Three Books Read in February 2022

If you’ve been following my blog lately, you know February was not an easy month for me. Various events cut into my reading time, but today I’m writing about the books I read during that short month of 28 days. They represent three different genres. That’s appropriate because my reading interests are all over the place.

Violeta, by Isabel Allende

Violeta, by Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende is becoming one of my favorite novelists. I listened to her latest novels, Violeta, on CD and thoroughly enjoyed it. I listened to the English translation of the Spanish original.

Violeta is written in the form of a letter to Violeta’s adult grandson and follows Violeta from her birth in 1920 during the Influenza Pandemic to the end of her life during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Born into a wealthy family, her father loses everything in the Great Depression which hits South America a little later than in the United States and Europe. The family loses their house and must move out into the hinterlands where they must adapt to life without luxuries such as electricity.

Woven into this story is a character who comes into Violeta’s life at an early age to serve as her English governess; however, it turns out the woman isn’t from England and isn’t at all what Violeta’s parents are expecting.

This is a delightful novel. Violeta would be a good Isabel Allende book for you to start with, if you’ve never read one of her novels. If you’ve read her other books, you know what a treat this one will be.

Our North Carolina Heritage, compiled by Charlotte Ivey Hastings, 1960

This book is well off the beaten path and one you probably can’t find. Just by happenstance, I purchased a copy dirt cheap at a public library used book sale several years ago. I added it to my to-be-read shelves and forgot about it.

I saw it on my bookshelf in February and decided to read it. It isn’t a history book that one can totally rely on for accuracy because it is a compilation of oral history stories. Many of them were written by junior high students.

However… (and that’s a huge HOWEVER), I found lots of little gems of North Carolina history in it that I’ve never seen or heard elsewhere. They are the bits of history that never made it into the history books but offer someone like me a jumping off point to do additional research.

One thing I was particularly glad to find was that the book gave information about a number of women and their bravery and contributions to the patriot cause in the American Revolution. Women have generally been omitted from the history books.

Here’s an example of something I don’t recall hearing or reading elsewhere: By the end of the 18th century, Jewish peddlers in North Carolina traded for eggs since they couldn’t easily come by Kosher meat.

The book reminds me of the series of local history books compiled in the 1960s by Mrs. Mabel Rumple Blume’s North Carolina history students at Harrisburg School in Harrisburg, NC. Every year for five or so years, Mrs. Blume’s students were sent out into the then rural Cabarrus County to interview the oldest residents to capture local history. The students won statewide first-place honors year after year for their books which covered general history, mail delivery and post offices, and grist mills. Much of that history would have been lost forever if not for Mrs. Blume and her students.

With that work in mind, I very much appreciated the contents of Our North Carolina Heritage. It made me sad that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library system had made the decision several years ago to weed the book from its collection and sell it for pennies. Sometimes people are put in positions of decision-making who don’t appreciate the true value of what they have.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield

This nonfiction book was recommended by Jane Friedman in her January 11, 2022 article, “To Everyone Who Wants Me to Read Their Writing and Tell Them What to Do.” Here’s the link: (To Everyone Who Wants Me to Read Their Writing and Tell Them What to Do | Jane Friedman Ms. Friedman has never steered me wrong, so I checked it out of the public library.

The book is divided into the following three parts: “Resistance ~ Defining the Enemy;” “Combating Resistance ~ Turning Pro;” and “Beyond Resistance ~ The Higher Realm.”

Part One explains that, “Resistance is the enemy within” when we attempt to do something worthwhile. Mr. Pressfield wrote that the rule of thumb for resistance is, “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.” We fear that inner resistance, but once we “Master that fear… we conquer resistance.”

Mr. Pressfield wrote that resistance is often manifested in the form of procrastination, which can become a habit.

In Part Two, Mr. Pressfield wrote that an artist must stop thinking of himself as an amateur and start seeing himself as a professional. He wrote, “A professional does not take failure (or success) personally.”

He also wrote, “A professional recognizes her limitations. She gets an agent, she gets a lawyer, she gets an accountant. She knows she can only be a professional at one thing.”

In Part Three, Mr. Pressfield wrote that we just do it. We do it every day. It’s work, and we do it. He also cautions artists from thinking of themselves in a hierarchy. In other words, art of all types is not a competition.

Since my last blog post

Every day has brought horrifying images of the suffering and destruction in Ukraine.

I’m disappointed that I didn’t receive an acknowledgement for some research advice I sought for the writing of my novel, but I won’t let that slow me down any longer. That’s life.

I got back to work on a project that relates to my church. I started it 20 years ago and it’s been on the back burner now for 15 years. I’ve been inventorying my unfinished projects lately. It’s overwhelming. I need to complete some, even if doing so cuts into my writing and reading time.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading an interesting book about 1816 – known as “The Year Without a Summer.”

May the world continue to condemn Vladimir Putin for his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.


