"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=========

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Quotes, Feb. 27

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. This is the book I'm reading right now:

Book title: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Book Beginnings: 
I may have discovered a solution to the Wife Problem. As with many scientific breakthroughs, the answer was obvious in retrospect. But had it not been for a series of unscheduled events, it is unlikely I would have discovered it.
Friday 56: 
As I completed dinner preparations, Rosie set the table---not the conventional dining table in the living room, but a makeshift table on the balcony, created by taking a whiteboard from the kitchen wall and pacing it on top of two big plant pots, from which the dead plants had been removed. A white sheet from the linen cupboard had been added in the role of tablecloth. Silver cutlery--- a housewarming gift from my parents that had never been used --- and the decorative wine glasses were on the table. She was destroying my apartment!
My thoughts: I've just started this popular book about a genetics professor who is socially awkward yet sets out on a scientific project to find a wife. My daughter read this book last year and recommended it and now both of my book clubs are reading it for March. That will be a nice chance for me to catch up on personal reading since I'll only have to read one book club selection this month. Oh no, I am starting to sound like Don Tillman, the awkward professor who wants his whole life to be scheduled and ordered.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Classics Club: Question of the month

I missed the opportunity to blog about the Classics Club question of the month in December.

Let’s talk about children’s classics! Did you read any classic works as a child? What were your favorites? If not, have you or will you try any classic children’s literature in the future? (We’re aware children often read at an adult level. Please feel free to share adult OR children’s classics that you treasured in childhood OR children’s works that you’ve recently fallen for.)
When I was eleven or twelve I went through a jag of reading lots of classics: David Copperfield; Pride and Prejudice; White Fang;  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer are a few I remember reading specifically. Now, as an adult, I look back in amazement that I was capable of reading these books so easily and happily. Then a month ago, as I wandered around a used bookstore, I came upon a cache of children's books in the Great Illustrated Classics series. The books looked suspiciously familiar. Now I am fairly sure the classics I read as a kid were these highly abridged versions of classics that include illustrations.
I am sure I didn't read all of these Great Illustrated Classics, but I read many of these abridged classics.
In addition to The Great Illustrated Classics, I remember reading the Chronicles of Narnia; 1001 Arabian Nights; Heidi; The Secret Garden; and Little Women (in fact, I read the whole series by Alcott.) Somewhere a long the line I read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I don't recall if they were abridged or not. As a teenager I read the Lord of the Rings series, but by then no one should be shocked that I was reading them. My favorites, then and now, are the romances: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and of course, Pride and Prejudice.
What classics did you read as a child?

See responses by others at The Classics Club.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Salon, Feb. 22

Wenatchee River
Weather: Beautiful with blue skies and warmish temperatures.

In the midst of this wild park alongside the Wentachee river is a random lightpost, just like in Narnia.

Leavenworth reprise: after I posted my Sunday Salon last week, Don and I headed out for a 3-mile walk along the Wenatchee River which runs right along the city of Leavenworth. Even though it is right next to town it has a very wild and reclusive feel. It was a lovely walk. See photos.

My favorite photographer
Birthday: I turned a year older this past week. Since Don and I celebrated by going to Leavenworth last weekend I wasn't expecting much fanfare. My principal and assistant principal showed up at my desk midday fully prepared to sing, which would have been a hoot, but students were testing in the library so they just wished me a happy day and gave me a card. Don and Carly had planned a lovely dinner and cake from my favorite bakery. Rita even came over to help us eat the cake and spent the night with us. It was just one of those special days for the memory book.

Ash Wednesday soup and service: each year our church ushers in the season of Lent by hosting a soup dinner prior to the church service. Carly made a big pot of Zuppa Toscana to share.
Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of blessing ashes made from palm branches blessed on the previous year's Palm Sunday, and placing them on the heads of participants to the accompaniment of the words "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" or "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return".-Wikipedia 
40 bags in 40 days: I joined one of those Facebook challenges, this one to simplify and declutter my house. I am to shed 40 bags of stuff from the house, one per day during the season of lent. The directions admonish participants not to do too much each day, just tackle small areas each day. Well, i completely broke that rule. Yesterday Don and I (and Carly) attacked our bonus room which has become a junk yard the past few years. We sorted out six bags of recycled papers, one huge bag of paper we need the shred, five bags of things to go to Goodwill; three bags for the garbage, and one box for Rita to sort through when she has the time. 16 bags! Admittedly it took us all afternoon and evening to do this much, but boy does it feel good.

