Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings: Revisited

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In my classes at Lehigh University and the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College, I sometimes do something I call — Doc Chuck’s recommended readings.  I suggest a book for the students to read at another point in the future. I ask the students to write the title and author and then tell them that what they do with that information is entirely up to them.  Some of these works I consider to be among the best and most important books ever written, and some I simply found to be wonderful and entertaining.

Now, the list:

Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings:

Agee, James and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.

Brown, Larry. Fay.

Cervantes, Miguel De. Don Quixote.

Delaney, Frank. Ireland.

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities.

Doyle, Roddy. A Star Called Henry.

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose.

Gaiman, Neil. American Gods.

Grass, Günter. The Tin Drum.

Helprin, Mark. A Soldier of the Great War.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Pacific and Other Stories.

Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom The Bell Tolls.

Homer. The Iliad.

. . . . . . . The Odyssey.

King, Stephen. Hearts In Atlantis.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Stand.

Lee, Harper.  To Kill A Mockingbird.

Poe, Edgar Allan.  Complete Works.

Rice, Anne. Interview With the Vampire.

Rowling, J. K. The entire Harry Potter series.

Shakespeare, William. The Collected Works.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind.

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief.

I am certain there are many books I have forgotten to mention.  This is neither intended to be all-inclusive, nor is it meant to be authoritarian.  I hope that someone may find a book or books from this list, read them, and enjoy them.

What books would you add to this kind of list?

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

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Available on Amazon

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What Is A Sentence From a Book (or two) You Love?

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I was thinking recently of a variety of aspects of books that I love, including plot, theme, and character. As I was considering these elements, I realized that some books have extraordinary sentences. These lines might not encapsulate the entirety of those books, but they are beautiful and powerful.

I will offer two such quotations:

The first is the closing sentence from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, one of the most important novels ever written:

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known” (307).

The second offering is from A Soldier Of The Great War by Mark Helprin. This novel is, in my not too modest opinion, one of the absolute best novels ever written. With this book, Helprin takes his place among the pantheon of literary giants such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Cervantes, and Tolstoy.

“As a way to arrive at the truth, exactitude and methodology are, in the end, far inferior to vision and apotheosis” (30)

I am sure I will continue this idea as a series, but this little post will serve as a beginning.

So, now I ask everyone who reads this: what are some of the most beautiful and important sentences you have read in books?

Works Cited

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Wordworth Classics. 1993.

Helprin, Mark. A Soldier Of The Great War. Perennial. 2001.

Quotations from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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“Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”(62)

 

“This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.” (108)

 

“There are some upon this earth of yours,” returned the Spirit, “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.” (92)

“‘God bless us every one!’ said Tiny Tim, the last of all.” (97)

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Works Cited

Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens: The Christmas Books Volume I.

Penguin Classics. New York. 1985.

Favorite Christmas Movies: A New Addition–The Man Who Invented Christmas

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I have several Christmas movies that carry great meaning to me and that I have loved over many years. I have written about them before in this blog, and I will continue to do so. Now, however, I want to make a new entry into my list of favorite Christmas movies.

The Man Who Invented Christmas is an extraordinary film that was released last year. It is a wonderful movie  that explores the creative process of Charles Dickens as he wrote the classic novel, A Christmas Carol. The director is Bharat Nalluri, and this work is marvelous! We get a direct entrance into Dickens’ mind as he struggles with his writing. His characters appear and talk to him, which is an excellent touch.

The film is based on the book by Les Standiford, and the stars are Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, and Jonathan Pryce. The entire cast, without exception, give extraordinary performances. Christopher Plummer as Scrooge is especially brilliant. Dan Stevens should be recognized as one of the finest actors today.

This film delivers the message of Dickens’ masterpiece, that humanity should be the business of everyone, that money should not be the focus of our lives, and that we should all try to help each other. It will capture your heart and soul, and it is a film I recommend completely! On a system of 5 stars, I give it five!

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Please, do yourself a favor, and watch this movie!

Favorite Christmas Movies, Part I–Revisited

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This is a post that I have used before, but given the season of the holidays, especially at a time when giving as opposed to greed should be happening (although that should always be  the case), I will repost this series. Scrooge1970Film

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There are so many aspects of this holiday season that are wonderful to me: getting together with loved ones, friends and family alike; the spirit of giving that I hope continues to grow; celebrations; the holiday music; and the memories of happy times.  Among the favorite memories I have are a few specific Christmas movies.

The movie I will talk about today is Scrooge with Albert Finney as the star; he does a magnificent job in his performance as the miserly and misanthropic loan-shark. This musical version of A Christmas Carol is one of the finest filmic adaptations of the classic Christmas Eve ghost story and morality tale.  This film follows  the story closely with Scrooge being visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, of Christmas Present, and of Christmas Future. Among the movies best songs are Scrooge singing “I Hate People” which clearly shows his despicable and greedy nature,  “Thank You Very Much” in which a tap dance is done on Scrooge’s coffin in the future, and “I Like Life” in which the ghost of Christmas Present teaches Scrooge about experiencing life as well as having empathy for others.