18 thoughts on “Three Books Read in February 2022

  1. Well, I have to say that you have been quite a busy reader! Wow! I am amazed and I wish I could do the same. Lamentably, I still have not finished the last book I started more than two weeks ago! And it is not too long…
    In any event, I too have been immersed in this Ukrainian war. Everyday brings worse news about Putin´s aggression. Who is going to stop this madman? He must be stopped from inside or he is not going to stop. I really do not understand what he wants, but it really makes no difference, he has no right to invade or to interfere with a sovereign country. We can only pray and hope that he backs down, that he continues no longer with this very dangerous expansion because if he should decide to invade a NATO country it is all over, WWIII would have begun and we Europeans do not want another world war in Europe. Prayers are our solution because although Putin does not believe and thus does not fear God, there is a God and He is in control.
    All the best to you Janet. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Steven Pressfield makes excellent points in The War of Art. Shawn Coyne turns into actions much of the advice in his non-fiction book, Story Grid (and on his website). Sound advice for those serious about writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting that year of 1816 I just wrote about my 3 rd great parents leaving Vermont during that volcano crisis. Does the book talk about the Joseph Smith family also leaving?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t gotten very far into the book yet. What I’ve read so far has been about the damage on other Pacific islands and the accounts of seamen, military personnel, and other people within 1,000 miles of the volcano. There was one account of the explosion being heard 800 miles away — which blew my mind. A little later, the book mentioned it being heard 1,000 miles away! Wow! — I just stopped and looked in the index. Yes! It does tell about the Joseph Smith of Vermont on pages 119-120 and 279-280. Wow! The name of the book is The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano that Darkened the World and Changed History, by William K. Klingaman and Nicholas P. Klingaman. It was published in the US in 2013 by St. Martin’s Press. It’s available in hardcover and e-book, according to the copyright page. I hope you can find a copy! If you can’t, let me know. I have the book on loan from the public library, but I’d be glad to photocopy those four pages for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi, Rebecca. I found Violeta is drag a little maybe around 75% through — or maybe my mind was wondering. (That seems to happen more and more often! LOL!) I hope you’ll enjoy it. Yes, that NC oral history is fascinating. It was weeded from the public library collection in Charlotte probably because there are a couple of unflattering comments about black people in the book. Such comments are unacceptable today — and should have been unacceptable in the late 1950s/1960, when the book was published; however, I regret that the book was removed from the library system. I believe it should have at least been placed in the non-circulated history/rare book collection. You take care, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for reading my blog post and taking time to leave a comment, Grant. I’ll have to look into Shawn Coyne’s book and website. Thanks for the information.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You started reading her novels before I did, but I’ll try to catch up! I love her work. Thanks for visiting my blog. I just read your “Escape” poem on your blog. Very moving and beautiful.


  8. Hi, Francis. You are my most loyal blog reader, and I truly appreciate the time you take to leave thoughtful comments. I heard several US retired Army Generals interviewed today and there was a bit of optimism expressed. They say the Russian army is making many stupid mistakes and they think the Ukrainians will outlast them. It’s horrifying, though, to think how many Ukrainians will die before the fighting ends. The thought of World War III terrifies me. I understand why NATO is so hesitant to act, but it seems criminal to me for NATO to sit back and watch what’s happening to the people of Ukraine. God is in control and only He can change Putin’s heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you Janet. For me it is a pleasure to read your blog and I always look forward to your posts. Keep up the good work! I also get angry thinking that these poor people are dying, suffering, trying to escape, leaving all behind and NATO does not want to get involved. My city, València, already started receiving refugees and I am proud that our government has taken that decision. Our strongest weapon is our faith and that gives us the knowledge that God is in charge and Putin will fall, the Russians will lose and the world will know that good always survives. May God bless all who resist evil. Take good care and all the best Janet, have s lovely week.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I couldn’t believe the account I read, then James Blair pension papers when applying for says he was sick and the family gathered what they had and moved from Vermont to Ohio but ran out of money at Waterford. PA and that the Mormon Church was started out of Joseph’s experiencing this weather event? A few years ago all the Bison left Yellowstone, I was sure it was going pyrotechnic but it hasn’t yet! One final thought, the people in Vermont wouldn’t know what was happening no tv, internet and the churches filled with the Great Awakening

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The accounts I’m reading are unbelievable. I can’t get my mind around an explosion so loud that it was heard 1,000 miles away! And no one in the world knew what had happened except the people on that island — and most of them didn’t survive, of course. People on various islands heard the noise and thought there was fighting on another island. Then it got dark. There are accounts of people not being able to see the hand in front of their faces in the middle of the day because it was pitch black dark. Some places miles and miles away were covered in 40 inches of ash. I haven’t even gotten to what happened in North America and Europe. Fascinating stuff! I first became aware of “the year without a summer” in 2001 when I was writing a play about the history of my church during its 250th anniversary celebration. I’d forgotten about the Bison leaving Yellowstone until you mentioned it. I firmly believe that animals know things humans don’t. I’m so glad to learn of your family’s connection to this!


  12. You express yourself so eloquently, Francis. I agree and I couldn’t have said it better. Have a great week as spring continues to try to make an appearance. Janet

    Liked by 1 person

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