When One Bookstore Door Closes, Another Doesn’t Usually Open

This is excruciating. I am sure many of you can relate.

An incredible used bookstore nearby is closing its doors. I have been buying books there since I moved to Huntington Beach in 2009, because they have a wide and deep classics section. I remember I was shocked to see a copy of The Blithedale Romance sitting on the shelf when I thought, ‘no one will actually have this sitting on their shelf.’ Or Sarah Orne Jewett’s, The Country of the Pointed Firs. I bought my first Virago there (The Matriarch) as well as many of the books for the Reading New England Challenge of last year. I imagined buying my books there forever.

This is the kind of place where, though the shelves are bulging and recently bought books are still in boxes on the floor, the owner knows her stock. When you request a title she goes immediately to the section or reaches inside one of the boxes and pulls out the book. Yes, it IS like magic!

Like so many businesses, the bookshop owners are powerless over rises in rent and though the store does a brisk business, the new rate is higher than what makes sense. This is such a loss for any community.

camelot3
Will I find out why you write such depressing books?

My last purchase included the 1940 second edition of the 1935 two-volume set of The Esoteric Tradition by de Purucker in pristine condition, which I am thrilled to have. I also found R.W.B. Lewis’ Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Edith Wharton and my first Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere. I was a bit overwhelmed as I walked through the familiar aisles…

 

 

 

 

 

My last book haul:

camelot

A non-science fiction H.G. Wells and a Medieval female coroner. How intriguing!

Bon voyage, Camelot Books. Like your namesake your story will remain forever in my heart!

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Top Ten Tuesday: New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016

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I have never participated in memes hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, but I could not resist today. This year has been such a wonderful discovery year of new books and authors for me. So here is my list:

John Knowles: A Separate Peace.
Long ago I worked with a man who said this was his favorite book in college. Others in our office raised their eyebrows whenever he said this. I wish I had read it then, so I could have given him support.

Patrick Hamilton: The Slaves of Solitude
The characters in this book will haunt me for a long time. In some ways a simple story of emotional survival during WWII, but very powerful.

Sarah Orne Jewett: The Country of Pointed Firs
One of the bonuses of doing a reading challenge is choosing books and authors you keep meaning to read. She is one and this is probably one of the big surprises of this reading year. I loved this book!

Louisa May Alcott: Little Women
Yes, you read that right. In all my years on this planet, I had yet to read this classic. And like so many people who have seen the films, I thought I knew the story. Oh my, no! The book is so rich.

George Eliot: Middlemarch
I read this as a readalong during the summer and made notes on each section we read. I have yet to actually review it…because frankly, I am intimidated. It is stunning in scope of topics and characters. In fact, with each new chapter new people were introduced and I was afraid I would get confused. But I never did. What I remember most about reading this was in the actual reading and a reminder of why I love to read.

Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House
For Witch Week I read the book of one of my all time favorite films, The Haunting. I am not sure when I realized the film was taken from a book, but participating in Reading New England made me aware. The book is so rich in details that could not possibly be captured on film. I hope to read more Jackson next year.

Edith Wharton: Summer
Even though I was very disappointed that the main character could not find a way out of the limited life choices women were left with in the early 1900s, I still enjoyed this book. Wharton herself had an interesting life that I hope to learn more about next year.

H.G. Wells: The War of the Worlds
Throughout the years I’d heard snippets of Orson Welles radio broadcast, and thought the story was pretty simple. But the book is filled with a philosophy and spirituality that is intriguing. The story is complex, a journey not just of physical survival, but that of civilization and its individuals.

Charlie Lovett: The Bookman’s Tale
I really enjoyed the adventure Lovett took me on, the result of a character’s simple act of buying a rare book!

Joan Didion: The Year of Magical Thinking
The chronicle and minute details of grief Didion experiences after the death of her husband. I couldn’t put it down.

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon

Tomorrow I will be participating in my first readathon!

As much as I love to read, can I do it for 24 hours? I have my stack ready, I am IMG_3577cleaning house today, I’ve figured out the snacks and food part and there is a gym just across the street for a reading-while-biking jag if my energy starts to fail. My only concern is my dog and how confused by time she may be.  I hope she won’t have to ‘do her business’ at three o’clock in the morning!

