"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, September 24, 2018

TTT: My Favorite Banned/Challenged Books

Top Ten Tuesday: I'm going off the board this week and instead of listing favorite authors' books I haven't read, I am listing my favorite books which have been banned or challenged over the past thirty years. I used these lists from the American Library Association to make my selections: Top 100 Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999Top 100 Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009; Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged books per year (2010-2017.)

Listed in no particular order.
  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  2. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
  3. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  4. The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  6. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
  7. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo A. Anaya
  8. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
  9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
  10. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
  11. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
  12. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
  13. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  14. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  15. Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins
  16. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  17. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  18. The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
  19. The Holy Bible
  20. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  21. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
In case you didn't know, this week is Banned Books Week (September 23-29). We all need to be mindful of how damaging it can be to all books and authors if any books are banned. I make a point of reading a banned book every year at this time just to make a move for freedom. 

This week I hope to read at least two books on the most frequently banned books of 2017 that I haven't read already. The possibilities are:  Drama by Raina Telgemeir; I am Jazz by Herthel and Jennings; Sex is a Funny Word by Silverberg. I will try to obtain them from the public library, which encourages libraries to purchase books on the banned list so more people will read them!

Join me? Select a banned book this week to read. Check out the links above for suggestions.  You'll be surprised how many of your favorite books are on the lists. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday Salon....September 23

Ian, one, with his great-grandpa, ninety. Birthday Buddies.
Weather: Cool temperatures but sunny skies. The leaves are starting to turn on the trees and our Mountain Ash tree has started to drop its leaves (it is usually our first tree to do so.)

90 and 1: Last weekend we were in Oregon helping celebrate my Dad's 90th birthday and my grandson's first birthday. Highlights were that all of my sibs and their spouses gathered, both of my daughters and a niece and nephew, along with their families, also attended the weekend full of activities. // My youngest sister read out the list of 90 reasons she is grateful for our Dad. She said it was an incredible experience creating the list and living inside gratitude for the length of time it took to make the list. // Ian, the one-year-old, was his magnanimous self. Even though he was tired from not taking his normal afternoon nap, he still smiled through all the traditional birthday activities, even playing with his new toys as he opened them. (See photo above of the two birthday boys.)

2008: This past week I was leafing through a magazine I found in a basket in the bathroom just in case someone needs reading material. One of the topics didn't seem too relevant so I searched for the publication date. 2008. I have a ten-year-old magazine out for reading material. For goodness sake. Ach.

Peace Sunday: Today is Peace Sunday on the church calendar. Here are the words to one of the hymns we sang. I cried thinking about the state of affairs in our nations today. I hope the lyrics to this hymn touch your heart today. Peace!
"This is My Song" (Finlandia tune)
This is my song, O God of all nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is,
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, Thou God of all nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

Currently reading:
  • Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward. I am reading this book incredibly slowly because it bothers me so much. E-book, 11%.
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amar Towles. Several friends have recommended this book about a Count who is on house arrest in a hotel in Russia for years. Though his world is small, he lives his life with dignity and respect. Audiobook, 51%.
  • She Walks in Beauty edited by Caroline Kennedy. Poems selected by Ms. Kennedy. Print, 9%.
Books completed the past two weeks:
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. I finally finished this 500+ page tome which was so dense and difficult. Points for finishing it, right? Do I recommend it? No. (Print and audio.)
  • The King Years by Taylor Branch. Essays about the Civil Rights movement. I've been working on this collection sine April. Done. Phew! (Print.)
  • Educated: a memoir by Tara Westover. Wow, what a story and such a unique voice in the author. This is for an upcoming book club and I am sure we will have a big discussion. (Audio.)
  • Suite Francaise by Irene Nimerofsky. A classic set in France during the early days of WWII. The author, born a Jew, was eventually killed during the holocaust. (Audio.)
  • Spooked: How the War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America by Gail Jarrow. We've heard the story about this radio spoof and the effect it had on society. This book clears up some misconceptions. (Print.)
  • The Friendly Jane Austen: A Well-Mannered Introduction to a Lady of Sense and Sensibility by Natalie Tyler. (Print.)
  • My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, et al. A spoof, including ghosts, of Jane Eyre. Fun. (Print.)

