Sunday, December 29, 2013


If you look up the word "lover" in the dictionary, you will find several different definitions. I have a few of my own. After reading Lady Chatterley's Lover, I think I may have added a few more. None of these, of course, could I put into words for you. Some words you must define for yourself. 

Why read Lady Chatterley's Lover? I think a better question might be,...why not? 

I recently decided it was time I read more "classics," and I certainly wanted those classics to include some of the more controversial ones from long ago. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence was originally published in Florence, Italy, in 1928 and was quite the scandal for its time. In fact, it was denied publication in England until 1960. 

When I decided to read it, I didn't think I would really find it as sordid as all that. After all, I live in the day and age when people take great joy in airing all their private affairs on national television, not to mention the general public's fascination with books like Fifty Shades of Grey. Surely, I thought, D.H. Lawrence's lovemaking scenes would be tame by comparison to today's 'standards.'

What I found might surprise you, it certainly did me. 

The book had me blushing a bit, not from overly detailed, drawn out, erotic love scenes, but from...the absolute, sheer, brutal honesty of them. It doesn't dress it up, it doesn't make it pretty, it just says it outright. I respect that. I also find it has a beauty all its own. It may be a little crass, a little crude, but - God forgive me - it speaks truths that even in today's society, no matter how much talk there is, people rarely say. 

By the way, the sex scenes do not permeate the book, like so many novels do these days that classify themselves anywhere from 'romance' to 'paranormal' to 'erotica,' and the actual scenes are fairly brief. There are, however, conversations about sex and gender roles throughout the novel, which I think are crucial to understanding the mindset of the time and, I feel, speaks volumes about it even today. 

Another surprise I found was the amount of commentary on the state of England during this time setting, just after World War I, but I suppose I should have expected it. World War I changed the face of England, and it certainly changed her heart. The novel speaks of the mood of the country at the time, the mood of its people. Lawrence is vivid in his descriptions of the landscape, the class wars, the broken men who were able to return from the war, and people struggling to find their own identities in a world that had been forever changed. 

Lady Chatterley's Lover is one of those books that I wasn't 'in love' with as I read it, although I admired the frank statements it made about society. I did, however, find myself quite fond of it after I had read it in its entirety and mulled it over a bit. It says a great deal about many things without going on and on about them. I have quite a few quotes marked, for such a small novel, and - no - none of them are sex scenes. 

If you love to read, are over the age of 18 (and, as a parent, I'd prefer to say 21), are a serious reader (you know, you read something more than Twilight and Harry Potter), and if you especially love to read novels set in England (as I do), you should read this one. It's a small novel, won't take you long. If you read it and find it wasn't quite your cup of tea, I don't think you will ever regret sipping the flavor of it. 


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Addictions, and Resolutions, and Challenges! Oh, My!

Half-Price Books is a wonderful secondhand bookstore that I never get tired of. I can always find something I like, even if they don't have exactly what I'm looking for at the moment. Their staff is always helpful and will go out of their way to help a customer find something. I don't feel like I'm going into a store when I shop there. I feel like I'm at home with people who understand my love of books.

Yesterday, when I came home thrilled with my most recent Half-Price book finds, I realized that I was now adding eight more books to a long line of books at my house waiting to be read. I looked over my recent additions with adoration, but then I looked at some of the ones on my shelf and felt guilty I haven't read them yet. I adore them, too, you know. 

Proper neck placement for book browsing
I was contemplating how serious my addiction to buying books might be when my daughter, Katie, came down the stairs and saw my new stack of books. I smiled, like a proud parent, as I placed my hand on the top of the stack. I was prepared to say, "Look at my great, new finds!" What came out instead - before I even knew it - was, "Katie, I think I have a real addiction problem." 

She laughed at me and said, "What? Buying books? So what? It's not like there's anything else you buy, and you buy at a bargain. They're good for you. You read them. What's the problem with a little addiction? Besides, there's worse things you could be addicted to."

I sighed and told her that I had plenty of books at the house that are really good books. I told her I should read those, I want to read those,...but I want to read other ones that come along, too. Katie knows I don't like to "need" something. Addiction is definitely not my thing. (I even gave up coffee for six months one time just to prove to myself I didn't "need" it.)

"Does this really bother you, Mom?" she asked me.

Katie, my "fixer"
I should mention my Katie is a fixer. She likes to have a solution to a problem. To her, life is simple - only stupid humans make it complicated. There are times I agree with her theory. She is known for cutting through the drama of most situations and just telling it like it is. It's a quality I like in her a great deal, even when it's my own drama she's calling me out on. 

"Well, Mom, does it?" she asked again.

"Yes, Katie, it does bother me. I'm a sensible person. I should read the books I already have. I don't keep books just to keep them. All the ones I have are good books, as far as I know, and I should read them."

"OK, then here's your solution. Just make a New Year's Resolution to not buy any more books until you've read all the ones you already own. See? Problem solved. Simple," she said with a smile and continued her task at hand.

I was stunned for a moment. A resolution to...not buy any more books until I read all the ones I have? Hmmm,..I had to think that over. I looked at the shelves in my library. Then, I went upstairs and looked at the bookcase I have in my bedroom. I guesstimated that I've read more than half the books I own. I also noticed I liked every title I saw. In fact, I found myself smiling at the books. I have such a wonderful selection!

I decided that if I took Katie up on her idea, I would exclude having to read all my travel books and my workbooks that I use for references and lesson planning. All the rest, though, would make a really good challenge. I also thought the one exception to buying would be my monthly book club book, but I sometimes borrow that one anyway. It isn't something I'd really have to buy. 


I was still contemplating the idea when Katie stuck her head in my bedroom. "Well, Mom?" she said, as she looked at me expectantly. I smiled and began to nod.

"I think it's a great idea, Katie! It sounds fun, and it would be a challenge for me," I said, just  a wee bit more enthusiastic than I felt at the moment. I think Katie could tell.

She grinned at me (along with being a fixer, she also loves being right). "Well, if that's the case, then...answer like Barney!"

"Ummm, I'm sorry. Like Barney?" I was a bit puzzled. The purple dinosaur?

"Yes, Mom, you know - on 'How I Met Your Mother'? He always says, 'Challenge accepted!'"

Oh, THAT Barney! I had to laugh! "Oh, yes, OK - Challenge accepted!"

(Goodness, what have I gotten myself into...)