Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Readolution #9

9. I will participate in BAFAB week at least once this year.

Receiving a book unexpectedly, chosen just for you, is one of the best feelings in the world. Buy a Friend a Book Week is a such brilliant idea. From the website:

Celebrating BAFAB is easy. Just get yourself to a real-life or virtual book store during Buy a Friend a Book Week (the first weeks of January, April, July, and October) and, well, buy a friend a book! But here's the fun part: you can't buy your friend a book because it's their birthday or they just graduated or got engaged or had a baby or anything else. You have to give them a book for no good reason. In fact, this present out of the blue from you should shock the pants off of whomever you decide to give it to. And it'll make them happy. And that's the point: promote reading, promote friendships. Just make sure to let them know about Buy a Friend a Book Week, so they can spread the joy in turn.

I've done this twice now, and it's so fun! I did pick two friends who had birthdays in those weeks -- one in early October, one in early January -- but we hadn't exchanged gifts for ages and because they were on my mind, I chose them as recipients. (They are also two of the biggest book lovers I know.)

For Jennifer, I got a Persephone book. We'd been talking about these books for awhile, but she hadn't treated herself to one yet. I had her go to the website and pick out the one she wanted me to order for her, as I couldn't choose from all of the lovely books they have. And I wanted her to experience the fun of browsing the beautiful website and picking out a title she could anticipate receiving. (She picked Every Eye by Isobel English.)

For Michelle, I got The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups: Recipes & Reveries by David Ansel. Michelle used to be my neighbor, and she was the person I could call up and say, "Have you got a cup of sugar? I'm baking and just discovered I'm all out!" And then we'd end up hanging out together for the rest of the afternoon with our kids. She always has great food ideas, and I thought she'd enjoy this fun recipe/story book.

Later, Jennifer and Michelle both surprised me with books during a BAFAB week: Jennifer with Eat, Pray, Love, and Michelle with The Creative Family. I didn't expect them to "spread the joy" back to me, but I'm not complaining! As I said at the start of this post, receiving a book unexpectedly, chosen just for you, is one of the best feelings in the world.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Felix recommends... (Spring '08)

My three-year-old's favorites:

~ Kitten's First Full Moon, Kevin Henkes (Great illustrations -- won a Caldecott Medal -- and Felix loves the happy ending.)

~ What a Treasure!, Jane and Will Hillenbrand and Little One Step, Simon James (Felix had to act these stories out after reading them.)

~ SuperHero ABC, Bob McLeod (So much fun!)

~ A Visitor for Bear, Bonny Becker and Kady Macdonald Denton (A very cute story, with beautiful illustrations.)

~ Knuffle Bunny, Mo Willems (Thanks to our library, we also recently found the Scholastic animated version, which features the voices of Mo, his daughter and his wife. Very cute!)

~ Here’s a Little Poem, complied by Jane Yolen (What a great anthology! Although the poems are collected with very little ones in mind, both of my kids enjoyed this together.)

Skye recommends... (Spring '08)

Here is a summary of my then eight-year-old daughter's reading adventures from last spring:

~ Thanks to a friend, she discovered Sharon Creech. She read Granny Torrelli Makes Soup and Pleasing the Ghost. The second was her favorite.

~ For her school book club, she read The Westing Game and The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel) by Ellen Raskin. Such neat puzzle mysteries! Raskin is lots of quirky fun, and very clever.

~ From a stack of Maud Hart Lovelace Award 2007-08 nominees, she chose Lulu’s Hat by Susan Meddaugh. It's a short chapter book with a great, magical story.

~ We discovered a new Gail Carson Levine book: Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand. We read the first Levine fairy book together and really enjoyed it. She read this one on her own. Levine is a wonderful storyteller.

~ Read-aloud with me: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. We both absolutely loved it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Coming Soon: Book Stacks!

I couple of years ago, I came upon an article describing the wonderful idea of book stacks. (I wish I remembered when I originally found the link.) The general idea is that books are such wonderful, important, essential things to have in a home, it only makes sense to have a stack of them under the tree for each of your children on Christmas Day. Of course, this was a bandwagon made for me, and I jumped on. I told a couple of book-loving friends about it, too, and both of them immediately ran off to join the book stacking circus.

