I found this depressing, but you’re supposed to. It’s also funny if you like biting satire (I do).
Reader Review: Sinclair Lewis’ 1922 novel/expose highlights the shallowness and greed of middle class American business–to the delight of European audiences already disenchanted with America’s rise to world greatness. The first 75-80 pages make for slow reading as they chronicle 24 hours in the life of George F. Babbitt of Zenith–a fictitious, Eastern city. A professional realtor and natural born hustler, this budding orator bullies his subordinates, plays the good old boy with his pals at the Athletic Club, and is kindly tolerated by his wife, but neither respected nor obeyed by his two older children. The joys of his life are his ten-year-old daughter and his college buddy, Paul. A slave to cigars and alcohol, this would-be tycoon is haunted at night by a secret, recurring dream about a fairy girl/woman who adores him. Although cognizant of the allures of various women in his office and social world, he has managed to steer a stolid moral course throughout his marriage.
Despite his questionable business practices and private lusts this protagonist proves not entirely unsympathetic; his problems, as well as his temptations, are real and demanding. His failures and moral stumbling do not endear readers to his cause, but serve to make him less than despicable. Unsuccessful in his pathetic bids to climb socially, Babbitt (whom the author always refers to by his surname) gradually begins to break free of his marital cage–to the shock of his colleagues, neighbors and family. He experiments with affairs, espouses radical social and political crusades, and argues with the old boys who have long relied on him. No longer ssatisfied with his fantasy visions, he revels in social, political and marital debauchery, viewing
himself with pride as a man struggling to be himself at last. He yearns to make his own decisions and be true to himself alone, instead of living up (or down) to everyone else’s expectations.
Another free Kindle Sinclair Lewis title at Amazon: The Job An American Novel
Also by Sinclair Lewis, but 2.99 for the Kindle version:Arrowsmith
REader Review: This book won the 1926 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Lewis also won the 1930 Nobel Prize in Literature. It is the story of Martin Arrowsmith, a medical researcher who, while attending a mid-western medical school, is influenced by an aged bacteriologist. Arrowsmith marries a nurse, who will encourage his career in research, and tries his hand at private practice. However, he fails in that endeavor. After a number of positions he joins a research institute in New York where he discovers a new microorganism but is “scooped.” He travels to the West Indies to try his “bacteriophage” on an epidemic. After his wife and colleague die, he starts administering the serum indiscriminately, destroying the results of his experiment. He returns to New York and marries a rich widow. However, social life interferes with his research and his search for truth. He quits the Institute and establishes a lab in Vermont with Terry Wickett, an uncouth but conscientious chemist. The model for Terry Wickett was Dr. John Howard Northrup (1891-1987), who will later win the 1946 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Apparently, the model for Martin Arrowsmith was provided by the microbiologist and writer Paul de Kruif, whose book “Microbe Hunters” became very popular. The novel also contrasts the idealism of the research scientist, who unfortunately looses touch with those that care for him, and the apparent avarice of the medical profession.
By Zane Grey
The Man of the Forest
Reader Review: I first read this book when I was 12, and absolutely loved it. I was already a horse-riding maniac and adored the physical description of the West as Grey knew it. I thought the love story was also wonderful, there was suspense, and Grey, to me, was an amazing storyteller. I proceeded to read every one of his books, at the rate of about 2 per week. I have since re-read several of my faves, and decades later, this still ranks as one of the best. Unlike the other readers, I highly recommend it for a drowsy Saturday. And I love the price! Free, for my Kindle!
Me: I read my way through all the Zane Grey books at my library when I was in sixth grade or so. They were all there, in creamy hardbacks, with a sticker showing a crimson silhouette of a cowboy on a bucking bronco to indicate they were westerns. I introduced them to my older girls at about the same age, and they hated them. They said they were formula fiction with predictable plots, cookie cutter characters, and purple prose. I have to admit to all these defects, and yet, I still have a fond place in my heart for them, long after my love affair with westerns has died and gone cold.
One gift he definitely has is the ability to describe the terrain with both accuracy and romance. Perhaps it helped that I lived in the desert when I was reading Zane Grey novels
Here are some other Zane Grey titles free at Amazon (there are many, many more, you should look them up by Author if this interests you):
Riders of the Purple Sage His most famous, and still, i think, the best-selling western ever. Mormons hate it, understandably. I read it and wanted to name my first son Lassiter. What can I say? I think I was 11.
