Musings From A Bookmammal


Getting Ready For July 14 . . .

to kill a mockingbirdI don’t re-read books nearly as much as I used to, but I decided to revisit Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird in preparation for the release of Go Set A Watchman this summer. I remember reading (and enjoying) Mockingbird in my 9th grade English class but didn’t recall much about it except for the broad plot points. I actually remember more about the movie that all of the freshman English classes saw once we finished the book. This was in the pre-DVD and even the pre-VCR days. We watched the movie on an actual reel-to-reel projector and the film broke right before we were FINALLY going to see Boo Radley. I can still remember my teacher racing up the aisle of the auditorium to fix it as about 100 9th graders groaned in frustration!

Anyway . . . about a week ago I figured it was time to review so I’d be ready for Harper Lee’s new (old?) novel to be released on July 14–and I was amazed on so many levels. My memory of the book was that it was mostly about the trial of Tom Robinson, with the mysterious Boo Radley showing up every so often. I remembered Scout, Jem, Atticus, and Dill—but no real specifics beyond that.

I’m not sure if it’s just because so many years have gone by since my initial reading, or whether much of the greatness of the writing and the depth of the storyline went over my head as a 14-year-old, but I was blown away by how much was packed into this novel. The many plots and subplots (obviously SO MUCH more than a story about a trial!), the nuances of social class, the aspects of racism that are all too true—and relevant–today, the ebb and flow of small town life, the MANY instances of  understated humor . . . plus, I had completely forgotten about the “ham incident”. And I’ve got to admit that I teared up at the end.

In retrospect, I’m not really sure that my 9th-grade self was ready to appreciate this book. I’m so glad that the soon to be released Go Set A Watchman gave me the “excuse” to rediscover this American classic. And it makes me wonder . . . how many other books from my past reading lives deserve a second look?

How about you? Have you rediscovered any books lately? Are you planning to read Go Set A Watchman? Please share!


On Hiatus . . . But Still Reading!

Hello there!

I’ve been pretty quiet here lately—I haven’t written a post since December 1, and I sure haven’t been visiting and commenting on as many blogs as usual. I’ve been traveling a lot more for my job recently, and that has definitely cut into my regular routine. (The up side is that when you’re sitting in airports, it’s a perfect excuse to read!) So—this post is to say that my blog is going on hiatus for the foreseeable future. I’ll still be visiting your blogs—and hopefully commenting more than I have been recently—and, of course, I’ll still be reading and updating what I’ve read and what I want to read on my Goodreads account.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season, and hope that each of you finds a very special book under the tree!


Raising Sharp Readers by Colby and Alaina Sharp

I don’t  re-post writings from other bloggers very often–but this post from the Nerdy Book Club Blog about raising readers is so wonderful that I just had to share it. PLEASE click through to read the entire post–you won’t be sorry! Enjoy!
And to my American blog buddies, I wish you all  a happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Nerdy Book Club

7 years ago, we were elated and terrified to welcome the first of our three little readers into the world.  As parents, we don’t do a lot of things right – Breslin’s gone to school with his pants on backwards enough times to verify that.  But, we have managed to turn out three little people who love reading fiercely.  Here are some of our thoughts on how we have helped to foster and nourish that love in our home.

1. Have books everywhere.

Our oldest isn’t one to go the bookshelf and pick up a book. He’s not the type of kid that you tell to go and read a book. What we’ve found is that if we have books laying around all over the place (tables, floor, car, bed, etc) he reads a ton. Sometimes he’ll find a book laying on the coffee table and read it cover to cover…

View original post 1,211 more words


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!


Taking A Bit Of A Break . . .

Hi there,

Due to some recent changes in my professional and personal lives, I probably won’t be posting as often as usual for awhile. I’ll continue to read and comment on the blogs I follow–but just won’t have the time to spend on writing new posts in the immediate future. I hope to be back in full force soon to share bookish–and not so bookish–thoughts with you!


Book Blogger Hop–Do You Think You’ll Ever Reach The End?

book blogger hop

This weekly meme is hosted over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer, and you can join the fun by clicking on the icon above! Each week a new bookish question is posted. This week’s question is:

Do you think you’ll ever read every book on your TBR list?

stack of booksMy short answer is—NO, and I hope I never will!

