Sunday, December 12, 2010

Opening Lines Are Tough

Now that I've gotten myself into this mess, I suppose I should get started.  I've begun working my way through Owen's Library.  I was hoping for some surprises and I've already gotten a few!  None of the books were empty shells hiding large sums of cash between the covers.   That would have been a great surprise, no?  I have, however, come across a book or two that have been pretty darn great and enjoyable reads to boot.  Surprise!  Way better surprises than those times when I catch myself in the mirror and think "Who is that old woman in my house?" and then realize that it's me.  Now there's a shocking moment.  I often need to sit down when that happens to catch my breath.

While we're on the subject of sitting down (Sally Segue, that's me!), I have had the chance to sit down with banker's box #1 and am ready to share what's inside.  Here goes:

1.  My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

   Asher Lev is a young boy, an Orthodox Jew, living with his mother and father, both of whom work for the influential rabbi of their community.  Asher is a gifted artist, seeing his world through a lens that puts him in direct opposition to his community and to his family.  As he grows to adulthood, the tension between his gift and his familiar world becomes tighter and tighter until he must make a choice between the two. 
  Did I like this book?  It was interesting.  I am glad I read it.  Is it one that I would read again?  Probably not.  There were scenes that I might go back to, but I don't think I would re-read the whole book.  Am I interested in keeping this in my library?  Not so much.  Would I recommend it?  If you read Potok's more famous works The Chosen or The Promise and enjoyed those works, then you very well might enjoy this one as well.  Incidentally, I was reading about Chaim Potok and saw that he had written a sequel to Asher Lev called The Gift of Asher Lev.  I think I might put that one on the library list.  I'm interested to see where Asher Lev ends up.

Monday, December 06, 2010

 Owen’s Library

My grandfather, Owen, was a great collector of many things.  Paintings, tools (functional and not), costume jewelry, anything that might attract large amounts of dust, people who loved him, more dusty things and books.  Granted, that is only a partial and inconclusive list, I must assume that the picture has been painted.  After his death, my amazing aunts and uncles, along with numerous cousins and my pretty great brother, began the mountainous task of cleaning out his houses.  It is taking a long time and much work, plenty of tears and even more laughter.  One of the big questions is “what to do with ALL those books?”.

I have decided to take on that task.  I don’t know what will eventually happen to the boxes and boxes  (and boxes) of books.  Will I be able to find a buyer; who buys old books these the days of Kindles and E-readers?  Will I donate them?  If that is indeed the case, who would want 30 plus bankers boxes of pre-1970 books? I can guarantee that none of these are from Oprah’s bookclub or have sparkly vampires as protagonists.  What I can say, without hesitation, is that I am going to read as many of them as I am able.  This is how I am going to honor my wonderful granddad, I am going to spend time lovingly paying attention to something he collected and valued. 

Thus I am turning my blog over, for the time being, to cataloging those books I encounter on my journey.  I expect some to be dry and dull, my grandfather was a military man and I have a relatively short attention span for minute detail.  I hope there are some that surprise me.  But most of all, I hope that I am able to spend even a little bit of every day remembering an extraordinary man by doing what I love more than most anything: reading.