Tuesday, June 30, 2009

RIF-Book a Brighter Future

Reading is Fundamental is a fantastic organization and always in need of our support. I've had the honor of working with them on a number of occasions and meeting some of the marvelous people involved with the organization.

They have a great partnership with Macy's and for the months of July and August, if you donate $3 to RIF at Macy's, you will receive a $10 gift certificate for a $50 or more purchase. That's 7 free $s and $3 for RIF. 100% of the money donated will go directly to RIF. What a tremendous deal and easy way to get books into the hands of the kids who need them.

Please consider shopping at Macy's in July or August and making a donation. YOU GET SEVEN FREE DOLLARS!! And please spread the word!!! Go the their website here and there are easy ways to spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, and your own blog.

Oh, and here's the promo video. Very cute and informative. And if nothing else, you should watch it to hear the little kid say "wegend".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Do Kids Have To Like the Books They're Reading in School?

My best friend shared this post with me on Google Reader, and I wanted to see what all of you thought of it. The post and the article it was responding to were about how Catcher in the Rye is losing its popularity with today's teenage readers.  I was particularly struck by one comment the author of the post made that said that English classes are for teaching students how to think critically and be people.  Therefore, it doesn't matter if the kids like the books they are reading or not.  Here are the links:

The post was in response to an article in the NY Times, so read this first, then read this reaction, and then (if you still have time!) let me know what you think.  

I agree that school is about all of the things the author cites, and that students don't have to like all the books they read in school for the books to be worthwhile.  However, shouldn't English class also be about encouraging and developing life-long readers?  How will students ever learn to love reading if they don't read at least some books that they enjoy?  Some students don't have parents who will provide books and encourage reading, so it has to come from teachers. 

Some books I read in school are still some of my favorites, such as To Kill A Mockingbird, Catch-22, All the King's Men, and yes, The Catcher in the Rye.  

What are you thoughts?  Did you like any of the books you read in school?  Did that contribute to your current life as a reader?  

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Julie and Julia

So I only purchased this book on Wednesday, but I'm already finished with it. I finished Renaissance Souls on Wednesday night and started Julie and Julia by Julie Powell (I've reluctantly linked to the version with the movie cover, because the copy I have is the one that is evidently not published anymore and therefore $40 at least!) on Thursday. And actually, although I'm just writing about it now, I finished in Sunday night. Needless to say, it was AWESOME!

I don't know why I didn't pick this book up years ago. I've seen it in book stores for a long time, but I've never been that interested. Sadly, it took the movie previews to get me excited. I'm still looking forward to seeing the movie, but wanted to read the book first. I am so glad that I did! The book is funny, heart-felt, and full of both delicious and disgusting sounding recipes.

I was somewhat surprised that there wasn't more about Julia Child. I suppose I was expecting more biographical information (there is definitely some, but not quite as much as I expected). Since Meryl Streep is playing Julia Child in the movie, I wonder if she won't have a more prominent role in that version. I thought it was coming out in a few weeks, but just figured out that it doesn't open until August 7th. Boo! Oh well. I guess it's good that I read the book then!!

The Renaissance Soul

Thanks to the lovely Michelle of WhenIGrowUp Coach (I won her giveaway!!), I was able to read The Renaissance Soul, last week. I LOVED it!!! I figured I would, but I really did exceed my expectations!

For those of you who don't know, The Renaissance Soul is a life-design strategy book for people who have multiple and often disparate interests. It gives both practical career advice, time-management tips, and life-style suggestions. But this book is more than just its pearls of wisdom and relevant advice. It strives to help people who have felt somewhat different and forgotten for most of their lives to find their joy and to finally feel accepted. She has even created a yahoo! group (check it out!) to create a community for Renaissance Souls to connect.

This book was also helpful because it didn't prescribe a singular path. Rather, she outlines multiple options for ways that Renaissance Souls can navigate their jobs, interests, and other commitments in a realistic, but fulfilling manner. Helpful and insightful exercises are provided throughout to guide the reader through the process.

