The Remains of the Day Book Club Wrap-Up Post

In the last discussion post, we discussed the key themes of duty and dignity. Today, this post is for sharing any general thoughts about the book and any favorite quotes. Here are just a few little tidbits I wanted to share.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Remains of the Day was made into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. Here’s a clip:

 

Have you watched the movie? If so, please share your thoughts on how you think the book and movie compare.

~~~~~~~~~~

Did you catch where the title made it’s appearance in the book? It’s not the exact wording of the title but you’ll find it in Day Six – Evening:

“Perhaps, then, there is something to his advice that I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day.” (pg. 244)

~~~~~~~~~~

The subject of bantering provides some lightness to the novel; but I think that it also plays a part in Stevens growth. In fact, the novel starts out talking about bantering in the Prologue and ends with Stevens’ thoughts on bantering in the last chapter.

Stevens employer, Mr. Farraday, seems to want to have these miscellaneous, light-hearted discussions and Stevens feels he is just not good at it. He is not used to joking around or having light-hearted discussions with his employer; what he’s used to is everything being proper and showing no emotion. He tries to improve on this though.

How does this contribute to Stevens’ growth? Towards the end when he’s at the house where several people have gathered and are talking, he sees the warmth and liveliness of the conversation. He says:

“Listening to them now, I can hear them exchanging one bantering remark after another. It is, I would suppose, the way many people like to proceed. In fact, it is possible my bench companion of a while ago expected me to banter with him – in which case, I suppose I was something of a sorry disappointment. Perhaps it is indeed time I began to look at this whole matter of bantering more enthusiastically. After all, when one thinks about it, it is not such a foolish thing to indulge in – particularly if it is the case that in bantering lies the key to human warmth.” (pg. 245)

