H.P. Lovecraft

There are some authors people reference often, allude to when you least expect it, or sometimes simply assume you have read because if you like science-fiction than often, these days, the assumption is you often like either fantasy, or horror, or both, also.  H.P. Lovecraft is an author that comes to mind in that category.  (Ray Bradbury as well, in the eyes of many.)

Admittedly, I was intrigued by the intro to H.P. Lovecraft’s wikipedia entry which begins:

{he} was an American author who achieved posthumous fame through his influential works of horror fiction. He was virtually unknown and published only in pulp magazines before he died in poverty, but he is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors in his genre.

Given how many modern readers of genre fiction take for granted a familiarity with Lovecraft, or writing inspired by his works, it seems rather remarkable that he died in poverty, and was virtually unknown during his lifetime.

Copies of H.P. Lovecraft’s Complete Fiction have been added to the CheerUp.Fun August eBook Club The first 100 people to join should automatically receive a copy.  For more information on how to join the CheerUp.Fun August 2017 eBook Club Click Here.

Some days, you just want to browse

There are days when you have a particular book you are in the mood for, and other days when you want to browse the stacks, wander the aisles, and see what book matches your mood.

For some that may feel a little harder to do in this digital age.  And in some respects it is, we do no always have a genre we are leaning towards, or an author who we know we wish to spend a bit of time with — so figuring out the right search terms at our favorite online vendor can be a challenge.

With the increasing popularity of eBooks, more and more classics, and public domain books, are becoming easily accessible… prompting me to occasionally search quite simply on classics, or by one of the publishers I’ve realized releases classics to see what they are currently offering, and if any of it might be free.

If you are in the mood for a “Classic” some publisher you might want to check are:  Dream Classics, Amazon Classics and Wisehouse Classics.  Classic Historical Fiction and Classic Literary Fiction.

If you are looking for a Classic Story, but perhaps a more relaxed and easier reading experience, Xist Classics appears to be a publisher that is working to make some of the “old greats” accessible to those in school… they describe themselves in one of the book blurbs saying “Xist Publishing is a digital-first publisher. Xist Publishing creates books for the touchscreen generation and is dedicated to helping everyone develop a lifetime love of reading, no matter what form it takes.”

In a perfect universe, CheerUp.Fun could recommend a book you are in the mood for every day of the year, but for those days when your mood strays in a different direction that our recommendation du jour, perhaps some of these search ideas will lend a hand in helping you find the just right book to help you relax, and enjoy some time with the written word.

Curious Kids?

We have been finding a lot of books on Kindle that, for lack of a better expression, are bound to appeal to the curious kids out there.  Short books, little more than a pamphlet by adult standards, but a quick night time read to small kids, that focus on a single topic, perhaps two, and give the highlights of information and hopefully interesting facts and tempting tidbits for curious minds.

If you are interested join here to jump start your Curious Kids Library and follow the prompts at the Amazon page.  It should result in the first hundred folks to sign up having several hundred children’s books being downloaded into their Kindle library, free of charge, courtesy of the CheerUp.Fun Curious Kids Library.

https://whispercast.amazon.com/join/0iSPzKYgQYki2OAKacfDNGXXXAgAz6Ak

Aesop’s Fables

Fables have long been a staple of childhood, perhaps because in addition to being entertaining they contain a moral we will carry with us into adulthood.  Often, whether or not we even realize we have incorporated that lesson into our lives, we find ourselves reminding others of the tale of the Tortoise and the Hare, or the Goose with the Golden Eggs.

Per Amazon:  Aesop’s Fables is a collection of stories credited to Aesop, a slave and storyteller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BCE

Copies of Aesop’s Fables have been added to the CheerUp.Fun August eBook Club The first 100 people to join should automatically receive a copy.  For more information on how to join the CheerUp.Fun August 2017 eBook Club Click Here.

Of Plymouth Plantation

In school we learned about the Mayflower, it’s passengers and their journey… and the Mayflower Compact… and ultimately their arrival at Plymouth.  Of Plymouth Plantation was originally written as a journal, by William Bradford, a Plymouth Colony resident who served as the Colony Governor for nearly thirty years.

