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The Odyssey – A Review

Posted on August 29th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

The Odyssey

The Odyssey by Homer

Read by Anna/Central Teen Room

The word “odyssey” means a long series of wanderings or adventures, especially when filled with notable experiences, hardships, etc. The origin of this word stems from the epic poem Homer wrote depicting the long journey home of King Odysseus, known as The Odyssey. A whole twenty years prior to the start of the epic poem, Odysseus took soldiers to Troy in order to fight in the Trojan War. The trip should have been easy. He should have returned straight home to his wife and son on his native lands of Ithaca, but thanks to Zeus and the other Gods, the return journey was fraught with dangers and troubles. It took him ten years to get home, and lots of cunning to escape the fantastical creatures and Gods and Goddesses who wished to detain him. He went down into the darkness of the Underworld to talk with those who had died during the Trojan War. While he was known to be one of the best fighters in war, he fought a cyclops, not with swords, but with cunning words and actions. He told his men to lash him to the mast of the ship in order that he might hear the sirens call to him to turn the ship into dangerous waters bent on his destruction, but so that he would be able to do as they wished. Meanwhile, back in Ithaca, his wife was besieged with suitors who were eating her out of house and home, taking no cares in how many pigs and cows they slaughtered for their daily feasts and ignoring their own flocks. They each yearned for her to take another husband while it was assumed King Odysseus had been killed at war or on his return journey home. Queen Penelope held her ground and would neither wed another man nor send them away, leaving her son, Telemachus, to deal with them as best he could until his father could return home.

When I decided to reread this for my summer reading list this year, (I originally read it in 10th grade English, I think.) I decided to listen to the audio version for several reasons. Reason one being the long and unfamiliar names. When I read them in my head, I often change the pronunciation because I’m never sure what it should be. Having a narrator read to me, means the pronunciations will always remain the same. And reason two, the narrator was Sir Ian McKellen. Yep, that really awesome British actor who plays Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and other great, well known characters. What better guy could you get to read the story of Odysseus? I ask you, and I doubt you’ll come up with one. If you do, you’ll have to let me know who it is. I found his voice was perfect for telling an epic tale. While he didn’t read it as more modern narrators will, giving different voices and accents to different characters, it wasn’t hard to determine who was speaking at all. I highly recommend this just for Ian McKellen’s voice alone. If this is something you have to read for school, the audio book just might help get you through it.

On one hand we have this amazing audio book, but on the other we must consider the epic poem written by Homer, that is so much more than just a plain old poem. It literally is an epic fantasy. It includes many Gods and Goddesses, a cyclops (a giant with one large, round eye in the middle of his forehead), sirens (sea nymphs, part woman and part bird, who lure mariners to destruction by their seductive singing),  a centaur (one of a race of monsters having the head, trunk, and arms of a man, and the body and legs of a horse), and many other characters Odysseus must fight against to win his freedom and be able to finish his journey home. While most of the story is told by different characters telling the story to others, it is certainly not boring by any sense of the word. Unless, of course, you aren’t into poetry, fantasy, adventures, and a little violence. (There are some pretty bloody battles that get depicted in this epic, especially toward the end.) If, however, these are things that do interest you, I urge you to check out this book, either in audio or in print. Minus any notes, appendixes, and introductions, the poem is roughly 400 pages and the audio book is around 13 hours. While that may seem like a long book, because it’s in poem format and because there are a lot of action scenes, the story seems to move at a quick pace for the most part. There’s a reason The Odyssey is continually reprinted and translated after it was initially written in either the late eighth or seventh century B.C. I really enjoyed rereading this, and getting myself reacquainted with the story years after my first reading, and I think you’ll like it too.

My Summer Reading List for 2014!

Posted on May 31st, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

anna[1] avatar

Hi! For those who don’t know me, my name is Anna, and I’m one of the two Teen Librarians at the Central Library here at the BPL. Every summer I select eight books I’d like to read between the months of June and August to be my personal Summer Reading List. Most high school students in the Boston area have a summer reading list, so I thought, why shouldn’t I have one too? Usually the books I choose are titles I’ve been meaning to read for awhile but haven’t managed to get to yet, so this is a good way to catch up on my reading. Sometimes these books do come from a school summer reading list, either from a past list or a current one, but all of them are teen books or have teen appeal. Look out for my book reviews here throughout the summer!

And here is my 2014 list:

FICTION

The Wind In The Willows

The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Meet little Mole, willful Ratty, Badger the perennial bachelor, and petulant Toad. In the almost one hundred years since their first appearance in 1908, they’ve become emblematic archetypes of eccentricity, folly, and friendship. And their misadventures-in gypsy caravans, stolen sports cars, and their Wild Wood-continue to capture readers’ imaginations and warm their hearts long after they grow up. Begun as a series of letters from Kenneth Grahame to his son, The Wind in the Willows is a timeless tale of animal cunning and human camaraderie.

 

 

 

 

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

A masterpiece of modern Gothic literature, Something Wicked This Way Comes is the memorable story of two boys, James Nightshade and William Halloway, and the evil that grips their small Midwestern town with the arrival of a “dark carnival” one Autumn midnight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.

 

The Crystal Cave

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

Fifth century Britain is a country of chaos and division after the Roman withdrawal. Born the bastard son of a Welsh princess who will not reveal to her son his father’s true identity, Myridden Emrys — or as he would later be known, Merlin — leads a perilous childhood, haunted by portents and visions. But destiny has great plans for this no-man’s-son, taking him from prophesying before the High King Vortigern to the crowning of Uther Pendragon … and the conception of Arthur — king for once and always.

 

 

 

 

The Face Of Fear

The Face Of Fear by Dean Koontz

DON’T LOOK DOWN
Because you’re trapped. With a beautiful, terrified woman. On the 40th floor of a deserted office building. By the psyshopath they call “The Butcher.”
DON’T LOOK DOWN
Because you’re an ex-mountain climber. Because a fall from Everest left you with a bad leg… and a paralyzing fear of heights.
DON’T LOOK DOWN
Because he has slaughtered the guards and short-circuited the elevators. Because the stairways are blocked, and for you and the woman with you, there’s only one escape route.
DON’T LOOK DOWN
Because 600 feet of empty space are looking back at you.

 

 

NON-FICTION

Man O War

Man O’ War: A Legend Like Lightening by Dorothy Ours

Born in 1917, Man o’ War grew from a rebellious youngster into perhaps the greatest racehorse of all time. His trainer said that managing him was like holding a tiger by the tail. His owner compared him to “chain lightning.” His jockeys found their lives transformed by him, in triumphant and distressing ways. All of them became caught in a battle for honesty.

 

 

 

 

 

The Odyssey

The Odyssey by Homer, Translated by Robert Fagles

The Odyssey is literature’s grandest evocation of everyman’s journey through life. In the myths and legends that are retold here, renowned translator Robert Fagles has captured the energy and poetry of Homer’s original in a bold, contemporary idiom and given us an Odyssey to read aloud, to savor, and to treasure for its sheer lyrical mastery. This is an Odyssey to delight both the classicist and the general reader, and to captivate a new generation of Homer’s students.

NOTE: I have also acquired an audio cassette edition of this translation read by the famed actor, Ian McKellen. It is my hope, to listen to him read aloud as I follow along with the book in print.

 

 

 

Wilfred Owen biogrpahy

Wilfred Owen: A New Biography by: Dominic Hibberd

Mr. Hibberd’s new biography of the Great War’s greatest poet, based on more than thirty years of wide-ranging research, brings new information and reinterpretation to virtually every phase of Owen’s life carefully guarded by family and friends after his death.