Category Archives: reading

Sunday Salon: Have I Got a Book for you! #diversiverse

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Happy Sunday! Instead of telling you what I’m up to, I decided to do something different. A Diverse Universe event is coming up and I thought I’ll write a list post for anyone who’s thinking about joining the event and don’t know what to read.

Bloggers like Aarti and Nymeth have eloquently written about why more people should read diversely. I’m not going to do it. I’ve realized that exploring works of art based on an author’s race means being open to something different. And either you are open to that or you’re not. Readers love the adventures that books can take them on, like new worlds light-years away or a dystopian version of the world they live in. Looking at race can be a different and harder thing to do. But it doesn’t have to be.

It’s an ongoing process, one that means making a decision book by book. It doesn’t mean suddenly changing the way you read overall. I, myself, have been guilty of not reading many books by people of color over the years. Or, I’ll read them but don’t review them. This year has been fantastic with books by people of color dominating my reviews, but I still have work to do.

Some critics have stated that by purposely choosing to read a book written by a person of color, you’re excluding whites. Well, that’s true. When you’re in the mood to read science fiction or fantasy that means excluding all writers who don’t write in that genre. Race isn’t any different. Nor is it any different when choosing to read books that won certain awards or set in different countries or translated from other languages. I hope everyone who reads this post makes a decision to pick up a book by a person of color. Like I stated earlier, that choice is up to you.

The books on my list were all published this year. I decided to give newly released books more bookish love than those that were published in previous years. By buying, borrowing, or reviewing new releases shows the gatekeepers that books by people of color are desired by readers.

Note: Most of the links to the titles below will take you to Goodreads. Several will take you to my reviews or the reviews of other bloggers.

Looking for a short read?

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I don’t read short stories often enough though I love them. The great thing about them is that you can often find amazing ones online via Tor and other online publications.

Novels

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Diverse Collage 5

Nonfiction

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Have you read any of these books? What newly released books would you recommend?

Review: The Day I Became an Autodidact

698417The Day I Became an Autodidact: And the Advice, Adventures, and Acrimonies that Befell me Thereafter

Kendall Hailey

288 pages

Published in January 1989 by Delta

Source: Public library

A few days ago, I started reading The Day I Became an Autodidact by Kendall Hailey. Hailey, the daughter of a playwright and novelist, decided to graduate from high school a year early at the age of 16. Her turning point came when days after tenth grade ended, her school sent out a mandatory summer reading list. I don’t blame her. After being told what to read, what to write about, and what classes to take, the last thing anyone wants to do is slave away during the summer. I remember not wanting to do that during the school year.

So Hailey calls it quits with school and decides to become an autodidact, learning everything she needs to know through books. She reads Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, Vile Bodies and Great Expectations. She takes trips with her family, reads, and takes more trips.

It’s great and all but I soon found myself wanting more. Part of the problem has to do with the fact that Hailey doesn’t do anything but read. Coming from a well-to-do family, the author doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to but it doesn’t make for a good story. I DNFed the book after reading sixty pages, so I can’t tell you if she ever does anything out of her comfort zone. Within the pages I read, she doesn’t volunteer, search for others like herself, or anything. What’s the point of educating yourself if you’re going to stay in a bubble? Granted, the memoir was written in the late 1980s and Google wasn’t a click away.

Maybe the problem is that I’m not the right target for this book. I mean, I love reading. If I could, I would read all day long, except I can’t. That’s why read-a-thon days and various breaks are like Christmas to me. Even while writing this post, I had to stop and play Legos with one kid and make a snack for another one.

It doesn’t matter.

Hailey’s thoughts are insightful at times and I found a few paragraphs that I want to photocopy. That wasn’t enough for me to want to finish this book. My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars. It’s okay.

Sunday Salon

 

Time: // 8:08 a.m.

The scene: // sitting at my desk, waiting for the donuts to finish rising. I have about 45 minutes left before I can start frying them. Most of the kids are asleep and I’m enjoying the silence.

Listening to: // Melody Gardot’s album, My One and Only Thrill. It’s jazz and her voice is so beautiful. Take a listen:

This week: // Bout of Books was a fail. Well, not really. I did manage to finish and review, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. I’ve started reading Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok. I’m really enjoying it and will try to finish it today.

Grateful for: // the fact that I start work tomorrow. It’s a warehouse job through a temp agency but it’s a start. I was looking for a job that I can work late afternoons or nights so I can still homeschool during the day and be around the kids. I’m glad I found one with compatible hours.

Appreciating: // my extended family. My cousin recently passed and Friday was his funeral. There was so many people there and we laughed and cried over my cousin’s antics. He was one of the most giving and friendly people you could ever meet. Going to his funeral was sad but it didn’t end that way. I was so happy to see my family and will keep in touch.

Writing down: // my summer bucket list. I saw a post on How Sweet It Is and within minutes came up with a ton of things for me and the kids to do this summer, which includes making watermelon gazpacho. Have you ever made a summer bucket list?

Now I’m off to: // fry some donuts.

What are you doing today?

Bout of Books 10 and Update Post

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Bout of Books have officially started. I’m typing this on Sunday night since Mondays are always busy with meetings, homeschooling, and errands. Don’t worry, I’m taking my reads to the beach with me Monday afternoon since summer has pretty much hit Southern California. (I’m not bragging. I actually wish it was winter here.)

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I’m starting the read-a-thon off with two books that aren’t on my original list: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton and For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu. I also plan on using this post to update my progress as I go.

Enjoy your Monday!

What are you looking forward to reading/doing this week?

