Ocean at the End of the Lane

ocean

A middle-aged man returns to his home in England for a funeral.  While he is there he is drawn towards his childhood home, and ultimately to the ramshackle and sprawling farm on the ocean at the end of the lane.  As he sits on the shore he remembers the events of his childhood.  It was there, during the summer of his seventh year, where horrible and magical and wonderful events occurred.  It started with the suicide of a man that led him to Lettie Hempstock, her mother, and her grandmother at this very farm.  During the horrifically terrifying events that followed, the calming and magical Lettie promises to protect him.

The main character’s love affair with books – their ability to calm him and transport him and protect him definitely struck a chord with me who spent much of my childhood (ok – and adulthood too!) with my head stuck in a book.

“Growing up, I took so many cues from books. They taught me most of what I knew about what people did, about how to behave. They were my teachers and my advisers.” 

I loved this book – the characters, the events, the story, the prose.  The ending was fantastic, heartbreaking, and necessary.  It is an adult fairy tale, and one that I will read again and again.

“Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”

Title:  Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author:  Neil Gaiman
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 192
Publication: William Morrow, June 2013

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Tuesday Top Ten

top ten intimidating

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week’s challenge was to list the books that I find most intimidating.  This was a little difficult for me – I’m not typically intimidated by books – just interested or not interested.  I’ve read and loved Anna Karenina, Les Miserables, and Atlas Shrugged.  Length does not intimidate me most times, I am mostly afraid that I will not like a book and some of the lengthy classics listed below require a lot of effort for little gain if I don’t enjoy them and there are so many books out there that I really, really want to read!

  1. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust – 7 volumes and about 4300 pages, need I say more???
  2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – I loved Anna Karenina, but I have never been inspired to tackle this tome.
  3. Moby Dick by Herman Melville – The idea of an epic struggle with a whale just doesn’t make me want to dive into this one…
  4. Ulysses by James Joyce – I know that it is a 20th century classic and that it is supposed to be beautiful, but I have heard far more about how long and difficult it is…
  5. Complete Works of William Shakespeare – I have read Shakespeare – Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Romeo & Juliet, ... but I just don’t see myself having the focused concentration required to get through it all while appreciating it.
  6. The Bible – I’ve read it, parts of it, just have never attacked reading it from cover to cover – maybe someday.
  7. Paradise Lost by John Milton – Over 10,000 lines of poetry?  Probably not…
  8. Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R. Martin – With the HBO series so popular, a lot of people are devouring this series – but the books are so long and there are so many of them, it seems like a commitment I don’t want to make right now!
  9. Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon – Another series with a lot of long books in it… I hear good things, but I’m not reading to dive in yet…
  10. Boring Non-FictionI’ve written plenty of research papers and didn’t like to read my own.  I certainly have no desire to read books that are basically research papers that are hundreds of pages long…

Illusion of Separateness

illusion

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

The Illusion of Separateness ties together the lives of a number of individuals, spanning from World War II through to present day.  Chapters jump around throughout time and place, weaving together  the stories of various characters, and there are many: a blind woman who works at a museum, an American couple separated by WWII, an elderly man whose face was disfigured in WWII, a caretaker of the elderly, a famous Hollywood film director.  As the story of the individuals unfolds, the story of their connections slowly is revealed – coming full circle at the end and revealing the connections that bind the characters all together, that the seeming separateness of these lives and their stories is an illusion itself.

I will admit that this book started slowly for me, so if it does the same for you, give it a chance and it will bring you into the lives of these seemingly separate characters and their interconnections.  The writing is beautiful; I was not surprised to discover that the author is also a poet and is worth savoring.

‘…finding the candles by heat, and blowing them out one by one, as we, one day, will be vanquished with a last puff and then nothing at all – nothing but the fragrance of our lives in the world, as on a hand that once held flowers.’

Title:  The Illusion of Separateness
Author:  Simon Van Booy
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 224
Publication: Harper, June 2013