Of Plymouth Plantation is a chance to travel back in time… not to imagine what life was like for those first settlers who came to a new world, but rather to catch a glimpse of how one man felt it was to experience the trials and travails of creating a new life, in a land previously only imagined.

Of Plymouth Plantation is the story of the first settlers from The Mayflower and how they were able to survive and flourish in a hostile land despite incredible odds. Enduring starvation, plague, internal and external conflicts, natural disasters and countless other calamities, about a hundred of those first arrivals lived long enough to establish the foundational foothold that would grow into modern America. This is their story, originally penned as a journal during 1630-1651 by William Bradford, who was Plymouth Colony Governor five times for a period of nearly thirty years.

Charles F. Richardson stated that this work was a “forerunner of literature” and that Bradford was “a story-teller of considerable power.” Moses Coit Tyler called him “The father of American history.”

This new 2017 edition of Of Plymouth Plantation is presented in modern prose.

Copies of William Bradford Of Plymouth Plantation have been added to the CheerUp.Fun August eBook Club The first 100 people to join should automatically receive a copy.  For more information on how to join the CheerUp.Fun August 2017 eBook Club Click Here.

Mayflower

For anyone looking to refresh their memory on the story of the Mayflower, this book (Mayflower: A History From Beginning to End by Hourly History) may be worth the hour it takes to read.

As one Amazon reviewers notes, the authors do not stick 100 percent to the history we were taught in school, but they do give a nice recap of the religious situation in England, and Europe, that led to the Pilgrims choosing to set out for a new country, a reminder that the New World was not actually their first attempt in leaving England, and perhaps most importantly, they spend a moment on the simple reminder that Pilgrim and Puritan are not interchangeable words, but do in fact have separate meanings, referring to different groups.

One of the interesting thoughts conveyed in the book is that some of the founding principles and ideals that the United States of America has since taken to heart, and been built upon, were not necessarily intended to be set as precedents with the intent that a nation would look back to them as guiding principles.  The Pilgrims were seeking a place they could live, free from Religious persecution… but did they realize they would be setting an example of Religious tolerance for all who followed them to the New World’s shores?  The Mayflower Compact was drafted and signed because the Mayflower did not land where it had expected to… because the contract they had traveled on did not seem to apply to the land on which they were about to settle.  Were they, in setting pen to paper in the manner they did, purposely setting an example of Democratic governing?

Whether you just want to take a moment to reflect on the journey of some of the first immigrants to the United States, or are seeking to brush up on a little US History before your children hit this topic in school, this quick read hits the high points of the Mayflower’s journey, the reason the Pilgrim’s took it, and touches on the hardships they faced upon arrival.

 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Some of the greatest works of literature are more than just an enjoyable story, we come away from reading them having learned a lesson, or perhaps feeling as though we might, even in some small way, be a better person for what we have gained while reading it.

Victor Hugo‘s The Hunchback of Notre Dame is the story of a man who was cast aside because of his looks… it is a story that challenges us, as readers, as people, to not judge a book by it’s cover, but to delve deeper, to look beyond the surface to the heart of the person, and the story, and find the depth within.

The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault

For modern readers, Fairy Tales are something we grow up with, and in that respect take for granted.  They have always been a part of our lives, and in many ways are a part of our common culture.  Any child in American can strike up a conversation with almost any other child using Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, or any of a number of other characters that it seems as though every child in the country, regardless of their background, has grown up knowing.  Perhaps the only question is how they were introduced to those characters — was it in a picture book, a fairy tale book, through a movie or tv show?

Some may find it hard to believe that the characters they know and love can be found in stories written by someone who lived (and died) over 300 years ago.

As noted on Amazon: CHARLES PERRAULT (12 January 1628 – 16 May 1703) was a French author and member of the Académie Française. He laid the foundations for a new literary genre, the fairy tale, with his works derived from pre-existing folk tales. The best known of his tales include Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood), Cendrillon (Cinderella), Le Chat Botté (Puss in Boots), La Belle au bois Dormant (The Sleeping Beauty), and Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard). Some of Perrault’s versions of old stories may have influenced the German versions published by the Brothers Grimm more than 100 years later. The stories continue to be printed and have been adapted to opera, ballet (such as Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty), theatre, and film.

