"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=========

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Friday Quotes: Bibliophile

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


Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount

Book Beginning:

Favorite Books

Friday 56:

Novels of the 21st Century reflecting a shrinking world


The artist, Jane Mount, has made a place for herself painting personal favorite books pages for people. This book is about different book lists which she has illustrated. Unless I missed it, I am not sure what master list she consulted to create her sub-categories. Here, on my blogpost, are a few of her categories and sample books for each. Every page is not a big page of novels, others show famous bookstores and libraries, and some author comments about their books. I love books about books so I am relishing every page of this artistic and attractive book.

Books listed:
To Kill a Mockingbird; The Great Gatsby; Catcher in the Rye; Pride and Prejudice; Harry Potter And the Sorcerer's Stone; Jane Eyre; The Lord of the Rings; East of Eden; Anne of Green Gables; Little Women; The Little Prince

Shrinking World:
The Round House; Little Fires Everywhere; The Story of My Teeth; The Underground Railroad; The Brief Wondrous life of Oscar Wao; A Little Life; The Sleepwalkers Guide to Dancing; Homegoing; Under the Udala Trees; The Sellout; The Sympathizer; The nightingale; Absurdistan; What is the What; All the Light We Cannot See; A Visit from the Goon Squad; Lincholn in the Bardo; The Goldfinch; Americanah: Pachinko; How Should a Person Be?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Re-thinking My Classics Club list

Sometime in 2011 I joined the Classics Club. As instructed I created a list of 50 books considered classics I'd like to read and hoped to finish my list in five years, as the club suggested. Instead of finishing the list in five years, I kept adding to the list. It now contains 95 titles and though I have read 45 books on it, I am clearly not making progress, as I'd hoped, on finishing the task. Each time I come across a list of must-read classics, I go back and add titles willy-nilly. See my Classics Club list here.

Prior to the Classics Club, I had launched into a personal project to read all the novels in the textbook room assigned by the English department. Most of these books I should have read when I was in school myself but somehow didn't. I never finished that project either, though I made a lot of progress. I read familiar titles like Nineteen Eighty Four, Lord of the Flies, Brave New World, Bless Me, Ultima, Great Gatsby, and Things Fall Apart before I slowed down. Obviously I hadn't read many classics when I was in school. Ha!

To increase the likelihood that I would actually read the classics on my lists, I have joined the Classics Club Spins several times. Unfortunately the last four spin books have left me feeling flat. I hated one of them, Wide Sargasso Sea. I struggled with another, The Name of the Rose. I was unimpressed by a third, My Brilliant Career. And I am stuck in the first fifth of East of Eden and can't seem to make myself read it. Clearly I haven't done a good job picking books to add to my list.

This week I purchased a lovely book Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount. Ms. Mount, an artist, creates lovely pages of book covers on topics like: favorites, best children's books, cult classics, etc. As I have begun to look over her pages and illustrations it struck me that I should reorganize my list of classics into categories, rather than by titles only, so that I am not always reading books from the same time periods or same types of themes. Based on lists from Bibliophile I would create the categories, then list a few titles within that category I'd be willing to read, but I wouldn't be tied down to those only, just to reading a few books from that category.

Let me see. Where could I start, if I decide to reorganize my list? Here are some suggestions from Bibliophile:

  • Cult Classics: The Princess Pride; Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; Geek Love; Invisible Cities
  • Novels of the 1800s: The Picture of Dorian Gray; Frankenstein; A Tale of Two Cities
  • Novels of the early 1900s (Disenchantment): The House of Mirth; Siddhartha; Metamorphosis; Grapes of Wrath
  • Mid-1900s (Losing It): Invisible Man; On the Road; Franny and Zooey; The End of the Affair; The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
  • Novels of the late 1900s (Greed and Growth): The Unbearable Lightness of Being; Lonesome Dove; The Joy Luck Club; White Noise
  • Novels of the Millenium: Cloud Atlas; Bel Canto; The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; The Fine Balance; The Hours
  • Southern Lit: As I Lay Dying; Known World; Interview With a Vampire; The Member of the Wedding; Savage the Bones
  • Love and Romance: North and South; Giovanni's Room; Romeo and Juliet; Anna Karenina
  • Mysteries: The Big Sleep; The Talented Mr. Ripley; Sherlock Holmes; Murder on the Orient Express
  • Fantasy and Sci-Fi: The Mists of Avalon; The Dark is Rising; Howl's Moving Castle; Foundations; Dune; The Martian Chronicles
  • Dystopia: We; The Parable of the Sower; The Red Rising
  • Technothrills: To Say Nothing of the Dog; The Time Machine; The Illustrated Man; Necromancer; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep; The Day of the Triffids
  • Historical fiction: The Scarlet Letter; Wolf Hall; The Pillars of the Earth: Silence
  • Short Story Collections: Nine Stories; This is What We Talk About When We talk About Love; Dubliners; the Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor
  • Around the World: Under the Tuscan Sky; The Inheritance of Loss; Seven Years in Tibet; A Room With a View; The Sheltering Sky
  • Memoirs: Just Kids; Wild Swans; The Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
  • War: Catch-22; The Killer Angels; All Quiet on the Western Front; The Art of War
  • Mortality: The Death of Ivan Ilyich; A Separate Peace; A Grief Observed; History Is All You Left Me
  • Finding Meaning: Man's Search for Meaning: Siddhartha; The Tao of Pooh; The Happiness Project
  • Sports: A River Runs Through It; End Zone; Fever Pitch
  • Formative Favorites: The Westing Game; James and the Giant Peach; Are You There God? It's Me Margaret; Hatchet
  • Girl Stars: The Secret Garden; I Am Malala; Pippi Longstockings: Harriet the Spy
  • Coming-of-Age: Dear Martin; Go Tell It On the Mountain; Annie John; Weetzie Bat
  • Picture Books: The Night Kitchen: I Want My Hat Back; The Lion and the Mouse
The list of books within each category are not the full lists that Ms. Mount listed in her book, Bibliophile. They just represent examples of books I haven't read yet and have heard of before. I can think of some categories she didn't name: Russians; Pulitzers; Westerns; Animals come to mind. And I didn't list some of the categories that she did because I wasn't interested in reading the books on her lists: Essays; Nonfiction; Science and Nature.

So if I were to reorganize my Classics Club list I could incorporate the titles into these and possibly other categories. I suspect I will find a lot of the titles fit into just a few categories. By doing this I could vary my classic reading more. If I participate in another CC Spin, once the number is selected I would match it up with the category and then make my selection of a book from within that category which would help me find a book which matches my mood at that time.

I'm liking that idea.

What do you think? Do you think this is a workable plan? I would no longer have a definitive list to work off of when selecting my next classics book but would have many more options. Hopefully I will select some good ones.


Monday, May 27, 2019

TTT: Favorite reads in each of the last ten years

Top Ten Tuesday: 
What were my favorite reads each year for the past ten years?

Note: I started keeping track on my books on Goodreads in July of 2009. My slection for 2009 reflects my favorite books from the last half of the year, July to December. For all other years, I consulted Goodreads and based my choices on my recollections and the reviews I wrote for those books. Some books have weathered better than others, but to the best of my memory I selected books I liked THAT year, even if it hasn't remained a favorite moving forward.