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This movie does an excellent job of showing Dickens’ critique of a greed based society and one that did little or nothing to help alleviate the enormous difficulties of the poor.  When first confronted by the ghost of his dead partner Marley, Scrooge tells him that he was always a good man of business.  Marley’s ghost responds, “Mankind should be our business.”  This is a sentiment that stands today.  We should be putting the good of humanity above the pursuit of greed.

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I was a teenager when this movie was first released in 1970, and I loved seeing it with two of my closest friends.  We were captivated by the music and the story, and it remains as powerful to me as when I first saw it. If you have never had the opportunity to see this particular film, I give it my highest recommendation.

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I also remind all of us, in paraphrasing the Master Charles Dickens, that we must always remember to make the good of others our business. That matters more than accumulation of wealth.

Interview (part 1) with K.D. Dowdall, author of The Stone Arch Secret

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It is my honor to interview K. D. Dowdall, the author of the new romance mystery novel The Stone Arch Secret. This is a wonderful book, and I will soon post my review of her novel, but I can say that I give it 5 out of 5 stars!

First, I want to thank K. D. Dowdall for agreeing to the interview. So, let us begin.

Some writers have very particular schedules and places for their writing. Do you have a particular approach?

I have a writing/library room where I read, takes notes, develop ideas for writing the next novel and then I write.  I usually have most of the story, the beginning and the end in my mind before writing, very much like a synopsis and then the characters take over. 

 

When you think of your readers, what do you hope they get from your novel?

A book that is well-written, interesting, authentic, heart-felt, and honest. And, maybe come away with a new perspective of the world around them.

 

How would you describe your writing style?

I write with a poetic touch, generally, inasmuch, as I love to write very descriptive scenes  for emotional responses to different backgrounds, whether it is a church, a country road, a forest,  or a river running swiftly under a bridge. Often, I do this so that the reader can visualize a past memory or experience about what they are reading in my story.

 

Do you have a particular genre that you enjoy reading?

I like most genres, but I suppose I favor Historical Fiction.

 

Who are some of your favorite writers?

Some of my favorites are: Stephen King, Umberto Eco, James Joyce, Jack London, Joseph Conrad, Harper Lee, Charles Dickens, Hans Christian Anderson, Libby Hawker.

 

What books are you currently reading?

I am currently reading, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Flight of the Sparrow by Amy Belding Brown, and Catling’s Bane by D. Wallace Peach.

 

What books and/or writers have inspired you?

On Writing by Stephen King, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, Dubliners by James Joyce, The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London, To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, Tidewater by Libby Hawker, Far From the Maddening Crowd, by Thomas Hardy, The Wolf and The Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and poets like John Keats, E. E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Sara Teasdale, and of course, William Shakespeare.

Once again, I want to thank K. D. Dowdall for agreeing to this interview. Part 2 will be posted soon.

You can find more information about Karen’s writing at these sites, and please treat yourself by getting a copy of her novel, The Stone Arch Secret.

The Stone Arch Secret is available on Amazon

https://karendowdall.com/

https://www.facebook.com/karenddowdall

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Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings–Revisited

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This blogpost was written several years ago, but I thought it was worth revisiting, especially because I love to suggest books for people to read.

I had the good fortune this week of delivering a talk at the Muhlenberg College Board of Associates Meeting on the topic of Great Books.  I spoke with the audience for about 20-25 minutes about what I consider to be great books and why they matter. The main argument I made about the importance of books is that they connect us as people.  I am an unreserved humanist; I believe that human beings have the power to improve themselves, that education is crucial to develop of an informed  society, and that books allow readers to experience the worlds of others.

The audience was one of professionals from many fields but very few English Literature majors; however, their interest in reading and books was heartening for me.  They wanted to hear suggestions about what books I would recommend.

In my classes, I sometimes do something I call — Chuck’s recommended readings.  I ask the students to write the title and author and then tell them that what they do with that information is entirely up to them.  Since several of the attendees of this talk asked for further suggestions, I decided to put together a list, very abbreviated I admit, of books I would recommend.  Some of them I consider among the best and most important books ever written, and some I simply found to be wonderful and entertaining.

Now, the list:

Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings
Agee, James and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.

Brown, Larry. Fay.

Cervantes, Miguel De. Don Quixote.

Delaney, Frank. Ireland.

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities.

Doyle, Roddy. A Star Called Henry.

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose.

Gaiman, Neil. American Gods.

Grass, Günter. The Tin Drum.

Helprin, Mark. A Soldier of the Great War.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Pacific and Other Stories.

Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom The Bell Tolls.

Homer. The Iliad.

. . . . . . . The Odyssey.

King, Stephen. Hearts In Atlantis.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Stand.

Lee, Harper.  To Kill A Mockingbird.

Poe, Edgar Allan.  Complete Works.

Rice, Anne. Interview With the Vampire.

Rowling, J. K. The entire Harry Potter series.

Shakespeare, William. The Collected Works.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind.

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief.

I am certain there are many books I have forgotten to mention.  This is neither intended to be all-inclusive, nor is it meant to be authoritarian.  I hope that someone may find a book or books from this list, read them, and enjoy them.

Happy reading!

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview