Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Cannonball Read 4”

taralovesbooks’ #CBR4 Review #52: Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli

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Cannonball Read IV: Book #52/52
Published: 1946
Pages: 222
Genre: Nonfiction

Dr. Nyiszli was a Jewish doctor who was picked to assist Dr. Mengele in the Auschwitz death camp during WWII. This wasn’t an easy book to read, as with any Holocaust book. It still astounds me that something so awful happened a mere 70 years ago.

I actually liked the fact that Dr. Nyiszli focused more on the day-to-day activities in the camp rather than the grisly experiments that Dr. Mengele has become known for. The experiments are mentioned a few times, but Dr. Nyiszli mostly performed autopsies for Dr. Mengele and didn’t actually assist with any experimentation.

Again, not an easy read, but a good look at Auschwitz from a slightly different perspective.

taralovesbooks’ #CBR4 Review #51: The Twelve by Justin Cronin

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Cannonball Read IV: Book #51/52
Published: 2012
Pages: 568
Genre: Post-apocalyptic/Horror

The Passage was actually one of my favorite books that I read last year. It had a few downfalls, but overall I really enjoyed it. The Twelve is the second book in a soon-to-be trilogy and it didn’t disappoint.

I was a little worried because The Passage was so intricate and had a large group of characters that I had a hard time following at times. I like to read a book series all at once otherwise I tend to forget plot lines and characters. The most genius thing in this book was the prologue that summed up everything that happened in the first book. I probably would have been a lot more lost without it.

Read the rest in my blog.

Goddess of Apathy’s #CBR4 Review #13: My Cross to Bear, by Gregg Allman

04book"My Cross to Bear" by Gregg Allman

I am a Southern girl, born and raised in Georgia. If you are like me, and have that distinction, there are many singers and bands that are Southern and Georgian. The Allman Brothers Band is one of those bands and I have been a fan as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is when Gregg Allman married Cher, their picture on the cover of People magazine. Then there is the time in history when we were learning about the blues, and my teacher played “Statesboro Blues” on her guitar on front of the whole class. Then she asked each of us to write our own blues song to the same tune of that iconic melody.  I’m pretty sure I have been in love with Gregg Allman since I was that little girl. His beautiful blonde hair, soulful voice and that hint of danger has long intrigued me, even as I have grown up and he’s grown older. I have seen the Allman Brothers Band in concert many times, and had the pleasure of seeing Gregg Allman & Friends on a couple of occasions. I’ve visited his brother Duane’s and their friend and band mate Berry Oakley’s graves at Rose Hill Cemetery.  I’ve made a trek to the Big House, in Macon, the old home of the Brothers, now a museum. So of course, it was my duty and pleasure to read his autobiography, even though he might tell me secrets that might make me question my blind adoration after all these years.


I pre-ordered the book as soon as I could from Amazon. I was looking forward to reading Gregg’s life story. When the book finally arrived, I was in the middle of reading another book for Cannonball Read 4, and my husband took it upon himself to crack the spine of My Cross to Bear. The entire time he read, he kept telling me, “You aren’t going to like this.” Or he’d mutter, “This is the worst book I’ve ever read.” He was serious about his opinions. He told me the writing was terrible and was ridiculously paced. He stated Gregg’s narrative voice was like that of an old, rambling man, going from topic to topic. I insisted I had to read it for myself, no matter how bad the storytelling was; no matter how circuitous the narrative. No matter how sad and disappointed I might be learning the truth behind the soulful music I’d listened to all my life, I was still committed to knowing all I could.


I do give my husband credit for his description of Gregg’s voice in the book. I am unsure of how much he actually “wrote” of this autobiography, with Alan Light.  I know he wrote a multitude of beautiful songs about heartbreak, longing, and love, but we aren’t all authors. The book reads like a long conversation, and Gregg meanders through each story in his life, like a lazy river, sometimes cool and refreshing, other times, lazy and hazy as it wanders around the bend. I imagined Gregg telling me the story of his life as he sits on an cracked and weathered porch, his languid voice lulling me into the time machine that takes us back to when he was a child, growing up in Tennessee and then in Florida. He tells me of being packed away to military school at age eight. But, as he tells me about those early years, anecdotes about the Sear’s guitar for $21.95 or the foot shooting party, sometimes, he suddenly changes the subject, discussing an event that happened just fifteen years ago. I really had to make sure I was paying attention, or else I would get lost in the shuffle of his life.