As for my choice of books, I am thinking I will be mentally stronger at the beginning so I will tackle The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (for my Classics Club spin coming up) and Little Women during the first part of the day. During the late afternoon and into the evening I will start on Language of the Dead, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and/or Kitchens of the Great Midwest. I have wanted to reread Harry Potter and thought that the first book as well as H.G. Wells’s The Invisible Man would be fun to read in the middle of the night. I am THRILLED I found L.M. Montgomery’s The Story Girl yesterday, so I have that and Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which are both shorter books to break up the heavier stuff. I will be interested to see how this planning works the way I think it should or if this will all totally change up!

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I love the idea of people all over the world reading at the same time, checking in and cheering us on. Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook will be a hoppin’!

Any tips for me if you have done a readathon before? And are you participating in this one?

For more on the history of Dewey and this bi-yearly event: Dewey’s 24 hour Readathon.

For the Readathon’s FB page, for the Readathon’s Twitter page, #readathon

The Island of Dr. Moreau, H.G. Wells (1896)

My Edition:Moreau
Title: The Island of Dr. Moreau
Author: H.G. Wells
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC, Kindle Edition
Device: Kindle Fire
Year: 1896
Pages: 114
For a plot summary

These creatures you have seen are animals carven and wrought into new shapes. To that, to the study of the plasticity of living forms, my life has been devoted.[i]

There are so many ways to approach this novel: as a horror story, an adventure story, a scientific experiment gone bad. But it is definitely a novel about morality and the biblical idea of man’s dominion, or some would say, responsibility, over animals. And does that extend to our medical interference with their nature: we have the techniques, but do we have the right?

The story is told by Edward Prendick, who is lost at sea and discovered by a passing ship. He is taken under the wing of a passenger named Montgomery who with his strange assistant is taking an odd assortment of animals to an undisclosed location. Prendick’s situation as extra baggage on the ship gets him in hot water with the captain and after a harrowing struggle not to be thrown overboard he winds up in Montgomery’s party and disembarks with them on an island.

The island is off the charts and secluded for reasons made clear right away. It turns out it is a laboratory run by infamous vivisector, Dr. Moreau who was run out of London for doing what he is doing here: conducting torturous experiments on animals by changing their physical body as well as their minds into half men, half beasts and keeping some animals alive for weeks as he cuts and modifies and grafts parts of them from one to another. He justifies his work as science, for the greater good to humans that the established scientific profession is too afraid to consider. From Prendick’s days as a biology student, the name ‘Moreau’ brings back the memory of the scandal that caused him to be hounded out of London.

It dawned upon me to what end the puma and the other animals…were destined; and a curious faint odour, the halitus of something familiar… suddenly came forward into the forefront of my thoughts. It was the antiseptic odour of the dissecting room. I heard the puma growling through the wall, and one of the dogs yelped as though it had been struck.[ii]

After an uneasy sleep, Prendick’s first morning on the island is disturbed by a sharp, hoarse cry of animal pain coming from the locked door of the laboratory. Its depth and volume sounded like the puma. Throughout the morning as he eats his breakfast then tries to read the sounds of screaming and agony coming from the laboratory continue in intensity,

as if all the pain in the world had found a voice. It is when suffering finds a voice and sets our nerves quivering that this pity comes troubling us.[iii]

He is terrified and the puma’s cries force him from his room.

The emotional appeal of those yells grew upon me steadily, grew at last to such an exquisite expression of suffering that I could stand it…no longer.[iv]

A short distance from the laboratory enclosure he has his first meeting with what he believes is an inhabitant of the island, but cannot figure out what it is. He initially thinks it a man, but does not understand why it is walking on all fours and is the color of copper with black hair and of a ‘grotesque ugliness.’ He comes upon an open space.

Before me, squatting together upon the fungoid ruins of a huge fallen tree and still unaware of my approach, were three grotesque human figures. One was evidently a female; the other two were men. They were naked save for swathings of scarlet cloth about the middle; and their skins were of a dull pinkish-drab colour, such as I had seen in no savages before. They had fat, heavy, chinless faces, retreating foreheads, and a scant bristly hair upon their heads. I never saw such bestial looking creatures.[v]

[One] seemed to me to be reciting some complicated gibberish…and spreading his hands he rose to his feet….I noticed then the abnormal shortness of the legs, and their lank, clumsy feet…The three creatures engaged in this mysterious rite were human in shape, and yet human beings with the strangest air about them of some familiar animal—some now irresistible suggestion of a hog, a swinish taint, the unmistakable mark of the beast.[vi]

Prendick confronts Dr. Moreau about all he has seen. Moreau justifies what he is doing as benefiting science and mankind.