My friend Michelle has just started a book blog, Fond of Books, and her first entry is about the books stacks she made for her kids this year. As she notes, it's nice to learn of these ideas early enough to have time to do them. I will post our 2008 book stacks as soon as they are complete.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Readolutions #7 & #8

7. I will keep a "books purchased/received" list.

I started doing this in 2007, and I did pretty well with it that year, so I decided to continue. Well, I haven't done it at all this year. I really enjoyed keeping this list and looking back at it, so this readolution may reappear on my 2009 list.

8. I will keep my Amazon wish list updated.

I started an Amazon wish list in 2007, I believe, and it was really nice to have. I liked being able to look back at books I'd considered buying for whatever reason. I started gift idea lists, too -- it's really easy to do, and you can make several of them. I made one for my kids and one for extended family. I have just recently peeked at them again (the holiday season and all) and I'm making updates and resolving to again use these great Amazon features.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What I Read in 2007

1. The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street (Helene Hanff)
2. Celebrations (Maya Angelou)
3. Suite Francaise (Irene Nemirovsky)
4. The Inimitable Jeeves (P.G. Wodehouse)
5. Fables #2: Animal Farm (Bill Willingham)
6. The Goose Girl (Shannon Hale)
7. Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day (Winnifred Watson)
8. Girls of Slender Means (Muriel Spark)
9. Housekeeping vs. the Dirt (Nick Hornby)
10. The Tent (Margaret Atwood)
11. Fables #3: Storybook Love (Bill Willingham)
12. Fun Home (Alison Bechdel)
13. Round Ireland with a Fridge (Tony Hawks)
14. Fables #4: March of the Wooden Soldiers (Bill Willingham)
15. Enna Burning (Shannon Hale)
16. The Sandman #1: Preludes and Nocturnes (Neil Gaiman)
17. Fables #5: The Mean Seasons (Bill Willingham)
18. Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone (J.K. Rowling)
19. Brain, Child magazine, Winter 2007 issue
20. River Secrets (Shannon Hale)
21. The Enchanted April (Elizabeth von Arnim)
22. The Yiddish Policeman's Union (Michael Chabon)
23. Nine Stories (J.D. Salinger)
24. Brain, Child magazine, Spring 2007 issue
25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (J.K. Rowling)
26. Princess Academy (Shannon Hale)
27. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J.K. Rowling)
28. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (J.K. Rowling)
29. Warriors: Into the Wild (Erin Hunter)
30. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K. Rowling)
31. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J.K. Rowling)
32. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling)
33. Brain, Child magazine, Summer '07 issue
34. A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life (Dana Reinhardt)
35. Born on the Wrong Planet (Erika Hammerschmidt)
36. Mommy Tracked (Whitney Gaskell)
37. Kabul Beauty School (Deborah Rodriguez)
38. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them (J.K. Rowling)
39. Harmless (Dana Reinhardt)
40. The Sandman #2: The Doll's House (Neil Gaiman)
41. Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Marisha Pessl)
42. Fables #6: Homelands (Bill Willingham)
43. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
44. A Great and Terrible Beauty (Libba Bray)
45. Forever... (Judy Blume)
46. Leap Days (Katherine Lanpher)
47. The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Brian Selznick)
48. Scary Stories (three volumes) (Alvin Schwartz)
49. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)
50. The Agony of Alice (Phyllis Reynolds Naylor)
51. Starting with Alice (Phyllis Reynolds Naylor)
52. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Sherman Alexie)
53. Rebel Angels (Libba Bray)
54. The Higher Power of Lucky (Susan Patron)
55. The Basic Eight (Daniel Handler)
56. Adverbs (Daniel Handler)
57. Watch Your Mouth (Daniel Handler)
58. The Wide Window (Lemony Snicket)
59. Warriors: Fire and Ice (Erin Hunter)
60. The Miserable Mill (Lemony Snicket)
61. The Austere Academy (Lemony Snicket)
62. The Ersatz Elevator (Lemony Snicket)
63. The Right Attitude to Rain (Alexander McCall Smith)
64. Ella Enchanted (Gail Carson Levine)

What I Read in 2006

I started this blog in 2006, and for over two years, used it mainly to keep a running list in the sidebar of the books I read. Since my sidebar is getting unwieldly, I thought I'd turn my past year's lists into posts instead.

