Triple Choice Tuesday: My Porch

Triple-Choice-TuesdayWelcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers, writers and readers to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles, new authors and new bloggers.

Today’s guest is Thomas from My Porch.

Thomas lives in Washington DC with his husband John and their “insanely cute” dog Lucy. In addition to his family, Thomas says he lives for books, travel, food and classical music. His blog, which began in 2006, is testament to those interests, covering all things cultural but with a special focus on literature.

Without further ado, here’s Thomas’ Triple Choice Tuesday selections:

 

OnChesilBeach A favorite book: On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

I am glad this category is worded in such a way that implies that there is more than one favorite book. Otherwise, which of us would feel comfortable choosing just one? From my list of favorites, the one that jumps out at me is On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. Not normally a huge McEwan fan, I found this to be a spectacular book. Some complain that nothing happens in the book or that the two characters need to pull themselves together, etc. But I think it is such a sublime, tragically beautiful story. A cautionary tale of what can happen to any of our relationships if we fail to communicate meaningfully.

Hamlet A book that changed my world: Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Many books have moved me or imparted wisdom and they have collectively helped turn me into who I am, but I had a really tough time finding an answer to this one. But then it struck me, there is a literary mantra that has guided my life since I was 16. In Hamlet, Polonius says to his son, Laertes: “This above all: to thine own self be true…” That answer might sound a little precious or facile but when I was struggling with all kinds of issues in high school, coming across that line was a life saver. So many people wanted me to be something I wasn’t (like straight) that I would say or do just about anything to fit in. That is, until the Bard saved me from all that. Staying true to who I am has been the best advice, literary or otherwise, I have ever taken.

Magnificent-Spinster Plant-Dreaming-Deep A book that deserves a wider audience: most anything by May Sarton

Although many of May Sarton’s books are still in print, and she has been getting some attention in the blogosphere in recent months, I don’t think enough readers even know about Sarton let alone have read her. Her work captures old school New England in a way that is homespun but never sweet. It is ultimately life-affirming and can be cozy, but often has a dark undercurrent of loneliness, sickness, or old age. She wrote more than 50 books, including novels, memoirs, journals and volumes of poetry.  For novels try out The Magnificent Spinster or As We Are Now. For her journals, Plant Dreaming Deep and The House By the Sea are wonderful.

Thanks, Thomas, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!

I’ve read On Chesil Beach, and quite liked it, but wished it was longer! I’ve also read Hamlet and been fortunate enough to visit Helsingor, in Denmark, where the Bard set the play (my photographs are here). But I’ve not heard of May Sarton before and am staggered at how prolific she was. Her page on the Fantastic Fiction website is quite astounding! I must investigate her work soonish…

What do you think of Thomas’s choices? Have you read any of these books?

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10 thoughts on “Triple Choice Tuesday: My Porch

  1. I’ve only read Hamlet out of the three. Of McEwan’s books I’ve read Atonement which I quite liked and have been meaning to read more. I haven’t heard of May Sarton but I’m definitely going to find out more about her now.

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  2. I ve read the Mcewan and seen hamlet ,but Mary Sarton is new to me ,I love thomas blog it is a wonderfully varied blog ,great choices ,all the best stu

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  3. I read On Chesil Beach earlier this year (from Thomas’ suggestion too, actually!) and i really loved it. I think Chesil’s tragedy was much more subtle, but not less weaker, than the romance in Atonement.
    Mary Sarton is also new to me.

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  4. Thomas, I am SO ONBOARD with your thoughts on On Chesil Beach. That book blew me away and was almost painful to read in spots. I loooved those characters!

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  5. Well said re: Hamlet. Just because a book is BIG does not put it above or below our recognition, and I think you gave a very reasoned explanation for choosing it.

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  6. Of Thomas’ choices, I’ve read Chesil and Hamlet (Hamlet about 7 or 8 times), but still haven’t read May Sarton. Sounds worth giving a try.

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  7. I too loved On Chesil Beach (I am weirdly looking forward to seeing the film when it finally comes out) and this is one of McEwan’s masterpieces. Huge punch, minimal length, excellent. Never heard of may Sarton, must look her up.
    As for Shakespeare, I know its not something I should admit to, I just don’t like them. I get its genius, but I don’t like it. Oops. I shouldnt have said that should I?

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  8. On Chesil Beach is a beautiful book. Good choice.
    I visited the home of the Bard last Friday. I also love Hamlet – in particular the idea that a failure to act can be destructive. An excellent cautionary tale.
    I’ve never heard of May Sarton but I will see if she is to be found gracing the shelves of my local library.

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  9. I found On Chesil Beach to be disturbing – those undercurrents in the novel are intense.
    As for Hamlet, both my boys have been struck by the play. The eldest when he was nine and we stumbled across a company doing Hamlet in the park – Matt was fascinated. Youngest was ho-hum about Shakespeare until he read Hamlet and then he was blown away.
    As for Sarton, her journals and memoirs are exceptional. I love The House by the Sea and Journal of Solitude (my favorite).

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  10. On Chesil Beach is one of favourite books as well. Of course ‘one of’ because it’s impossible to pick just one. I read the book years ago and never got round to reading other peoples reviews until recently. I was so surprised by the ammount of negativity it received, it’s so poetically told and McEwan is keenly aware of human nature and the complexities of relationship.

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