"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, November 18, 2019

TTT: Changes to my reading habits since I retired

Top Ten Tuesday: Changes to my reading habits since I retired over two years ago

1. As a teen librarian I used to read mainly YA titles. Now that I am retired most of my selections are not YA, though I haven't given up them completely.

2. Because I now have some extra time on my hands I have volunteered to be a Cybils Award judge for the past two years and will be participating as a second-round judge again this year.  Cybils= Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards. I've been a judge for Junior High/Senior High Nonfiction books. Last year I had to read over 60 titles in less than three months. I learned so much along the way.

3. I listen to fewer audiobooks than I used to because I used to listen to them during my commute to work. Now that I am not commuting I try to listen to audiobooks while I walk the dog but I just don't get through as many books in this format as I used to.

4. I am more likely to not finish books that I don't enjoy than I used to. I guess I don't feel like I have to answer to anyone anymore except myself.

5. I have read a whole lot more board books since retirement and becoming a grandma happened simultaneously. This is pure joy for me, rereading books I read to my daughters when they were little and discovering new gems.

6. I have started several personal challenges.
7. Surprisingly, I now read more books from my own shelves. I guess this shouldn't be surprising since I used to have a whole library at my fingertips. Now I have to drive to get to the public library. Why not just grab a book here in the house already?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Review and quotes: The Canterville Ghost

 Title: "The Canterville Ghost" by Oscar Wilde

Book Beginnings:
When Mr. Hiram B. Otis, the American Minister, bought Canterville Chase, every one told him he was doing a very foolish thing, as there was no doubt at all that the place was haunted. Indeed, Lord Canterville himself, who was a man of the most punctilious honour, had felt it his duty to mention the fact to Mr. Otis when they came to discuss terms.
Friday 56 (from Chapter 6):
"Good heavens! child, where have you been?" said Mr. Otis, rather angrily, thinking that she had been playing some foolish trick on them. "Cecil and I have been riding all over the country looking for you, and your mother has been frightened to death. You must never play these practical jokes any more."
"Except on the Ghost! except on the Ghost!" shrieked the twins, as they capered about.
Summary: "The Canterville Ghost" was Wilde's first published story. It was originally published in two parts in the Court and Society Review in February and March of 1887. When the Otis family move into Canterville Chase they were forewarned about the ghost that haunted the place and indeed the very first night in their new home, they notice a spot on the carpet that the housekeeper assures them is blood but one she is unable to remove. When Mr Otis is able to remove the stain with Pinkerton's Champion Stain Remover they think all will go well. But the next morning, the stain is back. Several nights later the ghost decides to scare the new tenants to death. But when he breaks out his rattling chains routine, guaranteed to give anyone a fright, he is met by Mr. Otis himself holding a small bottle of Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator. He urges the ghost to use it unsparingly and the squeak should go away. From that point forward the whole family finds ways to flummox the ghost, who continues to try all his tricks at haunting the house and scaring the family. Now the trickster is having tricks played on him and he doesn't like it. One day the oldest daughter, Virginia, happens upon the ghost and decides to help him instead of playing another trick on him. For her help, she is richly rewarded.
As the ghost enters the room, a bucket of water tumbles onto his head to the delight of the twins.  Illustrations by Wallace Goldsmith, 1906.

Review: I really can't read horror novels or short stories because they honestly give me nightmares. But I decided to give "The Caterville Ghost" a try since I got a free copy of the audiobook/story and it is short. If I didn't like it, I figured, I wouldn't have wasted much time. I found, to my delight, that the book wasn't scary at all. In fact, it is quite funny. If you are looking for a funny ghost story, here it is.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Nonfiction November: Be the Expert

This is week three of Nonfiction November. The question of the week is what books, on a theme, make me an "expert". I put expert in quotes because I do not feel like an expert, but I will recommend these three books on MORTALITY.

1. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande---the author is a physician and a son of aging parents. Each chapter tackles tough topics that people who are aging, and their caregivers, have to confront near the end-of-life. The book is so helpful. I listened to the audiobook, bought a copy for my parents, and urged my siblings to do the same. My husband used some of the suggested conversation tools with his father prior to his death. We are all mortal. We will all die. The question is can we die on our own terms?

