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.