Two More Books

Two more books toward my 2012 reading goal.
Late in the week I started reading a book I've had in my library for a few years; The Measure of Man, the memoirs of Sidney Poitier.

Mr. Poitier was never one of my favourite actors but I do recall enjoying his movie, Lilies of the Field.  I saw the movie as a child and remember enjoying it immensely.  Mr. Poitier won an Oscar  for his role as handyman Homer Smith, a man who helps refugee nuns build a chapel out in the desert somewhere. I think I was fascinated by the movie because where I grew up I'd never seen a black grown up,  only two boys about my age who I didn't know personally.  I was curious about these people because they were rarities in my world and we had no opportunities for association.   I'd also seen two other Mr. Poitier films, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and To Sir With Love. I liked the latter movie more than the former,  but didn't really pay much attention to either of them.

In the last year or so, I happened upon another of Mr. Poitier's movies which I did not see as a child.  It is called A Patch of Blue.  This movie appealed to me even more than Lilies of the Field. In the movie, the character, Selina D'Arcy is a blind, white girl who meets a black man, Gordon Ralfe, played by Sidney Poitier and falls in love with him. Although his brother strongly advises Gordon to tell Selina that he is black, Gordon refuses to do so. Problems arise when Selina's mother, played by Shelley Winters, learns about Gordon and Selina's relationship and forbids her daughter from being with Gordon because he is black. Gordon doesn't reciprocate Selina's love but views her as a friend and he is dedicated to helping her. The movie ends in an interesting way.

Anyway, back to the memoirs.  I've long wondered about the details of Mr. Poitier's life and his acting career which developed at a time in American history when it could not have been easy, an understatement to say the least, to have been a black man or a black actor.  This was the reason I picked up The Measure of a Man.  I wanted to know where Mr. Poitier came from, how he got into acting, and how he managed to retain his grace and dignity during times of racial turbulence and how he managed to thrive as an actor despite the lack of opportunities for black people.

I'm learning how he grew up on Cat Island in the Bahamas and made it to New York via Nassau and Miami, where he started his acting career on the stage, before moving to Hollywood to continue a career in motion pictures.  It is fascinating to have insight into the times from the eyes of this veteran actor and to learn how easily his life could have ended up so much differently.

I'm still reading the book and while I haven't formulated all my conclusions, one thing jumps out at me, and that is is how  seemingly "accidental" it was that Mr. Poitier became an actor at all.  Another thing I've learned is how his childhood, and way of life on Cat Island, really shaped him for the better and influenced how he conducted his life and made decisions through his life time.  On Cat Island you see, he was not a racial minority. Everyone was more or less like him and his family, and that had a lot to do with how he continued to view the world and his place in it when he got to America.   Mr. Poitier is a man of wisdom and strength and one thing he says in his book which I think is a good lesson for us all is:
I've learned that I must find positive outlets for anger or it will destroy me. I have to try to find a way to channel that anger to the positive, and the highest positive is forgiveness. (p. 128)
So far, it's a fascinating read.

My friend, Caroline at Lonicera's World, sent me a book entitled, Jennie by Paul Gallico. It arrived from England in the post on Friday and I immediately began to read it. It is a delightful little book about a boy named Peter who desperately wants to own a cat but is not allowed to because his nanny suffers from allergies. Peter has a terrible accident and when he awakes he finds himself transformed into a cat. His nanny immediately throws him out of the apartment and he is confronted by the mean spiritedness of human beings on the outside, as well as other animals. He runs hither and thither until exhausted, he collapses ,and is rescued by a feline named, Jennie, who takes him under her paws and teaches him how to become a cat.

This delightful little book is written by Paul Gallico, who I've read, owned 23 cats of his own.  Mr. Gallico has really been able to capture the behaviors of cats and describes them in a way that is completely understandable even to those that are unfamiliar with cats. When Jennie describes the rules about washing for example, I could not help but think about my former cat and how she used to wash herself and in what circumstances she would wash.  The Jennie in the book says, "When in doubt, wash!".

With these two books almost completed, I will soon be able to add a few more books to my reading goal for the year.

How about you dear reader? 
Have you set reading goals for 2012 and if yes, how are you progressing on them?


22 comments:

  1. I recall reading To Sir With Love when I was young and really enjoyed reading it. I can't recall the details apart from concluding it was a great read and I have never known there was a movie version. I think I will read the book once more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh that will be great if you read it again. It would be interesting to know whether you like it just as much as the first time. Happy reading :-)

      Delete
  2. I loved To Sir With Love (the movie) and didn't know there was a book! I'd love to watch it again. I don't know if I'll ever read The Measure of a Man, but I do like Sidney Poitier and will look for the other movies you talk about here. Would love to hear what you conclude about the book once you arrive at a conclusion.

    Jennie sounds interesting. Happy Reading!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, ha that's funny. You and Charles had opposite experience with the story. I'm sure there will be an opportunity to see the movie again for me anyway, on television. How about in Kenya do they run these old movies on television from time to time? Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
    2. I almost forgot to let you know I finished the book and I found it to be a good read giving insight into the man's childhood, thoughts about his movies, what he went through to get to where he is. Mostly I found Mr. Poitier to be an intelligent man given to a lot of introspection. It was interesting to see his thought processes and learn about his values.

