|"I really must insist on your oiling those chains."|
Below are the first lines of the books I finished reading in August.
When Mr. Hiram B. Otis, the American Minister, bought Canterville Chase, every one told him he was doing a very foolish thing, as there was no doubt at all that the place was haunted.
Tree of Life, Seeds of Death
I pulled open the glass outer door of the Tree of Life synagogue and went in to retrieve my son.
When Ulf Varg, a senior member of Malmö’s Department of Sensitive Crimes, awoke that morning he was aware that he had been dreaming.
Morning-room in Algernon’s flat in Half-Moon Street. The room is luxuriously and artistically furnished. The sound of a piano is heard in the adjoining room.
[Lane is arranging afternoon tea on the table, and after the music has ceased, Algernon enters.]
ALGERNON. Did you hear what I was playing, Lane?
LANE. I didn’t think it polite to listen, sir.
ALGERNON. I’m sorry for that, for your sake. I don’t play accurately—any one can play accurately—but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life.
When people ask me what I do – taxi drivers, dental hygienists – I tell them I work in an office.
The cross and the lynching tree are separated by nearly 2,000 years. One is the universal symbol of Christian faith; the other is the quintessential symbol of black oppression in America. Though both are symbols of death, one represents a message of hope and salvation, while the other signifies the negation of that message by white supremacy.
The titles and authors revealed:
The Canterville Ghost: An amusing chronicle of the tribulations of the Ghost of Canterville Chase when his ancestral halls became the home of the American Minister to the Court of St. James. By Oscar Wilde. 1906. ~23 pages. Available at The Project Gutenberg.
A short story published in 2 parts in 1887.
Quite amusing and enjoyable. An interesting portrayal of Americans. Read it for Book Club.
Mental Immunity: Infections Ideas, Mind-Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think, by Andy Norman. © 2021. 421 pages.
This book is part philosophical treatise, part self-help book. As a person of faith and a non-philosopher, I found it a challenging read. I wanted to have examples to help me understand the philosophical points, but perhaps on purpose, the author leaves us to try to work that out on our own. Reading this book was well worth it when I got to the section explaining the expression “hoist on his own petard.” It would be cool some day to have a conversation with this local author, and I envy his university students who easily have the opportunity to do just that.
The Strange Case of the Moderate Extremists (A Detective Varg Novel Book 1) by Alexander McCall Smith. © 2019. 68 pages.
I have to love a book that has a political party called the Moderate Extremists, and a crime involving a cat show. This is an extremely short, light story. In future, I hope to read more about Detective Varg.
The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People, a play by Oscar Wilde
Available at The Project Gutenberg. First performed on February 14th, 1895 at St. James' Theatre, London.
“A handbag?!” (Just say that line in a British accent while trying to portray a sense of moral outrage, and you will have grasped the whole thing.)
Hilarious. I also watched the 1950s movie version, which leaves out some lines that are political in nature, but I found quite enjoyable.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. © 2017. 331 pages.
Second time reading this book. Reception at book club was mixed, but I really like this book. The characters are engaging, iif sometimes unrealistic. The psychology examined was quite interesting and, to me, profound.
The Cross and the Lynching Tree, by James Cone. © 2011. 158 pages.
A short but deep theological examination of America’s inability to confront our history of lynching, even as a large portion of our populace call ourselves Christian. American Christians should read this book, even if you have to skim over some of the thornier theological parts. I found the language and style quite readable, but it provoked much pondering, and it’s a tragic, difficult subject. I’m very much looking forward to the discussion of this book at my church.
I was not able to finish this book, but might return to it later.
Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow, by Leon F. Litwack. © 1998. 642 pages (but how many pages are footnotes? This matters.).
This honored historian died recently. I had not heard of him, and wanted to try reading something by him. The library had this book on kindle, but I was not able to finish (what with my other reading obligations) before the library snatched it back. The part that I have read is quite readable.
I might prefer to get ahold of one of his other books: North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860 (University of Chicago Press, 1961), The American Labor Movement (1962) or Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery (1979). For that last book he won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for History.