Tag Archives: reading

Epic Journeys

As I draw close to the end of Shogun with 430 pages of the 1210 to go I’ve been pondering the joy of the epic length novel.  While books of every length have found a place on my list of favorites, from the brief but entertaining The Little Prince and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, to Diana Gabaldon’s multi volume Outlander Saga, the journey with an epic length novel ranks as one of my favorite reading experiences.

It takes a talented author to be able to hold a reader’s attention though 1000 pages of narrative; to create characters and scenarios that keep a reader flipping yet another page and coming back sometimes for weeks to find out what is going to happen next.

My attraction to the epic novel started when I surreptitiously read one of my mother’s “bodice rippers.”  It was The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss.  I won’t deny that at fifteen I was intrigued by the unbridled and very descriptive sex.  Continue reading

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THE BEST NOVELS EVER WRITTEN (so far)(In my opinion)(in no particular order)

ANGLE OF REPOSE by Wallace Stegner

THE GOOD EARTH by Pearl S. Buck

MY ANTONIA by Willa Cather

SHIBUMI by Trevanian

TRINITY by Leon Uris

PRIDE AND PREDUDICE by Jane Austin

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde

THE SOURCE by James A. Michener

TEXAS by James A. Michener

SPACE by James A. Michener

THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD by Agatha Christie

INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE by Anne Rice

CHRIST THE LORD: OUT OF EGYPT by Anne Rice

CHRIST THE LORD: THE ROAD TO CANA by Anne Rice

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL by James Elroy

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

HOWARD’S END by E.M. Forster

A PASSAGE TO INDIA by E.M. Forster

HOW FAR TO BETHLEHEM? by Norah Lofts

THE MAN WHO WOULD BY KING by Rudyard Kipling

WINTER HARVEST by Norah Lofts

LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry

CATCH 22 by Joseph Heller

BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh

A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES by John Kennedy Toole

LOST HORIZON by James Hilton

KING RAT by James Clavell

TAI-PAN by James Clavell

A BELL FOR ADANO by John Hersey

THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver

THE DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon

BREATHING LESSONS by Anne Tyler

THE SHIPPING NEWS by E. Annie Proulx

THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashielle Hammett

THIS SIDE OF PARADISE by F. Scott Fitzgerald

THE GREAT DIVORCE by C.S. Lewis

THE SHOES OF THE FISHERMAN by Morris West

THE CLOWNS OF GOD by Morris West

 

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Books Like Old Friends: The Joy of Re-Reading

I occasionally run across people who are avid readers who, when asked which books they read more than once, look somewhat astonished at the notion.  They say they never read a book more than once.  At that point it is my turn to look somewhat astonished.  For me some books have the capacity to become old friends.  They are the go-to books when life gets a little oppressive.  They are literary comfort food.

When it is time to lose myself between the covers of a book I am already familiar with there is an anticipation that is unlike the anticipation of opening a new read.  This is the anticipation of seeing someone I haven’t seen for a while; a distant, out of town friend coming to stay for the weekend.  I anticipate hours long into the night; hours of catching up, of discussing old times, of reliving the events we have shared in the past.

Most of my re-reads take place in the winter months when I am leaving for work in the dark and returning home in the dark, and the only daylight I get is through my office window.  Those are the months I am prone to bouts of the blues.  At those times it is great to curl up with a book that I know will deliver, that won’t disappoint.  An old and oft read book, a cup of hot tea, a favorite pet curled in my lap and I am ready to settle in for a long winter’s night.

The old friends from between the pages reach out and greet me.  Even the villains have a special place. They all welcome me back into their story.  Like an old pal who says, “I know I’ve told you this before, but…” the characters long to tell me their story once again.  They  once again sweep me away into their other world.  I dance at Gatsby’s parties again.  I celebrate the opening of Hotel Pastis again.  I spend time with Peter Mayle and his wife adjusting to life in Provence again.  I travel with the Wise Men to Bethlehem again.  I’ve grown up and grown old with My Antonia many times.  Sam Spade and the nameless Continental Op and I have solved the same mysteries over and over again.  I’ve dug and discovered and unearthed the past with gang at Tel Makor several times and each time the discoveries were exciting.  I’ve found Shangri-la with the plane crash survivors so many times I almost run ahead of the crowd now shouting over my shoulder, “Hurry.  Hurry.  We’re almost there.”

There is a joy in re-reading favorite books that is a joy different from any other.  Here are some of my favorite re-reads.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Hotel Pastis, A Year in Provence, Anything Considered and A Good Year  by Peter Mayle

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

How Far To Bethlehem by Norah Lofts

The Source and The Bridges at Toko-ri by James A. Michener

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Lost Horizon by James Hilton

Almost anything written by Dashiell Hammett

The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris

 

© 2014 M. Romeo LaFlamme

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