Monday, July 28, 2008

Speaking of Books . . .

C. S. Lewis once wrote: "If good stories are comments on life, good novels of fantasy are actual additions to life; they give, like certain rare dreams, sensastions we never had before, and enlarge our conception of the range of possible experience. Specimens of this kind will never be common. . . . Tolkein's "The Lord of the Rings," David Linday's "A Voyage to Arcturus," Melvyn Peake's "Titus Groan" -- and William Hope Hodgson's "The Night Land," from the unforgetable sombre splendour of the images it presents."

Based on this "recommendation," I read all of those above-mentioned books (and every book in each series, when one was more than a single volume), and I agree that they each have a special charm. EAch does, indeed, give sensations never experienced before. But, I would not recommend Lindsay or Peake to the casual reader. (Nor, truth be told, would the average reader appreciate Hodgson!!!) They are simply too far "out there." But, I *DO* recommend "The Night Land," even if it *is* hard to reach.

And thus we come to the purpose of this blog post: I have heretofor listed various and sundry other's people's "Best Of" book lists. I shall now present a VERY BRIEF list which I think of as my "C. S. Lewis Books-That-Changed-My-Life" list. I can and do heartily recommend each and every one. They are not all fiction; not all the fiction is fantasy; they are in no particular order; but each has touched me and changed my life. A day does not go by that I do not find myself thinking about a lesson I learned from one or more of them; certainly a month does not go by that I do not reflect on each of them. Perhaps I should post future blogs reviewing each book and explaining it's influence on me . . . .

In any event, here is my "Essentials" List:

C. S. Lewis -- The Screwtape Letters

The Book of Mormon

Ester Rasband -- Confronting the Myth of Self-Esteem

Stephen R. Covey -- The Divine Center

Dallin H. Oaks -- Pure in Heart

Agatha Christie writing as Mary Westmacott -- Absent in the Spring

Paul Dunn -- I challenge You/I Promise You

Richard Eyre -- The Discovery of Joy

Cheiko Okazaki -- Lighten Up!

William Hope Hodgson -- The Night Land

Madeleine L'Engle -- A Wrinkle in Time

Madelein L'Engle -- A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Ayn Rand -- Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand -- Anthem

J. R. R. Tolkein -- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

The list is not a complete list of my favorite books, for i have not included ANY of the "Dragon Riders of Pern" series, or any Harry Potter, or any of Elizabeth Kern's wonderful dragon trilogy . . . But they do not belong on this list. For, although I THOROUGHLY enjoyed them, and many of them were a "better read" than some of the titles in the above list, none of them made me a different person when I finished, and THAT is my criteria for this posting.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bookworms . . . Then, and Now

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. The Harry Potter Series JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare (well, maybe not absolutely EVERY work . . .)
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown - - - Nope. Not gonna. Seriously
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert -- In fact, read the ENTIRE DUNE SERIES!!!!
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce - - - (Didn't have to . . . I read Homer in the original Greek!)
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte's Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - read the COMPLETE WORKS, actually
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

So, let's see - - - on Today's List, I score 20.

Now, compare this with Eaton Press' list of the 100 Greatest Books Ever Written and see how you do:

1. A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe
2. A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man by James Joyce
3. A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens
4. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Twain
5. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by A. Conan Doyle
6. Aesop's Fables
7. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Carroll
8. Anna Karenina by Tolstoy
9. Billy Budd/Benito Cereno by Herman Melville
10. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
11. Candide by Voltaire
12. Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky
13. David Copperfield by Dickens
14. Don Quixote by Cervantes
15. Euripedes by Euripedes
16. Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
17. Faust by Goethe
18. Great Expectations by Dickens
19. Grimm's Fairy Tales by Grimm
20. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
22. The History of Early Rome by Livy
23. Ivanhoe by Walter Scott
24. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
25. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
26. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
27. Little Women by Alcott
28. Lord Jim by Conrad
29. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
30. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
31. Oedipus the King by Sophocles
32. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
33. On the Origin of Species by Darwin
34. Paradise Lost by John Milton
35. Plato Dialogues on Love and Friendship by Plato (in the original Greek, no less)
36. Poems of John Keats by Keats
37. Politics and Poetics by Aristotle
38. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
39. The Rights of Man by Paine
40. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
41. She Stoops To Conquer by Goldsmith
42. Short Stories by Oscar Wild
43. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Stevenson
44. Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Poe
45. The Federalist by Hamilton
46. The Aeneid by Virgil
47. The Alhambra by Washington Irving
48. The Analects of Confucius by Confucius
49. The Arabian Nights by Burton
50. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Franklin
51. The Birds and the Frogs by Aristophanes
52. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
53. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
54. The Comedies by Shakespeare
55. The Confessions of Jean by Jacques Rousseau
56. The Confessions of St. Augustine by Augustine
57. The Decameron by Boccaccio
58. The Descent of Man by Darwin
59. The Divine Comedy by Dante
60. The Essayes by Francis Bacon
61. The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson by Emerson
62. The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
63. The Histories by Shakespeare
64. The Iliad of Homer by Homer
65. The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling
66. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
67. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Stern
68. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
69. The Odyssey of Homer by Homer
70. The Oresteia by Aeschylus
71. The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
72. The Poems of John Donne by Donne
73. The Poems of Robert Browning by Browning (not all, but a goodly number of 'em)
74. The Poems of W.B. Yeats by Yeats
75. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
76. The Prince by Machiavelli
77. The Red and the Black by Stendhal
78. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
79. The Republic by Plato
80. The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
81. The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne
82. The Sea Wolf by Jack London
83. The Short Stories by Dickens
84. The Tales of Guy de Maupassant by De Maupassant
85. The Talisman by Scott
86. The Three Musketeers by Dumas
87. The Tragedies by Shakespeare
88. The Way of all Flesh by Butler
89. Three Plays by Henrik Ibsen
90. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
91. Treasure Island by Stevenson
92. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
93. Two Plays by Moliere
94. Two Plays for Puritans by George Bernard Shaw
95. Two Plays The Cherry Orchard/Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov
96. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
97. Vanity Faire by William Makepeace Thackeray
98. Walden by Thoreau
99. War and Peace by Tolstoy
100. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Of THIS 100, I score 25.

