Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Best Gift

I was going through last week's newspapers and I found this short article in the December 16th edition of Parade. I think it nicely fits into our conversations about our love of reading and how to pass it on.

The Best Gift To My Son

There's a nice list of Patterson's "Favorites for Every Child" at the end.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Love the Library!

I just had to write this quick post. In honor of being "officially" done with the semester (though unofficially I still have a few papers left to read and portfolios to assess), I paid a visit to the Waukegan Public Library. I had a printout of my "to-read" bookshelf from and a big cloth bag ready to hold my selections. Yippee!

Of course, my slightly underfunded library did not have many of the titles I was seeking but they did have some. Unfortunately, somebody had checked out Second Helping, the second Jessica Darling novel I was hoping to indulge in as my first bit of vacation reading. However, I found some great young adult titles (as well as some other mind candy) to take her place . . . for now. Here's what I came home with:

Bust: Kevin Bruen & Jason Starr
Size 12 is Not Fat: Meg Cabot
A Great and Terrible Beauty: Libba Bray
Hero: Perry Moore
Before I Die: Jenny Downham
Broken: Kelly Armstrong
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things: Carolyn Mackler
What My Mother Doesn't Know: Sonya Sones
The Protector's War: S. M. Stirling
Caucasia: Danzy Senna

There's nothing like coming home with a big bag of books . . . just waiting to be read. My inner ten-year-old is very, very happy at the moment and is quite content to ignore the house cleaning, bread baking, Christmas present wrapping, and holiday letter writing that needs to be done . . . for at least the next hour anyway.

Happy Reading and Happy Holidays all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Spring Fiction

This is not actually a post from JNJ, but EJ instead.  I see I was mentioned way back in the second post of this blog in July, so perhaps I can be an honorary contributor.  It sure beats grading.

Just a few weeks after I finally planted our garlic, the first seed catalog arrived in the mail, signaling the start of next year's gardening season.  J has been teasing me for reading it in bed before going to sleep at night, but what's not to like?  It's the Fedco Seeds catalog.  While not exactly literature, it does make for more entertaining reading than most seed catalogs.  And, as reading-about-gardening, it fills in the middle part of the Venn diagram for this blog.

Why should you, literate gardener, get a copy of this catalog?  Simply put, because it has a huge variety of interesting things to grow, written about in an interesting way.  The catalog is much less slick than the average seed catalog (e.g. Burpee) - it's black and white, on low-grade paper, with no photos, just line drawings.  At 138 pages of 10-point type, it packs in a lot of content.  But the best thing about this catalog is the tell-it-like-it-is way the plants are described.  Every entry gives a clear sense not only of how long things take to mature, but what they actually taste like (to the extent that that can be captured in words), and what their weaknesses are.  This, for me, brings back a feeling of small-town ways of doing business that I don't see around as much as I would like any more.  It's about knowing your product, and trusting your customers enough to give them the information, both positive and negative, that will let them make a good decision about what to buy.

For example, take the Early Girl tomato, a popular early hybrid.  As to flavor, Burpee says only "Bright red and meaty with a lot of flavor and aroma", but from Fedco, you get this

Ann Gerhart of the Washington Post claims, “The true tomatohead disdains the Early Girl…not great eating, your Early Girl, but first, yes.” Accordingly, this girl is well-loved by commercial growers who need heavy yields of good-looking slicing tomatoes early in the season when the market commands high prices. It was the highest yielder among 12 cultivars in a 2006 New Jersey trial, averaging 9.7 lb. per plant. Gerhart notwithstanding, Early Girl delivers fairly good flavor for such an early tomato—sweet, meaty with a hint of tartness. The slightly flattened bright crimson globes average 4-6 oz. with firm texture, blemish-resistant skin and a long production period.
Over and over again in the catalog, there's this great sense of what a particular variety is really like, from tomatoes that have a "smoky flavor like a good single malt scotch" but which "disintegrate like a hunk of road-kill" if they get too ripe (Black Krim tomatoes), to pumpkins that taste "insipid and watery" but which possess "spectacular beauty" (Rouge Vif d'Étampes pumpkins).

The amount of variety here, while excellent, isn't quite as over-the-top amazing as that from Seed Saver's Exchange (about which more in a later post, perhaps, when the catalog arrives), but it's plenty to keep me happy planning my small garden.  There are lots of other things to like in the catalog, too.  I like the fact that it includes both open-pollinated and hybrid varieties, and that you can in many cases order very small amounts of seed (e.g. 0.2-gram packets of tomato seed for $1.20).  If that's not enough, they have the other end of the scale, too - 28 grams of Brandywine tomato seed (probably about 9,000 seeds) for $42.  (As you may have gathered from the Early Girl description above, a lot of their customers are small commercial growers serving farmers' markets.)  As a teacher, I love this line in the "How Not to Order" section:  "We will return illegible or difficult-to-collate orders.  We will mail you the proper order form so you can try again."  Since Fedco is based in Maine, they carry a lot of short-season or cold-tolerant varieties, useful for those of you in colder climes (I'm lookin' at you, Minnesota).  

That's enough meta-gardening for tonight, I think; time to get in bed and plan for spring.

Golden Compass licensing

On a slightly different topic, but continuing on licensing agreements and subsidiary merchandise, I wasn’t surprised to see that there are now plush versions of the Golden Compass daemons at F.A.O. Schwarz. I was quite taken with the idea of having a stuffed armored polar bear, but I bet DJ is not the only one who would prefer the Lord Asriel doll (your very own Daniel Craig doll! Ooh!).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Post Harry

There was an interesting article in the New York Times this morning about Scholastic’s effort to keep Harry Potter-like cash cows in the pipeline. Scholastic will publish the first of a series of 10 books in September 2008, with the sequels scheduled to appear in 2-3 month intervals afterwards. What I find interesting is that there isn’t much that’s organic about this series: the individual books will be written by different authors (the first by Rick Riordan, so I hold out hope for something entertaining; I like his Percy Jackson books). And Scholastic will hold the rights to all subsidiary merchandise, of which there will be a lot: the article lists Web-based games, collectors’ cards, and cash prizes; no doubt there will be many, many more items if the books are a success.

While I’m excited at the prospect of a new series aimed at 8-12-year-olds, I’m feeling pretty unhappy about the way Scholastic is going about this. For all I know, maybe many books or series are the result of market research, but this just seems awfully cold and calculating and artificial to me.

