Category Archives: My Favorite Books

My Favorite Books Blog Hop: A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh

Welcome to the My Favorite Books Blog Hop! I’m glad you stopped by. Throughout the month of April, we’ll be hearing from bloggers and fellow bibliophiles about a topic we can’t say enough about — books! Old books, new books, fiction, non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is encouraged to participate.

Each Tuesday, I’ll be adding a post about a book that I resonated with me in some way. And I can’t wait to hear from all of you.

A few simple rules:

  1. To participate, scroll down to the bottom, add your name to the list, and grab the link provided. Insert that into the blog post you wish to add.
  2. Make sure the list of attendees is added to your blog post.
  3. Be a good hopper and visit other blogs throughout this event. Be a great hopper and add some comments along the way!

I hope everyone enjoys! Happy Hopping!!

A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh

When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.A.A. Milne

As today is the last day for our blog hop, I’d like to get a bit sentimental for a moment and discuss one of my favorite literary works, Winnie the Pooh.

I understand that when most people discuss favorite books, they tend to think of literary giants like Gone With the Wind or Fahrenheit 451. They may expound on the works of Shakespeare, Dickens, or Austen. And, make no mistake, all of these fine classics are deserving of the merit they have received.

Yet, in my humble opinion, there are few written works that can touch a heart so deeply as Winnie the Pooh.

“Some people care too much. I think it's called love.” Winnie the Pooh Click To Tweet

Winnie the Pooh was originally published in 1926, with Now We Are Six following in 1927 and The House at Pooh Corner in 1928. For me, it’s often difficult to separate these stories from one another. They just blend into the Pooh universe. These stories are so wonderfully crafted and offer a rare glimpse of innocence that’s lost in today’s cynical world.

Stop and think about it for a moment. All of the truly important lessons in life can all be learned through the adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.”

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”

For me, these stories remind me of story time when my children were young. I yearn to see their innocent faces once again and hear their cute little giggles. That time passed far too quickly and before I knew it, I woke up with teenagers.

Pooh takes me back and for a moment I’m holding my little ones in my arms again.

That’s why Pooh is my favorite silly ol’ bear.  And the older I get, the more wisdom I find within his adventures.

I’m not anticipating grandchildren anytime within the near future. I think I still have many more years before I face that adventure. But I know that my future grandchildren will sit in my lap as we travel to the Hundred Acre Wood and experience the world of Winnie the Pooh together.

And that will be the greatest adventure of all!

Blessings to all of you and Happy Reading!

(Jennifer B. Duffey is the author of two novels and a collection of short stories. To download a free copy of her latest novel, The Face in the Mirror, click here.)


My Favorite Books Blog Hop – Maeve Binchy’s Light a Penny Candle

Welcome to the My Favorite Books Blog Hop! I’m glad you stopped by. Throughout the month of April, we’ll be hearing from bloggers and fellow bibliophiles about a topic we can’t say enough about — books! Old books, new books, fiction, non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is encouraged to participate.

Each Tuesday, I’ll be adding a post about a book that I resonated with me in some way. And I can’t wait to hear from all of you.

A few simple rules:

  1. To participate, scroll down to the bottom, add your name to the list, and grab the link provided. Insert that into the blog post you wish to add.
  2. Make sure the list of attendees is added to your blog post.
  3. Be a good hopper and visit other blogs throughout this event. Be a great hopper and add some comments along the way!

I hope everyone enjoys! Happy Hopping!!

Maeve Binchy’s Light a Penny Candle

They looked at each other for a long time — probably only seconds, but that can be a long time….Maeve Binchy

This week, I’d like to introduce you to Maeve Binchy’s first novel, Light a Penny Candle. Some critics have called it her finest work, although I’d personally say for me it’s a tie with The Glass Lake and Circle of Friends, both of which I enjoy immensely.

Originally published in 1982, the novel takes readers on the journey of two young girls who are forced together thanks to the perils of WWII. Elizabeth White is as timid as it is possible to be. She is totally unprepared for the rough and tumble O’Connor clan and their fiery red-headed daughter, Aisling. Although they are the same age, they are polar opposites in every sense of the word. And yet, the bond that they form is unshakable.

