Category: Must Read Books

Brilliance of John Steinbeck

John_Steinbeck_1962

John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. (February 26, 1902 – December 20, 1968) was an American author of twenty-seven books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books, and five collections of short stories. He is widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939), East of Eden (1952) and the novella Of Mice and Men (1937). Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”. (Wikipedia)

Brilliance of John Steinbeck

He quoted:

A journey is like a marriage.  The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.
– Steinbeck

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No one wants advice – only corroboration.
– Steinbeck
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Time is the only critic without ambition.
– Steinbeck
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Those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, ae the traits of success.
– Steinbeck

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Leo Tolstoy Philosophy

Leo Tolstoy www.historytoday.com

Leo Tolstoy
www.historytoday.com

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (9 September 1828 – 20 November 1910), also known as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russianwriter, philosopher and political thinker who primarily wrote novels and short stories.

Today is Leo Tolstoy’s 186th birth anniversary.
(9 Sept 2014)

Tolstoy’s War and Peace is such a long read that it has entered the dictionary to mean, something long and laborious to read.

But having said that War and Peace is a true classic for everyone’s bucket list (book to read before dying). 😉

I always write in the morning.  In the morning one’s head is particularly fresh.
– L Tolstoy
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Leo Tolstoy Philosophy

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.

– Leo Tolstoy
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It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.
~Leo Tolstoy
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No one who has not sat in prison knows what the State is like.
– Leo Tolstoy

When you feel the desire for power, you should stay in solitude for some time.
– Leo Tolstoy
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Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

cervantesMiguel de Cervantes Saavedra better known as Cervantes was a Spanish novelist, poet and playwright.  His magnum opus, Don Quixote is considered as the first modern European novel and many regard it as one of the best novels ever written.

 

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As Quoted by Cervantes:

All beauty does not inspire love; some please the sight without captivating the affections. If all beauties were to enamour and captivate, the hearts of mankind would be in a continual state of perplexity and confusion—for beautiful objects being infinite, the sentiments they inspire should also be infinite.
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Among the attributes of God, although they are all equal, mercy shines with even more brilliancy than justice.
—Cervantes
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Beauty in a modest woman is like fire or a sharp sword at a distance; neither doth the one burn nor the other wound those that come not too near them.

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Can we ever have too much of a good thing?
– Cervantes

Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observers a promise.
– Cervantes
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Everyone is as God made him and oftentimes a good deal worse.
– Cerantes
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Fortune always leaves some door open in misfortune.
– Cervantes
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Fear is sharp-sighted, and can see things under ground, and much more in the skies.
– Cervantes
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God bears with the wicked, but not forever.
– Cervantes

He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more; but he that loses his courage loses all.
— Cervantes
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History is the depository of great actions, the witness of what is past, the example and instructor of the present, and monitor to the future.
—Cervantes
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Honor and virtue are ornaments of the soul, without which the body, though it be really beautiful, ought not to be thought so.
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Hunger is the best sauce in the world. ~
Cervantes
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I find my familiarity with thee has bred contempt.
– Cervantes
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Ill-luck, you know, seldom comes alone.
– Cervantes
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I never thrust my nose into other men’s porridge. It is no bread and butter of mine; every man for himself, and God for us all.
– Cervantes
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It is a true saying that a man must eat a peck of salt with his friend before he knows him.
– Cervantes
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Let me leap out of the frying-pan into the fire; or, out of God’s blessing into the warm sun.
– Cervantes
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Let the worst come to the worst.
– Cervantes
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Let every man mind his own business.
– Cervantes
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Let him who is deceived complain.
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Let him to whom faith is broken despair.
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Murder will out.
– Cervantes
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Much time is necessary to know people thoroughly.

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No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self-deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.
– Cervantes
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Out of the frying-pan into the fire.
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One man is no more than another, only inasmuch as he does more than another.
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Plain as the nose on a man’s face.[
– Cervantes
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She who loves none can make none jealous, and sincerity ought not to pass for disdain.
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Sing away sorrow, cast away care.
– Cervantes
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Sometimes we look for one thing and find another.
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Self-praise depreciates.
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THE beauty of some women has days and seasons, depending upon accidents which diminish or increase it; nay, the very passions of the mind naturally improve or impair it, and very often utterly destroy it.
– Cervantes.
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The guts carry the feet, not the feet the guts.
– Cervantes

True love cannot be divided, and must be voluntary and unconstrained.
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The viper deserves no blame for its sting, although it be mortal—because it is the gift of Nature.
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There is no remembrance which time does not obliterate, nor pain which death does not terminate.
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Thank you for nothing.
– Cervantes
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The brave man carves out his fortune, and every man is the son of his own works.
– Cervantes
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Under a bad cloak there is often a good drinker.
– Cervantes

We are sure of nothing in this life.

