My Recommended Reading List!

Standard
brown wooden shelf with books

(Photo by Olenka Sergienko on Pexels.com)

In my college classes at both Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA and Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA,  I sometimes do something I call — Chuck’s recommended readings.  I ask the students to write the title and author I suggest and then tell the students that what they do with that information is entirely up to them.  I have put together a partial list of some of the books I have suggested. 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 of 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!

 

 

Who Is Your Favorite Fictional Mother?

Standard

 

woman carrying baby at beach during sunset

(Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

In continuing this series about favorite characters, I wanted to turn to fictional mothers.  Obviously mothers are one of the most crucial parts of most families, and that is not different in literature, television, and film.

When thinking about this question, I considered many possible choices, but I decided that my favorite fictional mother is also from a book series that I love — Lily Potter from the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling.

J._K._Rowling_2010

()https://en.wikipedia.org)

While we often see or read about Lily Potter in terms of what she did instead of directly, her actions to save the infant Harry Potter from Voldemort’s attacks reaches the level of heroism. She sacrifices her life in order to save her child. This action sets in motion much of the rest of the books in the series.

She is, indeed, a loving, powerful, and heroic mother.  Without her actions, Harry Potter would not have lived to become a student at Hogwart’s School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry.

So, I ask all of you: who is your favorite fictional mother?

Who Is Your Favorite Magical Character?

Standard
background blur bokeh bright

(Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

I am beginning a new series for this blog today about favorite characters.  I will begin with magical/mystical characters, but the one requirement for these choices is that they are from books or poetry or drama–some kind of writing.

When I ask who is your favorite magical/mystical character, I mean specifically any character who can perform magic, not simply someone who appears in a magical world.

For me, this is very difficult, because I have so many from which I can choose; among them are Merlin from Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory, Prospero from The Tempest by Shakespeare, Harry Potter and Dumbledore from The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, and Gandalf from The Lord Of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. I am sure I am forgetting some, but I will make a choice, and my favorite magical character is Gandalf!

lotr-4391263_1280

(https://pixabay.com)

 

So,  I ask all of you: who is your favorite magical/mystical character?

Who Are Some of Your Favorite Fantasy Writers?

Standard

I thought I would continue this series on favorite writers by asking specifically about Fantasy today. I have addressed Speculative and Science-fiction writers, but now let us consider those we love reading in Fantasy.

Here is a brief list of some of my favorites:

ring-1671094_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

J. R. R. Tolkien and The Lord Of The Rings

 

J._K._Rowling_2010

(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

J. K. Rowling  The Harry Potter Series

 

ray-28744_960_720

(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

Ray Bradbury Something Wicked This Way Comes

 

These writers are only a few of many possible whom I might have listed.

So, I ask you: who are some of your favorite fantasy writers?

Dining With Characters: Part One: Revisited

Standard

I enjoyed this series several years ago, and I thought it was time to revisit these posts. I hope you enjoy them.

toast-153723_960_720

(https://pixabay.com/)

The other day I was thinking about which 2 or 3 fictional characters I would like to sit down with over coffee, tea, or beer and with whom I would like to have a conversation.  When I first thought about it, I believed it would be an easy choice to make, but then I realized that there were so many that I would have to do this in parts.

coffee-843278_640(https://pixabay.com/)

 

teapot-484792_640

(https://pixabay.com/)

beer-846047_640

(https://pixabay.com/)

For the initial meeting, I thought I would extend an invitation to Merlin from Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, Gandalf from J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, (not from The Hobbit), and Dumbledore from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series to join me over beer, mead, or even butterbeer, if that were preferable at a nice Public House.  I chose  these characters because they are central figures in three works that are deeply important to me, not only from the perspective of study but also from the enormous pleasure I have had from reading these works. I have taught all of them in different classes, primarily at  the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, and I love to reread these writings over the years.

bar-209148_640

(https://pixabay.com/)

I am fascinated by the connection among the three of them, all wizards in tales of British mythology. Among the questions I would want to ask would be: Do you see a connection among yourselves? Do you approve of your portrayals in the writings? and Are you descended from the Druids?

stonehenge-256060_640

I think this would be a lively and enjoyable conversation, although if too much was drunk, I wonder what inebriated and arguing wizards would be like.

trees-358418_640

https://pixabay.com/

Who would you choose to invite to such an event?  I would love to hear your choices.