Here he realizes that this type of light-hearted conversation very well may be “the key to human warmth.” (pg. 245) In other words, he begins to see that these types of conversations seem to add to the friendliness and kindredness amongst the people having the conversations. He decides to practice the art of bantering with renewed effort and I think this holds the potential to helping Stevens show more emotion.

~~~~~~~~~~

What are your overall thoughts of this book? Do you have any favorite quotes? Please share in the comments below.

Also, this is the final post for this book club discussion. Feel free to continue the discussion in the first discussion post for this book  and in the comments of this post.  🙂

Advertisements

The Remains of the Day Book Club Discussion Post #1

Welcome to the discussion of our book club title The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I’m so excited to discuss this with you! This was the first title by Ishiguro that I’ve read. If you didn’t get a chance to read the Introduction post, you can do so by clicking HERE.

We’ll have two separate posts for discussion (which is explained more later in this post). I hope that this will make discussing the book easier in this blog format.

The Remains of the Day

As I already mentioned in the Introduction post, Stevens is a butler who goes on an automobile holiday to the west country of England. During this holiday, we learn what’s presently going on which takes place in the 1950s, as well as Stevens’ past as a butler and various events that occurred in that time which goes all the way back to right before World War II. Stevens also relates his own thoughts, feelings, and impressions about a variety of things; but principally, his thoughts on dignity and his job as a butler are foremost. Therefore, two of the biggest themes in this novel are duty and dignity. Let’s discuss those themes today. And then on Wednesday, I will put up a post for everyone to share their overall thoughts of the book along with any favorite quotes. That post will be kind of the general catch-all post for sharing various thoughts and insights on the book.

Today, let’s consider these two questions as we discuss the themes of dignity and duty:

Question 1 – Throughout the novel, Stevens relates his thoughts on the issue of dignity. These thoughts progress through the novel and we see how his thoughts on dignity change. Did you notice the changes in Stevens’ perspective on what dignity is as you read the book?

Question 2 – Stevens’ job as a butler and how that job is performed is of utmost importance to him and is a key aspect of this novel. How does his view of his role as butler and his perspective of dignity intertwine?

Stevens feels that a great butler has dignity. He spends a lot of time hashing out just exactly what this means…what dignity is, what greatness is. So we see this progression of his thoughts and beliefs as we read the book. Stevens starts out at the beginning of the novel sharing how he was a really good butler. He felt he had every reason to be proud of how he performed his duties. But then as he thinks back on some scenarios, he begins to see that some of what his employer did was regrettable. Yet, he still felt he did what he could do. In his mind, he was just the butler. He thought, what could he have done really? By the time we reach the end of the book, we see this transformation in his thoughts on dignity and his role as a butler culminate to where he finally begins to think that the essence of dignity as a butler really is about taking responsibility of one’s own choices.  Towards the end, he makes this comment about what dignity is:

“But I suspect it comes down to not removing one’s clothing in public.” (pg. 210)

I think what he’s trying to say here is don’t cover up who you are in public. Be the real you. In other words, the person you are in public should be the same as the person you are when you’re alone. And isn’t that the essence of authenticity? About being real?

I think that in this whole process Stevens goes through in his thoughts throughout the book, he sees what he once thought slowly being dismantled. So what was meant to be a simple automobile holiday for some time away, turns into a time for introspection of long held beliefs/thoughts.

Here are a just a few quotes relating to the discussion of these themes.

“And let me now posit this:  ‘dignity’ has to do crucially with a butler’s ability not to abandon the professional being he inhabits….The great butlers are great by virtue of their ability to inhabit their professional role and inhabit it to the utmost…” (pgs. 42-43)

“It would seem there is a whole dimension to the question ‘what is a “great” butler?’ I have hitherto not properly considered…” (pg. 113)

“A ‘great’ butler can only be, surely, one who can point to his years of service and say that he has applied his talents to serving a great gentleman – and through the latter, to serving humanity.” (pg. 117)

“A butler of any quality must be seen to inhabit his role, utterly and fully; he cannot be seen casting it aside one moment simply to don it again the next as though it were nothing more than a pantomime costume.” (pg. 169)

“’What do you think dignity’s all about?’ The directness of this inquiry did, I admit, take me rather by surprise. ‘It’s rather a hard thing to explain in a few words, sir,’ I said. ‘But I suspect it comes down to not removing one’s clothing in public.’” (pg. 210)

Let’s continue the discussion in the comments. 🙂 But before we do, I want to make a few comments regarding discussion. I think it goes without saying that we want to all have an enjoyable experience discussing books. The reading world is a wonderful place. There is such diversity in thoughts and opinions and that’s what makes it so wonderful! I ask that everyone please be kind and respectful in your comments. 🙂

May Book Club for The Remains of the Day: Introduction

The Remains of the Day was published in 1989 and is the third novel written by Kazuo Ishiguro. In 1989, the novel won the Man Booker Prize; and in 2017, Kazuo Ishiguro was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1993, the novel was put to screen with the same name for a title, and it starred Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.

