About twelve years ago I came to the conclusion that regardless of my master’s degree in Education. I was still woefully uneducated. To become more educated and therefore wiser – wisdom was key – I decided to read the classics.
I began with the Barnes & Noble Classics book club for my basics and then veered off into reading lists, suggestions from friends, and reviews of AnyStories.I’m pleased to say that this decision was on point and has given me years of enjoyment.
I’m not an English Literature professional and I certainly still have much to learn, but that is the incredible part of this avocation; it is never over and there are absolutely no boundaries. I don’t read the classics only; I read good modern fiction, biographies, and bestsellers too. However, if it is a bestseller about somebody’s “keeper” or a “women’s detective agency” or some “memory/journey/society,” I’m apt to pass.
The absolute best for me is to come across an obscure classic, usually one that’s out of print, and find that it has been waiting for me to discover it, devour it, and love it. I know, I sound as if I don’t get out much, but you can’t help what you like; room for squares, right?
So I would like to find a book, read it, write down my thoughts and pose some questions for the readers of The Dagger to discuss online. This is going to be fun.
The first book I have chosen is “Jarrettsville” by Cornelia Nixon. The reasons will become obvious and I don’t like to discuss the significance of any book before it is actually read. It is in soft cover at bookstores, and the library has many copies.
A period of approximately two weeks will elapse before this discussion begins. In the meantime, we could chat online a bit about books in general. Here are some questions that can be our starting point:
–Is there a book you have read that had a lot of positive commentary and your expectations were dashed?
–Is life too short to read a poorly written book?
–Being disappointed by people is one thing, you expect that, but to be let down by a book? It’s hard to come back from that. Isn’t it a shame when there exists a decent plotline and characters and it is left in the hands of a poor craftsman?
Ponder these questions and write back, I would love to hear about books that didn’t quite hit the mark for you, and what about the works you thought was lacking.
Just to add a little spice, I’ll share this with you: I love reading Jonathan Franzen.
Susan Kelly lives in Bel Air with her husband and dogs.
I just bought that book for my son for Christmas. Don’t know if he’s read it yet. Well Brian….?
Dan Kelly says
I’m looking forward to starting Jarretsville. My question has to do with all historical fiction: How much of the story is based upon fact and how much is simply authorial addition? Think of the best examples of this genre ever written ( I, Claudius by Robert Graves and Augustus by John Williams would probably top my list). Or does it really matter as long as it’s a well-written novel? Does the fact that characters are to some extent based upon actual people add to our literary enjoyment?
Jim Chrismer says
As to “Jarrettsville”, I’ve just published an essay entitled “Jarrettsville–the Novel: An Historian’s Evaluation” in the Jan/Feb “Newsletter” of the Historical Society of Harford County.
The public libraries and the Society itself should have copies of the “Newsletter” available.
I think the essay provides some guidance as to the worth and impact of that particular work of historical fiction.
Cindy Mumby says
I just cracked this book open and I’m already fascinated by the local connections. Martha Jane Cairnes shot down her lover Nicholas McComas and ran off to Bel Air. Dr. Martin Jarrett tended to McComas’ body, laying it out on the bar of an inn owned by Mr. and Mrs. Tom Street.
The jacket cover says the book is based on a true story and I’m not sure what’s true and what’s not. Either way, I can’t wait to see who pops up next!
B Hacker says
If you read the book, don’t miss the discussion with Author Cornelia Nixon at the Jarrettsville Branch of the Harford County Public Library on April 15, 2011! It is a benefit (tickets are $25) for the County Library but mostly it is a great evening out with an entertaining author and book.