"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=========

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Salon, Leap Day

Chapel of St. Ignatius, Seattle University
Weather:  Raining, what is new? Oh goodie, now it is hailing.



Suki Kim at the Search for Meaning book festival
Search for Meaning: Yesterday Don and I attended the 8th annual Search for Meaning Book Festival event at Seattle University. It was a day long book festival featuring over 50 authors who have written something that explores the questions: Who am I? Why am I here? How can I make a difference? I was initially attracted to the event because one of the keynote speakers was Tracy Kidder, author of Mountains Beyond Mountains, an extremely moving nonfiction book about the doctor, Paul Farmer, who is making a real difference in the lives of the poor in Haiti and elsewhere in the world. One of the other keynoters was Suki Kim, who wrote the memoir Without You, There is No Us, about her two year experience undercover in North Korea teaching English. Both of their talks were so interesting and enlightening. I look forward to reading Ms. Kim's book, which we purchased there and asked her sign.
Don and Suki Kim autographing our copy of Without You, There Is No Us

More on Search for Meaning: In addition to the two keynote addresses we also attended three seminars each. Don and I attended our first seminar together which was called "In Search of the Triune God: The Christian Paths of East and West" given by Professor Eugene Webb. It was a fascinating look at the history of the church and the split that happened back in the 800s which lead to the Eastern Orthodox tradition. My third seminar was with Ellen Bass who talked about her experience writing poetry and, lucky for us, read quite a few of her poems aloud. Here is a tiny fragment from her poem "If You Knew" which asks us a probing question, if we knew we were the last person to touch a person before they die, would we treat them differently?

What if you knew you’d be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line’s crease. (Excerpt from "If I Knew" by Ellen Bass)

Dinner in Seattle: After the book festival we met up with our niece and her husband, Kaylyn and Bobby. They were vacationing in Seattle for a few days from their home in Boise. Rita, Dan, and Carly joined us, too. We had a fun dinner and plenty of conversation at the very fun and funky Buca di Beppo.  Since it is an Italian restaurant  we found our conversation drifting to Italy and the food we ate there. Kaylyn and Bobby visited Italy last year so we all had lots of stories to tell of wonderful sites and delicious food.

Listening to Canadian Brass: The school band is preparing to go to a competition or on tour (I am not sure which.) Several times this past Friday they came out of the band room and played their beautiful music for the assembled school while the students were eating their lunch or traveling to classes. One song was a gorgeous piece which featured the brass section. I don't know the name of the piece but in my search for it I stumbled upon this video of the Canadian Brass Quintet playing Bad Romance.  Enjoy something different today.


Books read this week:
  • Linda Brown, You are Not Alone: The Brown v. Board of Education Decision a collection of short stories, poems, and essays edited by Joyce Carol Thomas.
  • Ten Poems to Change Your Life by Roger Housden---a reread for me. This time I really focused on the aspects of each poem which spoke to finding oneself, one's soul. As in this line from Derek Walcott's poem "Love After Love"--
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door
  • Scottsboro, Alabama. A story in linoleum cuts. A rarely told story about a racial event which happened in the 1930s when nine innocent black boys were charged with rape. Because the NAACP and the American Communist party got involved, the events got some international publicity and the boys lives were spared.
  • War Dances by Sherman Alexie---one of the five books for the Pierce County Reads event this year. This book is a collection of Alexie's short stories and poems. All of them are classic Alexie---anger and fun rolled into one.
Currently reading: 
  • Quiet: The Power of the Introvert in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain--- I can't stop talking about this book, what does that say about me? I recommended it to my principal this week. He is an introvert, a quiet and effective leader, a rarity.
Adventures in inventorying the library: I started inventory this past week. What inventory really means is that I spend a lot of time looking at books deciding what I want to read, what I want to weed, and deciding how to organize things. I completely revamped the sports section, pulling books over from the biography section. I also placed an order for several more sports books I think will interest my readers. On contemplation I realized sports books have a pretty steady circulation so I want to up the offerings in this section. The other section with robust circulation is graphic novels (Dewey 741.5) but I haven't got that far in inventory, yet.