2. The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe---Schwalbe and his mother form a two-person book club after she is diagnosed with cancer. Schwalbe makes time in his schedule to take his mother to doctor appointments and for her chemo treatments. During the long, waiting around hours the two discuss books they have both decided to read. In the process of reading and discussing these books the mother-son team become closer and Schwalbe becomes an advocate for his mother's care. I think we all wish we could spend quality time with our loved ones before their death. This book is a blueprint for doing just that.

3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi---the author, another doctor, is diagnosed with lung cancer. This book looks at mortality from both the doctor's point of view and from the patients'. The book is heartbreaking because we see the downfall of health and tightening up of dreams. Kalanithi dies before the book is finished so his wife takes up the task of finishing it for him. If you think that life is long and you don't need to worry about your mortality until a later date, this is a book to jar that notion loose in your head. No one knows when their time will come for self or for loved ones. Live your life accordingly.

Oddly all three books have very boring book covers.

Do you know any good books on the topic of mortality?

Monday, November 11, 2019

TTT: Favorite bookmarks

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite bookmarks.

I use any scrap of paper which is convenient when I need a bookmark. Often the hold notice from the library ends up being the paper I use. But if I think ahead I will grab an official bookmark, or an unofficial one.  See what I mean below.

1. I often use my ticket stubs from plays we've attended. I laughed when I found the CATS ticket this week since we saw that play over ten years ago.

2. I created these bookmarks for Jane Austen Week in the library. They each have a quote from one of the books by my favorite author. 

3. I like fancy bookmarks. Who doesn't? The one on the left is a homemade one with cut paper design. The Japanese kimono-wearing girl was purchased at the UN gift store in NYC many years ago. She is still protected by plastic wrap.

4. I often cut up greeting cards making the scraps into bookmarks. In fact, this is probably the most common type of bookmark that I use. When I went searching for examples today, however, this is the only I could find. It is from a birthday card given to me and doctored by my husband. So sweet.

5. I collect bookmarks where ever I go: bookstores, libraries, museums, and gift stores.

6. I was given a bunch of these bookmarks when my birthday gift arrived: my thumbprint made from titles of my favorite books. I don't love the bookmarks but they remind me of something I do love. 


Friday, November 8, 2019

Review and quotes: Mother Daughter Me

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

The book I just finished reading (with a summary and review):

Title: Mother Daughter Me by Katie Hafner

Book Beginnings quote: (from Prologue)
My longing for her was always there. What I wanted more than anything was my mother's attention. I plotted and campaigned. I hatched plans. I pleaded. Then, just when I thought I had her, she would slip from my grasp.
Friday 56 quote:
"She's a teenager," I say quickly. Anticipating a rebuttal I have no desire to hear, I take the unusual step of cutting my mother off. "Mom, you have never raised a teenager." We're both a little stunned as we take in the implications of what I've said. Then she looks me squarely in the eye. "You're right."
Summary: The author, Katie Hafner, decides to move her mother in to live with she and her daughter after the mother's long-time boyfriend is moved into a care facility. The only problem is that Ms. Hafner and her mother haven't really lived together since Hafner was ten and she removed from the mother's home due to neglect brought on by alcoholism. When the move goes smoothly Hafner rejoices that she will finally have the relationship with her mother that she has always wanted. But it doesn't take long from this notion to be dispelled. Hafner's daughter and mother are at odds almost immediately and the author has to admit that she has latent feelings of anger left over from a childhood of neglect. The book probes the depths of their family life and looks forward to a future that neither one predicted.

Review: Mother Daughter Me is a memoir written by Hafner in real time as her mother moves in and as they try to navigate living together after a lifetime of pain and neglect. Hafner, who used to write for the New York Times, is a good writer and I felt pulled into her world immediately. I cheered on their efforts to make things work out but wasn't surprised when they called the new living arrangement quits before the first year was out. I kept thinking about the Stevenson quote, "Are we the sum total of our worst acts?" Hafner's mother was a horrible, neglectful, alcoholic when Hafner was young. When she finally got clean and sober, Hafner was grown and living on her own. Yet, Hafner and her older sister could not quite get rid of their past memories and to some degree want to punish their mother for what was. The mother's reaction to her daughter's nonverbal cues, that she was still a screw-up, were predictable. 