(I read the book in the highlighted year. The books were not necessarily published that year.)
Couch by Benjamin Parzybok; Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann; Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese; Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey; Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline; The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater; Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Ten Poems to Open Your Heart by Roger Housden; Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell; A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya; Looking for Alaska by John Green
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr; Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin; The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
West With the Night by Beryl Markham; The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood; The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman; Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka
2019 (first half)
Becoming by Michelle Obama; Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Friday Quotes and Review---DAMSEL

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

And a review, of sorts to follow---

Title: Damsel by Elana K. Arnold

Book Beginnings:

Friday 56 (Actually page 30):

Summary: In order for Emery to become King he has to slay a dragon and to save the damsel trapped in the dragon's lair. He does that. The woman he saves has no memory of her life before being rescued so Emery names her Ama and prepares her for her destiny---to become the queen and to bear his son, who will one day slay a dragon and save a damsel before he becomes the next king. The only problem is Ama is not interested in being Emery's wife and Emery is a bully and a cad. Ama is sure if she marries him her life will be miserable and lonely. And what about those memories that seem to hover at the corners of her mind? Didn't she have a life before Emery saved her? She wants to know the answers before they wed.

Review: This fantasy novel is like a mash-up of fairy tale and #MeTooMovement. Emery is an abusive, awful person in the beautiful robes of a king. He attempts to rape Ama. He manipulates her mentally, and threatens her get his own way. Ama is isolated and lonely. She doesn't understand what is happening to her and she fights back as best she can. When she discovers the ovens in the deep basement of the castle where glass is blown into bowls and the all-knowing eyes, she finally finds an outlet for her creativity and warmth for her ever-cold bones. She also starts to sense a bit more of her life before being "rescued". Finally, Ama has enough insight to challenge Emery's claim on her.

When my children were little I used to read a cute and funny picture book to them, The Paper Bag Princess. In this story the princess is supposed to be wowed by Prince Ronald, who is a real dud. Eventually, the princess decides she can do much better on her own and tells him off. I kept thinking about this funny book while I read this very unfunny novel by Alana K. Arnold. Ama clearly needs to get to the point where she tells off Emery and goes her own way but can she do it?

I liked this book a lot. It had a lot to say about how story-telling can shape a culture and expectations for genders. But it was quite full of trigger topics: rape, cruelty to animals, female subjugation, and a bit of violence but it ends on a satisfactory note. It is also a bit of a slow-starter. Both my quotes are from the part of the story before Emery rescues Ama. In this part of the story the reader is getting oriented to the world just like Ama is getting oriented to her new reality.

I listened to the audiobook which was narrated rather slowly, but I came to like it a lot and sat for three hours today listening to it just to find out how things work out for Ama. It was a Printz Honor book last year. It really is spectacular writing and such a creative story.

Monday, May 20, 2019

TTT: Books I wrecked (accidentally or on purpose)

Top Ten Tuesday: 
Books wrecked on my watch, either accidentally or on purpose (and how it happened)
[I'm off the board again this week. The actual topic, Books you won't let others touch, was a non-starter as I have no books which are off limits to others.]

Today I was reading my grandson a book which his mother wrecked when she was a little girl. It got me thinking of all the books that I still own, even though they were wrecked for some reason or another. Here is my list:

Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik, illustrated by Maurice Sendak
This is my first book. I colored on every page. Actually, scribbled on the pages is a more accurate description. I still own this wrecked book. It is very dear to me.

Jamberry by Bruce Degen
This was one of my daughters' favorite books. Daughter #1 ripped several of the pages. I taped them up and this is the book I was reading to that daughter's son today.

The Holy Bible
This particular edition of The Bible was given to me at church when I was going into 3rd grade. It was sitting on a counter at home when we had a freak storm and the roof leaked. The leak was right above that Bible. By the time I found it, it was water soaked. Amazingly I was able to dry it sufficiently to avoid mold but not wrinkly pages. I still use it occasionally. 

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
I just bought this book within the month. It was sitting on the dining table when my hubby and I were eating pancakes with homemade blueberry compote. I stabbed a blueberry which exploded its contents across the table and hit the fore-edge of the pages with a big splat. Now I have a lovely purple stain on my newest book.

