31 May 2011

At Home by Bill Bryson

What an incredible book!

I have to say that I am a fan of Bill Bryson's writing. I qualify that because I once tried to listen to him read one of his own titles as an audibook. He writes with such great humor but, boy, did he put me to sleep when he read! I had figured he'd be an amazing reader of his own books. Ah well... 

I find him quite funny as a writer. He easily bounces from thing to thing. In this book he certainly has a million and one opportunities for doing so! The whole book is about ONE single topic, the home. The book explores from the time of the earliest homes on earth up to modern day. On the way he looks at just about every possible related topic too!

If you like conversations that meander from topic to topic then this is a book you should pick up!
Bryson begins atop the house he lives in and while tracing its past he goes from room to room in his story-telling. As he discusses the roles of each room he also discusses related topics to each room.

At Home: A Short History of Private Life

Let me see if I can think of a few of the things explored in the book:

telephones and their place in the home
heating of homes
home libraries
gardening by gardeners and then by homeowners and...even (gasp) women
mice and other pests around the house
and of course the bedroom

~~~I only wish I had the ability to go through my notes for this book and post more in-depth. Again, this was a selection I checked out from our library's ebook lending service. Once the lending period for the book you are reading expires...so do your notes. (Unless you choose to renew it and are able to.) Unfortunately, when my book went *poof* so did my bookmarks and highlights and notes.

At 512 pages this selection is a pretty hefty one. It isn't filled with quite as much humor as most of Bryson's books are. Still, I enjoyed it a lot.

28 May 2011

The long weekend...

So, it's Memorial Day here in the US; a time to recall to memory those who have served for our freedoms. 

I don't have any thematically-related reading to do but I did recently finish reading The Postmistress by Sarah Blake. I am considering reading this at some point and might just begin it this weekend if I can get to that point: 
Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory 
by Ben Macintyre

Aside from that I need to work on finishing reading A Tale of Two Cities. I am only 1/3 of the way through so far but like it okay. I now recall having read it in middle school. It's funny that I managed to forget some of the titles we read but recall others... I didn't like reading anything back then. I wonder why some books stuck in my memory and others didn't...

I read a sample download of a book from B&N yesterday but it costs $12.99 to purchase. I haven't bought any books so far this year and am reluctant to break that trend. With my record so far it really stands out to me how much $12.99 is for one book. I think I will wait and request it from our library. They will purchase two books a month for each person making requests!

What are your reading plans this weekend?

25 May 2011

I went to Barnes and Noble today.

I went to Barnes and Noble today.

I had our youngest daughter with us. Somehow we managed to leave the store without spending any money and she wasn't even aware that I just ordered two Beatrix Potter books through Paperbackswap for her today.

I happened to be out doing some errands...I saw the B&N and figured I might as well drop in.
Of course I was hoping the new eink NOOK was in the store so that I could compare it to mine...
It wasn't.

The new model will be in stores as of 10 June.

As I continue to look at the specs for it, even without seeing an actual example, I wouldn't hesitate to reccomend it. If you want a dedicated reader and you don't plan to use it for internet surffing or gaming, then I really think it will prove to be a nice model. The improved eink Pearl Technology will proide an even crisper format for reading. Reading outdoors will be as simple as reading from a book while outdoors.


24 May 2011

New NOOK announced!

It's been announced, folks!

An updated e-ink NOOK. Smoother page turns and better page contrast. $139.



Any thoughts?
If you don't own an ereader has this enticed you?
I think our son is still waiting for a NOOK Color.

23 May 2011

SALE on NOOK original


Barnes and Noble is selling new, not refurbished, NOOK Originals on ebay for $99. 
This is not the 3G version. 
This model is still being selled through B&N on their webiste for $149.


22 May 2011

Further to that NOOK rumor...

Here is an online article from someone who seems certain the B&N announcement will be with regard to an updated NOOK Original. Sounds interesting, if so. I've felt , for a while, that B&N might forget about the NOOK Original, given the great success of the NOOK Color. If this ends up being improvements to their first product I think that's great! Color models are fabulous, really. There will always be a place for eink displays though, especially if that place is in the sun!


I am eager to find out what all the fuss is about!


And...that announcement has been made:


17 May 2011

Moving forward with technology...

Anyone who has read my blog knows that I love my NOOK ereader.

I watched and shopped for ereaders for abot four years before finally diving in and purchasing one. My brother owned a Kindle. I wanted an ereader. I wanted one very much. I was living in the UK and my only option was the Sony. I just wasn't in love with it though. And I smartly began researching. I learned that Sony is known for great software but hardware that is less than desirable. Upon moving back to the US Barnes and Noble soon released the original NOOK ereader. I compared it with what I had learned of other ereaders and fell in love. I didn't actually buy it till late summer of 2010. 

