"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, October 29, 2018

Nonfiction November Starts Today---October 29-November 30


It almost seems like I am cheating by signing up for Nonfiction November since I am judging the JH/SH Nonfiction books for the Cybils Award right now through December. So far 89 books have been nominated and I should be reading a book a day (or more) to finish the list, but I am poking along. Today, however, is a new day and I already have a pile of books ready for reading and/or perusing. Judges are allowed to read enough of each book to make a judgement on it which is probably somewhere over 50 pages but more likely 100 pages. Other books beg to be finished and I set them aside for later or ask pardon from the other books in the queue and finish them right away.

Here are my upcoming titles, in no particular order:

  • Votes for Women: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot by Winifred Conkling
  • Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage
  • (Don't) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health edited by Kelly Jensen
  • 1968: Today's Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change edited by Marc Aronson and Susan Campbell Bartoletti
  • Blacklisted: Hollywood, the Cold War, and the First Amendment by Larry Dane Brimner
  • Resist: 35 Profiles of Ordinary People Who Rose Up Against Tyranny and Injustice by Veronica Chambers
  • The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein's Creator Mary Shelley by Catherine Reef
  • Whale Quest: Working Together to Save Endangered Species by Karen Romano Young
Stay tuned for my updates as I will be writing reviews of all the books.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sunday Salon, October 28

Don and Bingley at the Oregon Coast. Chasing birds.
Weather: Raining. We had a lovely Saturday morning which allowed us to work in the yard for a few hours, then the clouds moved in and so did we.

Vote Forward: I've hosted two parties of friends willing to write letters to encourage unlikely voters to vote this midterm. This is not a partisan effort, just one that helps people recognize just how important voting is every election, not just during presidential elections. My message to these low-frequency voters: I vote every election because I want to influence the outcome. I care about healthcare, gun safety, and saving our environment. If I don't vote, then others' votes will determine the outcome. So far we've done 250 letters between the two parties and the others Don and I have written ourselves. Hoping for a good outcome on Nov. 6th.

Cybils: I am a judge again this year for the Cybils Awards for the JH/SH Nonfiction titles. As a first round judge I am expected to read as many of the nominated books as I can before December 31st. The only problem is that so far there are 89 nonfiction books nominated. I will give it an all-American try but I doubt I will be able to read more than 50 of them. (I know that is still a lot.) The good news is that I don't have to read every page of every book, but enough over 50 pages to be able to adequately judge the book. Right now I have a pile of eight of them sitting here and three waiting for me at the library. My weekly goal is to touch each of those books this week and move on to the next batch.

Ian: This past week Ian's parents were in Florida so he split his time between our house and his other grandparents' house. I loved having him with me so much. He is such a love. All day was a joy, even when he would get kind of clingy. Who could blame him? Being shuttled between two different homes and not knowing where his parents were.

Tulips: This past spring we made a trek up to the Skagit Valley, a few hours north of our home, to see the tulip fields. We hit the fields perfectly so most of the bulbs were in bloom. We decided to order several sets of 10 bulbs so we could have the beautiful color in our yard next spring. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But a month ago when the box of arrived from Tulip Town, it didn't seem so grand because we knew were going to have to plant them ourselves. Today, finally, we went out in the morning and spent several hours digging and planting. Bingley, our puppy, thought the holes (loosened dirt) were for him. We all were tired and dirty but we got the bulbs in the ground! Yay!

Oregon Coast:  we went to the coast for a night before driving in to Eugene for a Duck football game Oct. 12-13th. Bingley was with us and everything was his favorite---the sea foam, the birds, the shells, the other people on the beach, etc. The dog stayed with my Mom and Dad while we were at the game on Saturday. We are happy to report that the dog hasn't had any potty accidents for over a week.  We are hopeful that we are done with that phase.

Update on Dad: his health seems to be improving and I could really see improvement since the last time we were together in September. Mom has arranged for Visiting Angels to come in three times a week. Not sure they are doing much work, but at least she has a chance to go shopping, visiting, or taking a nap herself without leaving Dad alone.

