Observations from the 2016 Adult Summer Reading Club Grand Prize Winner
Each week, participants were asked to answer a question, and their answers served as their entry into the weekly raffle for a tote bag. All weekly entries were entered into the Grand Prize drawing. The Summer Reading Club was funded by the Friends of the Maplewood Library.
Eddie enjoyed entering our drawings every week, and below we share his answers to our weekly questions.
Q: What books are on your “to read” list, and why are they on the list?
A: Swiss Family Robinson (I just started it). Don Quixote (It’s loooong!!). Numerous “How-To’s”. Fun, trashy pulp stuff. This summer is about finally catching up with classic books I have wanted to, but never, read. After, and sometimes during, reading the ‘heavy’ books I need to ‘cleanse the palate’ with lighter reading.
Q:What is your favorite genre, and what do you like about it?
A: Oh boy—this will take some thinking! Certainly fiction, but in my mind that category is so broad. I truly enjoy so many different genres but as far as a favorite? Most of my books fall into the Dickens novels and their ilk! Then a close second would be the Fantasy genre—not so much Sci Fi but Tolkein and C.S. Lewis. Why? Escapism is one thing, but there is nothing like an excellent author leading you through a well-written story that, once you put the book down, you can’t wait to get back to it.
Q: What movie adaptation do you think did the most justice to a book you enjoyed?
A: It’s a toss-up—the Harry Potter movie adaptations—especially the last 4 were wonderfully faithful and true to the spirit. Also The Lord of the Rings was an incredible adaptation. And on the classic front—Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson—just fantastic!
Q:What elements do you look for in a book when deciding what to read?
A: Well, the first thing is a good story told in an interesting way. How do you do that? Book jacket summaries? Google reviews? NY Times suggestions? Friends? And lastly, cover art that catches your eye? Unfortunately, I have a compulsion to finish a book once I start it, it happened with Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. I actually slogged through it—glad I read it, but enjoyable? Not for me, and it won’t be soon that I’ll read Faulkner again—too bad. Life is short and there’s not enough time to read everything. I’m still learning but for now it’s a pleasant surprise when I find a good book—and a quick slog to the end when I don’t!
Q: What book (or books) would you recommend to a friend right now?
A: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, followed by anything by John Steinbeck—unbelievable prose and so rich with imagery! Also The Emerald Atlas series. Fantastic Young Adult fantasy!
Q: What author (alive or not) would you like to have dinner with, and what would you talk about?
A: L. Frank Baum. I would like to ask the inspiration for the Wizard of Oz and if he knew that he had created one of the most evil and despicable characters in literature in the Wizard. To send a child of 9 on a death mission with no brains, heart or courage, under the pretext of proving yourself ‘worthy’ is beyond anything I can imagine. Then we would discuss whether it was truly meant as an allegory or whether he was just a deeply disturbed human being. Hah!
Q: What is the last book that made you cry or laugh (or both)?
A: A Bridge for Passing by Pearl S. Buck. Her sensitivity in writing about the trials of filming a movie of her novel The Wave in Japan, juxtaposed with her family and imminent death of her husband back in Pennsylvania, is wonderful and really insightful. I love all her books.
Q:What (for you) makes a book a satisfying read?
A: I want a good story, well written characters that actually change, and to learn something. I like old-fashioned good guys triumphing—the Harry Potter books are like that, and Lord of the Rings. Please don’t do any more major stories where a ‘Christ-like’ figure is killed by the masses and only then do the people realize what they did. Billy Budd– Red Badge of Courage—they did it brilliantly. Enough! Try something new. (Not too much to ask.)
Q: Write a short review of the best book you read this summer.
A: Boy, by Roald Dahl. What a fantastic insight into the man who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and The Twits, among many others. We see him from birth through young adulthood. The early years, marked with enormous love, loss of a father and horrendously torturous schooling, first in Wales and then boarding school in England, completely reveal where all the unfair torment of children comes from in most of his novels—beatings, whippings from sadistically gleeful headmasters! Is it any wonder his novels are ones that champion children and their worth? That’s not all of course—along the way we get insight into a world of the 1940s and WWII, and Dahl’s love of aviation, literally sailing and soaring into his adulthood and his career. A great read!