Ishmael and Captain Ahab’s infamous tale

Moby Dick, whether you have read it before or not, you have likely heard portions of Herman Melville‘s tale before.

As Amazon notes: Despite strange warnings, Ishmael, a young schoolteacher from Manhattan, signs up for a voyage aboard the Pequod, a whaling ship departing from New Bedford, Massachusetts. While on shore, he strikes up a friendship with Queequeg, a tattooed South Seas cannibal. The unlikely friends are hired for the journey—only to discover their commander will be Captain Ahab, a brooding, one-legged, tyrannical old man fixated on avenging Moby Dick, the great white whale who crippled him.

This nineteenth-century classic is at once a thrilling adventure, a timeless allegory, and “the greatest of American novels” (The Atlantic Monthly). 

 

Literary nonsense… Alice’s Adventures

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is referred to as one of the most characteristic examples of literary nonsense.  A book in which Lewis Carroll alluded to lessons every British school child was meant to learn, making it something readers found easy to relate to, Alice’s Adventure is a tale that plays with logic, and creates a unique and bewildering world that generations have enjoyed falling down the rabbit hole into.

As Amazon notes:  Mix equal parts creativity, bewilderment, and complete nonsense and you have Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. On a day that begins like any other, Alice notices a rabbit—a rabbit with a pocket watch. She chases after it and stumbles down a hole… and keeps falling and falling and falling. That’s when things start to get weird. She encounters a bizarre cast of characters — the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, a pipe-smoking caterpillar, the Pigeon, a Duchess, the Cook, and the decapitation-happy Queen of Hearts. It’s an adventure of completely intolerable logic, as witty as it is completely insane.

The Canterbury Tales

There are times when we, as modern readers, make an effort to work through reading something that on it’s surface is written in English, and yet, as we are reading it we find ourselves remarking “this is not my English”.  The Canterbury Tales is written in Middle English, and falls into that category.  Words do not look as we expect, phrases turn in odd ways, and proficient readers find themselves going at a slower pace as they work through what Chaucer recorded so long ago… but many, many a reader (and teacher) has found the Canterbury Tales to reward them for the time invested.

The Amazon description for this edition notes:   The Canterbury Tales are presented as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from London to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral.

Copies of the Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales have been added to the CheerUp.Fun August eBook Club The first 100 people to join should automatically receive a copy.  For more information on how to join the CheerUp.Fun August 2017 eBook Club Click Here.

Three Musketeers

Among the characters that have captured imaginations for generations are the Three Musketeers… how many children have run around, play acting as those infamous characters, shouting out with their friends, “All For One, and One For All!”  A battle cry of loyalty, a reminder that no matter what they would stand together, face any challenge that came their way as one, and in their Union was their greatest strength, and with their friends and true allies at their back they could take on all who came their way.

It is no wonder these characters spawned multiples books, and no multiples movies when their charisma is added to their determination, or at the very least, their friendship.

Copies of the Three Musketeers Collection have been added to the CheerUp.Fun August eBook Club The first 100 people to join should automatically receive a copy.  For more information on how to join the CheerUp.Fun August 2017 eBook Club Click Here.

Solar Eclipse

The reviews mention this book is heavy on facts and information, and does not bend over backwards to be light and entertaining, but with the solar eclipse of 2017 nearly upon us, it felt like a good selection, and for many, a fact heavy selection may be just the choice you are looking for.

Past entries here at CheerUp.Fun have mentioned the relaxing escapist nature of many books… the way they transport us to far off places, and take us on grand adventures… but there is another very wonderful and amazing aspect to books.  The fantastic things they teach us.

They share with us the wonders of the world we live in, the lives of those who came before us, the events that shaped the countries in which we live.

Copies of The Solar Eclipse of 2017 Books have been added to the CheerUp.Fun August eBook Club The first 100 people to join should automatically receive a copy.  For more information on how to join the CheerUp.Fun August 2017 eBook Club Click Here.

