Booking through Thursday

It’s a holiday weekend here in the U.S., so let’s keep today’s question simple–What are you reading? Anything special? Any particularly juicy summer reading?

Today I finished Scott McCloud’s informative, funny, and spell-binding Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. I had so much fun reading this book. I just started reading graphic novels last year and have been slowly but surely trying to read every one that I can get my hands on. Though only 213 pages, it took me three days to read it. There was so much information to absorb. After reading Understanding Comics, I want to re-read every graphic novel I’ve read over again.

The Worst Loss

Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood (2008)
160 pages

5/5 rating
As a bookworm, there is always going to be books that I shy away from because of subject matter. Dsyfunctional families and sexual violence are among the subjects I rather not read about. But after read Head Butler’s glowing review of Comfort, I had to wishlist this book on paperbackswap.

Hood’s memoir about her life after losing her five year old daughter, Grace, is heartbreaking. She shows the reader what her grief looks like: the inability to comprehend that her daughter is gone forever, hiding from the mothers whose children went to school with Grace, and refusing to listen to the radio because Grace loved the Beatles and their music was bound to be played.

Comfort is a book that once you’ve finished the last page, you want to go back to the beginning and start to read it over again.

The Worst Loss

Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood (2008)
160 pages

5/5 rating
As a bookworm, there is always going to be books that I shy away from because of subject matter. Dsyfunctional families and sexual violence are among the subjects I rather not read about. But after read Head Butler’s glowing review of Comfort, I had to wishlist this book on paperbackswap.

Hood’s memoir about her life after losing her five year old daughter, Grace, is heartbreaking. She shows the reader what her grief looks like: the inability to comprehend that her daughter is gone forever, hiding from the mothers whose children went to school with Grace, and refusing to listen to the radio because Grace loved the Beatles and their music was bound to be played.

Comfort is a book that once you’ve finished the last page, you want to go back to the beginning and start to read it over again.

The Worst Loss

Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood (2008)
160 pages

5/5 rating
As a bookworm, there is always going to be books that I shy away from because of subject matter. Dsyfunctional families and sexual violence are among the subjects I rather not read about. But after read Head Butler’s glowing review of Comfort, I had to wishlist this book on paperbackswap.

Hood’s memoir about her life after losing her five year old daughter, Grace, is heartbreaking. She shows the reader what her grief looks like: the inability to comprehend that her daughter is gone forever, hiding from the mothers whose children went to school with Grace, and refusing to listen to the radio because Grace loved the Beatles and their music was bound to be played.

Comfort is a book that once you’ve finished the last page, you want to go back to the beginning and start to read it over again.

Update, Hour 6

So far:
Books read – 2
Total pages read – 214
Mini-challenge completed: 4

It feels so crazy to me that we’ve been doing the Read-a-thon for seven hours now. It doesn’t feel that way. Though next year I will have a laptop so I can sit outside, read, and cheer.

I just finished reading Ann Patchett’s What Now? It’s an extension of the graduation speech she spoke at Sarah Lawrence a while back. I really liked. It reminds me of Anna Quindlen’s A Short Guide to a Happy Life. My favorite quote from the book is:

“What now is not just a panic-stricken question tossed out into a dark unknown. What now can also be our joy. It is a declaration of possibility, of promise, of chance. It acknowledges that our future is open, that we may do more than anyone expected of us, that at every point in our development we are still striving to grow. There’s a time in our lives when we all crave the answers. It seems terrifying not to know what’s coming next. But there is another time, a better time, when we see our lives as a series of choices, and What now represents our excitement and our future, the very vitality of life. It’s up to you to choose a life that will keep expanding. It takes discipline to remain curious . . . “

13 hours until the Read-a-thon


Some of what I plan on reading (if I’m in the mood) :

1. Eclipse – Stephenie Meyer (already in progress)
2. Guerrilla Learning – Grace Llewellyn (in progress)
3. Trail of Crumbs – Kim Sunee (in progress)
4. What now? – Ann Patchett
5. The Best American Comics 2007

6. V for Vendetta – Alan Moore
7. Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos – R.L. LaFevers
8. From Hell – Alan Moore
9. One hundred demons – Lynda Barry
10. A midsummer’s night dream -Shakespeare

11. Fun Home – Alison Bechdel
12. The vintage book of contemporary short stories
13. Understanding Comics – Scott McCloud
14. Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller
15. Scent of God – Beryl Singleton Bissell

I have Tylenol for those book-induced headaches I’m bound to get, plenty of movies and books for the kids, I’ve mopped and swept, and plan on eating sandwiches for dinner. I also bought plenty of French Vanilla coffee cream for all the caffeine I will be consuming and donated to Reading is Fundamental.


