"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, May 22, 2017

TTT: Summer-themed

Today's Top Ten Tuesday suggests that we create lists about books which are summer-themed. Instead, I am creating a list of books I of books I hope to read this summer. All of the titles are from my Goodreads to-read list.

I like reading short stories when I am on vacation.
  • Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre by a variety of female authors (I've heard good things bout this book and I own it.)
  • Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump. (I love the movie made from a story in this book: "Hunt for the Wilderpeople." But the book is out-of-print and my library doesn't have a copy, Not sure I will be able to make this reader's dreams come true.)
  • Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. This short story collection was a Pulitzer Prize winner. I am challenging myself to rad as many of the past Pulitzer Prize books as I can.)
My book clubs both continue over the summer. I've read ahead for one group but these are the books I need to read this summer for my other group:
  • Philomena: a Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty-Year Search by Martin Sixsmith (I think there was a movie made from this book.) June.
  • Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy (I honestly know nothing about this book.) July.
  • Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larsen. (I've read several books by this author and like his approach to writing nonfiction.) August.
Young Adult. Just because I am retiring doesn't mean I want to abandon this genre. Here are some titles which excite me:
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. (I love this author and have heard great things about this books.)
  • City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie Anderson. (OK. Truth be told. I am already reading this one but I won't finish it until after  Memorial Day, so it counts as a summer read.)
  • Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. (Taken from a popular webcomic.)
  • The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Saenz ( I just got a notice that the library has checked out the e-audiobook to me remotely. Guess I'll be listening to this one next.)
Award Winner.
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. (I placed a hold on this award-winning book several months ago. I am tracking it and I know my turn will come sometime this summer.)
What will you be reading this summer?


Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman

Don standing looking at a van Gogh painting of a peasant, 1888, Simon Norton Museum, Pasadena, CA.
This is what I knew about Vincent van Gogh before reading Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman: He was Dutch; he was mentally ill; he was friends with Gauguin, another artist; he cut off his ear; and he died young from suicide. I also knew that I liked his paintings, especially "Starry, Starry Night." I thought I knew that he was considered to be one of the Impressionistic artists, but apparently that label isn't quite right.

After reading the excellent book Vincent and Theo: The van Gogh Brothers I know a whole lot more about this remarkable artist and I also know who made his art possible: his brother, Theo. Without Theo it is unlikely that Vincent would have ever become an artist or his art would have never been known by the world.
Mulberry Tree, 1889, Vincent van Gogh, Simon Norton Museum

The brothers were born into a large Dutch family. The father was a Protestant minister in a predominantly Catholic country. Vincent was named for a brother who died a stillborn and was buried in the churchyard not far from their home. Theo was four or five years younger than Vincent and they had several sisters. Vincent was always moody and liked to take long walks in nature. He didn't like school and so at a relatively young age he went to work for a friend of an uncle who owned an art gallery. Vincent was a terrible employee, finally getting fired. He tried a variety of other things to support himself but none of them "took": teaching, preaching, salesman. Though he would get grandiose ideas they usually came to nothing. But coming from a close-knit family, Vincent was always acutely aware of the many ways he disappointed his family, especially his parents.

Once when Vincent was nineteen or twenty Theo came to visit him and the two brothers took a long walk which ended at a mill (windmill). The brothers pledged to support one another for life. This walk and pledge seemed to be a life-altering one for both of them. From that time forward, Theo and Vincent did indeed seem bound together, for good or for bad, until their deaths.
Roses, van Gogh, 1890, MET

After Theo left school, he too went to work in the art business but unlike his brother, Theo was a good salesman and employee. This was very lucky because without the money that Theo was able to send to Vincent, he would not have been able to survive. At some point it was Theo who encouraged Vincent to abandon his life as a derelict preacher and to begin drawing and eventually painting. Vincent, who had little formal art training, would copy out pictures from books that Theo sent him, or would draw or paint from live models, if he could afford them. He would send his work to Theo for critiques and worked hard to improve. Theo told his brother about the new art, Impressionism, and encouraged Vincent to add more color to his paintings. By 1884/85 Vincent had made to switch and was using more and more paint and bright, happy colors. His brother got very excited about Vincent's art and would submit pieces at exhibitions in Paris, and, if his boss allowed, in the studio where he worked. A few pieces sold and Vincent was starting to get some recognition in the art world.

