50 Book Challenge to the Rescue

March 31, 2010 // Filed under Uncategorized

What do you do when adversity “takes you down” – at least for a while? In the case of this blogger with a nicely broken wrist, there’s not much else to do but read, and so I have plunged single-handedly into Bernardsville Public Library’s 50 Book Challenge for 2010.
As luck would have it, someone recommended a good book to me the very night before my accident, so when I returned from the E.R., I took up Immaculee Ilibagiza’s memoir, Left To Tell, a tale of her great faith and survival during the Rwandan genocide. There’s nothing like reading about harrowing and unimaginable suffering to put one’s own whimperings into perspective.
Finding that misery really does love company, I rushed on to disaster stories next. How exciting was The Lost City Of Z, by David Grann, about a failed expedition to the Amazon which sought to locate a mythical archaeological site in the early part of the 20th century!
Why not read about a shipwreck next?! Being lost at sea had to be worse than nursing a broken bone, and, yes, it certainly was in Nathaniel Philbrick’s, In the Heart of the Sea. This nonfiction book is based on accounts of two survivors of the whale ship Essex which was stove by a whale – yes, I learned a new word, too, (stove) –  in 1820.  Herman Melville also thought the original accounts of this shipwreck made for a good yarn since he used the Essex story as a framework for Moby Dick. One thing leads to another, it seems, so I, in turn, reread the atmospheric parts of Melville’s Moby Dick.
By now it was time for some heartwarming animal stories. I recommend Making Rounds With Oscar by David Dosa for those who love cats and for those who are caregivers or relatives of Alzheimers patients. The physician author gives gentle, good advice that could help families to accept the slippery slope of this disease. He also recounts the story of the hospice cat, Oscar, who unfailingly appears at the bedsides of those patients about to die. For a lighter but equally touching animal story, I tried The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery. Who couldn’t love a dear little runt of the litter, but who would guess the piglet would grow into a 750 pound hog with a gift for companionship? This was a very sweet tale within a curly tail.
It was then that I picked up Life of Pi by Yann Martel. How circular my reading had now become!  My earlier books about faith and suffering, shipwrecks, storytelling, and animals all came together in this one curious piece of fiction. 
I think those of you who participate in a dedicated reading routine such as the 50 Book Challenge will also find patterns emerging in your book choices and in the notions expressed by your authors. You, too, will delight in seeing how ideas and themes can be written and rewritten in so many wondrous and diverse ways.
~Evelyn  Fischel

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