Saturday, August 27, 2016



In response to my review of “The Wife”, a friend sent me a comment in which they said they were considering reading the “Kristin Lavransdatter” Trilogy but were concerned about some negative reviews. I didn’t want to accept the full responsibility of making such a recommendation so I replied that I would ask my book group what their recommendations are. The group met last night (August 26, 2016), and toward the end of our discussion I went around the room and asked each person present to give their recommendation (or not).  The following is a summary of what they said based on my notes.

Bernard Norcott/Mahany—Yes. This trilogy is second only to Middlemarch for being my all-time favorite “long” works of literature. I appreciated the book’s description of a community where everybody was Catholic. (Bernie was raised Catholic but currently Unitarian)

Charlie Kline—Yes. I enjoyed the first book most maybe because I identified most with the young Kristin. Maybe with more experience I would appreciate the other books more. 

John Rasmus—Yes. The book has marvelous details of life. 

Marilyn Whitlock—Definitely yes. It contains a magnificent portrayal of the stages of a woman’s life.

Greg Brown—Yes. What’s the risk? Be sure the read the Nunnally translation. (assuming you don’t read Norwegian)

Judy Corvel—Yes. I loved it. I felt like I really knew Kristin. I was really caught up in the story. Undset is a good story teller.

Tom Brown—Yes. I recommend it be read during the winter season so when the book describes the challenges of getting through the snow it will seem real. I also recommend listening to the audio-to-text from the Kindle ebook edition. It helps maintain forward progress through the drawn out segments of the book.

Theo Clemons—Yes. Character development, relationships, plot, multiple literary elements are all good.

Don Pepper—Yes with some caveats. You must first read the Islandic sagas. It is important to commit to reading all the way to the end. (He also recommended visiting Norway.)

Marty Hatten—Yes, but it’s an investment of time. It’s light at the beginning but gets heavier toward the end. It sparked good discussion in our group.

Clif Hostetler—Only if you have a group with which to discuss the book. I would never have made it though without the prompting and expectations of the group.

Here's a photo of the group. The names above are in order from left to right with not everybody of the right side visible. Clif Hostetler is behind the camera.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Nominations for 2016 Schedule for Great Books KC

Nominations for 2016 Schedule for Great Books KC

Re-reading books we have read before
A selection from the Bible
Acts of the Apostles 
The Book of Ruth  
A selection from the Greeks
If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho – a translation by Anne Carson
The Simile of the Sun, The Analogy of the Divided Line, The Allegory of the Cave. From the Republic of Plato  (Also qualifies as a "re-read")

A selection from Shakespeare
Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 
Twelfth Night; or; What You Will (Also qualifies as a "re-read")

A work of poetry
Annie Allen by Gwendolyn Brooks  
Annabel Lee and/or The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe  

A non-Western selection
 Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin   
The Quran (Also qualifies as a "re-read") 

A selection by a female author
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Out of Africa by Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen)   
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin 
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell by the three Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Anne, and Emily 

A recent (1900-1965) selection
Herzog by Saul Bellow (1964)  
Look Homeward, Angel: A Story of the Buried Life by Thomas Wolfe (1929)   
The Sense of Beauty by George Santayana   (1896)
The Sun Also Rises by Earnest Hemmingway (1926)

A shorter work
Waiting for Godot  by Samuel Beckett (128 pages)  
 Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (80 pages) 
The Vicar of Wakefield by Goldsmith (144 pages)   
Language and Myth by Ernst Cassirer (128 pages)  
Three Philosophical Poets by George Santayana   (110 pages)
Utopia by Thomas More (85 pages)  
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (80 pages)  
Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus  (80 pages)   

A Long Work (for June, July & August)
Cantos, by Ezra Pound  (also qualifies as poetry) (896 pages)
Kristin Lavransdatter Trilogy, by Sigrid Undset (1,168 pages)
The Wreath
The Wife
The Cross   
No Particular Category
An Essay On Man: An Introduction to Human Culture by Ernst Cassirer (250 pages)