Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Quotation and a Poem

Most recent read: Little Men, by Louisa May Alcott 

Today I was flipping through a new book I recently purchased by Sarah Ban Breathnach called Moving On.  She is the author of Simple Abundance, which I thoroughly enjoyed and still refer to often.  I haven't really begun to read this other book, but at the very beginning a lovely quotation and poem caught my eye and I was moved to share them with you all.  

"If a reader cannot create a book along with the writer, the book will never come to life."
-Madeline L'Engle

Isn't that so true?  Sometimes when they are collecting dust on a shelf or in a box, books began to seem like such static things, which really, I believe they were meant to be dynamic and full of life.  The best books are ever-changing conversations between the author, the reader, and sometimes all the readers that have come before or will come after.  These are usually the books that we revisit and find in them new meaning and delight.

And now the poem by David Whyte:

This the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
I ask
my friends
to come,
This is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love...

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

Where is your "house of belonging"?

Image from

Friday, September 4, 2009

Reading Rainbow

Apparently I have been living under a rock, but I just found out that Reading Rainbow has ended!  I haven't watched it in a long time, but I do remember watching it as a child and really enjoying it.  I am sad about this development, but it leaves me wondering as well. 

In light of my recent readings about TV and kids, I have mixed feelings.  The general opinion of the book I read was that while educational programming (they focused on Sesame Street) is better than other types of shows, no TV is better than watching the educational stuff.  So where does that leave us?  Although to be honest, I preferred Sesame Street and Mister Rogers to Reading Rainbow, I still enjoyed it.  I can't help thinking that Reading Rainbow was important for kids who didn't have parents to model reading for them at home.  Is that plausible at all?  Thoughts?

Here is some additional reading for those who are interested:

Definition of a Common Reader by Virginia Woolf

As I mentioned previously in my discussion of Ex Libris, by Anne Fadiman, I have been wanting to read Virginia Woof's The Common Reader.  In the preface to Fadiman's book, she quotes Woolf's definition of a common reader, and I wanted to share it.

The common reader "differs from the critic and the scholar.  He is worse educated, and nature has not gifted him so generously.  He reads for his own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge or correct the opinions of others. Above all, he is guided by an instinct to create for himself, out of whatever odds and ends he can come by, some kind of whole."

Fadiman also quotes Woolf as she describes, "all those rooms, too humble to be called libraries, yet full of books, where the pursuit of reading is carried on by private people."

What do you think of Woolf's description of a "common reader".  In many ways, I agree with her assessment.  I believe I would consider myself to be a common reader, and I am by no means a scholar or a critic.  I like to consider myself well-educated, but not compared to a literature professor.  I definitely believe in the last part of her description, as I do seem to be looking for some kind of whole in the disparate volumes I read everyday.  

I want to read more about "all those rooms" and the books they hold.  I am most looking forward to arranging my modest library when I finally move into a new apartment so that I may carry on the "pursuit of reading".

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Curious George

Most recent read: L.M Alcott: Signature of Reform

I LOVE to read the history and background to some of my favorite books-especially older children's books.  I have always been a big fan of the Curious George series by Margret and H.A. Rey, and recently, I've learned some new interesting information about them.

First, it started when I watched the Curious George movie with my nieces and nephew the other night.  I had never seen it, but love the Jack Johnson sound track.  I actually need to watch it again, because I sort of missed the middle.  But what I did see was delightful!  Two things in particular caught my eye.  1) The ship that the Man with the Yellow Hat took to Africa was called the H.A. Rey!  So cute!  (I love it when they slip in details like that!  It's especially fun when they appear in kid's movies as a little extra entertainment for the adults!  Or maybe I'm just a dork.)  And 2) The Man with the Yellow Hat finally got a name!!!  Ted!  That probably delighted me the most.  Ted seemed to fit him, but I was wondering where the name came from.  
Fortunately, I did not have to wait long.  The very next evening, I was putting another niece to bed and read a story that she picked out.  She selected See the Circus, by (wait for it...) H.A. Rey!  A complete coincidence and I had never read this book before.  It was very cute, and toward the end, there is a man with a yellow hat (and outfit) with a monkey.  The monkey is unnamed (but my niece squealed, "It's George!" anyway) but the man is called Ted!!!  How clever of the movie people to keep the same name!  

So that made me curious!  I looked up H.A. and Margret Rey on Wikipedia and discovered even more delightful facts about them.  George started out as a character in Cecily G. and the 9 Monkeys.  I had read this book previously, but forgot that George was in it.  They decided create a whole book for George after that book's success.  

But first they had to escape from the Nazis and so they successfully left Paris on BICYCLES!  These were amazing and fascinating people.  Do read more about them when you get a chance. 

So, if you are a fan of Curious George, check out these other books if you are not familiar with them already.   I'm looking forward to watching the movie in its entirety as well.  Will Ferrell does the voice for The Man with the Yellow Hat/Ted and Drew Barrymore is his love interest.  My sister thinks that her cartoon rendition looks like her.  Great movie that captures the spirit of a whole series of books and still has a plot of its own.  I love it when that happens!

All images from


Most Recent Read: L.M. Alcott: Signature of Reform, edited by Madeline B. Stern

I have been driving all over the state of Texas in the last week!  I went to visit my sister (a 3-hour drive) for a few days, and then drove back Sunday afternoon with my 3-year-old niece to attend my other niece's 4th birthday party in New Braunfels.  Then we spent the night in San Antonio and drove back to College Station on Monday.  Then I drove back to San Antonio on Tuesday morning, and then back out to New Braunfels Tuesday evening.  The reason for this little geography demonstration is to explain why I have been silent for a week.  I have also been having camera issues, but that's another story.

I have managed to get a great deal of reading done, and to acquire some new books.  I started and finished American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield, which my BFF, Katie, and I are reading for our online reading group.  I will be posting about it soon, and perhaps include some of our discussion.  

On my way back from College Station, I stopped at Half-Price Books in San Marcos to check out their collection.  There, I bought Little Men, Jo's Boys, L.M. Alcott: Signature of Reform, Real Homeschool Families, and a CD collection of poetry that is a companion to the Norton Anthology of Poetry.  I am starting to read the book about Louisa May Alcott, and it's great.  I look forward to revisiting her work in the next few weeks, and to reading more about her.  

I hope to catch up with some upcoming posts once I get organized and get some pictures together.

Here's a preview:

Curious George
_____ For Dummies books
Various organic and local food movement books
American Wife and online reading group
More about Louisa May Alcott
Long Overdue Interview with a Fellow BYW member, Alycia Wicker, about her lovely blog.
Julie and Julia: Book vs. Movie