Showing posts with label Reading Resources. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reading Resources. Show all posts

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Years Resolutions and the First Book of 2015

Happy New Year, everybody!  I had a lovely, fairly low-key little party last night and now I'm full of plans to sit by the fire and read any number of books.  My first read is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.  I'm actually really enjoying the dramatic, yet surprisingly unsentimental account of passionate love on the barren moors.  I'm reading this as part of a book club, so I'll be writing a nice long analysis very soon.  Just 100 more pages to go!

My copy is a very ratty, beaten up one with some college notes in it.  Interesting, but not the most beautiful copy.  Anyway, that's my first read of 2015.

My reading resolutions are as follows:

1.  Better balance between blogging and reading.  It's easy to read a whole bunch and then get completely lazy and not feel like writing about the books.  Or, to spend too much time focusing on the blog and not enough on the books.  So my main goal this year is to focus on finding that balance.

2. Join Classics Club.  I have heard so many wonderful things about this great club, including the facts that it is fairly low-maintenance, gets you to read some great literature, and you can connect with others also reading classics.

3.  Read through more books that I own and stop checking out ones from the library until I've made a serious dent.  I do love the library.  I think it's probably one of the greatest civic institutions.  But I have books at home that I really, really need to read.  This resolution was inspired by Lory's great challenge for January.

4. Read some nonfiction!  I want to branch out in my reading.  I am normally a strictly fiction reader and I want to change that a bit.  I've started by reading What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.  It's a fun, quick nonfiction read and I'm really enjoying it (and I own it!).

My resolutions aren't huge, but I'm hoping to follow through with them.  I wish you all a very, very happy 2015 with lots of good reading!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

November, in a Poem

I dearly love November and it's accompanying coziness.  I think it's the grim, coldness contrasted with the warmth and light and books and people that I love so much.  I have been reading and reading in the evenings, but not bothering to write about what I'm reading, so this afternoon I'm spending working on posts that will come out soon. In the meantime, here's a poem for you.
November Moonlight by John Atkinson Grimshaw, thanks to Paintings, Art, Pictures

November by Elizabeth Coatsworth

November comes,
And November goes
With the last red berries
And the first white snows,

With night coming early
And dawn coming late,
And ice int eh bucket
And frost by the gate.

The forest burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday- Top Ten Favorite Classics

(Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup hosted by the blog The Broke and Bookish.)
As I was thinking about my favorite classics, I looked over Broke and Bookish's favorite classics and was amazed that so many of the ones they mentioned were ones I loved as well.  Actually, I had to cut a lot of well-loved classics.  But here are the ones that I believe everybody absolutely has to pick up before they die.

1.  Huckleberry Finn or something else by Mark Twain-There really is nothing like Mark Twain.  My favorite is probably Huckleberry Finn, but I shrieked with laughter at the Book for Bad Boys and Girls.

2.  To Kill a Mockingbird-I first read this in about 9th grade and fell in love with the characters.  It's still one of my favorites.  In fact, I want to go reread it right now.

3.  Bleak House by Charles Dickens-I read the whole book and loved it.

4.  Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen-I love J.A., but this book is my favorite.  I have always identified with Elinor Dashwood more than any other Austen character.

5.  Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell-Gaskell is an oft-overlooked author and I want to set about to change that.  Everybody needs to read something by Gaskell.

6.  Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier-I think Rebecca has become well-love enough that it can be considered a classic.

7. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster-This coming-of-age classic is one of my favorites.

8.  Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte-Poor Anne Bronte.  She always gets so overlooked, yet her writing is just as good as the other two Bronte sisters (am I committing some blasphemy by even writing that?) without the nonstop drama.

9.  The Odyssey by Homer-I actually really enjoyed this book.  I listened to it on audiobook two years ago and it's one of my favorites now.

10.  Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson-Treasure Island is good, but Kidnapped wins.  It's far more thrilling, the pace is faster, and I like the characters better.

