"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts, August 27

These are my bookish thoughts ...

1. Books in a series.

So, this week I spent a few hours in the car with my daughter. She was listening to the audiobook of The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Veronica Roth. I read it in 2011, the year it was published. After enjoying it immensely I had to wait for each of the sequels, Days of Blood and Starlight (2012) and Dreams of Gods and Monsters (2014.)   With the start of each sequel I'd struggle to remember the characters and the plot lines from the previous book(s). It was so frustrating. As I listened to the book as a captive audience with my daughter, I realized that I had forgotten so many of the details from the first book that would have helped me in understanding subsequent action in later books. It made me think that I should have reread the first book before starting the second, and so on. Who has time for that?

This is not an isolated case. With the popularity of books in a series, I find this to be true with just about everyone I attempt to read. Carly, my daughter, refuses to read books UNTIL the series is complete. That is why she is starting The Daughter of Smoke and Bone now. The third book in the trilogy came out this Spring so now she can safely read one book after the next, if she likes the first book.

I don't know what to do. I want to read the "hot" YA titles so I can be a "hip" librarian, but I don't want to spend all my time reading and then rereading them before I move on.

What do you do about books in a series?

2. Book Challenges

Summer is rapidly coming to an end and with it comes the end of my own 30 Books Summer Challenge.
I am currently reading and listening to three different books which means I'm working on books 25-27 toward the challenge. Not that it matters, but I do like to accomplish what I set out to do and it sure doesn't seem like this one is going to get done.

I'm just barely working on any of my other challenges, too. Why do I sign up for them (or start them myself) when I know how much stress they put on my life?

How about you? How do you handle book challenges? Do you participate in them. Any secret tips you've got for me that will help me avoid them in the future?

3. Can you tell that I am gearing up for school to start next week? You'll notice that my blogging rate goes way down in September, it has already started.

This meme is hosted by Bookishly Boisterous.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Salon, August 24

Weather: Gorgeous. What am I doing inside?

This week: the last week of summer, though I will likely  be back at school nearly or every day.

1500 textbooks, again: Last week my daughter and I "accepted" over 2000 new textbooks to our library system. It was such a relief to finish that task. I didn't go into to school for a few days and when I went back there was a new pile of books waiting for attention. It looks like the same number as we had before. *Sigh. Now I have another pile of over 1500 books to accept. This time I will be working with teachers running in and out of the library as they always do the week before school. *Double sigh.

Seattle: I drove up to Seattle with my daughter on Friday so that she could travel in the HOV lane. She is volunteering at the crisis call center. I read and blogged at Starbucks for two hours, then shifted to Barnes and Noble for another two hours. I have no trouble "hanging out" for four hours. Afterwards we did do a little shopping at Nordstrom Rack and found a few bargains. In fact, Carly is wearing the new dress she found right now and I'm wearing my new earrings.

Classic Club Spin book, Update #1: I am reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez for this event. I had thought I would blog once a week on my progress with the book. After starting it and finding the book a bit confusing I changed my mind. I will just report my progress here. Currently on audio disc four, page 113 of 448. My goal per week is 60 pages so I am a few pages off.

Books read this week:

  • Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn---a surprising ending keeps the reader on toes. I'm still digesting it.
  • Power of ICU by Danny Hill---related to school management. It has some powerful suggestions to change the way things are done.
Currently reading:

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude---as I already mentioned. I am listening to the audiobook.
  • Going Over by Beth Kephart---about the Berlin Wall.
  • In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson---Germany 1933-38. Another audiobook. I'm on disc 6 of 11.
Blessings: in church today the sermon was about how we need to bless those we have contact with every day. So today, blog friends, I send out a blessing to each of you. May your life be fulfilling and may you find ways to be a blessing to others, too!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The What? The Golem and the Jinni.

The Book: The Golem and the Jinni

Author: Helene Wecker--- who was raised Jewish, married to an Syrian-American man. The book combines elements from these two traditions.

Published: Harper Publishing, 2013; Blackstone Audio, 2014.