Book Clubs: I hosted my SOTH book club this month where we discussed An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. It was an excellent meeting with a great discussion mainly focused on reading/readers, which we all do/are. My second club, RHS Gals, met this week and we consumed pumpkin bars before discussing An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. The author wanted to write a book about the impact that incarceration has on marriages and society in general. I wasn't a huge fan of the book but the discussion was excellent.

Books read in October:
  • Drama by Raina Telgemeier--- a graphic novel that I selected to read because of its placement on the ten most banned/challenged books of 2017. Print.
  • Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini---a children's book written in poetry. It is a father's prayer for safety for his child when they are escaping Syria via the Mediterranean Sea hoping to find safety on another shore. Very moving and sweet. Print.
  • Goodbye, Brecken by David Lupton---another children's book. This one is about the death of a beloved pet. Print.
  • Rebound by Kwame Alexander---the prequel to the author's award-winning book, The Crossover. It is also written in verse. Print.
  • The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett---click on the hyperlink for my review and discussion questions used for book club. Print.
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones---the writing was excellent but the story was very depressing and most of the characters were not likable. Audiobook.
  • Voices from the Second World War: Stories of War as Told to Children of Today by the editors of Candlewick---a Cybils JH nonfiction book. Lots of stories told by people who lived through some aspect of WWII. Honestly I felt that most of them were a little too superficial to make an impact on me but the idea is excellent. I didn't read the whole book. Print.
  • Proud: Living My American Dream by Ibthihaj Muhammad---a memoir by the first American Muslim woman to win a medal at the Olympics while wearing her hijab. Very inspiring. Another Cybils book. Print.
  • Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration edited by Rose Brock--- some of my favorite YA authors share some incredible stories to give hope to teenagers who are struggling with issues related to mental heath, sexual identity, not knowing how to get started on dreams, LGBTQ, racism, political activism, etc. Another Cybils book. I liked this a lot. Print.
  • The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations by Oprah Winfrey---this is the companion audiobook to go with her book which highlights her video series. I was very inspired by the conversations she held with ten of her guests. Audiobook.
  • The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix---a graphic biographic of the German theologian who because a German Spy and helped plot Hitler's assassination. He was killed right before the end of WWII. Another
    Cybils book. Very well-done. Print.
  • And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness---a twist on the Moby Dick story from the point of view of warring whales. One is left with the feeling that war, all wars are futile and one is often fighting for some reason they don't know or understand. Print.
  • Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram---a coming-of-age story about a bullied boy who struggles with clinical depression who goes to Iran to meet his maternal grandparents the first time. The time spent in Iran is life-changing for him. I want to visit the city in Iran, Yazd, where the story was set. It sounds beautiful. Audiobook.
Currently reading:
  • Votes for Women: American Suffragist and the Battle for the Ballot by Winifred Conkling---a Cybils selection for the SH level. Excellent so far. 8% complete, print.
  • The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels by Jon Meacham---a nonfiction book about the presidency throughout history in America. Meacham is an excellent and authoritative writer. Very interesting and inspiring. 65% complete, audiobook.
After the events that happened this past week in our country: I say to the president:
Words Matter!




Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Review: Hope Nation edited by Rose Brock

Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moment on Inspiration is one of those cool collections of essays and, in this case, one short story. Hidden within its cover is a personal message of hope for everyone who is struggling with something. Ha! How is that generalizing? The book blurb describes the book this way,
Hope is a decision... but it is a hard one to make---or even recognize---in the face of oppression, belittlement, alienation, and defeat. We all experience moments when we struggle to understand the state of the world, when we feel powerless and---in some cases---even hopeless. But in trying times, words have power. Some of today's most popular YA authors come together in this revealing, personal collection of essays, each a flame that offers light in the darkness. Together, just like us people, these hard-earned words of wisdom become even stronger when united.
Hope is the uniting theme of the collection of essays but each deals with different topics: reacting to the current political climate; disfigurement; self-esteem; LGBTQ issues; rejection; abuse; racism; and finding one's voice are all included. As with most collections of this type the writing isn't completely consistent. How could it be? And my interest or need to hear words of hope of the various topics varied. But overall the whole was very good and I didn't find myself feeling impatient to move on or be done with the book, as has happened before when I "got" to the purpose and message and didn't need to be beat over the head with it.