Having a long TBR list means having a long list of choices. My reading tastes are continually changing—what I decide to read might depend on my mood, what I’ve just read, the books my friends and blogging buddies are talking/posting about, and what may be going on in my life at any given time. I read a lot of different genres—both fiction and nonfiction. My bookcases at home look as though they contain books belonging to at least five different people. Having a lengthy TBR list assures me that I have a title ready to go to meet any mood or need I may have when I finish a book.

I used to keep my TBR list in a handwritten notebook, as well as on scraps of paper in my purse, on my desk, in my car, etc. After all, you never know when you’ll hear about a book that you just have to read! Now that I’ve finally set up my Goodreads account, I’m amazed at how easy it is to just keep on adding TBR titles (that scanning feature is awesome!).

And although I do sometimes get frustrated that my TBR list keeps getting longer and longer, I ultimately think that it’s a great problem to have! I usually have at least at least two books going at a time—and I start to feel a bit nervous when I’m coming to the end of a book and I don’t have another one immediately in mind. That’s when my ever-growing TBR list comes in—and reaching the end of my TBR list would mean that I’d have nothing to move on to once my current book was finished—and that just won’t do!

How about you? How do you keep track of your TBR list? Do you think you’ll ever reach the end? Please share!


Book Blogger Hop–What’s Your Blogging Style?

book blogger hop

This weekly meme is hosted over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer, and you can join the fun by clicking on the icon above! Each week a new bookish question is posted. This week’s question is:

 Are you a book blogger purist? Do you only have book related posts or do you review/post on anything/everything that catches your eye?

I view my blog as primarily book-related, so I stick to bookish posts during the week. I don’t post formal book reviews, but instead I write about topics related to books, reading, and literacy. I’ll often include some mini-reviews of what I’m reading, but I don’t consider myself in any way to be primarily a book reviewer. I often use weekly bookish memes as prompts, but I’ll do some stand-alone posts as well. I like to post pretty regularly, but I don’t do a post if I don’t feel like I have something to say—if I’m just not feeling inspired by one of my regular memes on a particular day, I’ll skip it.

On the weekends I branch out and participate in a few non-bookish memes that are a lot of fun. I don’t think I’ve ever done a weekend post that wasn’t connected to one of my weekend memes. If I have something bookish to say on a weekend, I’ll wait until Monday to post it–and vice versa.

How about you? Do you consider yourself a one-topic blogger, or do you include a mix of subjects in your posts? Do you try to follow any particular structure or schedule when posting? Please share!


Better Late Than Never, Right?????

computer__booksI’m going to start this by saying something up front: I am ALWAYS late to the technological/online party. I’m the only person on the planet who isn’t on Facebook. I don’t tweet. I don’t text. If someone asks me for my cell number I tell them not to bother because my phone is only turned on when I have to make a call–and I’d have to look up the number anyway.

However, I’ll also say that once I’m convinced to try a new gadget or to do something online, I usually love it. I dragged my feet for years before I got an eReader—now, although real books will always take first place in my heart, I do really enjoy the freedom of my kindle. I didn’t get an iPod until about two years ago—now I can’t imagine being without my new iPod Touch—I LOVE that thing! And I never, ever thought I’d be a blogger—yet here I am with a blog that’s only 4 months old, yet has given me so much enjoyment and introduced me to so many interesting people–and books!

I say all that to lead up to this—I just set up a Goodreads account yesterday.

Actually, I took a stab at it back in 2011, but I just never kept up with adding or rating books. Up until now, my TBR list has been an actual pen-and-paper list—most listed in a notebook, but also on stray pieces of paper—in my purse, in my car, on my desk, etc.  (I know. . .  I know . . . don’t judge!) I’ve never kept track of how many books I read in a year, or kept track of what I’ve liked—except in my head. Having this blog, however, has prompted me to want to be more organized about what I read and what I want to read.

So—I decided to start from scratch. I purged out the titles I’d entered back when I first opened my Goodreads account, and I’m adding only the books that are currently active on my TBR list. I’ll start adding titles I’ve completed with the first book I finish in 2014.

Here’s what I’d like to know from my fellow book-loving blogger friends (who I KNOW won’t judge me for being ever so late to this party!):

  • What do you like about Goodreads? What don’t you like?
  • Do you review every book you finish, or do you just use the star ratings?
  • How many different bookshelves do you have? What categories?
  • Any tricks or tips for me? Please share!