Here's what I read in 2006:

1. Akimbo and the Elephants (Alexander McCall Smith)
2. March (Geraldine Brooks)
3. The Bookseller of Kabul (Asne Seierstad)
4. Address Unknown (Kathrine Kressmann Taylor)
5. The Reptile Room (Lemony Snicket)
6. The Age of Innocence (Edith Wharton)
7. Thimble Summer (Elizabeth Enright)
8. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
9. Akimbo and the Lions (Alexander McCall Smith)
10. The Confessions of Max Tivoli (Andrew Sean Greer)
11. Love and Other Impossible Pursuits (Ayelet Waldman)
12. When the Emperor Was Divine (Julie Otsuko)
13. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)
14. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Spark)
15. The Polysyllabic Spree (Nick Hornby)
16. The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows Of Josephine B. (Sandra Gulland)
17. Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi)
18. Postmark Paris (Leslie Jonath)
19. The Comforters (Muriel Spark)
20. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J.K. Rowling)
21. Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro)
22. The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon)
23. Bet Me (Jennifer Crusie)
24. The Masque of the Black Tulip (Lauren Willig)
25. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Lisa See)
26. Bye-Bye, Black Sheep (Ayelet Waldman)
27. Memento Mori (Muriel Spark)
28. Where Books Fall Open (Bascove, ed.)
29. Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg (Gail Carson Levine)
30. Gaudy Night (Dorothy L. Sayers)
31. Testing Kate (Whitney Gaskell)
32. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
33. Fables #01: Legends in Exile (Bill Willingham)
34. The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog (Dave Barry)
35. Unzipped (Lois Greiman)
36. A Christmas Memory (Truman Capote)
37. 84, Charing Cross Road (Helene Hanff)

Readolution #6

6. I will keep a TBR list.

I imagined that this year I would keep a running list (a "To Be Read" list) on the computer of all the books I'm interested in reading, maybe organized into categories and in priority order. Of course, I pictured this list being pages and pages long, including every book I'd read about or heard about that sounded vaguely interesting, and adding in my towering piles of shelf-sitters.

I think I intimidated myself into not even starting this project.

I have kept a list of books I'd like to get to each month, listed in the monthly section of my reading calendar. I do this each month, and try not to foresee what the next month will bring. This has been fun; I've learned a lot about my reading habits by setting these goals and seeing what happens with them. I started doing this in 2007, and although my lists started out as being very unrealistic (too many books, too many "I really should read..."s), I've noticed I'm better at predicting what I will want to and be able to read each month.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Felix recommends... (Winter '08)

(In this blog, my four-year-old son will be referred to as "Felix," after one of his favorite Rosemary Wells characters.)

Felix loves books. He loves it when anyone reads to him, and I often find him paging through books on his own. Here are a few of his favorites from last winter:

~ Anything Rosemary Wells. Particular favorites are the McDuff books, the Max and Ruby stories, and, as I mentioned above, Felix Feels Better.

~ Toot and Puddle, the first in the series by Holly Hobbie. These two little characters are lovely friends to get to know.

~ Maurice Sendak's Nutshell Library, especially Chicken Soup with Rice. Flashbacks to my childhood!

~ Lynley Dodd's Slinky Malinky and Hairy Maclary books. The rhymes and great illustrations make these extra-fun read alouds.

~ I Love My Little Storybook by Anita Jeram. Reading this one with him was a huge treat. He really connected with the theme: Books are wonderful company!

~ Baby Bear's Chairs and the How Do Dinosaurs... books by the prolific Jane Yolen. What a fun author to get to know.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Readolution #5

5. I will post on this blog regularly, perhaps weekly.

I think it's fairly obvious how I've been doing on this one. I'll spin it in a positive light: Since October, I've been doing pretty well. Ha.

I hope to continue posting on this blog regularly. I think the key is just doing a short post (like this one) when I have a moment. Because the more I blog, the more I want to blog, and the more time I find to do it.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Auntie Lois B., Part II: "My favorite was Rivka."

(My aunt died this September 30, of complications from cancer. This entry and the previous one are written for her.)

The second book we read was A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, by Dana Reinhardt.

When Auntie Lois asked us who our favorite secondary character was in the book, we listed many different people: Simone’s parents, her younger brother Jake, her best friend Cleo, and her new friend, Zach.