New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (2006)
608 pages
2/5 rating

I cannot comment on this book. *Sigh* I just can’t. Also read for the Stephenie Meyer mini-challenge.

Twilight, A Scent of God, and a pile of homeschooling books

Twilight (2006)

Stephenie Meyer
498 pages
4.5 out of 5 rating

Twilight is the first book in this series with the same name by Stephanie Meyer. 17 year-old Isabella Swan moves from sunny Phoenix, Arizona to cloudy Forks, Washington to live with her dad. There she meets the mysterious Edward Cullen. Who is he? Or more like it, what is he? A great girl-meets-vampire-and-they-fall-in-love-though-he-wants-to-suck-her-blood kind of story. I thought this story would just be some corny YA romance, but I was so wrong. There were so many parts that had me holding my breath or clutching my chest.

Homeschooling
Right now I am in the middle of the engaging memoir of A Scent a God by Beryl Singleton Bissell. It’s a great read even from page one. Sadly, I have to temporary put all non-school reading on hold while I research and write my paper on home schools and what public schools can learn from them. I have about five books to read within the next week, so my life will be like a week-long Read-a-thon. I’m going to read:

How Children Learn -John Holt
Teach your Own – John Holt
Coloring Outside the Lines – Roger Schank
Home Learning Year by Year – Rebecca Rupp
Guerrilla Learning- – Grace Llewellyn
Wish me luck.

Dinner With Friends

Dinner with Friends (2000)
Donald Margulies
76 pages
2000 Pulitzer Prize winner for Drama

Powerful play about two married couples who are best friends. Karen and Gabe are trying to help their friends Beth and Tom through their divorce. The thoughts of what went wrong pour out from both sides along with the effects of the divorce. It was also made into a movie several years ago that’s just as good as the book.

Flowers

The Flower (2007)
John Light
32 pages

As a mother I read tons of children’s books. It’s part of the job. I never blog about them but I have been waiting months to get my hands on this book. My local library doesn’t have it and I couldn’t wait forever for someone to post this book on paperbackswap.com, so I just bought it. I’m so glad that I did.
The Light is John Little’s debut children’s book about a little boy named Brigg. Brigg “lives in a small, gray room in a large gray city.” One day he finds a book labelled “Do not read.” But he reads it anyway and finds out what a flower is. He goes searching his colorless city for a flower to no avail. Then he finds a packet with a flower on it. The book and the packet brings Brigg unexpected joy. I’m not giving away the end, but I think young kids will enjoy this quick read.

Fables: Legends in Exile

Fables: Legends in Exile (2002)
Bill Willingham
128 pages
Winner of the 2003 Eisner Award for Best New Series

I am becoming the newest biggest fan of graphic novels. This was a genre, that until recently, I didn’t pay any attention to. I’m glad things have changed so much.

Fables: Legends in Exile is the first book in a series created by Bill Willingham. The characters from various fairy tales have been exiled from their homelands by an enemy called The Adversary and now have to live among humans in America. The characters that can pass for humans live in New York City while those that can’t live upstate at a place called “The Farm.” All the characters hope to one day defeat The Adversary and go back home.

Book 1 features Bigby Wolf a.k.a. The Big Bad Wolf trying to solve the murder of Rose Red. Also feature is Snow White, her ex-husband Prince Charming, Cinderella, Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, The Frog Prince, Bluebeard, Beauty and her husband, the Beast and many more. The story is so funny and realistic. I started reading the novel and didn’t put it down until I was finished. It deserves my 5 out of 5 rating.

With that said, I just realized this was my last book for the Once Upon a Time 2 Challenge. I have to thank Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings for hosting this great challenge. I had so much fun reading books I usually don’t read. So it’s official: I’m hooked on the strange and the unusual.
I read:
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1 – Alan Moore
The Stolen Child – Keith Donahue
Fables
The Sandman Vol. 1 – Neil Gaiman
The Resurrectionist – Jack O’Connell
My favorite reads for this challenge: Fables and The Stolen Child.
My least favorite: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol 1. Maybe it’s the feminist in me, but I couldn’t understand why Mina Murray couldn’t kick ass herself.