By this time, however, Vincent's mental health was getting very tenuous. He would have good weeks and then completely fall apart. For a while a fellow artist Paul Gauguin lived with Vincent in the South of France and their relationship wasn't very healthy. It was while Gauguin was with him that Vincent cut off his ear (or was it Gauguin who cut it off?) Theo's letters and money kept Vincent anchored for a while longer but eventually Vincent had to go live in an asylum where he was allowed to paint and draw on good days. Unfortunately, Theo's health had also taken a turn for the worst. Soon after Theo got married to Jo he began coughing and feeling run-down. He continued working, he had to to support everyone, but it drained him. Both men, now in their thirties, were not long for this world. Vincent died of a gunshot wound to the gut (self-inflicted?) at age 37 and Theo died from the symptoms of tertiary syphilis six months after his beloved brother died. It was Jo, Theo's wife, who doggedly brought Vincent's art to the world and ultimately made a fortune for herself. She also was the one who published the letters from Vincent to his brother, which formed the basis of this book.
Cypress tree, van Gogh, 1889, MET

The author, Deborah Heiligman, talks about the research she did to prepare herself for writing this biography. It is worth a look, especially if you are curious about the tremendous amount of work that goes into the research for a book like this. Check it out here.

Vincent and Theo has earned six coveted starred reviews from the likes of School Library Journal, Booklist, Publisher's Weekly, etc. It will certainly be a book to watch come award season in the fall and winter. It is being marketed to teens, age fourteen and up. Weighing in at over 450 pages, it is bit longer than the average teen would like, so I doubt it will ever be 'popular' with teens. But the writing is certainly accessible and interesting. So when the right reader comes along it will be ready and waiting.

btw- In case you are wondering, Vincent's art is considered to be post-impressionism. It seems like it is splitting hairs but the post impressionists weren't as concerned about light as their predecessors.

I listened to the audiobook of Vincent and Theo from Dreamscape and narrated by Phil Fox.  Fox is a British actor but he does an excellent job with the accents, making it seem like he is Dutch himself. He pronounced Theo's name 'Tayo" and Jo's name as 'Yo'.  I enjoyed listening to it and would recommend this format, but do get a copy of the print edition of the book because the center sections contains copies of several prints of Vincent's work which Heiligman describes or references in the book.

All of the photos of van Gogh's work I took at either the Simon Norton museum in Pasadena or the Metropolitan museum in New York. What a thrill to stand in front of the work of Vincent van Gogh.



Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunny Sunday Salon, May 21

Our backyard is so lovely this time of year.
Weather: Perfect. Blue skies, temperature warm but not hot.

Ear Infection: This whole week I have been suffering from a middle ear infection. My Eustachian tubes are plugged which has caused fluid buildup, which causes pressure on my inner ear, causing intermittent vertigo. Lovely. Wednesday I wasn't sure if I was going to make it home from school, I was so dizzy. Lucky for me the car knows the way. I've been stuck in the house since then, not wanting to go out in case I have another attack of the dizzies. I hope I can make it to school tomorrow, since Don is on a trip to Idaho and I am on my own.

The good part of being stuck in the house: I have finally started to catch up on my blogging. I am so far behind on my book reviews, it was good to have an excuse to write. So far I have written four book reviews and I anticipate another one done today once this dizzy spell passes. Check them out:

Books completed this week:
  • Vincent and Theo: The van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman. A biography of the famous artist and his brother, based on primary documents. Very well done but long.  Audio and print.
  • This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. A book club selection about a family who attempts to keep the secret of their child's sex/gender assignment not matching genitalia. Very thought-provoking. Audio and print.
  • The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang. A little fable recommended by a blogging friend, Deb Nance at Readerbuzz. Cute. Print.
Abandoned this week: (I decided I am no longer interested or just ran out of time)
  • The Girls from Ames
  • The Gift, poems by Hafiz
Currently reading: 
  • Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Gaudin---I am on a race to finish this book before the end of the school year and retirement. Another book recommended by a fellow blogger, Alicia of A Kernel of Nonsense. I just started. 1%. Print.
  • We Are Okay by Nina LaCour---a YA selection based on its starred reviews. Two friends separated by space and circumstances try to reconnect. LGBT-themes. Audio. 65%.
A bookish thought or two: Now that retirement is just around the corner, or even closer, I am starting to think of my life without a library at my fingertips. I know, I can still use the public library systems but it won't be the same. I think that will be the hardest thing about leaving the school for the last time in June.// I am also thinking about books as a finite thing. Let's say I live for another 25 years and can pull off reading say 60 books a year, which seems like a reasonable number once I won't be reading as much YA literature, that means I have about 1500 more books ahead of me. With a finite number like that to contemplate, it makes me think I should be more picky about what I read. If I am not enjoying a book I hope to give myself permission to abandon it or to just read a bit and set it aside without forcing myself to finish it out of some kind of inner compulsion. We'll see how successful I am at it. 