Refuse to Choose, by Barbara Sher, addresses mostly the same issues, but approaches them in slightly different ways. I read it a few years ago and found it to be very helpful. I adopted the binder system for many of of my hobbies and interests. For me, I think these two books worked well with one another. I'd like to read Sher's book again to refresh my memory and then work with both books to put together a plan.

Thank you Michelle for the book!! Has anyone else read it? Or Barbara Sher's book? Thoughts?

Love Poems From God

I love this book!  Love Poems From God, edited and translated by Daniel Ladinsky.  It's packed away right now, so I cannot show you a picture, but click in the link over to Amazon to check it out.  It includes prayers and poems by twelve different spiritual thinkers, writers, and leaders from multiple faiths.  These include Rumi and St. Teresa of Avila.  One year for Lent, I read a few pages each evening before bed and it was a deeply moving experience.  The language of each poem is exquisite, as are the deep spiritual truths behind them all.  It may reveal a different side of someone you've read many times before.  I highly recommend it.  

100 Best Books for Children (for Friday)

As I've mentioned before, I love children's books and I took a course on children's literature in college. During that class, we discussed this book by Anita Silvey, an expert in the field of children's publishing. She has also published other books about children's literature including The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators, which I also own and enjoy.

Her premise is imagining that she was going on a sea journey on a boat that including many children of all ages and their families. She imagined that they became shipwrecked on an island and the books that she brought with her would have to suffice to educate, entertain, and inspire all the children on the ship. She limited herself to 100 titles and only chose from the last 100 years. She also decided that she would only count one book per author, although she listed additional titles by the same author for further reading.

The list itself is impressive, including beloved classics as well as unknown titles, both new and old. However, my favorite part of this book is the background information Silvey provides for each book. She takes a couple of pages for each title and reveals a wealth of inside information. Sometimes she tells the story behind how the book came to be published, or talks about how the author and illustrator came to work together. She also tells us how some of our favorite books almost had a different title, or characters of a completely difference species! I have used this book to help me choose books for my nieces and nephews, but mostly I've enjoyed it myself as I've learned more about my childhood literary favorites.

Catch Up Posts!

Although I wasn't overly busy this weekend, I didn't manage to squeeze any blogging in.  I thought when I finished school, I would have time for more reading and more blogging, as well as more time for all the other things I enjoy, but couldn't get to in between classes and studying.  That has not exactly been the case.  True, I do read  more that I did when I had classes (or, rather, read more aside from assigned readings for classes, I should say.)  And I might have a few more posts per week than I did when I was still in school, but the volume and quality isn't as consistent as I would like it to be.  I was so inspired after the Blogging Your Way class with the lovely Holly Becker of decor8, but some of that momentum has slowed.  The other problem is that although I have more free time, I also have virtually no structure.  I'm sure the structure part will be taken care of when I have a job.  Then, of course, there's the time I'm spending looking for and applying to jobs!  So it's not like I'm just watching TV all the time.  I know I've been productive in the six weeks since graduation, but where has all the time gone?

Well, I have read at least four books, so that's progress, right?  And now I'm going to play catch up while I have some extra time this afternoon.  Here come posts for Friday (children's books), Sunday (spirituality), and a few extra! 

Here's hoping for more consistency in the future!

Friday, June 19, 2009

If you enjoy Jane Austen and live in the Louisville, Kentucky area...

My best friend lives in Louisville and is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (at least I think that's what it's called).  She made this delightful video to advertise an upcoming festival.  You should watch it-especially if you have read Pride and Prejudice.  And if you're in the area and so inclined, you should attend the festivities!  

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Books

Whenever I need a little pick-me-up, I usually end up at a bookstore.  This time I went to Borders, and came away with the books above.  It's probably one of the most diverse collections of books I've bought at one time in a while!