Update on TBR Challenge: This past week I participated in a reading challenge designed to knock a few books off the To Be Read (TBR) pile. Here is how I did:
  • Total books completed: 3 (The Name of the Rose; The King Years; My Plain Jane)
  • Total pages read: 881 (Which includes pages from all six books I worked on during the week.)


Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Name of the Rose---sometimes reading is a big chore

Back in July the Classics Club sponsored another SPIN event where participants create a list of twenty classic books. When the spinner is spun the number it lands on is the book to be read. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco was the book living on the spin number on my list. I had added the title to my Classics Club list several years ago when I read a book about books that shouldn't be missed. It sounded great. On the list it went without one more moment of research.

Little did I know that The Name of the Rose is a uniquely difficult book to read. Nor did I know that it covers minute details of the history of the Catholic church set in the 1300s when the papacy had moved to Avignon and groups of priests were hunting wayward groups of heretics. Minute details. Hundreds of pages of minute details, some of them written in Latin even. I couldn't even begin to keep all the details straight. As I listened to the audiobook my mind would wander or I'd zone out, which made the reading experience less than optimal, needless to say. Eco called his book a murder mystery at its core. I would agree but would add that the core is very small and completely wrapped up in church history.

So why did I finish the book, you ask? There were moments of brilliance which were dispersed so evenly throughout the book so that just about the time I'd be ready to call UNCLE and quit I'd stumble upon one of those moments which would hold me enthralled for a few pages. For example, the book starts off in the prologue with a disclaimer from the author that he has translated a found document which is the terrible tale of Adso of Melk. He is uncertain if it is worthy of publication. The reader, therefore, is set up from the beginning to suspend her disbelief. The book is really about faith, after all.

By far the most brilliant of few brilliant moments was the dream sequence. Adso has a fantastical dream which goes on for pages and pages and turns all the church history on its head and makes fun of just about everything. Kenneth Achity, writing a review for the LA Times, called the dream sequence "the richest in 20th-century literature." It was made even more funny and fantastical by the narrator of the audiobook who read it at break-neck speed as if the listener was also experiencing a dream. I wish I had the print edition so I could go back and reread it for myself.

After bumping up the narration speed to 1.5 and the likelihood of finishing the book came into focus I started comparing the historical faith message of the book to what we are living today. Some people of faith are so intolerant of anyone or anything that is different than what they believe, like the monks in the book who fought over things like if Jesus wanted his followers to denounces money and take  vows of poverty or if he ever laughed. In today's society only a narrow definition of Christianity is acceptable to some followers like the monks who were so quick to call others heretics, hoping they would burn in hell. Classic books are those books which speak to people throughout the ages. This one spoke to me this way.

Nevertheless, I will never, ever tell anyone to read this book but lots of reviews will make you want to. For a great summary of the book, read this one at Medium. For positive reviews try the LA Times or NYT. My favorite is a commentary written 30 years after the book was published is found in Publishing Perspectives. DiCamillo, the author of this review, says that rereading The Name of the Rose is truly a pleasure which never disappoints him. Hmm. I don't think I will ever dare reread this book. But one should never say never, right? Maybe I'll just take another peek at that dream sequence.... some day.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Banned Books Week, Sept. 23-29, 2018

September 23-29, 2018

What book will you be reading next week? 

Consider reading a banned/challenged book.

You could select one of the top ten most challenged books of 2017.
(Watch the video below for the titles.)

select one of the ten banned books we should read again and again. 
(Click on the hyperlink here: Signature)

Pick a banned/challenged book from this megalist. (Wikipedia)

and visit the American Library Association for a lot more suggestions of ways to get involved.