EDITED ON 1/4/14 TO ADD–I am loving the scan feature on Goodreads! I used to take notes when I was at the bookstore–this afternoon I scanned away and added several new titles to my TBR list. (Yes–I did buy a book or two as well!)

Happy New Year’s Eve to you–wherever you are in the world! See you in 2014!


Weekly Book Blogger Hop–Holiday Recommendations

book blogger hop

Click the graphic to join in!

I’m trying out a new meme today–it’s hosted over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer, and you can join the fun by clicking on the icon above! Each week a new bookish question is posted. This week’s question is:

What book would you recommend for a Christmas present?

untitledThis is actually a tough question! Tastes in books are so individual–what I like to read may not be what you like to read. However, there is a book that  has become my surefire “go-to gift” for book lovers of all types and for all occasions.

Forgotten Bookmarks: A Bookseller’s Collection of Odd Things Lost Between the Pages by Michael Popek is a wonderful gift for anyone who loves books, and especially for anyone who enjoys the adventure of searching through used book stores.  This wonderful book is  filled with photos of objects found in used books—pictures, notes, news clippings, postcards, receipts, old letters, and much more—it’s fascinating to imagine who these books and objects originally belonged to, and how they all ended up in the author’s used book store. Each object is paired with a photo of the book where that particular item was found. This is a great book for browsing, and it’s hard to put down–it’s so easy to get caught up in imagining the stories behind the objects on these pages!

How about you? Do you give the gift of books at Christmas or on other gift-giving occasions? Are there any books that you typically give as gifts? Please share!


Nonfiction November–Fiction and Nonfiction Partners!

become the expert

Throughout the month of November, Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness and Leslie from Regular Rumination are hosting a series of excellent posts promoting all things nonfiction. The topic of this week’s post prompt is:

Come up with a nonfiction book to pair with a fiction book. So, if you like [FICTION BOOK], then you should absolutely read [NONFICTION BOOK]!

(Please click on the graphic to find all the great  posts by other bloggers who accepted this challenge–or to add your own!) 

I found this to be a very challenging exercise-but also a very fun one! I was able to come up with several pairings covering a variety of topics–and even one triple! Ready? Here are my Fiction/Nonfiction sets:

 henry-and-clara booth-novel-david-robertson-paperback-cover-art   day lincoln was shot

Henry and Clara: a Novel by Thomas Mallon

Booth: A Novel by David Robertson

The Day Lincoln Was Shot by Jim Bishop

We all know the basic story behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln—but the two novels I’m listing here provide a couple of different takes on the topic. The first one blends fact with fiction to recreate the truly heartbreaking story of the couple—who were also stepbrother and stepsister–who accompanied the Lincolns to Ford’s Theater that night. I think that this fictionalized account of the events of that evening and its aftermath rivals any tragic modern romance.

The second novel tells the story of the assassination from the point of view of John Surratt, who knew John Wilkes Booth and was involved to some degree—still a controversy today—with the plot to kill Lincoln.

There are any number of nonfiction books about Lincoln’s assassination, but I’ve chosen to pair these novels with the classic The Day Lincoln Was Shot because it was one of the first nonfiction books to use the hour-by-hour, nearly minute-by-minute method of describing historical events. It’s also one of the first adult nonfiction books I ever read, and it was one of the books that forever hooked me on reading nonfiction.

charlottes-web  story of charlottes web

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

The Story of Charlotte’s Web: E.B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic by Michael Sims

I know I’m not alone in my love for Charlotte, Wilbur, Fern, and the rest of the wonderful characters from this classic children’s book—which, of course, isn’t just for children at all. The nonfiction book I’m pairing with it is so much more than a biography of the author—it  traces his fascinating research into the lives of spiders and the painstaking work he did to make sure that everything—and I mean EVERYTHING–included in Charlotte’s Web was exactly right. If you loved the world of this book as a child, you’ll definitely appreciate the background provided here on how that world was created.

grapes of wrath  worst hard time

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan

I can still remember reading The Grapes of Wrath for the first time. (If you’ve only seen the movie, you MUST read the book–there is absolutely no comparison!) I read this epic novel in the late spring during my first year of teaching, and I can vividly recall grading papers and completing lesson plans at night—and then staying up way too late making my way to California with the Joads. I was pretty obsessed with this novel for quite awhile. My nonfiction partner—a National Book Award winner—takes a different view of this period of American history. It tells the stories of the people who opted to remain in their homes during the Dust Bowl. I’ll admit that I haven’t read this book yet—it’s been sitting on my TBR pile for several months—but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it and I’m hoping to dive into it soon.

