Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book Review - Gone with the Wind

I recently conquered all 1,024 pages of Margaret Mitchell's, Gone with the Wind. A book that sold more then 176,000 copies within the first three weeks of it's publication.

As a teen and a young adult, if you asked me what my favorite movie was I would have said, Gone with the Wind. This picture held the record for biggest Hollywood budget, and greatest box-office-money-maker until the year 1997. After 56 years of her reign it took a Titanic to advocate her from her throne. However, movies are not what I am writing about, but the love for the movie did inspire me to take on the book.

Let me begin by saying I do not appreciate any book that depicts any race of human beings as inferior or simple-minded. This is hard for me (being raised in a home free from prejudice) to comprehend. But when a generation is raised to believe such absurdities one must not throw stones. There is not a perfect one among us. We all have ways of thinking that are unhealthy or just plain wrong!

With the above statement made, I want to say that I enjoyed this novel. The Civil War has always held great fascination for me. Not because it was/is the deadliest of all wars to date, (with 646,392 union and confederate dead) but how this bloodshed shaped the country we occupy today.

Scarlett O'Hara is the heroine we all love to hate and hate to love, but somehow we do. Attractive, selfish, confident Scarlett. A woman who thinks she knows what she wants and is willing to do anything to get it.

We follow Scarlett O'Hara-Hamilton-Kennedy-Butler on this voyage. In the face of insurmountable odds this; belle, wife, mother, widow, survives even when all she holds dear is stripped away. Determined not only to survive, but to rise.

This novel takes you on a journey of the South:

Before the war- with it's beautiful ladies-fair in hoop skirts, raised up with one purpose; to catch a husband and run a plantation. The gentlemen who put these ladies on pedestals and believe them incapable of evil or imperfection. Gentleman who did everything for honor's sake and who's character was upright and steadfast. A kingdom of grand plantations, red earth, and sky high cotton fields.

During the war- with it's victorious beginnings and a belief of being invincible. Mid-war still clinging to that hope, but facing the horrors of war and painting on a face that all is well. End-war of lack, death, starvation, and complete annihilation of everything they'd worked for generations to achieve.

After the war- picking up the pieces, maintaining honor in the face of evil, unjust treatment of belles they cherished, and a civilization, gone with the wind...

In face of war, famine, death, and destruction. Scarlett O'Hara always held her head up high. She wouldn't think on unpleasant things. She'd square her shoulders and say, "I won't think about that now. I'll think about that tomorrow." After all, tomorrow is another day.

Disclaimer: I have no financial gain whatsoever in writing of this epic novel or our time.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Organizing a Book Club

I love books! One of my sidebar posts says it best-"These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice... and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart. -Gilbert Highet"

Often I read a great book and long to discuss it with another.

My husband and I years ago read some of the Left Behind series together. The most compelling thing was; if a thought came to mind beneath the cover, the thought need not stay there. It could be expressed on a welcoming ear by someone who knew and could appreciate the knowing. This experience YEARS ago, always left me wanting to be part of something like a book club, although I was not aware of it.

So a few months ago I first broached the subject with a few friends to determine interest. Then set out to start a summer book club of my own. Ten ladies, (including myself) a book chosen, and we're off!

But first came the research. How does one start a book club anyway? So I googled. Here is the knowledge I gleamed from that wonderful search engine.
  • The group commits to reading one book in one months time.

  • A meeting date should be established for the end of that month.

  • How big do you want it?

  • Invite people. (email is your best friend here)

  • Determine what kind of books to consider. (I asked the question of my group, "What genre do you prefer? Are there any that you loath?")

  • Choose a moderator. (this doesn't have to be the organizer, I asked for volunteers)

  • Choose a location- Someone's home? A library? A private room in a restaurant?

  • Do you vote on a book or does the orchestrator choose one?

  • Do you want food? A meal? Appetizers?

  • The orchestrator brings to the meeting 10-12 questions for specific discussion about said book. With more popular books you can find these "discussion questions" online. If it's a less known book you may have to write them yourself.

  • Lastly- the moderator must control the discussion. Make sure the conversation is not dominated by one person, or just an outgoing few leaving the more withdrawn people quiet and feeling left out. Make sure everyone has equal opportunity to voice their thoughts, and keep the dialog mainly on the book.
All this was accomplished without one knocking of a door or one ringing of a telephone. All through email!

Well we have begun for the month of June. The book- Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell. This endeavor also expands you to read a book you may never have chosen on your own. The fun part is whether this book is good, bad, or ugly you have the knowledge that you are not alone. You will soon be free to express the thoughts and feelings accumulating within the pages of this new world.