Reader Review: Her father’s death has left Jane Withersteen in possession of the richest land holding in the Cottonwoods, a Mormon village on the 1871 Utah frontier. Most importantly, Amber Spring runs through her property and so she controls the water supply that makes possible the rolling fields of purple sage. But now the Mormon church wants to gain contol of the spring by forcing an unwilling Jane to marry Elder Tull. They’ve been steadily increasing the pressure on her and as the novel opens, Tull and his henchmen have come to arrest Venters, the Gentile foreman on her ranch. Outnumbered and outgunned, Jane prays for deliverance. Just as Tull is about to whip Venters, a rider in black appears–Lassiter, the scourge of the Mormons.
Lassiter is an archetype of the mythic Western hero. In him we see the origins of both Shane and Ethan Edwards (from The Searchers, Amos in the novel)–a lone gunmen fighting for Justice, he has descended upon Mormon Utah with a vengeance, obsessively searching for the sister who was kidnapped by a Mormon proselytizer.
Jane takes him on as a ranch hand, but makes him swear to forsake violence. Inevitably (as in High Noon), events force her to release him from his oath.
Despite an extremely harsh view of Mormons, this is one of the truly great Westerns; a must read.
The Rainbow Trailsequel to his most famous book, Riders of the Purple Sage. And just in case anybody is paying attention and wondering, I didn’t name any of our children Lassiter.
The Call of the Canyon, set in a post WW1 world, social commentary on the plight of the returning vets, womanhood, family, working westerners vs elite easterners with lily-white hands, and descriptions of Arizona’s gorgeous Oak Creek Canyon (i’ve been there) that are spot on. Excerpt:
“The very forest-fringed earth seemed to have opened into a deep abyss, ribbed by red rock walls and choked by steep mats of green timber. The chasm was a V-shaped split and so deep that looking downward sent at once a chill and a shudder over Carley. At that point it appeared narrow and ended in a box. In the other direction, it widened and deepened, and stretched farther on between tremendous walls of red, and split its winding floor of green with glimpses of a gleaming creek, bowlder-strewn and ridged by white rapids. A low mellow roar of rushing waters floated up to Carley’s ears. What a wild, lonely, terrible place! Could Glenn possibly live down there in that ragged rent in the earth? It frightened her—the sheer sudden plunge of it from the heights. Far down the gorge a purple light shone on the forested floor. And on the moment the sun burst through the clouds and sent a golden blaze down into the depths, transforming them incalculably. The great cliffs turned gold, the creek changed to glancing silver, the green of trees vividly freshened, and in the clefts rays of sunlight burned into the blue shadows. Carley had never gazed upon a scene like this.
[…]The murmur of falling water sounded closer. Presently Carley saw that the road turned at the notch in the canyon, and crossed a clear swift stream. Here were huge mossy boulders, and red walls covered by lichens, and the air appeared dim and moist, and full of mellow, hollow roar. Beyond this crossing the road descended the west side of the canyon, drawing away and higher from the creek. Huge trees, the like of which Carley had never seen, began to stand majestically up out of the gorge, dwarfing the maples and white-spotted sycamores. The driver called these great trees yellow pines.
At last the road led down from the steep slope to the floor of the canyon. What from far above had appeared only a green timber-choked cleft proved from close relation to be a wide winding valley, tip and down, densely forested for the most part, yet having open glades and bisected from wall to wall by the creek. Every quarter of a mile or so the road crossed the stream; and at these fords Carley again held on desperately and gazed out dubiously, for the creek was deep, swift, and full of bowlders. Neither driver nor horses appeared to mind obstacles. Carley was splashed and jolted not inconsiderably. They passed through groves of oak trees, from which the creek manifestly derived its name; and under gleaming walls, cold, wet, gloomy, and silent; and between lines of solemn wide-spreading pines. Carley saw deep, still green pools eddying under huge massed jumble of cliffs, and stretches of white water, and then, high above the treetops, a wild line of canyon rim, cold against the sky.”