Monday’s Update

Monday was fantastic! I started and finished The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. It was filled with beautiful writing and though I didn’t really get attached to any of the characters, it was still a nice book to read.

  • Books finished: 1
  • Pages read: 320

Now I just need to figure out what to read today (Tuesday). Any suggestions?

Tuesday’s Update

Tuesday was a total reading disaster. I couldn’t figure out what to read so I didn’t do any reading. Plus, this heat was so bad that all I wanted to do was sleep yesterday. Ugh.  Today (Wednesday) it’s suppose to be 98 degrees. I can’t hibernate since I have a ton of things to do. Today’s book will either be There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff (a reread) or The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld.

Day 3 Mini-Challenge

Today’s mini-challenge is from My Overstuffed Books. B.o.B. participates are to pair a book with something.

My pairing is The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton and probably French bread.  In the book, the main character’s grandmother owns the bakery in their small town and believes bread helps to heal almost anything. I love that idea.

 

 

Bout of Books 10

After reading Candiss’s goals for Bout of Books, I decided to join the event. Bout of Books has been going strong for a few years but this will be my first time joining.

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 The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

 My goals for Bout of Books are:

  • To read for at least two hours a day. I need to get back into the habit of sitting down to just read again. I already finished my homework for the next two weeks, so I can find some time to read.

  • To review 90% of the books I read during the event.
  • To read at least four books.

 I have a ton of books that I would like to finish in the next few months, so my pile comes from that stack. My pile of possibilities:

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The Namesake by Jhumpi Lahiri.

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Ariana Huffington

A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip by Kevin Brockmeier

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

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I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin

Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok

The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Are you participating for the event? If so, what’s on your reading?

Books read in April

April has come and gone. Thank God. It was just a stressful month. My neck is still sprained and I’m starting to understand – really understand that I’m getting older and it’s time for me to start taking better care of this body.

Now on to books.

I read an amazing 20 books last month. The books were in a variety of genres and for the most part, it was a good reading.

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  • Cress by Marissa Meyer
  • The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (reread)
  • Why Don’t Students Like School? by Daniel T. Willingham
  • Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

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  • Duffy and the Devil by Harve Zemach
  • Brimsby’s Hats by Andrew Prahin
  • Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything by Maira Kalman
  • Here I Am by Patti Kim

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  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers by Michael Brian Bendis
  • An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
  • Saga Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  • Delancey : A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage by Molly Wizenberg

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  • Dog Loves Counting by Louise Yates
  • Ol’ Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein
  • Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock
  • The  Fantastic Art of Jacek Yerka

I decided to include the children’s books for those of you who read and enjoy the genre.

An Untamed State was the best book I read last month with the third volume of Saga a close second.

How was your reading in April?

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon

As I type this, it’s Saturday night, hours before the readathon’s 5 am start date in Southern California. I’m not getting up that early to start reading but I still wanted to make sure my post was up.

The start of the readathon is always exciting. The house is quiet at 5 am and the only sounds to be heard are the ones coming from the coffee pot. I always tell my family that the readathon is my Christmas; it’s the day that I get to sit back, ignore most of the errands and chores that need to be done, and do something I really enjoy: reading.

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My reading stack includes:

Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman

Midwinter Blood – Marcus Sedgwick

Running Like a Girl – Alexandra Heninsley

Noggin – Corey Haley

A Snicker of Magic – Natalie Lloyd

When the Emperor was Divine – Julie Otsuka

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Ella Enchanted – Gail Levine

Today I Am a Boy – Kim Fu

Cress – Marissa Meyer (already started)

The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons – Sam Kean (already started)

Usually, I have graphic novels, children’s books, and a bit of poetry in my stack but I was unable to get to the library in time. What I have should keep me busy as the books are in a variety of genres from fantasy to dystopian, nonfiction to young adult.

Readathoning along with me is my twelve year-old daughter, Piper. Her stack includes a ton of manga and hopefully Cress for school. The boys may join but I’m not holding my breath.

What books are in your stack?

First Update

I’m up! I’m up! It’s hour one of the readathon and I finally woke up. Piper, on the other hand, has been up for hours reading. Now she’s asleep. Hee hee! I should take a picture of her with her beauty mask on, but I want to live.

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1. We’re reading from Southern California.

2. I love my stack of books so I’m excited about everything I end up reading. I think Piper feels the same way.

3.  The snack I’m looking forward to reading is actually a meal. I’m making red beans and rice for dinner early this morning.  I can’t wait.

4. Telling you something about myself is always hard. I never know what to say. I’m a mother of three lovely kids, my favorite thing to do besides reading is to ride my men’s beach cruiser named Dorothy. She’s red. ;-) Piper is a 12 year-old girl who loves anime, baking, and riding on her roller skates. Her dream is to go to school in Paris to become a pastry chef.

 5.  I  participated in the last readathon. I know to just have fun and keep the pressure low.

Hour 8 Update

Since my last update, I have:

  • read more pages in Cress
  • started making dinner (red beans and rice)
  • took a break to do some cheerleading

Piper has finally woken up and she’s eating lunch.

Oliver (my 10 year-old) has joined the readathon and is currently reading a Lego comic.

Food consumed: Special K, coffee, and some water.

Back to reading.

Sunday Salon on a Monday

Time: // 7:12 pm

The scene: // Sitting in my living room, typing this. Spring break for my sisters and I have started. I still have homeschooling but since spraining my neck (didn’t know that was possible) earlier last week, I’m going to be lying down a lot.

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Just finished reading: // An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. Shannon and I were discussing it a little via Goodreads. I recommend it to Aarti, Ana, Jill, and Jenny.