Friday, December 14, 2007

More Book Ideas

This blog was sent to my by the Hobbled Runner... he loves to suggest new ideas for fertileplots. Take a look for interesting new Kids Books - but don't be mislead by the Kids concept. As we have proven here, there are many young adult titles that are worth reading.

M has listened to the Emma-Jean title, and pronounced it a real winner. We have the Hugo Cabret book - it is a beautiful book. Kids have pronounced the story a bit dark for their taste, but love the images. I, for one, and thrilled to have a graphic novel type book get this much acclaim. And Knuffle Bunny, who wouldn't love another one of those?

I shelve in the library at school. I love having the chance to see all these books and sometimes stop and read them! I also enjoy the fact that I can rattle of authors for many of these books, and can tell you exactly which shelf they go on!!

Let us know if you have enjoyed any of the books recommended in the Books for Kids blog. I haven't read much more than the post linked above, but it has great promise!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hooray for a community of readers!

Thinking about what Sara posted in response to my ill-fated train conversation, and being part of a community of readers…I just want to say, thank you all! I’m enjoying reading more than ever now that I have a group of like-minded friends with whom I can share my thoughts, and I’m inspired by seeing what you’re all reading. You have introduced me to new authors and books. I am now thinking more about the process of choosing reading material and articulating what I particularly liked (or didn’t like) about a specific book. The meta-reading part of all this is making me a more thoughtful reader, I think.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A, B, C, D...

My brother arrives in less than two weeks for the holidays! He always stays in the family room, so this afternoon, after work, I decided it needed a little attention. There were some books piled up (like poor HP#7) that haven't made it into a bookshelf yet. I pulled out some old college books--turns out the kids have never really needed to put their hands on any Flaubert or the collected works of John Donne. These move to the basement shelves, making it quite the literary looking space.

As my hands started shifting books along the shelves to make room for the half dozen I had to put in, I realized I was shifting alphabetically, automatically! Am I the only one? I've always alphabetized my books, but strictly by bookcase, not the whole room or anything.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Happy Birthday, HoldenJ!

I'm sending happy birthday greetings from the beautiful Northeast. Hope you're having a wonderful, relaxing birthday doing all the things you enjoy the most!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Train conversation

Yesterday I was on the train with a nodding acquaintance and started chatting. I really wanted to read my book, but it seemed impolite to pull it out, so our conversation continued after we had exhausted the usual topics related to our kids. Then he floored me by stating that he hates reading, never reads (except what he does for work, and newspapers), and thinks that books are overrated because he is always disappointed by them. At this point, I was trying to figure out how to get out of this was still 5 minutes from my station, and I couldn't just get off the train in far West Philly and still make it to work on time. I really didn't know what to say except, "Hmm, interesting you feel that way." Honestly, I think I was as horrified as if he had announced that he was a serial killer in his spare time. At least if that had been his confession, I would have known what steps to take. In this situation, though, I don't think that I can turn him in at the local police station.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Once a bookseller...

Previous post about buying books prompted me to share this amusing experience... a couple of days ago Hobbled Runner (hubby) and I had the rare occasion have having some time to spare - together - while waiting for the kids. We were near a newish independent bookstore owned by a not-to-be-named well known national radio show host who hails from Minnesota. It's a very cute cozy store in the basement of a Victorian era building. Not huge, but of course very well stocked with good books as opposed to mass market stuff. And not surprisingly, books by the radio show host/owner.

Anyway, as we were browsing, another customer asked for some books. The clerk wasn't familiar with the titles, (I sympathize, as I have been a bookseller), but he was rather inept in tracking them down. My ears perked up because one of the books the customer was seeking was published by the MHS Press- the publishers at the Historical Society. I work with their website, so am familiar with their titles.

I was finally so irritated with the inability of this clerk to find the book that I blurted out the name of the author from 4 rows over... rather irritating of me, I'm sure, but geez! I admit the name of the book escaped me at the moment, but I had the author, and he STILL had a hard time finding the book. (Have we ever heard of the internet???) Then it turns out that the author had been at the store the night BEFORE for a signing. So, in the end, I was wholly unimpressed with the staff at the store.

We bought a couple of books anyway - following my general guideline of either a) buying a book I really love or an author I really like; or b) a book that may take me a while to read so don't want to get from the library....

Monday, November 19, 2007


When I was a kid, I had some favorite books that I read over and over again. Sometimes I would close the back cover, flip the book over, and start again on the spot. So having my own copies of those favorite books was extremely important; how could I read Bambi, for instance, whenever I needed to, if I didn’t have my own copy? And then there was the pleasure of having a nice new book – paperbacks were good, but hardbacks were beyond luxurious.

I don’t buy nearly so many books now. My shelves are quite full, but more than anything else, I rarely re-read anymore. Even if I really love a book, it seems a waste to re-read it when there are so many things out there that I want to read. I still do occasionally: I re-read the Harry Potter books to prepare each time a new one came out, and every few years I read a Jane Austen or two. But mostly I just check things out from the library.

Do you re-read anything? And if so, what?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Do Good, Improve Vocabulary

Daughter came home with this cool website -

According to the site, it has two goals:

  1. Provide English vocabulary to everyone for free.
  2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.
Check it out. Donate rice. See if you can raise your vocabulary level.... I won't print mine here quite yet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Happy Birthday, DocJen!

Many happy returns of the day to you, and may you enjoy a good book and a glass of wine this evening!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

National Bundt Day

Bundt Cake Bliss
Did you know that November 15 is National Bundt Cake Day???? Really..... it really is. Watch Martha Stewart on the 15th to see for yourself!

I moved this conversation over to Fertile.... The thread commenced with JH putting the very fun Hot Dish Heaven cookbook in goodreads. (I have to admit a bias here - this book is published by my employer.) I then had to do a shameless plug for Bundt Cake Bliss.... (more bias here - not only is this published by my employer, but the author is a good friend. Read more about her in the Hobbled Runner story....) I admit I know far more about Bundts than I ever thought I'd want to.

So, then I come to learn something very interesting about our co-author julienj... did you know she has a "thing" about bundts? I've known her for well over 20 years, and NEVER knew that!!! Crazy! I want PICTURES of all your bundt pans!