Wreck This Journal:  This was actually the book I went to Borders to buy.  The other two were just bonuses.  I bought this one so I could participate in this intriguing book group.  Check it out!  You can jump in anytime.  I'm already a couple weeks late, but I'm catching up!  I've done a few pages and am looking forward to wrecking a few more.  I heard a lovely interview with Keri Smith, the author, with Kimberly Wilson, and she was a fascinating person.  Details and pictures to follow.  

Julie and Julia: This book caught my eye just as I was leaving.  I've seen it on the shelves for years now, but have never actually bought it.  Now that I'm seeing movie previews, I really want to read it before I see the movie.  And I need to get started because the movie comes out soon and it looks so good!  I've only read a few pages, but I cannot wait to read more.  I'll definitely let you know how it goes!

The 100 Best Business Books of All Time:  Admittedly, this is not the most exciting book of the stack.  I've been applying to jobs, and while I understand that a book will not make up for lack of experience in certain areas, I felt like it would be a good idea to familiarize myself with certain business concepts.  I've been interested in business as of late, and want to know what books I should read.  I considered all the books on the shelf in the business section, and I knew some of them would be good, but I wanted an endorsement of sorts before I dug in.  So I decided on this one, and then from there I will buy/procure from the library some of the books on the list.  I'm excited about reading this overview!  

What books have you purchased recently?  Have you read any of these?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wish List Wednesday

At a recent trip to Target, these titles caught my eye.  Into the Amazon wishlist they go.

The Wednesday Sisters, by Meg Waite Clayton
A Little Bit Wicked, by Kristin Chenoweth 
Wicked, by Gregory Maguire (okay, I didn't see this one at Target, but # 2 made me think of it)
Testimony, by Anita Shreve 
Girls in Trucks, by Katie Crouch
Resilience, by Elizabeth Edwards (love her!)
The Girl from Junchow, by Kate Furnivall 
Sarah's Key, by Tatiana deRosnay 
Shelter Me, by Juliette Fay

Has anyone read any of these?  What books have caught your eye recently?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thought for the Day

Today has been a crazy day, so I will just leave you with this thought.  Then at least two fun posts tomorrow!

"Satisfaction of one's curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life."  -Linus Pauling

Reading is definitely one of the primary ways I satisfy my curiosities (even if it's just reading from Wikipedia!).  Reading The Renaissance Soul has spurred me to consider more deeply what makes me want to learn more, and how I satisfy that desire.  

A limited list: music, business, knitting, literacy, art, Spanish, technology, painting, beading, design and spirituality.  I have studied/practiced many of these topics for years, but others are brand new!  But I know books will be a part of my exploration of all of them.

What are you curious about?  How do you satisfy that curiosity?  Does it bring you happiness?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Judging Books (and Blogs) by Their Look

We're told to never judge a book by its cover, but I confess, I often do.  Not only the cover, really the overall aesthetic of a book.  I like to flip through the pages, look at the print, any notes, images, etc.  I confess that I am much more apt to actually purchase a book that is friendly and approachable than one that is cramped and uninviting.  I am wooed by fancy graphics and lovely fonts.  For this reason I love Amazon's ability to view pages for my online purchases.

There may be a difference here between non-fiction and fiction.  I think I'm pickier about the layout, font, etc of a non-fiction book than a novel.  As long as the print is easy to read, I'm usually good to go on a novel--although I do prefer some covers of classic literature to others.  (Don't get me started on movie-themed book covers).  But a "self-help", informative how-to, or some other informational book really needs to wow me a bit beyond just the printed content.  Am I alone?  Do you judge books by their overall appearance?  What's necessary for you to actually purchase a book.  

What about blogs?  As I've been spending time lately with the layout and image of my blog, I began to wonder.  How much does the look of a blog matter?  I know I'm much more apt to read blogs that are visually appealing, but then after that initial draw, I spend more than half of  my blog reading time on Google Reader, so I don't see the actual blog very often.  