You forget all that a skilled vivisector can do with living things. For my own part, I’m puzzled why the things I have done here have not been done before. Small efforts, of course, have been made, amputation, tongue-cutting, excision….You have heard, perhaps of a common surgical operation resorted to in cases where the nose has been destroyed; a flap of skin is cut from the forehead, turned down on the nose, and heals in the new position. This is a kind of grafting in a new position part of an animal upon itself. Grafting of freshly obtained material from another animal is also possible,–the grafting of teeth, of skin and bone is done…[vii]

But the possibility of vivisection does not stop at a mere physical metamorphosis. A pig may be educated. The mental structure is even less determinate than the bodily. In our growing science of hypnotism we find the promise of a possibility of superseding old inherent instincts by new suggestion, grafting upon or replacing the inherited fixed ideas. Very much of what we call moral education, is such an artificial modification and perversion of instinct.

To this day I have never troubled about the ethics of the matter.[viii]

However, Moreau IS troubled by his inability to keep these creatures from falling back into their animal state after he has physically and mentally trained them up to a certain level of ‘intelligence.’ They have rudimentary speech and behavior. But they are more like children, who have learned to live their life through fear (of Moreau and his House of Pain). They are given a set of Laws* recited by the Sayer of the Law, which they repeat back with the refrain: Are we not Men? But alas they aren’t. To Moreau’s frustration, no matter how much or how many times he makes adaptations that allow for a certain level of higher function, his creations always revert to their ‘bestial ways.’

My Thoughts

*I* am troubled by a scientist gone rogue whose perversion of his profession has out-weighed his moral conscience. Moreau’s only concern is his experiments, his ‘creations’ and how this will garner him attention from contemporaries who think he is only a madman. He doesn’t care that the price for this infliction of pain and torture is on sentient beings, who cannot give consent or protect themselves against this infringement on their life and liberty. In Wells’s day vivisection was approved by the British medical establishment if it was used to benefit human diseases and conditions.

In the 21st century, we also accept that medical science has the right to experiment in order to help heal and cure diseases in humans. But as regards to using animals in this way, it is tempered with the moral injunction against causing them harm and pain. In fact, many researchers and scientists, sensitive to animal suffering or who have moral objections against their use in science, have spoken against using animals in experiments. Computer models with data gathered from the past is sufficient, they say, and that ultimately, a procedure or medication has to be tested on humans anyway, who CAN give consent.

I have spent this week contemplating many of the ideas of this book. On a personal note, I was a little taken aback when Moreau mentioned working on skin grafts and skin flaps. Both are well-respected procedures that have been in use, for example, for skin cancer procedures in which the initial operation has removed a lot of skin with the cancer leaving a hole that must be closed. I benefited from a skin graft procedure on my face for basal cell skin cancer. I was grateful that such a procedure was possible. But I will forever look at it differently, wondering if some poor animal had to suffer for it.

Ack. I read to be entertained, but I also read to learn. Now I just have to figure out if this particular learned thing was worth it!

********************

* Here is the infamous Law Moreau taught to one of his more astute creatures in order to control behavior and to point out the hierarchy (some say to point out Moreau’s divinity) on the Island. All are to repeat each line after he says it. When Prendick stumbles upon them, the first thing they say is he has to know the Law.

 

It is a man. He must learn the Law. Say the words:

 Not to go on all-fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men?

 Not to suck up Drink; that is the Law. Are we not Men?

 Not to claw the Bark of Trees; that is the Law. Are we not Men?

 Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?

His is the House of Pain.

His is the Hand that makes.

His is the Hand that wounds.

His is the Hand that Heals.

His is the lightning flash.

His is the deep, salt sea.

His are the stars in the sky.

Eat roots and herbs; it is His will.

Some want to follow things that move, to watch and slink and wait and spring; to kill and bite, bite deep and rich, sucking the blood. It is bad. ‘Not to chase other men; that is the Law. Are we not Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men? Not to eat Flesh or Fish; that is the Law. Are we not Men?[iv]

[i] p. 59.
[ii] p.28.
[iii] p. 31.
[iv] p. 30.
[v] p. 34.
[vi] p. 34.
[vii] p. 59.
[viii] p. 63.
[ix] p. 49-51.

 

 

The Time Machine, H. G. Wells (1895)

My Edition:timemachinecover
Title: The Time Machine
Author: H. G. Wells
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Device: Paper book
Year: 1895
Pages: 104
For a plot summary

It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change….There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change.[i]

The Time Machine is one of H.G. Wells’s earliest works and as the title suggests a story about time travel. We are introduced to the Time Traveller and his guests at their weekly dinner in his home and laboratory. On this particular night after a rousing discussion on Time and Space and whether time travel is possible he surprises them with a model of his time machine, the full scale machine residing in his basement. At the next week’s dinner he shows up late, dirty, worn and distracted revealing that he took the time machine into the future! His guests are incredulous and disbelieving and clamor for details. Telling them he must clean up first he leaves the room.

