Musings From A Bookmammal


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Musing Monday–A Very Bookish Saturday

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my musing for this week–

credit Karin Jurick

credit Karin Jurick

One of the local used bookstores in my area is having a Labor Day Sale this holiday weekend—20% off everything in the store! On Saturday I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to finally take in the books I’d culled during my last book weeding session a couple of months ago, so  I loaded up the backseat of my car in the morning and took them in. I dropped off 5 bags of books and showed a great deal of restraint by only purchasing five, so I viewed the trip as a complete success!

To make the morning even more bookish, I stopped off at the library on the way home to return some books and to pick up several more that were waiting for me on the hold shelf. (Bonus bookish experience–story time was ending just as I entered the library. I was surrounded by a flood of tiny readers who couldn’t wait to show their parents the bookish craft they’d just made. There just isn’t much that can make me happier than seeing children who are excited to be at the library!) When I got back home I had a full armload of books plus a few more, and to me that’s always such a great feeling—so many possibilities!

I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon doing chores as quickly as possible—and then spent the late afternoon and evening reading. All in all, a wonderful bookish day!

How about you? Have you enjoyed a bookish day—or afternoon—or morning—recently? Please share!

 


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Friday Finds–8/29/14

fridayfinds5

FRIDAY FINDS is a weekly meme hosted by MizB for sharing the books you ‘found’ and added to your TBR list this week (they don’t necessarily need to be books you purchased)… whether you found them online,  in a bookstore,  in the library — wherever! Click the icon above to join in!

I’m limiting myself to the new books that have actually entered my home this week–-bought new, bought used, and/or borrowed from the library. I’m not listing books that I simply added to by TBR list–that could take days! This week it’s just two books–both bought used and both nonfiction. Here they are:

FFSouthern Sin: True Stories of the Sultry South & Women Behaving Badly edited by Lee Gutkind and Beth Ann Fennelly      I  thought this was a book of short stories at first, but it’s actually an anthology of nonfiction. I’m intrigued by the premise!

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett     I do love a good book about books . . . and I found a “like new” hardcover copy of this one at Goodwill for only $1.79! How on earth could I possibly resist? It’s the true story of a man who travels around the US stealing rare books, but he doesn’t do it for the money—he does it because he loves books. It’s also the story of the book dealer/amateur detective who will go to any lengths to stop him. I ask you–what’s not to like about this?!?

How about you? Have you read either of these? What did you add to your TBR list this week? Please share!


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Endless Possibilities . . .

schoolbusMost school districts in my area have started the new school year by now—and this time of year always makes me reflective about the first day of school and what it can mean for the kids I see waiting at the bus stops when I drive to work every day.

I loved school when I was a kid. I looked forward to that first day as a time to wear a brand new outfit, find out who would be in my class, figure out which teachers were nice and which ones might be mean, and finally start using the new school supplies that I’d been hoarding.

In college, I loved that first week on campus–reconnecting with friends (this was before cell phones, texting, and even email—we actually WROTE LETTERS to keep in touch over the summer!), buying fresh textbooks, and settling back into the freedom of college life.

When I began teaching, I always looked forward to the first day of school with the students—because, of course, teachers actually have two “first days”: the first day of faculty meetings (which always seemed to go on forever), and then the first day when the kids come back. I was always so excited to meet my new students, to start figuring out what the personality of each class would be, diving into the curriculum—and yes, to once again finally start using the new school supplies that I’d been collecting all summer!

Now, even though I’m no longer working in the school system, I still think about the first day of school when I drive to work on these August mornings and see the kids waiting at the bus stops–brand new backpacks on their shoulders, fresh sneakers on their feet–and a totally empty slate.

The first day of school is packed with endless possibilities: Will this be the year with the teacher who creates that spark? Will this be the year when that kid finds a book that he loves? Will this be the year when it all finally clicks?  Will this be the year that sets the tone of success for that child?

These are the questions that I ask myself as I pass the bus stops. It’s a nice way to begin my mornings. I hope each of the children I pass will be enjoying their mornings, too.

 


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Top Ten Tuesday–Take A Peek At My TBR List!

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new question or theme is presented. This week’s prompt is:

The Top Ten Books I Really Want To Read But Don’t Own Yet

To answer this prompt I went through my TBR list on Goodreads and pulled ten titles that have already been released this year, but that I either haven’t purchased yet or that I’m still waiting on at the library. Ready? Here we go–in no particular order:

178301231. We Are Not Ourselves by Mathew Thomas     This is a 600+ page multi-generational Irish-American  family saga that I can’t wait to dive into!

 

 

194864122. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty     I just finished Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret a few days ago and really liked it, so I’m anxious to get my hands on her latest. The setting is an elementary school, and I usually enjoy reading novels taking place in any kind of academic setting, so I’m looking forward to getting my hands on this one.

 

 

192882593. Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher        This is another novel set in academia—this time a university. Plus, the narrative is told through letters which is a technique that I usually love!

 

 

214815424. The First Family Detail by Ronald Kessler     I love reading about American presidents and their families, so I’ve really been looking forward to this book about the Secret Service. I’ve read some of Kessler’s previous books and they do tend to be on the “gossipy” side, so I’m not expecting anything especially hard-hitting here, but I think this will at least be an entertaining read.

 

 

180599805. What Follows After by Dan Walsh   This is a novel about a fractured family, the steps taken by the children to mend their parents’ marriage, and the aftermath of their actions.

 

 

180797606. Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis     I read a lot of narrative nonfiction, and I especially enjoy medical and popular science topics. This book tells the story of how the cause of TB was discovered and the controversy surrounding this discovery. Call me a geek, but this sounds intriguing to me!

 

 

186562237. Home Leave by Brittani Sonnenberg    This novel is about a modern American family that is constantly on the move—both across the US and also across other continents. The plot explores how different people in the same family deal with loss, and what we mean when we talk about “home”.

 

 

187754428. The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America’s Coldest Cases by Deborah Halber     I used to read a lot of true crime, and I’m not quite sure why I stopped—but this book about “regular people” who help detectives solve missing person cases caught my interest.

 

 

186937529. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love From an American Midwest Family by Kathleen Flinn     This is a food/family memoir by the author of The Sharper The Knife, The Less You Cry—a cooking memoir that I liked a lot.

 

 

1757129110. What We’ve Lost Is Nothing by Rachel Louise Snyder     I’m especially interested in this novel because the setting is local for me–it takes place in Oak Park, a Chicago suburb. It’s about a series of home invasions that test the trust of the people within the community and bring hidden prejudices to the surface.

 

How about you? Have you read any of these? What are some titles that you want to read, but still haven’t bought or borrowed yet? Please share!


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Musing Mondays–A Reading Streak!

