But I can’t imagine why I would have! Maybe I need to watch again. I just think that if Heathcliff is portrayed as he is in the book, he is one scary boyfriend.

Another of my favorite rants is Heathcliff describing his relationship with Isabella, where he declares that it was a “positive labour of Hercules” to make her hate him, because she continues to function under the “delusion…of me as a hero of romance.” I particularly like his use of the word “perspicacity.”

Not my favorite, by a long shot, but still…I am proud to put it on my list of books I have read.

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I read.

I read. I plot and plan time to read. I read when I should work. The purpose of this blog is to keep a record of what I read.

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