Saturday, May 31, 2014


After endlessly procrastinating (I have no idea why), I finally got around to reading Unpunished.  And I am so glad that I did!  Unpunished is written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a fairly famous feminist writer from the 20s.  She is better known for writing such things as The Yellow Wallpaper and Herland.  However, before she became a famous writer, she wrote a little mystery gently poking fun at mysteries of the time and providing radical (for the time) social commentary.  This mystery is Unpunished.

Unpunished is the story of a surprisingly (again, for the time) equal couple.  This husband and wife are joint detectives.  Every evening, they come home, cook supper, and then clean up together.  This might not sound jaw-dropping for today, but for that time period, this was pretty ridiculously unexpected.  The husband finds out about a new case in which a very unlikeable man has been shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, hanged (not hung, people), and poisoned.  As the couple digs into the mystery, they realize what a truly awful person this man was.  This man (sorry, I can't remember his name) ruled all of the women in his home with an iron fist and oppressed so many people that were "lower" than he was to such an awful extent that any number of people are suspected for murdering him.  In fact, the reader is actually expected to sympathize with the suspected members, rather than the murdered person.  The family is miserable and oppressed and would like nothing better than to get back at this tyrant.  Gilman writes so bitterly about this man that I was quite sure that she had had some experience with somebody rather like him.  I went back and read the preface and, sure enough, her brother-in-law was, apparently, a hateful and bossy old somebody who ruled her after her father died.

Aside from being a good mystery that left me saying, "What?!" at the end of it, this story was well written and made some pretty important commentary, even for today.  Sure, bossy old fathers forcing their young daughters into unwanted arranged marriages isn't happening very frequently, but the way people interact with each other and the world is still a relevant topic today.  This book is slow going at first, but the story starts to seep in to you after a few chapters.   I highly recommend it

And I have the amazon link.  Our library was discarding it and I just happened to catch it, so I don't know how many libraries are keeping the book.  (I'm not saying that your library doesn't have it- our's has the unfortunate tendency to throw out the old books and keep buying new, more "relevant" books.)  Happy Reading!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Library Loot 5/26

Whew!  Well, I've finally got my Library Loot post together for the week.  I've got a good selection of books this week, mostly from the library.  The other new thing that I've got this week is several nonfiction things!  I just happened to find a bunch of great nonfiction books in the archives of this blog that I thought I must read.  So here goes:

1. What the World Eats by Faith D'Aluisio and Peter Menzel- This book came out quite awhile ago and I heard fantastic things about it, then promptly forgot it.  So now, I'm going to finally get around to reading this.

2. Unpunished- This dagblamed book is getting on my nerves.  It's been in my library loot pile for three weeks and I still can't get around to reading it.  This will be the week that I finally read it!

3. The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore Gray- Recommended by the blog mentioned above.  I just thought this looked mildly interesting.  We'll see how it is.

4. Evelina by Fanny Burney- An interesting-looking book that I look forward to reading.  It's a funny 18th century novel.

5. Dear Enemy by Jean Webster- By the author who wrote the slightly more famous Daddy Long-Legs (which I need to read), this is the story of a woman who takes the role of superintendent of an orphanage.

6. The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson- I just recently finished the Sherlock TV show and loved it and then read the original Sherlock Holmes books.  I'm excited to see how this book turns out.

I feel like I got a good haul this week.  I'm excited to see how the books are!  And yet again, my interlibrary loan limit was exceeded.  Sigh.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Rainy Day

Today I'm enjoying the rain gently pattering on the roof as I work on inside projects.  I've spent every waking moment outside the last few days, so it's a nice break to be inside.  Here's what I'm doing/have done today (and a pretty picture I found for your perusal):
I love pictures of people reading.  This picture is by Deborah Bays.
It's called Summer Solitude.

  • Listening to the Kingston Trio as I type this.
  • This morning included a trip to a local store where I got pretty soap and earrings.
  • Working in my cozy sewing room.  Sewing is the perfect pastime on a day like this.  I'm working on a flowery 60s wrap dress.
  • Contemplating blog posts and what my writing goals are.
  • Doings some furniture shifting
  • Reading (of course).  I'm enjoying A People's History of the United States (the chapter about the beginnings of slavery) and Miss Bunting by Angela Thirkell
What do you like to do on rainy days?