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my musing for this week–

Everyone goes through the dreaded “reading slump” once in awhile—when you just can’t seem to find a book that catches your interest. But I’ve found that over the last couple of weeks I’ve been experiencing the direct  opposite—a wonderful “reading streak”!

I’ve been really fortunate to read a string of truly amazing books lately—the kind of books that you can’t wait to pick up and hate to put down. The kind of books that you think about even when you’re not reading them. The kind of books that remind you of why you’d rather spend your free time reading than doing almost anything else.

         

All of these books are contemporary fiction (four novels, one short story collection), which kind of surprises me. I read—and enjoy—A LOT of nonfiction. But for some reason I’ve been in a fiction mood lately, and reading these books has only encouraged me to seek out even more novels. The common link between all five of these books is the strong, relatable characters–most of them female. I still find myself thinking about them at odd times during the day, and to me that’s one of the signs of a powerful writer.

I haven’t had a reading streak like this in quite awhile, and I know that eventually it’ll end when I read a few “good but not great” books, or even one or two “why did I even bother” books. But for right now, I’m just enjoying sinking into one great book after another!

How about you? Have you experienced a reading streak—or a dreaded reading slump—lately? Have you read any of the books on my “streak list”? Please share!


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WWW Wednesday–8/20/14

Click to play along!

Click to play along!

To participate in this weekly meme hosted by MizB, simply answer the following questions:

WHAT HAVE YOU RECENTLY FINISHED READING?

still life with breadcrumbsEarlier this week I posted about how much I loved Still Life With Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen—in fact, I’m pretty sure it’ll end up on my Top 10 list at the end of the year. If you’d like to know why I enjoyed this novel so much, you can find my post here.

 

 

other people we marriedOther People We Married is a backlist short story collection by Emma Straub, the author of The Vacationers—one of this summer’s hot reads. I liked The Vacationers a lot, so I was excited to sample her writing in the short story genre, and she didn’t disappoint me! The twelve stories in this book were all very engaging and I enjoyed “meeting” each of the characters. (Bonus surprise–the characters from The Vacationers make appearances in a few of these previously written stories!) Straub does have a habit of ending her stories rather abruptly, but this wasn’t off-putting to me at all—in fact, it caused me to think about the characters and try to figure out for myself what would happen next. I’m really glad that I discovered Emma Straub and I’m anxious to find out what else she has in store for her readers!

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

husband's secretI’ve been reading about Liane Moriarty on lots of blogs but I’ve never read any of her books—until now. I finally made it to the top of the library list for The Husband’s Secret and I’ve hardly been able to put it down. It’s a novel about three women whose lives intersect when a long-buried secret is discovered, and the underlying theme is how well we really know the ones we love, and what we’re willing to do to protect them. I’m about two-thirds of the way through this book and I really have no idea how any of this is going to be resolved! I think I’m going to be sorry when I do finally get to the end. (I’m also on the hold list for Moriarty’s latest novel Big Little Lies which was just released last month, and I can’t wait to dig into that one!)

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

 As usual, I don’t have a clue! It’ll all depend on what I’m in the mood for, but I’m sure I’ll be able to find something!

How about you? Have you read any of these? What are you reading this week? Please share!

 


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Happy Blog-Birthday!

cupcakeToday is Musings From A Bookmammal’s 1st Birthday! Exactly one year ago today I took the plunge and decided to join the blogging world.

I decided to start this blog on a complete whim. I’d been reading a number of blogs for several years and had always thought blogging would be a great way to practice my writing skills. I’m not sure what tipped me over the edge that day, but I went online, did some googling, decided to give WordPress a try, and set up my blog in an hour or two. Within a few weeks I’d decided to focus most of my posts on books,  reading, and literacy. I’m not exactly sure what I expected—but I had absolutely no idea that I’d “meet” so many wonderful blogging buddies who share my love for books, and I also didn’t have a clue about how fast and furious my TBR list would grow!

Some basic first year stats for those of you (like me!) who are into this sort of thing: Musings From A Bookmammal currently contains 244 posts, has 334 followers, has had visitors from 82 countries (amazing!)—the top five being USA, UK, Canada, India, and Jersey (Hi, Cleo!)—and has had a total of 12,077 views. The post with the most views is The Best Things About Working In A Bookstore  (October 1, 2013)—it’s gotten 1,410 views and gets at least a few hits every day.

So—MANY THANKS to all of the booklovers who visit me here and join the conversation. Please help yourselves to some virtual birthday cupcakes! I’m looking forward to exchanging many more thoughts about books and reading with you—and especially to adding more and more of your book recommendations to my shelves in Year #2!


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Musing Mondays–A New Favorite Novel

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my musing for this week–

still life with breadcrumbsI think I’ve found a new favorite novel.

For some reason I kept putting off reading Still Life With Breadcrumbs, and I’m not sure why. Anna Quindlen is one of my “automatic authors”—I’ll read anything she writes. I adore her collections of essays—I often feel that she’s speaking directly to me–and her last novel, Every Last One, is one of the best books I’ve read in the past several years. But when Still Life came out this past January, I kept moving it to the bottom of the TBR pile. I even had checked it out from the library once before, but had to return it unread. So many books, so little time . . . you know the deal.

For whatever reason, I decided to check it out from the library again. I had the day off from work on Friday and decided to give it a try–and from the very first chapter I was sucked in. I was only about 50 pages in when I knew I was going to love this book.

I really didn’t know much about the plot of this novel, and I think that’s the best way to go into it—part of the appeal of this book was that I really had no idea where the characters were headed. But very briefly, it tells the story of Rebecca Winter, a sixty-year-old photographer who experienced huge artistic success years before. For various reasons, she decides to spend some time in a rental house in a small town near her NYC home-base. She forms relationships with her new neighbors and we also learn about her relationships with her elderly parents, her ex-husband, and her adult son.

It seems to me that Anna Quindlen found a new voice when crafting this novel—the narrative is unlike any of her others. The chapters—some only a few paragraphs or a page or two, many longer–move fluidly back and forth between the main characters and pivotal events. There was a lot of very subtle humor woven throughout, and I quickly decided that this was a book I really needed to savor in order to appreciate the writing. I felt invested in what happened to every character, and the dialogue rang true—which is always a deal-breaker for me. And when I got to the end, I immediately thought “I wonder what’s going to happen next!”

I think this is a very understated book—if you’re looking for a novel with huge cliffhangers,  dramatic reveals, or big action scenes, this isn’t going to fill that need. I guess it could be called a slice-of-life novel—and that’s one of the reasons that I found the story to be so believable. Some reviewers have criticized the book for that very reason, but to me it’s what made the plot and characters so relatable. Isn’t that what real life is like for us most of the time?