Tales of lonely trails
Travel writing as this title is nonfiction.
Reader Review; TALES OF LONELY TRAILS, by Zane Grey (1922, and republished in 1986 and 1988) is a most important nonfiction collection of Grey’s own first person accounts about his numerous adventures in the wild outdoors of the American West. They are not only his accurate descriptions of several distinctive and very diverse geographical locations, but also these accounts demonstrate his writer’s methodology of later incorporating such descriptions of real geographical places into later works of fiction. The first of five articles is entitled “Nonezoshe”, the Indian name for the Rainbow Bridge, once almost inaccessible, but now a National Monument which can be seen today by boat along the manmade Lake Powel on the Colorado River. Grey visited it in March 1913; Teddy Roosevelt in August of that same year. Both, as two of the few non-Indians who at that time had seen the now famous stone arch, wrote about their adventures in getting there by an arduous, dangerous overland route in which some pack animals slipped to their deaths over what Grey named as the “Glass Mountains”. Grey’s descriptions and his Navajo guide as a prototype were adapted to fit into his later stories such as THE RAINBOW TRAIL (1915), the sequel to his famous RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE (1912), and again in, perhaps, his best novel, THE VANISHING AMERICAN (1925).
The Last Trail
Reader Review; I initially thought this was going to be a fictional shoot ‘em up story of the Old West. Turns out it was more of a historical, fictional, romance shoot ‘em up. The historical context was educational and appears to have been based on real characters who inhabited Fort Henry in the late 1700s. At that time the fort was in a very remote part of the country, and even though the Revolutionary War was taking place “in the east”, the Fort and its inhabitants were living lives independent of the struggle against the redcoats. The author at times lapses into an overly detailed horticultural description of the trees and bushes which gets a little tedious, but this is more than compensated for by his accurate, pulse-quickening descriptions of the bordermen and their hand-to-hand struggles with the redmen and the outlaws. For a good historical description of Fort Henry, I recommend a review of: […](Looks like Amazon won’t allow a URL in reviews – sorry! But check out the historical description of Fort Henry on the West Virginia historical web site)
All in all a very engaging book with very minor flaws.
If you have a horse girl, she should read this one.
by a French Canadian author
Reader Review; Set at turn of the (19th/20th) century, this coming-of-age tale has a unique twist that fascinated me in its accurate detail and its desire to capture the lyricism and even sometimes the syntax of the original story in French. Maria Chapdelaine, a young girl living in the very far northern reaches of untamed Quebec, has three suitors, each offering her a completely different future. In just a few months she and her family taste the sometimes sweet but mostly bitter fruit of the harsh life these pioneers faced farming in the northern wilderness as she grapples with making her choice between those competing paths for her future.
I was raised in Minnesota and faced some of the same challenges in the story, albeit in a much milder form. The real aprehensive fear but also the unique experiences of accommodating -30 degree winters while living and working outdoors, the knowledge that jobs were hard to come by and those available were extremely hard work with little apparent future promise, and the loneliness that can come from being far from the soft crowded civilized life most of us take for granted.
I was moved by this story and, knowing a little of the future historic currents that dominated the lives of 20th century farm folks wresting a livelihood in the very inhospitable north, I thought a lot about Maria and how her story must have finally ended long after she left behind the life interval described in the book. I guess that makes it a pretty good read and definately worth the time involved.
A rather heartbreaking story of the cost of the social and moral freedoms that followed WW1. The author begins by acknowledging the flaws and burdens of the former system, and concludes with breaking your heart. One of the things I found interesting is the delicate touch the writer had with conveying really quite dreadful things, and the sly slight of hand which has you shaking your head and clucking your tongue over all that was wrong before, and then draws you up as you realize that the new era is chucking babies out with the bathwater.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Rosalie’s mother laughed also then, but had a sudden wetness in her eyes. She put her arms about Rosalie and pressed her to her bosom and cried, “Oh, my poor darling!” and explained the tremendous mystery. Wife and husband, Rosalie’s mother explained, were the names used by other people for her father and her mother. A man and a woman loved one another very, very dearly (“as I loved your dear father”) and then they lived together in a dear house of their own and then God gave them dear little children of their own to live with them, said Rosalie’s mother.