"Dear Teen Me": I recently read a book called Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves.As I read the letters I keep thinking about things I'd like to tell my teen self to stop or start doing. So, I decided to add a feature to the Sunday Salon called "Dear Teen Me" where I will give myself a bit of advice to make things better for the me of today.
Anne: Hold in your head how much fun it is to play tennis and eventually racquetball. Right now you enjoy playing tennis with your brother and several other friends. Why don't you go out for the tennis team. You won't be a champion but you could have a hoot playing with other people and gaining more friends. Your first year in college you will take a tennis class which really hones your skills. Your second year you take a racquetball class and playing it becomes an obsession for several years. Keep it up. Remind yourself everyday that these are two sports you can do as you age. Make sports and fitness a part of your daily routine.
Currently reading: (I didn't finish a single book this week)

  • Defending Jacob by William Landay---I am listening to the audiobook. This is the story of a father and a lawyer. When his son is charged with a heinous crime he is put in the position of defending his son. I don't like any of the characters which is off-putting. I am 3/4 of the way done.
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins---another book club selection and another book where I don't like any of the main characters. I am in an odd position reading two books and not liking any of the characters. Sigh.
Perfect timing---a jet stream meets up with the mountain

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Bibliophile's Devotional: 365 days of literary classics by Hallie Ephron, PhD

A page from The Bibliophile's Devotional: 365 days of literary classics
Every time I pick up The Bibliophile's Devotional: 365 days of literary classics by Hallie Ephron I have a sad little feeling. Why? Because I purchased this gem on one of the last days that Borders Books was open for business. Sigh. I loved that place. I would drop in there all the time since it was on the way home from both work and church. It seemed like I was always at Borders wandering up and down the shelves perusing the books and finding some treasures. I had my eye on this book before I learned that Borders was going out of business. I should have purchased it for full price. Maybe if I had been willing to pay full price the store would have survived. It is my fault. Double sigh.

Anyway, The Bibliophile's Devotional: 365 days of literary classics is truly a treasure. Every day Ephron highlights a book that she thinks will "nourish the book lover in each of us." Many of the books are classics that we have all heard of: The Great Gatsby, In Cold Blood, The Color Purple, etc. Other books are destined to become classics that most of us haven't heard of, while others are just good books that should not be missed.

Organized like all devotionals I've read, there is one entry per day. Each entry starts with the first line of the book. This is followed by a summary and some interesting facts about the book and or the author. Lastly there is a quote by some famous person about the book or the author. Just about every entry made me want to read the book, if I hadn't read it, and re-read, it if I had. I figured it out once, if I could read two of the books per month (along with my other readings) it would only take me eleven years to read them all.

I started marking up my book to help me remember which books I wanted to read next. Slash marks meant I had already read the book. Stars for those books I want to read soon. Double stars for my favorites each month. Pretty soon I couldn't even remember my own system for keeping track of which marks meant what. After reading through the book pretty much constantly since I bought it (I've probably read every entry at least three times, maybe four) I figured it was time to share the wealth with you--- to tell you about this book maybe make you want to run out and find a copy for yourself. I keep my book in a spot where it can have my undivided attention for short periods of time, if you get my meaning.

Allow me to recommend The Bibliophile's Devotional: 365 days of literary classics. I'm positive you will thoroughly enjoy it, too.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Friday Quotes, Feb. 20

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.

Book: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Book Beginning: 
There is a pile of clothing on the side of the train track. Light-blue cloth---a shirt, perhaps---jumbled up with something dirty white. It's probably rubbish, part of a load dumped into the scrubby little wood up the bank. It could have been left behind by the engineers who work this part of the track, they're here often enough. Or it could be something else.
Friday 56:
I'm still holding back, because obviously I can't say everything I'm feeling. I know that's the point of therapy, but I can't.
My thoughts: This is a book club selection. So far the two main characters Megan and Rachel are both troubled women with some secrets that are haunting them. I don't like either of the characters so I'm having a hard time connecting with the book...but then I'm only on page 57. There is a lot of book left to go.

Egg and Spoon. Weird title. Wonderful book!

Do you judge a book by its title or cover? If so Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire might cause you to pause before picking it up. Egg and Spoon? What a weird title. I don't want to read a book about eggs or spoons. Do you? Would it help if I told you that the "egg" is actually a Faberge egg? And not just any Faberge egg but one which has elaborate designs on three sides? It holds scenes related to Russian folklore of Baba Yaga's hut, the mythical ice dragon, and the legendary Firebird. As the egg's position is shifted, the different scenes come into focus and with this focus shift come shifts in the story line.