Have a good week. What are you up to?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Friday Quotes, Feb. 26

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

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


Book Title: Ten Poems to Change Your Life by Roger Housden

Book Beginning:
Good Poetry has the power to start a fire in your life. The first poem in this book, Mary
Oliver's "The Journey", begins like this: 
One day you finally knew what you had to do, 
and began, though the voices around you 
kept shouting 
their bad advice---
Friday 56 (46)
I opened my book of Rumi poems, and the pages fell open to this one ("Zero Circle") 
-Then a stretcher will come from grace to gather us up.
Comments: This is my second time reading this poetry book. It was the first of many Ten Poems books I read by Roger Housden. I really like them because the author explains the poems and puts them into context and draws attention to the symbolism. The quotes above include an except from a poem each, in italics.

Post Script: Several folks have commented that they don't like or understand poetry, but wonder if this book would be a good place to start. My answer is yes. I, too, didn't understand poetry nor how to read it until I read this book and the several other similar volumes in the Ten Poems series by Housden. I found my copy at a used book store, since it was published in 2001 you might find one at your local used bookstore, too. Here is my original blog post written after my first time through the book in 2013: Ten Poems to Change Your Life review. I actually like the review I wrote for a subsequent volume better. Please feel free to check that one out, too: Ten Poems to Set You Free.
Hey, while you are at it help yourself to one more, Ten Poems to Heal Your Heart.

I hope you, too, can find your way to poetry which really speaks to you.

Six Degrees of Separation: All the Light We Cannot See

Hosted at AnnabelleSmith

I'm very late to the party but since I enjoyed the book so much I decided I would jump in and play.

We start here
All the Light We Cannot See is a WWII story set in France in a small village on the coast. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2015. It was my favorite book of the year.
Another great favorite, The Goldfinch also won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The story revolves around a boy, Theo, who experiences a tragedy and his life spins off in a new direction. He often feels unloved and unwanted.
Great Expectations is also a book about a boy, Pip, who often feels unloved and unwanted. When a chance encounter changes the direction of his life, he doesn't even know to whom he should be grateful.
In Cider House Rules our main character, Homer, is an orphan and he finds a lot of support from the doctor and director. But, as is often the case, everything is not what it seems.
The Language of Flowers is about an abandoned girl, Victoria, who only seems to be able to communicate to others through flowers and the meanings that were assigned to flowers by the Victorians (get it?) Even when people express love to her she can't accept it because she feels so unlovable and different.
Oscar is a big misfit in The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. As a Dominican Republic-American he often feels like he doesn't belong in any world. he desperately wants love but just doesn't know how to show it or accept it.  He eventually finds his place in D.R. and finally feels like he belongs. Unfortunately, things end badly for Oscar. This book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2007.
That brings us back to All the Light We Cannot See which is not only a Pulitzer Prize winner, too, but about two misfit teens, Marie-Laure and Werner, who eventually meet each other near the end of the war. All endings are not necessarily happy but often are quite satisfying.


Every time I do this activity I am amazed where the six degrees take me. I had no idea when I started out where I would end up.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

It is inventory time in the library. You know what that means, don't you?

Roman cauliflower, a fractal in nature. I saw some in the store today for the very first time.
It is a slowish week in the library so I can finally start my inventory which needs to be done by the end of May. Sounds like I left myself plenty of time but one never knows. I am often putting in extra hours in late May to get it done.