I am absolutely hooked on ebooks now. I find that if I have a choice I choose reading on my NOOK to reading a regular book. I prefer it hands-down. In fact, I have previously purchased the ebook of a title I already owned and was about to read, just so that I could use my ereader instead of the book. My ereader is always the same; same size, same weight. I am used to it. I like that. And I eagerly look forwared to eventually purchasing a color ereader...right now I am leaning towards the NOOK Color unless something else sways me.

I am also not afraid of change. I've homeschooled our kids. I've put some of our kids into school. We moved from the US to the UK and back to the US. I am a seeker of opportunities and embrace change not for the sake of change but for the excitement; and especially when it seems the change will be a good one.

I have to laugh at people who say "Oh, but I love books to much to use an ereader" or those who say "I would miss the smell of a book." Um, really? To me books smell musty and papery/inky. Sure, it's the smell of a book but it's not a smell I am really attracted to. Guess what? My ereader has no smell. And I don't mind at all! My father-in-law was visiting recently and he had exactly the same reaction when he played around with  my NOOK. "Why would anyone miss the smell of a book or let that get in the way of...progress?"

I do see ereaders as a change that brings progress.  Ereaders prevent the use of trees for books. Here is an astounding fact:

"Each year, approximately 30 million trees are used to make books sold in the United States..."
Note: that's only  books for the United States, not the world.

Sure, there are reasons for real books to be printed and used and purchased. There always will be. For me, though, it is nice to think that my switch to ereaders is helping the environment a little bit. 

And, if you've read this far then maybe you'll be interested in reading another little rant about ebooks versus traditional books. It certainly made me smile when I came across it today. I tend not to judge others for not having converted to ebooks. It's a choice; simple as that. Some will convert, some won't. That's as it should be. I don't think anyone should be forced to embrace change, even good change. I do think it is going to sneak up on some people though. I also think it will eventually sneak up on some of the people who are now so steadfastly sure they love books more than those of us who use ereaders. (That proclamation just comes across as very lofty (I'm better than they) to me.) For anyone who thinks they love books too much to convert to an ereader, I am here to tell them they may be pleasantly surprised if they will only take the time to try out a couple of models.

Here's that other link: BookBeeTheBuzzOnEBooks

16 May 2011

Hmmmm...some rumors of a new generation for NOOK Color!

Wow I was just predicting we'd see something like this by Christmas of 2011.
I went to look for any news and found two sites offering the idea as a rumor.
It's not solid information but it does look promising!





Looks as if we won't have any real news until 24 May.  

The announcement:

15 May 2011

Tell us the three books you most often recommend to others.

For me the top two are easy to decide:

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Niffenegger's writing is somewhat mesmerizing. She was able to make me believe in the possibility of a "chrono displacement" disorder that could cause people to travel through time. I read it, read it again, told my best friend and brothers to read it. I gave my hubby and audio copy to listen to on his way to 
and from work. I couldn't wait for the film to be made. 

One Day by David Nicholls
I don't love love stories really. However, Nicholls' way of writing this book by looking at one particular day every day over a period of twenty years was brilliant. Dex and Em, Em and Dex; they just belonged together.

My third most recommended book would probably be (since late April 2010) 
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.

Prior to that date and still, at times, the other possibility would be an author 
and not a particular title.

I would recommend Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series or his Nursery Crime series depending on whether one was looking for a laugh with some cultural 
and literary references or just a laugh.

What are the books or authors you find you recommend the most?

14 May 2011

Here's a great article that compares ereaders...

http://tinyurl.com/EreaderComparisonForMay2011If you are considering the purchase of an ereader, this article is truly insightful. It compares, I'm depth, the following:
Kindle, NOOK Color and iPad.


13 May 2011

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to become the Smartest Person in the World by A. J. Jacobs

Have you ever thought about being smarter? Have you ever wished you just possessed more trivial facts for games or party chat? That's where A. J. Jacobs found himself.

He read the 32 volumes of the 2002 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica in one year and then wrote a book about the experience (about 90 pages a day). (At least two other people are known to have read a complete edition.) In prep for his task, Jacobs joined Mensa and took a speed-reading course.

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World

He described the experience as one that is perfect for the modern day person who is lacking in an attention span as the topics march forward, apace. He found that he did not become bored because of that..but he also found the heavier topics to be hard to slog through.

This was a very interesting book and the personal story he weaved through the tale of his learning adventure kept things moving right along as I read.

One of my favorite quotes from Jacobs is: 

"Reading the Britannica is like channel surfing on a very highbrow cable system, one with no shortage of shows about Sumerian cities."

The author's site may be found here:

10 May 2011

Reading seasonally...

Well, it appears that spring has finally arrived in the mid-western United States. It's been cold and very rainy. I am sitting here with the window open until I decide it's time to sleep.