Summary: Set in New York City in 1899 where two unlikely creatures, a golem and a jinni become friends as they try to live among the human immigrants of the city. It blends mythologies from both Jewish and Arab cultures. The golem was created to be her master's wife, but he dies aboard the ship before it arrives in New York, leaving the golem alone. The jinni is trapped inside a copper flask for a thousand years before being released by a tinsmith in Manhattan's Little Syria. They are both named by their human hosts. The golem is named Chava by a kind rabbi who befriends her. The jinni is named Ahmed by the tinsmith, who takes him on as as an apprentice. Neither Chava nor Ahmed need to sleep so they end up discovering each other as they wander the streets of New York in the night.

The What? Golems are creatures made from clay. Golems are mentioned in the Bible (Psalms 139:16) and refer to an unformed bodies. The most famous golem in literature was created by a rabbi, was named Josef, could make himself invisible, and could summon the dead. A jinni  is a supernatural creature from Islamic mythology. We usually spell it genie. Neither creature was aware of the existence of the other creature until they met each other.

Awards: Winner of the Mythopoeic Award for works in fantasy and mythology; Nominated for a Nebula Award for excellent fantasy/science fiction books; Nominated for Goodreads Choice Awards for Fantasy and for Debut Author.

What reviewers had to say about the book and author:
  • Wecker "writes skillfully, nicely evoking the layers of alienness that fall upon strangers in a strange land."-Kirkus Reviews 
  • "And this impressive first novel manages to combine the narrative magic of “The Arabian Nights” with the kind of emotional depth, philosophical seriousness and good, old-fashioned storytelling found in the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer."---Patricia Cohen, New York Times
  • Wecker has written a novel of ideas, touching on issues from faith to free will, that’s also as entertaining as the fantasies she herself enjoys reading.---Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Length: Most reviewers mentioned the length of the book and how the details became tedious especially when dealing with the jinni's backstory. I didn't mind all the details I just thought that listening to over 20 hours of one story was too much. I should have picked up the print version of the book so I could read ahead faster. (However, George Guidall did a masterful job reading it.) Like in a lot of fantasy books, the details that add length, also add depth and complexity.

My review: I loved this book. It delighted me on so many levels. When I was a young girl I was completely captivated by the 101 Arabian Nights stories. This book, with its mythology and supernatural creatures, reminded me so much of those stories. I recommend it anyone who enjoys a touch of magic in their reading selections.

30 books Summer Reading Challenge

21 / 30 books. 70% done!

Snapshot Saturday...Watermelon eating dog

Muffy, the watermelon-loving dog. We hold the rind for her to eat off the bit of red left on it. She has learned to use her front teeth for this task and she takes it very seriously.

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey by Nick Bertozzi

Sir Ernest Shackleton's odyssey to Antarctica in 1915 is one the most legendary survival stories of all time.
When his expedition arrived aboard the Endurance in Antarctic waters in January 1915 they planned a transcontinental trek. Instead the Endurance got stuck in the ice. Now his party had to wait through the whole winter and hope the ship would survive to transport them home. It didn't. In October, the Endurance broke up in the ice and the men were forced to save themselves making camp on the ice and by dragging the lifeboats until they reached open water. In formidable conditions they navigated two boats to Elephant Island where half the party wintered. Shackleton and several others braved an additional 800-mile trek through stormy seas to reach South Georgia Island, which was inhabited by a few whalers. In all not a single man was lost or died. It is truly an amazing survival story, one we would expect to read about in a novel, not real life.

Now Nick Bertozzi has brought the Shackleton story to life again through his excellent graphic biography. He wanted the book to not only tell Shackleton's story but wanted it to honor all the men on the expedition and their contributions. It was amazing how they helped each other to stay positive and cheerful is the face of the gravest situation. They played games, acted out plays, and hunted. One of the men was willing to go back on board the Endurance, even though it was clear that it was breaking up, to rescue the deck of cards.

