Half Broke Horses – Book Review

I’m sure you remember this:

I mentioned some weeks ago that I’d joined Big Mama’s virtual Book Club and that we’re reading Jeannette Walls’ “Half Broke Horses”. Well, today’s the day and we’re going to talk about it. If you’d like to read any other opinions than mine (and I’m sure you do) head over to Big Mama

First off. I have to admit that I would never have chosen the book myself. It’s not the book I’d normally read. I’m more a Penguin Classics reader.

BUT, I really enjoyed reading the book and I’m considering getting myself a copy of “The Glass Castle”. Back to “Half Broke Horses”. It’s kind of a memoir of Jeannette’s grandmother, but written from the perspective of said grandmother. That makes it really vivid to read. On the other hand it reminded me of a “western story”. No offense ment, it was just what kept coming into my mind.

Among my favorite passages were the following:

  • p. 6, after the flash flood when Lily and her siblings come back and her mother praises that they were saved by an angel and Lily opposes this imagination her dad says: “Well darling, maybe that angel was you.”
    I loved this one, because the imagination of an angel is so opposite of Lily’s whole character and attitude.
  • p. 46, Lily is sent to a boarding school and she listens to all the other girls complaining about how “hard” life is at the school, while Lily says that “life at the academy felt like one long vacation.”
  • p. 51, because her father isn’t able to pay for her school any more Lily has to go back home after just one year and she’s devastated, but Mother Albertina says to her: “When God closes a window, he opens a door. But it’s up to you to find it.”
    That’s so true. There are always other chances and possibilities, but we won’t find them when we sit at home complaining. I think I’m going to make this my new mantra…
  • p. 201, after learning to drive a car, Lily also wants to learn how to fly an airplane. So, one time they come by an airplane and Lily asks the pilot to teach her. He makes fun of her at first, calling her “little lady”, but in the end with her tough attitude she convinces him to take her flying.
    Lily was never a person to give up. She fought hard for everything, but she also achieved all the goals she had set herself!

If you’re looking for a good read it sure is and you have my recommendation. I don’t know if I’ll take part in the next reading, if there is one, but I really enjoyed this one.

Now head over to Big Mama and give your opinion…

Big Mama’s book club

Last week I came across Big Mama’s announcement that she’d host a book club. After looking at the book she had chosen to read I jumped the bandwagon and got myself a copy of Jeannette Walls’ “Half Broke Horses”.

This is what Publishers Weekly tells us about the book:

For the first 10 years of her life, Lily Casey Smith, the narrator of this true-life novel by her granddaughter, Walls, lived in a dirt dugout in west Texas. Walls, whose megaselling memoir, The Glass Castle, recalled her own upbringing, writes in what she recalls as Lily’s plainspoken voice, whose recital provides plenty of drama and suspense as she ricochets from one challenge to another. Having been educated in fits and starts because of her parents’ penury, Lily becomes a teacher at age 15 in a remote frontier town she reaches after a solo 28-day ride. Marriage to a bigamist almost saps her spirit, but later she weds a rancher with whom she shares two children and a strain of plucky resilience. (They sell bootleg liquor during Prohibition, hiding the bottles under a baby’s crib.) Lily is a spirited heroine, fiercely outspoken against hypocrisy and prejudice, a rodeo rider and fearless breaker of horses, and a ruthless poker player. Assailed by flash floods, tornados and droughts, Lily never gets far from hardscrabble drudgery in several states—New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois—but hers is one of those heartwarming stories about indomitable women that will always find an audience.

In case you’re interested there are a few “rules” or rather guidelines:

  1. Go get a copy of the book.
  2. Read the book.
  3. On Thursday, February 17th, Big Mama will write a post with her thoughts on the book and some discussion questions. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to leave your thoughts, comments, insights, etc. in the comment section on her blog.
  4. We can respond to each others thoughts and to the discussion questions.