48 Hour Book Challenge Wrap-Up

The Secret Garden (2004 ed.)
Frances Hodgson Burnett
248 pages
5 out of 5

It’s official. I’m finished with the challenge. This has been an interesting experience. Caffeine was supposed to help me stay up to read in the wee hours of the night, but for some strange reason did not work at all. The lastest I stayed up was until 11 o’ clock last night.
What I read:
Wit: a play 93 pgs
Driving Miss Daisy 39
The Secret Garden 248
The Sandman 240
Time and Materials 85
The Wild Braid 144
The Scent of God 30 – didn’t finish
Rules for old men waiting – 40 didn’t finish
The Lawn, short story by Mona Simpson
from The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories 22 pgs

My page total: 941 pages. I can’t even tell you how many hours I’ve spent on this challenge, my life is too hectic. My book total is 6 books, 2 plays, and a short story.

My favorite reads were Time and Materials, Driving Miss Daisy, The Scent of God, and Wit.

P.R.3

The Wild Braid: A poet reflects on a century in the garden (2005)
Stanley Kunitz
144 pages
4 out of 5 rating

Summary: It is just what the subtitle says it is: a poet’s reflection of his garden. But it is also his reflections on his childhood, his mother, and the makings of poetry. The book contained some of his poems and the memories that inspired them.
So now I’m off to bed. For some reason the two cups of coffee I drank earlier are not kicking in.

P.R.3

The Wild Braid: A poet reflects on a century in the garden (2005)
Stanley Kunitz
144 pages
4 out of 5 rating

Summary: It is just what the subtitle says it is: a poet’s reflection of his garden. But it is also his reflections on his childhood, his mother, and the makings of poetry. The book contained some of his poems and the memories that inspired them.
So now I’m off to bed. For some reason the two cups of coffee I drank earlier are not kicking in.

The end of my weekend of books

The Resurrectionist (2008)
Jack O’Connell
304 pages
4 out of 5
Last Thursday was the last day of spring semester and I was determined to squeeze in as many books as possible. But as we all know, life happens and I only squeezed in a few books. I enjoyed myself though.
The Resurrectionist is about Sweeney, a widower and pharmacist, and his comatose son, Danny. Sweeney blames himself for the accident that caused Danny’s coma and hopes that the Peck Clinic can give Sweeney the miracle he thinks he need. Sweeney and Danny’s story crosses with the freaks of Limbo, a comic book Danny loved. As Sweeney digs deeper into the story of Limbo and its inhabitants, he also finds out he should look beyond the surface of things and family is more than just the blood of your own.
The Book of Other People
Edited by Zadie Smith (2008)
304 pages
5 out of 5
The Book of Other People is a collection of short story edited by the talented Zadie Smith. It contains stories by Chris Ware, Miranda July, ZZ Packer, Jonathon Safran Foer, and many others. Years ago Zadie Smith asked the writers to make up a story about character, a character and name that story about he/she or it. The result is now my favorite short story collection.
Some of my favorites are:
Jonathon Safran Foer’s Rhoda about his grandmother
David Mitchell’s Judith Castle
Chris Ware’s Jordan Wellington Lint – tragic and yet funny
J. Johnson by Nick Horny
I started this book months ago and picked it up this morning only to read the whole book in a matter of two hours. Though I usually give away books after I read them, I know this is one I will be rereading many times.

A to Z

The End of the Alphabet
CS Richardson
119 pages
Rating: 5/5

I rarely reread books. I can give you many excuses: I’m too tired, there’s not enough time, too many new books in the world… I rather not. I just don’t feel like rereading most books. The End of the Alphabet is so well-written that I just finished reading it for the second time in six months.
“This story is unlikely. Were it otherwise, or at the least more wished for, it would have begun on a Sunday morning. Early, as that was his best time of the day, and in April, that odd time between thin winter and a plump spring…”
Ambrose Zephyr and his wife Zipper find out Ambrose has only thirty days to live. Soon the two are traveling around the world alphabetically from Amsterdam to Zanzibar, trying to see all the places they have  never been to and visit old favorites like Paris again. Throughout their travels, Ambrose and Zipper reflect on their past and present together, trying not to think about the uncertain future.
This story is one of love that’s realistic but yet subtle. The End of the Alphabet leaves you impatient, waiting for newcomer CS Richardson to write another tale.
Winner of the 2008 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book in Canada and the Carribean Region