If any of you, julienj in particular, wish to share any of your stories about bundts, please do so.... to go along with the publication of said book, we are collecting stories - it seems many people have secret obsessions or fond memories of Lutheran church dinners or grandma's favorite bundt! (Here are some more Bundt crazy people's comments on the Bundt)

p.s. julienj - I will put an autographed copy of the book in the mail for you if you can wait that long..... the reason you don't have many good recipes is that this is really only the 2nd Bundt cookbook ever published! isn't that ridiculous....

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Ahh, memories

After reading The Wednesday Wars, J was interested in reading some Shakespeare. I obligingly pulled out my Riverside, and although he had fun looking at it, deemed it too large to read in bed. We took a little trip to B&N and he picked out one of those little pb copies of Hamlet that you can buy. He hasn't read it yet, but it's in his pile (must be genetic, that pile!)

The whole situation, as it played out, reminded me so much of books I'd read as a kid that would lead me to other "real" books. I went out and bought Ivanhoe with my babysitting money, sure that I, too, would have to read it during some summer of highschool like Betsy and the Crowd at Deep Valley High. And wasn't Marmee always reading Pilgrim's Progress to the girls? Never read more than a few pages of either of those.

Do you remember books within books that you always wanted to read?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

YA reading

You all know how much I love YA books. Some I read because I’m trying to find good stuff for A, but to be honest I read most of it for myself.

Is this silly for a 42-year-old?

It’s not that I don’t like grown-up books. And not just chick lit, either.

And yet, when I’m on the train, I find myself surreptitiously covering the title of my YA books in case someone (adult) sees what I’m reading. I don’t do that if I’m reading a “real” book.

Is this just me?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Movies and plays

Movie topic #1: Saw the preview for The Golden Compass today. I read the trilogy a few years ago - long enough that I realize I'm going to have to reread the books. I admit the movie looks intriguing - beautifully done, visually stunning, etc. I know we've been discussing - on goodreads? are you all planning on seeing it?

Movie topic #2: (can we write about non-book related movies?) Just took my Girl Scouts to see Hairspray. 2 liked it, 2 didn't, 2 were indifferent. The adults loved it. Great music, preachy story line, but hey. And who can't help but giggle seeing John Travolta in drag....

Play: M and I saw Lion King on Thursday - not the movie, the Broadway over-production. I was totally hoping to hate it. Disney, overdone, etc. Just like I used to get so annoyed with the Guthrie for their big huge over productions. But I couldn't hate it. I tried. The costumes were truly stunning, and visually it was quite a treat. The first scene really is quite impressive. A couple of the actors had amazing voices - gotta love that. So, while I did end up really enjoying the experience, I still refused to pop for a $45 t-shirt. ugh. Some things are still overdone........

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


With Halloween approaching, I thought of a seasonal topic: literary Halloween costumes.

This came to mind because I was recently reading Spilling Clarence by Anne Ursu; one of the characters, a precocious 9-year-old girl, insists on being Gandhi for Halloween. Her father has to talk her into wearing an extra layer to keep her warm in a Minnesota October, and talk her out of the necessity of having hand-loomed fabric. Her costume is described as follows:
“Sophie wears a tan leotard and tights (Bennie’s victory) under a white cloth wrapped around her like a toga. Her thin blond hair is plastered against her head, and she wears little round glasses from The Thrift Shop. Gramma helped her make a little mustache this morning.”

She is contrasted with other kids who are, among others, Uberman, Piranhasaurus, and Dementia; and Nilknarf and Zalfutz from the musical Alienz. In real life, too, a vast preponderance of costumes on the market are licensed characters – I just spent some scary time wandering through Halloween Adventure stores looking for costumes that I could deconstruct for my kids.

Are there any characters that would make good Halloween costume subjects? And are there any other good literary descriptions of costumes?

BTW, T is going to be Herakles – we bought a lion costume on eBay that he can wrap around as a cloak. A is going for the even more obscure: he will be Argos, the 100-eyed guard of Io. It turns out that the eyeballs we bought don’t stick with hot glue, so guess who is sewing 98 eyeballs onto a hat and sweatpants for him?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Do I or Don't I?

I need a bit of advice, o fellow book readers!

I am about 1/2 way through Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Given its immense popularity and "hipness," I am embarrassed to admit I am seriously considering stopping..... I'm not sure I can endure another "I'm such a cool high school kid with a bottle of vodka doing stupid things" chapter.

Someone tell me... does it get better? Come on, we know Hannah is going to die, so when does that happen? Can we get going? Is it worth hanging in there?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

End of summer gardens

I'm going to take a tangent from books to gardens for a post.... we are very near the end of the gardening season, and as much as I love gardening, I also love this time of year when I don't have to! I'm not sure I'd be as enthusiastic a gardener in a climate where I could work all year round....

In the last few weeks, I have a newly planted delphinium blooming for the 2nd time - what a trooper! I picked the last few tomatoes - they won't get any riper outside, that's for sure. And, here's to show you that you really should procrastinate -- I actually planted my bulbs on time this year - in mid-September. But guess what - my crocuses are COMING UP already! I'm not sure that's a good sign!

My rain garden is getting a good workout these last few weeks. I ended up changing the berms to force the overflow to go around my year-old Japenese lilac tree. I think it was getting a bit too much water....


I just picked up ten books from the my reserve area of the library today and there are six or seven sitting around the house! (curse my memorization skills and that darn personalized library barcode!) How do you decide what to read next? Much of the time I feel constrained by the non-renewable books and have to read them first, even if I'm not necessarily in the mood for them.

I find stopping for a bit, reading EW and watching Heroes takes some of the pressure off the sight of the Stack. I'm enjoying the goodreads world with you all, but boy, it adds to that growing list at the library!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"The Seeker"

Ever since “The Seeker” came out, I’ve been thinking a lot about books that get made into movies – specifically childhood favorites that are butchered during the transition from page to screen. I didn’t have high hopes for The Dark is Rising making a successful transfer, and when I re'ad reviews mentioning an army of snakes led by an albino cobra (!!!), I knew that this was one movie I’d skip.

My jaundiced views about film adaptations date to childhood. I wasn’t a big movie-goer, and I’m not sure when it occurred to me that books sometimes became movies. I’m quite sure that I didn’t see “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971) on its first run because I saw it at the University Theater in Berkeley, a funky old theater that showed a different double feature every day. Also, I’m pretty sure that I first read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2nd grade, and I saw the movie after that. In any case, I remember it as one would remember some traumatizing event of one’s youth – it ranks up there with the death of my pet fish. From the first moment that Gene Wilder walked onto the screen as Willy Wonka, I sat in outrage. How, how, how could the filmmakers have gotten it all wrong? Willy Wonka didn’t look like that. The title was incorrect. And on and on. The final indignity was the great glass elevator, which wasn’t all clear, but instead looked like a gilded garlic clove.

