The three books I read in May 2017 were so troubling that I stopped posting about books altogether. I will leave out May for now. Here are the first lines of the books I finished in June 2017.
The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other. Apart hate, is what it was. You separate people into groups and make them hate one another so you can run them all.
Elanor Bull’s Public House
May 30, 1593
The smell of roasted meat and the noisy clank of kitchen pots filled the room. A young potboy whistled as he gathered dishes from a table and shuffled them off to the back of the house.
Christopher Marlowe gazed out the window at the rapidly fading sunlight. He took a long draw from his tankard of ale, closed his eyes, and savored the brief moment of peace. It had been, to say the least, a bad year.
I have written these lessons on freedom and meditations on change for the generations who will take us into the future, for the dreamers young and ever young who should never get lost in a sea of despair, but are faithfully readying themselves for the next push for change. It is for the parents who want to inspire their sons and daughters to build a more just society. And, it’s for the sons and daughters who hear the call of a new age.
Daniel Mercier went up the stairs at Gare Saint-Lazare as the crowd surged down. Men and women hurried distractedly past him, most clutching briefcases but some with suitcases. In the crush, they could easily have knocked into him but they didn’t. On the contrary, it seemed as though they parted to let him through.
This is the story of Danny and of Danny’s friends and of Danny’s house. It is a story of how these three became one thing, so that in Tortilla Flat if you speak of Danny’s house you do not mean a structure of wood flaked with old whitewash, overgrown with an ancient untrimmed rose of Castile. No, when you speak of Danny’s house you are understood to mean a unit of which the parts oare men, from which came sweetness and joy, philanthropy and, in the end, a mystic sorrow. For Danny’s house was not unlike the Round Table, and Danny’s friends were not unlike the knights of it.
Titles and authors
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah.
A fascinating, haunting look at the 20th Century apartheid system in Noah’s boyhood South Africa. An enjoyable read.
Tower of the Five Orders, by Deron R. Hicks.
YA mystery. Second in a series about a young teen girl in a 21st century publishing family who solves mysteries that relate to Shakespeare’s time.
Across that Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change, by John Lewis, U.S. Congressman, with Brenda Jones.
My mother gave me this book, because she admires John Lewis, and felt his perspective to be encouraging. Lewis explores the characteristics underlying his life-long struggle for civil rights. Faith, patience, truth, peace, love, and reconciliation are what carries him forward.
“Change requires patient, persistent action. To most of us, patience seems almost too simple. In order to feel effective and in command, we require control that brings immediate results. … Today, as a U.S. congressman, I can offer a few insights on how you may encourage the government to take action. … Persistent demonstrations prove there is a demand among the people for change. … But a one-day protest or a perfunctory march is not the kind of resounding proof that is needed to clearly define a mobilized constituency. Persistent, dedicated, determined action does. It provides unequivocal leverage for members of Congress who are inclined to vote with you, and it educates and informs members who are on the fence, offering room within the legislative process for persuasive negotiations that lead to more favorable votes on particular issues.” (p. 53)
Lewis writes about the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The effort first began in 1915. The bill authorizing the museum was finally signed into law in 2003. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is now complete, a full 100 years after the idea was first conceived. Now that is patience and perseverance.
The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain (translated from the French by Gallic Books). A charming book which seems a light read but also gives the reader much to think about. The President of France, Francois Mitterand, forgets his Homburg hat in a Parisian restaurant, starting the hat on an odyssey that changes the lives of those who encounter the hat. The story takes place in the 1980s. I truly enjoyed this book.
Tortilla Flat, by John Steinbeck.
For book club. Hilarious at points, poignant and even tragic at other points.