Saturday, November 6, 2010

Literary Blog Hop

Have you seen this?  I missed it yesterday, but The Blue Bookcase is hosting a Literary Blog Hop "open to blogs that primarily feature reviews of literary fiction, classic literature, and general literary discussion."

The prompt:  Please highlight one of your favorite books and why you would consider it "literary."

To begin, my over-simplified definition of literary means a novel that offers more than plot. A literary novel features great writing, character development, themes or ideas that cause you to think, or any number of other elements we all learned about in high school English classes.

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner is one of my all-time favorite books.  This was his last novel, written in 1987, and comes to mind every time I hear the words "character development".

The novels follows two couples, who meet in the 1930's at a university faculty party in Wisconsin, through decades of friendship and marriage.  Larry and Sally Morgan, just starting their lives together, are thankful for the new teaching position. Larry dreams of becoming a writer and Sally is pregnant. Charity and Sid Lang seem to have it all - money, social status, and two children, with a third on the way.

The premise of the novel may not sound exciting, but the characters, and the settings, are remarkable and true.  The story of  their friendship and marriages is powerful and beautifully written.

From amazon:
"Crossing to Safety is about loyalty and survival in its most everyday form--the need to create bonds and the urge to tear them apart. Thirty-four years after their first meeting, when Larry and Sally are called back to the Langs' summer home in Vermont, it's as if for a final showdown. How has this friendship defined them? What is its legacy? Stegner offer answers in those small, perfectly rendered moments that make up lives "as quiet as these"--and as familiar as our own."

Visit The Blue Bookcase for links to all participating blogs.


  1. Crossing to Safety is one of my favorite books. It's a beautiful exploration of the mystery of friendship. Why do we bond with some people so naturally? And what does friendship require?
    I read Buddenbrooks too many years ago, when I was too young. After reading Joseph and His Brothers, I bought a copy of Buddenbrooks to reread, but haven't tackled it yet.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  2. I've never heard of this one, but it sounds like one I will need to check out.

  3. Hi JoAnn. What an idyllic blog you have here! Thanks for participating in our hop! I've always been interested in reading Wallace Stegner, because both my mom and her mom absolutely love his writing. I was excited to see you had chosen one of his books to highlight for your Hop post.
    -Ingrid from The Blue Bookcase

  4. Crossing to Safety sounds like an interesting novel.

  5. I have always wanted to read Crossing to Safety. I love character driven fiction. I'm happy I found your delightful bog on this hop.

  6. Your simplified definition of literary is pretty much the same as mine, except i wasn't so concise about it! :D

  7. Like Lisa I ve been wanting to read crossing to safety ,read another review earlier in year ,does sound wonderful ,all the best stu

  8. Sounds enticing. Well written character driven novels can be hard to find.

  9. I'm following your blog after finding you on the blog hop.

    I hadn't heard of this book before, but as I really enjoy character-driven books, I think I would definitely enjoy it. It's going on my to read list!

    Sam at Tiny Library

  10. i haven't heard of this book. Thanky ou for bringing it to my attention.

  11. Wallace Stegner's books are wonderful, I've read all but 2 and enjoyed them very much. But Crossing to Safety amazed me. It's one of my to 5 favorite boks, maybe even better than that! I was thrilled when I saw it here on your blog, JoAnn!

    I have never heard of the Literary Blog Hop but am going to visit and read about it!
    ~ Amy

  12. I need to read this. Stegner's Angle of Repose is in my all-time top five, and I reread it every few years or so.'s been a few years...

  13. Susan - It's so nice to meet another fan of Crossing to Safety! I've been thinking about rereading for the past year or so - hopefully in 2011! I'm planning on Buddenbrooks this winter, too.

    Melissa - Stegner is primarily know for Angle of Repose and his other western books. This is a bit of a departure, but I love it!

    Ingrid - Thanks for stopping by. I hope you get to read Stegner soon - I love his writing!

    Loni - It really is! I'm surprised more people don't know about this one.

    Bibliophiliac - If you love character-driven fiction, I can't think of a better book than Crossing to Safety! Hope you get to read it soon. Thanks for visiting!

    Amanda - I don't have as broad a literary background as many bloggers, so simplified is about all I can manage :-)

  14. Stu - Hope you get to read Crossing to Safety soon. It's a gem! Thanks for stopping by.

    Melody - So true! I love character-driven novels, and this is the best I've read. Thanks for visiting.

    Sam - If you like character-driven novels, then this needs to be on your list! Thanks for following.

    Beachreader - This literary hop is great for adding new books to our lists. Glad you found another for yours!

    Amy - I've only read this and Angle of Repose, but I'm definitely a Stegner fan. So glad to hear you love Crossing to Safety. I didn't know anyone else who had read this before today. This is the first literary blog hop, I think.