After giving us all a chance to speak, Auntie Lois said, “My favorite was Rivka.”

“Oh, me too, me too!” we all shouted. “She wasn’t a secondary character! We would have said her, too!” We all laughed and then talked about all of the things we loved about Rivka.

Warning: There are spoilers ahead. If you want to read a really good book, and you don't like to know what is coming when you're reading, stop here and go get it. It's an Auntie Lois pick, and that's about the best endorsement a book can get. You'll love it.

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life is a young adult novel about Simone, a teenager who was adopted when she was a baby. At the start of the book, she has no knowledge of her biological family’s history, and she has no interest in it; she’s been raised by wonderful parents and feels comfortable and confident with her place in the world.

At first, she is very resistent when her parents encourage her to meet her biological mother, Rivka, who calls and wants to connect with her. Slowly, she learns that Rivka grew up in a Hasidic Jewish family, became pregnant at a young age, and gave up her baby because there were no other real choices for her. She also learns that Rivka is fighting a losing battle with cancer.

As they grow to know each other, Simone is impressed by Rivka’s faith. Her adoptive parents are atheists, and Simone has never quite understood the draw of religion. Rivka shows her how her faith brings her strength in facing her illness.


I'd love to quote several scenes in this book, including a beautiful one where Simone's family celebrates Hanukah with Rivka. I want to be careful about copyright, though -- and I want to encourage people to read this lovely book for themselves, if you weren't yet convinced by my above spoiler warning. There is a very poignant moment where Simone discusses Rivka's illness with a Rabbi, and I think it's okay for me to share a bit of it here.

Simone is understandable upset and angry that her mother, who she's only recently been able to get to know and who is only thirty-three years old, is going to die. She expresses her feelings to Rabbi Klein, and though he isn't able to reassure her that he knows why this happens, he gives her some comfort with these words:

“For what it’s worth, Simone, I believe that you are giving Rivka the gift of an afterlife.”

“You mean by passing down her genes?”

“No. I mean by remembering her. I believe that is how we all live on after this life. By being remembered by those who knew and loved us. Every time you speak of Rivka after she’s gone, every time you tell a story about her, every time you think of her, imagine her, for that moment she is living on. It isn’t about genetics. If you had never come to know her, I wouldn’t be telling you this, even though her physical traits may be passed down to your children. We are made of much more than our genes. I would imagine, Simone, that you understand this better than most.”

If you've gotten this far and haven't yet picked up the book, go get it!


Dear Auntie Lois,

Thank you for all of the gifts you’ve given to me, particularly your love of the written word. I promise to keep reading and sharing with others the joy and comfort of books.

I miss you. I love you. I remember you.

Your loving niece,


Auntie Lois B., Part I: Dancing with the Limp

(My aunt died this September 30, of complications from cancer. My next two entries are written for her.)

..for some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid pieces of paper unfolds world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet you or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. They are full of the things that you don't get in real life--wonderful, lyrical language, for instance. And quality of attention: we may notice amazing details during the course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and really pay attention. An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift. My gratitude for good writing is unbounded; I'm grateful for it the way I'm grateful for the ocean.

Anne Lamott wrote this in her book Bird by Bird, and I think my Auntie Lois B. felt the same way.


I always loved hearing about Auntie Lois’s book club which she organized and attended regularly in California for over twenty years. She once sent me a list of the books they’d read together, and put asterisks next to the ones she particularly recommended. Whenever she was here for a visit, we’d talk about what we were reading and share stories about the neat things we’d learned from books, the joy and comfort that reading brought to us.

I am so glad I was able to participate in a couple of her Minnesota family book clubs. I will always remember talking about books and life with my family, sitting in my other Auntie Lois’s beautiful gazebo, drinking tea and enjoying the excellent company.

I gathered some quotes from the books and authors that we read together, and put them together for others to enjoy. When I read these quotes, they bring Auntie Lois back to me for a moment: I remember her smiling eyes as she asked us to share our thoughts about a particular plot point or character, her strong voice as she read an exerpt to us from a review of the book we read, her gentle hands patting ours when she expressed a shared perspective or a differing opinion.