The Time Traveller’s story is marked by first assumptions that prove mostly false. In fact, Wells structures the book so that we follow the Time Traveller as he meets each fork in the proverbial quest to understand the society into which he has been propelled.

As he comes into contact with what turns out to be the first of two groups of people in this future world and begins to grasp their simple language, he is confused and disappointed as to what humans have become. The Eloi, as they are called, are child-like in their activities and imagination, spending their days playing games, picking flowers and generally living without a purpose.

For a moment I was staggered: were these creatures fools? You see I had always anticipated that the people of the year Eight Hundred and Two Thousand odd would be incredibly in front of us in knowledge, art, everything. Then one of them suddenly asked me a question that showed him to be on the intellectual level of one of our five-year-old children—asked me, in fact, if I had once come from the sun in a thunderstorm! [ii]

He continues to piece together this civilization from what he can observe. He is surprised that they all seem to live and sleep together in great halls, where they also eat communally. But there are no gadgets, no appliances, no machinery for cooking or cleaning.

Yet these people were clothed in pleasant fabrics that must at times need renewal, and their sandals, though undecorated, were fairly complex specimens of metalwork. Somehow such things must be made. And the little people displayed no vestige of a creative tendency. There were no shops, no workshops, no sign of importations among them. They spent all their time in playing gently, in bathing in the river, in making love in a half-playful fashion, in eating fruit and sleeping. I could not see how things were kept going.[iii]

While surveying the land, the Time Traveller has noticed towers and has come upon wells, but is unclear as to their purpose. He periodically sees creatures darting past trees, bushes and buildings through the shadows during daylight hours. Where do these creatures live? By deduction of their white skin he puts two and two together and surmises that the towers are a ventilation system and they must live underground.

He finds a deep well with bars on the sides for gripping and climbs down. He hears machines and uses a box of matches found in his pocket to light his view. He sees large machine-like shapes and smells fresh blood. “Some way down the central vista was a little table of white metal, laid with what seemed a meal. ‘They …were carnivorous!’ ”[iv] But he couldn’t identify the large animal. As he moves through the corridors of this space, more and more of the Morlocks, as this species is known, are gathering around him and some are touching and pulling his arms. Their claim on him makes him sick. As the Morlocks close in on him, he lights a match, finds the climbing bars of the shaft and hurries up out into the sunlight.

As the Time Traveller recovers he tries to figure out how society split into these two groups. The Upperworld people might once have been the favored aristocracy, and the Morlocks their mechanical servants; but that had long since passed away….The Eloi…had decayed to a mere beautiful futility….The Morlocks made their garments, I inferred, and maintained them in their habitual needs…And suddenly there came into my head the memory of the meat I had seen in the Underworld…[v]Like the cattle, they [the Eloi] knew of no enemies and provided against no needs. And their end was the same.[vi]

So this is the future. A Wellsian commentary on a successful society that degenerated turning people into predator and prey, carnivores and fruitarians; where the workers of the Underworld were actually the more advanced than the happy layabouts of the Upperworld.

…There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change. It was the necessity of food for the Underworlders, who were in contact with machinery that kept their initiative. [for] being in contact with machinery…still needs some little thought outside of habit…[vii]

This book really made me think about my own fantasies of the future. Even though the Time Traveller’s first assumption about the Eloi were not quite correct their image has stayed with me. I am not alone in hoping the future is much less violent and unequal than it is now. I think of an evolved state of peace, creativity, imagination and advances in medicine and science that gives us ease and health to the highest degree. I think of a spirituality that has so connected us to the Divine through individual and group experiences with It that we don’t fight and argue over religion anymore.

But I have never thought that if we are all so free, comfortable and taken care of we would become stupid, lacking in drive, initiative or creativity, because there is nothing spurring us on to fix or cure or comfort or make better. What a depressing notion…or maybe a warning?

_______________

[i] p. 79.
[ii] p. 25.
[iii] p. 41.
[iv] p. 54.
[v] p. 58.
[vi] p. 78.
[vii] p. 79.

Posted for my Classics Club reading list.

