The movie made from this book is one of the few that makes me cry every time I see it. The line "Your mother's not in there Ian!" makes my chest hitch...moreThe movie made from this book is one of the few that makes me cry every time I see it. The line "Your mother's not in there Ian!" makes my chest hitch and tears well up in the corners of my eyes. In the film you see the dynamic of the family, and how tragedy has hit them time and time again, and you feel the hope that in the afterlife, they can be together in love and happiness.
The book, though well written and easy to conceive, does not have the emotional pull that the film does. First there is significantly less tragedy involved and you never really get the sense of the bond and the love that they had for each other. The children are only mentioned and have little to no relevance in the book. Chris's journey through the afterlife reads more as a disembodied manual. First this happened, then this happened then this happened. It's much harder to fell engaged with the book. Also rather than being love lost and feeling the immediate need of the reuniting of Chris and Ann, Chris comes across as a whiner with a puppyish infatuation, rather than a man distraught over the separation from his wife.
On the whole this is a good book, and I believe that in more liberal schools it should be required reading to open up the discussion about the different beliefs of life after death. Matheson was nice enough to include a bibliography in the back so that you can track down the research he did. I believe that this is an enlightening book, but not the emotional story that the film was. (less)
After having read "The Hound of the Baskervilles" children's version at the age of 10, for some reason I believed that I knew all there was to know ab...moreAfter having read "The Hound of the Baskervilles" children's version at the age of 10, for some reason I believed that I knew all there was to know about Mr. Holmes. When the whim struck me I started reading "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and discovered that there is far more to these stories than I had originally given credit for. This is a series of short stories, told from the voice of Holmes' famous confidant Dr. Watson.
This is a series of mysteries that Sherlock Holmes encounters that are told at a swift pace with very little spare verbiage to wade through. Doyle has an excellent mind for the mysteries, keeping them fresh, new, and interesting. Though often I was able to figure out from the very beginning what was going one, I assume it is due to these tales having been used as the basis for so many other mysteries that they may have become familiar. None the less it is always entertaining to follow Sherlock's mind through the twists and turns of the clues to piece together the truth of what is laid out before you.
I have to admit as a parent, that I am glad I elected to read this before handing it over to my son, a 10 year old who read the children's version of the "Hound of the Baskervilles" and has since become a Sherlock Holmes fanatic in the way that only a 10 year old can achieve. Anyway, I purchased this book for him to read and ended up sitting down and skimming it when leaping out of the page at me was the word "cocaine." It immediately dawned on me that this book was written in the times of the opium dens when cocaine was the height of fashion. I decided I'd best read the book and sure enough much to my dismay, Sherlock Holmes mentioned vices include smoking tobacco (no biggie) and shooting cocaine (a REAL biggie for a 10 year old).
Now I personally enjoyed reading this book, never growing weary of the style or the topics. But I have to admit that I elected not to share it with my son for a few more years. My only complaint with this book is that even though it is technically a short story book, it does not read like one. So when you get to the end of the final story, you are left feeling as though someone ripped the last few pages out of your book. There is little to no closure to the series of tales. For some reason I had been expecting there to have been some sort of closure, or a summation from Dr. Watson as to why he chose to include the cases he did, or something about his dear friend Holmes, but as with all short story books, when the final mystery is solved, there is no point turning the page because you are done.(less)
It had been many years since I had read a Jules Verne novel, and to be honest, I couldn't recall his skill as a writer at all. When I dug this book of...moreIt had been many years since I had read a Jules Verne novel, and to be honest, I couldn't recall his skill as a writer at all. When I dug this book off of my bookshelf I admit, I was simply bored and looking for something mindless to read while the children fought over gluing cotton balls to construction paper.