Now I’m continuing: // a few books I started earlier last week like A Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean (nonfiction) and Cress by Marissa Meyer. I like I’m going to DNF Delancey by Molly Wizenberg for now. It’s an okay book but I’m not pulled in to the writing.

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Next up: // Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Someone (who?) reviewed this book a few months ago and I had to pick it up.

Promoting: // Though I haven’t been blogging a lot lately, I’m still reading everyone’s posts. On the Read-a-thon blog, Andi wrote why Dewey’s read-a-thon is a lot like a choose your own adventure book.

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride was recently nominated for a few awards. Heather at Between the Covers recently wrote a review about the book as hard to read but still impressive.

Now I’m off to: // start my day.

What have you been up? What are you reading?

When My Eyes are Bigger Than My Stomach

Do you:

  • Ever have moments when you walk into the library and you want everything you see?*
  • Pick up book after book, taking them home though you know it might be awhile before you’re able to get to read them?
  • Look at those books longingly as they linger unread on your shelves?
  • Guiltily return your stack of books to the library unread and sometimes even late?

*Of course, this situation also applies to bookstores.

If you answered yes to two or more questions, then you have a case of your eyes being bigger than your reading stomach.

I have a case of this right now. There are so many books currently being published that sound amazing. I’ve been checking out stacks of books from the library, though the only way I will get to them is if I took a few weeks off from everything to just read.

For me, one of the side effects from this bookish condition is guilt. My bookshelves are stuffed with unread books and instead of trying to read what I own, I’m constantly picking up books that blogging friends have raved about. I often find new-to-me authors that way but my shelves are collecting dust.

While I think there’s no cure for having such a huge reading appetite, I’ll probably cut back on what I check out from the library for now. It would be nice to read some of the books I’ve own for a year or so.

What do you do when your reading eyes are bigger than your stomach? Do you just go with it or try to cut back on what you check out from the library or accept from publishers?

Sunday Salon

Time: // 8:28 am

The scene: // at my kitchen table, nursing a cold cup of coffee. After going to a late showing of Captain America: The Winter Soldier last night, I’ve had very little sleep.

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For two weeks: // I was unable to finish a book. I would start a book, only to put it down after a few pages. Life has been chaotic and hard lately. There are so many changes coming and I’m trying to brace myself. Yesterday, I needed something fairytale like and found it with Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, a modern-day retelling of the Snow Queen fairy tale. It was just what I needed. I finished the book in one day. Review coming soon (hopefully).

For homeschooling, I’m reading Love that Dog by Sharon Creech with my youngest. I’m also diving into A Wrinkle in Time with my middle son.

Celebrating: //my blogiversary! I’ve been blogging for seven years now. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. I may celebrate with a giveaway in a week or so.

Wishing: // I could stop time. I have so much to do today including homework, washing clothes, and a million other things. I need my weekend to be a little bit longer.

Promoting: // Jill’s (Rhapsody in Books) review of Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. Jill heard about Annihilation via Facebook, one of the few online places that I don’t see many book recommendations. What about you, do you get book recommendations on Facebook?

Now I’m off to: // start on my to-do list.

What are you up to this Sunday?

Sunday Salon

Time: // 8:08 am

The scene: // sitting in my living room, relaxing. It has been a long morning as I’ve been up since 4 am. I went for a sunrise stroll on the beach, ate breakfast at a local diner, and now I’m ready to go back to bed!

Currently reading: // Why Don’t Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What it Means for the Classroom by Daniel T. Willingham. I started this book last month but finally found the time to read it earlier this week. I’m only a few chapters in but this book is stuffed with information.

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I needed some fiction to read, so I started reading Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile.

Completing: // the last day of Bloggiesta. I’m more than halfway through with my to-do list. Now I just need to brainstorm some ideas for future posts.

Celebrating: // the fact that the Excel portion of my computer class is over with! Now my class will try to conquer Microsoft Access.

Thinking about: // two posts with similar ideas. Yesterday Shannon (River City Reading) shared what she read in March and how she hasn’t read any books that blows her “out of the water”. Andi (Estella’s Revenge) write a similar post this morning.

I had to check my own Goodreads account and see how many 5-star books I’ve read for this year. The number: 3. That’s not surprising. I’ve read some pretty good reads but not many amazing ones. Hmmm.

Sleep: // is calling my name so I’m off.

What was the last 5-star book that you’ve read?

Once Upon a Time VIII

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To be honest with you, this reading “challenge” is one of the reasons why I continue to blog. I’ve been blogging for seven years and I’ve joined this event almost every year. If I remember correctly, it was Dewey who got me to join (she also got me to read Neil Gaiman and graphic novels too). Reading events and challenges like Once Upon a Time, Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P.), and Dewey’s Readathon always leave me feeling excited and breathless at their arrival.

Anyways. Here’s the details:

  • Once Upon a Time is an annual reading challenge hosted by Carl (Stainless Steel Droppings).
  • Readers can read from any of the four categories: Folklore, Fantasy, Fairy Tale, and Mythology.
  • It runs from March 21st – June 21st.
  • Participants pick how they want to participate from watching movies to reading short stories.
  • The only rule: have fun.

Since I can’t join a reading event of any kind without going overboard, I think I’ll join a quest or two.

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Rule: Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the four categories. It can be a combination or one book from each category. Readers decide.
My pile of books:

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  • A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
  • The Memory Garden by Mary Rickert
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine
  • Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
  • Half World by Hiromi Goto

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A reading event that includes watching movies or TV shows?! Hell yes! I do need some suggestions though.