Gregg does honestly reveal all his missteps in love and drugs, but at the heart of this story, for me, was the deep love he had for his brother Duane and for writing and making music. Duane was Gregg’s tormentor, but Gregg seems to have the deepest love and affection for Duane, even after all these years since Duane’s tragic death in 1971. The music seems to come easy to Gregg. He doesn’t give any magical clues as to how he writes a song, admitting at one point, it might sound like he’s giving you a formula, but “it’s never that simple.” He admitted  the song “Midnight Rider” is the one song he is most proud of in his career.


I am sure some readers will be fascinated by all the lovers, baby mamas, six wives, five children, alcohol, and the never ending supply and demand of drugs from pot, to coke, to heroin. I admit I was fascinated by his relationship with Cher. She was such an icon of the 70s and I remember watching Sonny and Cher and thinking how unique she was, an inspiration to all those girls out there, like I was, who weren’t considered traditional looking. I still remember signing with heartfelt triumph the song, “Half-Breed” at the top of my little girl lungs! There is more to the story than just the salacious parts. Sure, Gregg loves women; he’s still just as enamored with them after all this time. Thankfully, his love of drugs and alcohol is under control and even with a liver transplant, he is trying to live a more healthy lifestyle these days.


In addition to the life story that he tells, the book includes posters from gigs for the Allman Brothers, and photographs and other memorabilia to accompany the different phases in Gregg’s life and career. It was like flipping through old photo albums. I had time to peruse the pictures, looking at all the details of Gregg’s adventures. It felt as if I knew him better after reading his story. He’s hardly perfect by any means, but I felt privileged to get to know him just a little better and understand his music all the more. I wouldn’t recommend reading this book to just anyone. You would at least require love and affection for his music first, and then need the desire to spend a little time with an old man as he reflects on a journey, with pride and curiosity, at just how far he’s come and just how lucky and talented he really is.

Goddess of Apathy’s #CBR4 Review #12: The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

The_Carrie_Diaries

Welcome to the 1980s, Carrie Bradshaw style! If you are like me, most of what you know about Carrie came from the HBO series Sex and the City. I never read author Candace Bushnell’s column in the New York Observer, and I have never read the book Sex and the City. Even with my simple knowledge based on Sarah Jessica Parker’s portrayal of Carrie, I was smitten with the character and her hapless-in-love cohorts. Most people know that Carrie is  Candace Bushnell’s alter ego, so that meant there has to be more to the story of Carrie than just her sexual and dating adventures as a grown woman. She had to start somewhere, and The Carrie Diaries takes the reader back in time to a place where Carrie was a senior, a virgin, and a non-published writer.

I admit I am a person seemingly stuck in nostalgia for the 1980s and many times, stuck in high school. As a teacher of high school students, I have perpetually been on the verge of graduation for twenty years now. I love to read a good high school novel. It is familiar to me because I spend at least 180 days a year in that mind-set so it is comfortable and rarely changes. There is always drama. There is always gossip. There is always that hope for goals and dreams coming true, if you can just get along with the popular crowd or avoid that bully, it will all be over come graduation. I enjoy thinking that at least the characters in the books I read can finally get out of town and make something of themselves in the big city. We all know how The Carrie Diaries will end: she will move to New York. She will become a published author. She still might not be lucky in love. Two out of three ain’t bad.

Candace Bushnell takes the reader back to Carrie’s senior year. Carrie is the oldest sister in a family of three girls, with an overprotective widower for a father. Carrie has a nice little collection of friends in this book, but I felt sometimes that Bushnell didn’t completely flesh them out, instead, picking a few here and there who were pivotal in helping Carrie reach her goal of making it to New York City. If I had not gone back and looked up those character names, I would’ve never remembered them, they were that forgettable. I couldn’t forget the new boy at school, Sebastian Kydd, who is handsome, wealthy, perfect, and trouble . I guess Carrie’s taste in the wrong  type of men was established at an early age. I didn’t forget the outrageously named characters who cause lots of friction in Carrie’s life with school and Sebstatian: Donna LaDonna and Lali Kandesie. Donna is the most popular girl in school and she is loved by many suitors and feared by everyone else, except Carrie. Lali is a longtime friend of Carrie’s, but we all remember how tenuous our high school friendships were when a boy was involved.