And then, there's the 100 Favorite Novels of Librarians - - - they should know a thing or three:

1. Pride and Prejudice by Austen
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee
3. Jane Eyre by Bronte
4. Gone with the Wind by Mitchell
5. Lord of the Rings by Tolkien

6. The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger
7. Little Women by Alcott
8. A Prayer of Owen Meany by Irving
9. The Stand by King
10. The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald
11. Mists of Avalon by Bradley
12. David Copperfield by Dickens
13. Kristen Lavransdotter by Undset
14. Beloved by Morrison
15. Age of Innocence by Wharton
16. The Shell Seekers by Pilcher
17. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Hardy
18. The World According to Garp by Irving
19. Catch 22 by Heller
20. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Auel
21. The Horse Whisperer by Evans
22. Pillars of the Earth by Follett
23. Prince of Tides by Conroy
24. Possession by Byatt
25. Rebecca by DuMaurier
26. Follow the River by Thom
27. My Antonia by Cather
28. The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway
29. The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne
30. Sophies Choice by Styron
31. Snow Falling on Cedars by Guterson
32. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez
33. Name of the Rose by Eco
34. The Giver by Lowry
35. Cold Mountain by Frazier
36. Cold Sassy Tree by Burns
37. Atlas Shrugged by Rand
38. Bridge to Terebithia by Paterson
39. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Tyler
40. The Hobbit by Tolkien
41. Les Miserables bt Hugo
42. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Lewis
43. Wuthering Heights by Bronte
44. A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens
45. Huckelberry Finn by Twain
46. Alice in Wonderland by Carroll
47. The Wind in the Willows by Grahame
48. The Bean Trees by Kingsolving
49. Ben Hur by Wallace
50. And Then There Were None by Christie
51. The Secret Garden by Burnett
52. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Taylor
53. Busman's Honeymoon by Sayers
54. Schindler's List by Keneally
55. Emma by Austen
56. The Color Purple by Walker
57. The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas
58. Charlotte's Web by White
59. Anne of Green Gables by Montgomery
60. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Wells
61. Lady Chatterly's Lover by Lawrence
62. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Smith
63. East of Eden by Steinbeck
64. The Once and Future King by White
65. Enders Game by Card
66. The Fountainhead by Rand
67. A Patchwork Planet by Tyler
68. Gaudy Night by Sayers
69. Shogun by Clavell
70. Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck
71. Handmaid's Tale by Atwood
72. Lonesome Dove by McMurtry
73. Outlander by Gabaldon
74. Pigs in Heaven by Kingsolver
75. Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut
76. Jude the Obscure by Hardy
77. Time and Again by Finney
78. Misery by King
79. A Christmas Carol by Dickens
80. The Accidental Tourist by Tyler
81. Giants of the Earth by Rolvaag
82. Persuasion by Austen
83. Fried Green Tomatoes by Flagg
84. Tisha by Specht
85. The Thornbirds by McCullough
86. Christy by Marshall
87. Lost Horizon by Hilton
88. The Little Princ by St. Exupery
89. Fahrenheight 451 by Bradbury
90. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway
91. Frankenstein by Shelley
92. Bleak House by Dickens
93. Boy's Life by McCammon
94. Chesapeake by Michener
95. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Adams
96. How Green Was My Valley by Llewellyn
97. Howard's End by Forster
98. I, Robot by Asimov
99. Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck
100. A Passage to India by Forster

(When *I* was a librarian in Jr. High, we pretty quickly figured out which were the best books!)
Let's see . . . of *those* I score only 17! $:-(

I've been searching for days for the 1975 BYU Honors Program List of Books Every Educated Person Should Read. That was my "Lifetime Goal List" as I graduated from College. Unfortunately, so far, I haven't managed to lay my hands on it. So, you'll have to tune in again later to see if I've come across it in my travels.