I admit that it took my mind a while to re-acclimate to the writing style of the time, not that it was difficult to read, it was just far too easy to skim. So, bringing my mind to a screeching halt, I sat down and began to truly read this wonderful novel. Let me begin with saying that the science in the novel is extremely outdated but at the time of it's writing, was plausible. If you can get your mind past the huge hurtle of your current scientific knowledge, you can appreciate this book for what it is: a brilliant science fiction/adventure novel. The conventions of the time include misunderstandings of the makeup of the earth, and the propensity to marry one's own cousins.
The book is written in the form of a diary at times, and a retelling at times, of events that had passed previously. The voice of the book is the character Harry, nephew and assistant to Professor Von Hardwigg. The novel begins with the professor's discovery of a secret parchment which when decoded gives the location that a previous explorer used to enter the bowels of the earth. The immediately set out to follow in the footsteps of this great explorer of centuries before. Joining them is Hans, the apparent superman of Iceland. He never complains, rarely talks, and saves the lives of those around him on a regular basis. I cannot help but to believe that this is Verne's ideal man, his "Adonis" if you will. The Professor, though he loves Harry, is a closet ADHD case hidden behind a brilliant and stubborn mind. There is great adoration for his nephew, on those occasions when he stops moving or talking long enough to notice him. Harry, who is telling the story, is easily written off as a coward; however he is so much more than that if you take into account the beliefs of the time. He is following his uncle on a dangerous journey into the unknown to a place he does not even believe exists. (Harry's beliefs are far closer to the reality that we understand, however in this novel they are all completely incorrect)
Upon entering the depths of the earth many hardships and terrors await the three, ranging from dehydration, starvation, dinosaurs, many falls, getting separated, raging storms on underground seas and volcanic eruptions. I won't go into great detail suffice to say that the movie, though highly entertaining, does no justice to this story. Spray painted iguanas with horns are far from what is described in this book. If you have spare time on you hands, this is an excellent read and I would highly recommend it to anyone. There is a reason that this is considered "Literature." (less)
I read the children’s classic version of this book back when I was about 8 years old. Since then I had always assumed that somewhere out there lurked...moreI read the children’s classic version of this book back when I was about 8 years old. Since then I had always assumed that somewhere out there lurked the “real” version, which in my mind was pictured to both look and read similar to “The Three Musketeers” or “Moby Dick.” When I finally got around to reading the “adult version,” I laughed when I realized that this is still a children’s novel. It’s an old fashioned action adventure clearly written with little boys about the age of 12 in mind.
The short summary: Jim, is a preteen who lives with his parents at the little inn and tavern that they own. A rough and unruly customer comes to stay with them, a salty old pirate with inappropriate stories and foul drinking songs. Jim is enthralled with the man and befriends him; the old crusty pirate even pays Jim to “Keep an eye out for a man with one leg.” When the rest of the pirates locate the inn where Jim and his family live, they make an appearance, demanding something that the old pirate had taken from them. Through an act of both luck and bravery, Jim and his mother escape the pirates and take with them the hidden object – a map showing the location of an enormous buried treasure. Jim, the good Doctor, and a few other individuals from town decide to rent a boat to go after the treasure… but when they start their voyage, a man with one leg joins the boat as the cook and the rest of the crew isn’t behaving quite properly. The rest of the tale involves mutiny, back stabbing, treachery, treasure, gunfights, castaways and adventure of the highest caliber.
This is one of the most well written adventure novels I have ever read, and I have encouraged my 10 year old son to try to give it a read. Back when this was written, I would assume that every 9-12 year old little boy (and many little girls as well) probably lay in their beds at night reading and dreaming of being whisked away by pirates to find buried treasure. Since then our language has changed so dramatically that I believe that the under 12 crew may have difficulty with some of the phrasing and word choices in this novel. If giving this to a younger child, I would plan to work with them through some of the tougher portions, specifically the technical bits about the ship (explaining what a mizzenmast is) and some of the pirate’s dialogue which is often written phonetically. You can solve the pirate problem by telling them to read it aloud and try to sound like Captain Jack Sparrow from “Pirates of the Caribbean.” My son had a much easier time when I would read those passages to him doing a pirate accent.