This should have prepared me for the animated version of Charlotte’s Web in 1973. I badgered my mother to take me to it when it was first released, full of misguided expectations that I would see something that matched my inner visuals. This experience is not branded into my memory the same way as “Willy Wonka” is, but I do remember my mother grumbling about my ingratitude when I complained all the way home about the inferior adaptation.

Since then, I have avoided movies based on my favorites…Disney’s version of The Black Cauldron? Skipped it. “A Ring of Endless Light,” with Mischa Barton as Vicky Austin? No way.

And yet, I have found that I don’t have to dismiss all adaptations. When I saw the first Harry Potter movie, I was thrilled because it looked exactly the way I had imagined – the Great Hall with its long tables and floating candles most of all. I know that movie was criticized for its slavish following of the book, but for me, it was just what was needed; the subsequent movies have departed more from the sequels, but they retain the overall look and feel of the originals, and so I have enjoyed them as well. Have I mellowed as I get older? Or do I just have a different perspective because of my field, in which I regularly read interpretations of ancient texts? When it comes to ancient works, I understand that translations are acts of interpretation, and I may or may not agree with the translators’ priorities. In addition, I regularly teach that myth in antiquity was fluid and changed in retellings according to the requirements of genre and generation. So why not modern film adaptations?

With this new perspective, I’ve been able to watch some film versions of beloved childhood stories. The live-action “Charlotte’s Web” from 2006 retained the look of the Garth Williams illustrations in my well-thumbed volume, and I have to admit that I didn’t really notice changes from the text, although there surely were some. And to my delight, Tim Burton’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005) finally exorcised the demons raised by the earlier version. Burton restored the original title, but in fact his rendering is even further from the original than the Gene Wilder one: his phantasmagoric version is interspersed with Willy Wonka’s troubled flashbacks, and the Oompa Loompas perform a whole series of genre song ‘n’ dance spectacles. But it works. It’s funny, irreverent, and I loved it. Oh, and the great glass elevator looks right.

But I’m still not going to go see “The Seeker.”

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Red Legg'd Scissorman

Don't you love odd coincidences? This character, the Red Legg'd Scissorman, one I've never heard of, is in the last two books I've picked up - The Fourth Bear and The Adventures of Inspector Lestrade. Isn't that odd?

For background, this character is threatened by parents to come and cut off kids' thumbs if they suck their thumb. Lovely. As both these books are written by Brits, I figured this was some British folk tale thing. A little research reveals that no, it's really German. It's from the Struwwelpeter stories by Heinrich Hoffman written in 1845. Creepy little teach-your-children-a-lesson stories. And stories I researched when I worked at a Victorian house museum - they are very Victorian.

Now, I find it even more odd that this character is in both these books....

p.s. check out the cover of The Fourth Bear on the link above - I want that U.K. hardcover version!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Author's Lists

Since we've been doing this little blog and keeping our virtual lists on, I found it interesting to look through an author's book list!

While researching discussion questions for tomorrow's work book club meeting on The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, (which I read 4 months ago and will have a very hard time remembering the fabulous details that make this book sing...yikes) I ran across Ayelet Waldman's website. She has a very interesting list of books she's reading. In case I ever run out of ideas, huh???

I do frequent Laurie R. King's blog, but that's about it for author sites. Anyone have any favorite author sites?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Meg Murray, Will Stanton, & Mr. Rochester

Last week, I was sad to read in the NYTimes online that Madeline L'Engle died. I've been thinking a lot about her and A Wrinkle in Time ever since because AWIT was one of those stories that strongly imprinted my childhood imagination. I received the book from my grandmother on my 10th birthday. Here's what the inscription on the inside of cover of my slightly yellow-paged hardcover says:

To Jennifer. A very special book* for a very special young lady on her tenth birthday. Love Grammy. 11/13/75

* I attended the Newberry-Caldecott dinner at which M. L'Engle received the Newberry and spoke. I've saved this book purchased at that time for you--altho in 1963 you weren't around. Keats won the Cadecott for The Snowy Day, which was your first book.

My copy is not a first edition. It's a fouth printing from 1963, complete with the gold Newberry award seal on its plastic-coated cover (very library circa the 60's and 70's). Yet . . . do I even need to say that it is priceless?

I love the idea that in 1963, my grandmother is picking out books for the granddaughter (granddaughters) she didn't even know she would have. It would be another year and half before my parents would meet in a crowded bar in Grinnell, Iowa (or so the story I've been told goes). I was less than a glimmer, less than a possibility, yet my reading life was already being created. How could I not have become a book addict?

Another memory springs to mind. It's 1976 and Kris Z. and I are playing Barbies with a doll house that my mom helped me make out of an old white bookshelf--each cubby in the shelf is a separate room. Only Kris and I don't have Barbie dolls. I have a Sunshine Family doll--the mother with blonde, shiny hair--and we have tons of animal figurines, including a light brown Great Dane, made out of this "pleather" like material. We're not playing a typical Barbie scenario. We're playing Dr. Who. The blonde doll is Josephine Grant, the Doctor's assistant. We don't have a doll that can adequately represent The Doctor so we pretend that a freak lab accident has rendered him invisible. And the Great Dane . . . we call him Mr. Rochester (from a book we read that I have now forgotten but should try to google). Looking back, I love that we are cutting and pasting from books and TV to create a world that is all our own. Embarrassingly geeky but . . . ours. No picking out the perfect outfit or worrying about whether Ken will call. We're fighting the ultimate evil . . .of course.

What's the connection between this memory and A Wrinkle in Time? Looking back, I realize that books by Madeline L'Engle, Susan Cooper, and even C.S. Lewis pulled me into their worlds and made me want to be a superhero, to have magic adventures, to save the world, etc. And if I'm honest with myself, that 10 year-old-self has never completely gone away.

So, until the magic adventure strikes, I'll tune into the next season of Heroes, watch old Buffy DVDS, and sneak young adult fiction out of the public library.

Thank you Madeline and viva la imaginacion!