The first book we read was All New People, by one of Auntie Lois’s favorite authors, Anne Lamott (quoted above.) Here is a quote from All New People, which sounds a bit like a piece of advice my Gramma Caryl might give:

[My eccentric mother used to say] ‘Dwell in the solution,’ which was shorthand for something a Christian writer named Emmet Fox once said, which was, ‘Do not dwell in the problem, dwell in the solution; the solution is God.’

For this book club, we watched a video together about Anne Lamott, and remarked on her humor, her strength, and her eccentricities. We got a big kick out of her; we loved her originality and honesty, and her descriptions of the role of faith in her life. Here are a few more Lamott quotes (which I found online -- I hope that means they are okay to share here) that give you an idea of the person she is:

'No' is a complete sentence.

If you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans. ~ Bird by Bird

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people.... I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it. ~ Bird by Bird

We all know we're going to die; what's important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this. ~ Bird by Bird

Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you're going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are. ~ from her graduation commencement address to Berkeley

I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me--that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns. ~ Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

Peace is joy at rest. Joy is peace on its feet. ~ quoting her pastor in Salon, April 25, 2003

You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.

Sometimes grace works like water wings when you feel you are sinking. ~ Grace [Eventually]: Thoughts on Faith

I never had a particularly strong craving to procreate, except for earlier fantasies of wanting to be Marmee in Little Women.

Here are Anne Lamott’s rules for life, from Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith:

Rule 1: We are all family.
Rule 2: You reap exactly what you sow, that is, you cannot grow tulips from zucchini seeds.
Rule 3: Try to breathe every few minutes or so.
Rule 4: It helps beyond words to plant bulbs in the dark of winter.
Rule 5: It is immoral to hit first.

And here is one more quote from her about the importance of books in our lives:

Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship. ~ Bird by Bird

Monday, October 20, 2008

Readolution #4

4. I will keep my reading journal up-to-date.

I've always had big plans for reading journals, and I've never really stuck with any of them. As usual, I had a complex journal scheme for 2008 which has not come to fruition. But there is one reading journal that I've been keeping faithfully for a few years.

Every fall, I order the QPB Calendar of Days. It's the main reason I keep my membership to QPB. I love this gorgeous desk calendar. Each week is on a two-page spread, with a small space to write about each day, listings of birth and death dates of authors, and a short literary piece to read each week. In the back, it has literary awards listed, along with a little monthly calendar section and some blank lined pages for notes.

On the weekly pages, I record what I read each day -- no thoughts, just title and page numbers, and noting when I complete a book. In the monthly section, I set reading goals for myself (titles I'd like to get to that month), and circle each date when I finish a book. As for notes, I keep a running list of the books I've read that year.

For 2009, I think I should just add a new piece to this record keeping I'm doing. I'll have to think about that....

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Skye recommends... (Winter '08)

(I've decided to call my nine-year-old daughter "Skye" in this blog, after her favorite character in The Penderwicks.)

This is the first in what I hope to be a series of posts with recommendations from my two kids. Since I've been neglectful of this blog, I'm going to go back to the books I wrote down that they enjoyed this last winter. And I'll start with my now nine-year-old...

Skye and I read Ella Enchanted together for a book club she was in at school. (When I saw her come home with this, I couldn't resist asking her if I could read it with her.) We both loved the creativity of this retelling of the Cinderella story. Ella is smart and brave and lots of fun, and the land she lives in is full of interesting magic. We recommend the movie, too. It's much different from the book, but it's quirky and entertaining.

She also read two classics for her bookclub on her own: Mr. Popper's Penguins and Pippi Longstocking. She laughed a lot during Mr. Popper, and shared funny bits out loud with me. Pippi had her giggling throughout her reading.

A friend recommended A Book of Coupons by Susie Morgenstern to me, saying she loved reading it aloud to her students. (My friend is a school librarian/media specialist.) When I showed the book to Skye, she asked me to read it to her. We both thought it was a very sweet story, and a little different from the kinds of stories we are used to. (It ends differently than we expected.) Morgenstern, the author, was born and grew up in the U.S., then moved to France when she fell in love with and married a French man. She writes in French, so we read a translation.

Two series Skye recommends: She read and enjoyed a couple of Chet Gecko mysteries, and she's always game to read (or re-read) a Judy Moody book.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Readolution #3

3. I will post every week on the Reading Circle.

I just checked my posts on The Reading Circle, and as I suspected, I only posted about once a month during the summer. I've done very well with this goal otherwise, missing just one week in February and one week in May.