Nick Bertozzi's drawings bring Shackleton's story to a new generation. Can you imagine why anyone would have answered this ad, run in the London papers in early 1914 to join him as crew on the journey?
"MEN WANTED: FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL. HONOUR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS. -SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON"  Yet 28 men did answer the ad. Bertozzi honors their stories as well. They all survived and everyone credits the sheer force of will of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

For more on the voyage of the Endurance, check out this website.

My only complaint about the book probably says more about me than about the artwork. I wished that the words were larger in the text boxes. Ha! Guess you can tell who has aging eyes.

30 books Summer Reading Challenge

20 / 30 books. 66% done!

Friday Memes---August 22

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. 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. I'm reading---

Book: Going Over by Beth Kephart

Book Beginnings:
We live with ghosts. We live with thugs, dodgers, punkers, needle ladies, pork knuckle. We live where there is no place else to go.

Friday 56:
I'm not supposed to be here with Savas, but he is beside me, my warrior boy on my best friend's bike, trying to be brave and fearless. Is fear here?

My thoughts: The book is set in both West and East Berlin in 1983. Savas is a preschooler who has run away from home and the narrator is a teen who is railing against presence of The Wall. It has taken me about 50 pages to understand how the book is organized, with alternating chapters and points of view. I'm hoping to learn more about Berlin and how the wall separated the city.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

50th Anniversary---Beatles in Seattle

August 21, 1964 The Fab Four visited Seattle.

My sister's best friends sister went to the concert. Even as a seven year old I was jealous. I remember asking her all the details of the concert when she got back home.

The ticket price for the concert was $5. Ah, those were the days!

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts, August 20

Lots of bookish things to talk about this week.
Bookishly Boisterous is the host of this meme.

1. Both my book clubs met this week. The SOTH book club discussed MY STROKE OF INSIGHT written by a young woman with a PhD in brain anatomy, Jill Bolte Taylor, who has a stroke at age 37. We had a gal in our church who is still recovering from a stroke and she is 35. She joined us for our club and the brought a lot of examples and life experiences to the fascinating topic and discussion. We all got something out of the book and will recommend it to others.

2. My second club, RAM LADIES, discussed Fannie Flagg's The All-Girl Filling Station's Reunion here at my house earlier today. I served lemon poppy seed cake, lemonade, and limoncello liqueur. Catch the theme? (I bought, but forgot to serve lemon gelato.) I found the information about the W.A.S.P. (Women Airforce Service Pilots) of WWII to be the most interesting part of the book. Over 1000 women flew planes in service to the country during WWII but were not granted veteran status until 1977. In fact, most people don't even know about their service because the records were sealed for 35 years after 1944.

3. I've started listening to another audiobook about WWII, this one is a nonfiction account of the early days of Hitler, In the Garden of Beasts: Love Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson. I seem to have an insatiable appetite for books about WWII. This book covers the time period of 1933-8 about American Ambassador Dodd and his family.
The William Dodd family
4. I finished listening to The Golem and the Jinni, which took over 20 hours but I LOVED the book...it is sort of a fairy tale, Arabian Nights, historical fiction.

5. I watched the movie Napoleon Dynamite today while I was making the lemon cake. That has to be the quirkiest movie ever. "Napoleon, give me some of your tots." I love tater tots, so I always laugh at that line the hardest.

6. My daughter has been watching Dr. Who on BBC America. This part of the series started in 2005 but before that it was on TV from 1963-1989. The 12th doctor will be revealed on Saturday. I admit that the show is rather addicting.

7. The GKHS library is a lovely, sunny spot in the school. I have several large plants that love it there and grow and grow. I pruned one of the plants way back earlier this summer because the weight of the leaves, hanging over the side of the shelf, were actually pulling the pot over. Several other plants have gotten to the point of just being ugly, scraggy things. With that in mind I dropped by a local nursery yesterday and purchased a few new plants to replace the ugly ones. Now I have to haul some dirt up to school to repot them. Often, when students catch me watering the plants, they exclaim that they thought the plants were fake because they are so big.

Plants ready for transport: croton, dragon plant, dieffenbachia

Monday, August 18, 2014

TTT: Book people tell me I must read

Here is my list of books people and friends have told me to I should read:

1. A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry---I've actually told people to read this book yet I haven't read it myself.

2. Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien---students have been telling me to read this series, this is #1, for years.

3. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry---I've actually read about 100 pages of this book but so many people have told me to read it, I know I must finish it.

4. Goldfinch by Donna Tartt---Several people have said they like this book but honestly I doubt I will read it because it is so long.

5. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston---once again, I started this book several years ago and didn't finish it. My sister is encouraging me to read it because it is such beautiful imagery.

6. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King---I was assured that this book isn't scary by my blogging friend who recommended it.

7. American Gods by Neil Gaiman---Students and other teachers have been telling me to read this book since I became a librarian.

8. The Wheels of Time series by Robert Jordan---there are lots of fanatics for this series out there.

9. The Game of Thrones by George R R Martin---so many people are watching this show and the book is popular, too. But I am not watching the show so I don't know what all the fuss is about.

10. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Beauty by David Eggers---It has been on my list for so long I can't even remember who told me to read this book.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Salon...August 17

Weather: Light breeze, temperature in the high 70s, beautiful blue skies, humidity low.

On our trip to Italy we bought the lovely etching which reminds us of the Italian countryside (see above.) We just hung it on the wall in the dining room and sighed, happy and content in our memories.

Dog Days of Summer: where did that phrase come from? It is such an odd saying that doesn't seem to relate to anything. I looked it up. Don't you love the Internet for things like this? Dog days run from July 6 to August 17 (some calendars say from July 24-August 24) and are associated with the rising of the dog star, Sirius. These are typically the hottest, driest days of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. These are the days that I am reminded of a Barbara Kingsolver quote about the flowers looking tired of growing.

2200 books plus: I went in to school every day last week and starting processing the 2000+ that the district has sent to the school over the summer for the new English curricula. I not only have to scan the books in to accept them, but also must find space for them on the textbook shelves. No easy task.

Family vacation: the week before last we spent a family-full vacation in Central Oregon. The weather was warm (not too hot) and the fellowship was wonderful. We suspect that this will be the last such vacation with my parents since they are the ones who have cobbled together all the vacation points to make this level of vacationing possible. In the photo, below, I am reading driving the golf cart while my husband and brother-in-law are playing golf.

Summer reading challenge: making progress on my goal of 30 books. I am currently reading book #22, and listening to #23. Summer ends on Labor Day. It will be a push to finish 8 books in two weeks, can I do it? Go. Go. Go.

Classic Club Spin: I joined the spin this year because I want to force myself to read more of the classics. The directions were to create a list of 20 classics and then on October 11 there would be a spin to determine which number would be the book to read. It was suggested to choose books from the list from those highly desirable and also dreaded ones.  I added a few of those "dreaded" books and even identified one book, One Hundred Years of Solitude, as one I especially dreaded. Guess which one I got? Correct. I will now be reading One Hundred Years of Solitude and hope to have it finished by October 6th. Look for my weekly updates.

Books read this week:
  • Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer---my favorite YA book read this summer. Check out my review here.
  • The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely---A YA novel about the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church. A tough topic. Read my review here.
  • The Golem and Jinni by Helene Wecker---I finally finished this book after listening to over 20 hours of the audiobook. Review pending.
  • Shackleton: An Antarctic Odyssey by Nick Bertozzi---a graphic biography of this famous explorer and his famous trip to Antarctica in 1915. Review pending.
Currently reading:
  • Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn---another YA novel about a troubled teen.
  • In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson---nonfiction about an American diplomat in Germany as Hitler is coming to power.
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez---here I go. 10 pages down out of 490.
I totally want this: Encyclopedia Britannica 61 volume set of classics of Western culture. So booky of me.

Love the message of this hymn: For the Beauty of the Earth. Here is verse four which reminds me of the week I just spent with my family:
For the joy of human love, 
brother, sister, parent, child, 
friends on earth and friends above, 
for all gentle thoughts and mild; 
Lord of all, to thee we raise 
this our hymn of grateful praise.

Have a lovely week!