What Does the Secret Life of Bees tell us about Christianity

Sue Ann Monk Kidd was born in Sylvester, Georgia, and attended local schools and she graduated from Texas Christian University.  Her first book, “The Secret Life of Bees” was set in the South and tells of her growing up being taught being taught that Catholic's were wrong and then finding her home with those who embraced much of Catholicism mixed with their own added tender feelings and emphasis.

Kidd’s book reminds me of some of the strong feelings for Catholic beliefs that William F. Buckley often included in his books.

Buckley’s book, “Nearer My God: An Autobiography” used the background of the world war and changing social mores for him to speak out about how his faith had sustained him. It was the softness of his words of appreciation for the rituals and teachings that reminded me of Kidd’s softness and tender approach to Lily’s feelings in her first book as she meet with the black neighbors and family to morn the loss of one of them.

Both Buckley and Kidd deliver an important message of tolerance. Seeing the love of the Lord expressed by others and accepting that it has beauty is the message.

Thoughts on Books Written in a Series

Dean Koontz’s books on Jane Hawk and Lee Child’s books on Jack Reacher are examples of suspense thrillers that have done well as a series. Many of these are included in the regular review section.

I have gotten to know the Jack Reacher character by Lee Child and look forward to the next book. I was a little disappointed to find that Jane Hawk had not really let us know if her little boy was ok at the end of The Crooked Staircase. It does bother me that Jack Reacher seems to really care for some of the women he gets close to and then he just leaves, or they do.

I still see Stephen King and the real master of suspense thrillers, horror, fantasy, science fiction, and mystery. He does well without having the characters as part of a series.

Books in a series perhaps could include a “Series of similiar approaches such as below

Lisa Genova has written five very good books, Still Alice, Left Neglected, Love Anthony, Inside the O’Briens, and Every Note Played. Each of her novels are about people who have heartbreaking diseases and she brings her own background as a Neuroscientists to the stories that bring a compassionate look at these lives.

Vardaman thinks his Mother is a Fish. Why?


In the review section on this site there is a review of William Faulkners, As I Lay Dying. The review includes an interesting comment from one of Addie's five children, Vardaman, when he says after she dies, that he believes she is a fish.

When he said this Vardaman had recently caught a fish and then he had cut it up into little pieces; once it was cut up, it was no longer a fish. The comment he makes, “My Mother is a fish”, stands out as odd. We may ask ourselves why Faulkner had Vardaman say this?

Perhaps it is conciseness taken to a new level, cutting out unnecessary words while conveying an idea enhancing communication by eliminating redundancy? Was it meant to be profound, metaphorical or just show a very poor understanding of death? Maybe it was religious intending to show that mom was no longer in the box but fish would be soon?

So a fish was previously caught and it was a fish, and then it was cut up and it was not a fish. Or, as Vardaman sees it, and says it, it was a fish and now it’s a not-fish.

Addie was his mother, and then she was not his mother, the same as for the fish, she is a not-mother, so she must be a fish.

See the complete Review in the Review Section. Click Here

Strength of the Pack is in the Wolf thoughts

     Lou Holtz was well known for his coaching technique, and success at Note Dame, has this statement associated with him:

      “For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,            and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” 

      Such a great comment, it just defines teamwork. Maybe Coach Holtz is a poetry fan? More about this below.

      The book, American Wolf, brings some deep insights into wolves and their life daily life in a pack where a strong leader is very important.  Even though many associated this quote with Lou Holtz it was originally used by Rudyard Kipling in his poem................................

, "The Law of the Jungle". (See Poetry Section for the full poem)

      "NOW this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky; And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die."

Click Book to see Review

China Achebe's thoughts on an African Proverb are insightful.


Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian author who is best known for his book “Things Fall Apart”. That book as well as “Home and Exile” are reviewed on this site.

In Home and Exile Achebe tells us of an African Proverb that tells us that "until lions produce their own historians, the story will only glorify the hunter."

Achebe wants us to see that many writers portray Africa in ways that they think are expected, not having the right point of view. They have a dark and primitive point of view that strips much of the real beauty of the culture away.

This lesson applies to much of what we read of history. The American West has a viewpoint with many of the old writers that does the same thing to the culture of the American Indians.

Achebe's message is that Africa will be best served if African authors write about it.

We should consider whether our viewpoints as writers are factual or traditional. 

Click on books above to see reviews

Symbolism of The Sun Also Rises

See the full review of this book, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway in the Review Section


Of course this book is full of symbolism, beginning with the very title. Much of it just boils down to a writer obsessed with masculinity. That obsession takes us to bullfighting, which is itself symbolic of sexual seduction, when two beings face each other in a game of skill, where one wins and the other is really hurt or even killed with a sword. Sex seems to be a symbol of masculinity, rather than an object of it.