Maguire, the author of Wicked, is the master of re-imagining well-known stories by placing plot twists and fantastical characters to add zing and interest to old stories. In Egg and Spoon, Maguire blends history and current events into the old Russian folktales making the stories come alive on several levels.

The story begins in a little village somewhere in Russia with Eleana, a starving child left alone to tend a dying mother. When a train is waylaid in her village, Eleana meets a young, rich traveler, Ekaterina, who is en route to meet the Czar and to attend a party for his godson. The girls, who look remarkably similar, strike up a bit of a friendship. Through a series of events the girls end up trading places in the Prince and the Pauper style but neither holds the new position for long. As the train carries Eleana away from her home and as Ekaterina attempts to reconnect with her entourage, the girls each have adventures that involve Baba Yaga, the Firebird, and eventually the ice dragon all in an attempt to save the magic that seems to be fading in Russia.

Leigh Bardugo, writing for the NYT Sunday Book Review says, "In Egg and Spoon Maguire sets his characters the fundamental challenge of stepping outside themselves and acknowledging the wider world and giving up the pleasure of being the center of the narrative. Sometimes he even lets them succeed. Readers may hunger for heroic deeds, but it is impossible not to root for girls and witches and aunts alike, and to cheer their little victories as acts of grace" (NYT-Aug. 22, 2014).

I started reading Egg and Spoon in January hoping to finish it prior to the selection of Youth Book Awards handed out at the ALA midwinter meeting the end of the month. As I read the book I became increasingly convinced the it would indeed win an award or two and, in my opinion, deserved to do so. Unfortunately the book was not selected for any awards, which is mystifying in itself, but thankfully I completed it anyway and loved it. Reading it was such a joy on so many levels. I actually listened to the audiobook version of Egg and Spoon. It was read by voice actor Michael Page. What a magical job he did with the material which is also magical in nature. Go to this webpage for an audio sample of the book. See if you agree with me.

As I write this review I wonder if the book didn't win any awards because no one could figure out where the book fits in the literary world. Is it for middle grade students or does it appeal more to teens and should be classified as YA? As I listened to the book I kept thinking how much fun it would have been to read this aloud to my daughters when they were young. In fact, I recommended it to a friend who has a son in upper elementary school to use as a family read-aloud. So far I haven't found the perfect reader at the high school level for Egg and Spoon but I won't quit trying.  I hope they can overlook the cover and title and dive right in. It is really too magical to miss.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Salon from Leavenworth, Washington. Feb 15th

A view from our hotel of old St. Joseph's church and the Cascade mountains behind
Weather in Leavenworth: It is blue skied and cold this morning. Yesterday it warmed up to 60 degrees. Today it isn't supposed to be that warm.

Leavenworth: is a small town in the Cascade mountains in Washington State which has remade itself into a Bavarian village. The town has strict ordinances and businesses have to comply, so even the Mexican Restuarant has to look like a Bavarian building on the outside. Our hotel, Pension Anna, is full of artifacts and furniture from Germany. Our hosts wear dirndls and lederhosen as they serve us cheeses and meats and boiled eggs for breakfast. It is very charming.
A busy day in Leavenworth on Valentine's/President's Day Weekend
Wine tasting: the tourist section of Leavenworth has many wine tasting rooms serving wines made all over the state of Washington. We stopped off and tasted wines at four rooms and I bought wine at all of them. The Valentine's Day special was for wine and chocolate so every room had some sort of chocolate to sample also. I found myself really liking the red wines if I nibbled chocolate at the same time.  Then I decided what I really liked was the chocolate. Ha!
The big meat in the middle of the menu photo is the schweinshaxe

Meat coma: our first night here we ate German food at King Ludwig's Restaurant where we ordered the schweinshaxe, a roasted ham hock/pork knuckle along with a platter with three kinds of sausage, German potato salad, and two varieties of kraut. We had so much meat we felt like we went into a sort of coma -- a meat coma. It was delicious food, though we decided against German food last night going for lighter food.

Today: we plan a hike along the Wenatchee River here in town.