On that note: I checked out this list of books mentioned on the TV show "The Gilmore Girls" read by Rory Gilmore, after it was mentioned by another blogger at Utopia of Mind. It contains 339 books. I've read 94 of them. Many of the others are on my virtual reading list. How many have you read? My English teacher friends have all read more than me. Several of the book on the list are complete short story collections or complete volumes of poetry which I have read some but not all. I didn't count those. Since Rory read so much I am sure we all know why she was so brilliant!

Walk in the sun: Time to get out of the house and see how I do with a short walk around the block. Hopefully I don't get half way and get hit by a bout of the dizzies. Maybe I should plant flowers instead. I hate to be too far from a chair or coach.

Love you!


Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team

It is possible that Jim Thorpe is the greatest American athlete to ever live. What makes this statement even more remarkable is that many, possibly most, Americans have never heard of him.

Jim Thorpe was an American-Indian from the Sac and Fox Nation, born in 1887. As a young boy he was sent to an Indian school to "kill the Indian in him in order to save the man." Thorpe understandably chaffed in that environment and would run away with regularity. His twin brother, Charlie, didn't mind school the way his brother did and so helped Jim along. But at age nine Charlie died of pneumonia so Jim was left alone and to his own devises. Jim liked anything to do with movement---running, hiking, hunting, riding---but hated sitting and school work. After running away too many times, his father took Jim to the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania because it was far from their home in Oklahoma. When he arrived he was instantly attracted to the game of football.

Football in the early 1900s was not the same game as Americans no today. There was no forward passing, no mid-direction plays, no receivers. Teams could recover their own punts, The scoring was different, and the games were usually refereed by coaches from the home team. It was not uncommon for players to get slugged and knocked-out by members of the opposing team, and it was the rare game where someone didn't break a bone. For these reasons the superintendent of the Carlisle Indian School wanted to ban the sport. In fact, a lot of colleges either did ban football or were just about to ban it, when a group of coaches got together in 1906 and changed the rules of the game and formed what we now know as the NCAA.

Glenn "Pop" Warner played football for Cornell as a student and then spent the rest of his life coaching it. He became the coach at the Carlisle school and in 1903 he had his team use the hidden ball trick where a player actually hid the football in back of his shirt confounding the opponents. In 1907, an undersized Thorpe begged to be allowed on the team and Warner was very impressed with running skills. Eventually Thorpe and Warner would go on to have the most successful football seasons in the country. The team, completely undersized and out-manned, would beat their Goliath opponents because of the creativity of their game calling and because of Thorpe. He could do it all. He could run,block, punt, kick, throw. No one could catch him if he got a bit of space.

In 1912 Thorpe went to the Olympics in Sweden and won both the pentathlon and the decathlon with basically no training whatsoever. He reported that he had no idea, for example, that the javelin was thrown from a running start. Several years later he had his gold medals stripped from him because he had played semi-professional baseball for two summers. The unfairness of this act really smacked of racism since white players from Harvard didn't have their medals taken away though they had also played summer ball.

Years later sports writers were asked who was the best athlete of the first part of the century and Jim Thorpe was the hands-down winner. Babe Ruth was a distant second place winner. Yet we've all heard of Ruth and few of us know much about Thorpe. Why? Is the answer also racist?

Sheinkin, who is one of the best nonfiction writers for young people today, picks topics which highlight our history without whitewashing the bad bits.
Sheinkin has made a career of finding extraordinary stories in American history, researching them exhaustively and recounting them at a nimble pace for readers aged 10 and up. What sets Sheinkin’s work apart is his willingness to tackle horrific chapters in United States history — the creation of the atomic bomb, the Vietnam War — with a candor that is unusually respectful of young readers’ intelligence. His stories center on heroic actors without short-selling the abhorrent circumstances that forced them into heroism in the first place. (NYT Book Reviews)
He certainly opened my eyes to the horrors of the Indian schools which popped up around the country in the late 1800s, the unfair way that Indians were treated in all aspects of society, and oddly, how awful the game of football sounded at its inception.

I think that students ages 12 and up will find lots to like in this book. Even if they don't know about Thorpe, the football may pull them in , but Thorpe's story will captivate them. I am so glad I read this book. It cleared up misconceptions I held about Thorpe prior to reading it. I should add that my husband, who also knew little about Thorpe, enjoyed the parts of the book I read aloud to him because of the football. The play by play of each game makes these games of old come alive.