I did enjoy learning about Carrie’s senior year in high school, and I was surprised to learn she was once a competitive swimmer. I never got that vibe from her in the TV series. I wish that Bushnell had explored the death of Carrie’s mother and how that affected her life. I almost think that Bushnell intended to write more on Carrie’s life prior to Sex and the City‘s timeline, but now the CW has the new series, The Carrie Diaries scheduled to air in 2013, so I don’t know what Bushnell intends to do with Carrie. I am interested in how this new TV series will be presented and if Carrie Bradshaw will appeal to a new generation of viewers.

Miss Kate’s reviews: 6,7,8: The Widow’s War, Bound, and The Rebellion of Jane Clarke by Sally Gunning

Miss Kate’s reviews: 6,7,8

Miss Kate’s CBR4 reviews 6, 7, 8: The Widow’s War, Bound, and The Rebellion of Jane Clarke by Sally Gunning

The Widow’s War, Bound, and The Rebellion of Jane Clarke is a trilogy of books set in and around the Cape Cod village of Satucket in the years leading up to the American Revolution. While not a strictly linear story, (they all pretty much stand alone), they definitely belong together, and tell a larger tale.

The first book, The Widow’s War, centers around Lyddie Berry. When her husband of 20 years drowns in a whaling accident, she finds her life altered in ways she hadn’t expected. In the midst of her grief, she is forced to watch as her husband’s property (which includes her home), is turned over to her greedy and obnoxious son-in-law. This is in accordance with the laws of the times – a woman has no property and no social standing without a husband. As her grief turns into rage, she resolves to become independent and get her home back. The legal and personal battle that follows takes it’s toll on her in surprising ways.

Bound is the story of Alice Cole, a young bond slave. The book follows her from early childhood in London and a harrowing sea voyage where her mother and brother die, to the docks of Boston where her father is forced to sell her into bondage for 11 years. She is bought by John Morton, a kindly man who brings her home as a companion to his daughter Nabby. Nabby and Alice grow up together, and when Nabby marries, Alice’s bond is sold to Nabby’s husband. Alice goes along as maidservant. Nabby’s new husband, however, is not what he seems to be. When Alice finds her life endangered, she runs away and stows aboard a ship bound for Satucket. There she meets the Widow Berry and her friend Eben Freeman. They are kind to Alice and take her in. Alice believes that her nightmare is over, until a secret comes to light that could ruin everything for her.

The Rebellion of Jane Clarke centers around the Widow Berry’s step-grandaughter. Jane grows up in privilege as the daughter of one of Satucket’s biggest landowners (the odious son-in-law from the first book). The year is now 1769. When she refuses to marry the man her father chooses for her, Jane is packed off to Boston as punishment. She is sent to care for an elderly aunt, and she finds herself in the middle of a city in turmoil. There are British soldiers bunked across the street, and Jane’s brother is a law clerk for John Adams. She meets and becomes friends with the bookseller (and later Revolutionary hero) Henry Knox.  As she takes this all in, and becomes witness to the Boston Massacre, Jane struggles to make sense of it. She also is determined to make up her own mind for the first time in her life.

All three books are very different, but as I said, together they tell a whole story. Each book focuses on one woman and her struggle to take control of her own destiny. Throughout the books, we meet patriots who meet to discuss independence from Britain. Yet the plight of the women and servants among them is not considered important enough for discussion. It is these small, personal struggles that are at the heart of these books, mirroring the bigger, historical struggles As a 21st century woman, I take my freedom for granted. It’s sobering to read about a time, not too long ago, when women had no legal standing. The endings are realistic in the way things are a little open-endednot necessarily “wrapped up”, and you are left to draw your own conclusions from what you’ve learned of the characters personalities.

These are “stand alone” books, but I would only recommend reading The Widow’s War by itself. It helps set up the characters for the next 2 books. I also found Lyddie Berry and Eben Freeman to be my favorite characters. They appear in the last 2 books, but are not the focus.