"Dear Teen Me": I recently read a book called Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves. Most of the authors of these letters do not give their teen self advice on what to change but just words of encouragement about how everything will turn out OK. But as I read the letters I keep thinking about things I'd like to tell my teen self to stop or start doing. So, I decided to add a feature to the Sunday Salon called "Dear Teen Me" where I will give myself a bit of advice to make things better for the me of today.
Dear Teen Me: In a few days you will break up with your 9th grade boyfriend, DB. It will be very hard on him and he will do an alarming thing: he and his friends will hang a dummy from a noose from the edge of the school building dressed in his clothes, to make it look like he committed suicide over your break up. It is not your fault that he is so distraught, nor is it your fault that he did something so inappropriate. But this time I want you to tell an adult what happened and what you know instead of keeping it to yourself. You see, as an adult DB does commit suicide. In his 30's his suicide is completely unrelated to you but you will wonder IF you had done something earlier he may have gotten some help and wonder whether it would have saved him in the future. I have thought many times if I had said something to an adult back in 9th grade things could have changed for him. Trust me on this one. You don't want this burden. Talk to an adult who can help.
Books read this week:
  • Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
  • Dear Teen Me edited by E. Kristin Anderson, et al
  • World According to Dog, poems by Joyce Sitman
  • A Bibliophiles Devotional by Hallie Ephron
Currently reading:
  • Defending Jacob by William Landay...an audiobook, this month's book club selection
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, a future book club selection

Heading out on our day!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cybils Awards announced today and the YA winners are:

The 2014 Cybils were announced today, Valentine's Day, which is a great day to have some extra book love.  The Cybils (Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards) are voted on by representatives from the book blogging world. It is very refreshing that the Cybils committee often recognises books not recognized by other award organizations.

Check out their page for the announcement and for descriptions of each book and why it won the Cybils award here.

Young Adult Categories:

Fiction: Pointe by Brandy Colbert

Graphic Novel: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow, illustrated by Jen Wang

Nonfiction: The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

Speculative Fiction: The Living by Matt De La Pena

Congratulations to all the winners and now I had better get busy reading these books.

Snapshot Saturday, Feb. 14th

Happy Valentine's Day.

We are in Leavenworth, Washington, a small town in the Washington Cascades that is made to be a Bavarian village. We arrived after sunset so we will have to take photos of the town today but I was able to snap several photos in our hotel of fancy Bavarian style furniture, our breakfast room, and the lights in the main square, looking like Christmas-time.

Painted chest in the hotel lobby

Painted wardrobe in lobby
Breakfast room

Painted bench in hallway
Main square in Leavenworth brightly lit. THere are lights like this everywhere in town even now in February.
Snapshot Saturday is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Friday Quotes, Feb. 12

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.

Book: The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

Book Beginning: 
When I visit the back corners of my life again after so long a time, the littlest things jump out first.
Friday 56:
Damon and Toby and I were in a dilemma, antsy to reach school and endure through the day until the big race, but reluctant to tear ourselves away from Morrie's debut at shoveling chicken poop.
My comments: The opening line is delivered by Paul as he stands in the kitchen of his old house looking back on his life on the prairie in Montana where he grew up and attended a one-room school house. He and his brothers, Damon and Toby had to ride horses to get to school every day after doing their chores on the farm. He is now an adult having to decide the fate of one-room schools in the whole state.

I just finished re-reading The Whistling Season this evening. This book is phenomenal. It is clearly one of my all-time favorites.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson

While other authors writing in the poetic prose style often give huge tomes for books Marilyn Nelson gives us a rather slim volume of fifty unrhymed sonnets highlighting the her life from age four to fourteen. Since the poems are presented in chronological order the reader is able to trace Nelson's life through her fascination with the written word, especially with poetry. The reader is also able to ascertain that maturing of her voice and her understanding of her world.

Nelson, an African-American woman, grew up in the 1950s. Her father was in the military and so the family moved around a lot. Nelson and her family experienced different degrees of racism depending on where her father was stationed. The sonnets reflect how perplexing racism can be to children who just want to play and have friends. In the photo below you see the poem BAD WORD. In it young Nelon describes the feelings she has about the words Black and White and wonders at the teacher's explanation that the boy didn't say a bad word. "Don't be a noogie-hitter." That is a term used in tetherball?!

"The Speaker's growing awareness of personal and racial identity are set against the tensions America experienced during the fifties." Some of the poems may seem to be about Nelson but are also about what was happening in the world at that time: Civil Rights, the "Red Scare", even the atom bomb.

