I wrote last week about Amanda Gorman’s extraordinary inaugural poem. It seems every few hours she’s making more moves.
In March her inaugural poem will be published with an initial printing of one million copies. In September a collection of her poems (along with her inaugural poem) will be published, also with an initial printing of one million copies. She recently signed with IMG Models and will be taking part in the Super Bowl festivities in less than two weeks.
In any scenario all of this would be such phenomenal news, but I know I’m not the only one ecstatic that all these things are happening for a young African-American woman. Amanda Gorman isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And maybe her prediction of one day running for president (she told Hillary Clinton she would run in 2036) isn’t so far off. I’m excited to see what comes next.
Years ago I used to participate in Top Five Wednesday all the time. Then I abandoned the blog and the channel. Recently I’ve been more interested in the topics, but this is a really old meme, so at this point there’s a whole lot of repetition. But when I find a topic I like, I’ll go ahead and participate. I have no idea who is running it anymore, but you can find the Goodreads group here.
With today’s topic I chose five books that are commonly assigned in schools, and that I believe should continue to be.
The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank’s diary during WWII is one of the most read works of the 20th century, with good reason. It provides the child’s perspective during that dark time.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee’s great American novel. The story gives insight into the Deep South in the US in the post Civil War era. Though the country had moved forward, nearly 100 years after the war it was still slow going.
The shortest book of the bunch. Elie Wiesel’s most known work tells of his time in Auschwitz. It’s a brutal, honest, and heartbreaking read.
This book still influences the vampire genre today. It’s the epitome of good vs evil and man vs monster. As you read you cannot help but pull for the group to defeat the Count.
Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t write mediocre books. This one tells the story of successful people. So often we hear about or see targeted ads that claim to have the secret to riches or success. This book shows the secret is hour after hour after hour of hard work.
What are some of your favorite assigned reading books?
Robert Crais has been a favorite author of mine for some time now. In 2020 during my record-setting year of reading I read nine of his books. As of this writing I’ve now read all but the most recent two books he’s published. He’s proven to be in a class of his own among his many contemporaries. Who would you say is the best mystery author writing today?
Yesterday a new president was inaugurated in the US. Though it lacked many of the traditional festivities due to the pandemic, it was still a memorable day.
But Amanda Gorman may have stolen the show. She’s the national youth poet laureate and recited an original poem at the inauguration. No description I provide will do her words any justice. But I will say her words and her exceptional performance once again prove what so many have said in recent years. Words matter. And for years and decades to come, her words will stay with so many among us. Here’s the full poem. I hope you’ll take a minute to listen.
On a day for the history books, @TheAmandaGorman delivered a poem that more than met the moment. Young people like her are proof that "there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it; if only we're brave enough to be it." pic.twitter.com/mbywtvjtEH
I read an article this morning that the right wing government of Hungary has ordered books with LGBT characters/themes to have disclaimers on them so that “consumers aren’t misled” about books that don’t depict traditional gender roles. The books in question are fairy tales written to encourage respecting everyone with different backgrounds.
As someone born in 1991 I’ve never once understood the animosity so many people seem to have toward groups of people different from them. I understand that my worldview isn’t going to be shared by everyone. I also understand that different areas of the world progress at different speeds. But just reading this made me think of some of the actions of Nazi Germany regarding books. Books were banned that didn’t fit their narrative. Books were burned and destroyed. That doesn’t appear to be happening now, but what’s the actual point of these disclaimers? If a consumer decides to buy a product (such as a book) they have every opportunity to decide if it matches their values. If if doesn’t, then they won’t buy it. There is no misleading going on.
I don’t see this as anything more than a shameful attempt to alienate a group of people who have done nothing wrong but try to live honestly.
This is the story of D-Day, the beginning of the end of WWII, from different accounts throughout that momentous day.
There are a great many books (many still being written today) about WWII and especially D-Day. I’m glad this is the one I picked up. As it says in the title this is a minute by minute account of that fateful day. It is not an historical narrative. Though a unique format, it works very well.
The story follows quite a few participants, organizers, civilians, and even quotes from Anne Frank’s diary. One might think this different format may force the reader to struggle to experience the horror and dreadfulness of the day. But that would be wrong. There are several perspectives shared that have you taking deep breaths to continue reading.