I’m going to be thinking about the characters in this book for quite awhile, I’ll be buying my own copy to add to my Quindlen collection, and I predict that it will end up on my Top 10 list at the end of the year. I’m so glad that I finally made time for this novel! If you’re in the mood for a realistic, contemporary book featuring a strong, flawed, relatable female character, I suggest that you give Still Life With Breadcrumbs a try.

How about you? Have you read this book? What was the last book you read that you knew would become a favorite? Please share!

 

 

 

 


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WWW Wednesday–8/13/14

Click to play along!

Click to play along!

To participate in this weekly meme hosted by MizB, simply answer the following questions:

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

one on oneI’m probably the most un-athletic person you could ever meet, but I love reading about sports! I’ve read just about every sports book that John Feinstein has ever written, but I recently discovered that I’d missed reading One On One: Behind The Scenes With The Greats In The Game—his book about how he came to write some of his most popular behind-the-scenes nonfiction about basketball, golf, baseball, and tennis. If you’re not into sports there probably isn’t a whole lot in this book that would appeal to you–but if you’ve read any of Feinstein’s many previous books I think you’d enjoy this! I especially liked his accounts of his relationship with Indiana’s Bob Knight, as well as how he went about “pitching” his book ideas.  If you’re a Feinstein fan, be sure to pick up this book!

poking dead frogI always enjoy reading about the craft of writing–and Poking A Dead Frog: Conversations With Today’s Top Comedy Writers by Mike Sacks is a different take on this subject. Sacks interviewed 40+ writers on the craft of creating comedy–via writing for magazines, movies, TV, or radio. The result is a very interesting look at not only the creative side of comedy writing, but advice on the practical side as well. The common thread of nearly all the writers interviewed can be boiled down to “Don’t do it for the money” and “The only way to get successful is to write, write, write. . . and then keep on writing.” Even if you have absolutely no aspirations to write or perform comedy for a living (I sure don’t!) this is a great addition to any collection of books on the writing process.

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

three story houseI received an ARC of Three Story House by Courtney Miller Santo in advance of it’s 8/19/14 publication date. It’s the story of three female cousins  in their thirties who come together to renovate the family home. In the process they learn things about each other, their family, and themselves. The story is told in three parts–one section from the point of view of each of the main characters–which is a narrative technique that I enjoy when it’s done well. So far I’m still in the first section, so I can’t tell yet if the author will be able to effectively pull this off, but I have high hopes! I’m enjoying the story so far and am hoping to finish the book this weekend.

    WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

As usual, I have absolutely no idea! It’ll all depend on what I’m in the mood for next.

How about you? Have you read any of these? What are you reading these days? Please share!


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Musing Mondays–Ten Bookish Questions (and answers!)

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my musing for this week–

I found this ten-question bookish quiz quite awhile ago and thought I’d save it for a rainy day. Well, today it is literally raining in my part of the world–so here are my answers to ten bookish questions:

1. Do you read during breakfast? I usually eat breakfast at my desk when I get to work (lately I’ve been making oatmeal in the microwave) and I’m often reading work-related things such as emails while I eat. I don’t usually eat breakfast on weekends, but if I did I’m sure that I’d be reading a book while doing so.

2. How many hours a day would you say you read? Weekdays—at least an hour a day. Weekends—maybe 3-4 hours a day, sometimes more depending on what else is going on. Reading is definitely the non-work-related activity that I spend the most time doing.

3. Do you read more or less now than you did, say, 10 years ago? That’s a hard one. I didn’t keep track in any way of how much I was reading back then, but I’ve always read a lot. I think I’m probably reading about the same amount. However, I know I’m using the library more often instead of buying new books—my budget just can’t keep up with my TBR list!

4. Do you consider yourself a speed reader? I think I read pretty quickly compared to many people. Sometimes I need to remind myself to slow down and appreciate what I’m reading.

5. Do you carry a book with you everywhere you go? YES! I always have a book or magazine in my car, and I usually have my kindle in my purse. You just never know when you’re going to be stuck in traffic, in a waiting room, etc!

6. How old were you when you got your first library card? I don’t remember the specific age, but I can’t remember NOT having a library card. I assume I got it when I started school—so probably age 5-6. Before I had my own card my parents took me to the library regularly and checked out books for me on their cards.

7. What’s the oldest book you have in your collection? (Oldest physical copy? Longest in the collection? Oldest copyright?) I have an ABC book that was my dad’s–the copyright date is 1937!

8. Do you read in bed? Yes—nearly every day! If I wake up early on the weekend I’ll stay in bed and read for awhile. I always try to read at least a couple of pages right before I go to sleep at night. I used to be able to stay up really late to read, but not anymore!

9. Do you write in your books? Yes—I don’t have any issues with writing in books that I own. I’ll often write page numbers on the inside front cover if I don’t want to underline in the text for some reason.

10. If you had one piece of advice to a new reader, what would it be? Read as many different kinds of books as you can as often as you can! Don’t let others tell you what you should or shouldn’t be reading—if it’s of interest to you, that’s reason enough!

How about you? Do we have any answers in common? Please feel free to share your own answers to one of more of these questions in the comment section!


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The August Happiness Challenge–Day 9

vonnegut happy

We interrupt our usual bookish posts to bring you the following:

Welcome to Day #9 of the AUGUST HAPPINESS CHALLENGE–where participants post each day in August about something that makes them HAPPY! The goal–to slow down and take time to appreciate the good things in life. Feel free to join in the fun!

Today I’m very happy to introduce you to the two furry creatures who share my home:

dickensThis is Dickens, the elder statesman of the family. He’s about 17 and has lost most of his hearing, but has lost none of his personality. I adopted him as a kitten, and I still remember when he was so tiny that he would tumble off pillows because he didn’t weigh enough back then to sink down into them. This photo definitely doesn’t do justice to his amazing eyes–they’re a brilliant blue/green and people always exclaim over them when they meet him for the first time. Dickens puts up with absolutely no nonsense from anyone, including me. He’s emphatic about his demands—when he wants to eat, when he wants to be petted and scratched, and when he absolutely wants to be left alone.

 

miss maggieMiss Maggie (NEVER called simply “Maggie”) is the snuggler. She’d be on my lap 24/7 if I let her—and in fact, she’s on my lap right now! She’s about 8 years old, and her special skills include extremely loud purring, scampering about, sneaking into impossibly small spaces, and bird-watching. I adopted her from a shelter, but make no mistake about it—she chose me, not the other way around. She’s a true cuddle-bug, and she has little speckles inside her ears that are totally adorable.

(I just noticed that they both look really serious in these photos! Maybe they thought that they were sitting for official portraits.)

These two furry little souls are always there to greet me when I wake up in the morning and when I come home at night—and that always makes me really happy!

How about you? What’s making you happy today? Please share!