Will it win a book award this year? It very well may. Sheinkin is not unfamiliar with the award podium, having won the YALSA Nonficiton book award, a finalist for the National Book Award, a winner of the Seibert Medal, and a Newbery finalist for past books, it is possible this book will also be honored with an award, or two. Let's hope so. That way more people will read about Jim Thorpe and his amazing athletic endeavors.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

If you are a reader of my blog you will remember that this past February I decided to celebrate Black History Month in my library not by highlighting the accomplishments of African-Americans throughout history, but by highlighting books written by African-Americans. I was shocked first at how few titles I had in my library written by African-Americans authors and how few of these authors I was familiar with. I did an exhaustive search online and was shocked to learn that the problem was not unique to my library. In fact after reading this article from the NYT I learned that while children's book with African-American characters is up over the last decade, the number of African-American authors is roughly the same as ten years ago. No wonder miscommunication and racial bias continue to plague our nation. Children of color have few characters in literature they can relate to and white children have no/few examples to help them appreciate and accept cultural and racial differences. That is until this year when finally, it seems, the literary world is waking up and publishing books for young adults written by African-American authors on topics in tune to what is what is happening in our culture today.

Angie Thomas, the author of The Hate U Give, started her book when she was in college in response to the news about an unarmed black boy being killed in Oakland. This book, about a black girl who witnesses the killing of her unarmed friend at the hands of a cop, is discouragingly all too familiar to us today. And it is about time that the literary world publish a fiction book which explores what it is like to live in fear of the police in a country which espouses but doesn't practice the motto "with liberty and justice for all."
“The Hate U Give” takes place in a neighborhood modeled on the community Ms. Thomas grew up in, where drugs and gang violence were inescapable but people looked out for one another. Starr shares many of the author’s traits — she loves basketball and Tupac, and shuttles between two worlds: her affluent, mostly white private school and her impoverished neighborhood (NYT).
As I read the book I had several ah-ha moments. It is so easy to sit on one side and judge the other side. But not until you walk across the divide can one truly appreciate what another person has to go through to survive and thrive in their world. A colleague who has two biracial children read The Hate U Give at my urging and she said this book is very important and speaks to many of the issues she has had to confront with her children. I book-talk the book by simply saying it is based on the theme of "black lives matter'" and my readers snap it up.

If you have ever wondered why some blacks are angry and sometimes take their anger out to the streets of their communities, you need to read The Hate U Give.

If you have never had to explain the "rules" to your children of what to do if they are pulled over by the police, you need to read The Hate U Give.

If you have ever wondered why people of color name their children such "weird" names, not sensible names like yours, you need to read The Hate U Give.

If you have thought to yourself that black kids are more likely to commit crimes so they deserve to be pulled over more often by the police, you need to read The Hate U Give.

If you truly want to help make our world a better place for everyone, you need to read The Hate U Give.

I will be shocked if The Hate U Give doesn't clean up when all the book awards are given out at the end of the year. In fact I will be surprised if it doesn't win them all: The National Book Award, The Printz Award, The Coretta Scott King Award, the Boston-Globe/Horn Book Award, The Morris Award, and The Walden Award. For that reason alone, you need to read The Hate U Give.






Friday, May 19, 2017

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

It's not fair how some people seem to have it all: the brains to be one of the top geobiologists in the world AND the ability to write so eloquently she could be a poet or an award-winning novelist. But that is Hope Jahren, whose autobiography, Lab Girl, just about knocked me off my feet. It is so interesting and introspective. The very best books, in my opinion, are so well written that one cannot imagine putting them down or abandoning them mid-book, while, at the same time, one where the reader learns something, or a lot of somethings, along the way. Lab Girl is that book.

Hope Jahren, the book jacket tells us, has received four Fulbright Awards in geobiology, is one of four scientists (and the only woman) to be awarded the Young Investigator Medal given to scientists working in earth sciences, and was named by Popular Science as one of the "Brilliant 10" young scientists in 2005. She has also built three laboratories in which she studies trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. "Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life---but it is so much more" (book jacket).

Lest you determine right here and now that you aren't very interested in plants so think you will pass on the book, I should warn you "the so much more" really is so much more. Jahren grew up in Minnesota to parents whose stock harkened from Scandinavia. No one in her family would every talk about their feelings. In fact, it was rare if they would even talk to each other at all. But her father, a science professor at the local college, would often take Hope to his lab at night and let her mess around while he worked.  Those hours in the lab with her father were the happiest of her childhood and set her on the path to a lifetime of investigation and discovery.