The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day is written in the first person, narrated by the principal character Stevens. Stevens is a butler about to embark on an automobile holiday to the west country of England. During this holiday, we learn about what’s presently going on, as well as Steven’s past as a butler and various events that occurred in that time. Stevens also relates his own thoughts, feelings, and impressions about a variety of things; but principally, his thoughts on dignity and his job as a butler are foremost.

History plays a key role in the story line. The present time Stevens is living in is in the 1950s. But he takes the reader back to the years leading up to World War II. Major historical names of the time make an appearance in the novel even though it is a fiction book with fictional characters.

As I previously mentioned, the virtue of dignity is a key concept in the novel. Stevens ponders what dignity is and reflects on it off and on throughout the book. Be watching to see if his ideas of what dignity is remain the same throughout the novel or if it changes as the novel progresses.

I look forward to discussing this novel with you in a few weeks!

May Book Club Introduction

The Remains of the Day

It’s May and that means it’s time to gear up for our May Book Club. I hope you can join us! We will be reading The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.

I initially planned to break this up into reading assignments for each week and then put a post up each week for discussion. However, after having read it, I really think this book lends itself to just having an open discussion of it at the end of the month instead of assigning sections to read each week. Therefore, here’s how our book club will work for this title. Tomorrow, I will post an introduction to the book. Everyone can read the book at their own pace throughout the month. Then on Monday, May 29th, I’ll put up a post to open up the discussion for the book.

I look forward to discussing this book with everyone!

Favorites to Re-Read

We had a great discussion in the comments of my post on my Recent Bookish Thoughts. One of the things I talked about (and others shared their thoughts on in the comments) is re-reading books. You can check out that post HERE.

So I’ve been thinking….I’d love to hear what books YOU like to re-read. Being not much of a re-reader, there’s only a few books that I read for myself that I’ve re-read. So I’d love to hear what books have been YOUR favorites to read over again. And maybe again and again… 🙂

I’ll start by sharing three books I have re-read. And if you’ve been a reader of my blog, then you will recognize these because I’ve talked about them before. 😉

The Reading Promise

I’ve read The Reading Promise twice and can see myself possibly reading it again. I’ve mentioned before that I was just drawn into the author’s world. Sometimes I found myself laughing…..sometimes I would find my eyes watery with tears. This book illustrates the power of reading aloud and the power of books in general. If you haven’t read this one, I highly recommend it!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I just finished reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for the third time last week. I really like the way it’s written…it’s written in the epistolary style and I think reading letters back and forth can really draw the reader in. I am also a huge fan of historical fiction and this book most definitely is that. I also appreciate the snarkiness of the main character and think the author(s) did a brilliant job of mixing humor with the heavy (the setting is just after World War II). But beyond all that, or maybe because it’s the combination of all those things, there is just something about this book that is a comfort read for me. If you don’t like this book, just don’t tell me. I may just be heart-broken. 😉 Just kidding. 🙂

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Finally, I LOVE The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It’s a moving story and also has absolutely stunning pictures! I’ve read it twice now and can’t wait to read it aloud with my daughter! You can read my thoughts on it HERE.

So those are three favorite books of mine that I have re-read. Now it’s your turn! What books have you read more than once and why?

P.S. – Just a reminder that I will be hosting a book club here on my blog for The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. You can check out my post Book Club Coming In May for more details of the spring/summer line up of book clubs beginning with The Remains of the Day hosted here and then the other book clubs Silvia will be hosting. I will be putting up a post next week introducing the book and giving the schedule. Be sure to subscribe to my blog over in the sidebar so that you don’t miss a post!

Some Recent Bookish Thoughts

This may be a bit of a rambling post. 🙂 This week there’s been a good discussion at Silvia’s blog about re-considering reading goals, book challenges, and more. And Silvia also wrote another post about poetry that got me thinking about my reading habits. I, too, have recently been thinking about what my reading goals initially were at the beginning of the year, and have been considering dropping my reading challenge. I get so excited in December when the book challenges come out and it is really hard to resist not joining in. Silvia put it so well when she described it as a “momentum” and seeing all the possibilities of book choices lying ahead of us in the new year. But recently, for some reason, I have been feeling a bit boxed in with my reading challenge. Like I need to make sure I get those categories completed and maybe that might mean I have to set aside other books I might want to read to do so. It’s silly really I guess….because the reading challenge doesn’t have to be that. It can be a fun way to gather inspiration for new titles. But being a task-oriented person sometimes, I think I’ve begun to be task-oriented with my reading challenge….. I think because maybe deciding to *do* a reading challenge makes a difference for me versus just looking at reading challenges but not trying to necessarily *do* them.