The story starts in Paris, which symbolizes romance, where Jake's lost love, Brett, meets with him. He tells her of a war wound that has left him impotent. Brett tells him she loves him and always will, but she rejects him because of his impotence. Jake gathers up some friends, also from the lost generation, and they go to Spain for the bullfights and other macho activities. Brett goes with them.

The chapters on bullfighting flip back and forth complimenting their fly fishing trip, drinking, sex other very masculine activities.  

Hemingway's outlook seems to be summed up by two of his characters, Cohn and Jake, when they say, "I can't stand it to think my life is going so fast and I'm not really living it." "Nobody ever lives life all the way up except bull-fighters" 











Symbolism in Steinbeck's book, The Pearl

These comments refer to the Review of John Steinbeck's book in the Review Section. Click her to go to that section or click on that tab. 

A few symbolic things in this novel are: The pearl, plot, characters, ocean the child but of course there is much more.

Kino is 3rd generation as a pearl diver and the futility of ever doing better is reinforced with the uncertainty of the ocean. The scorpion represents more uncertainty with the sudden presence of evil coming into their lives. It attacks the innocent child and to save her they need anti-venom. Anti-evil to save an innocent child adds blame and irony to the resulting problems of good fortune. Event when the need for the anti-venom goes away a different type of evil from those perusing Kino and his wife kill the innocent child with a stray bullet. 

The Pearl is bigger than any other one previously  found and suggests that the fortunes of this poor family can really change.  When it comes time to toss the pearl back into the ocean the pearl's great value emphasises that good didn't come from potential wealth. 




Flatland, emc2, Einstein, and Dimensions

The recent review of Flatland, by Edwin A. Abbott, suggests some questions. All us folks are 3rd dimension beings, but we can experience the 4th dimension of "Time". Abbott's thoughts for mid 19th century are really amazing. 

We exist in the past, present and future. Perhaps we can find a way to take the 3 dimensions and move into the 4th, but what about the 5th and are there more? 

Einstein's theory stated that an entity’s velocity, or its momentum, is only measurable in relation to something else, and secondly that the speed of light is a constant in a vacuum, regardless of the person measuring it and the speed at which the person travels. The third part of the equation is that nothing goes faster than light in contrast to Newton's gravitational laws. To make it work, Einstein needed the fourth dimension called space-time. He expressed his theory using the famous mathematical equation E= MC2

Today, scientists use 10 dimensions and string theory to explain where gravity and light from the electromagnetic spectrum meet.





New Site upgrades: Alphabetically listing of Books Reviewd & Top Ten pages

When you hover over the BOOKS/ALPHA LIST or TOP 10 Tab you will see a sub page that Alphabetically Lists the Books Reviewed & you will see a top 10 page option

The reason this has been done is another step to help find the books reviewed in the past because so many of those coming to the site come to see a Past Review. 

Past Reviews can be found by just scrolling down on Reviews but it can be done easier by using the Past Review Tab. 



Changing Ourselves, both Past and Future

Throughout this blog there are many quotes and books that point to the reality of changing ourselves.

Reading is the key. It tell us, as C.S. Lewis said:

“The good of literature is that we want to become more than ourselves, we want to see with others eyes, to imagine with others imaginations, to feel with others hearts, as well as our own.” 

For me the more I read the more this truth becomes not just something that I believe, but something that I know.

T.S. Eliot's comment seems to add to what Lewis said: "We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time".

It must mean that we not only can change the future but we can change how we see the past. 

Huxley's thoughts about Orwell

Huxley's Thoughts about Orwell

The information below is taken an article in the Atlantic Magazine January/February 2017 issue. They stated that their thoughts were taken from this book: Letters of Note, Volume 2


Aldous Huxley to George Orwell: My Dystopia Is Better Than Yours

"On October 21, 1949, a few months after the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell received a letter from Aldous Huxley, whose Brave New World had been published 17 years earlier. Huxley concludes:  Within the next generation I believe that the world’s rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience. In other words, I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World. The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency. Meanwhile, of course, there may be a large-scale biological and atomic war—in which case we shall have nightmares of other and scarcely imaginable kinds."



Taking others for granted

Having read the book Down and Out in Paris and London more than once, and having just finished a review of it, the question of "what is the lesson of this book" comes to mind? 

The poor work long hours and are underpaid. They have nothing but eating, sleeping & working, to fill much of their lives, if they are working, and if they are not, then they have to take charity and when it is found it comes with conditions. At least a thank you is necessary, but often the need to acknowledge that those charity givers are somehow smarter and more deserving needs to be imparted. 

I looked for the overall lesson of the book but found instead this quote by George Orwell.  

                   “It is curious how people take it for granted that                                        they have a right to preach at you and pray over                        you as soon as your income falls below a certain level.”