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

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.

32570160

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

FOE_Cover_French

 

Available on Amazon

Happy Anniversary to JK Rowling and Harry Potter!

Standard

harry-potter-1091160_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

It has been 20 years since the publication of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone. This extraordinary book and the entire Harry Potter series engaged the minds and imaginations of millions of readers around the world. I love this series, I teach it in several of my college classes, and I recommend it to anyone who has not read it.  It is also a book that can give the gift of reading to those who have not embraced the joy of reading. So, if you have not read this wonderful series, or if you have and love it, catch the express train to Hogwarts and have a great time!

Happy Anniversary and congratulation to J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter!

harry-potter-1640525_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

More Reading and Writing Quotations

Standard

J._K._Rowling_2010

https://en.wikipedia.org

“Read a lot. Reading really helps. Read anything you can get your hands on.”                                    J. K. Rowling

 

“I always advise children who ask me for tips on being a writer to read as much as they possibly can. Jane Austen gave a young friend the same advice, so I’m in good company there.”                                         J. K. Rowling

 

neil-gaiman-April-2013

https://en.wikipedia.org

“Believe in yourself. Keep writing.”  Neil Gaiman

“Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.”                                              Neil Gaiman

 

Ray_Bradbury_(1975)

https://en.wikipedia.org

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”            Ray Bradbury

“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

                                                                  Ray Bradbury

Dining With Characters! Part I

Standard

toast-153723_640

https://pixabay.com/

The other day I was thinking about which 2 or 3 fictional characters I would like to sit down with over coffee, tea, or beer and with whom I would like to have a conversation.  When I first thought about it, I believed it would be an easy choice to make, but then I realized that there were so many that I would have to do this in parts.

coffee-843278_640https://pixabay.com/

teapot-484792_640

https://pixabay.com/

beer-846047_640

https://pixabay.com/

For the initial meeting, I thought I would extend an invitation to Merlin from Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, Gandalf from J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, (not from The Hobbit), and Dumbledore from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series to join me over beer, mead, or even butterbeer, if that were preferable at a nice Public House.  I chose  these characters because they are central figures in three works that are deeply important to me, not only from the perspective of study but also from the enormous pleasure I have had from reading these works. I have taught all of them in different classes, and I love to reread these writings over the years.

bar-209148_640

https://pixabay.com/

I am fascinated by the connection among the three of them, all wizards in tales of British mythology. Among the questions I would want to ask would be: Do you see a connection among yourselves? Do you approve of your portrayals in the writings? and Are you descended from the Druids?

stonehenge-256060_640

I think this would be a lively and enjoyable conversation, although if too much was drunk, I wonder what inebriated and arguing wizards would be like.

trees-358418_640

https://pixabay.com/

Who would you choose to invite to such an event?  I would love to hear your choices.

Banned Books

Standard

I was working on my book order and syllabus for a class I will teach next semester, a special topics course, Banned Books, and in looking over various sites that detail books that have been challenged and banned, both in the Unites States and throughout the world, I was struck by the sheer enormity of the attempts by people ranging from parents to churches to governments to control what people may read and the courage and strength of those who have opposed such efforts.

If you are interested in this subject, I recommend several good sites: http://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/banned-books-around-world#.VFWZdckQM1J and
http://www.ala.org/bbooks/ among others.

One of the issues in creating a course and its syllabus is deciding what books to include, always a difficult task, especially when so many books have either been directly banned or challenged. I wanted to make certain that I included books that have been attacked for a variety of reasons. The novels I chose were banned/challenged for motives ranging from sexuality to religion to government issues. Without giving the entirety of the syllabus, among the books I chose to include are D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover, J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone, Talisma Nasrin’s Shame, and Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man. As I mentioned, I had to leave many books out that I would have preferred to include, mainly because of size. The reading list is already intensive, and since this is an undergraduate course, I have to consider length of weekly readings. It is always a dilemma in choosing texts.

What is clear though is the courage some authors have to write texts in places where their lives can be put at risk as well as their readers for creating and reading novels. Both the courage of a writer like Talisma Nasrin and a reader and activist like Malala Yousafzai are beyond question. This integrity and bravery have been exhibited by writers and readers for centuries, and I am humbled in their presence.

We, as writers and readers, must always remember that the freedom to read is a crucial part of life, and we need to be vigilant against those who would deny that basic freedom.