My two favorites from the collection happened to be the first two. The first was a short story written by David Levithan, an author I am fairly familiar with. He attended the Women's March in January after the inauguration of Donald Trump. He, like I, was hurting but found hope and peace in the process of marching with others. His short story was written after he had time to reflect on the day's events after the march. There was a lot to love in the story but here is one of my favorite lines:
"We strangers are all smiling at one another. We are so much louder together than we are on our own. I knew I was here to protest; I knew I was here to unite. But what I didn't know was that I was here to remember why I am so in love with this world" (28).
My second favorite essay was written by Libba Bray, another favorite author. If you haven't read anything by her most of her books are very funny or contain a lot of humor mixed in with the poignant bits. What I didn't know about her was she was in a serious, nearly life-threatening, disfiguring accident right out of high school. She had a really hard time with her recovery and learning to love herself again. Writing/journeling saved her. What a powerful message to teens struggling with self-acceptance. The last line, repeated three times, "You are not alone" (58).

Some other gems were found dispersed throughout the other essays. Jeff Zentner says he is hopeful about the future because of "book people." He goes on to describe that Book People have empathy brought about by reading about other people, people different than self. He goes on to encourage Book People to stand up for the rights of others when they see discrimination happening. James Dashner tells teens, "If life is rotten, then go and find those people who will accept you and love you and join your quest to change the world. I promise you they are out there" (268). Both of these authors are speaking directly to bookish students. These students often feel like misfits in their high schools. But here they are reminding these teens that there are like-minded folks who will understand them and LIKE them. Once again very hopeful words.

All together twenty-four authors have messages of hope to share with the readers of this book. It is a very good collection and I hope it finds its way into the hands of the readers who need it.


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

TTT: Top Literary Heroes/Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday: Today's topic is supposed to best top literary villains, but I've created that list twice before. (See list here.)

So I am opting to list some of my favorite literary heroes and heroines.


1. Atticus Finch---Scout's father in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I wish I could be as ethical as Atticus and as good a parent.

2.Katniss Everdean---She is just so kick-ass in The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.

3. Celie---She is the original #MeToo character. She stands up for herself and brings others along with her in The Color Purple by Toni Morrison Alice Walker.

4. Jean Valjean---imprisoned for stealing bread to feed his sibling who is starving. He spends his whole life making up for any misdeeds in Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.

5. Harry Potter/Hermione Granger/Ron Weasley---one couldn't have been the hero without the others. What a team in The Harry Potter books by JK Rowling.

6. Charlotte---She may be a spider but she saves Wilbur's life in Charlotte's Web by EB White

7. Sabriel---She becomes the Abhorsen after the death of her father and she saves not only her kingdom but a neighboring one as well. After Sabriel come Lireal who picks up where the latter leaves off. Both are wonderful literaary heroines from the Abhorsen Trilogy (which ended up with five books in it!) by Garth Nix. If you aren't familiar with this series, what are you waiting for?

8. Elinor Dashwood---I wouldn't be much of a Jane Austen fan if I didn't honor a few of her heroes and heroines. Elinor really saves her family from despair and abject poverty after the death of her father. She is very selfless. (From Sense and Sensibility.)

9. Henry Tilney---is a lesser known hero from Northanger Abbey. Tilney is an all-around good guy who is willing to stand up to his father when the elder treats Catherine Moreland abominably.

10. Eragon and his dragon, Saphira---together they save Alaga√ęsia and make the land safe for dragons and riders again. (Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini.)