So that’s what I’m going to read. What are you reading for Once Upon a Time VIII? You are going to join, right?

Sunday Salon

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Time: // 6:52 a.m. Sunday

The scene: // sitting at my desk in the living room. The coffee pot is perking and the kids are asleep!! Yes! Spring break started for the kids yesterday and I’m have a four-day weekend filled with Excel sheets to create, a midterm to do, and books to read and review.

Eating and drinking: // coffee! We’re having waffles for breakfast.

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Currently reading: // The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith and Mr. Loverman by Bernandine Evaristo. I’m hoping to finish both within the next day or so.

Up next: // All the Bird, Singing by Evie Wyld and a host of children’s books

Blogging about: // a poem by e.e. cummings and a foodie memoir

Promoting: // as usual, bloggers all over the blogisphere are adding books to my tbr list

 Melissa’s (Feminist Texican) review of Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

Jenny’s (Jenny’s Books/Reading the End) review of Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory

Aarti’s (Booklust) review of Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

The quotes that Lu (Reading Rumination) shared with readers make me want to read While Beauty Slept soon.

Last but not least, Laurie’s (Bay State Reader’s Advisory) thoughts on The Accidental Universe by Alan Lightman had me rushing to my library’s website to put the book on hold.

Thankful for: // this nice spring weather we’re having. I’m a winter person but I can’t help but enjoy all the sunshine.

Now I’m off to: // get started on those Excel sheets.

How are you spending your day?

 

Sunday Salon

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Time: // 8: 00 a.m. Damn Daylight Savings time. I’m exhausted. At least I have some coffee.

The scene: // Sitting in my living room, most of the kids are asleep. The sun is shining and there are some awesome clouds in the sky.

Listening to: // “Out of My League” by Fitz and the Tantrums. Thanks to Bryan for the suggestion. Thanks to everyone for their music suggestions last week.

Listing: // my Memoir March list of books. I finally figured out what I’m going to read this month.

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  • Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friend by Bill Russell – audio
  • Around the House and In the Garden by Dominique Browning
  • The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann
  • Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
  • Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding by Lynn Darling
  • Maus by Art Spiegelman – (Maybe I’ll finally get to this one)
  • Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story by Peter Bagge
  • The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and The Quest to Cure Tuberculosis by Thomas Goetz
  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer (recommended by Olduvai)
  • The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
  • L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food by Roy Choi

I tried to pick some diverse reads, ranging from format (Woman Rebel and Maus are graphic novels) to experience.  I’m currently reading L.A. Son, a foodie memoir, and Out of the Woods. I’m really enjoying both of them.

Blogging about: // everything! I had one of those rare urges to write my ass off this week. I wrote graphic novels reviews, a review of The Perfect Score by Debbie Steir, and a wrap-up of my February reading.

Promoting: // Andi’s Book Nook guest post over on Relentless Reader. Since rearranging my apartment, I no longer have a book nook but it’s nice to look at everyone else’s.

Also promoting: // When the Universe Ain’t Talking by QuinnCreative. I’ve been in a rut for a while now and this post came at a perfect time.  It’s about when you have to wait for an answer from the Universe and you just.can’t.wait.

You should also read: // Buried in Print’s Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi.

Now I’m off to: // relax a bit before I spend the day doing homework.

What are you up to today? Any suggestions on how to get out of a rut?

February Wrap-Up and Memoir March

It’s ridiculous how fast this year is going by. I did read somewhere if there’s nothing new and different going on in your life, it seems like time is passing by fast. Do you guys think that’s true? Looking at my life, I’m not really doing anything different – yet. It’s just the usual with school for me and homeschooling for the kiddos. I need to change that.

In February I read a total of 16 books, a combination of children’s books, graphic novels, and exactly one book of fiction. Highlights include:

  • The Wizard by Jack Prelutsky (Thanks, Andi, for the recommendation.)
  • Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
  • Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
  • Malcolm Little by Ilyash Shabazz
  • Light in the Darkness by Lesa Cline-Ransome
  • Off to the Market by Elizabeth Dale
  • Mousterpiece by Jane Breskin Zalben
  • The Tree Lady by Joseph H. Hopkins
  • Aphrodite by George O’Connor

Favorite children’s book: Malcolm Little by Ilyash Shabazz. The book is about Malcolm X’s childhood. It was a sweet read though a bit sad. I expect it to win some awards next year.

Favorite adult read: Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi. You can read my thoughts here.

Overall, February was a pretty good month with a lot of interesting reads especially with all the nonfiction picture books.

Looking forward

One of my goals for this year is to tackle my tbr mountain but I’ve been ignoring it. It’s so hard to read from your own stac k when there are so many shiny new library books to read.

Chris and Debi have decided that their reading theme for March will be Memoirs and I think joining in will be a good way to help me get some of my own books
read.  I haven’t made a list just yet but give me time.

What are your plans for March?

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 8:02 p.m. Saturday night

The scene: // hanging out in my living room with the heater on and some pretty tulips on my table

4959061Currently Reading: // so many books right now. I think I’ll spend the next week trying to get through most of them. I set aside The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean and An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield to pick up Why Don’t Students Like School? by Daniel T. Willingham. Willingham is a psychologist who writes about how our minds work and how our theories about thinking can help or hinder kids in school. It’s really interesting.  I’m also rereading The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan with one of my sons. Bryan read the series a few weeks ago and it made me want to read the first book again.

Setting aside last Sunday to dive into graphic novels felt great. I may have to do that every Sunday in February. Last Sunday I read Jane, the Fox, and Me by Franny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault along with A Matter of Life by Jeffrey Brown, and Aphrodite by George O’Connor.