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Why do you lead me a wild-goose chase?
– Cervantes
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Which I have earned with the sweat of my brows.
– Cervantes
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Literary Bronte Sisters

Bronte Sisters:  Anne, Charlotte and Emily

 

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Charlotte, Emily and Anne were well-known poets and novelists of the 19th Century.

As custom practised by female authors at that time, Charlotte, Emily and Anne published their works using musculine pen names Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell respectively.

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Sisterly Quotes

“But he who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.”
– Anne Bronte
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“If you would have your son to walk honorably through the world, you must not attempt to clear the stones from his path, but teach him to walk firmly over them – not insist upon leading him by the hand, but let him learn to go alone.” 
~ Anne Bronte

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He that dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.
– Anne Bronte
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“It is better to arm and strengthen your hero, than to disarm and enfeeble your foe.”
– Anne Bronte
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Life, believe, is not the dream
So dark, as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
– Anne Bronte
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A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.
– Charlotte Bronte
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I would rather undergo the greatest bodily pains than have my heart constantly lacerated b searing regrets.
– Charlotte Bronte
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Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.
– Charlotte
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A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.
– Emily Bronte
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Any relic of the dead is precious, if they were valued living.
– Emily Bronte
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Honest people don’t hide their deeds.
– Emily Bronte
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I have dreamed in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.
~Emily Bronte
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Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.
~Emily Brontë

John Bunyan, English Preacher & Author

Bunyan-frontis-1862-edition-of-The-Pilgrims-ProgressJohn Bunyan (1628-88) was an English preacher and author

John Bunyan was no stranger to prison.  He did not go to prison to console or preach to prisoners.  As a matter of fact, John Bunyan spent twelve years in gaol for refusing to stop preaching. This was during the time when Monarchy was restored, thereby new sets of rules were applied including curtailing freedom for the non-conformist.

Whilst in prison, he wrote  at least two of his masterpieces, the Grace Abounding was written around 1666 during his first term of imprisonment and the more popular The Pilgrim’s Progress was started when he was again sent to gaol for the second time.

 

As Quoted by John Bunyan:

An idle man’s brain is the devil’s workshop.
— Bunyan
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One leak will sink a ship: and one sin will destroy a sinner.

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”

 

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Anton Chekov – Master Storyteller

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (29 January 1860 – 15 July 1904) was a Russian physician, dramaturge and author who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short stories in history.

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (29 January 1860 – 15 July 1904) was a Russian physician, dramaturge and author who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short stories in history.

Anton Chekov – Master Storyteller

When I think of Chekov I always think of his play “The Cherry Orchard”, which apparently he wrote just before he died.  The play was very influential.  It is about the rise of the middle class while toppling down the aristocracy.

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Vault of Anton Chekov’s Sayings:

A woman can only become a man’s friend in three stages: first, she’s an agreeable acquaintance, then a mistress, and only after that a friend.

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Brevity is the sister of talent.


If you are afraid of loneliness, don’t marry.
– Anton Chekov

I’m in mourning for my life.
– Chekov
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If there is a gun hanging on the wall in the first act, it must fire in the last.
– Anton Chekov

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Man is what he believes.
– Anton Chekov
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Man must work by the sweat of his brow whatever his class, and that should make up the whole meaning and purpose of his life and happiness and contentment.

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Medicine is my lawful wife and literature is my mistress.  When I get tired of one of them I spend the night with the other.  Though it’s disorderly it’s not so dull, and besides, neither really loses anything from my infidelity.

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The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.
– Anton Chekov
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We do not have to depict life as it is, or as it ought to be, but as we see it in our dreams.

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Women don’t forgive failure.

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Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) – Jose P Rizal

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I read this book in high-school as part of the school curriculum. I seemed to have forgotten most of the plot but I remember it was very good. 🙂

I saw this book still prominently displayed at the National Bookstore in Manila last year and I thought I buy it and reread it once again and perhaps get a better perspective of what the story was about after all it does need a bit of special attention, it being one of the books that propelled and inspired Filipino ancestors from the 18th/19th century to take up arms and fight for independence against the 333 years of Spanish tyrannical colonisation of the Philippines.