(Post-Google Info: Mr. Rochester is the name of the Great Dane in L'Engle's book, Meet the Austins. If you're wondering, Fortinbras is the name of the dog in A Wrinkle in Time.)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Harry Potter - First Media Appearance!

According to Jason Kottke , one of those made famous by blogs, this is the first mention of our dear friend Harry in the New York Times on Dec. 17, 1998:
The other books on the fiction best-seller list are ''The Night Before Christmas'' (Putnam) by Clement C. Moore and ''Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'' (Scholastic) by J. K. Rowling, certainly closer to belles lettres than Ms. Curtis's work.

Certainly not the last!!

Also intriguing is Kottke's blog that the NYT has made 150 years of its articles available for free. A researchers paradise!

(Tip courtesy the Hobbled Runner.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wild Quinine

Sounds pretty wild, huh? Just got a new plant from a neighbor who is digging out (!) her garden! Egad!! The owner before her was a huge gardener and planted a variety of interesting things. It was very fun to watch through the summer. The new owner wasn't interested, so offered the plants to her gardener neighbors. We happily saved almost everything!

There was one plant I didn't recognize, so ignored at first. However, it kept drawing me back. On the last possible day, I dug it up, thinking I'd get someone to identify it or look online. Fortunately, the original gardener had planted the id tag with the plant!

It's wild quinine, or American feverfew. Turns out it's a native plant, good for my native plant raingarden. Perfect!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Disappointed and moving on

I finally finished, well sort of, the latest Maisie Dobbs installment, Messenger of Truth. I really, really wanted to like it. But, it didn't live up to my expectations. I actually skimmed the last 50+ pages to get to the end. Oddly, there were many subplots in the story that ended up leading no where, the romance fizzled quite unremarkably and unbelievably, and an intentional tear jerker child death really detracted from the point of the book. Oh well, I'll move on and hope the next book in the series is better!

Now I'm on to a choice. Two of my book clubs meet the last week of September. In one, I'm leading the discussion of Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. I read this last spring. It was amazing. Truly amazing. One of the only books recently that I've found with that true "I can't put it down!" spirit. It's a long book, so I wanted to read fast. But you can't. It's dense, tiny type (what - 8 point???) but you want to, have to, read every single word. So, do I have to reread it to lead the discussion?

My other bookclub is reading Atonement by Ian McEwan. I've just started, but it, too, seems dense and not a quick read. Why are all my book clubs picking books I have to think about? Give me Lorna Landvick! or the Mermaid's Chair or something I can read fast when I'm nearly asleep. (OK - this is how out of it I am .... I see that Atonement has just been released as a movie. Maybe that's why it was picked....)

Opinions, please? Which to read first?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Not Just Another Teen Movie

This last week I finished two books that I really enjoyed, but they also reminded me of how happy I am not to be a teenager. The worlds of Jessica Darling and Philip Noble are continents and genres apart, but yet they meshed well. That's a good thing since I was bopping back and forth between them.

The Dead Father's Club by Matt Haig reads like the love child of Hamlet and Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. The story is a reworking of Hamlet only the Danish prince is eleven-year-old Philip Noble, who lives in Newark-on-Trent (which incidently is the town where the author grew up). The novel is written entirely from Philip's point of view and in his hurried, slightly scattered, punctuation-free voice. Philip first sees his dead father in the family pub. Philip's father reveals many things to him--that he was killed by Philip's uncle (the car accident was no accident), that there is actually a club for fathers who have been murdered, and that if Philip doesn't exact revenge on his uncle by his father's birthday, his dad will be consigned to "The Horrors" (a sort of ghost hell). How Philip deals with this while at the same time living the stressful adolescent life of a middle-schooler (bullies, girls, etc) makes for a intriguing tale. I loved the echoes of Hamlet, which I then wanted to re-read to look for echoes of The Dead Father's Club, but I liked how Haig wasn't constrained by the original.

By the way, Matt Haig's website is fun. There's a humorous (though I don't know if it's supposed to be) tour of Newark-on-Trent led by Haig and some sort of literary reporter. The questions about the town are uttered in such a tone of impassioned seriousness, that I couldn't watch it without snickering.

Switching gears from Newark-on-Trent to Pineville, New Jersey . . . which is the setting of Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. I believe the novel is classified in many libraries as Young Adult (and I'm a big fan of the YA genre) but I think that this novel is for anybody who experienced angst and embarrassment and alienation in high school (so pretty much everybody, yeah?). Jessica Darling, our hero, is smart, sarcastic, a track star, and having a really bad sophmore year. Her best friend, Hope, has recently moved away, and Jessica is realizing how alone she really is--her other friends don't really feel like her friends, her mother is fixated on her older, blonder sister's upcoming nuptials, and her dad seems only able to talk to her about running. She has a wicked crush on a senior, who doesn't know she exists (because she's never actually spoken to him.)

It's the usual teen angst, but funneled through a really strong point of view--Jessica's. I suspect this is the type of book that would get banned at the high school level because it talks most realistically about teen sex, drug use, etc. but that is part of it's power I think. There is a touch of the romance/chick lit genre in the story, but I don't think that's a bad thing. It just means one of the plots focuses on a developing relationship, and I have no problem with my main characters getting some action.

I would say Jessica Darling is a tribute to Molly Ringwald's character in Sixteen Candles. At one point, Jessica even references the John Hughes oeuvre (yes, had to check the spelling of that in the dictionary). If you always wondered what happened to that character after the movie ended (when she realized that hunky gymnast was a bit boring), this is the perfect book for you.

The book does end a bit suddenly for me, but the good news is that McCafferty has already finished Charmed Thirds so I don't have to say goodbye to Jessica Darling yet.

I highly recommend spending time with both these characters--their voices are still echoing in my head.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Black Hills Reading

Just back from our adventure to the Black Hills. As J. told me earlier in the summer, we had a blast. Tons and tons to do - we merely scratched the surface. Now that we have done a few of the requisite "touristy" things, we'd like to go back and spend more time doing the outdoorsy stuff. We even, much to our surprise, think we might (might) consider camping. EGAD!

The garden aspect of this trip was fabulous. Prairie plants galore!! After I've had time to go through the pictures, I'll do a bit of prairie writing. Unfortunately, it has been extremely dry this summer, so the prairies weren't quite as colorful as usual. But I still learned a ton.

We arrived home last night having driving through storms near St. Peter that had the night before washed out roads near where were staying by Custer State Park, and a few hours after we drove through them, killed people near Winona, MN. Needless to say, we are grateful to be home. It was not a fun drive.