11. Aslan---the huge lion who saves all Narnia from the White Witch. (Chronicles of Nania series by CS Lewis.)


Monday, October 22, 2018

The Faithful Spy: A True Story: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler


Some of you may not be aware that my father is a Methodist minister. I am not only a Christian, but one of those dreaded "preacher's kids" you've heard so much about. I tell you this as a sort of confession because I thought I knew about Dietrich Bonhoeffer because of my upbringing but I really had no idea what he did until I read this book, The Faithful Spy: A True Story: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix. As I was growing up I would hear about Bonhoeffer in sentences similar to those I'd hear about Martin Luther, or John Wesley, or Calvin Knox. I just figured he was just another theologian who had insightful things to say about a life in Christ. Later I came to understand that he also was a published author and that his books were very deep and theological. I attempted to read his The Cost of Discipleship once but gave up quite quickly. I thought it was his theology that got him in trouble with the Nazis. I had no idea he was killed by them, just weeks before the end of the war, because he was a spy conspiring with others to assassinate Hitler!

So The Faithful Spy: A True Story: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler cleared up my misconceptions of the famous German theologian and it delivered the information in a remarkable way---through a graphic (illustrated) biography written and illustrated by John Hendrix. however, unlike most graphic novels, this book is quite heavy in its text to illustration quotient. The illustrations were usually to make a point about what the text said, not to replace the text. And most speech wasn't delivered in text bubbles. I say this because it was decided that this book should be judged for a potential Cybils award in the JH/SH nonfiction category, not the graphic novel category.

This page is more illustrated than most. Before Bonhoeffer became involved as a double agent spy, he tried to sway the German people to beware of Hitler and his special brand of hatred. His broadcast was cut off mid-program, probably by the Nazis. The bottom right corner shows Hitler delivering his hate-filled speeches, getting people all fired up with anger through his rhetoric and delivery method.


On this page, more typical for the book, one big illustration makes two points about Hitler (He is an Omnipresent dictator and he liked to think of himself as a wolf, even encouraging others to call him Herr Wolf.)

On this page we find Dietrich and other conspirators waiting for news that the plane Hitler was on blew up from the bomb they placed on it. It didn't. Plot #1 was a dud.

So what is new about this book compared to others about Dietrich Bonhoeffer except that it was illustrated? Well, for one thing it is marketed to children and teens, not adults. As I read it I kept thinking that older teens or adults would get more out of it (or actually read it) compared to younger teens or children since it is so text-rich and full of complex issues. Elizabeth Bird, reviewing the book for School Library Journal, has this to say about that argument:
No doubt you will hear people argue about its age range. They will say that the book should never have been marketed to children and that due to the complexity of the ideas inside, to say nothing of the presence of Hitler himself, this should be purchased only for young adult collections. But to say that denies that children and middle-schoolers are capable of reading, comprehending, and processing moral complexity. Let’s put it another way. Few historical works for children will proffer the idea that all German Christians during WWII weren’t dyed-in-the-wool Nazis. In an era when nationalism is on the rise in countries across the globe, it is a great good to teach kids about a time when blind and displaced loyalty to a country led to unspeakable evil. Hendrix doesn’t have to spell out the parallels to the times in which we live. Have faith in the kids. They’re going to be able to get there on their own. The author is just laying the facts out before them. He trusts their intelligence. We, the adults, would be wise to do the same.
 We should trust kids to "get it": to read and enjoy the book on one level, and to understand the meaning for today's children on another level. In the author's notes, Hendix said he wanted to do this book because he is afraid we have not all been permanently vaccinated against tyrants. He wonders, "how a majestic nation can willingly become a puppet for evil... and how quickly a good and noble people can become infatuated with hated." This is not just an issue for Germany of the past. Hendrix, a Christian himself, challenges his readers, no matter how young, to consider that sometimes our faith forces us to stand up in the face of this evil and speak out, or maybe even act out in opposition. Dietrich Bonhoeffer did this and it cost him his life. What is his legacy? It is an "unswerving belief in sacrificing for the good of  'the other', which is exactly the opposite of the Nazi ideology" (169). 

I highly recommend this book even though Hendrix admits that he is and artists not a historical researcher. It was a joy to read.

I read a print copy of The Faithful Spy from my public library.




Thursday, October 18, 2018

Friday Quotes---The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels by Jon Meacham

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.

