S4L Book Club – Garmann’s Summer and Garmann’s Street

A note from Jen: I’m here! Woot! I added my thoughts to the first three discussion questions yesterday, and I look forward to reading yours. I’ll be easing back into the blog scene now, and I hope you can carve out some time to play, too.

Our discussion leader in September is Harriet. She’s a very creative embroiderer, knitter, painter, and photographer, among other things. She loves shibas and books. She lives in Norway, and English is her second language. She communicates very well without my help, and the regulars here enjoy her “voice,” so I won’t be editing. Much. Just my usual butting in and puttering about.

There’s a certain philosophy of life conveyed in the Garmann books. How would you describe it?

Do you think it’s age that limits a person’s understanding of the universe, human relationships, and everyday life?

What makes us able to think about the small ordinary questions and about the big ones? Is it just something “some people” do?

Categories: Reading

5 replies »

  1. A humble Hi! From me: I went to the mountain cabin to rest and get new strength( charging batteries) and then over an other mounain to selebrate a friends 60 years aniversary. On the trip I got a fever and are still not well. I am reading and sleeping it off, and will post my thougts when I have more strengt. I am so sorry, but cronic fatique syndrom (ME/CFS) is unpredicable stuff, but it never put my will off, just my powers… I will be back and join my book club groups discussions, please dont give up on waiting on me…(sleepslurking) best regards….

  2. I pray that you feel better soon, Harriet! It’s rotten to feel rotten.

    I think I’ll be better able to answer these philosophical questions once I’ve read Garmann’s Summer. I’ll come back here when I have.

  3. This post presents a question I love thinking about, but it’s not the first question. I’m not very good at summarizing the nugget or philosophy of a story. Zeroing in on the core isn’t my strong suit. That’s an ability I’d love to develop. I hope some of you will take a stab at it so that I might learn something.

    However, I do have some thoughts on the other questions. Age is definitely one thing that limits understanding, but it’s by no means the only thing. Experience, perspective, education–they all contribute to a person’s understanding. Travel is something I find very helpful in broadening my perspective and increasing my understanding of life, the world, and people. Reading is another.

    My favorite question, though, is this one: What makes us able to think about the small ordinary questions and about the big ones? Is it just something “some people” do?

    I like thinking about big and small things. I want to improve my ability to think. A big part of the reason I wanted to start a book club here is because I want to think more about the books I read, and discussing them helps tremendously.

    I’ve been reading a book titled TEACHING COLLEGE STUDENTS TO READ ANALYTICALLY: AN INDIVIDUALIZED APPROACH, published by the National Council of Teachers of English. The teacher/authors tutor individual college students to make them better readers and writers, to give them the ability to better understand college-level reading and respond to it in writing. The approach seems to be to have the students keep a journal of their thoughts as they read, and the teachers read the journals and ask questions that prod the students to think about certain ideas or points more deeply and thoroughly. In this way, students develop ideas for essays.

    The process is fairly easy: share your ideas, get feedback, dig more deeply. Share the experience with someone who is willing to discuss it with you.

    The thinking process is described as integrating new material from the reading with old materials and experiences. How does what we’ve just read compare and contrast with what we’ve read or experienced before? What do the similarities and differences mean to us?

    So, who can think about these things? Pretty much anyone. Some people, I’m sure, come by the skills naturally, but it seems clear it can be taught, too. And I don’t think we need to be university professors to teach kids (each other and ourselves) to think more deeply about what they read; we simply need to share ideas, provide feedback, and make inquiries.

    That’s just what I want to do here.

    So how would I describe the philosophy of life described in these books? I’m not sure I know what a “philosophy of life” is. I’ll say, gentle. Quiet. Mindful. Paying attention to details and connections between them, and honestly observing our feelings about them.

    There. Now what do you think?

  4. Just a little about “Philosophy in life”:

    There are people with a bit more anxiety than others.

    The last picture of “Garmanns Summer” shows the boy in his room standing by the window looking out. In his room we can see his favorite things. The text states that he is anxious about tomorrow and starting school.
    I think this picture enhance the text very much. This boy is an anxious child who is careful and unsecure around/confronted by new situations.

    This is also visible in the other books. Garmann is building up courage during the books and the experiences he encounters. The character has a development throughout the books.

    There are books about tough and outgoing children and there are books about anxious ones. We can see that Garmann learns that what others are anxious about, he is looking forward to:
    * Aunt Ruth is anxious about the long winter time with cold dark evenings, and Garmann thinks it is strange that someone can be anxious about winter time. He is really looking forward to it!*

    It puzzles him, and he is perhaps not old enough to understand this puzzlement. And it gives the grownups who read the books something to reflect upon if they wish.

    I think we see one of the themes of philosophy in the books here:
    You live your life; you deal with situations as best as you can even if you were anxious about them beforehand, and even though you do not know the outcome of the situation.

    The stamp-man/postman did say it on the steps of his house after the fire: “Garmanns Street”: “At least you did not run away!” To do the right thing, to mend what is broken, To be brave is to… do what Garmann does when the scary fire starts.

    These books is close up on reality…it is hard to figure things out, it is hard to grow up – it is sometimes hard to be grown up as well – life is not happy all the time.

    — I am told that this is one of the critiques against the books; the mood is too- harsh.
    I do not find the mood too harsh. I find it a bit dark at times but with a strong sense of “keep on going and use your inner strength”-kind of philosophy.

    The books are not promising any solutions either. Garmann has to figure things out by the steps he takes. I do not find this harsh, but I know it can be difficult for a child or a grown up to have such a perspective.

  5. I love, a lot, this:
    “I want to improve my ability to think. ” -it is from Jen’s comment.
    That is exactly why I live, read, and joined this group.

    ! 😉 !

    It is actually very difficult, hard work, and the worst part: lack of words and typical way of saying things/idioms; to find proper and good ways to express my thoughts and understanding, ugh! It is challenging indeed! This is a skill that can be developed!

    To be alive is to go on, keep on doing things new and perhaps a bit scary, develop skills and listen to life and try to beware and pick up what happens there!

    I have met, and still do meet, people who do not dwell on small things or the big issues. They tell me they do not; I only have their word for it. They also look at me as if I am very alien when I talk about “stuff”.

    I am not capable of understanding the ability to NOT think about the small and big stuff in life, sorry to say. But I accept the differences and try to find things to DO together. Talking is -for me-a thing to do, but when talking does not work, I must try something else, right? And I have to find other suitable persons to dwell on important matters with.