However, books. I did not have as much time to read or listen to books as I had thought. We were busy! I did get to finish a book I had read previously - the third title in Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series, Pardonable Lies. I had forgotten most of the details. Rereading a book can be a good thing - you get to enjoy it all over again. This series does not have quite the grab for me as the Mary Russell books, but they are enjoyable. The writing is fine, not fabulous, and the mysteries somehow always end up being intertwined. Amazing coincidences are commonplace. Now, this doesn't seem to be a resounding endorsement, but I have found the characters likable and spending time in fictional post-WWI England has been educational.

(If I had stayed in teaching, I wanted to develop a course to teach history through fiction. Well written historical fiction can be a great teaching tool -- some people, including me, learn history much better through stories, rather than chronological texts. This is a basis for the field of "public history" - and I expect I could work up a freestanding blog entry on this subject alone. )

Thursday, August 16, 2007

School's in Session

It had to happen. The summer ended for me this Monday when I was called back to the college where I work for "Orientation Week." Classes start next week (which I am excited about), but this week I have gotten to sit through meeting after meeting. It's not that the information I'm learning isn't interesting or useful, but after so many hours spent SITTING in room after room, I have the brain power of a turnip (or maybe a squash!)

Still . . . I'm reading and in a rather "sluttish" way, to quote my friend, Nell. I'm halfway through The Bourne Supremacy and also halfway through The Good, the Bad, and the Undead. As if that weren't enough, I've been coquettishly eyeing The Dead Father's Club--a book I picked up from my local library (and that I have 14 Days, well 8 days now . . . to read). I have to say that this work thing is really getting in the way of my reading. Sigh.

Anyway, I'm enjoying The Bourne Supremacy partly because it is so different from the Doug Liman/Paul Greengrass film versions. There is no way they could film this novel (or the one before it) so they just took the basic premise and built a new filmic text around it. Robert Ludlum writes in such a detailed/dense way that I often finding myself having to slow down. Though I loved Franke Potente's (sp?) Marie in the movie, she's even better in the book . . . and I'm hoping she lives longer. :(

I am also enjoying the second book in Kim Harrison's series about an alternate universe version of greater Cincinnati populated with witches, vampires, and other supernatural creatures. It's just fun. I devoured the first one, Dead Witch Walking, and am happy to see that there are many more in the series waiting for me. It's got that "Buffy" sense of horror, romance, and lots of humor.

I have not had a moment this week to go out and take some snaps of my garden in all its overgrown craziness. It's pretty much a vegetable jungle at this point and will serve as a nice contrast to S's lovely flower bed.

Happy reading all!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Gardens, finally

I've been meaning to do a quick garden post, since we intended to blog a bit about gardens, as well as books.

I recently hired the daughter of a colleague of mine to come and do some garden work. She's a junior in college. And I made her work outside in the 90+ degree weather! I am so grateful - she dug beds for me that I've been wanting to dig for 5 years!

We also dug a new rain garden. I'm obsessed with rain gardens. We don't have any water problems, but I think they are nifty. The point of them is to have a low bowl shaped area where the rain collects. The plants and low area help absorb the water, preventing too much runoff into storm sewers, parking lots, or houses.

I dug one last year, but we expanded it. Now I have the fun part of deciding which plants to plant. Unlike most of my gardens, I'm actually going to plan out the rain garden. Certain plants like to be in the low area (swamp milkweed and cardnial flower, both of which are barely visible in the background of this picture.) Others prefer to be on the edge, such as blazing star, lupine or little bluestem.

This is a picture of the newly dug area. The Japenese lilac is in the "dry" edge. I'll be filling in the wood chipped area this fall. More pictures then!

Laurie R. King VBC

I believe I mentioned Laurie R. King in a recent post, and today have come across a mention of a Virtual Book Club for her titles. Pretty nifty. I've been on a listserv for the Mary Russell series for a couple of years, and it has been very entertaining. I have enjoyed reading the posts and analysis from readers all over the world, and have also really enjoyed getting recommendations of other books to read.

Looks like there is a new Laurie King book coming out this year, titled, Touchstone. (link is to her blog about the book....) It is not a Mary Russell or Kate Martinelli book, however. Oh well. I am hopeful - it sounds interesting. I admit I have not enjoyed a couple of her stand alone titles - Folly, A Darker Place. I did really enjoy Califia's Daughter's , though.

I will be absent from this blog for a few days -- we are heading to the Black Hills. I just hope it's not 100 degrees all week! I have picked up Holes by Louis Sachar, and The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler to take along as audio books for our trip. Should be fun!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Kid Lit

From time to time, you may find me discussing kid's books. Now, most of these books I read to the kidlets. And, once in awhile, I really, really like the book!

Take the one I'm reading right now to the 7-year old... "Joe Sherlock, Kid Detective: Case 000003." I love Sherlock Holmes pastiches - even more than I like the Canon. The best, of course, is the Mary Russell series by Laurie King. (I'm sure J and I would welcome a discussion of these books at some point....) But, I must admit, this Joe Sherlock is entertaining.

Yes, it's written to entertain the 7-year old. Some crude body humor; 2-3 grade sentence structure; etc., but what a fun way to make it entertain the parents, too! This kid is a detective, loves Sherlock Holmes. His last name just happens to be Sherlock, and he goes by Sherlock. He happens to live in Baskerville, on Baker Street, and his arch nemisis is a girl named Irene Adler. I'm sure I'm missing more, because I am in no way an expert on the Canon (I told you- I prefer the pastiches!!)

However, I am going to use this to try to read a few of the stories to the 7-year old. I think he'd find a few of them entertaining..... any suggestions from any Holmes fans out there?

How Do You Know When to Stop Reading?

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot since I finished Chris Bohjalian’s The Double Bind. He’s the guy who wrote the book, Midwives, which I haven’t read but which people keep recommending to my sister (because she’s in the process of becoming a midwife.) I had put the book on my “to read” list after it was featured as a Powell’s Bookstore Daily Dose. The description was intriguing—a homeless man’s photos suck a young social worker into a more complicated mystery—involving identity and reality.

However, as I started to read, the book left me curiously cold. I never really connected with the main character—not because she wasn’t likable and interesting but because the author never really put me in her head in any useful way. I felt like I was reading a cliff notes version of the actual story. I almost stopped reading a number of times—especially because I have a tantalizing pile of books “to be read” sitting on my shelf. However, I must have a deep-seated need not to be seen as a “quitter” because I kept slogging away.

