"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, April 25, 2016

TTT: Bookworm Delights

Hosted by Broke and Bookish
Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Delights that really make my day.

1. When students get excited about a book I place on hold just for them!
Occasionally I will place holds on books for particular readers in hopes they will like it or want to read it. It really toots my horn if they get all excited about it. This happened just today. A girl was so excited that I thought of her when I realized she hadn't read the 2nd book in the series in which she had read the first.

2. When people enjoy a book I recommended.
Similar to the first delight. I also like having a book in common with a friend

3. Discovering the title of the book within the text.
This just happened last week when I was reading the YA novel, The Memory of Light. The title was revealed in a poem...and you know how much I love poetry.

4. Sharing literary moments with my family members.
Example, my daughter and I attended an evening with Billy Collins, the poet, on Friday night. We will forever share the memory of that evening.

5. Book Clubs
I am in two clubs and love them both. I enjoy the discussions we have and the books we read that are often out of my comfort zone.

6. Perusing Indy Bookstores, including used bookstores.
I enjoy wandering around, reading the little recommendation cards, and noting the books on display. I almost always find some treasure.
7. Watching movies created from books after I've read them.
I especially like it when my husband leans over during the movie and whispers the question, "What happens next?" I like knowing the answer.

8. Discovering literary trinkets where I don't expect them.
A mug of famous first lines from books in a museum store; Jane Austen paper dolls in the paper/card shop; banned books earrings in a shop at the airport...

9. Literary trivia games.
I don't necessarily do that well on the games, but I sure enjoy the challenge.

10. Attending author events,
where the author not only talks about the research done for the book but reads aloud. (See also #4, because these events are best if family members are present, too.)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Salon and Dewey 24 Hour Readathon Finale

Weather: Rain, thunder/lightning, hail.

Dewey 24 Hour Readathon (Modified): This weekend I participated in the readathon which was designed to take place in an actual 24 hour period. I decided to modify the plan and attempt to read for 24 hours over the whole weekend, Friday afternoon to Sunday night. It is currently 8:30 PM and if my calculations are correct I spent 21 1/2 hours actually reading or listening to an audiobook, a personal record. (And there are still a few hours in the day, so I may squeeze in another hour.)

My readathon details:
1. Hours spent reading: 21.5 to 22 hrs.
2. Books completed:

  • The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters (YA, print)
  • The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork. (YA, audio)
  • Sailing Around the Room: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins. (Poetry)
  • All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness by Sheila Hamilton. (Nonfiction, memoir)
  • Blizzard: The Storm that Changed America by Jim Murphy. (Junior, nonfiction)
  • Jackaby by William Ritter. (YA, print)

3. Books started and my progress:
  • Lit Up: One Reporter, Three Schools, Twenty-Four Books That Can Change Lives by David Denby, page 48, 16%.
  • Golden Boys by Sonya Harnett, audiobook, track 13 of 31
4. Books I decided to abandon:
  • Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey. I've been working on this book for eight months. After reading an additional 30 pages or so this weekend I decided I am just not "into" it right now and will give myself permission to stop.
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. After reading two pages I made the decision to set this one aside. I will try it later in audiobooks.
5. My thoughts:
     After this weekend I realized something about myself, I don't usually dedicate long periods of time to reading. For someone who thinks of herself as a reader, isn't it odd it took so long to gain this insight?

Billy Collins and Aimee Mann: Poetry and Music at the Broadway Center in Tacoma on Friday night. Pinch me. I love Billy Collins poetry. It was a perfect event for me this National Poetry Month. In preparation for the event I read his poetry collection Ballistics.

Faith in Action Weekend: In addition to the readathon, this weekend was our church's Faith in Action weekend where members fan out in the community to volunteer our services. I spent Saturday at the local Food Bank repackaging food. Sunday Carly and I worked on the Days for Girls project which is a sewing project to build kits for personal hygiene products for girls in impoverished areas of the world. We ended the day at a community meal and celebration. This is why I couldn't do the readathan all-day Saturday.

Next readathon is in October. Want to join me?

Dewey 24 Hour (Modified) Readathon Update

1st update:

Here I am several hours into my 24 hours readathon. I've modified the experience to include the whole week-end in an attempt to actually get in 24 hours of reading into a weekend already full of other activities. Here is my update:

Hours spent reading or listening to audiobooks so far: 6 1/2 hrs.

Books Completed: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters.

