classics, mini-challenge

The Classics Spin

classicsThe Classics Challenge is hosting a mini-challenge called the Classics Spin. Readers list twenty classics that they want to read by today. Tomorrow on February 18th,  the challenge hosts will randomly pick a number from 1-20. Whatever number they pick, readers read the book that corresponds to that number.

I have a ton of classics on my shelves that I haven’t read yet and this mini-challenge sounds like a great way to get through my unread stack.  The books I’ve chosen for my list are mostly recent classics and most are on my shelves as a way to conquer my tbr stack.

My list:

1. Grimm’s Fairy Tales

2. Mythology by Edith Hamilton

3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

4. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

5. The Autobiography of Malcolm X – Malcolm X

6. Passing by Nella Larson

7. House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday

8. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

9. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

10. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

11. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

12. The View from Saturday by  E.L. Konigsburg (a children’s classic)

13. Winnesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

14. Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson 

15. Selected Poems by Langston Hughes

16. Maus by Art Spiegelman

17. Poems – Sappho

18. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

19. Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv (a parenting classic)

20. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (a children’s classic)

Have you signed up for this mini-challenge?

#14 was the lucky number picked for the spin. At first I was surprised but now I can’t wait to start reading Shirley Jackson’s Life Among the Savages. Yes, this is the same Shirley Jackson that wrote the short story, “The Lottery”.

Banned Books, Banned Books Week, children's books, classics, Fantasy, fiction

Banned Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver

Lois Lowry

180 pages

Republished in 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Company

Source: Public Library

It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened. No. Wrong word, Jonas thought. Frightened meant that deep, sickening feeling of something terrible about to happen. . .

I had to review this book for Banned Books Week. The Giver is a book that I’ve read as a seventh-grader and loved. It’s one of those books that I push on my younger sisters, who are now seventh graders, in the way that only a crazed bookworm can. I haven’t read The Giver since middle school, so when I picked it up; I wondered if I would love it as much as I once did.

Within the first few paragraphs, readers realize that Jonas’s world is very different from our own. An airplane flies over the community Jonas lives in, frightening not only the young boy but every person around. Airplanes aren’t a part of their everyday lives. But then, things like choosing your spouse or occupation aren’t a part of that life either.

When Jonas turns twelve he, like all the other twelve year-olds, learns what their occupation will be for the rest of their lives. But Jonas is different. Instead of being chosen to be an engineer or teacher, he learns that he’s been selected to become the next Receiver of Memory. It’s a job of high honor but little power. Jonas is to receive the memories of others who lived generations ago. That way, those memories aren’t a burden to the rest of the community and no one else needs to experience anything but the most ordinary life. During his training, Jonas learns of war and love, happiness and hope. But can Jonas go back to living his life as it once was without these things?

I’m glad to say that The Giver is just as powerful to me now as it was when I was twelve. I was surprised about how much of this book came back to as I read. After Jonas receives the memory of war and sees his friends playing it as game, he freaks out. Of course his friends have no idea what war is but Jonas does, and it sinks in how there’s so much this group will never know. Lowry’s writing is simple and the story gives readers just enough details to understand Jonas and the community he lives in. I can’t wait to read the last three books in this series.

The Giver is #23 on the American Library Association’s (ALA) list of Banned and Challenged Books of 2000-2009. The book has been challenged (someone has asked it to be removed from library shelves) or banned several times since its publication. It’s always been by parents who don’t like the ambiguous ending or the community’s method of dealing with troubled people, the elderly, and infants who aren’t thriving.

If you haven’t read The Giver, I think you should. My rating: 5 out of 5.

children's books, classics, fiction, Middle Grade, nonfiction, Read-along, reading, reading challenges, Spring Reading Challenge, tbr, Young Readers

Spring Reading Thing 2012

March 20, 2012 – June 20, 2012

Hosted at Callapidder Days

If you didn’t know that today was the first day of spring, you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking out my window. It’s nice and cold outside, perfect winter weather. So it seems a little funny to be making a list of books I want to read for spring. I missed last year’s Spring Reading Thing, a seasonal “challenge”, and I refuse to miss it again this year.