Monday, May 19, 2014


Quick!  Quick!  The Midnight Garden, a blog that focuses mostly on young adult and middle grade fiction, is hosting a giveaway of L.M. Montgomery books published by Sourcebooks Fire.  As many of you know, I adore L.M. Montgomery, so you'd better bet that I went over there are entered at once.  If any of you are interested, head on over there.

Here's the link.  Enjoy!

There are two sets of books being given away: a set of the six Anne books and a set of six non-Anne books.  The books in the non-Anne set are Jane of Lantern Hill, A Tangled Web, The Blue Castle, Pat of Silver Bush, Mistress Pat, and Magic for Marigold.  Of these, I have only read The Blue Castle, so I'm pretty excited about this.

I'm blogging about this at the last moment, so you only have 15 more hours to enter this giveaway.  Good luck!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Card Game Bookmarks

A few days ago, I cleaned out our family's game chest.  Ahem.  That was quite the job, let me tell you.
The bottom of the chest, once all of the board games had been removed.

However, I got a sparkling clean, organized game chest out of it and something else...

I got bookmarks!  I am always on the lookout for pretty, interesting bookmarks.  Of course, scrap paper and business cards work fine, but it's always fun to have something a little nicer.  While cleaning out the game cupboard, I came across several sad cards.  They were from the vintage card game Authors.   (This game I linked to is identical to ours, except that ours never included anything so modern as a female author.  I mean, Lousia May Alcott?  Come, come!  She isn't great like old Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Robert Louis Stevenson, who, according to this game, looks like a drug addict.)  The cards were originally complete, but over the years, we've lost pieces and we almost never played the game, so I have relegated them to bookmarks.  I think it fitting that the authors cards are being used to mark books.  Even though the authors on the cards are ridiculously non-representative of all the authors out there, I am fond of the old dears and I'm glad they get a new job.

Anyway, I thought you might like to meet a few of the cards bookmarks.

I'm sorry it's so blurry.  The camera was being whiney.  But you get
the idea here.  This is R.L. Stevenson
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Washington Irving
Edgar Allan Poe...I can't decide whether he's looking grim
or just determined.

There are several others, but I didn't think you would want to see every single one of them.  I'm very curious as to when these were made.  Evidently a time where white male authors were THE author.  What do you think?  They make fantastic bookmarks!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Listening To

Sometimes I get in a music-listening-while reading mood.  I am immersed in the world of Belle Ruin right now (review coming soon!) and while I read, I've been listening to Scenes from Childhood (Kinderzenen in German) by Schumann.  This little collection of pieces is pretty familiar and they make surprisingly good background listening, although they're just as nice for sitting down and seriously listening to.

Here's the link from YouTube, so you can listen to these beautiful pieces while reading as well!
My favorites are #8 and #9.  I'm teaching myself to play them now.

And here's the Wikipedia link you that you can see the titles and order of the pieces.
Happy Listening!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

How the Poetry Went

In a previous post, I told you all about the poetry I was going to read.  Well, it was slightly overambitious, but I did get two of the poetry books read.

1.  Longfellow- I'm glad I actually read this whole book.  The poetry, particularly the nature poetry, was just beautiful.  I loved that, even though those poems were so old, they were still meaningful today.
I gave an overview of what I thought of Longfellow in this post, so I won't say any more.

2.  Billy Collins-  Once I realized that I just wasn't going to get around to reading all of the poetry that I had on the list, I picked up a slim volume of Billy Collins poetry.  I have heard and read Billy Collins's poetry many times, so I knew what a treat I was in for.  If you are a poetry foot-dragger like me, one of his books is the place to start.  I'm going to do a real post about this book because it was so enjoyable.