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



Title: The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels by Jon Meacham

Book Beginnings: (Introduction, pg 1)
Friday 56:

Comment: My husband and I started this audiobook on a recent trip to Oregon. It is about the Presidency and the good and bad Presidents in the USA throughout history. Jon Meacham is a historian who is writes clearly and with so much authority. I am finding it to be fascinating and learning much that I didn't previously know. It clearly shows low points in our history like the quote from the Introduction about Strom Thurmond being upset about anti-lynching legislation. He also showed the steps that Lincoln had to go through to put forward the Emancipation Proclamation which would free all slaves at the end of the Civil War. The subtitle comes from a quote made my Lincoln near the end of his first inaugural speech. I really like it and agree that we need to battle for our better angels in politics and society today.
We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” -Abraham Lincoln, 1861

The Uncommon Reader --- And a wonderful book club meeting

Last night our book club meet to discuss Alan Bennett's "deliciously funny novella" about reading. It begins when the Queen of England stumbles upon a book mobile and feels duty-bound to check out a book. This begins a whole new chapter in her life which revolves around reading.
With The Uncommon Reader, Bennett brings us a playful homage to the written word, imagining a world in which literature becomes a subversive bridge between power-brokers and commoners. By turns cheeky and charming, the novella features the Queen herself as its protagonist. When her yapping corgis lead her to a mobile library, Her Majesty develops a new obsession with reading. She finds herself devouring works by a tantalizing range of authors. With a young member of the palace kitchen staff guiding her choices, it’s not long before the Queen begins to develop a new perspective on the world - one that alarms her closest advisers and tempts her to make bold new decisions. Brimming with the mischievous wit ...The Uncommon Reader is a delightful celebration of books and writers, and the readers who sustain them (Goodreads).
Published in 2007, I'd read The Uncommon Readers years ago so I thought a re-read was best since I was also leading the book club discussion at my house this month. It is such a short book, 120 pages, and quite straight-forward. I worried we would run out of things to talk about long before the end of the club meeting. As I re-read the book several quotes really jumped out at me and I made note of them to include in the discussion. But how to get the other gals involved in the discussion? It hit me that I could use the quotes and create different questions from them. I did it and the book club was a success. (See the questions below.)

Our meeting was last night and I handed each participant a card with a question on it. I asked them to take a few minutes to complete their homework by looking up their quote or to prepare their response. Each question was asked in order, 1-16. Each participant was directed to answer her question first before opening it up for the group to jump in if anyone had anything to add. I summed up the discussion with ten things I had found our about Alan Bennett from my research of the author. It was not necessary for the discussion but a bit eye-opening. For example, he has been an extremely prolific writer during his career; He turned down knighthood because he didn't want to feel like a suit-and-tie sort of guy; And he was pick-pocketed of £1,500 which he admits has made him less trusting of people. 

My lesson worked beautifully. Everyone talked and participated, which is rare. Everyone had something to say about their own question and quite a few of the questions generated a full discussion among the group members. By the end of the evening everyone was buzzing and to a person came up to me to talk about how much they enjoyed the book and our "lesson." Now I am not saying that your book club will have as much success as ours did, but it is worth a try. I am often given a lot of latitude in club because I am a retired teacher. When it is my turn to lead the book discussions, usually about once a year, people expect me to do something sort of "schoolish". But I honestly think this would work for other clubs, even if you aren't a teacher.