Thomas More’s Utopia

Thomas More coined the word Utopia… perhaps a single word that was within itself a play on words, simultaneously meaning no place, and good place land, suggesting to some that this ideal place might in truth be unreachable.  For others it was a theoretical, if unattainable land they aspired to create.

Utopian novels became their own genre, and were quite popular, but we seem to have drifted away from the Utopian creations, and are currently seeing more of their counterpart, the Dystopian these days.

Readers looking for Utopian works often turn to speculative fiction genres such as science fiction and fantasy as opposed to contemporary works that are typically grounded in every day reality, with a dash on unexpected, or “what if” thrown in to keep the stories alive with possibility and interest.

For many the appeal of Utopian Fiction may seem obvious… the lure of an ideal future or environment.  In many ways it epitomizes escapist entertainment.  Dystopian Fiction on the other hand can be harder to understand the appeal of… but for many who enjoy it, whether or not they are even aware of it, immersing themselves in a world in which the people are the heroes by the very act of surviving and thriving can be heartening, reassuring and encouraging.  It can provide the reader with the belief we will indeed triumph over any obstacle we face, where Utopian literature seems to create the impression that we will mold our environment into our idea of perfection, no matter how much effort is required.

Copies of Thomas More’s Utopia have been added to the CheerUp.Fun August eBook Club The first 100 people to join should automatically receive a copy.  For more information on how to join the CheerUp.Fun August 2017 eBook Club Click Here.

Looking Backward… a Utopia Novel

 Sir Thomas More first used the word Utopia, in his book of the same name in 1516.  The concept of an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect can sound particularly appealing at times… though many writers and creators might point out that it is conflict that drives drama, spices up life, and keeps things interesting, so perhaps the more desirable reality is a balance of the Utopian Ideal with a bit of fun and interesting events of a pleasant and enjoyable nature.  If someone ever finds a word that defines conflict with nothing negative or malicious to it, but full of wonder and a dash of spice, so life retains its joy, mystery and charm… that might be a Utopia people would once more yearn to flock to.

Today’s selection is by Edward Bellamy.  His Utopian vision is presented in Looking Backward 2000-1887.  Written in 1888 it captured the minds and imaginations of his audience, most likely for very different reasons than it caught my eye as I was looking for something to add to my infamous to be read stack.  They would have viewed everything in here as pure fantasy, idealistic hope (it is a Utopian work after all), and full of predictions of the future.  For our modern audience, by contrast, it is a chance to glimpse what someone once thoughts our society would already have been, and be moving beyond.  A chance for us to consider all the potential those came before us felt we, and our parents, and grandparents, had.  To take a moment to look around, and consider what we are doing with all that we do in fact have, the things even the most creative of authors could not have imagined, as well as those things he might have hoped were coming, and move forward with a bit of thought, deliberation, and consideration.

Perhaps, somewhere out there, an author is considering writing their own Utopian piece… Looking Back 3050 – 2020.  What Utopian ideals might we hope it contains, or are we deeply entrenched in a period of dystopian novels/movies and television shows?

Copies of Looking Backward 2000 to 1887 have been added to the CheerUp.Fun August eBook Club The first 100 people to join should automatically receive a copy.  For more information on how to join the CheerUp.Fun August 2017 eBook Club Click Here.

Russian Fairy Tales

Ask book lovers, and those who profess a love of reading, why they get lost in the pages authors have written for hours on end, and may when begin to expound on the adventures they’ve been on, and the places they’ve been transported to, without ever leaving their homes.

Ask people who love to travel about their trips, and the things they love most about going to far off places, and it feels like the majority of the ones I have spoken with talk about how their eyes were opened, how they found themselves viewing the world in new ways as another culture showed them different ways of living, different ways of viewing their own every day life, and different and equally awesome scenic vistas made them appreciate their home in an entirely new way, and realize how unique and wonderful the different regions of the world are.

Fairy Tales from around the world can bring these two things together — transporting us into another very real culture here on Earth.  Giving us a glimpse of the childhood stories others grew up with, helping us to appreciate the lessons of their youth, and perhaps understand one another in a new way, all while being entertained.

