31 July 2011

Jane Austen Reading Challenge

PhotobucketAre you reading Jane Austen titles this year or reading Jane Austen-related titles?

Have you joined the Jane Austen Reading Challenge?

I read Pride and Prejudice in February of 2010. Living in England convinced me I'd probably love her writing; and I do!

I have read one Jane Austen title this year; I finished reading Emma in March 2011.

I hope to begin reading Sense and Sensibility soon.

Have you read any of Jane Austen's books? Do you have plans to?

29 July 2011

Cash: The Autobiography by Johnny Cash

I enjoyed this book. 

Cash: The AutobiographyCash wrote this book in a very relaxed, conversational tone. 

He tells truth as he sees it without it seeming as if he is gossipping. In fact, he tells most stories about himself. He was frank and open about his trek into drug abuse. 

Even if you don't love country music you might still like this book if you enjoy bios/autobiographies. 
If you love country music and you love Johnny Cash, chances are high that you will enjoy this book.

He is also open about his faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour. I really like that. I hope to meet him, one day, in Heaven.

28 July 2011

Children and classics

I suppose we've all been exposed to classic fairy tales, mythology, and legends about national heroes. Have you exposed any of your children, at a young age, to stories that are considered to be classic literature?

Just this week I finished reading a children's edition of Little Women to our five year old daughter. We began reading it a long time ago. I have two other books I am actively reading to her. It wasn't an original edition but it was still a rather lengthy chapter book to read to a five year old. She loved it. Our copy is now worn from love and travel.

We finished reading it while sharing a snack at a McDonald's as our older daughter was having braces put on her teeth. When we finished the book I asked Gigi if she still loved it. Her reply, "Of course. It's about women ...and the women are little!" I'm so glad she asked me to read it to her.
Little Women (Great Illustrated Classics)

26 July 2011

What will I read on our vacation this summer? Want to help me narrow it down or guess what I'll choose?

Our vacation will be really late this summer; right before school begins in the fall.
The planning is going on right now. It takes a lot to plan vacations but especially so for big families. One can never begin thinking about it too soon.

As I was dressing this evening I stopped in front of my bookshelves to ponder my to-be-read shelf. Surprisingly, it has a smaller selection than usual. That's a good thing; it means I've been working my way through books I already own instead of simply amassing more and more titles to add to my to-be-read shelf. 

I am facing the fact that our vacation will include several days at a waterpark/amusement park. Last summer my brother and I went to the same parks and took four of my five kids and one of our nieces. I remember my brother had one or two perfectly sized books that would fit into the pocket of his shorts. He then had it available to read when he was standing in a long and inevitably boring line. I recall being envious. I love a good pocket-sized book.

I am not expecting to have much idle time...we have five kids and the parks are great fun for everyone. I think I will take some physical books in place of my ereader in case I decide to take a book with me to the park. I am thinking I can leave it in a locker while we are being active. Then I could take the book out and read it when Hubs and I relax by the pool. If I took my NOOK I'd be nervous that it might get out of my hands and be taken by someone. I wouldn't worry that much about it getting wet as I'd cover it in a zippered baggie. Anyway, I'd be crushed if someone stole it from me.

That left me thinking that I should make my selections for vacation reading by perusing my physical to-be-read shelves.

Here are the books I am currently thinking about taking:

A Lotus Grows in the Mud 
by Goldie Hawn

(I love bios/memoirs and funny but classy people.)

All Souls: A Family Story From Southie
by Michael McDonald
(Again, I love memoirs. A friend sent this to me.)

The Unauthorized Guide to Sex and the Church
by Carmen Renee Berry
(Another friend sent me this book. Books and sex (does it get any better?)

The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts
by Tom Farley, Jr and Tanner Colby
(My brother read this and passed it on to me. 
I wasn't the biggest of Farley fans but, again, this is a bio and it's about a funny person.)

Dave Gorman vs. The Rest of the World
Whatever the game~Dave takes on all comers!
by Dave Gorman
(Gorman is goofy and British. I love that (even though I love Danny Wallace's books even more.)

As for ebook selections...I'll still be reading The Book Thief which I am reading for a second time, along with our daughter. I am finishing up a second reading of another title I recommended to my best friend and we are reading it together and discussing it. I also want to purchase a Steve Martin novel soon. Those will keep me busy when I am able to read using my NOOK.

1) I wonder which books will end up making the cut? 
2) I wonder how many books will make the cut?  
3) Will someone sway me to pick a book that I haven't listed?
4) I wonder how much reading I will actually be able to do? 
5) How much time will I spend reading physical books vs. ebooks?
6) Will I finish any one title during the trip?

Only time will tell.

Who will venture to guess?