I was born well after WWII ended, but have always had a soft spot for that period of history. This work deftly allows the reader to experience some of the tragedies of war from a unique and often underrepresented point of view, the Irish who hoped to remain neutral during that time.

I’ve often commented on my love of Binchy novels. She is one of my favorite authors. Her command of character development is unrivaled in my humble opinion. There is a realness to the people she writes. You know them. You can see them. They become your friends. These two wonderful characters are no exception.

Through the course of the work, we get to see these two girls grow and mature into confident, determined women. That may be the reason I enjoy this book so much, it’s utterly relatable in almost every aspect. These women suffer the heartbreaks of love, face difficult family circumstances, and struggle to balance work with personal responsibilities. There are tears intermingled with laughter and adventure fraught with painful consequences.

In short, it’s just like real life.

And honestly, like so many other Binchy novels, I didn’t want their story to end. I wanted to see what happened next, what was the next great adventure these two went on together.

I once heard an interview that Binchy gave were she stated that her writing was great to relax with and take to the beach. I believe that’s true. I wouldn’t consider it the hallmark of great literature. And I don’t believe she set out to write such a novel.

What I would consider her novel to be is an in depth snapshot of human nature with all its flaws, insecurities, hopes, and dreams. And that may be the finest aspect of a great storyteller.

Until next week,

Happy Reading!

(Jennifer B. Duffey is the author of two novels and a collection of short stories. To download a free copy of her latest novel, The Face in the Mirror, click here.)


My Favorite Book Blog Hop: Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth

Welcome to the My Favorite Books Blog Hop! I’m glad you stopped by. Throughout the month of April, we’ll be hearing from bloggers and fellow bibliophiles about a topic we can’t say enough about — books! Old books, new books, fiction, non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is encouraged to participate.

Each Tuesday, I’ll be adding a post about a book that I resonated with me in some way. And I can’t wait to hear from all of you.

A few simple rules:

  1. To participate, scroll down to the bottom, add your name to the list, and grab the link provided. Insert that into the blog post you wish to add.
  2. Make sure the list of attendees is added to your blog post.
  3. Be a good hopper and visit other blogs throughout this event. Be a great hopper and add some comments along the way!

I hope everyone enjoys! Happy Hopping!!

Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth

And roots, if they are to bear fruits, must be kept well in the soil of the land.Pearl Buck

In last week’s blog hop post, my friend Andrea Patten asked, “How many times have you picked up a book and fallen in love simply because it was exactly what you needed at the time?” Well, that got me thinking about some of the books that have fallen into my life at precisely the right moment.

One such book is Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth. It was during a particularly difficult period in my life. I was eating lunch with a friend and she began to tell me about a book she had just finished reading. She looked at me and said, “You’ll love it.”

She was right.

I had never ventured into  Buck’s novels before. A novel about China seemed unfathomable to a simple country girl from rural Georgia. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Buck’s novel takes us on a journey of a poor Chinese farmer, Wang Lung and his wife O-lan. Society looks down on Wang because he has nothing but through hard work and gritty determination, he is able to become prosperous. With each successful crop, he is able to buy more land from those who no longer wish to farm. Eventually, those who looked down on him come to see him as an equal, if not a superior.

But he also faces struggles along the way. There is drought and famine, temptation and corruption. We see a good, pious farmer fall victim to the trappings of wealth and opportunity. We see a family lose and try to regain its spiritual foundation.

In many ways, this novel helped shine a light on some issues that I had been facing. Not that I’d ever experienced precisely the same events that unfolded in the book, but his experience had mirrored some of my own difficulties in life. I had grown up on a farm and had a deep rooted appreciation for the land and those who work it. I had been determined to make something of myself in my youth. I had worked hard and had created a successful business. And I had watched everything I worked for disappear when that business failed during the last recession.

I had lived through my own personal famine and was emerging on the other side when I read this book.

I can’t say what impact this novel would have had on me if I’d read it at any other time. There’s no way to know if it would have held the same influence. I’m sure I would have appreciated the work, as it is an amazing literary read. Yet I’m also sure that the overall impact would have been different.

This book was originally published in 1931 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction the following year. A movie followed in 1937 starring Paul Muni and Luise Rainer. The movie is entertaining but it’s not on par with the classics like Gone With the Wind or Casablanca. And it is nowhere close to the book.