This Noli Me Tangere version is in Tagalog. I must admit, having gotten used to thinking, speaking, watching and reading English all the time, this version  takes getting used to reading pure Tagalog once again. And this Tagalog version is the old fashion kind. As I said it takes getting used to it again. I kept stopping almost in every sentence to admire and mentally practise saying words that have become archaic in my everyday vocabulary. It is a nice feeling going over each word.

I think it was Jose Rizal himself who said:

Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika ay daig pa ang malansang isda.

The english literal tanslation is “Those who do not love their own language are worse than rotten fish!

No Siree I do not really want to be one of those rotten fish! LOL

Movies & Books

Something to consider:

Never judge a book by its movie.
– J.W. Egan

solePeter, who is an avid reader of Dean Koontz’s novels reckons that the movies made based on Koontz’s books have not done his stories justice, like Stephen King’s.  Dean Koontz’s still needs his own Shawshank Redemption or even the Green Mile which are excellent movie adaptations of the King’s books.

I think the Harry Potter movies were a credit to the books. I think it was because J.K. Rawling ensured that she was in consultation throughout the making of the film.

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Gone With The Wind was a novel by Margaret Mitchell.  This won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1937.  The book was subsequently made into a movie which became iconic starring Clark Gable and Vivienne Leigh.  The film is one of the longest films ever made lasting an interesting 3hours and 58minutes.

The Beauty of Books

On 6th March 2014 was World Book Day 2014. Schools here in the UK were celebrating this event by asking pupils to dress up in their favourite book characters.

Jean and I love reading and buying books or borrowing books from our local library, Childs Hill Library, N.W. London. I have used this small and charming library since my childhood, for about 50 years now. I have seen many changes. The library building used to belong to our local church All Saints, then it was sold to Barnet Borough Council in the 1950s, who converted it into library. After reading comics I remember reading my first book at age of 11. It was a sci-fi book called ‘Terror By Satellite’ I then enjoyed borrowing & reading John Wyndham sci-fi novels from the library in my early teen years.

For many years the library had solid dark wooden shelves divided in to subject sections.  There was a kindly elderly & eccentric librarian called Frank, who loved books and would indeed talk to them as he replaced books on the shelves. He was probably the last qualified & experienced librarian we had.  His nice library assistant Olga took over running the library after Frank retired. Olga and her assistant Min were friendly and we knew them well.

About 10 years ago,  the library was extensively refurbished and redecorated.  It became more open plan, lighter and airier inside.

With the economic woes that came to the UK etc.,  Childs Hill Library has been lucky to escape closure which happened to many libraries.  It is popular and local campaigns kept it open and the library  became a base for the borough mobile library service.

With the cut back in staff, permanent library assistants are now rare, with assistants rotating between borough libraries.  Libraries now also have volunteer unpaid staff to keep a library open. So we see different staff when we visit. Also libraries are becoming self-service,  there are machines which we use  to scan out books with our tickets and scan in again when we return a book.

Previously  the library staff would log a book out and stamp the return date in the book.  Before computer systems the book was booked out by staff  entering it into a manual register system, they them date stamped a  small card and placed it into an envelope glued onto the first cover page of the book.

When I was younger I wanted to be a librarian, who knows I may end up helping after retirement 🙂

I actually did some library duties at my place of work.  At the small library, we mainly had crime related books. I used the Dewey Decimal system to catalogue new books to the library.

Childs Hill Library
Childs Hill Libary

Now most libraries have internet linked computers, printers and coffee machines for visitors. redundant books& DVDs are sold at a cheap price.
I enjoy visiting libraries browsing books looking at the decor and building. I have recently joined a small library near work, so I can go at some lunchtime
Libraries are crucial for local social well-being, education recreation.

In general with the advent and increase in books that can be digitally downloaded and bulk stored from companies such as Amazon books for reading on electronic devices such as Kindle, iPad, smart phones and other tablet PCs, the future of the printed book, book shops and libraries is uncertain. The electronic book (variously: e-book, eBook, e-Book, ebook, digital book, or even e-edition for newspapers and magazines is revolution how we obtain and read books etc.

I am old school as they say,  preferring  the look, feel and yes the odour (if antique) of a printed book. Printed books last and do not require electric power to make the words appear. 😉

Some of our many books

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A small selection of our  books and the ubiquitous tablet PC and smart phone that replace the printed book!

I like to browse old/antiquarian book shops (fast disappearing too) charity shops from books . I have few old books, one dated in 1750s!

