Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday Web Round-Up

After a hiatus of several weeks, I'm back with a quick round-up of reading and book related web news.

RIF says that kids who are surrounded by words read better. Great study.

A day in the life of a writer.

I've always meant to read The Once and Future King... now has a mobile store.

The top children's picture book on the bestseller's list this week was a Lego Starwars Dictionary. This kind of makes me sad.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Reading Goals

I've been thinking a lot about goals. There are many things that I have hoped to achieve in the last year that have fallen by the wayside. Eating better, a regular exercise routine, consistent writing, keep up with faraway friends. I make progress, often in fits and starts, but never really seem to get to where I want to be.

There is one glorious exception to this, however. Reading. I've read more this year than I have in a long time, perhaps ever. And I've been trying to determine the cause of this wonderful progress. I think the key is that I made a goal, and posted my progress publicly. Back in January, inspired by my best friend and fellow reader (and blogger), I set a goal to read 48 books this year (I was going to go for 50, but 48 is 4 per month I have a thing about the number 8, so it was just a more appealing number to me). And I am thrilled to say that I am well on my way to meeting, and exceeding my goal (you can see my progress at the top of the blog under "books read in 2010").

It's certainly not surprising to me that setting goals leads to achievement, but it has been powerful for me to experience it myself.

I will be applying this realization to the rest of my personal aspirations, but I am grateful that I succeeded first in reading. The more I read, talk to readers, and read about reading, I am convinced of its vital importance to everyone's life. I'm in the process of shifting the focus of my blog toward boldly advocating for an elevated status for reading in our society.

So I'm starting today with a challenge to you all. Set a reading goal. Set a goal for time spent reading, or for books read in a given period of time. A book a month? Three books a month? Read every day for an hour? Set aside two hours per week? Whatever it is, make it a bit of a stretch. A bit more than you would normally read, but not so much that it seems impossible. And tell others about it. Comment here, tweet it, share it with your friends.

Reading is a gift that we so often take for granted. I ask you all to set a goal for yourself, and commit to making reading a priority in your life. I can't wait to hear all about it!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Review: The Wednesday Sisters

Not long ago, I shared the book trailer for Meg Waite Clayton's The Wednesday Sisters. What did you think?

Well, if the trailer didn't entice you, I'm here to try to get the job done. I LOVED this book. I found it at Target on a Saturday afternoon. Started reading it about 11:15 that night. I finally forced myself to turn the light out around 3:30am, which the majority of the book knocked out. I woke up early, read a bit more. After church and a few errands, I finished it around 2pm. So I read the whole thing in about 14 hours, included sleep and a few other extraneous details.

The book is about a group of women in the 60's who meet each other on the playground while their children are playing. They eventually form a writing group, even though some of them haven't the slightest notion of actually being a writer. As an aspiring writer myself, I was inspired by the dedication and work ethic that the women possessed. What's more, they were writing exclusively in long hand, or on a typewriter. I find the task of editing drafts tedious with my computer. But the descriptions of one woman trying to retype a whole manuscript because of pagination errors--it just made my head hurt!

The characters are lively and very engaging. It's told from Frankie's point of view, but I felt as if I got to know each of the other women almost as well. Some of the women come to the group with little mysteries, which eventually come to light, but which kept me reading late into the night.

Clayton explores the idea of identity as the women wade through the waters of the women's movement. Some are more radical than others, but they all undergo a transformation as a result of their writing, their relationships to one another, and their reactions to the larger movement around them. When they first meet, they introduce themselves by their husband's occupation. Some of their marriages are good, others are pretty bad, but they all start out with their whole identity wrapped up in their husbands and children. By the end of the story, some of their lives have changed more drastically than others, but I believe they all come to have a new understanding of the lives they lead.

It was a great read, and I'm looking forward to Meg Waite Clayton's next book, The Four Ms. Bradwells!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Giveaway Winners!!

Thanks so much to those of you who participated in my first giveaway!

Congratulations to Lauren and Jamie!!! I'll be contacting you today so I can get the book to you!

Happy Friday everyone!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Giveaway reminder

There's still time to enter the giveaway for Aidan Donnelley Rowley's first novel, Life After Yes.

Comment on Tuesday's post for a chance to win one of two copies! Contest ends Friday at 12noon Central.

Spread the word!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Feature: Wednesday Web Round-Up

I frequently find interesting articles, interviews and book reviews and think of you all, and so I'm going to start to sharing them with y'all on Wednesdays. Please share links to any interesting articles or reviews that you come across.

Do critics judge female authors differently than male writers? NPR discusses with two popular writers.

I love these bookshelves!