I'm on a roll with writing about my reading, so hopefully I'll finish out the year strongly on this goal!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan

Yesterday, I posted about our Reading Circle's group reads. I've read most of them this year, but Heart in the Right Place is the only book I posted about in the discussion threads for our group reads that we post each month.

This afternoon, I was excited to see a comment left here by Carolyn Jourdan, the author of this book. It's a pleasure to "meet" her!

Here is what I posted on our Reading Circle's discussion thread [with additional comments from me]:

I thought this was a lovely memoir. As I got into the book, I laughed at the lazy country-chic picture on the cover; Carolyn Jourdan's story definitely did not include much hanging out on a country porch! [Jourdan moves back home to help her father with his medical practice while her mother is ill. They don't have time to lounge around in a comfy rocking chair on a scenic porch; they are too busy serving the people of their community.] Although I found the title a bit cheesey when I started, by the end of the book I could see why she chose it, as it really does describe what this memoir is about. [From the start, Jourdan gently and effectively weaves the theme put forth in the title into her story.]

I loved meeting the people in her hometown, and enjoyed her descriptions of the situations that came up in the doctor's office. I admired her father -- we need more people in the world like him! -- and her, for the good work they did and their patience and skill with people. I loved learning about Carolyn: her humor, her determination, her openmindedness and her caring heart.

I wonder what she's doing now. I wonder what the people in her community will do when her father needs to retire. I think I'll check out her website right now.

ETA: You can hear Carolyn read parts of the book here.

And you can read about her writing process here.

And this entry begins to answer my questions.

I'll end this post by saying that I gave this book as a birthday gift to a good friend of mine. She reminds me a bit of Carolyn -- gives of herself whole-heartedly, and works tirelessly to help her community. I hope she enjoys the book as much as I did!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Readolution #2

2. I will read all of this year's Reading Circle group reads, and reply to all of the discussion threads.

The Reading Circle is an online book discussion forum that I co-moderate with my friend Susan. (Click on the link in my sidebar to visit The Reading Circle.) Each month, we choose a group read, and we post a discussion thread to go along with it. There is rarely much discussion on these threads, but people sometimes do read the books and post their thoughts on our weekly "What are you reading?" threads. One of my goals this year was to get discussion going on these specific threads, too. I have not done well with this part of the goal; I've only truly posted about my reading on one of the threads this year. Let's see how many of them I have read:

January: The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups: Recipes And Reveries by David Ansel
February: Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan
March: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
April: The Girls by Lori Lansens
May: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Summer reads: Hens Dancing by Raffaella Barker, If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? by Erma Bombeck, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
September: The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
October: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Hey, I've read all of them except the September and October reads, and I plan to get to both of them this month.

I think I should recommit to this goal, starting with The Lace Reader. I love looking up info about books/authors after I've read their work; maybe I'll set an evening or two aside after reading these books to do that and post on the discussion threads. (And I could post my thoughts about them here, too!)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Readolution #1

1. I will read at least 50 books.

I've surpassed 50 books already this year, mostly thanks to my daughter and some great children's literature. Nineteen of the titles on my list are books she read also. Some of the books we shared as read-alouds, and others she read first and then told me she thought I'd like them. What fun, to have my nine-year-old recommending books to me! I love watching her develop a love of reading, quite different from my own as a child, but just as strong. (She searches for the silly and the fantastic, while I think I tended to look for books that realistically portrayed the experiences of girls my age.) Books are such a great foundation to have, like a second home, and I'm happy for her.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Readolutions 2008

1. I will read at least 50 books.
2. I will read all of this year's Reading Circle group reads, and reply to all of the discussion threads.
3. I will post every week on the Reading Circle.
4. I will keep my reading journal up-to-date.
5. I will post on this blog regularly, perhaps weekly.
6. I will keep a TBR list.
7. I will keep a "books purchased/received" list.
8. I will keep my Amazon wish list updated.
9. I will participate in BAFAB week at least once this year.
10. I will buy fewer books.
11. When I buy books, I will do my best to buy independent/used, or to buy in support of a charity (public library, school, etc.).
12. I will organize my book shelves, and find a new home for some of my books.