Currently Reading and Progress made:
  • Sailing Around the Room: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins. Currently on page 65, which is about 40% of the book. I went to see Billy Collins read his own poems last night. More on that later!
  • Jackaby by William Ritter. Currently on page 109, about 1/3rd of the way done. This author will be in Tacoma next Saturday for the Cavalcade of Authors West. I hope to meet him.
  • The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork. This is an audiobook. I listened to 2 1/2 hours of this yesterday and I have a little less than two hours left.
  • Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey. I've been working on this book for months but today I read around 20 pages. My goal is to complete at least two chapters of it this week-end.
  • Golden Boys by Sonya Harnett. Another audiobook. This is the one Carly and I listened to this driving and from the Billy Collins event last night. Progress: 40 minutes.
Now I am off to assist at the local food bank. Next update 6 pm PDT. Bye!

Update#2: What's new since my initial posting (Saturday, 8:30 PM)

Hours spent reading or listening to audiobooks since last update: 6 1/2 hrs. for a total of 13 hours so far.

Books completed:
  • The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork. This is an audiobook. I listened to last two hours of it en route to my volunteering position today and when I got home.
  • All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness by Sheila Hamilton. Wow. I learned a lot. I will review this book for you early next week.
Progress on other books:
  • Sailing Around the Room: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins. Currently on page 93, only 20 or so pages since the last update. I may have to set this book aside until tomorrow morning. My brain is tracking on the poems tonight.
  • I've made no additional progress on the other books I reported earlier.
Up next:
  • Finish books I've currently started.
  • Lit Up by David Denby
  • Blizzard by Jim Murphy
  • The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

I know lots of participants are entering hour 13+ in one day and I admire your strength to do the whole challenge in one day, but I am pretty proud of myself for the progress I have made and think it will be possible to actually read for a total of 24 hours this week-end. I've got plenty of reading materials. Believe me.

I'm back at it. Bye!

Update#3...What's new since my last update.  (Sunday, 11 AM)

Hours spent reading or listening to audiobooks since last update:  5 hrs. for a total of 18 hours.

Books Completed:

  • Jackaby by William Ritter. A YA paranormal mystery. Fun!
  • Blizzard: The Storm that Changed America by Jim Murphy. A Junior nonfiction book about the blizzard of 1888 in New York.
Progress on other books:

  • Sailing Around the Room: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins. On page 152, 88%. I read out many poems to the family as we ate breakfast.
  • Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey.  I finished a tedious chapter and have 20 pages left on the next chapter. It was my goal to get these two chapters finished today. Then I will be a little over half way done with the book.
I'm off to my second volunteering opportunity of the week-end. I hope I still have 6 hours of reading in me when I get home. Tootles!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Friday Quotes, April 22

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

Check out the links for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't select their favorite, coolest, or most intellectual books, they just use the one they are currently reading. This is the book I'm reading right now---

Title: Lit Up: One Reporter. Three Schools. Twenty-Four Books that Can Change Lives. by David Denby

Book Beginnings:
The First Days of English 10G: A teacher was speaking. "As we develop a community here, and I see you thinking about a text, your voice is as important as my voice. What you say is as important as what I say."
Friday 56:
The discussion turned to happiness. The people in Huxley's new world are drugged and sated. But is it real? Can there be such a thing as false happiness? "Leonardo," Mr. Leon said, "would you rather be unhappy or falsely happy?"
Comment: I WISH I had had a good English lit class. I hope to learn a ton from this book.

I have decided to join in the fun and attempt to read for 24 hours this coming week-end.
Because of prescheduled activities on Saturday I've decided to extend my reading time from Friday through Sunday but hope to participate in a few of fun activities on Saturday.

Let the reading begin.
Stayed tuned. Watch my progress.

If you'd like to join up and read the official site visit:
Dewey 24 Hour Readathon

My reading plan:
Finish the three books I am currently reading:
1. The Steep and Thorny Way
2. The Memory of Light
3. Sailing Around the Room
Start and make good progress (even finish, if possible):
a. Lit Up
b. Between the World and Me
Read at least a chapter:
*Vanishing Grace
*New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver 

2016 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction: The Sympathizer

2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

From the New York Times page announcing all the Pulitzer Prize winners of 2016:

Viet Thanh Nguyen
“The Sympathizer” (Grove Press)
Viet Thanh Nguyen, 45, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his debut novel, “The Sympathizer,” which opens in 1975 in Saigon and is narrated by “the captain,” a Communist sympathizer who escapes to Los Angeles and spies on a South Vietnamese group he has infiltrated.
Part satire, part espionage thriller and part historical novel, “The Sympathizer” grew out of Mr. Nguyen’s desire to “write a novel that would allow me to explore the complexity of the Vietnam War, through all eyes;it’s meant to be entertaining and provocative.”
“Get in Trouble,” a short story collection by Kelly Link
“Maud’s Line,” a novel by Margaret Verble
I have just added this book to my Pulitzer Challenge. Sounds like a good one.