    Amy - Yes, you should definitely read this! I loved Angle of Repose, but imo Crossing to Safety is even better. I need to reread it in 2011.

  15. I LOVED Crossing to Safety when a read it several years ago. I do want to read more by Stegner.

  16. I agree - literature is that "something more"; beyond the plot. It's great finding so many literature bloggers via the hop.

    Also, thanks for the heads up about the Madam Bovary's translation! It's on my 100 Books list, so at least I know I'll get a well-written, atmospheric version.

  17. I have three of Stegner's books on my all-time favorite reads list. One of them is Crossing to Safety.

    I thought I was already a follower, but, no, I wasn't....I am now.

  18. I think I will participate in this blog hop. When I first noticed it, I was intimidated, just a bit, because of the word "primarily" when it came to books reviewed on the blog.

    Well, as you know, I have numerous blogs. And eclectic reading tastes. I would probably choose my Curl up and Read blog.

    I like your definition of "literary," which fits mine.

    According to my publisher, the books I have written qualify. So in that sense, the books I usually read also fit.

    (Except for the chick lit ones, which are like dessert).

    Crossing to Safety sounds wonderful.

    Here's my Sunday Salon today:

    Click on my name....

  19. Diane - I think we have very similar tastes in books. I'll be reading Stegner next year, but can't decide between rereading Crossing to Safety or going on to The Big Rock Candy Mountain. Suppose I could do both!

    thefriande - If you're going to read Madame Bovary, be sure it Davis' new translation... so beautiful! Thanks for visiting.

    Readerbuzz - Which of Stegner's other books are your favorites? I also loved Angle of Repose and hope to read The Big Rock Candy Mountain in 2011.

    Laurel-Rain Snow - I've discovered a lot of new blogs through the literary hop this weekend. You should join us!

  20. I've never heard of this book, but you've made me want to read it. I love great character development.

  21. I'm adding this one to my TBR list! I love novels with great character development.

    I also really like your simple definition of "literary"--so easy to interpret and apply!

  22. I love Crossing to Safety! It is so beautifully handled. But Stegner was a master...I like his stories, too. Thank you for this.

  23. I am ashamed to say I have never read anything by Stegner, but I do so like the sound of Crossing to Safety so I will have to add it to my list!

  24. I've never heard of this book, but I'll definitely have to check it out. Thanks for the rec!

  25. This sounds like a great book to read, though as you said the premise may seem bland. Great blog you have here and am glad I hopped over! :)

  26. Bermudaonion - If you love character development, this is definitely your book!

    Erin - My definition of literary is so simple because my background is mostly science. I missed out on all those great lit classes in college :-(

    DS - We seem to have very similar reading tastes! Before the post, I didn't know of anyone who had read this book. I'll be sure to look for Stegner's stories.

    Booklover Book Reviews - I don't know many people who have read Stegner, but he's definitely worth trying. Thanks for stopping by.

    Bookeater - Hope you get a chance to read it sometime... thanks for visiting!

    Birdy - Bland premise, but a really great book :-) Thanks for 'hopping' by!

  27. I've never read anything by Stegner, but I have at least a half dozen of his books on my shelf (thanks to my mom). This one sounds like something I'd really enjoy, so I'll have to give it a try sooner than later. Actually, your review made me think about Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel. I'm about to write a review, so check back and let me know if you agree.

  28. How has this book escaped me for so long?? I've heard of the author but never this book, and it looks reallyyyyy good :)

  29. I've heard of Crossing to Safety before, at least the title, but it just gets lumped in with stuff like Saul Bellow for some reason under 'American writers I can safely ignore'. Well, you've made this sound interesting now! I'm fascinated by how families form friendships so will have to look into it at some point and I've been meaning to read Buddenbrooks too, since it was mentioned...

    I haven't decided if I want to join the literary blog hop yet, but it's been fun to read various people's responses.

  30. Les - Judging from your reviews over the last few years, I really think you'd like Crossing to Safety. I love books where the characters grow and change, and this is the best!

    Kelly - I don't think Crossing to Safety is as well-known as Stegner's other books, but it's definitely my far!

    Carolyn - Ha ha! I love your category "American writers I can safely ignore!" If you are interested in families/friendships, then this is one that can't be ignored. I hope to read Buddenbrooks this winter, too. It's been great to read all the responses from the hop. Thanks so much for commenting.

  31. OMG, I haven't thought about Crossing to Safety or Stegner in years. Maybe I'll make his work my reread choice in 2011. Oh gosh, thanks so much for posting this and reminding me of this book.

  32. Beth F - I'm surprised Crossing to Safety has stuck with me all these years! I'll read Stegner next year, but can't decide between rereading this or trying Big Rock Candy Mountain. Who knows, I may get to both!


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