Blogging about: // nothing. I haven’t had the time to write a post. Maybe I’ll review the books I mentioned above.

Promoting: // a few fantastic posts I read this week. M over at Buried in Print wrote about kidlit especially the books she read as a child and current children’s books.

Jenny (Reading the End) wrote another Stuff to Worry About Post about the plague that’s currently affecting starfish. It’s fascinating and pretty sad.

Bryan (Still Unfinished) wrote about his progress on his 2014 goals. It made me remember that not only have I lost my list of resolutions, I don’t remember what they are! At least I remember my word for this year: Leap.

As much as I like bookish posts, I love posts about happiness and gratitude even more. Iliana (Bookgirl) recently wrote about the things that make her happy. It doesn’t take much to make most people happy.

Last but not least is the latest issue of Bloggers Recommend which you can find here. The issue is the best looking one to date. It includes author interviews, excerpts of upcoming releases, and of course book blurbs.

Now I’m off to: // do homeworking, lesson planning, and of course make some waffles.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 7:29 am

The scene: // At my desk with my first cup of coffee, while listening to Gregory Porter’s album,  Be Good.

What’s going on:// I’m anticipating the chaos of this week. Today, I have to submit the kids’ grades to their charter school. When I decide to homeschool my kids (ages 8, 10, and 12), I didn’t think of grades (and still don’t really). Instead, I try to help the kids master the subjects they’re taking without the pressure of getting top grades. I need to finish up since today’s the deadline.

In case you missed my last post, February is Graphic Novels Month. There’s so many people participating and everyone’s welcome. I already finished my first comic: Aphrodite by George O’Connor. I hope I get through my stack this month, but there’s always March. The twitter hashtag is #comicsfebruary.

Between homeschooling and reading graphic novels, I have school myself. The first day of the spring semester starts tomorrow. Luckily one of my class websites opened up yesterday, so I’ve gotten a head start on this week’s homework and studying.

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Today’s plans: // include missing the Super Bowl to do some studying and reading for pleasure. Lu and I decided to have a mini comics readathon today. My stack includes A Matter of Time by Jeffrey Brown and Jane, the Fox, and Me by Franny Britt.

I’m not just reading comics this month so Sam Kean’s The Disappearing Spoon is in today’s stack. Its subtitle: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements tells it all. A plus for this book is that it’s so readable. I wasn’t sure if a book about chemistry would be.

Now I’m off to: // make waffles, sausages, and eggs for breakfast. What are you up to today?

Graphic Novels Month

I’ve spent most of January waiting for February and now it’s here! Graphic Novels Month! It’s the brainchild of Debi and Chris. Last February, the two decided to just read graphic novels and it was a hit. They’re bringing it back again this month and I’m so excited to join them along with a few other readers.

Picture 793Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Explorer: The Lost Islands by Kazu Kibuishi

Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

Castle Waiting 2 by Linda Medley

Tommysaurus Rex by Doug TenNapel

A Matter of Life by Jeffrey Brown

Aphrodite: Goddess of Love (The Olympians series) by George O’Connor

Jane, the fox & me by Franny Britt

Letting It Go by Miriam Katin

What it is by Lynda Barry

Picture This by Lynda Barry

That’s a pretty small stack compared to other participants (ha!), but it’s going to keep me busy. The only new-to-me authors in the stack are Franny Britt and Jeffrey Brown while Castle Waiting and What it is are both re-reads. I’m so excited. My first read will be Aphrodite by George O’Connor.

Are you joining Graphic Novels Month?

Bout of Books Read-a-thon 9.0 New Update

bout of booksIt’s here! The ninth Bout of Books read-a-thon! This will be my first time joining the event and I’m pretty excited. Here’s some info about the event:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 9.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

We’re almost a week into 2014 and I haven’t finished a book yet. This needs to change. Bout of Books would be the perfect way to help me jumpstart my reading.

My goals:

  • to finish the four books I’m currently reading.
  • to read every day. I need to get back into the habit of daily reading.

My Books:

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – I’m about halfway through.

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech

Finding Your Element by Ken Robinson (non-fiction)

The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky

You would think I would have finished one of these books by now. Instead, I’ve been doing things like watching Fringe and X-Files season six on Netflix and playing Just Dance 2014. Have some priorities, Vasilly. I would have taken a picture of my books but it’s 5:30 in the morning and no coffee in sight just yet. The pictures will come later, I promise.

Are you joining the Bout of Books event?

Tuesday morning update

hadfieldGuys, I’m starting to think I’m hopeless. I started another book instead of finishing one that I’ve already started reading. Actually, I started two books yesterday: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield and The Perfect Score Project by Debbie Stier. Both are pretty good so far. But today, I’m going to buckle down and read The Golden Day, one of the books on my stack. I have a few things to do outside the home today so I’m bringing it with me. Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

Saturday morning update

You guys! I finished a book! Finally! Trying to do Bout-of-Books the same week that school has started back, hasn’t been a great idea but I’m making progress. I finished The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarksy. It was a quiet but good read. It’s been labeled as YA but it’s really an adult book. I’m write more about it next week. Now I’m on to continuing another book I’ve started: To The End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care by Cris Beam. After multiple renewals, it’s due back at the library Tuesday.

If you’re doing Bout of Books, how’s your progress going?

My first read of 2014

first book of the year eventSheila over at A Book Journey asked readers which book will be their first read of the year. Read below to find out what I chose as my first read of 2014.