Today is poem-in-your-pocket day

Today, as part of National Poetry Month, is Poem-In-Your-Pocket Day. The premise is to incorporate poetry into every aspect of your life. Today surprise your co-workers, friends, and family members by pulling out a poem and reading it to them! Share it on Twitter #pocketpoem, Facebook, Instagram, you name it! Get the poem out into the world.

Here is a link to Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day resources

My pocket poem is "The Moment" by Marie Howe. It is about a moment when life and all its buzy-ness seems to stand still with "no what-have-I-to-do-today" lists.

What poem are going to carry in your pocket today?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Poetry and Poets: Billy Collins

Last week I participated in one of those blog linky activities. The topic was poetry. Participants were asked to identify some of their favorite poems and poets. (See my answers here.) For poets I listed, among others, Billy Collins as one of my favorites. Then I was shocked when other participants said they had never heard of him before. How could have a self-identified poetry lover not heard of Billy Collins, I scoffed.

Billy Collins was identified as "the most popular poet in America" by Bruce Weber of the New York Times. He also served as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001-2003. In that role he was asked to write a poem about the events of September 11th when the Twin Towers fell. He delivered it to a combination of both houses of Congress. His poems are witty and accessible for the common man. In fact, Collins describes his own poetry as "suburban, domestic, and middle class." Best of all I can understand the poems when I read them! Ha.

As I was nurturing my snotty "I know about Billy Collins and you don't" attitude, a fleeting thought entered my head, "But Anne, you haven't read any of his poetry books, either." That thought knocked me back a pace or two. It also caused me to stop and analyze how I do know about him and why I like his poetry.  It all started with Poetry Out Loud. As the school coordinator of P.O.L. I often do presentations in English classes about reciting poetry from memory. I always show the following recitation of Billy's poem, "Forgetfulness" by one of the past winners of the National Poetry Out Loud contest, Jackson Hille. It is really obvious that Hille understands the poem he is reciting, which is an important part of the scoring. Take the time to listen. It is a delight.

Students are all very attracted to this poem because it is humorous even though the topic is serious.

The second way I knew about Billy Collins is by the volumes of poetry in my library, in particular two volumes edited by Collins called Poetry 180 and 180 More. These two volumes, crammed full of fun poems, are designed to be the type of poems one would enjoy reading every day. In the Forward from Poetry 180, Billy Collins includes his own poem, "Introduction to Poetry" which is one I recommend each teacher read before they teach a poetry unit. It starts with: 
I ask them to take a poem
 and hold it up to the light
 like a color slide
Collins, the poet, shares what he hopes with his poems...
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem...
but it ends with these lines, which is clearly not a good thing...
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Just this past week, I learned that Billy Collins will be in Tacoma on this Friday night, April 22nd. Woot. Woot. Guess who will be there dragging her daughter along for company? Right-o. Me!

(Click on this link for the Broadway Center for details about the program.)

But it was not until I learned about the program that I finally decided to read one of his poetry volumes. I am currently 3/4th of the way through Ballistics: Poems published in 2008. I've been marking up the slim volume with post-it notes because I want to go back and reread or share these poems with others. For example, last night I read "Greek and Roman Statuary" to my daughter. When we traveled in Italy a few years ago we noticed how many statues are missing body parts. Collins must have noticed the same thing since this poem begins with these funny lines:
The tip of the nose seemed the first to be lost,
then the arms and legs,
and later the stone penis if such a thing were featured.

We all had a good laugh over this one, though my daughter, who took an art history class, reminded us the penis removal was done on purpose.

In the poem from which the book is entitled, "Ballistics", Collins muses over about a photograph of a bullet passing through a book. Instead of admiring the photograph he starts thinking about the book, wondering what book was destroyed for the shot. He decides it was "a recent collection of poems written/by someone of whom I am not fond/and that the bullet must have passed through/his writing with little resistance." Ha! What a funny and fun poem. I, too, would be worried about the book.

In the poem "The Poems of Others" he confesses he can't get the poems written by others out of his head. Me, too! I am constantly walking around trying to figure out the actual words of favorite poems, or just repeating to myself favorite phrases. This is what I love about poetry---when I find myself in the poems.