So I may not have quite reached my goal, but I did a little dabbling in poetry for April, so I was pleased with the results.  I may continue to read a book of poetry throughout the year, and if so I'll keep you updated on my poetry reading adventures.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Pigs

We have pretty much every animal on my farm: beef cattle, chickens, a few loud guinea hens, 3 ornery geese, sheep, goats, two dogs, and a bunch of barn kitties that roam at will.  Well, three days ago a kind neighbor called and asked if we wanted 3 little piglets.  After a few minutes of thinking, we said yes.  So now, there are three little piglets that are living in a horse stall until they are old enough to go out on pasture.  These pigs were born in an extremely conventional (for the United States) pig operation, called CAFO units.  Now these 3-week-old piglets are living in a wildly different setting at our farm.  They have will have lots of sunshine and grass and I think they're going to be very happy.

Piggy naptime.  They're babies, so they spend quite a lot of time
sleeping and chewing on things.
Contemplative pig.
I promise, this is the last time you will ever see a pig butt on my blog.
But look!  It's a perfect heart and no, that wasn't tattooed on.

Since we've gotten pigs, I am remembering all of these books and stories about pigs.   Of course, there's the classic Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, but there are many others.  In Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, there is a story about somebody taking a pig for a ride on a bobsled.  All I remember about that story is it was funny.  Then there's the Beatrix Potter book, Pigling Bland.  There's the famous Charlotte's Web, the pigs in the Richard Scarry books, the stories about Olivia the pig, and dear old Babe: The Gallant Pig.
The waterer.  It's just a pvc pipe with a little tappy-nipple thing like
rabbits use.  These smarties figured it out without any coaching on our part!
The shoelaces on boots make excellent chew toys.
Apparently chewing on the feeder and an old rag is very fun.

This is just a smidgen of the stories about pigs.  I've wondered why there were so many pig stories, but I'm starting to understand it since I got pigs.  You see, pigs are one of the most sensitive and smart farm animals.  They actually remind me a lot of dogs.  They can get very bored if they don't have something engaging to do, they get lonely if they don't have company, and they all have very distinct personalities.  The most rewarding thing about taking care of the pigs is that when you go out to the barn, the pigs have a special happy grunt when they hear people.  All this to say, I think I'm going to like keeping pigs and I can understand why people have liked them for a long time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

4/23/14 Library Loot

Here's this week's Library Loot from The Captive Reader.  I went to the library yesterday, so this post is just in time!  I got a good pile (I've been having great book luck recently).  I hope you find some titles to add to you TBR list!
1.  The Scent of Water is a story of a woman who finds consolation for a failed romance in a little country cottage and the people that she meets around her.  I love Elizabeth Goudge, so I think this will be good.

2.  Another Fred Chappell book.  I'm sure it's going to be just as good as Brighten the Corner Where You Are.  This is the story of Jess Kirkman, the son of protagonist in Brighten the Corner.  As his grandmother is dying, he looks back on the stories of the women before her.

3.  A 20s mystery about a husband and wife detective team who solve a murder case.  The back of the book says that this book has a lot of social commentary in it.  The book makes fun of murder stories, with the victim being shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, strangled, and poisoned!  This is also a very feminist book, with commentary about the helpless position that most women were in.  The very equal partnership between the husband and wife is emphasized.  I'm interested to read this!

4.  The 5th Flavia de Luce Book

5.  The 6th- and last- Flavia de Luce book.

6.  Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture- The title is pretty self-explanatory. I found this on some blog, I'm sorry I can't remember where.  As an introvert in the church, I think this is going to be a very interesting and inspiring read.

7. For some reason, the last two times I was at the library, I forgot to get the 3rd Emma Graham book.  I'm glad I finally remembered!

8.  I am so pleased that I found this.  (From another blog...blogs have given me so many good book ideas!)  I read Nancy Drew in late elementary school/early middle school and loved them, although I distinctly remember noticing that I could never remember the latest Nancy Drew I had read.  They all kind of ran together.  However, I have a real fondness for Nancy and it will be interesting to read about her origins.