Even if your much older than 12, I still highly recommend reading this, it is a quick read with a truly fairytale ending. The good guys win and the bad guys lose and the moral of the story is honor, duty, keeping your word, and being a good person will bring you good fortune, whereas acting like a despicable pirate will only bring you down in the end. There also seems to be a fairly strong anti-alcohol message in the book, as the good guys capitalize on the intoxication of the pirates over and over and rarely drink the stuff themselves. It’s not beaten over your head… but it might just be strong enough to make the little ones think “Well I’m not going to do that!”
I couldn’t recommend this story enough, for individuals of all ages; we are planning on reading it out loud at bedtime so that our 7 year old can enjoy the dreams of buried treasure and pirates. There is a reason this tale has stood the test of time, and I suggest reading it yourself, and with your little ones if you have any.
Parent note- in my summary I stated that the Pirate sings foul songs and tells inappropriate stories, these are not related in the book and are only reference in the fact that Jim’s mother is horrified that the pirate tells him such things. So you don’t have to worry about profanity or any other lewd discussions. (less)
Unfortunately I made it through both high school and college without ever having been assigned this book. Over the years I have read plenty of Wilde'...more Unfortunately I made it through both high school and college without ever having been assigned this book. Over the years I have read plenty of Wilde's works, but for some reason or another, missed this one over and over. I recently sat down, and decided that it was time to give this a read. To be honest, I knew very little about this actual book prior to reading it, other than it involved a picture that aged rather than he in the painting.
I expected to have difficulty reading this book, since it had been such a long time since I had read anything from the Victorian era, however the language was surprisingly simple, and Wilde's wit is as sharp as ever. Almost sharp enough to harm the reader should they not be forewarned or guided through the readings. Should someone of a weaker mind read this book, it would be easy to fall into the trap of Dorian, who himself was poisoned by a book and the words of his friend.
Summary without giving too much away: Dorian Gray is an Adonis-like beauty, young and full of life and innocence at the beginning of our story. His beauty has attracted the obsession of a painter who paints picture after picture of him. Basil (the painter) tries to keep young Dorian pure and in love with life. Henry, a friend of Basil's comes to the studio as Basil paints his master work - a portrait of Doran. Henry fascinates young Dorian in his vile manner of speaking and sarcastic wit. His talk instills in Dorian both a fear of losing his beauty and a lust for all that is selfish and vile in life. Dorian's notable debauchery follows in exquisite detail with Henry always along for the ride to prod young Dorian down the wrong road. Several suicides and a murder or two later, complete madness begins to make its appearance.
Wilde was brilliant in his writing of this book, he captures the time perfectly... the lust of it, the sexuality of it, the debauchery of it... all in the name of truth. In their words they say things that their hearts dare not to believe and their smiles are masks hiding the truth. And what if someone believed in these lies? What if they lived their life according to what they had been told? Then they would be Dorian Gray... and we will see what happens to him. This is a brilliant read, and for those of you who will have to write papers on it... the story is not long, but it is thick with meaning. There are very few stories that I would give 5 stars to, this is one of them. (less)
Wilde created a wonderful haunted house, and a ghost who has through the last 300 years terrorized the Canterville family. Wilde has always been brill...moreWilde created a wonderful haunted house, and a ghost who has through the last 300 years terrorized the Canterville family. Wilde has always been brilliant in his simplicity, in his wit, and in how quickly you become charmed by his characters.
Sir Simon (the ghost) is doomed to haunt the Canterville estate for the wrongs he comitted in life... these include the murder of his wife. His legend has grown through the years and he has terrified everyone who has lived in the house. All is going well for Sir Simon until the house is sold to an American family who absolutely refuses to be frightened by him. Their children torment him and set up booby-traps, The husband and wife offer the ghost grease for his chains and medicine for the sounds of his laughter, which they mistake as a cough of some sort.