Reading for me opens and creates new worlds and indeed universes if reading sci-fi (science fiction). Words feed my imagination more so than watching TV or movies.
Reading exercises our imagination and thinking. Too much TV etc., merely makes our minds lazy and a substitute for our own  imaginations. (excellent documentaries excepted).
I find radio documentaries, drama stimulate imagination too.
Being able to read is also very important in life and books encourage and aid children and adults learning to read.

Jean and I read a diverse subjects. We both like reference books, science, history, nature, biography religion, philosophy etc. As for fiction, I like to read US and some British crime /detective crime detective novels & sci-fi. I really like reading medieval crime mysteries too as the authors offer enjoyable plots as well as give real history back drops, which are informative and interesting.
It is estimated that 40% of books we buy are only part read or not read at all!
We could say looking at our bookshelves that those books we have read are the past and those we have not read are the future to be explored 😉

Do you have favourite books? Please let us know.

Papa Hemingway’s favourite Wild West burger

Looking at the aways interesting  BBC News Magazine at lunchtime the following article made me hungry 🙂
It shows ionic writer Ernest Hemingway the legendary bon vivant liked gourmet burgers which are de riguer today.

His novel  ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ is a classic.

Below is his annotated Wild West burger recipe

Papa Hemingway’s favourite Wild West burger

Hemingways recipe624

Ingredients–

1 lb. ground lean beef

2 cloves, minced garlic

2 little green onions, finely chopped

1 heaping teaspoon, India relish

2 tablespoons, capers

1 heaping teaspoon, Spice Islands sage

Spice Islands Beau Monde Seasoning — 1/2 teaspoon

Spice Islands Mei Yen Powder — 1/2 teaspoon

1 egg, beaten in a cup with a fork

About 1/3 cup dry red or white wine

1 tablespoon cooking oil

What to do–

Break up the meat with a fork and scatter the garlic, onion and dry seasonings over it, then mix them into the meat with a fork or your fingers. Let the bowl of meat sit out of the icebox for ten or fifteen minutes while you set the table and make the salad. Add the relish, capers, everything else including wine and let the meat sit, quietly marinating, for another ten minutes if possible. Now make your fat, juicy patties with your hands. The patties should be an inch thick, and soft in texture but not runny. Have the oil in your frying pan hot but not smoking when you drop in the patties and then turn the heat down and fry the burgers about four minutes. Take the pan off the burner and turn the heat high again. Flip the burgers over, put the pan back on the hot fire, then after one minute, turn the heat down again and cook another three minutes. Both sides of the burgers should be crispy brown and the middle pink and juicy.

 

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway

“We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other” wrote Ernest Hemingway in A Moveable Feast. Could it have been a wholesome burger that made them sleep so well, asks Tanvi Misra?

According to Sandra Spanier, general editor of the Hemingway Letters Project, Papa’s favourite hamburger recipe – made available in digital form by the John F Kennedy Presidential Library on Tuesday – reveals quite a bit about the author and his fourth wife, Mary.

It’s no surprise that he liked his burger “pink and juicy in the middle” but what about the soy sauce, and the half-teaspoon of Spice Islands Mei Yen Powder? “One of Hemingway’s favourite restaurants was in Havana’s Chinatown,” says Spanier. He loved Chinese food.

Also notable is the sheer range of items thrown into the mix – India relish, capers, wine, parsley… This captures a “gusto that’s very characteristic” of Hemingway, Spanier says. “It’s indicative of his enjoyment of the pleasures of life,” and also the range of his tastes, from low-brow to high-brow. He was as comfortable on a boat with Cuban fisherman, Spanier says, as he was dining at the Ritz Hotel in Paris. As burgers go, this is quite ritzy.

Hemingway’s passion for food and drink is often reflected in his writing. Whole paragraphs describe the frothy bubbling of pancake batter in a skillet, and the sip from a tin of apricots in one of his earliest short stories, Big Two-Hearted River, Spanier notes. A Moveable feast, published after his death, contains a loving description of eating oysters with cold white wine.
Mary wrote that they ate the hamburgers to fortify them for “tramping through the sagebrush after pheasant, partridge or ducks” in Idaho or Wyoming, which they visited every autumn. She typed the recipe out for the Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery while Hemingway was still alive, Spanier says. The version above, with the added “Wild West” tag, was for a later edition.

After Hemingway’s death in 1961, as relations between the US and Cuba deteriorated, Mary needed help getting back into Cuba to reclaim documents and memorabilia. President Kennedy and Fidel Castro intervened to make it possible – which explains the JFK library’s interest in Hemingway’s papers. This recipe was among those left behind.