Anyway, thinking about all this has got me thinking about why I read and the pace at which I read books sometimes. Reading Silvia’s post about poetry also got me thinking about re-reading and the benefits of that.

I read for enjoyment. But I also like to stretch myself to read books I feel it would be good for me to read at some point. Like certain classics that I may not particular *want* to read but know it would be good to read them because they are so widely known and maybe referenced a lot – like The Iliad and The Odyssey for example. I never read these in high school and so I’m reading The Iliad right now. I don’t particular like it a whole lot, but I think it’s good for me to read it. It stretches me as a reader. A lot of ancient literature (including epic poetry) tends to be that way for me. It can be challenging for me to read but I know it can help me grow as a reader.

Another reason I read is to learn. And this year, one of my goals is to read more memoirs, biographies, and other non-fiction books like history and science. I also want to incorporate more essays and short stories and plays.

I also like to read a book on a whim if I find a book that grabs my interest. And I like to read in community if I can because I need to discuss books.
Books

 

Regarding reading habits, I was thinking about a quote Silvia had in her post from the book she read called Lectures on Literature by Nabokov. I haven’t read this book. You can read more of Silvia’s thoughts on it at her blog. Anyway, she included the following quote from Nabokov in her post:

“Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a rereader.”

This quote reminded me of something Adler said in his book How to Read a Book. One of the things Adler discusses in this book is different levels of reading. Concerning one of the levels he calls inspectional reading Adler says:

“…most people, even many quite good readers, are unaware of the value of inspectional reading. They start a book on page one and plow steadily through it, without even reading the table of contents. They are thus faced with the task of achieving a superficial knowledge of the book at the same time that they are trying to understand it.” (pg. 19)

“Skimming or pre-reading is the first sub-level of inspectional reading. Your main aim is to discover whether the book requires a more careful reading.” (pg. 32)

After the inspectional reading – where you discover what type of book it is, what it’s about, etc. – there’s what Adler calls analytical reading. About this he says:

“Analytical reading is thorough reading, complete reading, or good reading…the best and most complete reading that is possible given unlimited time.”(pg. 19)

Of course Adler says a lot more about these levels of reading; but these particular things stood out to me.

First, let me say regarding these quotes from How to Read a Book that I think that maybe this may not apply across the board for fiction. However, I do think there could be many fiction books these principles could apply to. What do you think? I’m thinking about a book like Wuthering Heights. I can totally see the benefit of more than one reading for this book. The first reading gives you the story-line and how it ends and is like an introduction. Then the next time around, I imagine one could pick up on more in the novel because it is such a complex book.

I know, this is a winding rabbit trail… LOL Anyway, these various quotes have me thinking about re-reading though. How I have a tendency sometimes to plow through some books that maybe are ones that I would benefit more from a slower reading and maybe even a re-reading. I am not typically a re-reader. And if I do re-read a book, you know I must have REALLY liked it. There are just so many books I want to read. And you know, maybe sometimes re-reading feels like time I could be spending reading another book on my To-Be-Read list. But I do see the benefits of re-reading; and maybe I need to make more room in my reading life for it.

As far as slow vs. fast reading pace, I don’t think it has to be one way or the other. I think it can be both. I do think that some books are just quick reading books. And sometimes I just can’t resist reading quickly to find out how the book ends! And that’s OKAY! But books that are meant to stretch me as a reader or books I’m reading to learn and grow, maybe those are more the books for me to put in that category of slower reading. And possibly re-reading. In the end, I just don’t think I will tend to re-read lots of books. But I would like to grow in that area and make more time for re-reading.

So these are my rambling book thoughts recently. What do YOU think about reading pace and re-reading? Have you been re-evaluating your reading goals for this year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights

Title:  Wuthering Heights
Author:  Emily Brontë
Length:  353  pages
Genre:  Classic Literature; Classic Gothic Literature


About This Book

Wuthering Heights starts with the developing relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine. Love grows and they feel they are soul mates. But when events separate them, revenge takes root and the effects are widespread. This is a complex and volatile story of love, betrayal, and revenge. Brontë’s exquisite writing will keep you turning the pages.


My Thoughts

Wuthering Heights is the first novel I’ve read from the writings of the Brontë sisters. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this novel before reading it. It seems that this is one that people either love or they don’t like it at all. I fall on the liked-the-book side.

This is most definitely not a happy novel; the themes and content are heavy and hard. Despite the tough content though, the writing is compelling and I didn’t want to put it down. I felt Brontë did a great job at painting a portrait of her characters and then developing them. She also gave vivid descriptions of the surroundings (such as the moors) without being overly wordy. As an aside, it is said that Emily loved the moors and that this is evident in the novel.