Doing inventory means I get to (have to) touch every book in the library, which means that I suddenly have a ton more books to add to my TBR pile. I mean a ton! Today I was working in the 500s which are the math, physics, and science books. A few years ago we had a math teacher who assigned each of her precalculus students to read a library book dealing with some math subject. She did the same for her physics students. I had to buy a bunch of books just to have enough books on those topics for each of her students. Sadly that teacher has moved on but I still have the books and every year I hope I can talk some teacher into requiring his/her class to do the same assignment, thereby putting the books back into circulation, again. Two books in this section which caught my eye today were, A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper by John Paulos and How to Dunk a Doughnut: Science in Everyday Life by Len Fisher. They make math and science sound fun. Right?But if I am really honest with myself it is very unlikely I will ever read either of those books. They sound fun, but a book about math isn't exactly my thing. Or at least I don't think so since I've never actually read a book about math.

Next up, the astronomy books. I love looking at the stars. Maybe I should check out a book on constellations. I have done this before. I should just tell you, it is one thing looking at constellations in a book and a whole different thing if you have to find them in the actual sky, especially around here when it is cloudy so much of the time. Near this section I found a book about fractals (see photo above) in nature. That book has always intrigued me, plus it has lots of pictures. Maybe I should actually check it out.

After pushing my inventory cart across the aisle I found the physics books. I have never taken a physics class and admire those who have. This section has lots of books which intrigue me and I decided two from this section on my theoretical TBR pile wouldn't be too many. But what two? Should I choose Steven Hawkings A Brief History of Time, after all over 40 million people have read it. Another book of interest is one a student read and recommended, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott. Hey, I just discovered Flatland is considered a novella. I like that word, novella. It implies it is short. But as I got to the end of the row I found the book I could probably actually understand, The Cartoon Guide to Physics by Gonick and Huffman. That is about my speed, I would guess.

Now you are starting to understand why inventory takes me so long. What I am really doing is looking at books. All this talk about inventory and I only made 500 to 550s, Marine Biology. Oh dear. There is always tomorrow. What books might I like to read from that section?  Ha!

Monday, February 22, 2016

TTT: Books outside my comfort genres which I really liked

Hosted at Broke and Bookish

TTT: Books I ended up really liking even though they aren't in my comfort genre zone.

The Golem and the Jinni (The Golem and the Jinni, #1)1. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker...I'm actually not sure if this book is considered to be fantasy, or mythology retold, or just a tad of horror. Anyway, I don't usually pick up books like this one, but I really enjoyed it and it has "stuck well" in my memory.


One Hundred Years of Solitude

2. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez...probably the most famous of all magical realism books. It was a lot of work, but ended up really enjoying this one.



Steve Jobs: Insanely Great

3. Steve Jobs: Insanely Great by Jessie Hartland... a graphic biography of the famous founder of Apple. I found this format to be very accessible.



The Martian

4. The Martian by Andy Weir...Science fiction is not my typical genre, especially one stuffed so full of real science. Loved it, though.



The Woman in White

5. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins...I have just recently started reading Classics and this one delighted me. It is not only a classic but also a mystery. Bonus.



Felicity

6. Felicity by Mary Oliver...poetry. I've only started reading poetry the past few years and I become a huge fan.



The Ocean at the End of the Lane

7. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman...I don't read horror because I really get scared, but I read this one because I love the author and really enjoyed it.



I had to stretch pretty far back to get seven titles because I am such a reading omnivore. As I perused my reading list for the past two years I kept thinking that it wasn't unusual that I read such a variety of genres: history, nonfiction, realistic, humorous, graphic novels, mysteries, romances, classics, etc.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday Salon, Feb. 21

A view of Mt. Rainier from the shopping mall parking lot. The profane and the serene are juxtaposed.

Weather: Overcast and raining today, but it was lovely yesterday.

Birthday week: My family completely spoiled me this week starting in Vancouver last weekend, through the week, and then for dinner at a fabulous Italian restaurant, Marzanos, Friday night. Later today the girls and I will go to have tea together at a local tea shop. I am spoiled and love it.