The Stolen Child

The Stolen Child (2007)
Keith Donohue
336 pages
4.5 out of 5

The Stolen Child is Keith Donahue’s enchanting debut novel that’s part-fairy tale, part coming of age story. One afternoon after running away from home, a seven year old boy named Henry Day hides in a tree. Soon he is found, stripped, and tied up by a band of children, who he later finds out are changelings. One of the changeling takes his place in the real world becoming Henry Day and goes undetected, while the new member of the group is named “Aniday” and has to live in the forest and learn the ways of the faeries. After many years Henry Day realized that he too, was a human boy at one time and tries to find out about his lost family, stolen from him by the changelings. Both Henry Day and Aniday are going through life trying to figure out how they are and how to their the lives they have been given.
I love how much folklore Donohue found and invented about changelings. If you don’t know changelings are fairies that take children, leaving one of their own in the child’s place or something else like a log. Some folklore have changelings down as trolls or other “earthly beings”.
I really liked this book and it’s now on my top ten list for books that I read this year. This was my second attempt in reading it and it proved to be worth it. I was hooked from the first sentence “Don’t call me a fairy“, and spent almost every waking moment reading this book until I finished. Donohue did such a good job describing the everyday life of a changeling, changeling folklore, the aftermath of the switch between changeling and human, and what happens when the world changes and no longer needs folklore or the creatures who created it. What surprised me is that I grew to love almost every character in the book. One of the characters I couldn’t love was the changeling Henry Day. He was one dimension until the end. I think Donohue showed with such skill Henry Day as a changeling that lived the fairy ways for more than a century before he made the switch with Aniday, and then had to figure out how to be human again. It’s only at the end of the story that both Henry and Aniday find their humanity and also peace.
My fourth read for the Once Upon a Time 2 challenge.

The Arrival

The Arrival by Shaun Tan (2007)
128 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5
I didn’t know what to expect when I put this book on hold at my local library. I just heard that it was a pretty good book to read. What an understatement.
The Arrival is a wordless story about an migrant’s journey from his country to the new world, leaving behind his wife and child. In the new world armed with just a handful of money and a suitcase, the man finds various jobs, a place to live, and also food to eat. You watch as he struggles to learn the language, the customs, and find his way around. Along the way our main character meets others who tell him their journeys to the new world. Soon he learns how to belong in this strange new world he now lives in and how to make it a home. Tan captures perfectly what a migrant probably goes through coming to a new country and trying to learn the customs. You see the main character learning to eat unfamiliar food, trying to tell time a new way, and even how to mail a letter.
The pages of this book are so stunning, so beautiful. I guarantee you haven’t seen beauty like this before. Though it is a graphic novel, I think it’s best appreciated by anyone nine and over. This is my first encounter with Shaun Tan and it won’t be my last.

Triple Thursday

Yesterday the UPS man came and gave me the five packages from Amazon.com that I’ve been waiting for. Three great books for me to read and try in my own way to change the world and get my creative juices flowing. Every Monday Matters by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza, 52 Projects by Jeffrey Yamaguchi, and Not quite what I was planning edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith.

The subtitle for 52 Projects is Random Acts of Everyday Creativity. The book is filled with artistic projects that are so simple to do and you don’t need money or artistic skill to do such as project #10: making a poster or project 29: stuffing an envelope with as many things as you can and mailing it to someone special. You don’t have to do the projects in the exact way the author suggested. You can come up with something of your own. 52 projects is a great book that has me jumping to do my own. You can also do the projects with your children. My family and I are going to work on project 10 this weekend. The author, Jeffrey, also has a website that goes with the book.52 projects is the muse for the everyday person.

Not quite what I was planning: Six word Memoirs by famous and obscure writers is edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith for Smith Magazine.Smith magazine is a “storytelling community: a place to read, write, and share stories.” That’s their words but it’s more than that. Smith magazine is a great place to hang out online for a couple of hours and just get lost, becoming an active part of the website by submitting your own experiences along with other readers. In November of 2006, Smith Magazine asked their readers to submit their six-word memoir. It was a hit and they received thousands. The memoirs range from funny (“I think, therefore I am bald,”) to tragic (“Everyone who loves me is dead,”) to thought provoking (“Cursed with cancer. Blessed with friends.”) With no more than five memoirs on a page, you can read this 240 page book in one sitting or take your time. Now, I’m trying to come up with my own six-word memoir.

Every Monday Matters: 52 ways to make a difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza. Every Monday matters is about changing Mondays from those days that you hate to arrive to days of reward by doing simple things to change the world around you. Monday #37 is about mentoring a child while Monday #22 is about thanking your local firefighters.Information for each Monday is concise and only two pages long.The exercises are creative, doable,and will probably turn Monday into one of your favorite days of the week.