It’s almost a superstition to believe that the first book of the year can make or break your reading for the year. Almost. Last year, the first book I read was a children’s book. So were the next three or four books. The start of 2013 was a hectic time and I didn’t have the energy or interest to find anything long and/or engaging.

It’s a new year and things are pretty settled for now. So what should I pick? Do I chose something that’s been sitting on my shelves for ages? Maybe I should go with a library book? After a week or two of indecision, I picked up Ursula Dubosarsky’s slim book, The Golden Day, and read the first page,

dubosarsky

The year began with the hanging of one man and ended with the drowning of another. But every year people die and their ghosts roam in the public gardens, hiding behind the gray, dark statues like wild cats, their tiny footprints and secret breathing muffled by the sound of falling water in the fountains and the quiet ponds.

The Golden Day is about a classroom of girls who go on a field trip with their teacher but return without her. The teacher never returns and the girls are left wondering what happened. I’m in the middle of several books but I can’t wait to start reading this.

What is your first read of 2014 going to be?

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Favorite books of 2013

It’s that time where I get to share with everyone my favorite books of the year! So looking back at all the books I’ve read for 2013, it was a “meh” sort of year. There were some good books, some great ones, and a lot of “meh” reads, which is why overall my year wasn’t that great. As I write this (Sunday morning), I’ve read 249 books in all. By the time January hits, I’ll probably add two more books to that number.

Before I get to my favorite books of the year, here’s a few things about the list that surprised me.

1. Most of the books that made the list were published in 2013. That’s never happened before.

2. None of the books that made the list were books I owned. This is one more reason why I’m tackling my tbr mountain in 2014.

3. The oldest book on my list is Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. It was originally published in 1973.

4. The newest book on my list is The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart. It’s publication date is January 14, 2014. I found it such a good read that I had to add it to my list of favorites.

5. Every book that made my list is a book that I’m willing to buy. Pure and simple. If I’m not willing to buy it, I won’t give it five stars or add it to my list.

So enough of that, here’s my favorite books of 2013:

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bestof2013hbestof2013i.jpgThe last book is Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson.

Have you read any of these books? Which books made your “favorites” list of 2013?

The Goldfinch Read-along

tarttThings would have turned out better if she had lived. As it was, she died when I was a kid; and though everything that’s happened to me since then is thoroughly my own fault, still when I lost her I lost sight of any landmark that might have led me someplace happier, to some more populated or congenial life.

Theo’s right; his life probably would have been much better if his mother had lived. So much wouldn’t have happened but yet much of it wasn’t his fault.

I usually don’t read books in which a child has lost their parent and life is drastically changed. As a single mother, it’s one of my worst fears and the story is usually heartbreaking. I forgot that detail (as big as it is), when I agreed to read The Goldfinch.

This post is a few days late and I’m still only halfway through Theo’s absorbing story. For those of you who are reading the book or have finished, what is your opinion of the book? What stands out? What do you love (or hate) about it? 

Sunday Salon: 2014 as The Year of Tackling My TBR Mountain

sunday salonWhen I look back at all the books I’ve read this year, I realize that only a handful were books of my own. Now that’s disappointing since I have so many unread books. Every year I say this but I mean it this year; it’s time for me to focus on my tbr pile.

Like many readers, my tbr pile is not a pile but more of a mountain, spanning across genres and years, collecting dust as I read books from the library and publishers. Granted, my stack has gotten smaller as I’ve given away hundreds of books (200+) this year, but there are still so many books unread.

I’ve started to realize that this quest to tackle my tbr mountain is a never-ending one. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. How many readers among us have read every single book on their shelves?  When I’m constantly ignoring the books I’ve spent money on, it’s a problem.

I’m declaring 2014 as The Year of the Tbr Mountain. I have over 600 books and probably 60-75% of these books are unread. Some are of these books are classics like The Iliad, Richard Wright’s Black Boy, and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Others are modern favorites like Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine and The Namesake by Jhumpi Lahiri. When am I ever going to get to these rich and seemingly deserving titles if I don’t make an effort to?

Some of you might be wondering what’s the big deal. Why not read whatever I want? I do and I still will but I’ve been feeling some guilt over the years about these books collecting dust. What usually happens is that time passes: months and years go by and I’ve forgotten why I was so excited to read these books. I end up giving them away to my local library or thrift store.

No more. With a few exceptions, I’m no longer accepting review copies. I still have a few arcs left that I plan on reading and reviewing at the beginning of the year along with a stack of library books that are too interesting to give back unread.

I’m excited about this goal and I’ve already started. If I can read at least one book from my shelf every week, I’m happy. Wish me luck.

What are your reading goals for 2014? 

2014 Chunkster Challenge

chunkster challenge 2014aChunkster Challenge

Hosted by me but on this blog

January 1 – December 31, 2014

A few days ago I mentioned that the Chunkster Challenge will be back in 2014. Even though I’m the host, this challenge is well, a challenge. Chunksters can be intimidating because of their size and the time needed to read them. So that made me think long and hard about the rules and there’s been some changes.

  • Audio books and e-books are now allowed. You want to listen to a chunkster on audio? Be my guest.
  • There won’t be any levels in 2014. It’s up to participants to decide how many chunksters they want to read.

If you want to know the other rules, go to next year’s sign-up page.

For the Chunkster Challenge, I’m trying to stick to my tbr pile. I need to tackle that sucker in 2014. I’m hoping to read a chunkster a month. I’m calling my reading pool the “pool of shame” since most of these books have been on my shelves for years people.

Learning to Lose by David Trueba

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.  Every year I say I’m going to read this book and never do.