A man handing out tickets for the meal inside a place where the homeless were fed was considered to be "one of the good guys", simply based on the fact that he was in a hurry and didn't take any time to convey that he expected the receiver to say "thank you". 

Maybe the message of the book is that even the poor, or maybe especially the poor, have a dignity that has worth. 

Author Feedback

This book review site is followed in 33 countries and then promoted using twitter, google+ and Pinterest. The social media reach out brings the reviews to many interested in books. It is gratifying when an author responds. Lisa Genova's newest book, "Every Note Played" was released this month on the 20th.  This site's review suggested that this may be her best book yet.  Lisa responded re tweeting the tweet on this, with a like and then a separate thank you. 

Previous Twitter likes from Harold Bloom and also Tara Westover were reported on recently.  Thanks to the authors.


Sometimes One Review Really Suggests Looking at Another One.

Recently I posted a review on Thoreau's Walden. Whenever Thoreau is mentioned you see something like the following:

Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts. He began writing nature poetry in the 1840s, with poet Ralph Waldo Emerson as a mentor and friend.


Yes, Emerson was a mentor to Thoreau. He lived with in walking distance of the remote Walden. In fact he owned the land that Thoreau built the cabin on. 

Jon Krakauer's book, "Into The Wild", didn't end well. Christopher McCandless died after 4 months on the remote wilderness of Alaska, and he paid a steep price for what he learned. It was Thoreau's writings about finding ones self through deliberate solitude that took Chris to the wilderness but perhaps Chris found a much tougher nature than Thoreau found.

"Into The Wild" is an older book but not as old as Walden. When I first read Krakauer's book, I thought of the very different outcome and circumstances between it and Walden. 







Who are True Friends

Caleb Church was born on August 8th, 1647 in Plymouth Massachusetts.  He is my great grandfather 10 generations back.  When I first found his connection and name the thought came to me that saying his name alive is something that likely has not been done in a long time.

Will anyone say my name, or your name, on this earth 370 years from now? The more I get to know about those in my families past the more I admire them.

I read a book about Fredrick Law Olmsted who is known as an abolitionist, conservationist, and designer of Central Park and many other famous parks. He was born in 1822 and when I think of the kind of country he grew up in his many accomplishments are something that I admire.

(A book on this man, “Genius of Place” one of the recent               reviews in that section )

When I went to collage I had two friends that seemed to change a lot of things for me.  Both were older and both had completed military obligations. The both seemed to be focused on getting an A in all their classes. I admired them both and their friendship meant a lot to me.

Do we really adopt the mannerisms, the attitudes, and even the conduct of those whom we admire?  Are those that we admire, really, usually our friends? What if the person is just someone in a book? Can they be a true friend?

Yes, to all these questions. I found things in the friends I brought up as examples, that I made changes to adopt for myself. Also yes, I see them as friends even now when one has passed on and the other I don't see anymore.  Yes a good example of a person in a book can be a life long influence for good. 

The reason I would call all these examples friends is in how they have impacted me. Friendship ought to influence us to seek a higher good. Knowing these people made it easier to for me to want to be better and actually changed me for the better. Putting someone else first is a higher good if they have within them virtues that are good or their friendship brings out your own higher good. Being honest and loyal are higher goods. Real friends influence each other to better. 

Who do we admire?

Do we really adopt the mannerisms, the attitudes, and even the conduct of those whom we admire?  Are those that we admire really usually our friends?

Thomas Monson, the last President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was a lover of literature. He said of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic account, The Great Stone Face, "we adopt the mannerisms, the attitudes, even the conduct of those whom we admire — and they are usually our friends." So who are our friends?

For many of us our friends are the authors, and even the characters, in the books we read. In Harold Bloom's book, How to Read and Why, he answers the question his own book raises by saying "we read because it matters".

Hawthorne's book gives us even more insight into why it matters. It changes us. It also suggests that we can change who we are with changes in what we read. Picking good authors is important.

Click on How to Read book or words to see that prior review


Help me get away from the Past

Recenty I posted in the "Stories" section on this blog some comments about "writing in the moment". I listed 4 books about writing that I had enjoyed and had reviewed on this site before. I linked those books in that post back to the reviews.

Writing in the moment, posted in the stories section, was intended to deal with the quality of our overall writing skills, rather than just whether were picking a particular moment to write, but even so this particular moment is a little challenging to write in, because it is hard to leave the news events of this week, and focus anywhere else.

The mass shootings in this country are upsetting.  I thought this picture before had some relevance.

Relevant Quote

“What day is it?"
It's today," squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day," said Pooh.” 
― A.A. Milne

This little guy is on the verge of getting erased but he may be telling us an important truth. If we can't look back at the past we may lose sight of where we are going, even if we do live in the moment.