This thoroughly satisfied Rosalie and completely entranced her, especially about the presentation of the dear little children. She would have supposed that naturally it thoroughly satisfied Anna and Harold and Flora and the others; and the point of interest rests here, that Rosalie’s mother also believed that this explanation of marriage and procreation completely satisfied Anna at sixteen and Harold in the Bank at eighteen. She never gave them any other explanation of the phenomenon of birth; and it is to be supposed that, just as she instructed them that God sent the dear little children, so she believed that God, at the right time, in some mysterious way, communicated the matter to them in greater detail. Years and years afterwards, Flora told Rosalie that when Rosalie was born all the children were sent away to stay with a neighbour and not allowed to return till Rosalie’s mother, downstairs, was able to show them the dear little sister that God had surprisingly delivered at the house, as it were in a parcel.
One is given pain by a state of affairs so monstrous; but one suffers that pain proudly because one belongs, proudly, to a day in which nothing but stark truth may go from mother to child, not even fairy stories, not even Bible stories. Rosalie’s mother is gone and her kind is no more, and in the graces and the manners of this day’s generation one perceives, proudly, the inestimable benefits of the passing of her kind. Lamentable specimen of her kind, she had no interests other than her home and her husband and her children and the pleasures and the treasures and the friends of her husband and her children. She belonged to that dark age when duty towards others was the guiding principle of moral life; she came only to the threshold of this enlightened age in which duty to oneself is known to be the paramount and first and last consideration of life as it should be lived.”
“Rosalie’s mother did everything in the house and she was always doing something in the house—for somebody else. She never rested and she was always worried. Her brows were always wrinkled with the feverish concentration of one anxiously doing one thing while anxiously thinking of another thing waiting to be done. She had a driven and a hunted look.
Now Rosalie’s father had a driving and a hunting look.
Rosalie’s father in his youth threw away everything. Rosalie’s mother throughout the whole of her life gave away everything. Rosalie’s father was a tragic figure dwelling in a house of bondage; but he was at least a tragic king, ruling his house and venting his griefs upon his house. Rosalie’s mother was a tragic figure and she was a tragic slave in the house of bondage. The life of Rosalie’s father was a tragedy, but a tragedy in some measure relieved because he knew it was a tragedy and could wave his arms and shout and smash things and hurl beefsteaks through the air because of the tragedy of it. But the life of Rosalie’s mother was an infinitely deeper tragedy because she never knew or suspected that it was a tragedy.
Still, that is so often the difference between the tragedy of a woman and the tragedy of a man.”
The Breaking Point
by Mary Roberts Rinehart
Excerpt: “Heaven and earth,” sang the tenor, Mr. Henry Wallace, owner of the Wallace garage. His larynx, which gave him somewhat the effect of having swallowed a crab-apple and got it only part way down, protruded above his low collar.
“Heaven and earth,” sang the bass, Mr. Edwin Goodno, of the meat market and the Boy Scouts. “Heaven and earth, are full—” His chin, large and fleshy, buried itself deep; his eyes were glued on the music sheet in his hand.
“Are full, are full, are full,” sang the soprano, Clare Rossiter, of the yellow colonial house on the Ridgely Road. She sang with her eyes turned up, and as she reached G flat she lifted herself on her toes. “Of the majesty, of Thy glory.”
“Ready,” barked the choir master. “Full now, and all together.”
The choir room in the parish house resounded to the twenty voices of the choir. The choir master at the piano kept time with his head. Earnest and intent, they filled the building with the Festival Te Deum of Dudley Buck, Opus 63, No. 1.
Elizabeth Wheeler liked choir practice. She liked the way in which, after the different parts had been run through, the voices finally blended into harmony and beauty. She liked the small sense of achievement it gave her, and of being a part, on Sundays, of the service. She liked the feeling, when she put on the black cassock and white surplice and the small round velvet cap of having placed in her locker the things of this world, such as a rose-colored hat and a blue georgette frock, and of being stripped, as it were, for aspirations.