Spread the word!

Read banned books!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Friday Quotes: A Gentleman In Moscow

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

This is the book I'm reading right now---

Title: A Gentleman In Moscow by Amar Towles

Book Beginning:

Friday 56 (or whatever page, I don't know):

Comments: I just started this book today in the audio format so I had to grab the quotes from a preview of the book, which was unpaged, so I have no idea where the Friday 56 quote comes from...probably closer to page 30. I am really enjoying the book so far. The language is simply gorgeous. In the top quote Count Rostov is going before the country's leadership and they are taking his freedom away and putting him on house arrest in a hotel. In the second quote, he has to move out of his suite into a very small room so he has to cull down his personal objects and say goodbye to them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Death of a friend

Louise, photo taken at her 50th wedding anniversary in August.
Today we lost the kindest, sweetest, friendliest person to ever walk the Earth. Louise died today ending a long, long battle with breast cancer. Right up to the end Louise was filled with light. When she could no longer speak for herself, her husband invited friends in to say goodbye, an act of kindness and generosity so they could experience that light one more time.

I "met" Louise at least twenty-five years ago. I say "met" because it wasn't a face-to-face meeting, rather a conversation we had over the phone. I had her eldest son in class at the time and Louise was concerned for him due to the nature of my class. She had just learned that she had breast cancer, and my class, Health, covered topics which might trigger sadness/anger/concern in her son. We spoke several times and I promised to keep an eye out for Micheal's mental health. I did. In a way, the experience helped me bond with Michael and one of his friends in a special relationship, one that remained intact for several years after he left my class.

Louise survived that first bout with cancer, though the treatment was brutal and took a big toll on her health. I finally met Louise in person several years later when she started attending my church. I think, but I am not positive, it was Michael who brought his mom to church. His friend, the one from Health class, was in our youth group so it would make sense that Michael came with him. Anyway, Louise came with her boys and hasn't left until today.

Louise and her husband Jim, were both elementary teachers before retirement. Louise loved kids and her smile when she talked about them, tells me that they loved her back. We had teaching in common but she was sweet whereas I was snarky...the difference between elementary and secondary teachers. Over the years she has maintained a deep friendship with her team of teachers from her last school. In fact many of these friends attended her 50th wedding anniversary party on August and remarked about what a good day Louise had and how radiant she looked. The photo I've used was taken of Louise on that day.
One of Louise's last sewing projects. She made these stuffed cows for a grandson who wants to be a farmer.
I knew Louise best through our membership in our church book club. Louise loved to read and made such insightful comments when we discussed our monthly selections. She and I both loved Lousie Erdrich books. Until this moment I hadn't thought about the name similarity. Of course, she loved a book by another Louise! The last time I was with Louise was at our August meeting. She shared with me that the doctors had nothing new to treat her disease and that she was concerned about the blood transfusion she'd be getting later that week. Otherwise, we talked about her grandchildren, her latest quilting project, and just small talk. Louise didn't want people to feel sorry for her. She'd been battling this recurrence of cancer for five years. She may have thought it boring to talk about cancer treatments. It was a lot more fun to talk about the cow-quilt dolls she had just finished for a grandson who wants to grow up to be a farmer, even though he lives in an urban setting and has never spent any time on a farm. She was doing what she knew how to help make his dream come true. When she left that club meeting she took with her a book for the upcoming month. Louise was always looking into the future with hope and determination.

Last night when book club met again, we talked about Louise and how much she meant to all of us. Then we bowed our heads and prayed for her, for her family, for a peaceful passing. We are a Christian group. We believe in life everlasting. We believe she is in a better place, one not plagued with cancer. But last night, with our prayer, we were all just thinking about losing a friend and how much we will miss her, Louise our sweet friend.

 This is a favorite poem set to music. The rose beyond the wall, shedding sweetness day and night.