Here are the question cards and a link to the page where I found the ten facts about Alan Bennett. Hopefully you can just cut and paste the questions and print them out for your use. I hope you have fun!
1. The use of the word “ONE” in the book.
2. React to this quote: “But though it was called a library and it was indeed lined with books, a book was seldom if ever read there.” (18)
3. What were the excuses people gave the Queen for not reading? Why do you think most people don’t enjoy reading /take time to read?
4. React to this quote from Sir Kevin: “I feel, ma-am, that while not exactly elitist it [reading] sends the wrong message. It excludes.” (27)
5. React to this quote: “The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something undeferring about literature. Books do not care who was reading them…” (30)
6. Once the Queen started reading, she took books with her everywhere, even in the coach going to official events. (32) How does this compare to you?
7. React to this quote: “What the Queen had not expected was the degree to which it [reading] drained her of enthusiasm for anything else.” (59)
8. The royal family was relieved by the Queen’s reading because it meant she left them alone more. (45) How do/did your family members react to your reading habits?
9. React to this quote: “There was a sadness to her reading, too, and for the first time in her life she felt there was a good deal she had missed.” (47)
10. Even the Queen felt awkward around authors and couldn’t think of anything clever to say to them. Have you ever met any authors? How did you react to them?
11. Who are the “Normans” in your life or the people who you trust when it comes to book recommendations?
12. Why did the Queen have trouble with Jane Austen’s works? (74)
13. After Princess Di was killed, the Queen was required to show her feelings, which is not easy for her. Because of this when she found this quote from Shakespeare’s Cordelia, she jotted it in her notebook, “I cannot heave my heart into my mouth.” Do you do the same thing, jotting down notes from books you are reading? (90?)
14. Sir Claude was tasked with talking the Queen out of reading. He did. But what did he talk her into? (95) Talk about what the Queen wanted to do with his suggestion.
15. The ending. Were you prepared?
16. Alan Bennett is a playwright. Can you imagine this book as a play? Why/Why not?




Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Proud: Living My American Dream by Ibtihaj Muhammad

When Ibtihaj Muhammad was a teenager growing up in New Jersey her parents required that she and her siblings participate in sports every season as a way to stay fit, keep busy, and to stay out of trouble. For Ibtihaj Muhammad this always presented her with a challenge since she was a Muslim who wore a hijab and modest clothing. Summer sports like Track and Field were especially brutal is one was to remain modest and cover the head with a hijab. Then one day during 8th grade Ibthihaj and her mother stopped by the local high school to pick up her brother and they noticed a sports team practicing in the cafeteria. It was unlike any other team they'd seen because of the uniforms. It was the fencing team. Both Ibtihaj and her mother recognized that the uniforms would allow a girl to practice and compete without drawing attention to the hijab. They set up an appointment with the coach to explore more about the sport. When Ibtihaj was in high school herself, she joined the team moving from the epee team to the saber team during her junior year and becoming a top state athlete. During this time she got additional coaching with the Peter Westbrook Foundation in New York. Ibthihaj found a home at the foundation since she and Peter had a lot in common, both being black athletes competing in a an almost exclusively white sport. Through college (Duke) and after onto the 2016 Olympics, Ibtihaj Muhammad always returned to the foundation for coaching and support.

And it was support that she needed because the world wasn't always kind or accepting of an athlete who didn't fit the "profile." The attack on the twin towers, 9-11, happened when Ibtihaj was a junior in high school. We know what kind of anti-Muslim racism that occurred in America after that event and Ibtihaj felt it at every turn, experiencing loneliness and isolation on most teams she joined including her college team and the National team she earned a spot on. Even her coach on the National team would ignore her, often not even informing her of mandatory meetings and then deriding her for not being there. It is a wonder she continued in the sport with so much opposition coming her way.

But Ibtihaj Muhammad had an incredible work ethic and the support and love of her family, and the strength one gains from a life of faith and she prevailed against the odds, making it onto the 2016 Olympic team and placing, with her team members, third place. A bronze medal! Along the way she and her family started a clothing line for women who want to dress in a modest way without looking like they are wearing a robe. She served on a National committee to promote international understanding and goodwill. She was named one of Time's top 100 most influential people. And maybe most importantly to Ibtihaj, a role model to other Muslim women and girls, who also find it difficult to keep their religion and participate in sports. At the time of publication, Ibtihaj Muhammad was still fencing so we may see her in the 2020 Olympics again!

I found the book to be very inspiring and I hope it is widely available at middle and high schools to find its way into the hands of readers who will also be inspired by the message that with faith, family, and hard work even hijab-wearing girls can burst past all their barriers and make it to the top!

I checked the print edition of Proud out of my local public library.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Review and Friday Quotes: Sea Prayer

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.