Revenge and cruelty are predominant themes in Wuthering Heights. Brontë not only illustrates the affects of revenge and cruelty, but also the power of kindness and how it can be transformative. As I read this novel, the themes reminded me a lot of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

I plan to read Wuthering Heights again. I think that because it is such a complex novel, this is one that could stand up to multiple readings. It is definitely well-written and I can see why it eventually became known as an English literary classic.

Book Club Coming In May

This spring and summer, I am planning to participate in some book clubs Silvia will be hosting at her blog. And I am honored and excited to partner with Silvia in kicking off the book clubs by hosting one of them here on my blog in May. Starting mid-May, we will be reading The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. The following is the edition I have which is what I will be reading from and basing the schedule off of.

The Remains of the Day

Then starting in mid-June, Silvia will be hosting two book clubs. First, The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro:

The Buried Giant
And second, East of Eden by John Steinbeck:

East of Eden

 

In August, we are looking at doing a book club for a book by Galdós. We haven’t finalized plans for this yet, but right now the plan is for me to host it here at my blog or we may decide to co-host it together. Stay tuned for more information on that this summer.

********************

Reading Schedules
Silvia has already posted an initial reading plan for The Buried Giant and East of Eden on her blog. So you can check that out HERE.

The initial schedule of book club posts for The Remains of the Day is May 24thMay 31stJune 7th, and
June 14th. I will either do a wrap-up in the final week or do a separate wrap-up post after the June 14th post. At the beginning of May, I will do an introduction post, complete with a reading schedule. That post will serve as the landing page for all the posts for The Remains of the Day book club discussions.

********************

I’m really excited to read all of these books! I hope you will join us as we read these together!

Enhance Your Reading Life with A Free Book Reading Log

Last year I shared about how keeping track of the books I read really enhanced my reading life. I shared:

Until last year, I wasn’t so great at tracking the books that I read. So one of my goals last year, along with trying to complete a reading challenge, was to be more intentional about keeping a list of the books I read. And you know what I found? Keeping a list of the books I read throughout the year really enhanced my reading life. How? Because it helped me see not only how many books I read (which actually surprised me!), but also it reflected the variety of books I read as well. And truly, there’s something to being able to look back at all the books you’ve read. It feels like a sense of accomplishment somehow.

Also, if you want to read more, it’s a good chance that keeping a list of what you are reading will actually encourage you to read more. So this year, if you want to enhance your reading life, start with keeping a list of the books you read.

In that post, I offered a set of book reading logs. I’ve updated those book reading logs and instead of being date specific, they now have a blank space for the year. As I explained in my post last year, there are two different logs.

If the thought of keeping a reading journal feels a bit overwhelming and you’d prefer to just make a few brief comments about the books you are reading, then Book Reading Log A is the one for you! Included is a small space for each book entry where you can make a few brief comments or notes about the book.

If you already keep a reading journal and simply want a log to track your books, then Book Reading Log B is perfect. It is simply a reading log to keep track of all the books you read with no section for comments.

Choose which Book Reading Log you prefer, download it, and print off as many pages as you need. The first page of both logs has the title on it and the second page doesn’t. I created both pages because I like to have a title on the first page but not on all the subsequent pages I print out.   🙂

Book Reading Log A

Book Reading Log B

Happy Reading!

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations

Title:  Great Expectations
Author:  Charles Dickens
Length:   464 pages
Genre:  Classic Literature


About This Book

Great Expectations is a coming-of-age story of the main character, Pip. We follow his life from youth to adulthood, as the adult Pip narrates the story of his life. There’s convicts, a bitter lady bent on revenge, love and love lost, and of course an intricate weaving of various threads in the novel.


My Thoughts

If you’ve read my comments about the other Dickens’ novels I’ve read, then you’ll know that there have been times with some of his novels that I’ve felt like I’ve had to slog through some wordiness. I was pleasantly surprised with Great Expectations. I think Dickens’ writing ability shines in this novel and it is by far my favorite. Of course there’s still the classic Dickens characteristics such as intricate weaving of various threads and great character development. But what seemed different to me in this novel from the other ones I’ve read (with the exception maybe of A Christmas Carol), is that the writing felt tighter. This is one of his later novels so maybe that’s why the writing felt more precise and not as wordy. I also felt that the reader is grabbed from the very beginning with a great opening chapter. The novel opens with an introduction to Pip and his situation (which is brief and not drawn out) and then the reader finds Pip in a churchyard amongst the tombstones and a convict threatens him in order to get food and a file (tool to help him get out of his chains). From there, an intricate plot unfolds with some unexpected twists and turns. Great Expectations is a well crafted story and one I would definitely recommend!