Copies of Russian and Polish Fairy Tale Books have been added to the CheerUp.Fun August eBook Club The first 100 people to join should automatically receive a copy.  For more information on how to join the CheerUp.Fun August 2017 eBook Club Click Here.

Don Quixote

“The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.”
― Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraDon Quixote

Perhaps a list could be made, and quite easily at that, of books with characters we feel we know, can describe and quote, whether or not we have read their stories.  Don Quixote would likely fall into that category for many… I for one have not read this classic, and yet I have found myself speaking of tilting at windmills, and wishing for a friend as faithful as his squire Sancho Panza.

I could not help but be amused as I found this description of Don Quixote at Amazon – Don Quixote, errant knight and sane madman, with the company of his faithful squire and wise fool, Sancho Panza, together roam the world and haunt readers’ imaginations as they have for nearly four hundred years.

“There is no book so bad…that it does not have something good in it.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Copies of Don Quixote have been added to the CheerUp.Fun August eBook Club The first 100 people to join should automatically receive a copy.  For more information on how to join the CheerUp.Fun August 2017 eBook Club Click Here.

Robin Hood

Another character that has captured the imaginations of generations — of readers as well as writers, Robin Hood is one whose origin, and background is hard to pin down.  Readers may be interested in taking a few minutes to peruse the Wikipedia entry for this beloved character, and trying to figure out just which incarnation of Robin Hood is “theirs”.

The part of the “ballads and tales” section that leapt out at me is:

Another very popular version for children was Howard Pyle‘s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, which influenced accounts of Robin Hood through the 20th century. Pyle’s version firmly stamp Robin as a staunch philanthropist, a man who takes from the rich to give to the poor.

For those with a keen interest in the Howard Pyle Robin Hood adventures, you may be interested in this collected edition, which brings together 5 stories.  Amazon lists it as including:  The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, Maid Marian, Young Robin Hood, Popular Ballads of the Olden Time

Copies of Robin Hood have been added to the CheerUp.Fun August eBook Club The first 100 people to join should automatically receive a copy.  For more information on how to join the CheerUp.Fun August 2017 eBook Club Click Here.

Peter Pan

It may be a safe bet to say everyone has a favorite Peter Pan quote.  Whether they realize it or not is perhaps up for discussion.  From “second star to the right, and straight on ’till morning” which my own family has used as a quip when asked if we have directions for where we are going, to “All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust,” Peter Pan, and Pixie Dust references, pop up more often than one might expect.

Certainly we all seem aware, “All children, except one, grow up.”   And there are some adults who have started to understand why that one did not want to grow up.

While some are aware of just one Peter Pan novel by J.M. Barrie, it was in fact part of a series of stories featuring characters and a fantastical environment that captured the imaginations of multiple generations, generating not only movies and television shows, but also further books inspired by Peter, Wendy, the Lost Boys and Neverland itself.

Publication Order of Peter Pan Books

The Little White Bird (1902)
Peter Pan (1904)
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906)
When Wendy Grew Up (1908)
Peter and Wendy (1909)

Chronological Order of Peter Pan Books
The Little White Bird (1902)
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906)
Peter Pan (1904)
When Wendy Grew Up (1908)
Peter and Wendy (1909)

(The Publication and Chronological order lists were found at Book Series In Order – http://www.bookseriesinorder.com/peter-pan/)

Copies of Peter Pan have been added to the CheerUp.Fun August eBook Club The first 100 people to join should automatically receive a copy.  For more information on how to join the CheerUp.Fun August 2017 eBook Club Click Here.

Curious Case of Benjamin Button

When the movie the Curious Case of Benjamin Button came out I had no idea it was based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story.  Another case of a classic piece of American literature being pulled onto the big screen in visually dazzling fashion.  As for staying true to the details of the source material… well… as so often is the case, what makes for a great story on the page, and what makes for a compelling and entertaining story on the screen can be two very different things.  Perhaps, if you have  not yet read the story, it is time to see where the first hints of a concept came from… and to see what originally inspired the movie makers.

Copies of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button have been added to the CheerUp.Fun August eBook Club The first 100 people to join should automatically receive a copy.  For more information on how to join the CheerUp.Fun August 2017 eBook Club Click Here.