Seen on the Subway

My Antonia by Willa Cather
The Reader: Forty something petite Chinese woman wearing a rather chic black cotton shirt-dress with black flats and a clear, see through backpack.
The Book: Everything Cather writes is pretty brilliant but this is definitely one of her major works and rightly so. Life on the prairie was never more compelling and touching.
The Verdict: I have read it before and I know I will read it again.
Story and Structure by Laurence Perrine
The Reader: Forty something balding white guy with dark grey suit, pink shirt, and a bow tie that had yet to be tied.
The Book: Apparently this is an all-time bestselling introduction to literature. Certainly falls into the text book category, the prices certainly reflect the extortionate nature of text book pricing. The edition being read by the man on the train was $77.00 on Amazon. Yikes.
The Verdict: When I first saw this book I just assumed it was some kind of theory book about some field. Didn’t realize, despite its title, that it might be about literature. But even then I probably would have thought that it was on the theoretical side. But the description of the book on Amazon makes it sound like a pretty straight forward intro to the study of literature. I might actually keep my eye out for this one. Having had no post-high school course on lit, I could use the assistance.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
The Reader: A cute-as-a-button little boy, maybe about 10 years old wearing a soccer camp t-shirt (most likely on his way to soccer camp) and shorts. And because he was a little kid it was easy to see the title as he had it propped up on his lap as kids will do with books. Good eyesight I guess. He was with dad who was reading something on an iPad, and his grandmother  who had some kind of hardcover bestseller mystery from the library. Clearly the family that reads together, stays together.
The Book: Normally I would not feature this kind of book. But the little boy was so intent on reading it despite the early hour and the fact that every other kid seems to be playing some sort of electronic game. “This twenty-five-year-old science fiction classic has been repackaged for younger readers. Unlike many hard-core science fiction titles, this book is particularly appropriate for a younger audience, for its protagonist, Ender Wiggin, is just six years old at the novel’s beginning and still a pre-teen at its end.”

The Verdict: I will not be reading this book.


13 thoughts on “Seen on the Subway

  1. rhapsodyinbooks June 24, 2011 / 8:45 am

    I think that blurb on Ender's Game is totally misleading. I definitely consider it one of the best books I've read ever. hmm, I probably should add something profound about it, but can't think of anything, except to say that I believe adults get just as enrapt over this book.


  2. Frances June 24, 2011 / 10:07 am

    I'm with Jill on this one. I recently (reluctantly) read Ender's Game for the first time and was really impressed. Even ordered a set for middle school for next year.


  3. C.B. James June 24, 2011 / 11:55 am

    I don't think you'd like Ender's Game.

    As someone with lots of college level lit courses under his belt, I just want to say that you're doing awfully well without a single one. I'd save the 77.00 dollars if I were you and reread My Antonia instead.

    But you may be able to find a used copy for much less.


  4. Susan in TX June 24, 2011 / 12:02 pm

    I love that you featured the little boy “seen on the subway.” Seeing a child actually reading a book in public and not playing a video game or watching a portable movie screen is indeed one of the most refreshing sights in the world these days.

    I agree with C.B., you can save your money on the lit book — you do a great job without it.


  5. Red June 24, 2011 / 12:15 pm

    I have to agree with Rhapsody and Frances. I had to read Ender's Game for a sci fi class in college and was not looking forward to it when I saw the cover, but ended up really enjoying it. Better than the blurb suggests.


  6. pagesofjulia June 24, 2011 / 3:59 pm

    +1 C.B. and Susan (hi Susan, I'm in TX too!), you don't need the text.

    Also +1 to the 3 of you re: Ender's game. I am NOT a reader of sci fi but was assigned this one in a reader's advisory class I took, and actually loved it. I would say it's unique in the genre.


  7. Paperback Reader June 24, 2011 / 4:11 pm

    Seen on the bus: twenty-something geeky/erudite/bespectacled man reading The Nietzche Reader. He looked studious rather than pretentious.

    I look forward to rereading My Antonia and enjoyed your vivid description of the woman reading it (I want her wardrobe).


  8. agoodstoppingpoint June 24, 2011 / 11:59 pm

    I never understood the little-kid packaging of Ender's Game. I guess a younger child could enjoy it, but I didn't read it until high school and thought I was the right age for it then. My sisters had read it and loved it and I was skeptical but it was really quite good. I should probably reread it at some point and see what I think now.


  9. anothercookiecrumbles June 25, 2011 / 3:57 pm

    I agree with all the comments which say Ender's Game is worth a read… yes, I know it's sci-fi/fantasy, but it's so much more. It really is worth a read…

    I've not read anything by Willa Cather yet… she is on the list of authors I mean to read though. Someday soon.


  10. Thomas at My Porch June 26, 2011 / 8:53 pm

    Jill: You have certainly piqued my interest in a book I would never consider.

    Frances: Interesting. You and Jill have me reconsidering.

    CB: You might be right about Ender's Game, but the others now have me wondering about it.

    Susan: I saw a little girl the other day walking with her mom and whatever book she was reading was good enough that she was unwilling to put it down. That made me happy too.

    Red: I think I am going to take the plunge and keep my eye out for a cheap used copy.

    Julia: I still might check out the lit book if I see a cheap one somewhere.

    Claire: I used to have an interest in such philosophical books, but I think I would have to be in a class to force myself to read one these days.

    AGSP: It seemed to be working for this young guy.

    ACC: Don't put off the Cather, she is wonderful.


  11. Ti June 27, 2011 / 2:11 pm

    I haven't read Ender's Game, but I read my first Card book a few weeks back (The Lost Boys) and it was one of the best books I've read. Nearly everyone who commented on that review said to read Ender's Game next. That blurb apparently does not do it justice. He has a huge following.


  12. bob July 3, 2011 / 12:50 pm

    I just discovered your blog so my first response is; I enjoy it very much, your energy is quite astonishing. I will be looking in as often as I can. I don't know how you manage to work, live your life, blog, and do all that reading. Maybe you will inspire me.
    I would not pay 77 for Story and Structure, although it is a fine little book. I have two older editions, and I could send you one for postage, but I am sure you can find one for a couple of bucks with no trouble.


  13. nishitak July 7, 2011 / 10:51 am

    I think you should try Ender's Game. The book cover looks awful, but the story is seriously good. So, are the couple of sequels that follow.


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