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.