After all, you shouldn’t judge a book by the movie.

I’d highly recommend taking a journey to historical China through Buck’s novel. Whether you’re facing difficulty or not, this book has immense wealth to offer the reader.

Happy Reading!

(Jennifer B. Duffey is the author of two novels and a collection of short stories. To download a free copy of her latest novel, The Face in the Mirror, click here.)



My Favorite Books Blog Hop: George Orwell’s 1984

Welcome to the My Favorite Books Blog Hop! I’m glad you stopped by. Throughout the month of April, we’ll be hearing from bloggers and fellow bibliophiles about a topic we can’t say enough about — books! Old books, new books, fiction, non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is encouraged to participate.

Each Tuesday, I’ll be adding a post about a book that I resonated with me in some way. And I can’t wait to hear from all of you.

A few simple rules:

  1. To participate, scroll down to the bottom, add your name to the list, and grab the link provided. Insert that into the blog post you wish to add.
  2. Make sure the list of attendees is added to your blog post.
  3. Be a good hopper and visit other blogs throughout this event. Be a great hopper and add some comments along the way!

I hope everyone enjoys! Happy Hopping!!

George Orwell’s 1984

His eyes re-focused on the page. He discovered that while he sat helplessly musing he had also been writing, as though by automatic action. And it was no longer the same cramped, awkward handwriting as before. His pen had slid voluptuously over the smooth paper, printing in large neat capitals – DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER over and over again, filling half a page.George Orwell

Those of you familiar with George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece may recognize that today, April 4th, is the anniversary of the date Winston Smith wrote those fateful words, DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER. Published in 1949, Orwell takes readers on a journey through the terrors of Oceania, It’s a totalitarian regime so immersed in tyranny that all forms of individualism and independent thought are punishable acts of treason against the state.

Big Brother is everywhere, on every street corner, lurking around every bend in the road, watching you in your home, monitoring your every movement. Children are taught to watch and report wayward parents. Workers turn on one another. Beauty only exists where Big Brother will allow it.

I’ve read this book several times and even though I know the ending, this book terrifies me like no other. For weeks afterward, I’m a paranoid wreck, watching for the ever present eye of Big Brother.

It’s not hard to see the similarities in today’s society. There are cameras on every street corner, in the parking lots, at the grocery store, and even in the fast food restaurant you visit. Just like in Oceania. (Except they didn’t have a Big Mac to look forward to.) We carry with us in our pockets a GPS tracker in the form of a cell phone that can pinpoint our exact location within a few feet. In Oceania, Big Brother always knew where you were at every moment of the day. In Winston’s home there was a giant screen on the wall that not only would play state sponsored programming but would watch and listen in on private conversations. Today, smart TVs have cameras that can be hacked by anyone in the world for an instant feed into your living room while you watch television.

It’s not just the technology that has changed, it’s also the language we speak. In Oceania, they only used Newspeak as a form of communication in order to eradicate the traditions of the English language. Everything was stripped to the lowest common literary denominator with no room for subtle nuances that can greatly alter the meaning of a written work. If you’ve ever received a text message from a teenager, you’ve witnessed the modern day equivalent.

In reality, do I think we’ve fully entered into the realm of Oceania where Big Brother is everywhere? No. But it’s hard not to admit that we’ve sashayed right up to the edge and established residence there.

When it was first published, it was met with mixed reviews. Some declared it original and suspenseful while others called it “gloomy vaticination.” Yet the overall cultural impact is impossible to deny. Even today we talk about Big Brother to denote uncomfortable government overreach. Words such as Thought Police and doublespeak can be directly linked to Orwell’s work. References to the book have found their way into Super Bowl ads (Apple’s 1984 ad was less than well received), pop music (David Bowe’s 1974 album Diamond Dogs and The Jam’s 1977 album This Is the Modern World), and in political debates to this day. Furthermore, it frequently ranks highly on the top 100 lists of most influential modern books.

1984 is not what I’d consider a light read. It’s not one I’d take along for a relaxing day at the beach. But then again, not all books should fit into that category. Some novels are meant to challenge the way we see the world around us. Orwell’s book does that like none other. And once read, it will stay with the reader forever.

Happy Reading!