Josh Groban and a memory: I purchased Josh Groban's Stages album this week as a birthday gift for myself. In this album he sings all show-tunes. This one "What I Did for Love" from A Chorus Line is a favorite among favorites. I first saw A Chorus Line in 1979 when I was attending a study abroad program in London with my friend, Anne Marie. What a revelation. When I heard Josh Groban singing this song it brought a lot of memories rushing back at me. I was 21 years old and exploring the world on my own with a friend. Everything was pure wonder in my eyes. We saw lots of musical events during our three month stay in London. A Chorus Line sticks out as a one of my favorites. Listen while you read the blog post.

 

A librarian dilemma: I started the library inventory this week during quiet moments here and there. I started over in the rarely read 000-199 sections of the occult, philosophers, weird phenomenons, psychology, and inspirational books. I moved on to the 200 section, or the religion and mythology books. Finally making my way halfway through the 300s or the social science books. Many of the books have never been read the whole time the school has been in existence. Since the school was new in 2005 many have 2004 or 2005 copyright dates, now feeling dated. Part of my job is to keep the library full of current materials but, and here is the dilemma, why order newer editions if they, too will remain unread? It fills me with sadness when I touch these books and think it is very likely they will never be replaced. Eventually they will just be weeded out and tossed away to make room for whatever new technology thing is around the corner. *Sigh. Double sigh.

Roses: We did it. Saturday we got outside and worked in the yard and pruned all 19 of our rose bushes. In the northwest we say the roses should be pruned by President's Weekend. We technically made it since Washington's birthday is February 22nd. Ta-da!

Currently reading: 
  • Quiet: The power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain...an audiobook and a book club selection. We will have a lot to talk about.
  • Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancy...I am making progress on this book, finally. My goal is to finish it by the end of the month to keep up with my mini challenge to finish books I started but didn't finish last year.
  • War Dances by Sherman Alexie...another audiobook, (We listened to over half this book while in line to cross back into America from Canada on Monday. The wait was two hours!
Books finished this week:

  • Flight by Sherman Alexie---another audiobook, this one we listened to on our way to Canada. Alexie's books are a mixture of humor and makye-you-squirm sadness.
  • The Illuminated Rumi by Rumi and Coleman Barks---an illustrated book of Rumi's poems and thoughts, translated by Barks.
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng---an uncomfortable look at a family in crisis. It addresses issues related to race, communication, dreams and goals. This is for book club. We should have a good discussion.
  • Sanditon and The Watsons: Jane Austen's unfinished novels by Jane Austen--- I would only recommend that extreme Austen fans tackle these unfinished manuscripts, not casual fans.

Harper Lee was a good Methodist: You may not know this, but now you will, my dad is a retired Methodist minister. I've gone to church my whole life. I am always glad to hear news of a positive nature related to churches. With the death of Harper Lee this week everyone is writing about the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, taking a look back on her life. Here, in this article, is an angle of Lee's life one might not have thought about. Lee wrote about her church in TKAM and was a good Methodist her whole life. Click the link, UMC.  Rest in peace Harper Lee. We are so grateful for your book and the message you gave us to be our better selves, like Atticus Finch.

Friday, February 19, 2016

What I was reading...a look back at birthdays past

Today is my birthday. Happy Birthday to me!!

As I was nodding off to sleep last night I said, "Tomorrow you will be _9, just try to remember back, Anne, to your birthday when you were 9." As I drifted off I was trying to remember the little girl who was me. I awoke with a determination to remember something of birthdays past. Why not the books I was reading on my birthdays past?

Today (Feb.19, 2016)
     I am reading/listening to two books: Audio--- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain and the print book--- Sanditon/The Watsons, Jane Austen's two unfinished manuscripts. Quiet is nonfiction and a book club selection. I've been piddling along on Sanditon for months. I hope to finish this weekend.





Last year (2015)
     I finished the book Defending Jacob by William Landy a few days after my birthday. I remember listening to the audiobook with my husband as we drove to Leavenworth, a Bavarian-style village in the Cascade mountains a few hours from our home. The book, a mystery, asks the question: What if you think your child is guilty, would you still defend him? This was a book club selection. I don't recall having a great discussion on the book with the club but Don and I had fun talking about it as we listened together. We had so much fun in Leavenworth, too. Happy memories. My summary of the book includes other books full of unlikable characters.