Goodbye, dear  Louise. I know you are shedding your sweetness beyond the wall now and we shall meet again some day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

TTT: My Fall TBR

My Fall TBR
Upcoming book club selections:
  • Under the Wide, Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton
  • Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
YA books that are potential award winners
  • My Plain Jane by Cyntha Hand, et al (Finish)
  • Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
  • Rebound by Kwame Alexander
  • What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee
  • Votes for Women: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot by Winifred Conkling
  • We'll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss
  • A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh, et al
  • Proud: Living My American Dream by Ibtihja Muhammad
  • The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by Harry Abrams
  • Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
  • Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
  • Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
  • Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  • Dear Madam President by Jennifer Palmieri
  • The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey
Just because I want to read them:
  • Fear by Bob Woodward (Currently reading)
  • She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah) by Ann Hood
Think I have a few too many books on my list? Ha! I do, too!

How did I do on my Summer TBR?

Upcoming book club selections:
  • Educated: a Memoir by Tara Westover ✔
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (a re-read) ✔
  • Under the Wide, Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
YA books that are potential award winners
  • Boots on the Ground by Elizabeth Partridge 
  • The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert ✔
  • Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman ✔
  • Picture Us In the Light by Kelley Loy Gilbert ✔
  • Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi ✔
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker by Wang ✔
  • My Plain Jane by Hand/Ashton/Meadows. Currently reading
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon ✔
  • Educated: a memoir ✔ See above
  • Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood.
  • My Plain Jane by Hand/Ashton/Meadows (see above)
Just because...
  • She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah) by Ann Hood

Monday, September 17, 2018

Review--- Spooked: How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America

For as long as I can remember I've known about the infamous radio broadcast by Orson Wells, John Houseman, and others of H.G. Wells' book, The War of the Worlds. The radio broadcast supposedly sparked nationwide hysteria which led to deaths by heart attack and suicide. Though I've heard the lore about this event my whole life I've never actually read anything about it, nor have I listened to the actual radio broadcast. After reading Spooked: How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America by Gail Jarrow all my long-held misconceptions have been cleared up.

Orson Wells and John Housemen were among other actors who got involved in radio programming. They created a weekly show called The Mercury Theatre on the Air which aired on Sunday nights. They would take a classic novel and would severely abridge it so that the whole book (plot) could be presented in a one-hour radio broadcast. Prior to The War of the Worlds the team, which included Howard Koch as the the script writer, performed A Tale of Two Cities and The Count of Monte Cristo. For their late October program the team decided to select a classic that might scare their listeners. They hit upon The War of the Worlds about an alien takeover of England. They decided to change the setting to New Jersey and update the plot a bit. Even as late as the dress rehearsal, Koch was making changes to the plot and it was decided to use "breaking news" blurbs to tell the story. This is what got listeners confused.

If a listener had been paying attention to the details parts of the story just didn't add up. The aliens landed in Grover's Mill, New Jersey and within minutes the whole US army was wiped out with only 200 survivors. Minutes later the aliens were in New York City wrecking havoc. The news reporter was remarkably able to travel the distances in the blink of an eye. At the end of the show, Wells announced that the whole program was a Halloween hoax. But by that time many people had panicked and stopped listening.

After the show aired, many listeners complained to CBS about the hoax and how they had been tricked and unnerved. Other listeners wrote to congratulate the network on the good fun. Just like today, news is often sensationalized and reports of the hysteria were exaggerated. And the myth persisted even after reports discredited the vast number of people who fell victim to the hoax.

At this point Jarrow speculates as to why Americans were so susceptible to the hoax in the first place. News of Hitler and the Nazi's actions in Europe were very worrying. Some people probably heard "alien" or "Martian" and transposed it into "German" or "Nazi" in their mind. The panic and reports of hysteria were very worrying because the world did seem to be on the brink of war and Americans seems to be wholly unprepared. Lastly, the broadcast brought to light how easily some people or a group of people could be brainwashed by this relatively new medium, the radio.