After graduating from Berkeley with a doctorate degree, Jahren was hired as an assistant professor at Georgia Tech where she set up her first lab with the help of a brilliant, but wounded man named Bill who would remain as her best friend and lab manager through three moves and thousands of experiments. The two have a crazy, irreverent relationship which works because each are very accepting of the other, both can to think outside the box and both of them are workaholics. Acceptance was a huge thing as we come to understand because Jahren would soon find herself with a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder and with Bill's help was able to maintain her teaching schedule and all her experiments while she stabilized on the drugs that would bring her life back into balance. When Hope meets and marries another man,Clint Conrad, her friendship with Bill stays intake. When she becomes pregnant and is forced to go off the meds which stabilize her moods, it is Bill who keeps all the pieces together.

Between chapters documenting Bill and Hope's almost madcap science adventures, we are treated to chapters about the lives of plants, especially trees. Readers like myself will learn unbelievable facts about trees written in layman's terms making these chapters very interesting and accessible. I learned, for example, why the leaves on a tree are small toward the top and larger toward the bottom and how trees communicate with one another even though they are rooted to the ground. I never thought I'd be fascinated by the lives of seeds, or the function of roots, but after reading this book, I am.

At one point in the book Jahren explains how she and Bill decide what to study next. They take a trip to Ireland and just start walking around. When they get to the top of a hill they discover that the moss is holding in a ton of water. Shouldn't that water be running downhill? Which came first, the water or the moss? With these questions they start their next experiment, which unfortunately all gets dumped into the trash because they didn't have the proper paperwork filed to remove biological samples from the country. Their curiosity was contagious. It made me wish I was a scientist who could just march around looking for experiments which would answer the questions I have about life.

With all the science in the book it is hard to believe that in a lot of ways this autobiography is really a coming-of-age tale. Jahren, who never felt the love she craved from her mother, worries that she won't have what it takes to be a good mother. She is insecure about herself as a female in a male dominated profession. She wishes she could stay in a perpetual state of mania where her creativity, energy, and imagination are at their best but knows she must stay on her meds to avoid the inevitable lows that follow the highs. Her insights and introspection on these topics were my very favorite, among many favorite things, in this book.

It is Bill who suggested that Hope Jahren write this book. They had so many science adventures together and at the end of one long experiment, as they sat amid the detritus left in the wake, he suggested it, though he says he will never read the book.

In the end Jahren sums up the book and her life this way,
Science is work, nothing more, nothing less. And we will keep working as another day downs and this week turns into next week, and then this month becomes next month. I can feel the warmth of the same brilliant sun that shines above the forest and onto the green world, but in my heart I know that I am not a plant. I am more like an ant, driven to find and carry single dead needles, one after the other, all the way across the forest and then add them one by one to a pile so massive that I can only fully imagine one small corner of it. As a scientist I am indeed only an ant, insufficient and anonymous, but I am stronger than I look and part of something that is much bigger that I am (277).
This will be the book I recommend this year if anyone is casting about trying to figure out what book to read next or just looking for a recommendation. Now I recommend it to you.







Modified Blog-n-Readathon

Today I am home sick from school again. I have an ear infection which causes me to be dizzy and amplifies sounds in my head. If I am sitting around I am fine, as long as there is no loud sounds, so I decided to spend the day reading and blogging. I am so far behind on my book reviews, it is ridiculous. Plus, I have several books I need to return to the library. I want to finish them before they are due. So I am challenging myself to a twelve-hour blog-n-readathon.

With that said, here is my plan---I will divide my time between blogging and reading. I figure I have about 11 hours today that should be uninterrupted time. Don has an afternoon meeting and a dinner to attend afterwards. By the time he gets home I hope to have finished two books: The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly and This Is How It Always Is. If I finish those books I will start Wolf by Wolf, which has been on my TBR pile all school year. In terms of blogging, I have at least six, probably more, books I want to review which I have read recently but just not had the time to review.  That should fill up my day nicely!

I'm off to read and blog.Talk to you later!

Update:
I finished two books: The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly and This Is How It Always Is.
I started another audiobook: We Are Okay by LaCour
I wrote three blog post reviews: Lab Girl, The Hate U Give, and Undefeated.
Better yet, I have broken though my stubbornness at not wanting to write reviews. Yay!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Friday Quotes, May 18

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
Th
e 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: This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

Book Beginning:
Once upon a time, Claude was born but first, Roo was born.
Friday 56:
Over the years, kindergarten homework has gotten more...Rosie said 'intense'; Penn said 'asinine with an emphasis on ass.'
Comment: I just started this book club selection today about a family's secret that their young son wants to be a girl. It is a very pertinent topic for today.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday Salon, May 14th

My mom, reading to her granddaughters 25 years ago.
Weather: light rain. Yesterday we enjoyed a few sunbreaks.