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The August Happiness Challenge–Day 8

vonnegut happy

We interrupt our usual bookish posts to bring you the following:

Welcome to Day #8 of the AUGUST HAPPINESS CHALLENGE–where participants post each day in August about something that makes them HAPPY! The goal–to slow down and take time to appreciate the good things in life. Feel free to join in the fun!

I’ve seen hawks the last two mornings when I’ve been driving to work. I live in a pretty busy suburban area, but there are still places where you can see wildlife once in awhile, and when I do, it makes me really happy!

How about you? What’s making you happy today? Please share!


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Friday Finds–8/8/14

fridayfinds5

FRIDAY FINDS is a weekly meme hosted by MizB for sharing the books you ‘found’ and added to your TBR list this week (they don’t necessarily need to be books you purchased)… whether you found them online,  in a bookstore,  in the library — wherever! Click the icon above to join in!

I’m limiting myself to the new books that have actually entered my home this week–-bought new, bought used, and/or borrowed from the library. I’m not listing books that I simply added to by TBR list–that could take days! This week it’s my usual mix of fiction and nonfiction with 2 books from the library and 4 used-book purchases–no new books bought this week. I’m not sure which one of these I’ll end up digging into first, but here we go . . .

8.7.14

 

Other People We Married by Emma Straub     I really enjoyed Straub’s The Vacationers and decided to check out what else she’s written. I found a used copy of this short story collection and decided to give it a try.

Safe With Me by Amy Hatvany     This novel is about a woman dealing with grief after the sudden death of her daughter, and her growing relationship with the family of the teen-aged girl who received her daughter’s organ donation. The story is told through multiple character perspectives—a technique I usually enjoy—and the reviews I’ve read promise that it’s an emotional and well-crafted story.

Poking A Dead Frog: Conversations With Today’s Top Comedy Writers by Mike Sacks     I love reading books that share the experiences of a group of different people about a common topic, and I also enjoy reading about the craft of writing. This book covers both of these areas! It’s a series of interviews and short pieces written by comedy writers from TV, movies, and magazines. I don’t plan on becoming a comedy writer any time soon, but I think this will be a fascinating read anyway!

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson     I really don’t know anything about this book—only that it appeared on a ton of “best of” lists when it came out a couple of years ago. I found a like-new,  used hardcover copy this week and couldn’t resist it.

Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election That Changed Everything For American Women by Rebecca Traister     I love reading behind-the-scenes books about politics, and I’m really looking forward to reading this book about women’s roles in the historic 2008 presidential election.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See     I read See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan years ago and really liked it, but I haven’t read anything by her since then. I recently heard an interview with See where she talked about one of her reading habits—when she reads a novel, she starts with the first chapter, then reads the last chapter, then the second chapter, then the next-to-last chapter, and so on. When she meets herself in the middle, if she’s enjoying the book she then rereads the second half in the proper order. Have you ever heard of such a thing??? Anyway, hearing this interview made me curious about what she’s written lately. I found a used copy of Shanghai Girls and decided to give it a try—it’s about two sisters who leave China during WWII to marry complete strangers and settle in Los Angeles.  I haven’t read much historical fiction lately, so I’m very interested to give this book a try.

How about you? Have you read any of these? What books made their way into your hands this week? Please share!


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The August Happiness Challenge–Day 7

vonnegut happy

We interrupt our usual bookish posts to bring you the following:

Welcome to Day #7 of the AUGUST HAPPINESS CHALLENGE–where participants post each day in August about something that makes them HAPPY! The goal–to slow down and take time to appreciate the good things in life. Feel free to join in the fun!

I found out that a friend of mine became a grandmother today for the very first time! Her daughter and granddaughter are both healthy and doing well, and my friend is over the moon. Is there anything like a new baby to bring joy to an ordinary day? I think not! This new little bundle is going to be so loved–and that makes me incredibly happy!

How about you? What’s making you happy today? Please share!


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The August Happiness Challenge–Day 6

vonnegut happy

We interrupt our usual bookish posts to bring you the following:

Welcome to Day #6 of the AUGUST HAPPINESS CHALLENGE–where participants post each day in August about something that makes them HAPPY! The goal–to slow down and take time to appreciate the good things in life. Feel free to join in the fun!

I’m really tired tonight and am looking forward to going to bed early. There’s nothing like being able to sink into a comfortable bed after a long day, and being able to do just that–very soon!–makes me really happy!

How about you? What’s making you happy today? Please share!


24 Comments

WWW Wednesday–8/6/14

Click to play along!

Click to play along!

To participate in this weekly meme hosted by MizB, simply answer the following questions:

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

everything i never told youEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is on a lot of lists this summer—and it should be. I really liked this novel—it takes place in Ohio in the 1970s and tells the story of a middle-class Chinese-American family, their relationships with each other, and how they cope with the sudden death of the middle daughter and the uncertainty regarding the cause of this death. This novel really recreates the time period well—a time when mixed marriages were an oddity and when racism was much more blatant in mid-America than it is today. Moving back and forth between the present and the past, and back and forth between the point of view of the five family members, this is a very moving story that makes the reader wonder how well we really know the ones we love. I finished this book several days ago and I’m still thinking about the characters–which I think is always a sign of powerful writing.

landlineI’ve written several times about my complete love for Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, and I enjoyed Fangirl and Attachments nearly as much—so I was anxiously waiting to get to the top of the library hold list for Landline. I’d been reading reviews that said it was much different from Rowell’s previous books, so I tried to go into it without any preconceived notions. I finished it a few days ago and (I know I’m going to be in the minority on this one) I thought it was. . . fine.  I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it. I thought that most of the characters had potential, but I just didn’t get that invested in any of them. Most of all, I thought that the plot point involving the main character talking via a landline phone to the younger version of her present-day husband was rather contrived—and I think that Rowell is much too talented of a writer to need to use that kind of gimmick. Again, I know that I am completely in the minority here—Landline has been getting great reviews all over the place—but it just wasn’t to my taste.

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

deliciousI’m listening to Delicious! by Ruth Reichl on my daily commute and it’s a nice, light read. I’m a big fan of “foodie” fiction and nonfiction, and I’ve been looking forward to listening to additional chapters each day as I drive to and from work.

 

 

one on oneI’m probably the most unathletic person you could ever meet, but I love reading about sports! I’ve read just about every sports book that John Feinstein has written, but I recently discovered that I’d missed reading One On One—his book about how he came to write some of his most popular behind-the-scenes nonfiction  about basketball, golf, baseball, and tennis. If you’re not into sports there probably isn’t much in this book that would appeal to you–but if you’re a sports fan, give it a try!

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

As usual, I have absolutely no idea! It’ll all depend on what I’m in the mood for next.

How about you? Have you read any of these? What are you reading these days? Please share!


