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Book Notes from Susan

September -- Let's revisit some classics and hear from our young readers! (Young readers' recommendations are found under Recommended Reading/Staff Picks)

ART CLASSES with Sharon Lehman
September 12 and September 21 from 5:00-7:00 p.m.
For the novice as well as advanced painter, these two hour classes are great fun -- canvas, and all supplies plus adult beverages are included in the $45 price. Reservations are required. Please call (401-466-8878) or e-mail (island-bound@hotmail.com) to let us know to expect you.
On September 13, Island Bound Bookstore will partner with the Island Free Library hosting author Ann Hood. We'll have her new book (Morningstar: Growing Up With Books) available.
Please call (401-466-8878) or e-mail (island-bound@hotmail.com) for more information.
And here's what we're talking about for September

Classics Revisited –

rediscover why these books have endured: a classic is a book that has never exhausted all it has to say to its readers.

War and Peace by Tolstoy

Tolstoy said War and Peace is “not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less a historical chronicle.” It is a book about characters enduring extreme experiences and how those experiences change them. As Napoleon’s army invades, Tolstoy brilliantly follows characters from diverse backgrounds—peasants and nobility, civilians and soldiers—as they struggle with the problems unique to their era, their history, and their culture. And as the novel progresses, these characters transcend their specificity, becoming some of the most moving—and human—figures in world literature.

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about sharecroppers struggling to survive the Great Depression, fleeing the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma for California, is as harsh and gritty as its time.  It goes directly to the matter that the land is no longer free, having been mortgaged, bought and finally bankrupted by a succession of anonymous companies, banks, politicians and courts, “as angry a novel ever to be written about America. A man wants to build a wall, a house, a dam, and inside that a certain security to raise a family that will continue his work.” But there is no security for a single family. Little by little the narrative makes you realize that not only a family but a whole culture is being uprooted and will never be replaced. Perhaps this novel is more relevant today than ever. We may not be living in the Dustbowl or the Depression but the displacement of people and their inability to provide for their families parallels the Joad family in Grapes of Wrath.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is not merely a literary classic. It is part of the American imagination. More than any other work in our culture, it established America's vision of childhood. Mark Twain created two fictional boys, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, who still seem more real than most of the people we know. In a still puritanical nation, Twain reminded adults that children were not angels, but fellow human beings, and perhaps all the more lovable for their imperfections and bad grooming.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Cervantes tells the “idle reader” that Don Quixote was “begotten in a prison, where every discomfort has its place and every sad sound makes its home.” Cervantes’ imprisonment caused him to face a dilemma that he resolved to our joy: either succumb to the bitterness of despair or let loose the wings of the imagination. The result was a book that pushed the limits of creativity, subverting every tradition and convention. Cervantes realized that “we are all madmen constantly outpaced by history, fragile humans shackled to bodies that are doomed to eat and sleep, make love and die, made ridiculous and also glorious by the ideals we harbor.” It was Cervantes in writing the first modern novel who discovered the vast psychological and social territory of the ambiguous modern condition. “Captives of a harsh and unyielding reality, we are also simultaneously graced by the constant ability to surpass its battering blows.”