I’ve already ordered my copy and started reading the first few pages. It’s pretty interesting. So, just you know what I’ll be doing until February 17, just in case I stop blogging until then 😉


Leaves are falling…

While I was packing and unpacking all my boxes from the move I also came across some of the books I’ve been reading more or less recently. As I tried to put them into order, I decided to re-read some of the books. A great decision, with the weather turning from sunny late-summer to rainy early-fall. As I consider all of these books great reads, I thought I’d share them with you and invite you to read the one or the other… So, here’s the list of what I’ll be reading this fall:

  • Oscar Wilde: The picture of Dorian Gray. A classic. I don’t know what I love more, the story or the style…
  • Nick Hornby: High Fidelity. Also a classic. Makes me laugh.
  • Nick Hornby: A long way down. Could be considered a rather depressing book, but the end is just great!
  • Arundhati Roy: The God of small Things. I struggled through this book for a long time until I began enjoying it. But it’s just like the bollywood movies: vivid and full of colors…
  • Sue Townsend: The Queen and I. Do you like the British Royal Family? This book is about them and it’s just a great read. Really funny!
  • Yann Martel: The life of Pi. You’ll love it!
  • Zadie Smith: The Autograph Man. I didn’t enjoy it the first time I read it, but it’s also a good read. Very critical, but also entertaining.
  • Zadie Smith: White Teeth. Probably inspired by Smith’s background story, but also a good read.
  • Zadie Smith: On Beauty. Deeply critical, but very vivid on the description of everyday life.
  • Alan Hollinghurst: The line of beauty

A clockwork orange

I don’t know if you read “A clockwork orange” in school or college or happened to watch the movie. I came across the book some years ago during a search for movies. My boyfriend recommended the movie, obviously not for its entertainment, but because of the fact that I like “educational” movies and stuff.

We didn’t get to watch the movie back then. Don’t ask me why, but we didn’t. However, the title stuck in my head and when I read it on the TIME 100 Books of a lifetime list I immediately added it. (You might recall that post).

So, for Easter, my mom got me some books. That’s like a tradition. We get small stuff, like books or a CD for Easter, instead of the tons of chocolate eggs… And one of the books was “A clockwork orange”.

It’s been a good and a really quick read. Well, with 147 pages the book isn’t that big, of course. I have to say that I’d definitely put it on the X-rated list. No fears! I won’t put any of this content here!

First of all, the language used is clearly street languages containing a lot of insults. Then, it’s the plot. It’s about a boy of 16 (at the beginning of the story) who is involved in all kinds of criminal acts. One day he’s arrested by the police and sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. After having spent 2 years there he gets the chance to get free again by taking part in a “correction programme”.  Of course, he takes part and is turned into a “rightful” citizen within 14 days. He will become sick whenever thinking or seeing any kind of criminal act and violence. Even the thought of killing a fly makes him highly sick. However, the techinques applied to make him “good” again are debatable.

He’s released back into life, but finds himself harrased by victims from earlier times and even his parents won’t accept him back. In the end he’s found by a group of people who fight against this project. They drive him to try to commit suicide so they can proove that the project doesn’t make people good, but drives them insane.

In the end he’s cured from this “being good” and tries to become the “bad villain” he was before, but finally turns good all by his own will, because he realizes that crime and violence cannot be accepted.

If you liked Orwell’s 1984 then this book would be right to read. It’s not entertaining or a Sunday read in any way, but it’s socially very critical and it gets you to think a bit, about crime, violence and how to “cure” such things or what can be socially acceptable.

Me and Mr. Darcy

I found this book some time ago, when I was browsing my favourite bookstore. I hadn’t been looking for anything specific, but as always I could have bought the whole bookstore… That’s why it’s my favourite store. However, I decided only to spend my money on two books this time, the Jamie Oliver cookbook and this one: Me and Mr. Darcy, by Alexandra Potter.

Me and Mr. Darcy is a nice story to spend reading huddled against the fireplace. It’s the story about Emily Albright, a 29-year old girl from New York who spends her Christmas Holidays on a literary vacation in England – the home of Jane Austen.

On her journey around all the historical sites where Jane Austen’s novels take place she happens to meet the real Mr. Darcy from the books. At first, Emily thinks he’s an actor who perfectly plays his role, but slowly it turns out, that he really is Mr. Darcy.

