Hi everyone! Sorry for the late posting about this week’s reading. My family and I are busy visiting my in-laws in (not-so) sunny Arkansas. This morning, it rained ice. Not my idea of fun, but the setting is gorgeous, and it’s always nice to be around family!
This week we’re reaching the end of our November “Month of Travel” reading, and capping the month off with David W. Shaw’s The Sea Shall Embrace Them: The Tragic Story of the Steamship Arctic.
This story brings us aboard the American steamship Arctic, and discusses a fateful collision with French steamship Vesta, which killed more than 400 people. The book comes recommended from my stepfather Grant (hi Grant!), and if he goes out of his way to recommend something, I know it’s going to be good! The book jacket comes with great write ups, calling the story “heart-wrenching,” “stunning,” and calls it a story of “anguish and horror, villainy and heroism of duty and death.” Sounds pretty excellent!
I have a feeling this will be another “up until 3am on Saturday morning finishing my book” kind of week, because I have to read an entire novel, and work on three essays for school this week – along with the familial duties of visiting with the in-laws! Wish me luck, and I hope you’re reading along!
This week we begin our 11th book for the reading challenge (it has gone by pretty fast, huh?!), and the second week of November’s “Month of Travel” theme. I’m finding it hard to believe we’re 10 days into November, and find myself getting anxious about the oncoming holiday season!
This week’s reading is a sci-fi/comedy by Douglas Adams called The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. The book is the first of three in his Hitchhiker’s trilogy, which take readers traveling around the universe (just because I said “travel,” doesn’t mean I only intended to travel around Earth this month!).
I am really looking forward to this book! It was recommended to me by my friend Shannon (hey, Shannon!!), and I’ve heard nothing but good things about this series from a lot of my friends. Shannon is already 1 for 1 in the “book recommendation” department, having suggested I read “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” in October (which I really enjoyed). I have been told a few times over the last few years by a good friend, Sam, to pick up this book… I should probably have listened a while ago, because everything Sam recommends (or already loves), I have loved (hey hey hey, Sam!!). I have seen the Hitchhiker’s Guide movie, but it’s been years, and I’m looking forward to approaching the book with not much memory of the movie (it’s always better to read the book first… I think we can all agree on that fact).
If you head off to the library or the book store to grab this one, don’t be concerned with the size. I was SUPER intimidated when I went by the library to find this book and found a GIGANTIC volume. Little did I know, later copies of this book is published as a collection, all three novels in the series making up one big book, entitled The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. For this week’s challenge we are only reading the first book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Who knows – we might be inspired to read Book 2 and 3 later on in the book challenge this year!
I hope you’re reading along this week! This should prove to be a good one!
This week started our first of November’s “Month of Travel” theme for the reading challenge. We kicked off our challenge picking up a biography (the first of the challenge) about Amelia Earhart, a legendary woman, American and pilot. I’ve always found her legend fascinating, mostly because of the mystery surrounding her disappearance.
Letters from Amelia: An Intimate Portrait of Amelia Earhart by Jean L. Backus uses a recently (well, recently as of the book’s 1982 publication) found collection of letters written by Amelia to her mother, Amy. Backus uses the letters, as well as interviews, newsreels and newspaper clippings, and biographical books to piece together a never-before-seen-view of Amelia’s life, told mostly through her own words. The book was very interesting. Amelia was, from youth, a very bright and inspired woman. She didn’t have a life-long fascination with avionics, and only took to the sky in her 20s. She lived an unconventional life even before becoming famous, refusing to settle down and protesting to marriage – mainly because of the unhappy relationship between her parents.
Amelia’s fame wasn’t guaranteed simply because she was a trend-setting woman. Her fame was carefully promoted by her public relations representative, who later became her husband (when Amelia was well into her late 30s). He pushed her career, encouraging her to take herself and her plane to the ultimate limit – making her famous and infamous for her record setting career. Backus presents various suggests theories surrounding Amelia’s mysterious disappearance, and leaves the reader to come to their own conclusions.
This book was slow going. I’m not really a fan of biographies (give me historical fiction any day), but I felt that Backus went off on tangents and had a hard time staying on track. I think her book could have been much better (and possibly shorter) if Backus had kept to the subject at hand instead of spending pages on friends who visited Amelia at her house when discussing her married life. Just an example of the kinds of tangents Backus took. I feel like Backus wanted to fit in everything she discovered about Amelia, when really the writing should have been much more selective to make the book more interesting. I also had a few problems with her writing style – there were frequently oddly-worded sentences thrown into the mix… sentences I found myself reading and re-reading in an attempt to make sense of it.
Overall, I enjoyed Letters From Amelia. I’m glad I took the opportunity to learn more about Amelia Earhart. She was truly ahead of her time, taking on challenges that at the time (and even into our time) were seen as masculine, without a care for what anyone thought of her. She had a wonderful support network, was exceptionally caring to her family (even taking financial responsibility for her mother and later her married sister), and a visionary in regard to women’s rights. Her main goal seemed not to set records, but to inspire women (and men) to know that women were just as capable as men. On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being “please don’t bother” and 5 being “this book is nothing short of miraculous) , I would give this book a solid 2.5.
This week kicks off not only our “double digits” of reading, but also starts our November reading! Each month of my year long reading challenge has a theme (see the Themes page), and November’s theme is “Month of Travel” (see the This Month’s Books page to see this month’s selections).
This week’s reading is a book about one of the most famous pilots in American history, and one of the world’s most famous female pilots – Amelia Earhart. Jean L. Backus’s biography Letters from Amelia: An Intimate Portrait of Amelia Earhart uses letters written by Amelia throughout her lifetime to help tell her story.
I have always wanted to learn more about Amelia, but I’ve never really been one for biographical literature. That’s the pleasure of the book challenge – I’m introduced to books I’d never have picked up before! Amelia was far ahead of her time personally and professionally, and I look forward to learning more about this interesting woman. Amelia’s letters will be a great addition to the biography by allowing us to see Amelia’s life in her own words – introducing us to her personality, her intellect, and her sense of humor.
I hope you’ll be inspired to read along with me, and join me by reading at least one book this month.