I am not sure I would have read this book if it weren't a book club selection. That said, I know we will have a lot to talk about at the club meeting. One of the questions I hope to probe is the notion of care. When people aren't good parents to their children isn't it natural that these children don't want to care for their parents in old age? I also want to discuss the deleterious effects on children of divorce. When Hafner reads a book on this subject she finally finds some of the answers she has been seeking. The last question I hope gets asked is how might the writing of this book helped or hurt the new relationship between mother and daughter. As I read I kept wondering how Hafner could remember conversations and feelings about current events so clearly. Then at the end of the book, she reveals that she started writing it before the mother moved in with them. Her publisher thought it would make for an interesting book---the melding of three generations under one roof. Though not a favorite book, I think it has a lot to say about our relationship with our parents and how those relationships change, and should change, as we age.

SOTH book club, November selection
Nonfiction November selection

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Nonfiction November, week 2

Well, hello! I missed week one but here I am participating in a nonfiction reading challenge for the month of November, and this is week two. This week's topic: Pair nonfiction titles with matching fiction titles. I decided to narrow it down even more. This week I am listing nonfiction and fiction titles on similar themes by the same author.

Themes: LGBTQ and Mental Health Issues

Themes: Rape and Depression

Theme: Native American Issues

 Theme: Spirituality, finding one's way

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

TTT: Audiobooks I've listened to this autumn

Top Ten Tuesday: Theme---Autumn

These are the audiobooks I've listened to this autumn so far:

  • 1. Inland (my current audiobook)
    • by Téa Obreht
    • read by Euan Morton, Edoardo Ballerini and Anna Chlumsky
    • My thoughts so far: The book is set in Arizona territory in the 1800s. All three of the voices and the text seems like they derive from a different century which brings the book to life.
    • Audio Sample
  • 2. Ask Again, Yes
    • by Mary Beth Keane
    • read by Molly Pope
    • My thoughts: My husband and I listened to this book in the car, which requires good sound and clear audio. Pope does a great job with the narration.
    • Audio Sample
  • 3. Akata Witch 
    • by Nnedi Okorafor
    • read by Yetide Badaki
    • My thoughts: Akata Witch is set in Nigeria. Badaki is Nigerian-American and her accent makes the setting and the characters come to life.
    • Audio Sample
  • 4. The Canterville Ghost 
    • by Oscar Wilde
    • read by Robert Degas
    • My thoughts:The Canterville ghost thinks of himself as terrifying but when the new family moves into the house, they aren't afraid of him at all. Degas does a hilarious job reading this ghost story.
    • Audio sample
  • 5. American Spy 
    • by Lauren Wilkinson
    • read by Bahni Turpin
    • My thoughts: I've listened to several books read by Bahni Turpin and really enjoy her narrative voice. As mysteries go, this one is pretty unique.
    • Audio sample

  • 6. The Nickel Boys 
    • by Colson Whitehead
    • read by J.D. Jackson, with acknowledgments by the author
    • My thoughts: J.D. Jackson has one of those deep voices I could listen to forever. This is such a disturbing book based on a real situation. I'm glad the listening experience wasn't torturous, too.
    • Audio sample
  • 7. If Beale Street Could Talk 
    • by James Baldwin
    • read by Bahni Turpin
    • My thoughts: Another book narrated by Ms. Turpin. She sets the mood of the story with her voice and her timing.
    • Audio sample
  • 8. The Library Book 
    • by Susan Orlean
    • read by Susan Orlean
    • My thoughts: I usually don't like authors to narrate their own books but Orlean does a very good job. Maybe because this book is nonfiction, there is no need for theatrical interpretation. If you haven't read this book, I recommend it.
    • Audio sample

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Sunday Salon, Nov. 3rd

Ian and his mommy enjoying the outdoors. Photo credit: D. Adams
Weather: Cold and clear. The sky is blue, leaves are falling. Perfect dog-walking weather. (Hint-hint, says the dog!)

Halloween fun, a day early: Wednesday is grandma day for me. I asked my daughter if I could take my grandson out to visit a few friends in his Halloween costume. She agreed and Ian and I had a fun day. He was dressed as O the Owl from the Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood TV show. My daughter made his costume. Ian can't quite spit out "trick-or-treat" but has "treat" down pat. I guess he is accurate since no one asked him for a trick anyway. Thanks Julie, Margaret, ad Erin for participating in the fun.
Ian as O the Owl with his cousin, Dylan as a pineapple, and Dylan's mommy

"Rock is dead. Deader than dead," so said Kelly Clarkson on "The Voice" this past week. It got me thinking. Is rock-and-roll really dead? I love listening to what Sirius Radio calls "Classic Vinyl" but I can't think of any current rock bands. Help me out. Rock isn't really dead is it? I found this list of the 50 best modern rock groups and I've only heard of one of them: Sleater-Kinney. Oh dear.