Happy Mother's Day: My mother is 88 years old and is still very active. She is a trained registered nurse and often would work part-time while raising a family of four children. My dad is a Methodist minister and so Mom would often serve as the pastor's wife role at church and on committees. We lived in two different college towns when we were growing up and Mom got very involved in programs which would help welcome international students. Over the years I remember Mom welcoming and getting to know students from Korea, Iran, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Norway, Uganda, Germany, and many other countries. Many of these students have remained friends with my parents to this day. In a way, Mom has been the mother of the world. Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you.

Don is 60 today: My sister gave him a card of famous things that happened in 1957, the year we were both born. Movie tickets were 50 cents. The Vice President of the US made $35,000 per year. Gasoline was 31 cents/gallon.  Here are some images of some other things that happened in 1957:
Tang was a new beverage. Frisbees were introduced. "The Music Man" was debuted on Broadway. "Leave It to Beaver" was a popular new TV show. The Cat in the Hat was published. And Jackie Robinson retired from baseball.

Elvis on Ed Sullivan show, Jan. 6, 1957 for his third and last time.

Sorting and throwing away: I've gotten into some serious sorting and throwing away at work of papers and items I have amassed over my 37 year career. I am also setting things aside to give to teachers as prizes or booby-prizes at my retirement party on June 1st. I have a lot of posters, books, decorations, and funny gadgets. We'll see if anyone wants these little treasures. Ha!

Books completed this week:
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. A memoir by a scientist/biologist who talks about her life in science and the challenges of being a female in the field. I really like this book a lot. It made me want to go back and do better in science classes in school. Audio.
  • Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin. This YA nonfiction book filled in a lot of holes I had in my knowledge about Jim Thorpe and about the beginnings of American football as we know it today. Sheinkin is the best YA, nonfiction writer out there and this book made a big impact on me. Print.
Currently reading:
  • Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman. A biography of one of the world's most famous artist and his brother. I am surprisingly interested in it. Audio. 50%.
  • This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. I've made no progress this week on the book but must bear down because it is due back to the library soon. Print. 
Have a wonderful week. Happy Mother's Day! Happy Birthday, Don! 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday Quotes: Lab Girl

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
Th
e 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: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Book Beginning: (Prologue):
People love the ocean. People are always asking me why I don't study the ocean, because, after all, I live in Hawaii. I tell them that it's because the ocean is a lonely, empty place. There is six hundred times more life on land than there is in the ocean and this fact mostly comes down to plants.
Friday 56:
The day after the University of Minnesota conferred upon me a bachelor's degree cum laude, I dumped off my winter clothes in a big pile at the Salvation Army on Lake Street, took Hiawatha Avenue south to Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, and flew to San Francisco. After I got to Berkeley, I didn't so much meet Bill. It was more like I identified him.

Comments: This memoir, written by a three-time Fulbright Scholar scientist, is a pure joy to read. It makes me wish I was a scientist with the curiosity and volition to run down hunches and discover problems just waiting to be solved. Bill isn't Hope's love-interest. He is her best friend and lab partner. The book is not only about what it is like being a woman in a field dominated by men, but how to navigate in that world while also plagued by other demons of mental illness, and feelings of unworthiness. I really, really like this book.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

SYNC: Free audiobook downloads for the summer, and summer has already started!

Every summer SYNC makes free audiobooks available for teen's who like to listen to their books read by someone else...and adults who like audiobooks, too.  Anyway. Every year I miss the launch of SYNC's summer season of free books because, well, it isn't summer yet!

This year I caught the beginning (last week) but forgot to tell you, my readers. If you act quickly, by tomorrow, you will have only missed one week. Here are the details:

Go to SYNC and download the two books they offer every week. The only sign up they require is your email address and name. Download the OVERDRIVE APP onto your phone or MP3 device and you are ready.  I have OVERDRIVE on my computer, too, so I actually do the download from my computer but I can listen to it on what ever device I want as long as I  login to my Overdrive Account.

I know these posters aren't really large enough to clearly see the weekly offering, but note that this week, which ends tomorrow, has The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas and Feed by MT Anderson. Both of these books are two of my favorite audiobooks of all time!


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sunday Salon, May 7, 2017. THRIVE.


Weather: Sunny. Mild temperatures. The flowers are blooming and the birds singing. Eden!