1 Comment

The August Happiness Challenge–Day 5

vonnegut happy

We interrupt our usual bookish posts to bring you the following:

Welcome to Day #5 of the AUGUST HAPPINESS CHALLENGE–where participants post each day in August about something that makes them HAPPY! The goal–to slow down and take time to appreciate the good things in life. Feel free to join in the fun!

I got home from work today to find that the painters had finished replacing and painting all the trim on my house today. With the threat of rain all day, I didn’t have much hope that the job would be finished–but it’s all done and it looks wonderful!

I live in a townhome community where most of the outside building maintenance is controlled by our homeowners association, and that can mean that the quality of work is unpredictable–sometimes jobs take ages to complete, and sometimes the workmanship isn’t the best. This latest experience was a good one all the way around–and that makes me really happy!

How about you? What’s making you happy today? Please share!


3 Comments

The August Happiness Challenge–Day 4

vonnegut happy

We interrupt our usual bookish posts to bring you the following:

Welcome to Day #4 of the AUGUST HAPPINESS CHALLENGE–where participants post each day in August about something that makes them HAPPY! The goal–to slow down and take time to appreciate the good things in life. Feel free to join in the fun!

At work today I was telling a story to the co-worker/friend who sits next to me–and I made her laugh so hard she had to take off her glasses and wipe her eyes. (When she takes her glasses off, I know I’ve made her go past the point of no return!)

I’ve worked in places where I don’t have anyone who shares my sense of humor, and that can be a very lonely feeling. I’m very grateful that for the past several years I’ve shared an office with a group of people who I also regularly share laughs with–and that makes me really happy!

How about you? What’s making you happy today? Please share!


17 Comments

Musing Mondays–The Ever-Growing TBR List

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my musing for this week–

TBRI’ve been coming across so many great book recommendations lately that my TBR list on Goodreads is growing at a furious pace (blogging buddies—this is mainly YOUR fault! 🙂 ), and this has caused me to think about what TBR lists mean to different people.

Some readers view their TBRs as a sort of race—and their goal is to get to the finish line by eventually reading every title. And other readers view TBRs purely as an organizational tool—simply as a central place to keep track of the books they want to read, but with no real hope or plan to ever reach the end.

I’m definitely in the latter category. I don’t view my TBR as any sort of commitment, and I’m quite certain I will NEVER end up with an empty TBR list! Right now I’ve got 234 books on my Goodreads TBR list. About 50 of those are actual physical books sitting in a couple of rather hazardous stacks in a corner of my bedroom, and I’ve got another dozen or so waiting for me on my kindle. My TBR list is pretty flexible—I’ll periodically go through it and remove books that no longer appeal to me. I figure that one of the rights of this reader is the right to change my mind! If I see or hear of a book that I find interesting, I go ahead and add it to my list—because I know if I don’t, I’ll forget about it—but I know that I can always take it off if I later decide that it probably just isn’t my cup of proverbial tea anymore. I do informally try to make it a point to read a couple of TBR books that I own every month, but I can’t see myself ever entering into any sort of a challenge where I only read TBRs without adding anything new to the list.

How about you? How do you view your TBR list? How do you keep track of your TBRs? Please share—I’d love to hear about it!

 


3 Comments

The August Happiness Challenge–Day 3

vonnegut happy

We interrupt our usual bookish posts to bring you the following:

Welcome to Day #3 of the AUGUST HAPPINESS CHALLENGE–where participants post each day in August about something that makes them HAPPY! The goal–to slow down and take time to appreciate the good things in life. Feel free to join in the fun!

This morning I baked a big batch of chocolate chip bars–I’ll be taking (most of them!) to work tomorrow to share with my team. My kitchen smelled great, the bars turned out delicious–and both of those things made me really happy!

How about you? What’s making you happy today? Please share!


4 Comments

The August Happiness Challenge–Day 2

vonnegut happy

We interrupt our usual bookish posts to bring you the following:

Welcome to Day #2 of the AUGUST HAPPINESS CHALLENGE–where participants post each day in August about something that makes them HAPPY! The goal–to slow down and take time to appreciate the good things in life. Feel free to join in the fun!

Is there anything better than an unscheduled, rejuvenating nap? Especially a nap accompanied by a very warm, purring cat? That’s what I enjoyed this afternoon–and it made me really happy!

How about you? What’s making you happy today? Please share!


8 Comments

The August Happiness Challenge–Day 1

vonnegut happy

We interrupt our usual bookish posts to bring you the following:

Welcome to Day #1 of the AUGUST HAPPINESS CHALLENGE–where participants post each day in August about something that makes them HAPPY! The goal–to slow down and take time to appreciate the good things in life. Feel free to join in the fun!

I took a vacation day today—I like to spread out vacation time into 3- or 4-day weekends throughout the summer. Today I got up (fairly) early, made a list, got all my weekend errands and chores out of the way by early afternoon, and have been spending the rest of the day reading and relaxing—and I can look forward to more of the same for the rest of the weekend! It was such a hectic week at work, and it feels wonderful to know that I have no real demands on my time for the next two days–and that makes me really happy!

How about you? What’s making you happy today? Please share!


13 Comments

Friday Finds–8/1/14

fridayfinds5

FRIDAY FINDS is a weekly meme hosted by MizB to share the books you ‘found’ and added to your TBR list this week (they don’t necessarily need to be books you purchased)… whether you found them online,  in a bookstore,  in the library — wherever! Click the icon above to join in!

I’m limiting myself to the new books that have actually entered my home–-bought new, bought used, and/or borrowed from the library. I’m not listing books that I simply added to by TBR list–that could take days! This week it’s 4 books from the library and 3 used-book purchases–no new books bought this week. I’m not sure which one of these I’m going to tackle first, but here we go . . .

8.1.14

Bibliotopia: Mr. Gilbar’s Book of Books & Catch-all of Literary Facts & Curiosities compiled by Steven Gilbar    How could I NOT buy this book? It’s a compendium of all sorts of facts, quotes, trivia, and lists—all about books and authors. This looks like a great browsing book! I found a like-new used copy and I just couldn’t resist!

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng    This novel is on a lot of lists this summer. It’s about a Chinese-American family living in Ohio in the 1970s and how they deal with the disappearance and death of their middle daughter. I’ve read nothing but good things about this book and I’m really looking forward to diving into it.

The Shelf: Adventures in Extreme Reading by Phyllis Rose    I love reading books about books! This one is about a woman who chooses a shelf in the fiction section at random from the New York Society Library  (it turns out to be the LEQ – LES shelf) and reads her way through it—finding a remarkable mixture of authors and styles along the way. I’m not sure what to expect from this book, but I think it’ll be an interesting read.

Running The Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg    This memoir tells the story of a young man who is seeking direction in his life—and ends up taking a job as a librarian in a tough Boston prison. I found a used copy of this and just couldn’t pass it up.