All in all, I enjoyed these books. The endings are realistic in the way things are not necessarily “wrapped up”, and you are left to draw your own conclusions from what you’ve learned of the characters personalities.If you enjoy reading about the colonial life before the Revolution, I would recommend them.

Goddess of Apathy’s #CBR4 Review #11: Tears of a Tiger, by Sharon Draper

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Tears of a Tiger is a young adult novel that grips your interest from the first page, a newspaper article from November 8. A seventeen year old star basketball player from Hazelwood High, Robert Washington, is killed in a horrific automobile accident, but he wasn’t the driver. The driver was his intoxicated friend, Andrew Jackson. The article paints a grim portrait of the wreck and painful death Robert endured as he was trapped in the car, burning to death.

Robert’s suffering was great, but Andrew is living with the guilt of his destruction of the dead and the fallout that affects the living. Andrew’s inability to grieve and cope affects everyone with whom he comes in contact.He’s not the only person suffering from the aftermath of the accident. Two other boys were in the car, too, B.J. Carson and Tyrone Mills. But B.J. and Tyrone have other things in their lives to deal with on top of the sadness surrounding Robert’s death.  What about Robert’s family? Andrew’s family and his girlfriend, Keisha? The pain is too much for all of them.

The book is written through a series of letters, articles, homework assignments, and dialogues. All the characters weigh in on the loss of Robert and Andrew’s downward spiral. The characters are real; they joke and dream like most teenagers. The story is timeless and heart wrenching. Even if you aren’t a teenager, you can identify with the story and the world created by Sharon Draper.

I read this book with my high school students in May. When they first looked at the cover, they scoffed at it, thinking it was a baby book. Yet, when we listened to the audiobook and read along in the text, you could’ve heard a pin drop every day and every class period. Tears were shed and there was so much meaningful discussion about the book and the characters. The book spoke to them and moved them because they felt the story. I know it’s not Shakespeare or some other dead white dude that is supposed to be important, but this book made an impact and I’ll be reading it again with this year’s students, and expect that same magic.

Goddess of Apathy’s #CBR4 Review #10: The Divine Wind, by Garry Disher

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The Divine Wind is is a young adult historical fiction novel that I am currently reading with my high school students. I read it before they did, and I was entertained by the plot and character interactions as well as the multiple examples of conflict. So far, students have enjoyed the book as much as I did.

The setting is Broome, Austrailia both before, during, and after World War II. Broome is a seaside town with a mix of culture and ethnicity. The narrator is Hartley Penrose, a seventeen year old son of a pearl master, Michael Penrose. His family also includes a sister, Alice,  and an English born mother, Ida Penrose. Hartley has a friend and love interest, Mitsy Sennosuke, a Japanese girl whose father, Zeke works for Michael Penrose as a pearl diver.

With war looming in the background, the cultural and ethnic differences begin to rise to the surface causing all types of conflict between families and friends. My students are half-way through the book and have found so much to discuss about relationships: can you choose whom to love? What if your parents don’t want you to be together because of race/ethnicity/culture? Can a relationship survive multiple challenges? We have discussed cultural differences of the English, Australian, Japanese, and Aboriginal. We have discussed the conflicts of the expectations of the time period and conflicts between countries in war time.

Garry Disher has so many little nuggets of historical and cultural information. I was not familiar with Broome, Australia past or present. I did not know what pearl divers did. I had no idea what the Register of Aliens was. Yet, I found myself exploring the Internet for information about Australia, stumbling upon the NFSA Film Australia Collection on YouTube. I’ve read countless informational articles about Australia’s beginnings and its geographical landscape, looked at Google Maps Streetview to see Hartley’s viewpoint at Cable Beach, and what Chinatown looks like in Broome. I’ve investigated the newsreels of the time, the music, fashion, and movies that might have been playing in the tin-topped cinema of Sheba Lane. I’ve share that information with my students and it has brought the text to life for them.

I think the book is interesting and entertaining. Disher’s language is plain, but he has some statements and sentences that are meaningful on multiple levels.  I recommend the book for light reading and it shouldn’t take long for you to enjoy it. All the outside research is purely optional.