      Jennie was a great little book and surprisingly very moving in so many ways.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for the mention! So glad you're enjoying 'Jennie'. Interesting that you too (like me) read several books at once. I always loved Sidney Poitier as an actor, his good looks and that element you quote, that there's always a sense that he knew how to control his anger - even when he was angry, if you know what I mean. He was Mr Tibbs in a police film, wasn't he? I've liked all he's done.
    Caroline

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Caroline, you're very welcome! I am enjoying "Jennie". I am just at the point where Peter and Jennie are reaching Glasgow, and the near tragedy that unfolded just prior was gulp inducing. Sidney Poitier was indeed a good/great actor and very good looking :-) Yes, he was Mr. Tibbs. If you get a chance to see "A Patch of Blue", please do. It is my new favourite. I get the impression in reading the memoir, that Mr. Poitier loved the movie also.

      Delete
  4. Both books sound like great reads. Last year I set a goal to read 25 books. I met the goal, but with work, writing, and chores of daily life, it wasn't easy, so this year I've lessened the stress and require myself to read 20. So far I've finished 2 and am working on the third. I'm a little behind, but work has been requiring more hours lately, which hopefully will ease up and give me more free time. Enjoyable post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean Roan. I set myself a goal last year to read 24 books and that was a stretch. This year it will be 12-25 so I have some leeway. I think you will do it if you are already working on the 3rd one. I guess it will depend on how long they are ;-) Enjoy.

      Delete
  5. Jennie by Paul Gallico is a long time favourite of mine and we even named one of own cats Jennie, such a lovely story. I am also on Goodreads and you can find my reading goals there but I am a little behind so far this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LindyLou, thanks for your visit. So cool that you know about "Jennie" a book I only just learned about through my blogging friend, Caroline. Happy reading :-)

      Delete
  6. Yes, interesting. I love Sidney Poitier, a very good actor. Greetings and happy week.

    ReplyDelete
  7. OMW, I must get the book called Jennie! What a delightful theme! I already have three books (two novels and one non-fiction) under my belt this year. I'm on the fourth one now, The State of Africa - which you may remember we discussed when I read it last year! Blessings Jo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Oh but of course you would love this book Jo because it's all about wonderful cats. Looks like you've got some good reading under your belt already Jo. I do definitely remember, The State of Africa and I haven't read much of it - yet :-)

      Delete
  8. Hi Penny, I really enjoyed reading about your thoughts on Sidney Poitier and Jennie. I am going to look out for both books - I usually enjoy autobiographies.
    One of my favourite Paul Gallico books is "Scruffy", the story of a Barbary ape in Gibralta - it really is a very funny story.
    Like you I am usually reading 2-4 books in tandem.
    Since I am underemployed at the moment I have had lots of time to read and I have been devouring books - mostly "escapist" crime and historical fiction, but some good reads this year have been The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Plains of Camdeboo by Eve Palmer (South African non-fiction) and The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins.
    Enjoy achieving your reading goals:)
    Sue

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sue, I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about the two books I was reading and have now completed. I usually enjoy autobiographies too as it gives a chance to learn about the people who wrote them and their thought processes as they went through different life experiences.
      I am new to Paul Gallico and so it was interesting to hear about "Scruffy". I may come across the book somewhere if they are distributed in Canada.
      I generally do have 2-4 books on the go. Some of them languish while I get more interested in one or another. At the moment, I've picked up a book called "The Pilot's Wife", a bit of a sad tale about a woman whose pilot husband has crashed his plane and the authorities say it was a suicide. I picked it up last year and put it aside until now.
      Thank you for letting me know about the good books you have read this year. I like to add to my "to read" list. Have a wonderful weekend.

      Delete
  9. Thank you for these book reviews Penny. I would dearly like to read Sidney Poitier's memoirs. I have always admired his work and would be interested to read about his life. Some of his acting roles have been characters with an inner strength and wisdom. It is good to hear that he is such a character himself. I will definitely be adding the book to my reading challenge for 2012 which I keep track of on GoodReads. I am reading more this year as I was lucky enough to have been given an ereader for Christmas. I had thought that I wouldn't like one as I love real books too much, however I am finding it is making it easier for me to access new reading material more quickly and so I am never without something to read. It is also useful for browsing too which I used to do a lot of in a bookshop or library but don't always have the time these days. Your other recommedation also appeals to me. At the moment I am reading Great Expectations on my reader and The Night Watch(Sarah Waters)and Life is a Verb(Patti Digh) as real books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jan, I do hope you can find the book over where you live. If you cannot, please do send me an email and I will be more than happy to send you my copy. I have a Blackberry Playbook and have downloaded a number of free books onto it but I am still working through my extensive paper library so I really haven't had the need/urge to read off my playbook too much. It is so easy to find and download books, isn't it? I will likely start using the ereader more and more over time as I run out of paper books or when i travel. "Great Expectations" is one of my hard copy books :-)

      Delete
  10. oh i love Sydney Poitier ! Thank you for this tip Penny...his autobiography sounds great. I know he can be seen as quite the black over stereotyped male character in his time but i always find him irresistible in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and fabulous in In the Heat of the Night...Happy reading !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you can find and read the book, Lala. It gives insight into the man. Happy reading!

      Delete

Thank you for visiting and commenting This blog does not allow Anonymous comments or comments with hotlinks directing readers to another page.

On My Walk Today

 Hi friends, I've had a busy few days despite the rainy and stormy weather we've been having.  I had to run out and do errands on Fr...