Collins doesn't just connect with me, he attempts to draw in all his readers. He describes himself as "reader conscious....I have one reader in mind, someone who is in the room with me, and who I'm talking to..." (Poetry Foundation). Perhaps this is why I consider Collins one of my favorite poets. It is as if he and I are sitting in the kitchen and just talking to each other.

I am enjoying this volume of Collins' poems very much. I encourage you to do a bit of investigation of his poems, too. (Click the link above Ballistics to see a YouTube video of Billy reading the poem to a Poetry Club.)



Monday, April 18, 2016

TTT: Humorous books

Hosted at Broke and Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday: These books should make you laugh...

1. The Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
This book is hard to describe. There are hilarious, hilarious parts but while you are laughing you will realize there is a dark undertone. Isn't that always the case with good humor?
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
This book is not only funny, it is very silly. Consider the names of the characters: Zaphod Beeblebrox; Slartibartfast; Ford Prefect, and Dirk Gently.
3. The Rosie Project by Graeme  Simsion
Don Tillman, a college professor with undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome, sets out to find a perfect mate. His foibles will keep you laughing.
4. Going Bovine by Libba Bray.
Bray has to be one of the funniest YA authors out there. This book is so zany and creative, yet also very poignant.
5. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
This book is a memoir about Bryson's experiences walking the Appalachian Trail. Bryson is a very funny man and his book reflect it. Also consider his book about Australia, In a Sunburned Country. I can bring up scenes from my memory which make me laugh just to think of them.
6. Winterdance by Gary Paulsen
Another memoir. This one about Paulsen training his dogs and then running the Iditarod race. This is laugh-out-loud stuff. I mean it.
7. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
This guy writes stuff that is way off in left field. His books are so, so zany and different. I guarantee you will laugh and you will cringe. Also try 100 Sideways Miles, The Alex Crow, and Winger. All are fun and funny in their own way.
8. Couch by Benjamin Parzybok
This is Lord of the Rings, except the ring is a couch, and it is set in Portland, Oregon. This book really appeals to my quirky reading tastes.
9. Bossypants by Tina Fey
What a funny comedienne and a funny book.
10. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
My daughters and I can recall lines from this book and laugh about them today as if we read it yesterday. A delight.
Bonus. Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
My husband and I read this little book together and just howled with laughter. 

Can't wait to see the lists for this topic on others' blogs.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Salon, April 17th

May you experience each day/as a sacred gift/woven around the heart of wonder. -O'Donohue
Weather: Lovely. It was a perfect work-in-the-yard temperature yesterday. It should be the same today.

For your listening enjoyment. Cue the music. "Toccata from Symphony No. 5" by Charles Marie Widor. This is not the type of music I usually listen to but this is the piece played at Charlie's memorial service and I was swept up my the majesty of it. It you ever get a chance to hear this piece played in a sanctuary with a pipe organ, take it.  Listen to a bit while you read the rest of my blog post.

Today: We have tickets for Saturday Night Fever, the Musical at our local theater. I have recently been obsessed with disco music specifically that music from the movie Saturday Night Fever because of the book I recently finished Burn Baby Burn by Medina, which is set in 1977, during the disco era. I am so excited to go to this musical today.

National Poetry Month: To celebrate poetry I have been pulling out all the stops (to use a pipe organ term.) Here are a few things I've done:
  • Sidewalk poems in chalk. See photos. The rain earlier this week washed them away so i will have to go out and do it again.
  • Created a list of poetry-related activities I hope to do/accomplish this month. It was picked up by Teaching with Heart, Fire and Poetry and was published by them. Take a look at it by clicking the link.
  • Participated in a Poetry Questionnaire. See my answers about favorite poems and poets by clicking on the link.
  • Created a display about poetry and poems in my library case. Included are books, poems, posters, and quotes about the value of poetry. I never know if my displays attract the attention I hope they do but I will prevail and keep hoping.
Thatching the lawn and defrosting the freezer. Sometimes life is just filled up with mundane tasks. That was yesterday.

Only one book completed this week: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. This classic novel about old New York was my classics club spin book of the quarter; part of the Women's Classic Literature event; and a Pulitzer Prize winner (1921.) Check out my review by clicking on the link.

Currently only reading one book (a rarity): The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters. A YA novel set in Oregon in the 1930s which racism and the KKK were active in the area.

A poem for your enjoyment:
"Song of the Builders" by Mary Oliver (from Why I Wake Early)

On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God-

a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside

this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope

it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing/there is a field./I'll meet you there. -Rumi