Families by Star Bright Books
This board books looks really old but it isn't. The dog got a hold of it and nibbled on all the corners, even eating a chunk out of the back page. It is still a favorite choice for my grandson.

Tikvah: Children's Book Creators Reflect on Human Rights
I had two copies of this wonderful book in the school library where I worked before retirement. I cut up one of them, laminated the pages, and created a lesson plan around a writing activity for English classes.

Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest by Larry Ulrich
I did the same thing with this book from my library collection. I cut up the pictures of the beautiful and odd flowers found in nature around here. The lesson plan was designed for students as a poetry activity. It was lots of fun when I partnered with teachers to do this lesson.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
My daughters have first editions of all the Harry Potter books, that was they "had" until I wrecked this book by watering a plant too heavily right above the shelf where the books sit. This one took the brunt of the water and was dead. We had to visit second hand book shops until we found another first edition of this book. My name was Mudd until we found the replacement.

The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry
Our family loves this book and reads it every Christmas. We loved it so much that we wrecked the spine so it fell apart. A replacement was procured.

I'm sure I've wrecked more books but these are the ones which are coming to mind right now.
How about you? What books have you wrecked and why?

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sunday Salon: May 19

Fort Point and Golden Gate Bridge, May 1st
Weather: woke up to rain but it is sunny right now.

Yesterday: was one of those perfect days. We had our grandson with us the whole day as his dad was working and his mother was participating in a team challenge course with inflatable things. (Don't ask me to explain but it sounded fun.) So Ian was with us and every moment was sheer delight. He went with us to the hardware store to buy a rose trellis and interacted with other shoppers. He played in the yard and then took a long nap. Then off to the park for a long session of swinging and climbing and sliding. Later his parents joined us for a BBQ dinner and cake to celebrate Don's 62nd birthday. Nothing that remarkable happened it just all came together in a big, complete way and I was very satisfied at day's end.

Politics: I can't even begin to express my dissatisfaction with the events this past week concerning full and total abortions. I read this tweet from a pastor in Alabama from a sermon he made last year. This pretty much sums up my thoughts.

I ask that you read it and think about what Dave Barnhart is saying, rather than shutting down completely. Thank you.
Ian wearing his new light-up shoes (not shown) and holding his new balls, with blankie, and the car dragon, Roar, who wait patiently for rides with his boy.
Mother's Day: Last week I didn't post because if was Mother's Day and my hubby was busy planting all the flowers we bought to put in the yard and in planters. Rita and Ian came over and we had a sweet little brunch. Ah, the joys of family.

San Francisco Conservatory in Golden Gate Park
San Francisco: the week before, we were in SF visiting Carly, our other daughter and we had perfect weather for all the touring we did: Alcatraz National Park, site of the old penitentiary in the SF bay, Fort Point right under Golden Gate bridge, the Conservatory and botanical gardens in Golden Gate park, an evening at the theater watching a play of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and a tour of wine country. Wow we crammed a lot into a few days. Plus we got to see where Carly works (or worked, since her whole office moved after we left.)

Carly and Don wine tasting at Medlock Ames Winery.
Reading: I confess to be in a bit of a slump and I blame it all on East of Eden. I started this book as part of the Classics Club Spin challenge and I am not making good progress on it...I've only read 100 pages in the last month. Each night I try to read I only fit in a page of two before closing the book and my eyes. I've decided to re-work my plan for this book, admitting I won't finish it by the deadline for the challenge, and challenge myself to read 10 pages a day. If I make my own little daily mini-challenge then I am free to read whatever else I want to read the rest of the day. I'm hoping this will shake me loose of this slump. So far in May I have only finished three books, which might sound like a fine amount but isn't good for me:

  • The Friend by Sigrid Nunez---a Pulitzer Prize winner. Audio.
  • The World Accord to Bob by James Bowen---a sequel to the first book about the cat, Bob, and his master, James, and their life on the streets on London. Print.
  • The Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti---a Printz Honor book. Audio.
Currently reading:
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck---print, 17%.
  • The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin---re-read for book club, audio, 50%.
  • The CBS Murders by Richard Hammer---nonfiction, e-book, 4%.
Movies: I watched two movies that I borrowed from the public library:
  • The Hours, starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, and Julianne Moore. The story of the last days of Virginia Woolf. Three stories in one. What do they all have in common? Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf's novel.
  • Goodbye Winnie-the-Pooh starring Will Tilston as Christopher Robin, whose life was wrecked by the fame that came with the book.
Our backyard earlier this month.
The earth laughs in flowers.-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, May 17, 2019

Quotes and review: A Heart in a Body in the World

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

And a review, of sorts to follow---

Title: A Heart in the Body in the World by Deb Caletti

Book Beginnings:
"Annabelle Agnelli is trying to hold it together in the parking lot of Dick's Drive-In. After what just happened, she's stunned. Frozen."
Friday 56:
“It's hard to be all that you can be on carrot sticks and criticism.”
Summary: Annabelle is experiencing PTSD from a traumatic experience that involved her and a boy. Everyone in the whole school knows what happened and she feels responsible for all the pain and unhappiness. When a man leers at her in the Dick's Drive-in parking lot she spooks and starts running. She runs from Seattle to Renton, a city over 15 miles away, before she stops. At that point she realized that while she is running she can keep her demons at bay and decides, with no preparation, to run all the way to Washington, DC. She tells her family and friends she has to do something, to make a difference. After her grandfather is tapped to go with her on the trip in his motor-home, Annabelle starts running a half-marathon a day. She learns quickly that she can't outrun her problems, but she does meet people along the way who are as angry as she about what happened and she starts to accept the love and support people are willing to give her.

Review: This book unfolds like a tightly folded piece of paper. Details arrive slowly and messily and one is not quite sure what happened or why for the longest time. But as the reader flattens out the paper they learn more about Annabelle and her relationship with "the taker", a boy she refuses to name. We also learn about how hard it is to be female in a male dominated world, one where women are supposed to be thin, but strong (hence, the Friday 56 quote), look good but not slutty, have desires but aren't supposed to show them. Guns and the ease with which a person can purchase them also factor into the story. It is a very timely book in terms of what is happening in our nation and world. 

A Heart in a Body in the World was a Printz Honor book last year, an award that goes to the best of the best in YA lit. I wondered at this as I started reading the book thinking, "oh no, not another book about a teenager running (literally) away from her problems." But as the story unfolded I realized how important and timely this book is and the message, though it comes out slowly, is delivered perfectly. By the time that Annabelle gets almost all the way across the country on her run, she is asked to deliver a message to a group of assembled college students on her purpose for the trip. The speech she gives is the most real and raw I've ever read in YA lit. It alone makes reading the book worth it. As I was perusing Goodreads' reviews on this book I couldn't believe the superlatives that many readers used:
"I can truly say, with every single ounce of my heart, that this is one of the best books I’ve ever read in my entire life. It’s so quiet, but so loud. It’s so heartbreaking, but so healing. It’s so impactful, it’s so powerful, and it’s completely and utterly unforgettable." -Melanie
"I'm furious. I'm heartbroken. But more than anything else, I'm so grateful that this book exists." -Romie 
"This is one of the strongest YA contemporaries I've read in a LONG time. Caletti's writing is lovely and accessible, but it never feels dumbed down. I think she's particularly strong at using language to convey how trauma affects Annabelle's mental health/mental state. It examines how women and girls are so often are reduced to objects to be controlled by another. I was incredibly impressed with how Caletti dives into the nuances of this. When girls are ceaselessly conditioned to derive value in relation to the male gaze, what happens when that becomes internalized?"-Emily
 If my words didn't convince you, I'm sure that these other reviewer's words did: Read this book!

Trigger warnings: graphic violence, guns, language.