#28 - James and the Giant Peach (Roald Dahl). Cute, very cute. My first of his books (watched a couple of his movies, though this was not one of them). I love the theme where the kid who is abused turns out to be the natural leader and saves the day over and over again. In this case he was also the most level headed one, the most polite, and the one who was most cherished at the end. If I would have found these books when I was a kid, I think I would have been crestfallen when finding out that being the school loser doesn't automatically enable you to be the beloved after a series of trials.
Wait a minute...that is generally what happened to me. =D...abused child, school loser, friendless freak eventually turned into someone who is constantly told that she has value, worth, is cherished, has many great and close friends, and who has healed enough to believe these compliments and stay away from forces who may want to take them away from my mind. It just took until I was 20 to crawl out of the mud enough to reach ground level, and after a few years have past I feel as though I am starting to look up at the sky in order to achieve my best as a person instead of only "not sick."
On a lighter note, this book was a delight to read. Jereme Irons is a phenomenal performer! Yes, this was an audiobook.
#29 - The Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
On my first afternoon in Toronto I decided that I would much rather explore the area around my cousin's place instead of taking the subway further into town and exploring something worth mentioning in a tour book. I found myself in a few quaint independent shops, spent a couple of hours in a used book store, and then crossed the street to get to a Chapters, found this book (been REALLY wanting to read it for awhile), sat down, and read it that afternoon.
When I get home I will buy it at a different store for half the price. It is hardcover (YES - a paper book) and definitely worth many more reads.
What I mostly got out of this, besides the fact that it was another British novelist, another dose of children's literature (I preferred to read more 'grown up' books when I was young, and am interested now in catching up, =D), and a chance to read a fabulous book...was the strength of character of Sara. Yes, there was the "stiff upper lip" mentality that has gotten a lot of people into trouble over the years - but if this character was able to go through all of those experiences, maintain her dignity and her health, and continue to be a polite creature to all around her...I think I can heal from my stress-sickness and claim a better life for myself.
Also, there are many examples of how her moment of being polite, or of holding her temper in check, has produced many positive ripples to others around her, sometimes wide enough for her to be oblivious to the complete effects. I read a quote lately mentioning that most business deals are not solidified because of a great presentation, but because of something as small as a thank-you note...and this book was another reinforcement for me to constantly monitor that I don't lose sight of "the little things." Smiles, hugs, notes, cards, extra and sincere thank-yous do stretch farther than any penny. =D.
#30 - All Quiet on the Western Front (Erich Maria Remarque)
Powerful. Wow...I wish I could send a copy of this book to every political leader, and world peace would arise much quicker than the efforts all of the Bob Dylan songs and UN efforts combined could ever accomplish. I read this one as an audiobook, and Frank Muller was a truly inspired reader. He normally reads Steven King novels, creating fun associations for me during the first tape. But King soon melted away when I became engrossed in the insightful, truthful, shocking analysis of Remarque's depiction of what it was like for 20 yr old boy-men to live in such saturation of war that they were never in their lives able to wash it off of their souls. Each chapter has jewelled paragraphs resplendent with life's and death's truths portrayed without shame, trepidation, or bedazzlement - as though grave markings were hammered into my skulls...one...at...a...time. Only a German author could have so clearly and unabashedly forced you to face such heinousness. Often I had to stop the tape and breathe in order to process the images and the emotions further, all the while resisting the urge to simply walk away from the book.
I needed to face this. I needed to know. This is what war is like. This book was not a protest work, sharing explanations regarding who was to blame and why or how you can prevent this further. It was a story of a simple soldier forced to grow and wizen up fast, falling first into the horror of his circumstance, then of his worthlessness, then of his isolation, as rats and gas and bombs surrounded him...and poppies grew in flanders fields.
If ever I could recommend a book...this would be one.