Thrive: We were made to thrive. The theme of church today was thriving. The scriptures, the music, and the sermon all dealt with the topic. Even during communion we were served bread which was full of nuts and seeds. It spoke to me of abundance and sustenance---not just getting by but thriving. So on that thought today I offer to you some of my thoughts on thriving.

Definition:
thrive
THrīv/
verb
  1. (of a child, animal, or plant) grow or develop well or vigorously.

    "the new baby thrived"

Casting Crowns: Thrive, with lyrics. Play while you read the blog and tap your feet as the music moves you.



Retirement: I submitted my retirement letter on Friday. It is official. Next year I will be able to focus on my family and my health. Heck, I may even thrive as a retiree. I hope so.

A reading from the prophet Jeremiah: Thrive! This is God's message to anyone who needs encouragement: 
I'll turn things around for you. I'll compassionately come in and rebuild your lives. The new will be rebuilt in old places; things will be splendid again. Thanksgiving will pour out of our lives; laughter will spill out from the former places of fear. Things will get better and better. Depression days are over. You will thrive, you will flourish.
60 for my 60th: Yesterday I had a wonderful luncheon with two friends, Jill and Nancy. We visited for hours and, though we talked a lot about health, we also talked about the things in our lives which are causing us to thrive: our children, their children, work, retirements, husbands, friendships. Thank you so much for the wonderful afternoon, Jill and Nancy. This 60 for my 60th thing has really been a wonderful way to reconnect with friends.

Fresh 20: Jill made a delicious salad from a recipe she got from a subscription service called Fresh 20. The idea, if I have this right, is to make fresh recipes using at least 20 different ingredients with lots of fruits and veggies each week. I signed up for the free first week to see what I think. I've printed off the shopping list which should really streamline shopping and I am ready to give it a try. If all the foods are half as delicious as the lime chicken and chopped veggie salad, this is going to be good. Stay tuned. I feel healthier just thinking about it.

Books. This week I started reading something like six or seven books. Ridiculous, I know. But time is short and there are so many books I want to read before I leave my library. Here are the ones I completed:

  • Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery", An Authorized Graphic Adaptation by Miles Hyman. Hyman is Jackson's grandson and an artist. He decided to illustrate his grandmother's most famous short story.
  • Dark Sons by Nikki Grimes. With this books I completed my Read All YMA Winners Challenge. The story is about a modern boy relating to the Biblical story of Ishmael when his father left the family. It was really well done and thought-provoking. It is also written in verse.
  • The Brides of Eden: A True Story Reimagined by Linda Crew. I grew up in Corvallis, Oregon where this story about a cult that sprung up in the early 1900s really happened. Crew gave the story shape and characters to root for and against. In all my schooling in Corvallis I never heard about this event that lasted for over three years and took several lives.
Currently reading:
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. A memoir about the life of a female scientist/biologist. I am listening the audiobook on 1.5 speed. It is a little fast but better than the slow pace presented at 1.0. Ha! 70%
  • This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel...a book club selection. E-book. 5%. I haven't read enough to know what the story is about.
  • The Gift, poems by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky. I am consuming these poems for sustenance as if they are needed for life. Print. 10%
  • Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin. I have long wanted to read something about Jim Thorpe, a US Olympian. This book is about him but about his participation on the school's football team. It has a lot about football, too. Print. 20%

Cavalcade of Authors West yesterday was a smashing hit. Thanks to all the organizers. My students had a fabulous time.

Don't just survive, THRIVE.
Source: Laced with Grace
New testament encouragement: 


“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

This week I hope you and I can both find ways to thrive!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Friday Quotes: Undefeated

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
Th
e 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: Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin

Book Beginnings:
Jim Thorpe looked ridiculous and he knew it---like a scarecrow dressed for football, he'd say later.
Friday 56:
It wasn't easy. As the New York Sun reported, the moment the Carlisle men jogged onto the field, 'the crowd at once began to indulge in war whoops.' The Indian players didn't respond. They'd already learned to expect this obnoxious sort of reception.
Comments: I've always wanted to learn more about this American trackstar and Olympian, Jim Thorpe. But now I am learning about him as an athlete and also about Pop Warner, a famous football coach. Steve Sheinkin is a fabulous writer of nonfiction books for teens.


Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts is hosted by Bookishly Boisterous.

1. Right now, this very minute, we are experiencing a thunderstorm. This may not be a big deal to some folks, but to those of us living in the Pacific NW, thunderstorms are rare. For this reason, they are noteworthy. The weather this spring has been cold and rainy until a few days ago when it warmed up around twenty degrees over night. Hilariously we all went from complaining about the cold, damp weather to whining about the heat and humidity. But the storm, which just dropped a ton of rain all at once, is signaling a return to colder weather, I presume.