I decided to dedicate this year’s SRT to my many stacks of unread books. This idea came to me yesterday after “finding” an under-bed shoe storage filled with books. I think that’s one of the great things about Spring Reading Thing is that participants are encouraged to make goals. It’s not just the amount of books to read but anything else you can think of.

One of my goals is to read at least fifteen of my own books within the next three months. It doesn’t have to be the fifteen books on this list but it needs to be fifteen. I’ve own The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot since its publication in 2009. I even pre-ordered it and still haven’t read it. If I don’t read it by the end of this challenge, I’m going to give it away to my local public library. Which leads me to my second goal:

  • Give away at least ten books by June 20th. If I don’t miss the 30+ books under my bed, I won’t miss the ten that I plan on giving away. I’m thinking of this as my own bookish spring cleaning.

Last but not least is to have at least one read-along with my daughter. She’s ten and hasn’t read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett yet. It’s been a reading tradition of mine to read it every spring. I already bought her the book and movie version. Now it’s time to read it to her. Maybe I’ll give her a package of seeds to go with it. I think she’ll like that. If the read-along is a success, we can add Natalie Babbit’s Tuck Everlasting in June. It’s one of my favorite summer reads.

My pool of books:

  1. Head Off and Split by Nikki Finney (poetry)
  2. Land to Light On by Dionne Brand (poetry)
  3. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (non-fiction)
  4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (non-fiction)
  5. Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson (middle grade)
  6. The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
  7. A Mercy by Toni Morrison
  8. Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech (poetry)
  9. The Humming Room by Ellen Potter (middle grade)
  10. Sula by Toni Morrison
  11. Alcestis by Katharine Beutner
  12. What Looks Like Crazy on An Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
  13. No Regrets Parenting by Harley A. Rotbart (non-fiction)
  14. The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman
  15. Among Others by Jo Walton (young adult)
  16. The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier
  17. Wonder by R.J. Pollacio (middle grade)
  18. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (young adult)
  19. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (middle grade)
  20. Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith (middle grade)
  21. The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon (middle grade)
  22. Cousins by Virginia Hamilton (middle grade)
  23. An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor (non-fiction)

So that’s what I’m planning this spring. Have you started thinking about your spring reading? Are you joining Spring Reading Thing this year?

classics, fiction, reviews

Review: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

The Joy Luck Club

Amy Tan

288 pages

Publication Year: 1989

Publisher: Vintage

Source: Public Library

And I think now that fate is shaped half by expectations, half by inattention. But somehow, when you lose something you love, faith takes over. You have to pay attention to what you lost. You have to undo the expectation.

The Joy Luck Club is the story of four mothers, Chinese-born women who migrated to the United States, and their American-born daughters. The book focuses on the women’s childhoods, loves, heartbreaks, and their relationships with each other.

The novel begins after the recent death of Suyuan Woo. Her daughter, June, is asked to replace her in the Joy Luck Club, a group of long-time friends who often meet up to play Mah-Jong, among other things. As honored as she is, June doesn’t know if she can take her mother’s place. June and Suyuan’s relationship was filled with love but also misunderstandings and doubts. June is a woman who’s given up on her talents and potential at a young age while her mother always saw the potential especially when her daughter didn’t.

I had always assumed we had an unspoken understanding about these things; that she didn’t really mean I was a failure, and I really meant I would try to respect her opinions more. But listening to Auntie Lin tonight reminds me once again: My mother and I never really understood one another. We translated each other’s meanings and I seemed to hear less than what she said, while my mother heard more.

June and Suyuan’s problems aren’t unique, though they feel that way. Every mother-and-daughter pair in the group has the same problems.  They were women who came from two very different cultures and had a bridge to cross in order to understand and appreciate each other. With every pair it was as if the mother understood her daughter, but the daughter felt as if her mother was a puzzle.

I can remember countless times as a teenager when I felt like my mother and I were speaking two different languages. Now as a mother, I wonder how much of what I say to my daughter will be remembered and in what way.  I think that’s part of timelessness of this book. Mother-daughter issues are going to be around as long as human beings are here. It’s something most women can relate to. Though The Joy Luck Club was first published in 1988, it’s not dated. It reaches across age and culture to give readers a satisfying story.

As sad as I was to let these characters go, I’m glad that I’ve finally read this brilliant book. My rating: 5 out of 5.