The Actress by Amy Sohn    This is billed as a “big, juicy, literary novel” and that sounds like the definition of a summer read to me! It’s about a Hollywood couple—many say these characters are based on Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes—and  involves fame, gossip, scandal, and ambition.

Nantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer    Nancy Thayer is one of my go-to authors—I’ll read just about anything she writes. Her latest seems to be another great beach read—two girls from very different backgrounds who meet as young girls and move on together into adulthood.

The Good Father by Noah Hawley    This novel/thriller is about a father who discovers that his son may have been involved in the assassination of a Presidential candidate. It’s been compared by some reviewers to We Need To Talk About Kevin, which I thought was a very compelling yet disturbing book. This one definitely doesn’t call out to me as a beach read—I may save this one for a bit!

How about you? Have you read any of these? What books made it onto your radar this week? Please share!


23 Comments

WWW Wednesday–7/30/14

Click to play along!

Click to play along!

To participate in this weekly meme hosted by MizB, simply answer the following questions:

WHAT DID YOU JUST FINISH READING?

love ninaThanks to my bogging buddy Cleo for reviewing this book several months ago—I’m quite sure I never would have discovered it otherwise! Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home by Nina Stibbe is a memoir in the form of letters. Each letter is written by Nina, a young woman living in London during the 1980s and working as a nanny for a single mother and her two very intelligent and entertaining sons. Nina shares short, slice-of-life vignettes and snatches of dialogue in the letters that she writes to her sister back home.  I enjoyed this book a lot (I’m always a fan of books made up of correspondence!) but it definitely wasn’t a quick read for me. There were so many  British terms and slang that weren’t familiar to me at all, and I found that this really slowed me down. Aside from that, though, the many short samples of dialogue throughout the book were WONDERFUL! Dialogue is often a big deal-breaker for me—if it doesn’t ring true, I’m probably not going to be a fan of the book. In this case, Stibbe totally captures the different people in her day to day life—especially the two young boys she’s caring for. Much of their dialogue was laugh-out-loud funny—even with the unfamiliar slang!

appetites of girlsHave you ever really, really wanted to just love a book? That’s the way I felt about The Appetites Of Girls by Pamela Moses. It seemed like it had lots of characteristics that I usually enjoy—narrative told through multiple viewpoints, college friends, strong female characters—these are all usually real winners for me! But in this case, the lack of characterization really killed the book. This novel was told through the first-person voices of the four main characters, and I honestly could hardly tell the difference between any of them. Each chapter read almost exactly like the one before, and I felt that this was quite unbelievable as the four young women all came from very different backgrounds. Even the dialogue that was included seemed the same, no matter who was talking. I wanted to like this book so much, but unfortunately it really fell flat for me.

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

landlineI’ve been anxiously waiting for Rainbow Rowell’s Landline to be released here in the US, and I finally made it to the top of the library hold list! I’m only about 70 pages in (it’s been a busy time at work!), but I’m enjoying it so far—even though it’s quite different from Rowell’s other books. I have a three-day weekend coming up, and I’m hoping to be able to spend some quality time with these characters soon!

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

As usual, I don’t have a clue! I’ll have to see what I’m in the mood for when I’m ready to start something new.

How about you? Have you read any of these? What are you reading this week? Please share!


45 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday–Which Authors Take Up The Most Space On Your Shelves?

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new question or theme is presented. This week’s prompt is:

The Top Ten Authors With The Most Books On Your Bookshelves

This was a fun list to put together! I had some ideas of who would end up on this list, but it gave me an excuse to wander around my bookcases and actually count books! Here are the authors who have the most books in my home. Some of them even have entire shelves!

bob_greeneBob Greene (19 books) —Bob Greene was a Chicago newspaper human-interest columnist for years. He published many books of collections of his columns, plus books about historical events and characters, a few memoirs, and even a novel. He left his newspaper gig about ten years ago after some controversy, but he’s still writing. I may have issues with how he conducts his personal life, but the man can write. I have a whole shelf devoted to his books.

 

hemingwayErnest Hemingway (15 books) —OK, this one is a bit of a cheat. I have 9 books BY Hemingway, and 6 books ABOUT him. But it’s my list and my rules, so I’m counting them as one big batch! 🙂  I read The Sun Also Rises in high school and it started me on a serious Hemingway obsession that lasted for years. His short stories are second to none, and A Moveable Feast is simply wonderful.

 

 

agatha_christie_80Agatha Christie (13 books) –I read my first Agatha Christie mystery in junior high school after I saw her play The Mousetrap. I still have all the paperbacks I collected back then. Agatha Christie is proof that you don’t need a lot of explicit violence or gore to tell a great tale of suspense!

 

 

picoultJodi Picoult (12 books) —I don’t own all the Picoult books I’ve read, but I do have a lot of them. Her books have been a bit hit-and-miss for me over the past few years, but I still automatically put myself on the hold list at the library whenever she has a new book coming out. The first Picoult book I read was The Pact and it made me a fan for life.

 

 

pageKatherine Hall Page (12 books) —I love to read, I love to cook, and I love a good mystery. Katherine Hall Page’s Faith Fairchild mystery series satisfies me on all three levels! These are good mysteries with well-developed characters and a bit of humor mixed in. They’re not heavy reading, but they’re great for pure escape.

 

 

terkelABStuds Terkel (11 books) —Oh, I do miss Studs Terkel! He was truly a Chicago icon, and when he died in his 90s a few years ago he left a wonderful legacy of oral histories that celebrate the “regular” people who make up our country. He had the wonderful gift of being able to encourage everyday people to open up and share their experiences about so many topics—their experiences during WWII, how they felt about their jobs, their thoughts on race,  their lives during the Great Depression, and many, many other topics. He was truly the father of the oral history genre. I was lucky enough to hear him speak at a book signing near the end of his life and I’ll never forget it. I have one big shelf of his books in a prominent spot on my favorite bookcase.

graftonSue Grafton (10 books) —I haven’t read any Kinsey Mallone books in quite awhile, but I used to love it when a new one was released. I can’t quite bring myself to get rid of these—I read them in my mid-twenties and they’re a really nice reminder of a good, happy period of my life.

 

 

Annie%20LamottAnne Lamott (10 books) —I really like Lamott’s novels, but I am crazy about her nonfiction! Bird By Bird is one of my favorite books about the craft of writing, and her collections of essays on faith and spirituality are books that I re-read again and again. Is she a little bit out there? Sure–but I’ve rarely read another author who is as honest as Lamott.

 

 

Feinstein_200John Feinstein (9 books) —I don’t actually “do” any sports, but I love reading about sports and athletes. Feinstein is my go-to author here. I especially enjoy his behind the scenes books on basketball. You can practically hear the shoes squeaking on the court when you read his books!