Goddess of Apathy’s #CBR4 Review #9: Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

gone girl

Some sunny day baby
When everything seems okay, baby
You’ll wake up and find out youre alone
Cause Ill be gone
Gone, gone, gone really gone

Gone, gone, gone really gone
Gone, ga-gone, cause you done me wrong

—”Gone, Gone, Gone,” Alison Krauss & Robert Plant

Once upon a time, there was a married couple, named Nick and Amy Dunne. They seemed so perfect, so fabulous, so wonderful. It was their fifth wedding anniversary. This day of planned romance is immediately forgotten when Amy is is suddenly gone—missing. There’s no body, but there are signs of a struggle. Of course, Nick is the prime suspect in her disappearance.

I wasn’t expecting a lot from this novel when it was given to me. I heard the book was good and I wouldn’t be able to put it down. I pshawed that notion, but I was taken aback when I found myself totally enthralled by the first person narrative of reading Amy’s diary. I felt like I knew Amy, she was written so well. She told me things about her relationship with Nick, how it began, how he made her feel, how things changed when their fortunes changed and they had to move from their hip digs in New York to the Midwestern commonness of North Carthage, Mississippi.  Amy was someone I was rooting for and I was so concerned that her amazing husband had done something terrible to her. Isn’t it always the husband in cases like these?

There are always two sides to every story and author Gillian Flynn deftly swapped narrative voices in the novel and allowed us to experience Nick’s side. He was just as honest and engaging as Amy. He’s just a good-hearted Midwestern boy who loved this fantastic girl. Now, whose side am I on? Nick was a good husband, not perfect but Lord, he tried. Amy was such a perfectionist. She was so spoiled. He did the things he did to survive and try to find some happiness.

I was very pleased with how the book played out and was taken by surprise the entire time. I could not put the book down. I highly recommend it for the suspense, mystery, and the warped psychology of the plot. It is an entertaining quick read.

Goddess of Apathy’s #CBR4 Review #8: That trashy book, 50 Shades of Grey, by E.L. James

50-shades-of-grey-o

Slave screams he thinks he knows what he wants
Slave screams thinks he has something to say
Slave screams he hears but doesn’t want to listen
Slave screams he’s being beat into submission

Don’t open your eyes you won’t like what you see
The devils of truth steal the souls of the free
Don’t open your eyes take it from me
I have found
You can find
Happiness in slavery—Happiness in Slavery, Nine Inch Nails

In 1992, Trent Reznor released the song, Happiness in Slavery. It is a thundering, abrasive song about master and servant and the ability to find happiness in sexual servitude. He is not the first to write about this type of relationship, nor is he the creator of the sentiment of happiness in slavery. The book, The Story of O, published in Paris, in 1954, revolved around the story of O, a female submissive who is trained to erotic “adventures”. Erotica in poetry and prose has existed for quite sometime. Some authors write it better than others, but it seems like their women characters always get shortchanged in the creative process.

I suppose it is a little late in the game to show up at the table with a review of 50 Shades of Grey, but here I am. I had heard so much about this stinking book that I knew I had to read it. If I didn’t read it, then how could I talk smack about it? You cannot condemn something you know nothing about, at least not in my opinion. I had heard so many people discussing this book, in whispered tones and embarrassed confessions. I saw the skit on Saturday Night Live and heard news anchors refer to it as “mommy porn.”  I also knew my female students were reading it, much as they have read Twilight for the last several years as sparkly vampires were everywhere, including their weekly journals and class discussions.

I actually paid money to read this book and took it with me to our beach vacation. I started reading it and felt the familiar girl meets weirdo vibe from the Twilight books, all the way to the girl was awkward and unknowing of her allure or value and the boy was rich, handsome, and dangerous, and so in love with the untutored girl. Where Twilight was afraid to go physically, 50 Shades was happy to explore what the author probably considered to be erotica and sweeping romance.

Yes, it was a lightly titillating read. I think I blushed more though, when I was sitting poolside, trying to cover what I was reading. My sons laughed and teased me for being ashamed of this book and were happy to point out the gray-haired granny across the pool proudly displaying the cover of her copy for all to see.