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timemachinemodel

Get your own Time Machine model!
Time Machine Models

 

timemachineposter.jpeg

Time Machine poster from the 1960 film
The Geeky Nerf Herder

 

What I am Reading in March (and it’s not what I thought)!

Two things happened over the last week that completely derailed my carefully planned out reading life for the next several months: I wrote up my review of L. M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle, and had to admit the pull of images and text from my reading of The War of the Worlds has not and will not stop.

Firstly, I just have to know more about the woman, L. M. Montgomery. While I enjoyed the Anne of Green Gables series, The Emily books really struck home for me. But there is something about The Blue Castle that is calling me to learn more about Montgomery herself. So, I decided I will read one more novel, The Story Girl, since she said it was her best work (and although she was still a fairly young writer when she said that, I wonder if she ever changed her mind?). Then I will spend a month, either April or May, concentrating on her letters and journals and maybe a biography or two. I am not sure what I am looking for, but this desire to know more has become too insistent to ignore.

Secondly, more H. G. Wells? This attraction totally blind-sided me. Although The War of the Worlds is on my Classics Club reading list it wasn’t something I planned on reading so soon after joining up. It happened to fall on my list as the January Spin #11. And if they had chosen another number….?!

But I loved it! I can honestly say I was enthralled, sucked in, drawn along with the Narrator in each twist and turn of his journey. The narrative was so good, the social commentary on how a catastrophe affects people, fascinating. The scenes of Martian destruction created pictures in my mind I can’t forget. So, yes, I decided to read more this month. I never considered myself to be a science fiction kind of a gal…I blame good writing!

My projected reading list for March, which I am declaring “My March Month of (Mostly) Sci Fi” looks like this:

H. G. Wells:
The Invisible Man
The Time Machine
The Island of Dr. Moreau

About Wells:
H. G. Wells: Another Kind of Life, by Michael Sherborne
Aspects of a Life, by Anthony West (Wells’ son)

Jules Verne:
Journey to the Center of the Earth (Wells’ contemporary)

(And thank you to Jo Wass for suggestions for this reading list).

Little Women, because I must stay on some kind of track for the Classics Club and to better participate in Susan Bailey’s wonderful blog, Louisa May Alcott is my Passion. I have a feeling somewhere down the road I will have a Louisa May Alcott month, but let’s stay on the topics at hand for now 🙂

I am also reading some nonfiction as well as one book each for my reading challenges, which I am behind on. Can I catch up? Can I do it all?

March will be a verrrrry interesting month!

 

The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells (1898)

My Edition:warworld
Title: War of the Worlds
Author: H.G. Wells
Publisher: Tor
Year: 1988, text of the original 1898 edition
Pages: 204
Synopsis: Goodreads

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as moral as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinized the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. [i]

My Thoughts

When I put The War of the Worlds on my Classics Club reading list, I did so because I felt it was a book I ‘needed’ to read. Needed as in should: A classic work by an important author, whose works are the foundation of modern science fiction.

I also thought I knew the story having heard snippets of the infamous radio program devised by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the night of October 30, 1938 that scared almost a million people into believing Martians had landed and were destroying planet Earth.

fakewar

But from the opening pages, I realized I really didn’t know the story of the nameless narrator who, when looking through the telescope of a friend, sees 10 flashes of light coming from Mars and the gaseous flumes pulsating from its surface and the catastrophe these events bring.

Then came the night of the first falling star. It was seen early in the morning, rushing over Winchester eastward, a line of flame high in the atmosphere. Hundreds must have seen it, and taken it for an ordinary falling star. [ii]

The story follows the unnamed philosopher/writer from his telescopic viewing of Mars and the first “falling star,” to the landing of the cylinders that house the Martians and the destruction they bring with their heat rays and black powder. They are 100 feet in height with spindly arms and legs that tuck into their war-machines that have the capacity to destroy the world and enslave the human race. We follow him as he escapes from his home to take his wife to her family miles away and through his arduous journey to London where he craves understanding, insight and a way to stop this menace.

The writing was so compelling that I found myself thinking of the story in the car repair waiting-room as well as at the doctor’s office. So near to the end of the book, I sat in the parking lot to finish it!

The book is also a study in behavior when people are confronted by such a monumental disruption to their world view. Most ran for their lives without regard for the needs of anyone else, some wanted to stay and fight or study the invaders, some appeared to be in a paralyzed daze. One of these characters waylays the narrator with his plan to save humanity by moving mankind underground into the sewers while they learn about the Martians and try to find their Achilles’ Heel.