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


Title: Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

Book Beginning:
Friday 56:

Review: This precious, short prayer is from a father to his son. The book was written by Khaled Hosseini, yes that Khaled Hosseini author of The Kite Runner, and dedicated to the thousands of refugees who have perished at sea fleeing war and persecution. The father tells his son Marwan that he wishes he could know the beauties of his country, especially his grandfather's farm and the bustling old city of Homs where neighbors "haggle over gold pendants and fresh produce and bridal dresses." He tells his son he wishes he knew good things that he grew up with instead of the things the son knows, like swimming pools made out of bomb craters and starvation.
The father prays that the sea will spare his son, his most precious possession so he can make it to safety. the illustrations done in water color by Dan Williams give a dramatic feeling of the ravishes of war and the fury of the sea, yet the gentleness of the father and his memories.

Hosseini was inspired to write this book by the story of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach safety in 2015. Since his death, at the time of publication, 4,176 others have died attempting the same journey. Proceeds of this book will go to UNHCR, the UN Relief agency and to the Khaled Hosseini Foundation to help fund relief efforts for refugees around the world.




Monday, October 8, 2018

TTT: Longest books I've read

Top Ten Tuesday: The longest books I've ever read

A. And the Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer, 1184 pages. Though I read it years ago what I remember most about it was the length. I don't think I'd ever read such a long book before this one.

B. Centennial by James Michener, 1086 pages. Of course it was long! I started at the beginning of the world! Ha!

C. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, 1034 pages. Unlike the above book I was not aware of the page length on this book as I read it. For years I would tell people that this was my favorite book but it has been so long since high school, when I read it, that I am only left with impressions. I suspect it would bother me more today than it did years ago to read about the South's fight to keep slaves.

D. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, 974 pages. Another book I read as a young teen and the page length didn't seem remarkable. Believe me, if I was reading a 974 page book today I would remember it!

E. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, somewhere around 900 pages.  The original is around 1450 pages but I read the abridged version of this classic book and it was still long. Loved it, by the way. 

F. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling, 870 pages. I think this was the first Harry Potter book that I remember thinking it could have used some editing...it was over-long.

G. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini, 849 pages. This is the fourth book in the Inheritance Cycle series (Eragon). If we added all the pages from the four books it would be nearly 3000 pages!

H. Winter by Marissa Meyer, 827 pages. The last book in the Lunar Chronicles series. I went to the reveal party and then chickened out and did not read the book for six months because it was so long.

I. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, 771 pages. I loved every page of this book.

J. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, 536 pages. This may not be the longest book I've ever read but it FELT like the longest. Ha!

My TBR pile has a few lengthy tomes I haven't tackled yet.

AA.  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, 1276 pages.

BB. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, 964 pages

CC. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty, 843 pages. 

DD. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, 609 pages. 



Saturday, October 6, 2018

Is it a book haul or do I have too many books checked out, again?

Feast or famine (though famine is fairly rare)---I currently have way too many books checked out from the library in the print or audio format! Why do I always seem to do this to myself?

Here's the pile. Where should I start?

Print:
  • Rebound by Kwame Alexander---potential Printz or Newbery award book written in verse. I am about 20% into the book. I hope to finish this one by tomorrow.
  • She Love You Yeah Yeah Yeah by Ann Hood---I thought this was a narrative nonfiction about the Beatles, but I see it is really fiction. Target audience are middle grade students. I may skip it but want to at least read a bit to get the flavor.
  • And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness---a friend told me she wouldn't read any books I recommended until I read this one. It was on my radar since it is also a potential Printz award book. Ness went to high school around here and my friend is friends with him.
  • Goodbye, Brecken: A Story About the Death of a Pet by David Lupton---a children's book that I impulsively checked out of the library when I was there getting books off hold. It is super short so I imagine I can read it in a few minutes after I'm done with this post.
  • Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini--- this book was on some "best of" book lists I perused this past month. It is also short and illustrated.
  • Voices from the Second World War: Stories of War as Told to Children of Today---this book is on my list of JH/HS nonfiction books to read as a first round Cybils Judge. It is big and heavy. I may not read the whole thing, but enough to decide about the quality and appropriateness of the pick.
  • Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration edited by Rose Brock---another Cybils contender in the JH/SH nonfiction department.
  • Proud: Living my American Dream by Olympic Medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad---Another Cybils contender, I've read about 10% of this one so far.
  • Votes for Women! American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot by Winifred Conkling---another Cybils contender.
  • Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett---a book club selection. I am 80% finished and the book is short. I should finish this one by the end of the weekend.
Audio:
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones---another book club selection for later this month. I am about 80% complete and hope to finish this book by Tuesday.
  • Dear Madam President by Jennifer Palmieri---the author is often of a news show I like to watch. It is written as a message to a future female president. It is short. I hope to get to it before it is due back at the library.
  • The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey---Timing. I've been in line for this audiobook for months and it arrives the same week as everything else, of course.
  • Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate---for a future (January) book club. I thought I was much further back in line so I am shocked but not surprised that this one also showed up on an already busy reading week! I may turn it back in and hope I get a second chance later.
  • Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan---I have the CD set checked out but have no purpose in reading the book other than I saw the movie and want to see how it compares to the book. This is my last priority.
E-book:
  • Fear by Bob Woodward. I own the copy of this highly controversial book but I am having a hard time making time for it. 10% complete.
The usual due date for my library is three weeks. Many of the books I placed on hold because they were NOT readily available when I ordered them. Those books will become my highest priority because I won't be able to renew them. I have until the end of December of Cybils books and my book club books need to be read before club meetings, which vary by groups. If I get started right this moment I should be able to make a big dent in this list before the due dates. Wish me luck!