Two years ago (2014)
     The was just finishing up the wonderful, WONDERFUL book The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman on my birthday. Neil Gaiman is a favorite author but this book had all the makings of a book I wouldn't like because it is very dark and quite scary. But I did/do love it. In fact, just the other day I decided to add it to my new Nifty-fifty cart, a cart in the library filled with great go-to books for readers who need help making a selection.
Here is a link to my original review.





Three years ago (2013)
     A nonfiction selection was my birthday-reading fare, The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure by Martin Sandler. Though not a favorite book, I did marvel at how much heartier people were in those days of exploration and sea journeys and I really got into the story of this tremendous rescue. I have no idea why I decided to read this book, but I did. Ha!





Four years ago today (2012)
     I was deep into one of my favorite YA books of all time, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.  I even wrote Ms. Stiefvater a thank you/ love letter when I finished this one. She linked my note to her on her Twitter account. (Here is a copy of what I wrote to her.) Loved the book. Still do.







Five years ago (2011)
     Five years ago today I was reading about a horrible group of boys and their exploits in The Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Can you believe I hadn't read this classic tale of boys-gone-bad until five years ago? I have probably thought of this book every day since then for some reason or another. No wonder it is considered a classic and read by just about every high school student in America. Here is what I said about the book in 2011.

   



I started recording my books on Goodreads in 2010 but I was pretty spotty in the beginning and I didn't record any books the whole month of February 2010. I just know I was reading something. Do you have a Goodreads account? What were you reading five years ago this month? It was fun to look back and remember what I was doing these past year birthdays.


   

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Friday Quotes...Flight

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

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


Title: Flight by Sherman Alexie

Book Beginnings:  
Call me Zits. Everybody calls me Zits. That's not my real name, of course. My real name isn't important.

Friday 56 (actually 65 this week): 
I wonder if this is Heaven. Maybe God sent me to Hell first. Maybe he made me watch Art kill Junior because I needed to learn from my mistakes.

Comments: Flight is one of the five-book collection by Alexie being read this year for Pierce County Reads. It is his third book I've read of his and, as with the other books, it is a combination of funny and tragic. This one ends on a very touching, poignant moment. And yes, it has to do with zits. Alexie is a Native American from the Spokane tribe. His writing always makes me squirm. It is so important to understand his point of view. I highly recommend him, especially his YA novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, though Flight is very good, too.

The 2015 Cybils Awards go to...

Every February 14th book bloggers weigh in on their favorite books published in the last year.  There are quite a few categories from the easiest pictures books up to young adult offerings. For the whole list visit the Cybils website.

Here are the winners in the Young Adult categories (all the quotes are from the Cybils Website):