last night at the lobsterNickel

Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

This novel takes place during one final shift at a restaurant that will be permanently closing its doors at the end of the night. Told from the point of view of the restaurant’s manager, it’s the ideal complement to Ehrenriech’s nonfiction book about minimum wage workers in America. I’m a big fan of Barbara Ehrenreich’s books, and I also think that Stewart O’Nan is one of today’s most underrated novelists—so these two books are a natural pair.

little house big woods  wilder life

The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure

I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve read the Little House series of books—but Wendy McClure takes her love of these beloved children’s novels to a whole new level. Her book traces her quest to visit all of the key places and landmarks mentioned in the series, as well as her attempts to immerse herself in all things “Little House”, such as learning to churn butter and twist hay sticks. I love this author’s writing voice—she writes humorously yet informatively about her journey to connect with Laura and the rest of the Ingalls family. It also includes a lot of interesting information about the “real” Laura that you won’t read in the Little House books. If you ever dreamed of having a best friend like Laura, you’ll love the chance to reconnect with those Little House days in The Wilder Life.

How about you? Have you read any of these books? Are there any fiction/nonfiction pairings that you’d like to share? I’d love to read your thoughts! And don’t forget to click on the graphic above to join in the Nonfiction November fun!


Nonfiction November–Get Schooled!

become the expertThroughout the month of November, Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness and Leslie from Regular Rumination are hosting a series of excellent posts promoting all things nonfiction. The topic of this week’s post prompt is:

Be the Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert: Share a list of nonfiction books on a topic you know a lot about. Or, ask for some advice for books on a particular topic. Or, put together a list of nonfiction books on a topic you’re curious about.

(Please click on the graphic to find all the great links to other blog posts covering a wide variety of nonfiction topics!)

I decided to share a list of books that deal with education, as it’s a topic that’s close to my heart. I grew up in a family of educators, and was a teacher myself for nine years. I’m back in the field now in a different capacity—I work in the marketing department of a large educational publishing company. The books I chose for this list aren’t educational theory books—they’re all behind-the-scenes accounts (one of my favorite genres!) of various types of schools or other educational venues. None of them are of the warm, fuzzy, everything is wonderful variety–I feel that they all tell it as it really is. I own copies of all of these books and have read each one multiple times. All of them have made me think. Ready? Here they are, in no particular order:

among school childrenAmong Schoolchildren by Tracy Kidder.

Published in 1989, this book has become a classic in the “inside the classroom” genre. The author spent a year sitting in a fifth grade classroom in Holyoke, Massachusetts—this is the story of what happened that year. What I love about this book is that it isn’t always warm and fuzzy—the teacher loses her temper at times, she sometimes second-guesses herself, and every kid doesn’t finish the year in a happy ending. But she cares about those kids and that comes through on every page.

TestedTested by Linda Perlstein

High-stakes testing is a reality in today’s American schools. Schools are expected to behave like businesses and are judged almost solely on the bottom line—test scores. This book reports—in sometimes heartbreaking detail—what the administration and teachers of one Maryland elementary school feel they must do to ensure continued high scores. The questions that are raised are truly thought-provoking: what are the rewards and costs of doing whatever it takes to hit those magic numbers—and what’s the ultimate effect on the students taking those tests?

homeschooling patchwork of daysHomeschooling: A Patchwork Of Days edited by Nancy Lande

This book did a lot to change my opinions about homeschooling and the families who participate in it. It consists of thirty essays written by thirty families. Each selection explains why that particular family chose to homeschool, their daily routines, their successes, and their challenges. The families come from all over the US and a few are from other parts of the world. Some families are homeschooling two children, there are some families with seven kids—and every combination in between. Some families knew they’d be homeschooling since their children were born—others tried traditional school and, for a variety of reasons, have transitioned to homeschooling. None of the essays try to paint a perfect picture of the homeschooling experience! This is my go-to suggestion when I’m talking with people who have questions about homeschooling or who are trying to decide whether or not to homeschool their children. It certainly opened my eyes to a lot of new views on the topic and, while I’m not sure that I would ever choose to homeschool, I think I have a more well-rounded opinion of those who do.

andstillweriseAnd Still We Rise: The Trials and Triumphs of Twelve Gifted Inner-City Students by Miles Corwin