Update October 17th: It's eleven days after I wrote this post and I am happy to report that I have actually finished eight of the fifteen books and have a good start on two others.
Completed print:
  • Rebound by Kwame Alexander
  • Goodbye, Brecken: A Story About the Death of a Pet by David Lupton
  • Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini
  • Voices from the Second World War: Stories of War as Told to Children of Today
  • Proud: Living my American Dream by Olympic Medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad
  • Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
Completed audio:
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • Dear Madam President by Jennifer Palmieri
Currently reading:
  • Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration edited by Rose Brock
  • The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Review and Friday Quotes: We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices

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.

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




Title: We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

Book Beginning: Excerpt from: "The Golden Rule" by Carole Boston Weatherford
Some form of the Golden Rule exists in every major world religion.In what may be the earliest version, the ancient Egyptians commanded: Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do.
Friday 56: Excerpt from "Where Are the Good People?" by Tameka Fryer Brown
Life's not always fair and sometimes it's scary. When safe spaces aren't safe, when protectors harm us, when leaders try to lead us toward fear and hate, there's nothing fair or reassuring about that.
Review: In the forward by Ashley Bryan we are assured if we touch this book it will lift our spirits. And "if you flip through all the creative gems put unto your hands and hearts by the gifts of people of color, we will hear your voices chanting praises." Bryan assures us that this book is not designed to be read just once and then put away, but a resource from any pitfalls of the day, one that should be read and reread as needed.

And boy did I need this book, a collection of 50+ poems, essays, letters, and illustrations by people of color aimed at young people, this past week. The week with all the political rancor and people lining up on one side or the other. I was so torn and upset, then I picked up this book with its colorful and hopeful illustrations and poems to soothe and to savor, letters to ponder and share, and essays that explain a lot. Each of the submissions are no longer than one page and the contributors are all YA/Junior authors or illustrators "Within this collection, there is a letter from a parent to her children on kindness; there's advice on how to become confident and mindful; there are words of wisdom about finding and keeping friends;...and how young people can change the world."

I devoured the book in one sitting and then had to go back and look more closely at the illustrations and try to match the art up with the written words. What a joy. Just the salve I needed for a nasty week. My only criticism is really a question. Who should the book be marketed to? If it is marketed to elementary and middle school librarians to add to their collection, I'm afraid the book will sit quietly unread on the library shelves. But if the book is marketed to teachers of middle grade/upper elementary students or to parents of kids in this age range, I think the poems will find their way to the targeted audience, pre-adolescent children. In fact, a friend told me she ordered the book after reading my tiny blurb about the book on my Sunday Salon post. She has a young girl who should enjoy the content, especially if she and her mom read it aloud together. The editors say that the book was designed to inspire, motivate, and encourage the readers to make a difference in the world.

I recommend it!