Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Book Talk

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck I read this as a teenager, and really enjoyed reading it again last week. There were several things in the book that I have been thinking about ever since.

#1 - O-lan's hard work. In the first days of their marriage, she cleaned the house from top to bottom, mended clothing and bedding (killing the bugs that lived there), and then joined her husband working in the fields. When she had her babies, she only stopped work just long enough to go inside, give birth alone, and clean up before heading back outside to work, then fixed a hot meal for dinner.

#2 The oldest son gets an attitude and Wang Lung, the father, doesn't know what to do with him. He never felt like that as a young man, so why is his son acting so rude? O-lan tells her husband that this kind of thing only happens to wealthy young men, and that most wealthy families would give the son a slave and the problems would go away. I think it is interesting that Buck attributes teenage angst with wealth and ease...

#3 The book that I read came with some discussion notes, and one of the questions was: Was Wang Lung happier before or after he became a wealthy man? I don't know. In the beginning of the book, he had to work so hard to just stay alive, and one bad season could result in the death of his family. But there was no peace in his home when he became a wealthy man. Having money lead to all sorts of trouble, not just the nicer home and lovely gardens. So, I don't know about Wang Lung, but O-lan was definitely happier before the money.

#4 I feel so removed from food production, that it just blows me away to think about growing each and every bite of food to sustain our family. I cannot comprehend how it could be done. How much land would it take? What are the bare necessities? I know that people still do this, but, I'm sad to say, it seems so hard and strange to me. And who grows all the wheat that is magically turned into the goldfish crackers and wheat thins that I buy at the store? And are we really the lucky ones?

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Digging to America by Anne Tyler was a fun read about two families adopting babies from Korea. They become unlikely friends as the girls grow up. It was an interesting look at America through the eyes of recent immigrants.

So, what are you reading?

15 comments:

Mary said...

Wendy, I read both of those books and will comment more on "THe Good Earth" when I have more time - it is such a great book and I didn't read it until last year! Where was I when we were teenagers and you were reading all of this good fiction?

Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors - she makes the best quirky characters. I have read all of her books, an amazing feat, I know. Anyway, if you haven't, you should read "Searching For Caleb" and "The Clock Winder." Two of her best. The characters in Digging to America aren't quite as odd as in some of her other books, but it is still a good read.

Look at that, I'm short on time and I still wrote a novel. More to come for The Good Earth.....

Donna Boucher said...

Julie Child biography (....Paris...?) It's enjoyable even if I can't remember what it is called.

Middlemarch-just starting.

House of Mirth- pg. 100, I had to give it to Emma for her English "Class".

Traveling Mercies- I plan to take this on the plane to Europe.

The Anne Tyler books sounds like it would be a good read on the plane too :o)

Amanda said...

Those both sound interesting. I need to branch out more into "other" books. We are re-reading "A Heart Like His" for our book club. Not my idea, but I am looking forward to reading it again.

I will definitely have to put both of these books on my list.

Mary said...

Hey, it's me again. Isn't "The Good Earth" Mom's favorite book?

When I read it, I had just had Lindsey and was astounded at the description of O-lan giving birth and then going and working in the field the same day. I wondered if that really happened (or happens) anywhere. I was also struck by how she sacrificed to keep her family alive and happy. The book kind of paints her as simple, but she is definitely the hero of the book.

I am reading "Thirteen Moons" by Charles Frazier, the guy who wrote "Cold Mountain." It is really good so far.

JoyceMcB said...

Wendy, I loved Pearl S. Buck when I was in college. I dated a couple of Japanese boys and so loved the Asian cultures. I think I read most of her books. I have been surprised to find out in the last few years that she has written quite a few wonderful short stories some of which have been made into short movies by our church.
I'm going to have to look up some of the titles and make sure I am right.

txmommy said...

I loved the good earth. I remember being so impresed with O-lan and her hard work. It makes me a little ashamed at how lazy I am.

I haven't read the other but def will, it sounds good. I am reading "the song of Hannah". I just finished something by Madeline Lengle with Star in the title but I can't remember the rest right now, sad. It was good. I also just read "Bed Rest" this week, about a lawyer who gets pregnant and goes on bed rest and how that and having a baby changes her life. And my friend just told me about a book she read and loved that i want to get called "these is my words"

wendy said...

Mary - I thought of you when I checked out the book by Anne Tyler. I will have to try her other books

Donna - I would like to read Middlemarch - how fun, buying books for the plane!

Amanda - we went to the church book store today and it made met think of you and your book club. I enjoy reading those books, but I have a hard time buying them when I'm at the store (I can only buy clearance for some reason)

Mary - again - I didn't know Frasier had another book out - I must read it! O-Lan is so silent but mysterious - like when she knew how to beg, and where to find the jewels. I kind of wished she had kept the jewels a secret until she died.

Mom - I was suprised this Christmas to see that The Gift? about the boy who gets up early to milk the cows for his dad, was written by Buck. I wonder how true her descriptions are to life in China at the turn of the century. You would love it here - there is a very strong asian feeling in Hawaii. Come visit!

TXmommy - I love that you can't remember the title of your book - I am the same way. My husband likes to tease me and steal my book and not give it back until I can remember the name of it. Bed Rest sounds good!

anniepall said...

sounds like a great book. i'm in need of something right now.

i just finished bridge to terabithia for our book club blog and we're heading to the theater to see it on saturday.

thanks for the tip on digging to america!

Elizabeth-W said...

I'm always looking for more good books. Love Anne Tyler and haven't read this one yet. She's always a nice easy read. Right now I'm working on Reading Lolita in Tehran.

No Cool Story said...

I am reading nothing worth mentioning in this here post, full of wonderful book ideas.
Thanks for posting this, I have a hard time finding something I'll read/enjoy doing when I am not blogging.
The Good Earth sounds great, I'll add it to my book queue.

wendy said...

Anniepall - Bridge to Terabithia is one of my all time favorites. But so sad!

Elizabeth - Are you enjoying Lolita?

NCS - queue is such a lovely word. I don't even know how to pronounce it for sure, but I am going to try to work it into casual conversation this week.

Carrotjello said...

At this moment, I am reading your comments. Later I might read Outwitting History.

Suzanne said...

I'm not reading anything right now, but your selections look great. I'll have to see if our library has them! :)

muse said...

I'm reading something called 3 sisters.
My eldest daughter of 3 sisters and 2 brothers lent it to me.

muse said...

Correction, it's "Three Daughters."