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Tom Chaney: Jim Lowe's Reading Suggestions

Of Writers And Their Books: Jim Lowe's Reading Suggestions. Tom provides Jim Lowe’s suggestions of a book for each month of the year. This column first appeared 30 January 2011.
The next earlier Tom Chaney column: Stories Rise Like Smoke

By Tom Chaney

Jim Lowe's Reading Suggestions

Our friend Jim Lowe writes a column every Thursday for the Glasgow Daily Times. Sometimes he writes about books. Sometimes he comes to The Bookstore with a stack of books to trade.

A week or so back he offered these suggestions for reading for the new year. With his gracious permission and that of the Glasgow Daily Times, I second his choices.

No matter that January is nigh gone [written for January 30, 2011]. Go ahead. Start the Dickens. Who says you have to read just one book at a time.

Here are his suggestions:

For those who've resolved to read more literature during 2011, may I submit a few suggestions for monthly book choices?

January. A long book with complex chapters can provide many hours of entertainment during this long, cold month. Settle into a comfortable chair and become acquainted with the interesting characters of Bleak House by Charles Dickens. The British judiciary of the Victorian era is at the center of this novel.

February. For the shortest month, try a short book. The Great Gatsby may be a quick read, but Jay Gatsby and Daisy will linger long in the reader's imagination. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote this 1920s tragic version of the American dream.

March. As spring's rebirth begins to manifest itself, read the pages of Dandelion Wine. Celebrate being alive with the young protagonist in the fine poetic prose from Ray Bradbury.

April. During National Poetry Month you might as well explore verses from America's favorite poet, Robert Frost, winner of four Pulitzer Prizes. Select one of his volumes and enjoy the simple, colloquial lines.

May. Get outside where you can feel the sun and the earth and explore the pages of Walden. Henry David Thoreau has much to offer toward a greater appreciation of nature. Resist the temptation, though, to totally retire from the mainstream of society.

June. Jack London is often thought of as an author of dog stories, though he was much more than that. One of his non-dog novels was the excellent Martin Eden. The title character paralleled the life of its author in many ways. In fact, the character's initials spell "me," which may have been a hint from London.

July. As our country celebrates another birthday, blow out the fireworks and read David McCullough's biography of one of the nation's founding fathers, John Adams. This chronicle of our second President won the Pulitzer Prize for its author.

August. A Place on Earth respectfully examines characters in a small Kentucky community during World War II. Wendell Berry, a farmer and writer in Henry County, Kentucky, wrote this novel in the mid 1960s.

September. As students settle back in school, many will be reading one of the truly great novels of modern literature, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I almost wish I'd never read it, so I could enjoy it for the first time, but it's a book that satisfies even with multiple readings.

October. While the days dwindle toward Halloween, try one of Agatha Christie's mysteries. My favorite from her is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. What fun it is to accept her challenge and try to determine "who did it" before Christie provides her resolution.

November. In My Antonia, Willa Cather paints the Nebraska prairie with words and presents characters that will step out of the pages and into your heart. She wrote this one almost 100 years ago, and if you haven't read it yet, it's time you got around to it.

December. As the year comes to a conclusion, it's a good time to reflect on the cycle of life. Thornton Wilder's little play, Our Town, has a powerful message concerning how one should appreciate and experience life. There are passages here that deserve to be underlined and re-read and studied.

These are merely suggestions. There will be no get-togethers, discussions, or marketing promotions such as Oprah sometimes offers.


Jimmy Lowe's writings appear in the Features section of The Glasgow Daily Times.

Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at
Box 73 / 111 Water Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749
Email: Tom Chaney -

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