Triple Thursday

Yesterday the UPS man came and gave me the five packages from Amazon.com that I’ve been waiting for. Three great books for me to read and try in my own way to change the world and get my creative juices flowing. Every Monday Matters by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza, 52 Projects by Jeffrey Yamaguchi, and Not quite what I was planning edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith.

The subtitle for 52 Projects is Random Acts of Everyday Creativity. The book is filled with artistic projects that are so simple to do and you don’t need money or artistic skill to do such as project #10: making a poster or project 29: stuffing an envelope with as many things as you can and mailing it to someone special. You don’t have to do the projects in the exact way the author suggested. You can come up with something of your own. 52 projects is a great book that has me jumping to do my own. You can also do the projects with your children. My family and I are going to work on project 10 this weekend. The author, Jeffrey, also has a website that goes with the book.52 projects is the muse for the everyday person.

Not quite what I was planning: Six word Memoirs by famous and obscure writers is edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith for Smith Magazine.Smith magazine is a “storytelling community: a place to read, write, and share stories.” That’s their words but it’s more than that. Smith magazine is a great place to hang out online for a couple of hours and just get lost, becoming an active part of the website by submitting your own experiences along with other readers. In November of 2006, Smith Magazine asked their readers to submit their six-word memoir. It was a hit and they received thousands. The memoirs range from funny (“I think, therefore I am bald,”) to tragic (“Everyone who loves me is dead,”) to thought provoking (“Cursed with cancer. Blessed with friends.”) With no more than five memoirs on a page, you can read this 240 page book in one sitting or take your time. Now, I’m trying to come up with my own six-word memoir.

Every Monday Matters: 52 ways to make a difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza. Every Monday matters is about changing Mondays from those days that you hate to arrive to days of reward by doing simple things to change the world around you. Monday #37 is about mentoring a child while Monday #22 is about thanking your local firefighters.Information for each Monday is concise and only two pages long.The exercises are creative, doable,and will probably turn Monday into one of your favorite days of the week.

Triple 8 Challenge

Here’s another challenge I signed up for. The Triple 8 Challenge is a challenge that you read 8 books in 8 categories in 2008. You are allowed 8 overlaps and can change your list or category anytime. Here’s my list:

Banned Books
Are you there, God? It’s me Margaret – Judy Blume
Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
The earth, my butt, and other big round things – Carolyn Mackler
Brokeback Mountain – Annie Proulx
Tommyknockers – Stephen King
Balzac & the little Chinese Seamstress – Dai Sijiie
A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
The Lorax – Dr. Seuss

When I was a little girl…children’s books
The Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Stuart Little – E.B. White
Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt
The Book-eating Boy – Oliver Jeffers
Stardust – Neil Gaiman
Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney
Flower – John Light

Classics
Waiting for Godot – Samuel Beckett
The grapes of wrath – John Steinbeck
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Love and Living – Thomas Merton
The Sea, the sea – Iris Murdoch
The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
Dracula – Bram Stoker

Books I can escape to
Devil in the blue dress – Walter Mosley
Gone, Baby, Gone – Denis Lehane
Rare Encounters with ordinary birds – Lyanda Lynn Haupt
All the pretty horses – Cormac McCarthy
Living to tell – Antonya Nelson
What she saw in… – Lucinda Rosenfeld

Size doesn’t matter : Novellas, short stories, and poetry
A Blind man can see how much I love you -Amy Bloom
The Braid – Stanley Kunitz
Collected poems – Howard Numerov
A good man is hard to find – Flannery O’Connor
The flash of lightning behind the mountain – Charles Bukowski
Breathing Underwater – Julie Orringer
I am no one you know – Joyce Carol Oates
My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead – Jeffrey Eugenides

It was a dark and storm night: Creepy tales
I am Legend – Richard Matheson
Falling Angel – William Hjortsberg
The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
Without Blood – Alessandro Barrico
The Talented Mr. Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Gone, Baby. Gone – Denis Lehane

Translations
Out Stealing Horses – Per Petterson
The Seventh Wall – Fred Wander
The Voyage of the short serpent – Bernard du Boucheron
Emil and the detectives – Erich Kastner



Everything but the kitchen sink: whatever I feel like reading
Stardust – Neil Gaiman
The Devil Wears Prada
Julia’s Chocolate – Cathy Lamb