Unlike novels written in the poetic prose style which allows the reader to read through the chapters fast, these sonnets should be read slowly and savored. The reader will probably want to reread them to gain the full meaning and beauty behind the words. Since each sonnet is only fourteen lines, each word and line has to carry a lot of the story. I appreciate the constraint of the style.

I plan on shelving this book in the poetry section of the library instead of in the biography section. I want poetry readers to find it.

This slim volume won a Coretta Scott King Honor last week when the youth media awards were handed out at the ALA mid-winter meeting.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Carrots, Pizza, and Rain, oh my. Sunday Salon.

Frozen carrots. Part of the 3800 pounds we bagged up yesterday.

Weather: Rain. Rain. Rain. Expected forecast for more rain. Our backyard looks like it has a pond in it. It doesn't.

Poetry Out Loud Regional final: was yesterday morning. Sophie, the candidate from GKHS, did great but did not advance to the state final. After the POL contest I had to race across town to another GKHS related event, this one with NHS.

Carrots: Yesterday the GKHS National Honor Society students met me at the Emergency Food Network and we bagged up 3800 pound of frozen carrots. The EFN provides a service linking farmers and food distributors with food banks, and soup kitchens. We actually finished the task of bagging up the huge amount of carrots early and the coordinator told us next time he will bring out even more pounds of food than this time.

Pizza: after I arrived home from my day of gallivanting around Tacoma from event to event I got a call from a friend at church wondering where me and my Honor Society students were. We were scheduled to set up the church for Freezing Nights, a homeless sheltering event, and to fix dinner for the clients. Somehow when the schedule got changed I didn't get it in my calendar. I had us scheduled for the 21st. After a moment of complete panic I realized there was nothing to do but to do it myself. There wasn't enough time to activate the students, even if I had their numbers. So I called Little Caesar's Pizza and ordered 20 boxes of pizza, stopped by the store for milk, salad, and pop. Thankfully others at the church had my back and no one seemed too upset with me. If I had bothered to open my e-mail all week from the coordinator I would have seen HONOR SOCIETY typed all over the place. Oh well, it is done. Sigh.

"Dear Teen Me": I am currently reading a book called Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves. Most of the authors of these letters do not give their teen self advise on what to change but just words of encouragement about how everything will turn out OK. But as I read the letters I keep thinking about things I'd like to tell my teen self to stop or start doing. So, I decided to add a feature to the Sunday Salon called "Dear Teen Me" where I will give myself a bit of advise to make things better for the me of today.
Dear Teen Me: Remember how you keep cheating in Mr. Luarca's typing class by sneaking a look at your fingers while you type? Stop it! Don't peek anymore! Keep on practicing the skill of typing without looking at your fingers.  You will not believe how much typing you will be doing in the future and you will be grateful everyday that you mastered the skill of typing without looking at your fingers. Help me out. Stop looking at your fingers even though you are just learning to type. The skill is more important than the grade.
Gas prices: A picture speaks a thousand words. Take a look at the price per gallon that I paid for gas this week:

Prayers for:
  • a friend whose mother is dying from a stroke.
  • my daughter who is looking for a job in her field.
The library has gone to the dogs: after ten years at this high school I have finally amassed all the dog books and put them on display. I was shocked how many I have. (The photo is of the display case outside the library. It is only displaying a fraction of the dog books. The rest are in the library ready for check out.) I stopped by the local Goodwill store and picked up a few stuffed dogs to add to the case. Three favorites: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein; Winterdance by Gary Paulsen; Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.

Book finished this week:
  • Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire---I listened to this marvelous story on audiobooks. I loved every minute of it.
Currently reading:
  • Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves edited by Kristin Anderson and Miranda Kenneally. See above for my comments on this book.
  • Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw. Haven't made any progress on this book this week.
Music of the week: I love the Piano Guys and this video seems to go along with The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein that I read for the first time this week.

My blog post of the week: What modern novel is likely to become a classic? (Check out the link for my answer.)

Question of the week: If you could really give your teen self some advise what would you want your younger self to know?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Classics Club, February Question of the month

What about modern classics? Pick a book published since 2000 and say why you think it will be considered as a “classic” in the future.

Before I launch into my answer, I need to pause and ask what makes a book a classic anyway? Just because it is old and still in print? Is it a book that others have decided is worth studying? Is it a book that has somehow changed the shape of history or spoken to us about a moment in time, like The Great Gatsby or The Scarlet Letter? We may not "like" the book but we recognize the timelessness of it. "Perhaps the most eloquent consideration of this question is Italo Calvino’s essay, Why Read the Classics?, in which he defines a classic as a book that has never finished saying what it has to say'" (Salon).