This book not only tracks the lives of a dozen high school students in an inner-city Los Angeles school, but also provides a fascinating account of two very different teachers. The accounts of the kids’ lives are riveting, but, to me, the main story was of the two English teachers—one a volatile rebel with some real demons in her past, the other a no-nonsense maternal figure. Both expect a great deal from their students, and both have students who are absolutely devoted to them. The reader is left to judge which of them is ultimately the more effective teacher.

all girlsAll Girls: Single-Sex Education and Why It Matters by Karen Stabiner

I used to be very vocally against single-sex classes and schools. My argument was—the real world isn’t a single-sex world, so how can we fully prepare our students for the future in single-sex schools? This book made me a lot more open to the idea that single-sex education does have a place in today’s society. It tracks one year in two all-girls schools—an elite prep school in Los Angeles, and a charter school in New York City. It’s a compelling read and it made me really examine my beliefs in this area—and isn’t that what good nonfiction is supposed to do?

gatekeepersThe Gate-Keepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College by Jacques Steinberg

This is a behind the scenes account of how colleges—in this case, Wesleyan University in Connecticut– make their admissions decisions. The author spent eight months as an observer in the admissions office at Wesleyan and followed one admissions officer in particular as he recruited, selected, and rejected students for the future graduating class of 2004. Several high school seniors who applied to Wesleyan that year are also followed. This isn’t a how-to book on how to get accepted to the college of your choice, but it does provide an inside look at how one elite university views its applicants and the difficult and sometimes heartbreaking decisions they need to make. I had no idea of what this type of job consisted of until I read this book.

relentless pursuitRelentless Pursuit: A Year In The Trenches With Teach For America by Donna Foote

This book follows four Teach For America recruits who are placed in the same inner city high school. With no teaching background other than an intensive summer “boot camp” training program, these recent college grads are put in charge of classrooms of struggling, disadvantaged students and are expected to deliver results. I knew very little about the Teach For America program before I read this book and, although it raised a lot of questions for me about the program, I admired the dedication of the teachers who were profiled. I’d like to know if they ended up remaining in education or if they moved on to other pursuits.

small victoriesSmall Victories by Samuel G. Freedman

This may be my favorite book on this list, possibly because I used to teach high school myself. It’s the story of a year in the life of a New York City Language Arts/Humanities high school teacher in the late 1980s and the students that pass through her classroom doors. The book provides personal stories of some of these students while also giving what I feel is a very accurate picture of the sacrifices, successes and disappointments that dedicated teachers face every day. Parts of this book were truly heartbreaking. I often wonder what the teacher who was the focus of this book is doing today.

losing my facultiesLosing My Faculties by Brendan Halpin

I’m including this book not only because I love the author’s writing style, but because it provides a male voice in a typically female field. It’s the memoir of a teacher who moves through a variety of teaching positions in a variety of settings—an economically depressed city schol, a middle class suburban site, a last-chance truancy prevention program, and a college-prep charter school. The author provides a sometimes brutally honest account of his successes, frustrations, and challenges–but  he  never loses his sense of humor.

How about you? Have you read any of these? Are there other books on this topic that you’d like to recommend? Please share!


The Most Famous Author From Every State!

Last month I featured the infographic “The Most Famous Book From Every State” from Business Insider. Today, the same source provides their take on the most famous author from each state. Click on the image to see the original article–which includes how they made their selections. How many state’s authors have you read? My tally is below the graphic.


I’ve read books written by 14 of the authors featured here:

Alabama–Harper Lee

Arkansas–John Grisham

California–John Steinbeck

Illinois–Ernest Hemingway

Indiana–Kurt Vonnegut

Maine–Stephen King

Michigan–Jeffrey Eugenides

Minnesota–F Scott Fitsgerald

Missouri-Mark Twain

Oklahoma–Ralph Ellison

Oregon–Beverly Cleary

South Carolina–Peggy Parish

Wisconsin–Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wyoming–Patricia MacLachlan

Who is your favorite author on this list? (I have to go with Hemingway and Cleary–which is quite an interesting pairing!) For my friends in the US–Are there other authors from your state who you feel should be included on the map? Please share!


My Reading Life From A-Z

alphabet___watercolor_patterns___uppercase_by_gb_illustrations-d5x8ar2I’ve seen a lot of lists like this floating around various blogs and I always enjoy reading them–so I used one as a guide and changed a few of the questions. If you’d like to play along on your own blog, please leave a link to your A-Z post in my comments so I can visit you and read your responses!