I've read several of Jarrow's other books, all targeting middle grade readers with high interest topics on the likes of Typhoid Mary and  bubonic plague in America. I find her writing clear and interesting and the books well appointed with appropriate photos and charts. They include timelines, indexes, lists of sources, and tables of contents. This book is not exception.

I am not sure that students today have heard about the 1938 invasion on America brought on by a spoofed radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, nor read the original book. Nevertheless I think this book should be purchased by librarians for middle school and possibly high school libraries. It is useful to understanding how easily people can be tricked.

Tackle Your TBR Challenge

Today I am joining another reading challenge. This one is designed to get a few books off the ever-growing to-be-read (TBR) pile.

With this challenge I promise to give a daily update which will help me keep track of the books I've read and/or the number of pages involved (I'll approximate pages for listening hours for audiobooks.)

Here are my planned reads for the week:

  • My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, et al.  I only recently added this title to my TBR as it was just recently published. I have a copy on hand and it is due back to the library soon. This is my top priority.
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. This was my Classics Club SPIN selection which I was supposed to finish by September 1st. Obviously I didn't meet the deadline but am determined to finish the book. Placed this on my TBR list on Jan 14, 2018.
  • The King Years by Taylor Branch. I have been "reading" this collection of essays since April 2018 and want to be done with it. "Reading" is in quotes because I haven't actually read anything in it for months.
  • Fear by Bob Woodward. I just got this e-book on the day it was published last week.
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amar Towles. Added to my TBR on Feb. 14, 2018.
  • A Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake. Honestly this one isn't officially on my TBR (on Goodreads) but I have it checked out from the library and is one of the books from the 2019 Mock Printz project. We'll see if there is time to get to this one.
A few notes before I get started:
  1. I suspect there won't be any trouble finishing The Name of the Rose and The King Years because I am already well into both of those books.
  2. A Gentleman of Moscow is an audiobook and it is due back to Overdrive soon. When it expires it will magically just disappear from my devise so I may not get to finish it though no fault of my own. But I will start it and see how far I get.
  3. Fear is about President Trump. It makes me so angry I can only read it in small doses. I don't plan to race through it. Unlikely I will finish it this week.
  4. I am open to switching my plans mid-stream. Who knows exactly what books I will read/finish/start this week?
Here I go. After posting and signing up on the linky at Wishful Endings, first up, an essay from The King Years and an hour of listening to The Name of the Rose.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Two Little Brags

Brag #1: Back in July feeling overwhelmed because of being 16 reviews behind I set myself a little challenge to catch up by mid September. I did it! I finished the 16th past due review today and stayed current at the same time. in other words, I didn't catch up on one side to fall behind on the other.

Here are the books I finished, all hyperlinked. If you want to check any of them out, please do!

1. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

3. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

4. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

6. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

7. Artemis by Andy Weir

8. Force of Nature by Jane Harper

9. Truth Like the Sun by Jim Lynch

10. The Leavers by Lisa Ko

13. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

15. Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

16. The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Past Due Book Reviews

16 / 16 books. 100% done!


Brag #2: I am completely caught up on reviewing the books read so far this year that meet one of these three criteria: 1)book club selections, 2)Printz-possible YA titles, and 3)SH/JH nonfiction books. I also have a few favorites I have thrown in for good measure. All together I've reviewed 65 of the 85 books I've read so far this year. At a 76% completion that is some kind of record, I'm sure. I don't review all the books I read, nor would you want me to. Ha! (Some would be boring..."Um, the books wasn't that good, actually it was boring." or "I liked this poem, which I expected but didn't understand that poem." I'll spare you the tedium.) So until I finish another book, I have no reviews waiting to be written. Woot. Woot. In my nine years of blogging I have NEVER been here before!