I know I should be reviewing this book, but I think the story has been played out. My biggest concern is once again how a book like this or Twilight influences young girls. So many of my female students have been looking for their Edwards the last 6 years at least. I know many of them graduated and hopefully matured, realizing it was all just Meyer’s adolescent dream world. Yet, these current students, fourteen to eighteen year old girls, are now picking up books like 50 Shades and graduating in maturity to this type of knowledge at a much younger age. I know that times have changed and the world has changed, but I don’t know if they really understand what they are reading. When one student wrote about her favorite book at the beginning of the school year, she wrote down 50 Shades and explained it was because of the love story. Maybe I’m old and cynical, but I think the relationship between Christian and what’s her name wasn’t the most healthy relationship to aspire to for a long term commitment. But then again, I don’t know what kind of messed up backgrounds some people have when they enter in to the fantasy world created in 50 Shades. Maybe that is the only healthy some people know and it seems safe and loving, in all of its twisted obnoxiousness.

I suppose I could write a missive about the warped reality that modern girls live in, growing up watching Disney princesses find their happily ever after. Additionally, the lack of a loving home environment sends some girls out looking for some human contact, any human contact. Any attention is good attention and sometimes the people you love like to hurt you. We live in a very hyper-sexual world where everything is on display so it becomes the norm. I guess it sounds like I think 50 Shades is a gateway to S&M and it could very well be. I can’t imagine girls in the 1950s running around reading The Story of O and trying it out with their beaus, but then again, I’m not that old.

I just hate that the literary bar has been set so low by the trash that is E.L. James 50 Shades of Grey. This is the type of book that is popular and gets on the bestseller list, yet in all of its controversy, it has not opened a dialogue for true discussions about sex, erotica, or relationships. People just giggle about the salacious content, speculating on the rumored cast of a big screen adaptation, and hotels offer 50 Shades Weekend Getaway Packages. I recommend this book only because it is o.k.to know what people are reading, especially your kids, and have a real conversation about love and sex if you have teenagers at home dabbling in popular literature.

ElCicco CBR#4 Review #52: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Woohoo! This is my final review for Cannonball Read 4, so I wanted to review something related to the holidays and not too long because it’s kind of a busy time of year. A Christmas Carol fits the bill nicely.

Two things struck me as I read this classic. First, while I am quite familiar with the story thanks to movies, TV movies and cartoons of it, I think this is the first time I have actually read the story. How shameful! While the visual representations are (mostly) entertaining, Dickens was meant to be read, and the writing is so delightful, the images so evocative. For example, here is a description of the grocer’s wares in preparation for Christmas: “There were great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen, lolling at the doors, and tumbling out into the street in their apoplectic opulence.” I also enjoy Dickens’ humor, which is evident in abundance throughout this short tale. On page one, he tells us of Marley’s death thusly: “Old Marley was dead as a door-nail…. Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for.” The writing is even better when you read it out loud, and I am struck anew by what a marvelous tale Dickens crafted.

Second, A Christmas Carol is an appropriate follow-up to the last book I reviewed — Behind the Beautiful Forevers, a non-fiction work about poverty and the struggle to survive in the slums while an indifferent over-society in India looks on. Dickens covers similar territory in mid-19th-century England. And I suppose it’s a universal theme, one that any society at any point in history can relate to — grinding poverty, hard work and short lives for some; indifference to their plight and resentment of them from other quarters; the feeling that the poor get what they deserve. But when you look deeper at the real people who are suffering, when you get to know who they are and put yourself in their shoes, you might experience a conversion. One passage that I found illuminating and sort of progressive for the time (the story was written in 1843) is an exchange between Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas present. Scrooge and the ghost are watching people carrying their food to the bakers for cooking before their Christmas feasts. Scrooge asks the ghost why they (the ghosts) deprive the poor of access to this service on Sundays, when the bakers are closed. The ghost, surprised to be charged of such a thing, places the responsibility for this where it truly belongs, responding, “There are some on this earth of yours … who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.” That’s what I call a timely message!

A Christmas Carol is a popular story that has never gone out of print for good reason — it touches on issues that we can all understand, and with clever, entertaining and witty writing, teaches us a little lesson and makes us a bit more introspective. If you haven’t read it in a while, take an hour or so to do it this Christmas. You’ll enjoy it. And here is a link to the cartoon version that I remember from my childhood. It freaked me out then, but it’s actually quite good. It came out in 1971, features narration by Michael Redgrave and has Chuck Jones as Executive Producer. The animation is cool, in my opinion — it really captures that dark, gritty industrial/Victorian atmosphere.

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