And then there is Spike Hargreaves, a journalist who accompanies the group to write an article about what is so special about Mr. Darcy. He’s the total opposite of the character he’s researching about, but seems to be drawn towards Emily, too.

Having been disappointed a lot by men in the past Emily yearns for her Mr. Darcy. But whom should she choose – the fictional or the real one?!

If you like Jane Austen, than you’ll like this book, too. It’s a quick read, nothing deep, but helplessly romantic and it has really funny elements. Alexandra Potter even cites from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and combines the elements of the novel with the plot…

No. 45 – Read 25 books off the Time Top 100 List

This is going to be a harder goal than I thought. At least, if I won’t cheat… Yes, looking at the TIME Top 100 List of Books, I realised that I have already read half of them. This is good, because it means that I have already read a lot of good books, but it also means that I’ll have less to chose from…

Never mind here’s my current selection of the books I’m planning to read:

  1. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  2. Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
  3. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  4. A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell
  5. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  6. Go tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
  7. Gone with the wind by Margaret Mitchell
  8. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
  9. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
  10. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  11. Light in August by William Faulkner
  12. Loving by Henry Green
  13. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  14. Money by Martin Amis
  15. Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
  16. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  17. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  18. Play it as it lays by Joan Didion
  19. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
  20. The Sportswriter by Richard Ford
  21. The Sun also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  22. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
  23. Their eyes were watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  24. White Noise by Don DeLillo
  25. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

No. 29 of 101 – Read the bible through once

I thought about putting this off for, at least, the next few months, but then I was afraid I’d never end up reading one single page of the bible and I got really afraid, that I wouldn’t be able to make my 101 in 1001. Yeah, I’m really ambitious, about achieving as much as possible. Of course, there are some points that are clearly more like “failed”, but still.

I’ve never been a religious person. To be honest, God and I got a really bad start. I’d been pretty neutral concerning religion until I got to High School. I wasn’t that eager on going to church, but eventually I’d go with my grandparents and for the high religious holidays. Then, when I got to 7th grade I had this really old teacher in Religious Education. We had to learn all kinds of prayers in Latin and this would be tested in exams. It was like hell and after one year I quit and went to Philosophy instead. So that was that.

When I got to university I met my boyfriend who is the total opposite of me. All of his family are actively involved in their church community and that was the first time in years that I started to really think about what it means to believe in God and live after his rules. So I decided that I’d try to work out where I was standing and would start by reading the Bible.

For a start I decided to go to the bookstore (my favourite one) and get myself a copy. So I went to the store and straight to their “religion and spiritual books” section looking at the bibles they were offering. Huh – nothing that looked like it was worth reading. All the books were really intimidating, huge books with hardcovers and all kinds of religious symbols on their covers. I was really taken aback and left.

However, it kept me pondering for quite a few days, so I searched the internet. There is loads, I’ve got to say! Not a chance to get an overview of what’s offered and what’s good. If you enter bible into Google it says 96,500,000 hits – great. The US Amazon store offers ofer 220,000 hits and the German site still 34,000.

I searched for a bible study group in my local church, but didn’t find any information. And then, I didn’t want to read the bible in German (yeah, like I said once I sometimes feel more comfortable doing things in English).

And the luck hit me – it was pure chance that I klicked on the “What I’m reading” button on Angelia’s blog. I hadn’t been there for a long time and there it hit me: Book No. 1 she’s reading is the Bible – The Message Version. Sounded cool. So I researched a bit about what it was with this “Message Version”. Actually it’s just a bible, as you might say, but it’s been adapted and has introductions to every chapter in today’s language. That sounds good, doesn’t it?! And even better, I found “The Message – Remix 2.0”. Right, that sounds more like a book on a computer program what with the 2.0, but actually it’s a bible for young people. That convinced me. I went straight to Amazon and ordered a copy (the last of three available in Germany…) and just today it arrived. So here’s my super new message bible:

Yes, you’re seeing correctly it’s a wonderful girlie pink! So, wouldn’t you like to read the bible when it’s coming in this outfit?!