Ready? Here we go!

A=Author You’d Like To Meet: I’d love to meet Jodi Picoult. I’ve attended a couple of her readings, and I’d love to talk with her about how she researches her novels.

B=Buy or Borrow? Probably an even split. I usually borrow first—then if I really like the book I’ll buy a copy. But I’ll also go to the bookstore once in a while and just wander around and buy whatever looks good. I also buy a lot of used books online.

C=Currently Reading: “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell. So far I’m loving it almost as much as I loved “Eleanor & Park”!

D=Dog-ear or Bookmark? I try to use a bookmark, but I’m not against dog-earing the corners of my own books.

E=Ereader or Physical Book? Physical books all the way. I have a kindle, but nothing will ever replace my love for actual books and the sight of them on my bookshelves.

F=Fiction or Nonfiction? I seem to go in waves–for awhile I’ll really be into novels. Then I’ll have a spurt of reading nothing but nonfiction. For the past month or so I’ve been reading mainly nonfiction. The books I own are probably pretty evenly split between the two.

G=Glad You Gave This Book A Chance: For some reason I didn’t think I would like “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt—I’m not sure why. I finally gave in and read it last summer and I loved it!

H=How Many Bookcases Are In Your Home? 2 in my bedroom, 1 big one in my library/office, 1 in my kitchen, 4 in my living room = 8

I=Illustrator—Who’s Your favorite? I love the illustrations by Garth Williams in “Charlotte’s Web”, “Stuart Little”, and the “Little House” books. I also adore Graeme Base’s picture books–especially “Animalia”. They’re definitely for kids AND adults!

J=Just Finished: “Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog (etc.)”, a book of lovely essays by Delia Ephron.

K=Kind of Books You Won’t Read: I don’t read romance novels, science fiction, or fantasy. I also don’t read much poetry. I have nothing against these genres or the people who do read them—they’re just not to my taste.

L=Library—How Often Do You Visit? I usually stop by every Friday on my way home from work. I don’t browse there too much—I usually search for books online, put them on hold, and then pick up whatever is ready.

M=Magazines—Which Ones Do You Read? I subscribe to Smithsonian, Vanity Fair, Time, and Yoga Journal.

N= Notes—Do You Write Notes In Books? Sometimes I’ll underline a quote that I like–but only if it’s my own book, of course!

O=Oldest Book You Own?  I have an alphabet book that was my Dad’s—the copywrite date inside is 1937. I collect ABC books and this is one of my favorites!

P=Preferred Place To Read: My big cozy blue chair in my library/office. My bed is my second favorite.

Q=Favorite Quote About Books or Reading: From Maya Angelou: “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”

R=Required Reading—a book that you were required to read for a class. I had to read “The Sun Also Rises” for a class when I was a senior in HS—it started me on a Hemingway obsession that lasted for years.

S=Series You Love: I haven’t lost myself in a series for a long time. I used to love the Faith Fairchild mystery series by Katherine Hall Page.

T=Three Of Your All-Time Favorite Books: I can only pick THREE? OK—I’ll pick three favorite contemporary novels. “The Pact” by Jodi Picoult, “Domestic Pleasures” by Beth Gutcheon, and “The Dive From Clausen’s Pier” by Ann Packer. These are three of my go-to recommendations when anyone asks me for good contemporary book club reads. There’s lots to discuss in each of these and I’ve read all three multiple times.

U=Underrated book or author that you think deserves more attention: I think more people should read Stewart O’Nan’s novels.

V=Very Excited For This Release: “Double Down” by Mark Halperin—it’s being released TODAY (November 5)! It’s a nonfiction behind the scenes account of the 2012 presidential campaign. I LOVED his book about the 2008 campaign, and I’m going to be a total geek and go out on my lunch hour today and splurge on the hardcover.

W=Weirdest Book or Reading Habit: I have to shelve my books by theme. I wouldn’t even think about bringing home a bag of books from the bookstore and just putting them all together on an empty space on one of my bookcases. No—they need to be shelved with other books of the same subject matter or genre.

X=X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your nearest bookcase and pick the 27th book (no cheating!): The Glass Menagerie by Tennesee Williams

Y=Your Latest Book Purchase: “Where’d You Go Bernadette”—I read it on my kindle awhile back and loved it, so I just bought a copy since it recently came out in paperback.