Do you read most blogs by RSS or via the actual site?  Are some sites so lovely that you make it a point to visit them directly?  

What woos you more?  Text or visuals?  Is is different for online reading and print materials?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Henri Nouwen (Sunday Spirituality Series)

I am a huge fan of Henri Nouwen and this book is an excellent way to get into his work.  It's a book of 365 devotions.  Each day's devotion is thought-provoking, challenging, and also comforting.  I read the book (almost) every night a few years ago, and it was a highly rewarding experience.

Nouwen is an amazing spiritual thinker and writer.  I encourage you to look into the many books, essays, and prayers that he has written.  

Friday, June 12, 2009

Harold and the Purple Crayon-New Friday Series

I love children's books.  I loved them as a child, and continue enjoy them now as an adult.  I still turn to my old favorites from years ago, and also love new ones I'm only now discovering.  I've decided to post every Friday about a favorite children's book, or a favorite book about children's literature in general.  Last week was Fancy Nancy, and this week it's Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Harold came into my life my freshman year of college.  My best friend and hallmate, Katie and I started having "story time" with our dear RA.  I'm not sure how it started-Katie, do you remember?  I know she was in the children's lit class, so that's where she started getting the books from.  Anyway, one day we read Harold.  Our favorite part was in one of the subsequent books when Harold talks about rockets and the government.  He's a very precocious toddler.  

Basically little Harold goes on nighttime imaginary adventures with his little purple crayon in tow.  Every scrape he gets into can be solved with the dash of his crayon.  It's sweet and simple, and yet so creative and imaginative.  I've read it to all my nieces and nephews and the kids I baby-sat for and it's always been a hit!  I also read it to high-school aged campers as part of their leadership curriculum.  We used it when we talked about creativity and problem solving.  I also heard him mentioned in an old rerun of Gilmore Girls recently, and he's also the favorite book of Michelle Pfeiffer's character in a movie I saw a long time ago.  The Story of Us maybe?  

There are some updated books with more colors in the illustrations, but I prefer the simpler drawings.  It's a cartoon now, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. But there are some fun animations from the 60's and then seem very authentic and true to the book. 

What are your favorite children's books?  Any I should include from your childhood or that you've discovered as an adult?  


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Online Reading Group

This month, I am starting an online reading group with several friends from college who are scattered all over the place.  Our first pick is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  I was worried because I have had the book for over a year, but my copy is packed away with the rest of my stuff.  I didn't want to buy it again, but then I found it on my mom's book shelves!  I'm going to have to see what other gems are there before I leave!

Has anyone read it?  I think it was someone's favorite line from a few posts ago!  Has anyone ever participated in an online book group?  We are using a Ning social network, and so far it seems to be working pretty well.  I will keep you all updated on our progress!  We're hoping to discuss the book by the end of June.  

I'm excited to jump in and read it!  

Monday, June 8, 2009

Knit Two

Last summer, when I came home from grad school for a few weeks, my mom had placed a stack of books on the night-stand by my bed upstairs.  They were all books she thought I'd enjoy, since I had the time for pleasure reading without my regular school load.  One of them was The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs.  I devoured it in just a couple of days.  Although I've had an interest in knitting for a while, I've never successfully picked it up, but this story masterfully wove some more technical aspects of knitting into a compelling story about and odd group of friends.  I was surprised by the ending, but overall, it was an excellent read.  

She came out with a sequel some months later, but I was unable to read it before I finished school.  I picked it up a few weeks ago and, again, consumed the novel in about 60 hours.  At first it was a bit slow as it started with reminders and rehashings for the first book.  It picked up, however, and was another captivating read.  The sequel takes place five or six years later, and I loved seeing what had become of the characters in that time.  the members of the Friday Night club were still close and central to the story, but they did not meet as regularly as in the first book, and, to me, it felt like something was missing.  However, I was much more satisfied with the ending to the second book.  The first book left me at something of a loss, but the second assured me that the characters were all going to be okay.  

