Life after Work

Pulitzer Reading

Some people might be wondering what I’ve been up to. Well, I’ve been working and crafting and just rarely take the time to document what I work on. It seems like I’m always in the middle of a project and not ready to show anything, then I’m done and moving on to the next thing. I’ll try to fill in a couple of things here or there.

Something else is on my mind though. I’ve been downloading audio books from the Digital Library to listen to on my iPod while spinning/weaving/knitting and I love it. I rarely get to read “real” books these days, so audio books are providing my “reading fix.” I started a list of books I have consumed, both audio and conventional, earlier this year so I don’t lose track of what I’ve gone through. The books that are available at the Digital Library are kind of random, the inventory is by no means as full as the one from the “regular” library, but there’s plenty of interesting “listens.”

The latest book I finished is “The Good Earth” from Pearl S. Buck, a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. This gave me an idea. Most of my interest lies in the non-fiction realm, history, biography, and so on. I do enjoy detective and mystery novels as “easy listening”, but I have this vague notion that I should read “the classics” as well. But where to start? So, when I was half-way through “The Good Earth” I thought, why not try other Pulitzer Prize winners? They are bound to be good. So I pulled up the Wikipedia list of winners and was intimidated. I didn’t realize how long this prize has been awarded! And there are history and other non-fiction winners as well! I compared the fiction winners with the local library and am going to tackle the ones that are available as audio books first (not too many of them are). Then I’ll try the ebooks and after that, paper. I wonder if this is going to be a lifetime challenge. I’m curious.

Oh, the following books I’ve already read/listened to:

1921: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (thought it was kinda boring)
1932: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (more on that below)
1937: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (loved it – a guilty pleasure)
1953: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (doesn’t really count – I read it in German and was way too young to understand what was going on)
1972: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (an interesting read – although I really liked the contemporary story more than the historic parts)
1980: The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer (read it long time ago when I was into “true crime” stories)
1983: The Color Purple by Alice Walker (read it in German, probably should re-read in English)
1988: Beloved by Toni Morrison (The writing style didn’t do it for me – I probably should re-read or maybe try an audio book version now that my English is better)
2007: The Road by Cormac McCarthy (I liked the idea, but it wasn’t a good read for me)

So “The Good Earth” was the book I finished just a few days ago and strangely enough, although it started out bleak and depressing and in a way also ended bleak and depressing I ended up liking it a lot. The book is about the life of Wang Lung, a poor Chinese farmer.¬†Wang Lung is simple, but not dumb, he has good and bad sides, which keeps things interesting. The writing sounds old-fashioned which fits the time and place (rural China in the beginning of the 20th century?). It really has an authentic feel, hard to believe that it wasn’t written by a Chinese author. Pearl S. Buck spent many years in China as the child of missionaries, so she did witnessed characters like these first-hand, but the amazing thing is that she manages to write about them without being overly judgmental.

Coming up next: The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington – so far it is a bit of a chore to listen to. I hope it will pick up soon.

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