When I finished the novel, I wondered why I had bothered. I won’t give any plot points away, but I literally wanted to throw the book against the wall. (However, it was a library book so I refrained.) The basic plot of the book has so much potential as a literary (literate) thriller but the execution was . . . bah!! In the hands of writers like Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, or Harlen Coben, this story could have worked and worked well. If you’re going to write a “thriller,” you have to work to make it suspenseful and complexly structured (dare I say, “thrilling”) and “point of view” is important. Bohjalian gives us multiple viewpoints but they don’t enhance the story much (and they end up making the reader feel cheated . . . or at least this reader.)

My advice is to skip this book and go read Laura Lippman’s What the Dead Know or Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane.

So, what makes you all stop reading? Or, do you slog through no matter how dismal or unenjoyable a book is? Is that the literary equivalent of eating something because it’s supposed to be good for you? I don’t know. Sometimes I start reading a book but lose interest only to pick the book up later and really enjoy it. This is different, though. How bad does a book have to get for you to stop?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Cabin Break

Took a little respite for a cabin trip. We went with two high school friends and their families. 8 kids between 4 - 10; 6 adults. A great time was had by all. But very little Harry Potter discussion! The two friends are both teachers - one 2nd grade, the other is middle school. Neither of them have read more than Sorcerer's Stone. So, not much discussion. I think they thought I was a bit nutty being so obsessed.... their loss!

To address some of J.'s points.... I concur that I liked the epilogue. It somehow put the whole story in a good place. It was so dark in spots, that I think I needed to know that good won out over evil. And come on, aren't we all a bit curious about what everyone ended up doing later? Good thing J.K. Rowling suggests in her interviews that she may do a Harry Potter encyclopedia!

I admit, I was curious about who raised Teddy Lupin. No, I didn't really HAVE to know, but I am curious. Interesting tidbits in the interview with J.K. about why Tonks and Lupin died....

I love the concept of a "Scooby gang!" It is a very fitting analogy for life, too. I often find that reconnecting with my Scooby Gang is highly beneficial for my happiness. This weekend, for example. One of the moms, K, I've known since 3rd grade. Mind you, we did not like each other much for some of that year, but quickly became friends. We've known C. since 10th grade when she beat us at cross country, but we got even by making her go out for the ski team.

Back to Deathly Hallows. I saw a letter to the editor from someone who hadn't read the books, as J. said, because of their evil anti-Christian witchcraft stance. As a non-Christian, I actually found this book following that angle - Harry is killed for the good of the world, then is risen? Hmmmm... sounds familiar.

My 10-year old just started listening to Deathly Hallows. Jim Dale is wonderful! I'll let you know how she reacts to the book. I am not letting my 7-year old read/listen to it yet. He's still on GOF, and I think I'll leave him there for awhile.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Writer's Block

Yesterday morning, I sat down at my computer, fully expecting to write a post about the final installment of Harry Potter, but I couldn’t. I kept going back to the TV and flipping between coverage of the 35W bridge collapse on the Today Show and CNN. Ironically, I had heard the news the night before on BBC Radio while driving home from the gym. When I got home, I turned on the TV and, shades of September 11th, ended up watching CNN coverage until about 11 pm. Though I no longer live in the Twin Cities, many of my friends do—including S. I fired off a bunch of emails of the “Is everyone all right?” variety, but in the morning, I still hadn’t heard back from many folks. So, I found it impossible to think about Harry in any concrete or organized way.

It’s a day later and I just read S’s post. Most of my friends have checked in and said they were all right and so I’m breathing a bit easier. I definitely agree with S’s sentiment about appreciate what you have . . . NOW. It was in this idea that I came back to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.


Overall, I thought JK did a good job of wrapping things up, keeping some things nicely complicated, but also emphasizing themes that have been in the books from the very beginning. I didn’t mind the epilogue because I thought it struck a successful balance of giving us a glimpse of the future for many characters but not telling us too much. Do we really need to know Hermione’s job title? I don’t. Do we need to know who raised Teddy Lupin? I don’t. I guess I like some things left to the imagination.

For all those who have refused to read the Harry Potter books because of their “Satanic” nature, they are missing a series that strongly emphasizes “family values,” both the importance of family and friendship. Perhaps I have been primed to see these elements because of time spent in the Buffyverse (gotta love that term!). Like Buffy, Harry successfully defeats Voldemort not just because of his own individual qualities, but because of his relationships with others, Ron and Hermione in particular. They are his “Scooby gang.” He is so much more with them (and with Luna and Neville and so on) than without them.

This book, combined with recent events, reminds me of the importance of my own Scooby Gang, no matter how separated we are now by distance. I wrote a long overdue email to a friend in the Twin Cities this morning because I realized we hadn’t talked in while, and I wanted to reconnect. It’s so easy to let relationships go when life gets in the way, but I’ll take a cue from Harry and try not to let that happen.

Hmm. What would Buffy do? What would Harry do? Not bad.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Day of Perspective

A posting off our intended topics, but one that should bring us all to pause and appreciate all that we have.

The Twin Cities has been dealing with something "that doesn't happen here." But it did. The collapse of the 35W bridge over the Mississippi has profoundly shaken my world. Fortunately, no one that I know personally was hurt, but I do know people who were near the bridge, and so many people I know use that bridge frequently. We used the bridge regularly - it was the route of choice for trips to downtown Minneapolis and choir rehearsals; Children's Theater/MIA adventures; and the "Over the River" trips to both grandparent homes. The bridge had a beautiful view of downtown Minneapolis. I'd quiz the kids - what building is that? They loved to pick out the new Guthrie, Mill City Museum and the Stone Arch Bridge. And now the bridge is gone. And I could have easily been on the bridge.

Stop and take a few minutes to appreciate all you have.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Mischief Managed!

It's done. I finished it. No more new Harry! Ever!!!

So, let the discussions begin!

I agree with J. I was highly satisfied with the resolution. I went through my share of kleenexes on the way there, and admit that I had to stop from time to time throughout the book as I found it very intense. I should've known better than to finish it at night right before going to sleep -- it took quite awhile to stop processing it and just fall asleep. Ahh...but knowing the resolution was reassuring.