Best American Short Stories of the Century edited by John Updike. If I can read a short story or two a week, I can finish this book in 2014.

oneillAmerican Food Writing: An Anthology with Classic Recipes edited by Molly O’Neill. Guys, it took me years to find this book at a reasonable price. I found it for a dollar years ago and never read it.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnman (nonfiction)

Redeemers: Ideas and Power in Latin America by Enrique Krauze

Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon. Last year I went on and on about this book and never finished it.

Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance by Carla Kaplan

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

Don’t Know Much about History by Kenneth C. Davis

The Street Sweeper by Eliot Perlman

What to Look For in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness by Canadia McWilliam

The Iliad by Homerlamb

We Are Water by Wally Lamb

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

The Jinni and the Golem by Helene Wrecker. I started this book a few weeks ago and didn’t finish.

Unless I have a spectacular reading year in 2014, there will be a few of these that I won’t get to. The ones I don’t read, I’m giving away.

Will you join the Chunkster Challenge?

Happy Thanksgiving!

What I’m thankful for:

  1. Family
  2. Shelter
  3. Food
  4. Good books
  5. Good friends

ThankfullyReading

My Thankfully Reading Weekend officially started last week and so far I’ve read three books. If I can finished one or two more books, I’m happy.

This morning I’m going to continue The Golem and the Jinni by Helen Wrecker while the food cooks. Yay!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who’s celebrating it today.

DNF: The Color Master by Aimee Bender

benderThe Color Master

Aimee Bender

222 pages

Published in August  2013 by Doubleday

Source: Public Library

 

Andi, Andi, Andi. Remember when I saw The Color Master on NetGalley and had to tell you about it? Then you read it before me but didn’t love it? Yeah, me too.

Here’s the thing, Aimee Bender’s stories are often fantastical and strange and yet beautiful. Her previous novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, about a young girl trying to come to terms with her strange gift in a dysfunctional family, was beautiful and strange but also felt true. So the decision to read The Color Master was a no-brainer.

The Color Master ended up being an uneven collection of stories that I didn’t bother to finish. There were tales that were amazing and only Bender could have wrote. There were others that were regular and didn’t belong at all.

The book’s highlights:

“The Color Master” – This story is so simple and beautiful and just lovely. Bender takes inspiration from the fairy tale “Donkeyskin” to write a story about the color master who was able to make a dress the color of the moon. This story alone is worth the time it takes to put this book on hold at your local library, pick it up, take it home, and read. It’s that amazing. I photocopied this tale just so I can read it again and again and figure out how the author wrote it.

“The Red Ribbon” is the tale of a woman in a loveless marriage. Or rather, she doesn’t love her husband enough. The story doesn’t really fit the collection but it‘s humorous.

“Tiger Mending” – The story of two sisters, one a misfit and the other who does everything perfectly, as they travel to Malaysia to help mend tigers after they have been ripped to shreds.

“The Devouring” – You can also find this in Kate Bernheimer’s awesome short story anthology, XO Orpheus. A human woman marries an ogre who accidentally eats their children. What happens next is a reflective journey that includes a cake that refills itself and an invisibility cloak.

Since I didn’t finish this collection, I’m not going to rate it. Overall, I thought this collection was uneven and disappointing. As magical as the highlighted stories are, they can’t make up for the duds. I still plan on reading anything else Bender publishes.

My favorite line from the story, “The Devouring”:

…Loss did not pass from one person to another like a baton; it just formed a bigger and bigger pool of carriers. And, she thought, scratching the coarseness of the horse’s mane, it did not leave once lodged, did it, simply changed form and asked repeatedly for attention and care, as each year revealed a new knot to cry out and consider-smaller, sure, but never gone.

Sunday Salon: Favorite Books of Summer

sunday salonIt’s official. Fall is finally here. I love the need for scarves and cute boots, umbrellas and sweaters. The weather in SoCal has been pretty odd lately. Last night, dark clouds moved in and the air was pretty chilly. Only a few hours before, it was in the 80s. I may have to wait a little longer before I can wear a scarf.

I’ve been pretty much absent from my blog this summer but I did read a lot. Instead of trying to write a bunch of reviews, I decided to share some of my favorite books of summer. Overall, I read a total of 62 books in a variety of genres and formats. Clicking on the titles below will take you either to Goodreads or my review.

Non-fiction

lamott help

Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott. In Help Thanks Wow, Lamott writes about the words help, thanks, and wow are the only words she truly needs for prayer. Lamott’s humorous tone can be found throughout this short read.

lamott stitches

Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, Repair by Anne Lamott. The follow-up to Help Thanks Wow, Stitches is quieter in tone than all of Lamott’s other non-fictional reads. Long-time fans of the author’s writing will find this short meditative book a nice addition to their library.

cummings

The Year of Learning Dangerously by Quinn Cummings. This hilarious read about a mother’s first year homeschooling her daughter isn’t for everyone.

delano

Genius: A Photobiography of Albert Einstein by Marfe Ferguson Delano. This is a short biography of the physicist that both kids and their parents can enjoy.

cohen ignorance

I Don’t Know: In Praise of Admitting Ignorance by Leah Hager Cohen

ottaviani feynman

Feynman by Jim Ottaviani

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Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Hicks

karbo julia

Julia Child Rules by Karen Karbo. Karbo is back with the latest addition to her Kick Ass Women series. Karbos’ fans will love this book while new fans will rush out to pick up her backlist.

say tea

Tea with Milk by Allen Say. If you haven’t read anything by Say before, pick up all of his books. You can’t go wrong.

heiligman

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös by Deborah Heiligman. This is a short look at the life of Paul Erdos, a mathematician who loved numbers even as a young child.

