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Showing posts from March, 2016

Bulfinch's Mythology, by Thomas Bulfinch (1959)

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Before I review this wondrous work, I should tell you what qualifies, to my mind, as a great book. First and last is the writer's command of the language. I relish books whose authors, above all, know how to string words together in such a way as to create a kind of music, whose prose, because they're so well crafted, I have to resist rereading aloud. I realize that's a stringent demand. Keep in mind, that's my ideal, not my minimum requirement. 
Still, I'm unreasonable in this area, since, let's face it, most writers can't be as good at their craft as, say, Robertson Davies, Nabokov, Colleen McCullough, Steinbeck, J.D. Salinger, Mary Stewart, Dickens, Kipling, Conrad, Jane Austen, or Graham Greene, and, true, I shouldn't hold all writers to such standards. I concede that point. Nevertheless, I'll give a superbly written book up to four out of five stars, regardless plot, characters, or, in the case of non-fiction, subject matter. For example, I'…

My Love Affair with Books

I wasn't always an avid reader. As a child and a young teen, the only time I cracked open a book was when my brother and I misbehaved, since, as punishment, our mother would force us to memorize specific chapters from the book of Psalms. Books in our home were shelf decor, neither springboards for the imagination nor educational resources. My scant reading meant poor reading skills which in turn meant scant reading. This vicious cycle kept me away from books and in front of the cathode ray.
School was no different. Because I abhorred the public school environment, I resisted instruction. And not applying myself meant consequently learning next to nothing. It wasn't until after high school that I realized it wasn't knowledge I despised but the imposed regimen, a regimen that determined precisely when and what to memorize.
This attitude changed when I turned eighteen. Eligible to vote and registered for selective service, I took inventory of my ignorance under the tutelage of …