Did you know that the "continuity editor" of the HP series at Scholastic is a Carleton grad? Significantly younger than us, but you can read her blog - it's quite interesting. SPOILER ALERT, however, if you chose to take that link. Scroll to the July 26 posting - great links to interviews with Ms. Rowling, where she tells all!! And, I see, there is potential for MORE Harry to come!!

I find I'm not quite ready to discuss. Isn't that odd? J - would you like to start?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Power of Lists

How do I know what I read 20-something years ago? It certainly isn't from memory because I can barely remember things from last week, let alone decades ago. No. Some time after graduating from college, I picked up one of those bound blank books Crate N Barrel was selling at the time and started to write down the titles and authors of books I had read. Ever have that experience of picking up a book, starting to read, and going,"Hey! Have I read this one already?" I suspect it's the curse of reading mystery series--even if they have letters or numbers to help you keep them straight. So, in order to avoid that, I started to keep track.

Though I'm sure I missed books here and there (and I did not include books I read in either of my graduate programs), I've pretty much been filling this little book ever since. On the inside cover, I've also recorded the addresses and phone numbers of the places I've lived (and in which reading has taken place). Twelve different locations in the last two decades!! That's not counting the house we sublet that summer. Happily, the last address on the list should remain the same for awhile. Tenure and a mortgage payment will do that. :) I just counted, and I have about 16 pages left in the book which means a couple more years of reading at least.

My recommendation is to start keeping track. It's fun to look back and see what you've read and when. I can also see what books I like to re-read from time to time. I've gone back and re-read various Harry Potter titles just before the next has come out and every two years or so, I read Emma Bull's War for the Oaks, a sentimental favorite for so many reasons. (A topic for a future post, perhaps . . . what do you re-read and why).

As for the final installment of Harry, take your time and savor it. I know that feeling of "not wanting it to end" very well. It's how I know a book (or movie or TV show) has really captured me. I don't want to leave the fictional world (Hogwarts, Sunnydale, etc.) and in many ways, the fictional world clings to me for days/weeks afterwards. That's the draw of good stories for me. I like to escape.

Happy reading!

Monday, July 30, 2007

I'm Reading as Fast as I Can!!!

First, I cannot believe J. know what books she read xx years ago in the hot house. So THAT'S what you were doing instead of cleaning the baseboards, huh??? :-)

Just how do you remember all those books? I'm awfully impressed. I have a horrible time when my bookclub at work does their December meeting where everybody has to say their favorite non-bookclub book they read that year! I truly have a hard time remembering! Maybe this blog will help.....

And on to Hogwarts.... I have to admit, I dug into it hesitantly. Do you get the Sally Forth comic strip? (by a Minnesotan, by the way) Last week, the teen-age daughter Hillary was having a breakdown because it was over...the LAST Harry Potter book...whatever will she do? I realize I was feeling the exact same way. I was so hesitant to pick it up, because that meant it was all over.

But, pick it up I did. I figure I'm going to have a hard time avoiding spoilers for much longer (which I have done quick successfully so far) and that it would be fun to discuss it while the discussions were fresh. So, up to the cabin I went - where I read them as they've come out, starting with Goblet of Fire. I quick finished HBP, then, slowly, hesitantly, tiptoed into it. I was so lucky to be able to read it in my all time favorite reading spot - the HAMMOCK! Should've had someone take a picture of me....

I'm almost done, but not quite. It's stressful!!! I had to take breaks every few chapters! and then I ran out of time.... so hopefully in the next few days. Then, we can break loose! Thanks for being patient, J.!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tag . . . You're It

I suppose it's cliche to begin with, "This is my first blog entry," but hey . . . it's my first blog entry. S. and I decided we wanted to blog about books because we both read voracioiusly (and in my case, rather indiscriminately). We've been throwing book recommendations back and forth for a while now, so we thought we'd enjoy something more official and electronic. The gardening idea/theme got tossed in at the last minute. I must admit that I am not really a gardener . . . I just have a garden. I have mastered the weeding and watering thing but other than that, I look to S. for advice. However, I did send some "gloating" pictures to S. earlier of my basil and peppers and as a result, "Fertile Plots" was born.

On to books. I will do my best to utter no Harry Potter spoilers in this entry and the best way to do that is just not to mention anything Hogwarts related. For now. Instead, I'll look to the past. Many years ago (and only S and I know how many), we sublet a house for the summer with our friend, Eric. The owners had gone off to work at one of the national parks that summer and as a result, we got a fully furnished place for pretty cheap. I had the bedroom that was the office/library and it was crammed with books. That summer, which was incredibly hot, I remember sweating a lot and when I wasn't working, reading an odd assortment of books from these shelves. Here's a partial list:

Confess Fletch: Gregory McDonald
Class Reunion: Rona Jaffe
A Fairly Honourable Defeat: Iris Murdoch
American Dad: Tama Janowitz
Absolute Beginners: Colin Macinnes
Coyote: Lynn Vannucci
Nights at the Circus: Angela Carter

The list goes on (because I read a lot that summer) but I don't remember much about any of these books except they represent my continuing love of all types of fiction. As one of my tutors wrote in her literacy narrative a few years ago, I'm a "book slut." It's not that I don't have standards; I just cast a pretty wide net. Hopefully, this blog will help me to remember what I read this summer when I look back 10 years from now. We'll see. Hurry up, S. I want to talk about Harry.

Well, off to a baseball game. More later.

Friday, July 27, 2007

And we're off!

We hatched this idea for a blog about books.... and now we're going to add gardens, too! Thanks to the co-author for the fabulous title.

And it is perhaps fitting that we can start things off with our friends at Hogwarts- only not yet!! I am saving the book to read this weekend at the lake, so hopefully upon my return we can discuss it. So far, I have successfully avoided spoilers, but I know it won't last. Plus I'd like to discuss while the topic is fresh with everyone. I'll let you know when I'm done. I'm greatly relieved to hear my blog co-author is pleased with the outcome....

As for this weekend, I am going to finish listening to Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde in the car. It was a very enjoyable way to speed up my trip last weekend, and I'm looking forward to finishing it. Lots of details in it that I had forgotten, and one part that went over my head when I read it. At one point, Thursday is doing something with Humpty Dumpty. She mentions that she can never tell his neck from his waist. I know, I know where that's from! It's from Alice in Wonderland..... M did the play last fall, so I know the script well. It's a scene straight from Alice. One more detail that shows Mr. Fforde is smart. And fun to read.