Book reviews, C.S. Lewis, Shakespeare, Steinbeck, The Classics Club

3 Reviews in One

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The pictures have nothing to do with the book reviews. They are of products we buy in Europe that we don’t find in the States. Nice crunchy muesli, Nice biscuits, natural yogurt with sugar (typical from Spain), cup-a-soup, and Rio mare tuna salad, which comes with olives, corn, peas, carrot pieces, and, of course, tuna, dressed in some olive oil.

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The books are my last 3 reads, An Experiment in Criticism, by C.S. Lewis, Romeo and Juliet, by Shakespeare, and The Winter of Our Discontent, by Steinbeck.

These reviews are not going to be exhaustive, they are just a few thoughts on my impressions of the books.

First, An Experiment in Criticism. It’s my second time reading this thin but packed with wisdom title. If you love books about books, and about reading, this won’t disappoint. C.S. Lewis turns the tables in his attempt to define what a great book is. Instead of considering the book by itself, he’s going to talk about the books as in the reading of them we readers do. He’ll define types of readers, and then he’ll talk about the books in relation to what good readers do. His overarching premise is that there’s some books that don’t render themselves to be read in the highest possible way, and thus they cannot be great books, -which doesn’t mean they are not loved by many. He is just pointing to limitations or possibilities that books have or don’t have, which become apparent in the act of reading. Even though we are talking about the readers, his criteria for great books is not subjective. There’s some great books that can be read in the highest possible way, but not all readers who read like that favor them. (For example, I may not like Shakespeare, but I’d be a fool to say that Romeo and Juliet is a mediocre book.) He is looking at an overlap, and a quality that exists or not, (thus removing the problem of evaluating a book at a time, or reducing the quality of great book to a particular critic, reader, or the fashion of the times.)

Romeo and Juliet, by Shakespeare. I read this play aloud to my daughters. How is one supposed to review Shakespeare? I’d say I have watched movies with the theme, and I was familiar with it, -which helped. As always, there’s parts that are more obtuse to me, others are easier to understand. Having an annotated copy is handy, -I’m free to read the notes or ignore them, and they add to our understanding. I’m still thinking about the play. What is Shakespeare trying to tell me? There’s many topics at stake, some important ones for us parents. It’s a very concentrated text, much happens in a few pages, (a few days in the play.) I think it’s time for me to try to locate a movie or version and watch how it’s taken to the screen. Do you have a favorite to recommend?

The Winter of our Discontent, by Steinbeck. This past summer some of us read The Gray House by Petrosyan together. At one point, we discussed favorite books and authors. My dear friend Katie mentioned how much she loved this book by Steinbeck. My only knowledge of this author was his thin Of Mice and Men. I don’t think Of Mice and Men is a bad book at all, but if you read this as your first Steinbeck (as I did), chances are you won’t feel like reading another of his books. But she told me how different it was, and I gave it a try at the same time she was reading one of my favorite books, Dandelion Wine by Bradbury. (And Petrosyan has read and loved Dandelion Wine. When I listened to the first lines of her The Gray House, and there’s a mention of red snickers, my mind went straight to Dandelion Wine for some reason. Later we realized there’s some of Bradbury in Petrosyan’s master piece.

Katie and I realized that we love these two authors deeply. Both have some common traits such as bleeding beautiful prose, very poetic, and both bring certain nostalgia to us. We also discussed how Bradbury is more comforting, and Steinbeck more jarring. I vaguely remember reading about Steinbeck that people don’t talk like he makes them talk in his dialogues. I agree with that and yet I enjoyed the conversations and the way he built up each and every character of this book. East of Eden is my next title, high up in my 2018 TBR pile. Katie tells me East of Eden has a different thematic, but she assures me it’s equally well written. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

Also, Rob, around the same time, reviewed Travels with Charley, one of Steinbeck non fiction books, which also left me interested in reading some of his non-fiction.

That’s all for today! Hope you are doing some nice readings this end of 2017. (I’m already thinking about what to read for 2018, 🙂

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4 thoughts on “3 Reviews in One”

  1. Thanks for the mention! If you need a quick read sometime before (or after) East of Eden, I’d recommend Cannery Row. It’s not as heavy as his other books, quite funny, and a great example at how masterful he is at building up characters. I still haven’t read The Winter of our Discontent yet, so I’ll be moving that up the queue. Also planning to look into An Experiment in Criticism. It sounds really interesting.

    I LOVE that you started with a food haul! One of my favourite things to do when travelling is to wander around grocery stores to find goodies to bring home.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are welcome, Rob. I too love to visit grocery stores, I plan to take pics of them, and since you mention them, I will share them with you.

      I will read Cannery Row in 2018. I’m very interested in Steinbeck.

      I must say Merry Christmas to you and all who stop by, who write their own blogs or who are at Goodreads or other media. I love my reading community, it’s such a blessing to me. Merry Christmas, and cheers to a wonderful 2018, full of family, friends, good books and good food too!

      Like

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