Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape. You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.
I consider books to be songs of life. The good books tell us about life and they sing with images and metaphors that enter our hearts and minds and stick. Sure, we read a lot of mediocre books for fun and learn from them, too, but the great books that inspire us and leave us in awe are the books we cherish. They are the songs we choose to live by and that help us get going and keep going.
Books that sing strike to that deep inner part of us where we recognize ourselves as belonging in the universe. Authors blaze a trail through pathless woods. They do hard work cutting down the brush so we can see and follow. We love song lyrics and these books are just longer songs. They skewer our pretensions, they lift us up, they make us engage with the characters and often cause us to have the courage to act.
The books sing of true life adventures, of real people who lived difficult and inspiring lives, and they have fictional characters that teach us about a world we can only visit from our reading chair. The books show us life hundreds of years ago and remind us about what the future could be.
Want to know what a small town is like years ago where young people are trying to do good things? Read Eliot’s Middlemarch. Things in this song go terribly wrong for the characters and yet in the end we see that they will make their way on their own terms.
Do we want to understand what happened to the Czech Republic in WW II? We can read Prague Winter by Madeleine Albright. Do we want to know what happened to the country under the Soviets and when the Berlin Wall came down? We can read Vaclav Havel’s memoirs, To the Castle and Back.
What was it like to live in the wilderness of Canada around the time of WW I? Read Mrs. Mike by the Freedmans and fall in love with Mrs. Mike and her husband, friends and neighbors. This is a love song despite the tragedies and hardships. Watch Oh Be Joyful and Jonathan. Hear Constance’s story. This book has been on the top of my list of best books for as long as I can remember.
What is it like to climb and sleep in the tallest trees in the world? Read The Wild Trees by Richard Preston. Imagine being in the tree that has shallow roots when gale force winds begin to blow.
Do you wonder what was it like when our nation was struggling to be born? Read John Adams by McCullough.
Do you wish to go on an adventure trip in a small boat from the East Coast to the West Coast? Read River-Horse by William Least-Heat Moon.
There are many songs of courageous people who fight for a better life or save others.
There are books set all over the world; Kenya, South Africa, Vietnam, Kosovo, Rwanda, Russia, and Haiti. There is so much to learn about life and love.
Yes, songs of life and love.
My list (just a few of many):
Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-1963
Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65
At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68
The Cat from Hue by John Laurence
Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
John Adams by David McCullough
Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
Black Boy by Richard Wright
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
In the First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Journey into the Whirlwind and Within the Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg
Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain and Testament of Experience
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
River-Horse by William Least-Heat Moon
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
And There Was Light: Autobiography of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance by Jacques Lusseyran
1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart
Gettysburg by Stephen Sears
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss (General Alexandre Dumas)
The Night Country by Loren Eiseley
An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison
The Lymond Chronicles, House of Niccolo, King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett
The Charioteer by Mary Renault
The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet
The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo by Paula Huntley
In the Sea There Are Crocodiles: Based on the True Story of Enaiatollah Akbari by Fabio Geda
An Ordinary Man: autobiography of Paul Ruesabagina with Tom Zoellner
The Intimate Merton: His Life from His Journals ed, by Patrick Hart and Jonathan Montaldo
Bill of Wrongs by Molly Ivins with Lou Dubose
Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road by Neil Peart
Will Eisner's New York by Will Eisner
Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Wild Trees by Richard Preston
Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder about Dr. Paul Farmer
Our Choice by Al Gore
A Sense of the World...the story of James Holman the Blind
Traveler (born 1786, died 1857) by Jason Roberts.
Mildred Taylor: Song of the Trees and Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry
Baghdad Burning part I
Baghdad Burning part II by Riverbend who was 24 when we
invaded Iraq and her life changed. She had a job with computers,
but lost it after the war began. She then began blogging her thoughts
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
The Coalwood Way
Sky of Stone
All Creatures Great and Small
All Things Bright and Beautiful
All Things Wise and Wonderful
The Lord God Made Them All
An Alchemy of Mind by Diane Ackerman
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
A Pirate of Exquisite Mind by the Prestons
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey
Mrs. Mike by the Freedmans
Please mention your Songs of Life in the comments below…fiction, non-fiction, plays, films, songs…
Diaries of the Week:
Write On! meeting reader expectations
Kos Katalogue Holiday Mothership Diary - HOTLIST THIS!
by Sara R
Contemporary Fiction Views: Coming together
Robert Fuller says:
Chapter 31 of my novel The Rowan Tree is now available to read for free. Enjoy!(I am adding the overview for the memoir…cfk)
Also if anyone is interested in my memoir, the paperback version is now on Amazon:
The ebook version should be out in a few weeks.
Belonging: A Memoir
Paperback – October 24, 2013
by Robert W. Fuller (Author)
"How did you make the leap from Physics to Dignity?" This question arises at every Robert Fuller talk. Belonging traces Fuller’s personal evolution and suggests that taking one’s questions seriously will lead to a life of meaning and purpose. Accompany Fuller as he meets with “somebodies” like Robert Oppenheimer, Indira Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev, David Bowie, John Denver, and President Jimmy Carter, and share in the wisdom he finds in people whom the world writes off as “nobodies.” Belonging shows how transformative quests await anyone willing to learn from somebodies and nobodies alike.NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early