 

 

Anna-Quindlen-Author-PhotoAnna Quindlen (9 books) —Quindlen’s novels are a little uneven for me (although Every Last One is one of the best books I’ve read in ages) but I absolutely LOVE her columns. When I read her nonfiction I feel as though she’s inside my head.

 

 

How about you? Do you have books by any of these authors on your shelves? Which authors take up the most space on your bookcases? Please share!


26 Comments

Musing Mondays–Dealing With Critical Mass

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my musing for this week–

I have eight bookcases of varying sizes throughout my home, but I recently realized that my physical books have once again reached the “critical mass” stage. So I did some book weeding last week (I do this a couple of times each year) and gathered five bags of books to take to my local used book store. This cleared some much needed space, but my bookcases are still quite full. Plus—my TBR corner is becoming a hazardous tower! So, I did the only possible thing left to do. I gave myself a birthday present and ordered two new bookcases!

bookcase 1This one will go at the end of my upstairs hallway, and I’m planning to use it to display some of my favorite hardcover books.

bookcase 2I ordered one of the smaller sizes from this series. It’ll go in my office/library to be used as my TBR shelf–and maybe a spot to keep library books as well. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble filling it up!

I should receive delivery of these in the next few weeks—luckily they’ll arrive already assembled, so I’ll be able to have the fun of loading them up right away!

Unfortunately, in an ironic “one step forward, two steps back” situation, in a complete lack of any sort of self-control I also ordered seven used books online this weekend (I really just had to have them)—so I don’t see this as any sort of permanent solution. And as a card-carrying booklover, I really wouldn’t have it any other way!

How about you? What’s your bookcase situation these days? How do you deal with bookish “critical mass”? Please share!


8 Comments

The August Happiness Challenge–A Sneek Preview!

vonnegut happyOne of my blogging buddies, Kwizgiver, is doing the Happiness Challenge again this August. It sounds like fun, and I thought I’d play along this year!

Care to join in? The guidelines couldn’t be easier:

“Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn’t even have to be every day if you don’t want it to be. It’s a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world.”

If you’d like to join in this instant mood-lifter (and who can’t use one of those these days, right?) let me know  in the comments and I’ll be sure to visit your “land of happy” in August! Also–many bloggers who participate will mark all of their Happiness Challenge posts with a picture or icon of some sort that means “happy” to them. If that strikes your fancy–go for it!

Some of my challenge posts may be bookish, but I predict that most will be about other things. It’ll all depend on what each day brings! Hope to see you on Friday, August 1 for the first of 31 days of HAPPY!


16 Comments

WWW Wednesday–7/23/14

Click to play along!

Click to play along!

 

To participate in this weekly meme hosted by Miz B, simply answer these three questions:

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

vacationersThe Vacationers by Emma Straub is definitely one of this summer’s hot beach reads. It seems as though it’s on everybody’s TBR list–and I’m so glad that I added it to mine! Taking place over a two week period, this novel tells the story of an American family’s vacation to the island of Mallorca. The trip should be an escape from the tensions that are brewing at home in NYC, but the family finds that they can’t escape secrets, rivalries, and conflicts. The novel is made up of fourteen chapters—one for each day of the vacation—and the author does a great job of portraying the ebb and flow of the emotions of a close-knit group of people who are forced to spend most of each day together, and who find that they may not know each other as well as they assumed. I’ve read a review or two that indicated there were some factual errors in this book, but I didn’t notice any (possibly because I’m not at all familiar with the foreign setting). I found this novel to be a relatively quick read, but also completely absorbing–if you like reading about contemporary families, be sure to add this book to your beach bag! (Plus–I just love the cover!)

all i loveI was fortunate to receive an ARC of All I Love And Know by Judith Frank—it was published on July 15. It’s a novel about the members of a modern American family who are confronting many issues—death and grief, adoption, gay marriage, religion, honesty, and unconditional love.

The two main characters, Matthew and Daniel, have settled into domestic life together in Massachusetts—but when they learn that Daniel’s twin brother and sister-in-law have been killed in a bombing in Jerusalem, their lives are suddenly thrown into crisis. All of this intensifies when they—and the rest of their families—learn that the deceased parents wanted Matthew and Daniel to raise their two young children. The impact this instant new family has on Matthew, Daniel, their relatives, the children, and their relationship makes up the crux of the book.

I really enjoyed this novel. For the most part I found the characters believable and their reactions authentic. There were parts that were heartbreakingly sad, and a few parts involving the children that were quite funny. I have to admit that I  don’t know as much as I should about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and while this was a large plot point–and, unfortunately a very timely one due to the latest upsetting events in that area–I never felt overwhelmed by the information that was provided within the storyline. My only reservation about the book was the characterization of the six year old daughter—at times I felt that her comments and actions were more typical of a child several years older—but this is really a minor criticism when compared to the book as a whole. When I finished the it, my immediate thought was that I wanted to know what was going to happen next–and that’s the mark of a good writer! Again, if you enjoy novels about contemporary–and somewhat unconventional–families, I’d give this new novel a try.

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

love ninaLove, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home by Nina Stibbe is a memoir in the form of letters from a young woman living in London and working as a nanny for a single mother and her two sons. She shares short, slice-of-life vignettes and snatches of dialogue with her sister in letters written home during the mid-1980s. I’m enjoying this book a lot but it’s not a quick read for me, a reader from the US—there are heavy uses of British terms and slang that aren’t familiar to me at all, and I’m finding that I really need to take my time. Aside from that, parts of this book are very laugh-out-loud funny—in particular, the dialogue between the two young boys seems VERY realistic and true to life. I’m about half-way through this book and am looking forward to finding out more about these real-life characters!

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

As usual, I have absolutely no clue! I’ve got my trusty TBR stack sitting here, plus I’ll be picking up some holds from the library in the next day or two. I’m sure something will jump out at me, clamoring to be read!

How about you? Have you read any of these? What are you reading these days? Please share!


21 Comments

Musing Mondays–A Questionaire For Readers

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my musing for this week–

I’ve seen this book lover’s quiz on a few blogs lately, so I thought I’d join in the fun! Ready? Here we go!

 

credit David Hettinger

credit David Hettinger

1. Do you have a specific place for reading?   I’ll read just about anywhere, but my very favorite spot is my big blue overstuffed chair in the corner of my library/office.

2. Book mark or random piece of paper?    I’ll use the freebie bookmarks that I get when I buy books if they’re handy—otherwise I’ll use a receipt or other piece of paper. If it’s a book that I own, I’ll dog-ear as a last resort.

3. Can you just stop anywhere in a book or do you have to stop at the end of a chapter?    I like to stop at the end of a chapter if possible, but sometimes when I read in bed at night I get so tired that I just stop wherever I am on the page.