Football conundrum: Since we live on the west coast and colleges want their team to be on TV if they can, we find that our games are often scheduled to start at 7:30 pm. Last week Don and I drove to Eugene to attend a UO football game that started that late. Ugh. When the game was over and we finally got back to my mom's house, it was nearly midnight. Double ugh. I love to attend football games at noon like they used to be in days when I was in school. There is something about fall afternoons and football games that are co-mingled in my mind. I should mention that we did have fun at the game even though it ended so late.

Covenant of Peace and Unity; a statement of faith from our church. The quote is just a portion of the whole statement but it really got me thinking when I read it today, in light of all the polarization in our country today:
We will listen, endeavoring to understand each other, especially those whose views seem to differ from our own, maintaining a spirit of openness and vulnerability.
Blog-n-Readathon: I spent over 20 hours this past week attempting to get my reading/blogging mojo back. I didn't make my goal of 24 hours, but did feel like I was on the right track. The books I read during it---
A. Mother Daughter Me: completed, e-book
B. Akata Witch: completed, audiobook
C. The 13 Clocks: start to finish complete, print
D. Ask Again, Yes: completed, audiobook
E. Inland: started, audiobook, 35%
F. Brave Face: started, print, 22%
G. Called: read two chapters, print and e-book

Prayers for my x-brother-in-law. His brother died from a brain tumor this past week.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Review: Akata Witch

Every summer I download free audiobooks from Sync: Audiobooks for Teens. It is a wonderful resource to get great literature into the ears of teens. I've been participating for several years yet I rarely find myself listening to the books. That all changed last week when I cued up the audiobook for Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorofor. I was delighted and enraptured with the whole listening experience.

Summary: Sunny is a twelve-year-old girl living with her family in Nigeria but she was born in the USA. She has African features but she is an albino. Her skin looks like the color of sour milk and her eyes are light hazel as though the palette ran out of color before it was finished coloring them. She is a terrific athlete but can only play soccer after the sun sets, her skin is so sensitive to sunlight. It is an awkward age for everyone but doubly so for Sunny since she is different from everyone at her school. One day a bully decides to beat her up after school. Another classmate, Orlu, helps defend her and walks home with her. He introduces her to another friend, Chichi. Soon the three are hanging out together after school. Chichi challenges Sunny to take a "test". The results show that Sunny is a free agent, which means she is magical without having any magical parents. Soon another boy joins the group of friends, Sasha, and four start taking lessons from Anatov, the first Leopard Person that Sunny has ever met. Though she often doesn't know what is going on, Sunny is caught up in her new reality.

Review: I kept thinking of the Harry Potter books as I listened. So I wasn't surprised when I found a reference to Akata Witch being the "Nigerian Harry Potter." At one point I found myself ticking off a list of similarities between the two stories. Here is a partial list of things I noticed:
Harry Potter series
Akata Witch (also a series)
Harry doesn’t know he is magical
Sunny doesn’t know she is magical
Hogwarts with magical teachers
Leopard People school with Anatov
Harry, Hermione, Ron---magical friends
Sunny, Orlu, Chichi, Sasha---magical friends
Harry good at quidditch even though he has never played before
Sunny good at soccer even though she has only ever played with her brothers in the dark
Dark magic, dark arts, death eaters
Levels of magical practice. Magic can be used for evil purposes.
Harry and friends fight Voldemort even though they are kids. They do what adults can’t.
Sunny and friends have to fight off Black Hat, an evil Leopard man
Wands that pick the person
Knives that pick the person
Similar town only frequented by Leopard People

Now don't get me wrong. I loved Harry Potter books and I am so into this book I must find and read the second book in this series. Because they are similar endeared the book to me. I also loved the African setting and cultural references.  I found this great Akata Witch website for all kinds of information about the books and the author, setting, characters, etc. I really enjoyed the audiobook, too. It was read by Yetide Badaki, a Nigerian-born American actress. I absolutely loved her Nigerian accent. It made the whole story more authentic. Can you tell that I loved this book? Check it out yourself!