Tag Archives: Reading

January Reading

This is not news to anyone that I know…
I love to read.
Reading is by far my most favorite hobby. I get really excited talking about books, getting suggestions about new things to read, and making suggestions for friends.
(Completely dorky, I know. I am okay with it!)
I have tried keeping a book inventory, rating books, etc., but sometimes that just takes the fun out of it. I usually end up reading the book to fast to even make it to the shelf (or the book inventory) before I loan it to someone else to read.
So this year I decided to keep a list of the books I have read. (As you will notice, this might also come in handy when I start re-reading a book by accident… again!)

So here is the month of January….

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
I heard little bits and pieces about this book before I read it, but really did not know what to expect. I was especially intrigued that it is considered a young adult novel. Let me tell you… if I would have read this book when I was a teenager, I would have been so in love with it. Because, as an adult I thought it was incredible. The story takes place in Nazi Germany and is told by Death. That’s right, Death tells the story. What an amazing spin! The story follows a young girl, Liesel, who moves in with an interesting foster family after her brother dies and her mother is no longer able to care for her. The foster family keeps a Jew in hiding in the basement, which shapes the young girl’s mind about current events. For being a book centered around such a dark time; the compassion, curious and defiant nature of Liesel make you question how young adults would think/behave in such crisis. I know that as a young adult I would have admired, felt empathy and heartache for young Liesel because as an adult I was proud with her, related to her and cried when she did… It’s so good, this book is so good.

The Necklace, Cheryl Jarvis (Book Club 1)
Ehh… this story is about a group of 11 (or is it 13?) women that go together to buy an expensive diamond necklace. They decide to share the necklace by allowing each woman to have the necklace during her birthday month. As the story goes on, the women come to deal with rules of sharing, media attention and ultimately find themselves in a “sisterhood” of sorts. I didn’t put this book on my book shelf, as I don’t plan to read it again… but, I really don’t want to recommend it to anyone either… probably a candidate for Half-Price Books.

Push, Sapphire (Book Club 2)
An interesting thing happened to me when I was reading Push. I was about 20 pages in, and thought, “Wow this is really familiar. Who told me about this book?” Well, about 3 pages later I was really intrigued, so I checked my bookshelf. I already have it. I have already read it. (All signs point to a better book inventory…) Once the mystery was solved, I quickly re-read the book. It’s heart wrenching, and down right horrifying. And it feels weird to say that a book written about such horrific things can lead to a reader to find a sense of hope at the end… so I won’t say that. Because it didn’t do that for me. It just made me realize that some young people really do live terrible lives, and even with ambition, hope and determination their life might still just be manageable.

The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (Book Club 2)
I originally read this book when I was practicum teaching a 5th grade classroom in college… one of the 5th grade girls was reading it for a book report. Yep, you read that right… a 5th grade girl, reading a book about a 14 year old girl who is brutally raped and murdered. Sick. I had a hard time reading it then, and could hardly get through it again. I skipped some scary parts, couldn’t read it anywhere near bed time (or a time it was getting dark) and there was no way I could have read it without Derek home as well. In fact, I don’t even want to talk about it anymore.

The Blind Side, Michael Lewis
I can’t lie, this book was a huge let down for me. I had heard a million good things about the movie, and I am a big believer that the books are always better than the movies, so I read them first. Eh. I don’t even care if I see this movie. The story had so much hypocracisy (about religion, education, morals…) that I just spent most of the time being pissed while reading this book. This might be the one time a movie is better than the book. But, I won’t see the movie, I will just take your word for it.

Letters to a Young Teacher, Jonathan Kozol
I love Jonathan Kozol, and his stories. I have read quite a few books by Kozol, all which deal with his experiences teaching and spending time in many schools (all over the nation) but mostly in the Bronx. What I love best about his writing is that he doesn’t try to paint a picture of inner city teaching that is unrealistic, but it is never a negative picture either. Being a teacher in an inner city school I have always believed that parents, students, the community are doing the best that they know how. I would like to think that is what Kozol thinks as well. I love the stories he tells, not out of sympathy, but of a real life.

Day After Night, Anita Diamant
This book tells the story of four women and their friendship while living as Jewish refugees in a British detention camp. I was expecting it to be much more depressing and dark. But, the friendship creates a sense of hope and optimism while (continuing to) live in depressing situations. I really enjoy the way that Diamant writes, especially how she creates her female characters… without pity or apologies. This book is not as near to my heart as The Red Tent, but I am glad I read it.