What makes this book so good is the German perspectives throughout. Because at the end of it all their perspectives are also worthy of being known and shared. The chaos, the confusion, the desperation, and even the realization that the war could not be won. The author gives all of that from the Germans.
After reading this I may look into a more traditionally written account of D-Day, but I don’t feel it’s at all necessary if I decide not to.
A unique and gripping account of mankind’s greatest day. 5 stars.
On this day in 2020 – 0 books On this day in 2021 – 3 books
Recently read this WWI classic for the first time. The review here is not exactly what’s in the video, but it’s very similar.
The subtitle of this could easily be, “A soldier’s experience in the Great War.”
As an American, so much history is told from the perspective of the West. Most notably, major wars of the 20th century. This flips it. It provides the German perspective.
Though published nearly 100 years ago, so many thoughts from this book would still be valid today. Often Paul, the main character, questions the point of the war altogether. At one point during a discussion with his friends it’s asked how wars start. The response is one country offends another. And this simple, yet poignant message bears truth today.
When reading or learning about war we’re told of the harsh conditions. Often those perspectives come from the winning side, but this tells the story of those same, inhumane conditions from the country also losing the war. It’s impossible for nearly all people to comprehend. Nothing in civilian life can come close.
This is an indictment against those who wish to start wars. So often they’re pointless and accomplish little to nothing. But those responsible for starting the war rarely pay the same price as those they send out to fight. History says Germany lost WW1 and we all know what the Nazis did a short while later. But those men were fighting for their country just the same as their American, Russian, French, and English counterparts. The war was not good for any of them. That’s the point of this story and it does a remarkable job of making its case. 4 stars.
When it comes to co-writing it seems the practice has taken off in recent years. James Patterson may have been the one to popularize it, but many other authors are doing the same.
It was announced earlier in the week that authors Steve Hamilton (one of my faves) has teamed up with super author Janet Evanovich on a forthcoming book titled The Bounty.
Janet Evanovich has sold more books than just about anyone else. To my knowledge she has also co-written previous works with other authors too. Steve Hamilton (I own every one of his books) has not. On the one hand there’s Hamilton, who has won multiple Edgar awards but only managed to notch two bestsellers. On the other Evanovich can sell a million books in her sleep.
This comes across as a unique pairing. Hamilton is not one of the assembly line authors pumping out book after book after book. I have no more knowledge than anyone, but to me this may be a way to introduce her readers to Hamilton in an attempt to gauge potential interest in him continuing her series once she’s no longer writing. She’s 77 and the book is part of an already established series . But who knows?
I’m not a particular fan of authors teaming up to write, but I’m nobody. What do you think?
Back in October when I first returned to the blog I wrote about wanting to write again. I’ve been thinking about it these last 3 months, but still no planning or outlining. There’s no rush. More recently I’ve been thinking much more about the character I want to create.
I know no one has been here since the beginning, but when I first decided to start this blog it was called “Write me a Book, John!”. I still love that name. I created it to document my writing. It was a new, fun experience I’m glad I had. Then the blog went through multiple years of rather exponential growth. I couldn’t keep up with the comments and likes and notifications. But then things fell back to earth because I’ve had several periods of not posting. But now I’m back into the swing of things and let’s get back to the origins.
I’ve been brainstorming character names. I know everyone has their own process and some may search for specific meaning in a name. I don’t. When coming up with a name I mostly go off the sound of it. Which is how I landed on Andrew Banks nearly 8 years ago. Right now I know 2 things for sure. I want the name to be Hispanic and male. The one I keep circling back to is Joe Alvarez. But I’m not convinced. What do you think? What’s your process for coming up with a name?
I wrote previously about taking my time with my reading going forward. For several months now it had been read, read, read all the time. But that’s a recipe for burnout and not reading for six months. No interest in that. So for the last week I’ve been taking it easy. Not reading.
Normally this would likely be the start of a dry period. Sometimes it can last a few weeks and others it can ruin the whole year. But not this time. I felt it was time for a mini break. There’s nothing wrong with that, right?