A Hopeful Heart (Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel Book 1)
Reader Review; I appreciated the unusual resolution the author used to the main problem in this story. I haven’t read an Amish fiction book where things were resolved in that particular manner (of course that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist), and I appreciated the change. She also doesn’t portray the Amish as the practically perfect people that a lot of the Amish fiction seems to. We all have our problems, don’t we? Although many of them were kind and gentle, they were human and things around her were not perfect. I did feel that Trey and Hannah fell in love way to quickly and easily, given the circumstances in both their lives. I don’t believe they would act on such feelings alone so quickly, but other than the speed of their developing romance, if you like Amish fiction you are sure to enjoy this story of hope. I received this book from Booksneeze and Zondervan for the purpose of an honest review. My opinion is my own. Thank you Zondervan.
Tombstones and Banana Trees: A True Story of Revolutionary Forgiveness
Based on some reviews, there is physical abuse, murder, and incest in this story that may be hard to read. The author’s Christianity seems to be robustly Ugandan and Charismatic.
I always enjoy reading true stories that have an inspirational conclusion. “Tombstones and Banana Trees” really delivered. Medad Birungi grew up in great poverty and tremendous rejection. His father, an abusive alcoholic avenged himself by public humiliating and then disowning his entire family in the village square with only the clothes they were wearing. After promising to take them along with his four other families to a new, more fertile region of Uganda. It is a very dark situation; the now fatherless family struggles for food and shelter in a community that is composed primarily of relatives of his father, whom for the most part despise this abandoned family based on the untrue rumors spread about them by their father; one thinks of the story of Job as they face numerous perils. Amazingly, the family’s persistence slowly brings about triumph but when a beloved sister meets a tragic end Medad’s despair deepens.
The wounding is deep causing Medad to continue to struggle with self-esteem and a deep rage that brings about his own alcohol abuse, gang involvement and other destructive behaviors. One day while at school, a Christian choir gives a performance that touches him so profoundly, that he has his own Damascus Road experience. Like Saul becoming Paul, Medad experiences transformation. He is encouraged by a stranger to go and make confession to those whom he hates. Medad gives a very candid account of some of these encounters that transform many of those who had or were openly seeking to do him harm.
He also relates the things that had to change within his own life such as renouncing the occult and other unholy bonding. The book goes on to relate how each one of us must forgive or we can not be forgiven by our Heavenly Father.
The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life
From the Back Cover
Marriage . . . you gotta laugh.
They say that marriage is a lot like insanity, in that they both require commitment. I so get that.
When you’re in those first giddy stages of dating, you have no idea what life is going to throw your way. You’re just two bright-eyed kids full of optimism, convinced you’re going to be the happiest married couple ever.
Y’all. Trust me. Saying, “I do” is easy. It’s the next fifty years or so that can get a little tricky.
There are days you feel like you’ve never loved each other more. But there are also days filled with disappointment and silence that never seem to end because you just can’t seem to find the words to make it right.
Marriage can be the biggest blessing and the most significant challenge two people ever take on. It’s the joy of knowing there’s someone to share in your sorrows and triumphs, and the challenge of living with someone who thinks it’s a good idea to hang a giant antelope head on your living room wall.
And yet we are in this thing together. For the rest of our lives. Not just for better or for worse, but for better AND for worse.
That’s what this book is about. The times that brought us together and the times we were falling apart. The days we wouldn’t trade for anything in the world, and that time he hung an antelope on my wall.
One Night in Tehran: A Titus Ray Thriller
This book has 53 five star reviews, a couple four star, and nothing lower.
Blurb; In Tehran, while hiding out from the Iranian secret police, CIA intelligence officer, Titus Ray, finds shelter with a group of Iranian Christians. Compelled by their unwavering faith, the battle-hardened, covert agent becomes a believer shortly before they smuggle him out of Iran to freedom in Turkey.
Back in the States and forced to go on medical leave, he discovers a Hezbollah hit man has targeted him for assassination. Now, while trying to figure out what it means to be a follower of Christ, he must decide if the Iranian couple he meets in Oklahoma has ties to the man who’s trying to kill him, and if Nikki Saxon, a beautiful local detective, can be trusted with his secrets.
Trained in lies, he learns the truth
Will it help him escape his past?
Can it change his future?
Above links are affiliate links.
Reader Reviews and blurbs are not mine, they are taken from Amazon’s pages.
Books are free at the time I pasted the links here, but this can change.
Enjoy, and remember: