The pile of books needing to be reviewed is piling up again so here are brief synopses of three:
The Thurber Carnival
This is a collection of essays that James Thurber wrote for the New Yorker from the thirties and forties. They each take a portion of life in general, his personal life, fictional characters based on real friends and draw zany, humorous and slightly surreal pictures out of it.
One of his more famous stories is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (nothing like the movie with Ben Stiller I'm told), which is about a hen-pecked husband who copes with the mediocrity of his life by living in a fantasy world where he plays the hero in every scenario. Another is The Catbird Seat where a mild-mannered man acts out of character to persuade his boss that an overbearing co-worker is insane and get her fired.
I must say some of my favorite stories are those that describe the household he grew up in: mother, father, brother, a various assortment of aunts, uncles and a grandfather who still thinks it's the Civil War who sleeps in the attic. Nutty things always happen, such as slight flooding that, through rumor, is blown out of proportion causing panic through out the town with the masses running south from the inch-high water trickling in from the north side of town.
The Last section includes cartoons that Thurber drew to his poems in addition to other pithy bits of wisdom.
Pia Desideria by Philip Jacob Spener
Spener wrote his treatise on Christian living in 1675 but he might have written it today. In it he admonishes the Church on not conforming to the world and how much the Christian body has, in fact, rendered itself almost indistinguishable from non believers in how they think, conduct their lives or ignorance of doctrinal truth. It's a short, readable book and I highly recommend it.
Poor Richard's Almanacks by Benjamin Franklin
Franklin wrote a yearly almanack with quotes and stories for each month under the pseudonym of Richard Saunders. Almanacks were popular in colonial America. They offered weather forecasts, advice for running a household, puzzles and witticisms. Franklin's almanacks are a funny satire on life in the 18th century and were famous for his wordplays. Many famous sayings we still know were penned by Franklin in his almanac. Here are a few:
Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.
Lost Time is never found again.
Love your Enemies, for they tell you your Faults.
If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing.
Franklin started writing his yearly almanacs in 1733 and wrote his last in 1758. My book is a complete collection of every year.
An aside, I'm one book away from reading 100 books and I see I have only reviewed a quarter of them. I'm going to try to rectify that. Have a good week!