Fiction

eddleman

Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman. This middle-grade debut novel set in a post-apocalyptic world surprised me with its brave heroine and unique setting.

danticat claire

Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat. The author’s writing is so poetic. I enjoyed this short read about a young girl who was leaving her father for a better life.

vaughan

Saga Vol. 2 by Brain K. Vaighan and Fiona Staples. The second volume of this fantastical series will leave fans longing for volume 3.

brown cinnamon and gunpowder

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown. Blood-thirsty pirates, good food, and a captain who is more than what she appears to be.

You can find a list of all the books I read this summer here.

What were your favorite books of summer?

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Fall hasn’t reached SoCal but the cold and flu season has arrived. Despite the whole family coming down with colds last week I still managed to get some reading done.

duprauLast week I read:

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrai (read-along with daughter)

The City of Ember: graphic novel adaptation by Dallas Middaugh

Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman and Chip Kidd

Stitches: A Handbook for Meaning, Hope, and Repair by Anne Lamott

 

Reviews to come. Seriously.

erdrich round house

I’m still recovering from last week’s cold and virus but I’m hoping to read a few good books. This week’s reading pile includes:

Sula by Toni Morrison

The Color Purple by Alice Walker (for next week’s Banned Books Week)

We Need New Names by Noviolet Bulawayo

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley (re-read)

 

What are you reading this week?

Sunday Salon

sunday salonThe time: 4:09 am

In the past two weeks that I’ve been away from my blog, I’ve been doing a lot of non-bookish things. The kids and I have spent as much time as I can handle outside playing and riding everything from skateboards to scooters. There have been a couple of scrapped knees but it’s been fun. We’ve also baked everything from glazed orange pound cake to bread to last night’s brownies.

In between riding on things I have no business being on, baking, and meeting other homeschooling parents, I have read a few books.

SundaySalon collage

Leah Hager Cohen’s I Don’t Know: In Praise of Admitting Ignorance and Doubt (Except When You Shouldn’t) found its way to my doorstep earlier this month. A slim volume of only 128 pages, it took a few days to read the author’s exploration of our fear of being ignorant and what happens when we go through such lengths to hide it. What resonated with me is the section about preventing ourselves from knowing something. Cohen uses the example of people who refuse to see cultural differences between themselves and others even when it would help them understand someone’s background more. She calls it “treating ignorance with ignorance”. I don’t think I’m going to write a full review on this book because I want to read it a few more times. I do recommend it though.

Before I read I Don’t Know, I was in immersed in a totally different genre with the middle grade book, Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddlemean. Sky Jumpers is the author’s debut novel. It’s set forty years after World War III in a world much different from our own. The main character is a headstrong young girl who pushes through her problems even when it seems like her flaws might hold her back. I can’t wait to get a hardback copy of this for my girls.

Speaking of my girls, I picked up a copy of The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker at the library a few days ago. I checked it out for myself since so many bloggers have raved about this tale of an unlikely friendship between a golem and a jinni in 1899 New York. My eleven-year-old has taken the book for herself so I can’t tell you anything about it just yet. My daughter is a reluctant reader of anything that’s not animé, so The Golem and the Jinni must be great if she’s reading this chunkster (486 pages) of a book and is not complaining about it. We’re having a mother-daughter book club featuring the book for the next few weeks.

I’m currently reading an e-galley of Karen Karbo’s latest book in The Kick Ass Women series, Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life. What I really like about Karbo’s biographies is that they’re more than biographies: they’re also social commentary filled with humor and passages you want to highlight. The book won’t be in stores until October 1st but I recommend putting it on your wish lists now.

My coffee is getting cold so it’s time to wrap this post up. What have you been up to lately? What books have you read or non-bookish things you’ve done?

Back to School Reading Challenge

Back-to-School-logoWhen I saw that the wonderful Joy from Joy’s Book Blog was hosting the Back-to-School Reading Challenge, I didn’t hesitate to sign up.

August and September are a favorite time of year for me — back to school season! I love the early apples, store displays of school supplies, and my first sighting of a big yellow school bus. I would love to send each of you a bouquet of sharpened pencils. My reading orientation turns from the purely pleasurable beach book to another kind of pleasure: learning something new. To give myself and others a little structure during this transition, I’m starting the Back to School Reading Challenge and Wednesday Book Club to run during the months of August and September.

No one fails at the Back to School Reading Challenge, so choose a level that works to challenge you but not so much it causes stress. Here are the levels:

Freshman: 1-2 books

Sophomore: 3-4 books

Junior: 5-6 books

Senior: 7-8 books

Read books on one topic or eight different ones or anything in between. Fiction is fine. I’ve learned a lot of history from novels set in other times and a lot about other cultures from novels set in other places. As long as you’re reading the book to learn something new, it counts for the Back to School Reading Challenge.

I love learning and it’s always nice to share what you learn with someone else. I’m signing up for the sophmore level and plan on reading books in two areas: education and social sciences.

My book list:

kaufman1. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto (almost finished)

2. Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined by Scott Barry Kaufman (already started)

3. The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life by Grace Llewellyn OR Guerilla Learning: How To Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School by Grace Llewellyn and Amy Silver

4. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

5. Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Brief Insight by John Monaghan and Peter Just

6. Classic Readings in Cultural Anthropology: essays edited by Gary Ferraro (already started)

There’s also a read-along taking place of Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed. Anyone can participate in the read-along. Plus, it’s a really good book.

Feel free to join us in the read-along or reading challenge. It’s not too late.