It’s saving our knowledge and adding to it is the thing. There men like you come in. There’s books, there’s models. We must make great safe places down deep, and get all the books we can; not novels and poetry swipes, but ideas, science books. That’s where men like you come in. We must go to the British Museum and pick all those books through. Especially we must keep up our science—learn more. We must watch these Martians.[iii]

The narrator is caught up in this plan until he sees the true nature of the man: he is just a “strange undisciplined dreamer.” He is once again off to London.

Entering the city, the signs of Martian destruction are everywhere: the black powder, the charred bodies and buildings and the strange red vine brought by the Martians that springs up trees, on bushes and in ponds. At Oxford Street by the Marble Arch he sees black bodies strewn around, incinerated. Breaking into a pub he finds food and drink which lulls his tired body to sleep. Awakening at dusk, the humming noise of “Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla” fills his ears. Making his way toward the sound he comes upon a howling Martian in its death throes having been torn apart by dogs. Moving up to Primrose Hill he looks down upon another Martian, dead. And the “Ulla, ulla” stops abruptly.

Surveying the land below he sees overturned war-machines and their Martian inhabitants stark still. But how did they die? Not by any manner of military might or strategy, but by the smallest microscopic army. “Slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared;…slain, after all man’s devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth.”[iv]

The novel ends with the narrator reunited with his wife and the world getting back to an uneasy normal, because knowing Martians can space travel, this may only be a reprieve. As it is, telescopes have detected light and gas coming once more from Mars, and lights falling on Venus.

We have learned now that we cannot regard this planet as being fenced in and a secure abiding place for Man; we can never anticipate the unseen good or evil that may come upon us suddenly out of space…It may be that across the immensity of space the Martians have watched the fate of these pioneers of theirs and learned their lesson, and that on the planet Venus they have found a securer settlement….[v]

I came away from The War of the Worlds with a desire to read more ‘old school’ science fiction. I would describe this book generally as ‘character-driven by events,’ with a noble protagonist who managed to stay uncorrupted by circumstance.

Final Thoughts

It is interesting to note that Wells compares the Martian invasion and desire to conquer and vanquish with our own behavior toward the animals and peoples of earth:

And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races….Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?[vi]

Finally, if we ponder our reactions to what some say is our own dying planet will we at some point look out into the dark universe for some other bright star where life might be possible on one of its plants, as the Martians did to save their own kind? How much more are we like them that we would have this same feeling?

That last stage of exhaustion, which to us is still incredibly remote, has become a present-day problem for the inhabitants of Mars. The immediate pressure of necessity has brightened their intellects, enlarged their powers, and hardened their hearts. And looking across space with instruments, and intelligences such as we have scarcely dreamed of, they see…a morning star of hope, our own warmer planet, green with vegetation and grey with water, with a cloudy atmosphere eloquent of fertility.[vii]

___________

 

[i] 3.
[ii] 10.
[iii] 175.
[iv] 186-187.
[v] 187.
[vi] 5.
[vii] 4.

 

Classics Club Spin #11 and my Classics Club list.

Of Gone with the Wind and War of the Worlds

Well, the Classics Club has spoken, er chosen, the magic Spin number of 19 and I will not be reading Gone with the Wind this time around…or will I? More on that below 🙂

No, 19 corresponds to a book in my ‘dreading to read/feel obligated to read section, which means I will be reading The War of the Worlds by the prolific H.G. Wells. I think my hesitation to read this classic has been because I felt I knew it already having heard many renderings of it on the radio, mimicking the original that scared the bejesus out of so many who heard it the first time.

worworld
At any rate, I am kind of relieved, because it is a short novel AND, if the number had been just one less, I would be reading Moby Dick, and *ack* on that. I know, I know…it is not nice to bash a classic, and I am sure for many this is a great book. But until it should come to pass that *I* have to read it, it shall remain on my ‘dreading to read’ list.

Which brings me to Gone with the Wind. I am so happy to share my good fortune! Jillian of a room of one’s own is going to do a readalong of it in just a few weeks. This is her favorite book; she knows it well; and I have signed up! And yes, it is in the midst of the Christmas crazies, but how can you not take advantage knowing your reading will be enhanced by someone so familiar with it???

Besides, reading is a good way to take a break during this time. It rests your fighting-the-crowds body and calms your stressed I-can’t-find-Uncle-John’s-gift mind, right? So join me if you will and sign in here to let Jillian know you are in.
GWTW

On a more personal note: not only am I excited to finally read *this* classic, but I will be reading from my grandmother’s (z”l) copy. How special is that?!