2. I am retiring from teaching at the end of this school year. I've been in education for 37 years and it is time. This week I've been sorting through papers stuck away in my file cabinet. Many I should have tossed years ago but I also bumped into some old treasures that caused me to pause and reflect. Among the things I saved was a notice of a fine for a student. She owed the library 99 trillion dollars for a lost calculator. It was an obvious error but one that makes me giggle whenever I think of it. I had inadvertently assigned the barcode number on the calculator onto the 'amount' line. Barcodes are fourteen digit numbers, hence the trillion dollar fine. She owed more than the national debt. Tee-hee. I fixed it, of course, but not before I made a copy of the fine sheet. I think I will bequeath it to my library clerk on my last day.

3. I am currently reading five books and with one exception I have read less than ten percent of any of them. It is a very inefficient way to read books---a few pages here, a few pages there. And so I told myself today I would bear down and finish the one book I am further along on than the others, and, of course, I can't read it because I left it at school. I left abruptly this afternoon because the storm was heading our way and I didn't wear a coat this morning, so I wanted to get to the car before it started raining. Sigh. Which book should I spent a few minutes on now?

4. I've been thinking about the Harry Potter series lately, wondering if there will ever be another reading phenomenon like the one created by JK Rowling and Harry Potter. I doubt it. For one thing, there are so few bookstores left. Think about all the midnight parties that bookstores threw when we would line up to be the first to buy the latest book in the series. There would be hardly any place left to host those parties.  And getting an e-book just isn't the same. Guess you can tell why it is time for me to retire.

5. I've discovered a new poet---Hafiz. Here is an incredible thought for the day from Hafiz, via me, to you...

"I wish I could show you,
When you are lonely or in darkness,
The Astonishing Light
Of your own Being!"





Wednesday, May 3, 2017

One Reading Challenge completed

I finished the Read all the 2017 Youth Media Award Winner Challenge today!

(Books highlighted in yellow= complete.)

1. Michael L. Printz Award (Best YA literature of the year) 
  • March, Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell
2. Schneider Family Book Award (Teen living with a disability)
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord
3. Alex Awards -10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences (Pick one of ten)     
  • The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst// The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales// In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero// Buffering: Unshared Tales of a life Loaded by Hannah Hart// Arena by Holly Jennings// Every Heart a Doorway by Sean McGuire// Romeo and/or Juliet: A Choosable-Path Adventure by Ryan North// Die Young With Me: a Memoir by Rob Rufus// The Wasp that Brainwashed the Caterpillar by Matt Simon// The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach
    4. Margaret A. Edwards Award (Read one book by the winning author who has made a significant contribution to YA or Children's Lit)
    • Name of author _____Sarah Dessen______________ (Choose one of his/her books)
    • Title: Along for the Ride
    5. Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature (LGBT) (There was a tie---Read One)
    • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
    • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
    6. William C. Morris Award (First YA novel by author)
    • The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
    7. YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults  (Since March, Book Three has been listed several times already, you can pick an Honor book instead)
    • March, Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell
    • Or One Honor Book: Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History by Karen Blumenthal// In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives by Kenneth Davis// Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela Turner// This Land is our Land: A History of American Immigration by Linda Barrett Osborne
      8. Coretta Scott King Author Award (African American Author) 
      • March, Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell
      9. Coretta Scott King Steptoe Award (African American New Talent) 
               The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon 

      10. Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award (Since March, Book Three has been listed several times already, you can pick an Honor book instead)
      • March, Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell  
      • Or one Honor book: Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story by Caren Stelson// Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II by Albert Marrin// We Will Not Be Silent: the White Rose Student Resistance Movement that Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman
      11. Odyssey Award (Audio Book)
      • Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit, narrated by Allan Couduner
      12. Larua Inglalls Wilder (Author award) Read one book by author: Nikki Grimes

      Title : ________Dark Sons________________________

      13. Pura Belpre (Latino Author) ... none of the selections this year are YA titles;
      14. Batchelder Award (Translated into English) ... none of the selections this year are YA titles

      As you see March, Book Three cleaned up on the awards this year so it made finishing this challenge a bit easier for me. I really enjoy reading a variety of award books because that means I am reading a variety of great books on different topics. The last book, which I just finished today, was Dark Sons, a short book by the Laura Ingalls Wilder award-winning author, Nikki Grimes. I've had this little gem in my library for years but I never paid it much attention before now. 

      As I am preparing for retirement, it is unlikely I will host this challenge next year, though I still want to continue reading YA titles, especially award-winners.