Well, I'm getting autosave failures, so I'm guessing this blog is already too long. So, I'd best post it while I can . . . . (Although I *really* wanted to do a comparison study of these 3 lists to see which books appear on each . . .)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Emergency Preparedness

I know, *EVERYBODY* and their small dog is harping about preparedness, thanks to the Gap Fire! (Thank you, Santa Barbara Independent, for this STUNNING photo!!!)

Sometimes, it takes a real emergency to get our attention and focus us on what really matters. So, I hope you will bear with me as I reminisce for a moment.

As I sat here alone last Wednesday, waiting for Derrin to return from Florida, and watching the flames creep ever closer, I began considering what I would grab should I have to evacuate - - - a very real possibility.

Of course, living creatures first, and I thanked God that all I had to worry about THIS time around was cats; with the Painted Cave fire, we had small children as well.

Then, grab the computers!! If we lose them, we're sunk.

After that, it used to be a toss-up: do we grab all the handwork I have spent my life creating, or do we first grab the family history and journals? With several people at home, that's not an issue, because everyone can be sent to collect some of each. When it's just me . . . .

And then I realized that things are different now than they were 20 years ago.

I have spent the last 20 years (well, 15 at least!) transferring all our genealogical data to . . . COMPUTER!!!! Including scanning in all the proof documents and precious family photos I could get my hands on.

I'd *rather* have the originals. But, as long as I had the computers, I had the genealogy. And all the pictures of Baby Hyrum. And a good piece of our music collection.

As an added bonus, when Derrin got home he reminded me that we also had off-site backup for everything. So, should the worst happen, (which, Praise God, it didn't!) our most important files are being preserved elsewhere.

What a wonderful day we live in! Computers allow us to access information of all kinds at the touch of a button (or click of a mouse); the gospel has been restored to give purpose and meaning to our lives and to allow us the opportunity to bless our kindred dead; with cell phones and blackberries we can keep in touch with worried relatives, wherever they may be, and get virtually instantaneous fire updates to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

Now, as the fire moves away from us, let us not forgot to offer prayers of thanks as earnest as were our prayers for protection last week. And let us remember to GET that "Emergency Evacuation Closet" (that we TALKED about 20 years ago - - - with the list of "What to Grab First" on the door) FINALLY pulled together, so we won't have to go running around the house grabbing stuff next time we have an emergency. And, let's make it a higher priority to get the rest of our family history digitized, with a copy someplace else, so that if our house burns down while we're out of town, we won't have lost the work of a lifetime.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

For the second year in a row, I have had the honor of riding in the Santa Barbara "Spirit of 76" 4th of July Parade down State Street representing the Mission Canyon Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Last year, we rode in a horse-drawn "school wagon." This year, we were hoping to have 2 decorated convertibles loaded with Daughters, with several younger girls walking ahead of the cars carrying our big banner . . . but it didn't work out quite that way. On the other hand, last year it cost each participant $40; this year we didn't wind up spending much of anything on what we DID have, and folks who came were very enthusiastic, so it turned out very well indeed.

I thought I had about 10 folks who were going to participate, until the Gap Fire hit Goleta, and suddenly folks didn't dare leave their houses because of the poor air quality, or because they weren't sure they'd be able to get back home again if they came down to be in the parade, or because they had already evacuated! But, my #2 Vice Regent had a daughter, and a granddaughter, and a son-in-law with his own convertible who was willing to let us use it, and my dear friend, Marie-Louise, pointed me in the direction of a lovely woman who wanted to be in it with us, so in the end we had one classic car full of Daughters, and enough decorations to make a good presentation.

Last year, we felt quite honored to be placed #6 in line; this year, we were #4!! But, I think 2 of the first 4 entries never showed, because we never saw anybody in front of us except some folks dressed in Revolutionary War costumes!!! What a fabulous (in my *humble* opinion!!) way to kick off an Independence Day parade!!! Dig out the Costumes, remind folks of the origin of the celebration, then show off some of the descendants of those who gave their lives to make it possible. Then, go ahead and show off the High School Marching Bands and the military helicopter and stuff . . .

The little 6-year-old girl sitting on the back of the car was a HUGE HIT! AT first, it was hot, and she wasn't having much fun. But, when she saw her Great-Grandmother had come up to see her in the parade, and then started noticing some of her school friends in the crowd, she became a LOT more animated, and was smiling and waving to everyone, which really got the crowd cheering back for her! I'm hoping we'll get a pic in the DAR newsletter saying "3 generations in 1 car represent the Mission Canyon Chapter"

And everyone was SO CLOSE you could really talk to them! It's really amazing how "up close and personal" this parade is - - - more so than any other parade I've ever been in, and more so in the small car than last year in the school wagon. I was thanking one of the officers who was directing traffic, and he wandered over to the car and said, "I'm of German extraction, but my Wife has revolutionary war ancestry. Boy, I can hardly WAIT for my daughter to join you guys!"
It's a wonderful feeling, driving down a flag-lined street, with hundreds of people lining both sides of the road, many of them families with small children, lots of people waving flags, sharing greetings of "Happy Independence Day" or "Happy 4th of July!" To see the parents tell their little children that OUR great-grandfathers fought with Washington gives me hope that something of our noble heritage will be passed on to the next generation.

And that's what the DAR and celebrations like Memorial Day and the 4th of July are all about.