So that's my loot for the week!  What did you get?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Introverted Characters

People, I just had the most aggravating thing happen yesterday.  I was getting ready to finish up I am Half-Sick of Shadows (the next Flavia de Luce) when I forgot it at the dentist.  Argh.  So now I have no idea what is going to happen and I don't have a book review, but here's the other post I've been working on.
The silly kitten who likes to drink out of the sheep water tank.

I just noticed a phenomenon.  Has anybody else noticed the fact that an overwhelming majority of protagonists are decidedly introverted?  Just a little refresher:  An introvert is a person who needs to "recharge" after being in large groups of people.  It's not that they're socially awkward or unable to be in society, they just have to rest up afterwards.  They often tend to have a lot of inner dialogue and enjoy just thinking. This characterization must be just perfect for book characters.  Think about the last 5 books you read.  How many of them had an outgoing, busy character that spends hours talking to people and never sits and thinks.  As I thought about this, I realized that maybe a book character has to be introverted to be a book character.  Otherwise, the reader would have no idea what the motives were and what was going on at a whole other level.  With the exception of action cartoon characters and Nancy Drew, most book characters have a pretty busy internal dialogue, thinking through things and paying attention to their emotions.  Or, are most authors introverted, so it just feels normal for a character to spend lots of time thinking?  I'd love to hear what you think.  And now I'll close with several quotes that I found from books, just to illustrate my point.
The view of the barn through the trees

From my dear Flavia de Luce (*sniff*)- "Whenever I'm with other people, part of me shrinks a little. Only when I am alone can I fully enjoy my own company."

And another because I'm missing this book so much- "There's a lot to be said for being alone. But you and I know, don't we, Flavia, that being alone and being lonely are not at all the same thing?"
A coat of wool from one of the sheep, ready to go to the mill.

From Meg Murray of A Wrinkle in Time- "Meg, don't you think you'd make a better adjustment to life if you faced facts?" 
I do face facts," Meg said.
They're lots easier to face than people, I can tell you."

From Matilda- "“You seemed so far away," Miss Honey whispered, awestruck.

"Oh, I was. I was flying past the stars on silver wings," Matilda said. "It was wonderful.” "

From Ferdinand the Bull, one of the most memorable children's books- "And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly. He is very happy."

I have a whole bunch of other quotes, but I won't bore you.  Start reading and notice all of the introverted characters.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Library Loot

Today I'm linking up with this fantastic blog to bring you the books that I got at my last trip to the library.  I think this is a great way to promote libraries and I've gotten some great book ideas from it.
So here are the books that I checked out last time I was at the library.

1.The Egg and I is the first autobiography by the fantastic Mrs. Piggle Wiggle author.  I laughed and laughed at this account of chicken farming in the Northwest Pacific.

2.  A Room with a View is one of those classics that so many people miss out on reading in school.  It's the story of a young girl who leaves proper England for Italy.

3. I picked up Life is Meals on a whim.  It's a cooking calendar, with a one page treatise on such topics as ice cream, Alice Waters, and a poem to Brie (the cheese, that is).

4.  A Red Herring Without Mustard is the third Flavia de Luce book.  I just started it.  It's very good!

5.  I'm continuing my Neil Gaiman reading and thought I would check out this very famous title.  I just recently watched the movie and liked it.

6.  This Rough Magic is written by one of my favorite authors, Mary Stewart.  It is the story of Lucy Waring, a minor actress who goes to Corfu to visit her sister and has a very exciting adventure.

7.  South of Superior is a debut novel about a woman who returns to a little eccentric town on the upper peninsula of Michigan.  She goes to take care of an old family friend, but along the way meets many interesting people and is changed forever.

8.  A Company of Swans is by the very talented Eva Ibbotson.  This is the story of a young girl who lives with her oppressive father and aunt.  The only thing she likes is ballet.  Defying her father and aunt, she goes with a ballet troupe to South America and falls in love with a British exile.  Unfortunately, her father and fiance are following her.

9.  Brighten the Corner Where You Are is a day in the life of a North Carolina school teacher.   It has gotten a lot of critical acclaim, so I'm eager to read it!

And that concludes this week's library loot!  I'm looking forward to repeating this every week.