So here are the books I'm planning to crack open this month.
My goal is to shake things up with historical fiction and science fiction mixed in with some mystery.
I, Claudius is off of the 50 Essential Historical Fiction Novels list done by Abe Books.
Between Two Fires and Updraft are re-reads because it has been too long since I read them for me to read their sequels with any kind of authority. I've been meaning to get into re-reads for a while.
The Vor Game is the next book in the Vorkosigan saga for me.
East of Eden is a classic I've been meaning to get to.
I will no doubt switch this up. I am the moodiest reader I know - but this is the plan so far.
I will enjoy looking at everyone's TBR for the month and, as usual, count on your reviews to break my book budget.
In 1919, Sherwood Anderson published a collection of short stories centering around a town. The book was called Winesburg, Ohio. It remained popular into the 1930s. Around this time, a young journalist named Elizabeth Ingels developed an idea of interconnected stories similar to Anderson's work, but based in California. She mentioned the idea to a young writer named John Steinbeck. At the time, Steinbeck was struggling with his first novel (the later published To a God Unknown) and had managed to publish his second (the cringe-worthy Cup of Gold). He had yet to find his voice and his readers. So he did what any young, unappreciated artist has at least struggled with—he borrowed a good idea.
Now I've heard the argument from some of Steinbeck's devoted fans and scholars: Steinbeck's idea was unique from Ingels' original concept... Ingels wasn't ever going to do anything with the idea anyway... whatever. It doesn't matter and here's why: this book kind of sucks (relatively speaking, anyway). No, some people love it. Many do in fact. I didn't. I consider this one of the author's worsts. This is the twenty-second book I've read of Steinbeck's and, well, personally,Burning Bright made a bigger impact on me. Burning Bright? The experimental one about circus clowns and farmers and sailors? Yes, that one.
What the casual reader of Steinbeck may not know is that the author's earliest works are often far from the realism that Steinbeck is generally known for. The author repeatedly tried to separate himself from this label, a categorization that was cemented with works such as In Dubious Battle and The Grapes of Wrath. This spiritual, magical Steinbeck is most evident in the author's earliest books and latest books. Sometimes these subtle elements of magic worked for the author, other times they didn't; largely, they're either missed or ignored.
The Pastures of Heaven holds some of this early Steinbeck magic. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn't. Either way, the collection as a whole has a rather absurd feel to it. Curses, gnomes, and sex-dealing proprietors of a Mexican restaurant who take “buy one, get one free” to a new level... yet, it's all Steinbeck. The author didn't spend as much time with the setting as he did in later works, but his signature style of laying out the scenery and breathing life into it is intact.
But where The Pastures of Heaven succeeds most is in its characters. I would argue that, amongst Steinbeck's earliest works, this is one of his most character-centric books. These are brief character studies of the people who populate the valley. In these short pieces, no character is given the time to be developed fully, however. Aside from some of the characters, and a couple stories, there's nothing horribly exciting about this collection. Compared to Steinbeck's greatest works, nothing in these stories stands out. Compared to the town of Winesburg, Ohio, however, Las Pasturas del Cielo, California, is much more spellbinding.
The moon is down by John Steinbeck
Had no idea what this book was even about, had just seen who it was by and knew I wanted to read it.
I'm often asked who I'd want to have dinner with and I would always pick John Steinbeck. Have read many of this other works and have enjoyed them.
This one is about wartime in Denmark and how the residents are treated, they band together, some are traitors. Didn't even know the country had coal mines and liked how the kids found the explosives in the snow.
His books make you think about things a bit more deeply.
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).
This is a tough book to rate. I think I would give the writing 4 stars because Steinbeck is such a beautiful writer, but I would give my enjoyment of the book 2 stars. I found the story disjointed, really did not enjoy any of the characters, and there was no real buildup in the story at all. It was just a sad expose of a small part of a town full of the poor and downtrodden. That was likely the point, but I just found it tough to turn the pages.