If you are looking for some summer reads that are fast and engaging--check out the Friday Night Knitting Club novels.  Now if I could just learn how to knit...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

For Tibet, With Love (Sunday Spiritual Series)

I studied in London for a semester in college.  It was amazing.  In addition to all the fabulous sites there, there were endless book stores to visit.  There was a Waterstones (basically the British version of Borders or Barnes and Noble) just down the road from where we attended classes.   I went there most days before or after class.  One book caught my eye there, but I had already bought way too many books on the trip.  My suitcases were going to be seriously overweight, so I just visited my precious volume from time to time.  

This book was For Tibet, With Love by Isabel Losada.  Finally, in my last week there, I bought the book for our post-finals trip to Italy.  On the plane from London to Rome, the train from Pompeii to Venice, the hostel in Florence, and everywhere in between, I read the book from cover to cover, then opened it again and read it through a second time.  By the time we were flying back from Pisa to London, I think I was reading Henry James.  

Anyway, about the book.  It's about a British woman who begins to learn more about the struggles of the Tibetan people and their oppression by the Chinese.  The book chronicles her journey to Tibet and also a later trip to India to meet with the Dalai Lama himself.  She also writes a great deal about the history of the Tibetan people and about the Buddhist faith.  I was completely captivated and inspired.  The subtitle of the book (and the American version's title if you want to buy it in the States) is A Beginner's Guide to Changing the World.  And it truly is.

The book is structured around the Serenity Prayer which is :

God, grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.

She works with this prayer throughout the book and addresses each line of the prayer in a different section of the book.  

The prayer is usually attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, but the origins are somewhat hazy and sometimes disputed.  It's also the prayer that is used by AA in some form.  

As I was reading the Wikipedia article about it to learn a bit more about it for this post, I saw this Mother Goose nursery rhyme from 1695 that is cited there.  Some suggest that Niebuhr may have unconsciously received inspiration for his prayer from it:

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it; 
If there be none, never mind it.

I love that rhyme!  It certainly does have some similarities to the prayer!

I hope that I can start my week with more serenity.  Remembering this prayer again has inspired me.  

For Tibet, With Love is a fantastic book-it is similar to Eat, Pray, Love in some ways, if you enjoyed that one.  Isabel Losada has written a few other books, including the Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment.  I haven't read it, but I hope to soon.  In this book (which preceded For Tibet) Losada tries out numerous spiritual and secular methods that are supposed to lead to enlightenment.  Another book to add to my list!  

Friday, June 5, 2009

Real Simple tips and a fun link

Real Simple is a favorite of mine, and I love following their "Simply Stated" blogs.  As my thoroughly overwhelmed book cases can demonstrate, I find it hard to part with my old books but here are some excellent ideas for passing them along if you ever have the need/desire.  

Also, I found this blog from a tweet by @SweetEventide who has her own fun blog

Hilarious!  And so true!

Fancy Nancy

I've been horribly neglectful of this blog.  Life has been crazier than I anticipated between looking for jobs, helping my mom get the house ready to sell, and visiting family and friends.  Right now I'm watching my niece and nephew for the weekend.  Last weekend, I was visiting my sister and her family.  Both family's include three-year-old girls, and they both enjoy Fancy Nancy.  I love these books as well.  The illustrations are incredibly detailed, and so clever and creative.  I read the same book to my niece, Katherine, over and over again, but each time I discovered something new in the pictures.  Like the title of the book she's holding on the cover page, or the fact that she used a broom and a mop to make her bed into a canopy (I still can't figure out how she rigged up that one).  They are fun to read, delightful to look and and wonderfully girly.   It's one of those books I wish they had when I was little!!  

Also, check out this fun conversation with the author and illustrator!