The Road, Cormac McCarthy
I heard mixed reviews about this book before reading it. (Generally I like when I hear that someone doesn’t like a book, so that way I can love it…) But, honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. After reading the 1st page I was completely hooked, and didn’t stop until I was done, 2 hours later. I loved it. I am still not sure if it is because of the way it’s written, the mystery and suspense of survival… or if it’s because of the immense courage of such a young boy… or if it’s the unselfish love between a father and his son, the unsacrificed love from a father to his son… or the basic survival of humans. Whatever it is, I loved this book. I can’t wait to read it again.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
This book is written as a series of letters in 1946, from an author, her publisher, closest friend and a new group of friends, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” The society was formed during the German occupation, and the author becomes so intrigued that she goes to visit the new friends. I loved the way this book was written (in letter form), it made the characters seem so real and the story seem so personable.

The Friday Night Knitting Club, Kate Jacobs (Book Club 2)
Ehh… this book describes itself as “steel magnolias of Manhattan.” So I am sure you can imagine how I felt about that… don’t get me wrong, although it is out of my character, I do love the movie Steel Magnolias, but I am not so in love with a book proclaiming to be a comparison. I mean really there is only one Truvy.

And with all that…. here’s to February reading.

blockage

I’ve had a little bit of “writer’s block”-
… it started out as a heart block (broken heart),
leading to a mind block (brain clusterfuck),
and has resulted in writer’s block (depression).

It’s hard for me to to ever admit feeling down, blue, upset –
but as it turns out, feeling sad isn’t just for the Betty Fords.
(Or maybe it is and I am now one of them… and by “them” I mean my mother.)

My dog died… and even though it happened 2 months ago, I am still sad.

Just like a parent thinks their kids is the smartest, cutest or brightest –
Ninja, my dog, was obviously the best.
He was my dog and had the loyalty to me that a son has to his mother. A fierce protector with the gentlest of hearts; Ninja was a lover and a watch dog all in one. He was a 90 pound lap dog that never left my side.
Having Ninja made me a little less afraid of the dark. He made me not want to be gone from home for too long. Ninja made me love snow days with him curled on my feet while reading a book. He made the alarm clock seem not so bad. He gave me companionship on sunny days outside (especially while mowing the lawn). Ninja made coming home from vacation something to look forward to. He made my bed a little more cozy. He made my house a little less quiet and my life a little more routine. Ninja made stories (and photos) for naughty kids to love. He made watering the lawn seem like less of a chore, and taking a car ride more like finding gold. He made old dogs find their youth, and young dogs find their obedience. Ninja made my husband a bit jealous at times, but never held a grudge for the accusations. He made my heart melt with his wildly beating tail. Ninja made my life a lot more comfortable and a little less sad.

I miss my dog terribly. He made getting through life’s blocks a little easier.

books and blogging

this is not news to anyone… but, i love to read.
it is one of my most favorite hobbies.
since i was a little girl, i have loved to read. (although a few of the book series that i was obsessed with during high school are a little embarrassing… ahem, v.c. andrews.) people have such a hard time with the idea that derek and i do not have a tv in our house. no one can comprehend what we must do with our time. i read.
by far, my most busy reading time is the summer. naturally this is because of teaching, i have a few more hours in the summer of my own time. because i teach at an extended year school i have about 5 weeks of “summer break.”
and it is fair to say that i spent about 90% of that time sitting in the back yard, with the dog, just reading. i love it.
in fact, i am pretty sure that in that 5 week time frame i read about 25 books. which is not an insane amount by any means, but is a considerably larger amount than the 13 measly books i have read in the past 24 weeks.
this past summer derek suggested that i create a google document, inventorying what books i have… kind of like my own little on line library.
(OASN: it would have been heaven if i could have just filled out a form, by hand, inventorying my books, with a fresh blue ballpoint bic pen… but i typing into google documents was slightly satisfying as well.)
in the process of that inventory i decided that my top 5 favorite books of all time are:
the red tent
atonement
the birth of venus
educating esme
the story of edgar sawtelle

also, in the process of that inventory, i came across a book i bought this summer, no one cares what you had for lunch: 100 ideas for your blog.
obviously i was too busy reading to actually do anything that book suggested…

here’s hoping for a new balance of the two.