Fiction:
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
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Every Last Word stands out because of its honest, moving portrayal of mental illness. But it also stands out because of Sam’s hard-earned character growth. After being a bully just to fit in with her toxic friends, becoming a member of Poet’s Corner allows her to right some past wrongs and learn that finding your unique voice is more important than blending in with your friends. Along the way, we experience the highs and lows of high school cliques, show how there are always ways to redeem yourself even if they aren’t easy, and feel the emotions of all involved from every angle. The poetry included helps break the ice on what can be a difficult topic, making it more accessible, while the “feels” you succumb to will make and break your heart. It’s not always pretty, but it’s real and fair, making it a story that Young Adult readers can connect with on many levels.-Cybils Webpage
Graphic Novel:
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
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Nimona is the snarky, shape-shifting sidekick to a supervillain. Nimona forces everyone to look deeply into questions of good and evil. She reopens old wounds between villain and hero, and tears into her own enemies with a vengeance, regardless of the consequences. But she also foils a nefarious government plot and is a fierce protector. Who is good? Who is evil? And who decides, anyway? In NIMONA, the answers keep shifting, and the results are awesome. We loved the way Noelle Stevenson created complex, sympathetic characters who subvert traditional understandings of beauty, power, and morality. And NIMONA is riotously funny to boot!
Nonfiction:
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin
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Using historical data and interviews, Sheinkin sets a vivid, you-are-there scene, allowing readers to see Daniel Ellsberg move from enthusiastic Department of Defense political analyst to anti-war activist as he realizes that the President would continue sending American soldiers into this unwinnable war. Although Ellsberg is the title character, Most Dangerous is much more than a biography. It covers nearly three decades of US defense and political history, giving readers a front-row seat into the complexity of national security and decision making.  Compelling, thought-provoking and timeless, Most Dangerous delivers readers not only an historical account of a time period in our history often confusing, but offers readers a critical eye towards the future as well.
Speculative Fiction:
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
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Ballerinas, normally the artistic apex of beauty and grace, were shown as something violent and unfamiliar, underscoring themes of innocence and its loss.  Nova Ren Suma’s THE WALLS AROUND US provides an unhinged look into the competitive, obsessive world through the eyes of Amber and Violet, two girls with vastly different futures: one in a Juvenile Detention Center; the other on her way to a promising career at Julliard. A challenging narrative with definite speculative, creepy supernatural elements, the novel’s shadowy, edgy setting with its distinctive voices, together with the atmospheric beauty of the writing convinced even the dubious to embrace this psychological thriller
My Thoughts:
I am delighted with the choices. I haven't read Every Last Word (but now I will). One fun thing, however, Ms. Stone will be in Tacoma in April and I will have a chance to meet her. The other three books are very, very good. Nimona was a Mock Printz selection for my team and the students loved it. I am a fan of Most Dangerous and wanted it to win a Printz Award this year. It must be hard for nonfiction books to gain the attention of that committee because they overlooked a fabulous book in this one, Thank goodness the Cybils didn't overlook it! The Walls Around Us isn't my cup of tea because it is really scary and I don't do scary very well. But even as I was reading it I recognized the excellent writing and the creative literary skills that Nova Ren Suma used in this book. I'm off to see if Every Last Word is available so I can check it out!



Have you read any of these books? What do you think of the list?

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle


Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of many young adult verse novels about the island, including THE SURRENDER TREE, which received the first Newbery Honor ever awarded to a Latino author, and THE LIGHTNING DREAMER, recipient of the 2014 PEN USA Award. Her books have also received multiple Pura Belpré Awards and Honors, Américas Awards, Jane Addams Awards and Honors, International Reading Association Award, Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, and many others.
Margarita grew up in Los Angeles, but developed a deep attachment to her mother’s homeland during summers with her extended family in Cuba. ENCHANTED AIR, Two Cultures, Two Wings is a verse memoir about those childhood visits. -from Margarita Engle's webpage

I read Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle as part of my own challenge to read all the Youth Media Award Books for young adults. Enchanted Air won the Pura Belpre Award this year which goes to an excellent book to a Latino author. It is a deeply touching memoir about Ms. Engle's feeling about her mother's homeland, Cuba, and what it was like to be barred from visiting it once the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred and travel to Cuba was blocked.

Her visits to Cuba always felt a bit like visiting a fairy-tale land. Her her in California felt les like home than Cuba on those visits to the exotic island of her ancestors. On the book jacket Ms. Engle says that the experience of being a girl from two places was so personal to her it was hard to express so she decided to describe the experience of travel to and from both places. The poems are deeply personal and very descriptive. I understand why it won the Pura Belpre. It deserved to be recognized for its excellence.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Enchanted Air and have purchase a copy for my library. Now I need to figure out how to get students to read it, too.

Challenge: Read ALA Youth Media Award winners
Read as part of this challenge to read all the ALA YA Award books for 2016.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Very quotable: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

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I was about one fourth of my way through The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George when I spied a few reviews of the book on Goodreads. Half the reviewers gave the book high ratings. "Loved the book." So romantic." The other half were really down on the book. "Not what I expected." "Started off so strong and went down hill." Several of my blogging friends weighed in on both sides of the debate. Oh-oh. I was in trouble. I was still in the first fourth of the book and was enjoying it immensely but was I to expect a drastic down-turn soon? Dang it. Why did I read those reviews before I was done with the book. I felt like I was being poisoned. The only remedy was to keep reading and make up my own mind.