Several books published since 2000 seem to have something important to say and are not quite finished saying it. Two books immediately come to mind and, interestingly, they both address the importance of  ART in our lives: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (2008) and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2013). Both are beautifully written and neither seem to be finished saying what must be said about the ways art transforms our lives and we are better persons because of ART. Now this said, I doubt that either of these books will ever be taught or studied and I have no idea if they will stand the test of time, but I hope they will.

I love this quote, also found in Why We Read Classics? “The classics are the books that come down to us bearing upon them the traces of readings previous to ours, and bringing in their wake the traces they themselves have left on the culture or cultures they have passed through” (Calvino). Both Hedgehog and Goldfinch have left their traces on my life but is that enough to make them classics? I am not sure.

Can you think of any books published since 2000 that are modern classics?

Visit the Classics Club to participate or to read what others think. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Friday Quotes

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.

Book Title: Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire

Book Beginnings
BEFORE. The heels of military boots, striking marble floors, made a sound like thrown stones. The old man knew that agents were hunting for him.

Friday 56: 
She stepped forward onto the platform. The sun adored her on all sides. She fanned her hair in the light, drying it further. Longer and somewhat lighter than Elena's, and full of verve. Cornsilk dipped in beeswax. It almost hurt to look at.

My thoughts: This marvelous book was written by the author of Wicked. It is based on Russian fairy tales and folk tales. I am listening to the audiobook and in that format I don't notice all the sentence fragments. The Book Beginning quote introduces the narrator and sets up why the story is told in the first place. The Friday 56 quote shows the difference between the peasant girl, Elena, and the the rich girl on the train. I honestly don't think either quote does the book justice.

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

A page in The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone showing both a photo of Addison and her art work.

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin is a very unique book. It is a fiction book that reads like nonfiction. From the outset readers know that Addison Stone, an up-and-coming artist on the New York art scene, has died from a tragic accident. The "writer" of the book plays the role of a journalist collecting interviews from friends, colleagues, teachers, and other people who all played a role in Addison's life. In addition, the book is full of color photos of Addison and of her art. It also includes some communication between Addison and her friends, saved in the form of emails or text messages.

It is really a very clever book and I had to remind myself quite often that Addison was a fictional character. The photos, in particular, gave me the impression that Addison was a real person. (An actress/model actually allowed Ms. Griffin to use her Facebook photos so she would have authentic photos of the type people put on social media.)

Addison Stone was a very troubled girl who was tremendously talented. She also had a dysfunctional family life and by the time she hit the New York art scene there was no looking back on her past life. But like a lot of  young proteges, she really needed adults in her life who were concerned for her welfare, not just what they could get out of her. She didn't have this and her life spiraled out of control without it.

I enjoyed the format of the book with it's ever shifting narrators, though I did wonder why everyone's voice sounded so much alike.  I can't even imagine how hard the task would be to right a book with 50 narrators and have them all sound unique. But that is a quibble.

If you are up for a YA book that is a little different I think you might enjoy The Unfinished life of Addison Stone.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

TTT: Ten Books I Can't Believe I Haven't Read

Ten Nine books I haven't read...can you believe it?

1. Middlemarch by George Eliot
This has been on my TBR pile since I watched a portion of the mini-series years ago. My holdup? It is so long.

2. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
I actually haven't read any book by any author from the beat generation. I not so much want to read this book as think I should read it.

3. Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, Tale of Two Cities, anything by Charles Dickens
I'm pretty sure that I have created one of these lists before and I always add Dickens onto my must read list, but then don't read him. I wonder why?

4. Dante's Inferno by Dante Aligheri
I have a funny feeling that this is a book that needs to be read with a class and teacher that knows what he/she is talking about, therefore I balk at the idea of reading it alone.

5. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
When I watched the movie Slum Dog Millionaire I kept thinking about how I had never read this famous book with it's famous plot and characters. I would have been kicked off the show very early!

6. Dune by Frank Herbert
Honestly, I haven't read any of the classic Sci-Fi. But I think every well-rounded librarian should read the book that started it all.

7. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
I think every person is a book club has read this book except me.

8. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
My sister tells me this is one of the most beautiful books written in the English language.

9. Julius Caesar by Shakespeare
Honestly, I haven't read much Shakespeare but my children just about dropped over from shock when they learned I'd never read it.