Around the Rest of the World in 40 Days {Book Club}

Last Wednesday I got this early morning text from Kimberly:


80 poems

This is part of what I love about reading books in community.

I have to admit, before I chose Around the world in 80 days by Jules Verne I had a faint name recognition for the book; but I’d never read it, had no idea when in time in took place, and had no idea there were movies and poetry books related to it.

But then Kimberly says a poetry book is tied into the title and her text was like a shot of happy juice in my arm. Like a book addict in search of a book hit, I hunted down Around the World in 80 Poems (compiled by James Berry and illustrated by Katherine Lucas). 

If you will be in the US or Canada this summer (or know someone who can mail you books cheap), this one is worth getting and it looks like you can get it for less then three dollars without shipping. I was mildly disappointed the poems were not arranged according to the trip. But on the very good upshot, there are poems from all over the world—including Eastern Europe, South America, and Africa. The illustrations are engaging and reading from poem-to-poem, the reader gets a sense of cultural differences in poetry. Fun for younger kids and I think it would be a good resource for high schoolers needed to analyze poetry.

I absolutely loved the chapter titles in this half of the book! I got to wondering what a story a person would make up if they were just given the titles.

In which Passepartout finds out that, even at the antipodes, it is convenient to have some money in one’s pocket.

In which Passepartout undergoes, at a speed of twenty miles an hour, a course of Mormon history.

In which certain incidents are narrated which are only to be met with on American Railroads.

In which Phileas Fogg engages in a direct struggle with bad fortune.

In which it is shown that Phileas Fogg gained nothing by his tour around the world, unless it were happiness.

I love them!

One of my friends has trained me to ask in a work of fiction: “Who is the Christ figure?” At the beginning of this half of the book I was going back and forth between Passepartout and Phileas Fogg, but I landed on Fogg because of his willingness to consistently pay for others with no expectation of them paying him back. In particular, when Passepartout was separated from the group due to Detective Fix tricking him and Mr. Fogg paid for Detective Fix.

“Fix, seated in the bow, gave himself up to meditation. He kept apart from his fellow-travelers, knowing Mr. Fogg’s taciturn tastes; besides, he did not quite like to talk to the man whose favors he had accepted.” Later in that same chapter, Fix was described as having a “stifled feeling.” How descriptive of a soul who is being wooed by the Holy Spirit, but isn’t yet ready to surrender.

Passepartout endeared me even more when he was willing to do whatever it took (in his case, be a clown), to be reunited with his master, Mr. Fogg. When they were, he was delighted when his watch matched the ship’s clock saying, “I was sure that the sun would some day emulate itself by my watch!”

I was intrigued by the change in Detective Fix from adversary to advocate once they were out of British territory and the arrest warrant no longer being applicable. Have you experienced (either personally or watched someone) make this kind of transformation?

Given the political climate in the US now, I had to chuckle when the party landed in the middle of a political meeting. So much has changed. So little has changed.

I don’t know much about the history of the railroad in the US, so I hadn’t realized that during the American Civil War there was discussion in congress as to whether or not the line should be in the South or where is ended up being. I could picture the train as I read about the different cars. “It was supplied with saloon cars, balcony cars, restaurants, and smoking-cars; theatre cars alone were wanting, and they will have those some day. Book and news dealers, sellers of edibles, drinkables, and cigars, who seemed to have plenty of customers, were continually circulating the aisles.”

Other then the amount of smoke, I think I’d enjoy riding this train. Twice I laughed at the description of Americans:

“It may be taken for granted that, rash as the Americans usually are, when they are prudent there is good reason for it.”


“Passepartout was astounded, and, though ready to attempt anything to get over Medicine Creek, thought experiment proposed a little too American.”

I’m from Denver, so when he mentioned the 50,000 inhabitants, I know it is true for that time period, but it is very hard for me to imagine it!

I knew when they finally arrived in England that Fix would arrest Fogg (ah, definitely the Christ figure), but I was still hoping! And as we drew to the end, I also figured Passepartout and his watch would factor in. I loved the last line of the book.

I’m so thankful to have read this! Thank you for reading with me. How are the family read-alouds going? What stood out to you as you read? What would you like to comment on?

Until the comments,


P.S. Next week we’ll discuss the first half of Right Ho, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse . . . free on Kindle. I haven’t started it yet and heard it’s quite funny. I can’t wait!

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  1. Michele Womble June 15, 2016

    looking for “Who is the Christ figure?”  in fiction – we do that – although we hadn’t actually called it that  – at least Joey and I do, and we share openly with the kids about it – (we also look for themes of redemption, grace, self-sacrifice) but I think I want to be more purposeful about training our kids to look for “Who is the Christ figure?” in both books and movies….

    I am a re-reader (I will re-read and re-watch old favorites over and over and never tire of them), but I realize that almost all the books and movies I want to re-read are the ones where I’ve found Him  – sometimes in surprising ways and places – whether the author meant for Him to be there or not….

    I wasn’t looking for it in this book, though (although I’ve read the book several times, so that ought to tell me something, ha ha!) – I did notice that Fogg was self-sacrificing  – but I didn’t connect him as being a Christ-figure….maybe I was a bit prejudiced against him as far as that goes because he went around the world and never saw it  or even thought of seeing it – but he did see the PEOPLE, didn’t he?

    Seeing him as the Christ figure does make me see the arrest in different shades, as well.

    On a different note – “theatre cars alone were wanting, and they will have these some day”….far sighted, wasn’t he?  because we have inflight movies on planes – and trains – and sometimes even our own personal screens and movie choices – which would be  today’s equivalent to theatre cars.

    1. Michele Womble June 15, 2016

      ….I thought I was late….hmmm…where is everybody? Maybe it’s because we all got carried away and finished the book last week. 🙂

      1. Amy Young June 16, 2016

        I kind of wondered the same thing, but I know it’s a busy season too 🙂

    2. Amy Young June 16, 2016

      Theater cars and movies on planes! Great connection Michele :). He was far sighted!

      And I was also mildly prejudiced against Fogg. I didn’t dislike him, but for most of the book I wasn’t overly drawn to him. But, as you pointed out, he was consistently FOR people.

      1. Michele Womble June 16, 2016

        I didn’t dislike him, either, but he was kind of a dud for me, whereas Passeportout was very interesting….and he saw both the places and the people.  (Remember, he was always relieved and grateful when he realized that Fogg was NOT indifferent to various people’s situations.)  However, if you have to choose between seeing the places but not the people, or seeing the people but not the places, better to choose seeing the people but not the places – Passeportout saw both, Fix – I think he saw neither.  Fogg saw only his task and the people….but also, if he was the Christ figure, there might be meaning in that, too.  Jesus wasn’t here for sightseeing – and didn’t need to anyway, because He created it all, so none of it was new….

        but on the other hand, I like to think He wasn’t indifferent to the beauty and uniqueness of the places He walked while He was here – just like I think He enjoys it when we enjoy seeing the places He has made and the different cultures….

  2. Bayta June 16, 2016

    Those two phrases you quoted – I highlighted those as well as I was reading 🙂 European perception of Americans obviously hasn’t changed much in the past 150 years 🙂

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