Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Book of the Month: February Survey

According to Buzz Feed, there will be, at least, 16 books adapted into films in 2014.  The Thousander Club has selected 4 of those 16 as a possible book of the month in February.  Make your selection below; the book with the most votes will be the book of the month for February:

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

If you're unable to view the embedded survey, then click here.

To see the full list of Books of the Month click here.  Also, make sure to 'like' us on Facebook to participate in future voting.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Reflections: Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage

Watching the John Adams TV mini-series on HBO was truly enlightening.  My understanding of American history in 2008 was well behind the knowledge I have accumulated since.  John Adams was a little known personality in my personal knowledge, but I became very interested after watching the mini-series.  Edith Gelles's Abigail and John attempts to enlighten its readers not only of the life of John Adams but more especially of the life of his brilliant and fascinating wife, Abigail.

In some ways, Abigail and John is more about Abigail than it is about John or even their relationship.  Gelles spends a great deal of time exploring how Abigail reacts to the circumstances in which she was placed.  Abigail's erudition is evident from her preserved letters written to John, friends, and other family members.  Her feelings and thoughts are on display, and I'm sure historians thank their lucky stars that John and Abigail kept as many letters as they did.

Abigail and John's relationship can be described as one of devotion.  Their long separations caused both of them tremendous pain and sorrow, and that separation is made all the more agonizing by the fact that communication by letters was slow and somewhat unreliable.  Abigail and John does a good job of showcasing this incredible couple's love, understanding, and candidness.  They are interesting people apart but their story can truly not be told without one another in the telling.

My biggest gripe about Abigail and John is that at times it all feels a little too clinical.  Gelles does a fine job of quoting others who write with extraordinary skill and passion, but when Gelles is speaking in her own words the contrast is stark and not terribly pleasant.  Abigail and John is a perfectly fine book that deals with history but doesn't do so with an exceptional prose.

Abigail and John is worth reading if you already possess an interest in American history and most especially the Adams family and legacy.  It's another trophy on my growing shelf of American history books and will no doubt be referenced in the future, but it doesn't stand out in any special way except for the amazing people who are its focus. 

Other Topics of Interest:
Reflections: Samuel Adams: A Life
Reflections: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
What Every American Should Read

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Reflections: Mary Poppins

Brad Howes opines on P.L. Travers's Mary Poppins:

"I was inspired to read Mary Poppins after seeing the movie Saving Mr. Banks. While not a 'die-hard' fan of Disney's version of Mary Poppins, Emma Thompson gave me enough in her performance in Banks that I wanted to read not Mary Poppins, per se, but something by P.L. Travers. 

The writing is fun and whimsical, to say the least. I had to wrap my mind around stories that were completely unreal and that stretched the imagination of a child, (which is different than the imagination of an adult). I feel like adult fiction is things that haven't happened, but could, and might. But Mary Poppins is a painting-stars-in-the-sky, visiting-the-zoo-with-humans-in-the-cages, Christmas-shopping-with-a-constellation kind of fantasy. You really have to read it as a child. 

Now one thing should be made clear, Mary Poppins the book is not the plot of Mary Poppins the movie – unless I just haven't watched carefully enough. The Disney movie only really takes the character and gives her new experiences.  I did appreciate that it made me wonder what was coming next rather than just think about the movie (and then complain about how they misinterpreted the book). Also, in my opinion, there is no real plot to this book. I assume Travers intended it to be that way. Each chapter is a short story that has its own conflict and resolution. As a whole, there is not much of a storyline at all. 

Overall, if you can tap into your (former) imagination for a week or so, I'd say that Mary Poppins is a fun read. I'll admit – it was tough at times. But even a 'spoonful of sugar' won't help this one down if it's not the kind of thing you are into."

Other Topics of Interest:
Reflections: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Reflections: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Monday, January 13, 2014

Reading Goals for 2014

I'm a simple guy with a simple goal.  I have a yearly goal of reading 24 books each year--two a month.  I beat that goal by a few last year and even more the year before that.  (I probably could have read more but lost focus a few times).  I think 24 books in a year is reasonable considering the multitude of other demands I have in my life.  However, I know it's not a particularly impressive goal compared with others'.  (I personally know of two people who have a goal of reading 50 books in 2014).

In addition to wanting to read 24 books in 2014, I also want to get to a few books I've been meaning to for years but haven't.  I would love to finally read J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring.  I want to read more about the Reformation.  It's a period of history that has fascinated me, and I haven't spent enough time in it.  There are dozens of books on my Wish List that maybe I'll finally get to this year, including: Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, R is for Rocket by Ray Bradbury, or The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith.  There are a bunch more, but 12 months comes by awfully fast.

Granted, when you're only reading 24 books in a year the goal of 1,000 looks pretty daunting, but it's a slow and steady thing for me.  I'll get there eventually and continue on afterward.  And I plan on learning something from every book along the way.

What do you plan on reading this year?

Other Topics of Interest:
Best Books of 2013: Non-Fiction
Best Books of 2013: Fiction
What You Don't Know is the Reason

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Book of the Month: January

The beginning of a new year is as good a time as any to read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.  7 Habits has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide and is one of the most well-known and successful business books of all time.  The book's author, Stephen R. Covey, has been recognized by many people and organizations for his work in inspiring people to improve their lives.

To see the full list of The Thousander Club's Books of the Month click here.  Make sure to 'Like' The Thousander Club on Facebook so you can vote for future books of the month and participate in our give-aways.