I find myself wondering if readers of my blog see an increase or decrease in the amount they read depending on the time of year. I think the amount I read remains generally the same througout the year. In the winter we are pretty house-bound here. There isn't much incentive to go out in the freezing temperatures; at least not for me. In the summer, once we settle into a routine, our kids and I tend to go to the pool almost every day. I read during all of the safety breaks and often sit near the sand or even at the edge of the water, with my NOOK double-bagged for water protection!

Yesterday I read of a woman who reads books about the Holicaust every April; it's just something she's done since she was a young girl. I am trying to think of whether the genres I read change with the seasons. I think my reading is more inclined to change if we happen to be able to travel. I try to fin'd books set in the locations of our travel destinations.

Do your reading habits change seasonally? Does the amount you read change?

06 May 2011

Now I remember reading it!

If you've been following my site you are aware that while I read many books at once I generally focus most of my time on one or two selections so that I manage to actually finish a book once in a while! I also try to be reading at least one classic.

Our high school-aged daughter has just begun reading A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens for her honors English literature class. That was just the motivation I needed to begin reading it again. I started reading it while we were living in England but didn't read it frequently enough and just couldn't get into it. I just began reading it two days ago and I'm really enjoying it.

I must have reached a critical place in my reading today, a new character was recently introduced and upon that introduction I began to recall having read it previously. A friend whom I went to school with listed it when the two of us once tried to recall all the books we'd been assigned in school. I honestly didn't recall reading it until now. I also haven't recalled any particulars of the lesser plot-lines so far so while I am aware that I've read it the measure of reading it hasn't been spoiled. I do know a bit about Dickens and wondered how I came about that knowledge. Now I realize we discussed him in middle school as we discussed this title.

I'm glad I decided to (re)read it.

04 May 2011

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

This was a sweet little book about three young children who were found by a man and his young, new wife. The children had been living wildly and alone in the woods of their estate in England. The couple has no knowledge or evident ability to care for them although they have the money to provide care for them. They dub the children "The Incorrigibles".

Penelope Lumley is a recent graduate of The Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females. She is 15 and has no place to go now upon graduation until she is hired by Lord Frederick and Lady Constance to work for them as governess to the children. 

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling (Incorrible Children of Ashton Place)
The story is lighter than Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events (I've read all of that series) but is written with a similarly advanced vocabulary. The language used does tend to be period language from the early to mid 1850s. Wood's style is gothic in nature. Romance and horror both abound; the story jumps easily back and forth between the two. Penelope's gentle awareness of the children's needs is quick to follow and avert any threat of horror. 

Word of warning: (possible spoiler)
At one point in the story several men grab guns and head to the woods to hunt for the children. While this sounds very scary the story progresses well and quickly so that there is not a long amount of worry over what will happen.

Due to the possible scare factor I would suggest that people consider a pre-read of this before allowing very young children to read it. Our 9 and 10 year olds could handle reading it. I am thinking back on it and think that I could read this to our 5 year old without her being upset by it.

01 May 2011

There's A Slight Chance I Might Be Going To Hell by Laurie Notaro

This book was Laurie Notaro's first attempt at fiction.

There's a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to Hell: A Novel of Sewer Pipes, Pageant Queens, and Big Trouble
Charlie and Maye are moving from Arizona to Washington because Charlie has taken a professorship with a better college. Leaving behind her friends proves to be very hard.

The only harder thing will be making new ones.

Along the way Maye will encounter:
Chirping that is not made by crickets, the threat of a possible face-eating raccoon, the nasty wife of a charming and sweet university English department dean, hostile vegetarians, a crackpot reporter with a giggle inducing name, a policeman-plumber with a dangerous donut habit, a bookseller who can't hold her wine, a dog breeder with baggage, a trio of very odd wanna-be-witches, and an age-old local mystery to solve.

At 317 pages the book is a little long for a simple work of fiction. That said, Laurie manages the length quite well. The book moves from point to point and minor plotline to minor plotline while causing the reader to want to move right along with it. This is just the sort of book that I generally think of as a good beach-read. I picked it up in April because I had just finished reading her only other work of fiction.

Impressively, Notaro seems to please me as a reader, both with her writing of fiction and non fiction.

* Word of Warning *
Laurie Notaro's non fiction titles are childish at best, and loaded with immature, but ADULT content. Argue that it's wrong...but she never fails to make me giggle.

My review if her other work of non fiction, Spooky Little Girl:
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