The book starts off so strong. Jean Perdu owns a little bookshop located on a barge in Paris. It is called the Book Apothecary. Perdu prides himself on being able to prescribe the perfect book for what ails a reader.
“Books are more than doctors, of course. Some novels are loving, lifelong companions;some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you've got those autumn blues. And some...well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful voice. Like a short, torrid love affair.”  ― Nina GeorgeThe Little Paris Bookshop
“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.” 
“Perdu reflected that is was a common misconception that booksellers looked after books. They look after people.” 

Patrons arrive at the bookshop unprepared for Perdu's ability to guess their malady and his canny ability to prescribe the correct book. Some stomp away in shock only to return later for the correct treatment. Very clever. For any book lover, like myself, this book seems like a perfect prescription for us.

Then, approximately one fourth of the way through the book the storyline seems to shift. We learn that Perdu is a victim of love spurned. It happened 21 years earlier and he has been living with a broken heart ever since. When a new woman enters his life he is forced to pull up stakes and confront his old hurts. He pulls up the stakes that attach his barge to the mooring sight in Paris and heads off to confront his past love, to mend his broken heart.
“Memories are like wolves. You can’t lock them away and hope they leave you alone.” 
 “He wished he could prop his fearful self up in a corner like a broom and walk away.” 
“Do you know that there’s a halfway world between each ending and each new beginning? It’s called the hurting time, Jean Perdu. It’s a bog; it’s where your dreams and worries and forgotten plans gather. Your steps are heavier during that time. Don’t underestimate the transition, Jeanno, between farewell and new departure. Give yourself the time you need. Some thresholds are too wide to be taken in one stride.” 
Along the way Perdu picks up three passengers. Max, a young and insecure author without a muse. A Neapolitan cook, who creates wonders of cuisine in the tiny kitchen aboard. And an eccentric bookseller who is looking for a good kiss. At this point in the story the plot starts to feel a little like Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. Silly and farcical just bordering on funny, but not quite. Perdu has to grow through his pain to reach the ability to confront his past and move on. His companions all help him along the way but also distract from the story. I suspect this is where the reviewers either stopped reading or wallowed in the details long enough to give a negative report on Goodreads. At this point I found myself just wanting to finish the book. Since I was listening to the audiobook I couldn't skip pages or paragraphs so I bumped up the listening speed to 1.5. At this speed the text loses punctuation. Ha!
“I need to cry some more. I'll drown if I don't...Sometimes you're swimming in unwept tears and you'll go under if you store them up inside.” 
“Fear transforms your body like an inept sculptor does a perfect block of stone...It's just that you're chipped away at from within, and no one sees how many splinters and layers have been taken off you. You become ever thinner and more brittle inside, until even the slightest emotion bowls you over. One hug, and you think you're going to shatter and be lost.”  
In the last fourth of the book Perdu is finally ready to do the hard work to recover himself and to open his heart to new love. The ending is satisfying and I understand the reviewers who commented on how romantic the book felt.

My personal favorite part of the book is all the quotable bits. I kept marveling that the book was translated from French yet the quotes in English are so lovely and speak to my heart. Quotes like all the ones I have attached here kept me reading and allow me to give the book a positive rating of 3.5.

“Love is a house. Everything in a house should be used—nothing mothballed or ‘spared.’ Only if we fully inhabit a house, shunning no room and no door, are we truly alive. Arguing and touching each other tenderly are both important; so are holding each other tight and pushing the other away. We must use absolutely every one of love’s rooms. If not, ghosts and rumors will thrive. Neglected rooms and houses can become treacherous and foul….” 
Have you read the book? What did you think?