Z=ZZZ-snatcher Book (last book that kept you up WAY too late): I can’t think of one–I can’t stay up reading as late as I used to!


Read Your Way Across The USA!

I found this infographic (original source is Business Insider) on Pinterest recently–it shows one person’s idea of the most well-known book set in each of the fifty United States. How many states have you “read”? My tally is below the graphic.


Here are the states I’ve “read”:

Alabama–To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Alaska–Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

California–East Of Eden by John Steinbeck (I can still remember the summer that I read this book–what an epic story!)

Georgia–Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Iowa-A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

Michigan-The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

Missouri-The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer

Nebraska-My Antonia by Willa Cather (I didn’t like this when I read it in HS, but I think  it was  because I didn’t care for my English teacher that year. I should give Willa Cather another try one of these days!)

New York-The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Pennsylvania-The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Rhode Island-My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult I (loved this book until the very end–I HATED the ending!)

Tennessee-The Firm/The Client by John Grisham

Wisconsin-Little House In The Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

How about you? Have you read the book that represents your state? How many of the others have you read? Do you agree that the book shown for your state is the best representation for your state? Please share!


Book Buying Trends–Where Do YOU Fit in?

random house infographic biggerI ran across this infographic the other day–it shows the results of a market research report from June, 2013–and I was curious to see how my book buying patterns stack up. 

Here’s how I compare:

1. What types of books are purchased? I’m in the majority on this one–most of my books are paperbacks. In second place is hardcovers–I’ll buy a hardback if it’s by an author  I adore, or if it’s a book with gorgeous photos or illustrations–or if I just simply can’t wait for my name to get to the top of the library wait list. Bringing up the rear for me is ebooks–I buy MAYBE 5-6 in a year, and usually only if they’re on special. I listen to audiobooks from the library very rarely–it’s probably been a couple of years since I listened to a book–and I’ve never purchased one. (What on earth do you think the “other” category is?)

2. Where are books bought? Once again, I’m with the majority here–probably 75% of the books I buy (new and used)  are purchased online, and the remaining 25% are bought from brick and mortar stores. I belonged to Book of the Month Club and Literay Guild for years, but I let my memberships lapse long ago.

3. What are Americans reading? Here’s where I start to diverge a bit. I read MUCH more nonfiction than fiction, and I purchase more nonfiction, too.

4. Who is purchasing books? Female here–in the majority again.

5. EBook consumers are younger, more affluent, and more educated. I’m a little all over the board on this one. I definitely don’t consider myself an EBook consumer–I simply don’t buy enough of them. I’m over the average age of both print and eBook buyers according to this study. I don’t know if I’d call myself affluent, but I’m certainly earning enough to pay my bills and support my book buying habits. I have a Masters degree.

6. How do consumers learn about books? I’m a little off from the results on this last question. These days I usually hear about books I want to read from online sources –whether it’s online newsletters, blogs, or bookstore websites. Next would come suggestions from friends and family, then TV and/or radio interviews  (not mentioned on this infographic), and then  would come reading about new titles in actual print magazines or journals (again, not mentioned). Last would come in-store displays–which isn’t surprising since I’m not in actual bookstores that often. I rarely look at bestseller lists.

You can click on the graphic to read a brief written summary of the results on the Random House site.

What about you? Where do you fit in? Does anything about this infographic surprise you? Please share!

What REALLY Happens in a Bookstore at Night?


Just in case you may not have seen this gem of a video yet–please enjoy! You’ll never look at the books in a bookstore–or perhaps the books on your own shelves!–in quite the same way!
(Plus, the music is a great bonus!)

Credit: Type Books
883 Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario
(416) 366-8973)

Grayson Matthews
Sean Ohlenkamp (


Which Reading Species Are YOU???

Image credit: Laura E. Kelly

Image credit: Laura E. Kelly

We’re all READERS—but what species of reader are YOU? This wonderfully creative infographic is Laura E. Kelly’s take on the classic charts of plants and other living things that we all remember from high school. She’s cleverly adapted that theme to the classification of close to 50 (!) reader species—from people who view their books as precious display objects to readers who don’t really like to read!

Where do YOU fit in? You’ll definitely find yourself somewhere! Click on the image to link to the original site and view the chart at full size. If you wish, please leave a comment here to share which reading species matches up to your reading habits. It might be more than one–I think I’m a combo-pack of many! Enjoy!