4. Do you eat or drink when reading?   Often! I live alone, so it’s very rare that I eat a meal at home without a book in front of me. If it’s not mealtime, I’ll often be sipping or nibbling at something. These days it’s usually Crystal Lite Raspberry Lemonade and maybe some crackers or some chocolate candy—something that doesn’t drip or splash!

5. Music or TV on when reading?   I hardly ever just sit and watch TV without doing something else—folding clothes, doing paperwork, etc—and if I don’t have a chore to do, I’ll usually have a book in front of me when I’m watching. Music is OK, too. The only exception is if I’m reading something really involved for work—then I need as few distractions as possible.

6. One book at a time or several?   I am NOT into monogamy when it comes to books! I’m usually reading at least two books at once. Right now I’m reading an essay collection and a memoir, and I’m also listening to a novel during my daily commute.

7. Reading at home or elsewhere?    EVERYWHERE! I often read on my lunch break at work, and sometimes I’ll even read at long stop lights when I’m driving. I finished a book in my doctor’s waiting room last week.

8. Read out loud or silently?   Silently—although I do LOVE to read aloud to kids. When I was teaching I read aloud to my kids from a novel everyday—even when I was teaching high school. And when I was a bookseller I used to love running the weekly story times. 

9. Do you read ahead or skip pages?    I’ve never understood how some people can skip ahead and read the end of a book first–although I have been known to physically cover the facing page with my hand if I’m reading an especially suspenseful part–to keep myself from “accidently” reading ahead! The only time I’ll skip pages is if I’m reading something with a lot of description and I just can’t take it anymore.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?     I can read a paperback from cover to cover without breaking the spine, but I don’t mind books that are broken in—it just shows that they’ve been well read!

11. Do you write in your books?    Sometimes—I’ll underline passages I like or quotes I want to remember. Sometimes I jot down the page number inside the cover if I don’t want to underline. I only do this in my own books, of course!

12. Who are you tagging?   I don’t tag people, but if you want to play along, please leave your link in the comments so I can visit and read your answers!


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Top Ten Tuesday–My Favorite Movies Based on Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new question or theme is presented. This week’s prompt asks us to talk about kinds of stories other than books. So, I decided to list my top ten favorite MOVIES BASED ON BOOKS!

Most booklovers say that “the book is always better!” and generally I agree. But there are some movies based on books that I love and that I think stay pretty true to the author’s vision. Here are my top ten movies that started out as books–I’ve watched all of these films multiple times, and if I happen to come upon any of them on TV, chances are that I’ll stay put and watch the whole thing! Ready? Here we go, in no particular order:

to kill a mockingbird          to kill a mockingbird movie

1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee    I read this classic in ninth-grade English class, and the unit ended with all the English classes watching the film together in the high school auditorium. This was back in the days before DVDs and VCRs weren’t even widely used (I feel SO OLD right now!)—we were watching the movie from an actual movie projector! To this day I can still remember sitting there with my girlfriends, waiting anxiously for the sight of Boo Radley’s face (played by Robert Duvall!) for the very first time. . . and the film broke at that exact instant! One of the teachers raced up the aisle to the projection room to fix the film while a whole auditorium full of kids groaned.

 

ordinary people book          ordinary people

2. Ordinary People by Judith Guest    I’ve probably seen this movie at least a dozen times over the years—and there are still a couple of scenes that make me tear up. It’s hard to believe that this was Timothy Hutton’s very first film–he’s amazing. Plus—Mary Tyler Moore plays a role that was radically different from her usual character choices. I believe that this was also Robert Redford’s directorial debut. This is a movie that I used to use as a tongue-in-cheek “boyfriend detector”—if a guy had actually seen (and liked!) this film, I figured there was boyfriend potential there.  I had a pretty good track record with this method for awhile!

 

friday night lights book          friday_night_lights_poster

3. Friday Night Lights by Buzz Bissinger    I love this nonfiction book about a Texas town and its complicated, all-consuming relationship with the local high school football team– but I simply ADORE the movie. I rarely buy movie DVDs, but I bought this one and have watched it multiple times. (I’ve never watched even one episode of the TV series, though—not sure why!) This is about so much more than football—even if you’re not a sports fan, there’s still something for you in this movie! And–I’m not usually a big Billy Bob Thornton fan, but he truly shines in this film.

kramer          kramer vs kramer

4. Kramer vs. Kramer by Avery Corman    Great book, even greater movie—starring an incredibly young Dustin Hoffman as the father  and Meryl Streep as the mother who leaves her husband and child. There are a couple of scenes in this movie that make me cry every. single. time.

 

all presidents men book          all_the_presidents_men_xlg

5. All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein    I’ve never been able to make it through the whole book about the Watergate investigation, but this is a wonderful film—and parts of it are as suspenseful as any fictional thriller. Dustin Hoffman (again!) and Robert Redford are incredible as the journalists caught up in a story that’s bigger and more dangerous than they could have ever imagined. I actually stumbled upon this movie on cable a couple of weeks ago and ended up staying up past my bedtime and watching the whole thing. . . again!

 

chapter two          Film_Poster_for_Chapter_Two

6. Chapter Two by Neil Simon    This started out as a play and was then adapted into a movie. I have to be in the right mood to read plays—sometimes all the stage directions get in the way for me—but this is one of my favorite films. James Caan is wonderful as a man who can’t seem to move on from his wife’s death, and Marsha Mason is the woman who wants to help him do so. It also co-stars a very young Valerie Harper. I love this movie! (But—can I just say that I HATE the movie poster? This movie is NOT primarily a happy-go-lucky comedy, although there are parts that are extremely funny.)

 

band played on          AndtheBandPlayed

7. And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts    Based on Shilt’s overwhelmingly informative, moving, and incredibly upsetting nonfiction account of the early years of the AIDS crisis, this is another film that never fails to make me cry.  Richard Gere, Matthew Modine, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin . . . the list of actors who participated in this film goes on and on. Great book, great movie.

 

about a boy          about_a_boy_xlg

8. About A Boy by Nick Hornby    I love this film—there are parts that make me laugh out loud every time I watch it. This is one movie that departs from the book in quite a few ways, but in the long run it stays pretty true to the basic plot.

 

nile    death_on_the_nile_xlg     orient express     amsel_murder_on_the_orient_express74                        

9. Death On The Nile and 10. Murder On The Orient  Express by Agatha Christie    I read both of these books in high school when I was in a serious Agatha Christie phase–in fact, I still have my paperback copies!  Both of these movies are pretty close adaptations of these brilliant mysteries, and the plots definitely hold up after all these years.

 

How about you? Have you read and/or watched any of these? What are some of your favorite movies based on books? Please share!