Finally Sir Simon is driven to near madness and hides or creeps quietly about the house for fear that the Americans will notice him. Their young daughter Virginia, is the one who truely makes contact with him. I agree with the other reviewers that I wish this relationship had been more fully developed, but Wilde's conciseness prevents this. Virginia helps the old Ghost and everyone lives or dies happily ever after. A very short and sweet story that I sadly finished in less than a half an hour.
Even though it was short, the simple fact that every reader is left wanting more without needing it shows why this is a 5 star story. (less)
Back in high school I read this book and absolutely hated every page of it. The other day I decided that it was time for a re-read so I pulled it back...moreBack in high school I read this book and absolutely hated every page of it. The other day I decided that it was time for a re-read so I pulled it back out and started reading.
Short Summary: Jurgis and his extended family migrate to America from Lithuania in search of the American Dream. When they arrive they discover that the American dream may not be available to them, what is available to them is scam after scam, starvation, freezing winters, and slave labor for pitiful wages.
The first chapter of the book is generally enough to make all but the most dedicated readers consider turning back. It is an extended wedding scene with little to know explanation as to who these people are that we are reading about. Though we do meet up with many of the characters later in the book, it's really not the most desirable place for us to leap into the story. The wedding between Jurgis and Ona is a happy affair that nearly breaks their pitiful bank. After this chapter we leap back to the family coming over to America, fumbling about to find a place to stay, trying to learn enough English to get by, and attempting to find jobs.
The family does not have an easy time of it... there are thousands of people in the Chicago area starving for lack of work, the slaughterhouses have their pick of employees, can pay them almost nothing, and can turn them out to the streets with no notice. Women and children are forced to work as well, trying desperately to make ends meet, keep food on the table, and keep coal in the stove for heat.
The bulk of this novel focuses on the horrors of life in that time, particularly the atrocities committed by the slaughterhouses and the meat packing industry. I assure you that after reading this book you will think before you take your next bit of beef or pork (especially sausage). The horrors that this novel brings to light are almost unbelievable in this day and age, but they were true. One cannot even imagine going through the days and nights as this family does. Every time they begin to believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it is extinguished again. This book follows the tragic breaking down of the human spirit, the death of the soul, and the degradation of humanity on such a scale as to be almost unbelievable. Sinclair takes us to the brink of despair, we want this family to make it, we want their spirits to soar! We want to see hope glimmering in their eyes and food in their bellies. Such vivid characters and such terrible scenes will stick with the reader long after the book has been closed.
But that is just the first 3/4 of the book... of all of the classics that I have read, both modern and ancient... so far this one has the least satisfying ending. In the last 5 or so chapters of the book, Jurgis is swept up by the socialist movement, and from that point on the reader simply reads speech after speech of socialist propaganda so thick that Sinclair almost leaps out of the book and bashes you over the skull with it. Page after page of brand new, came out of nowhere characters - people we know nothing about theorizing and pontificating over the joys and hopes that the socialist movement is bringing to the people. Page after page of how material wealth should be government run and intellectual wealth should be free, and how the whole concept of Socialism will solve everyone's problems and we can all live happily ever after should we vote socialist.
Now I have nothing against socialism, heck the good old US of A is a socialist country, even though they'll fight you rather than admit it. But I don't like anyone's theories jammed down my throat... especially after they have just drug me through the gutter and have me all emotional about the horrible lives the poor characters are living. I almost took offense to the ending - Jurgis and his family deserved a better ending to their story than than!
I am giving this book 3 stars, the first 3/4 of it is 5 star material, the last couple of chapters was 1-2 star material the appeared out of nowhere, so I'm splitting the difference. I remember now that my hatred of this book back in high school was for the same reason, and I recall arguing with my teacher that this book could have been great if he had let me rip the last 3 chapters off of it... or if Sinclair had woven his socialist theory throughout the book rather than slapping it on at the end. Still I highly recommend reading this book, even if you don't bother reading all of the speeches at the end.(less)