Between the Lines Book Club: Harold Fry and other Pilgrimages

between the lines book club logoThis month we have been reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. You can join us at Arden Dimick Library on April 22, 2017 at 10:30 for discussion and snacks, or leave your comments here!

Here’s how wikipedia defines a pilgrimage:

pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith, although sometimes it can be a metaphorical journey into someone’s own beliefs. Many religions attach spiritual importance to particular places: the place of birth or death of founders or saints, or to the place of their “calling” or spiritual awakening, or of their connection (visual or verbal) with the divine, to locations where miracles were performed or witnessed, or locations where a deity is said to live or be “housed”, or any site that is seen to have special spiritual powers. Such sites may be commemorated with shrines or temples that devotees are encouraged to visit for their own spiritual benefit: to be healed or have questions answered or to achieve some other spiritual benefit. A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim. As a common human experience, pilgrimage has been proposed as a Jungian archetype by Wallace Clift and Jean Dalby Clift.

If you are interested in the concept of the pilgrimage as a literary device, here are some books to look at:

Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan – a Christian allegory written in 1678. Trivia alert: the March sisters get copies of this book and strive to emulate it in Little Women.

The Pilgrimage: A Contemporary Quest for Ancient Wisdom, by Paulo Coelho – this is a companion book to his famous novel, The Alchemist. In this story, the author travels along the road of San Tiago, in Spain.

The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffry Chaucer – A ribald collection of 24 stories about pilrims on their way to Canterbury. The stories were written between 1387 and 1400.

Hyperion, by Dan Simmons – inspired by Canterbury Tales, this science fiction novel tells the stories of seven pilgrims who tell each other stories during a long space voyage. Through their stories, the reader is introduced to the world of Hyperion and the Time Tombs which the pilgrims want to visit.

March for Science

1*kwiNY-8vonJm3sIBdwogAwThis coming Saturday, April 22nd, will be the day of the March for Science. The march will be held in Washington, D.C., with sister marches being held around the world. For information about marches in your area, check the March for Science webpage under “Marches.”  I hope many of my readers will attend – you do not have to be a scientist to march, only someone who believes that science is important.

The Trump administration has taken unprecedented budget cuts in science funding as well as reversing policies based on science. From the March for Science webpage:

The March for Science is a celebration of science.  It’s not only about scientists and politicians; it is about the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world.  Nevertheless, the march has generated a great deal of conversation around whether or not scientists should involve themselves in politics. In the face of an alarming trend toward discrediting scientific consensus and restricting scientific discovery, we might ask instead: can we afford not to speak out in its defense?

People who value science have remained silent for far too long in the face of policies that ignore scientific evidence and endanger both human life and the future of our world. New policies threaten to further restrict scientists’ ability to research and communicate their findings.  We face a possible future where people not only ignore scientific evidence, but seek to eliminate it entirely.  Staying silent is a luxury that we can no longer afford.  We must stand together and support science.

The application of science to policy is not a partisan issue. Anti-science agendas and policies have been advanced by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and they harm everyone — without exception. Science should neither serve special interests nor be rejected based on personal convictions. At its core, science is a tool for seeking answers.  It can and should influence policy and guide our long-term decision-making.

Need inspiration?

Between the Lines Book Club: The Unlikely Journey of Harold Fry

between the lines book club logoOur April book club selection is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce. You can leave comments about the book here. or attend our meeting at Arden Dimick Library on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 10:30AM. Coffee and light snacks provided.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage is Joyce’s first novel, and was a finalist for the 2012 Man Booker Prize. It tells of Harold, an ordinary 65-year-old man, who hears that an old friend is in hospice care. He begins walking to her hospice, almost by accident and then as more of a puposeful pilgramage. During the 87 day walk, he reflects on his relationships with family, friends, and the people he meets on the walk.

Here are some reviews:

New York Times

The New Yorker


Between the Lines Book Club: Orphan Train

between the lines book club logoThis month we are reading Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline. We will be meeting to discuss this book in person on March 25, 2017 at 10:30AM at Arden Dimick Library in Sacramento, California.

The paperback edition of Orphan Train (2013 edition) contains many resources including an interview with the author and an Acknowledgements section that includes several references about the historical orphan trains. Here’s something completely different, just for fun: the Disney made-for-TV movie Orphan Train, from 1979!



I recall seeing this movie, or at least the end of it, when I just little and I always remembered the heartwarming and utterly ridiculous ending.  This movie is so impressively historically inaccurate and cheesy that it could ONLY have been made by Disney in 1979! If you can bear to sit through it, watch for a short role by a young Glenn Close.

Between The Lines Book Club: Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline

between the lines book club logoWe are back with a new book for March – Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline. I found this book to be a delightful read, but also a very quick and easy one – something of a vacation after a run of nonfiction. We will be meeting to discuss this book in person on March 25, 2017 at 10:30AM at Arden Dimick Library in Sacramento, California.

Orphan Train tells the stories of two teenage girls in different times. Molly is a modern-day teen in foster care who is sentenced to community service for stealing a copy of Jane Eyre. She works off her service by helping an elderly woman, Vivian, clean out her attic. In the process, Vivian relates the story of her own pre-teen and teenage years, when she travelled from New york City to Minnesota on one of the Orphan Trains that transported city orphans to midwest towns in hopes of finding adoptive homes.

For more about the real Orphan Trains, try these links:

Orphan Train Rider Stories

This is lovely collection of people’s recollections of the experience and how it worked out for them. The webpage also has more general information about the program.

One of the “American Experience” films put together by PBS was about The Orphan Trains. At this site, you can find a full transcript of the program, with pictures.





And We’re Back

IMG_0142I haven’t blogged (not even for Between the Lines Book Club, sorry!) for a few weeks because I just had a medication switch that has turned me into a zombie. I am starting to feel more like a very tired person and less like a person who is very heavily sedated. I would like to thank The Great British Bake Off for playing an instrumental role in my recovery and I’d like to ask if the movie Interstellar makes sense to viewers who aren’t extremely medicated, because I did not understand a single thing about that movie but then again I also had trouble remembering my own name.


Bear with me as the synapses do their thing, and in the meantime, love and support to others who have chronic mental and/or physical health problems! I hope that, like me, you have people who encourage you to press on for solutions and who remind you to eat, drink, and shower. I’m in your corner! Check in on Friday for a Between the Lines Book Club post!