Updated post here:

24 July 2011

Two from Galilee by Marjorie Holmes

Two From Galilee: The Story Of Mary And Joseph
Two From Galilee: The Story Of Mary And Joseph

What a lovely book. I'm not one who reads many love stories. This one was worthy of my attention though; enough so that I have read it twice~January 2006 and July 2011.

This is Christian fiction. It isn't proselytization. It never attempts to sway anyone that Jesus is the Christ, it simply tells his story and those who believe continue to; those who do not yet believe may.

The story begins with Mary who has just become a woman and is now old enough to be betrothed to a willing suitor. Eventually Joseph is decided upon and the story takes off.

Holmes attempts something really big by putting words and feelings to the events leading up to Christ's birth and infancy. The scene she paints draws the reader in. A virgin birth? Even though it was foretold in the Prophets it was not something most people were willing to accept. Her father and her aunt, Elizabeth, however, did accept it. They were the first believers (in her telling). As the story progressed the scales fell from the eyes of her stern but loving mother, Hannah. The final pages bring the story to the point of the small family's flight to Egypt.

Pg 215
For is not every birth a mystery and every child the child of God?

20 July 2011

Some Barnes and Noble news...

B&N is selling 3 ebook titles for every physical book these days.

Interesting info here:

(sorry, when I posted that from my iPhone the link didn't show up)

Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson

For laughs I can usually trust in author Bill Bryson. He also packs punches with an abundance of facts and trivia.
The Mother Tongue
Mother Tongue investigates our English language. Bryson delves deep into the matter. He investigates etymology and even traces the evolution of spelling through the ages. As a matter of course, no topic is taboo, and Bryson examines swear words and why they are used.

If you enjoy the amount of information that a well-chosen word can convey, you'll likely be delighted by this selection. I was.

19 July 2011

How many readings do you think books should stand up to?

So, I recently tattled on myself, here:


I was commenting about how inept I now feel when it comes to reading traditional books and protecting their condition. I use my ereader for most of my reading now. Only 11 of the 25 books I have read this year have been traditional books; that's only 44% of my reading for the year.

This post is all about the life expectancy of books versus ebooks:

Developments with regard to ebooks and library lending...

So, I've admitted that I was tough on that recent book.
What I won't admit to is a disregard for books and their condition.
I take good care of my books.

I was very disappointed as I began reading a decent paperback edition this week. I bought the book new while living in England. It was in top condition. It remained in excellent condition as I read it the first time.

I was happy to pick it up and read it again this week... However, the second time I sat down to read this week a split began forming along the inner spine of the book.
In just moments a page fell out completely.
I continued to read because that was my only option at the time.

Know what I did? I gave up. I purchased the book as an ebook. The book was worthy of another read or I wouldn't have chosen to read it again.

I made it over six months without purchasing any books for myself. I made a conscious effort over the past six months to read the books I already owned but hadn't gotten around to reading. I also borrowed ebooks and traditional books from our library.

I wish I could say that the book I broke this streak with was a book I haven't read before. I feel a bit of dissatisfaction at having spent twice the money to enjoy a single title.

I wish publishers would begin offering an ebook version with each traditional new book purchase, even when the book is purchased on sale. I think this would work out to be a win-win situation for publishers and readers.

Back to my original rant though...I really think that even a paperback should withstand more than two uses.
I suppose that my move to ebooks is a smart move. I just hope that further developments with regard to digital media will be fair to readers and writers as well as publishers.

17 July 2011

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin: & Selections from His Other Writings (Modern Library)

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, & Selections from His Other Writings (Modern Library)What do you know of Benjamin Franklin? You are probably aware that he was a well known statesman, influential in America's founding. You are probably also aware of an experiment he did with a kite and a key. In fact, he is lucky he survived it!

He was born the fifteenth child of twenty. His father was married twice and had ten children born to each marriage. Benjamin was the youngest son of the family. He only had two years of formal education; most of his education was self imposed. At age twelve he was apprenticed to an older brother who owned a printing shop. His most famous pen-name, Silence Dogood, was created in an attempt to see his letters to his brother's newspaper published, for his brother would not allow him to write for the paper! He "became" Silence Dogood, a middle-aged widow, at the tender age of sixteen.

Some things you may not have known about him are that he was also: a writer; journalist;  printer; publisher; philosopher; patriot and (oldest) signer of the Declaration of Independence; diplomat; arbiter; humorist, and quite a ladies' man. He was: a proponent for and one of the first to suggest the first true fire department whereof men would be assigned to a particular fire engine rather than goodwill and amateurs continuing to be the force with which fire was fought. Being an entrepreneur he also established the first fire insurance company! He proposed that the firefighters would practice and share information and that their skills at fighting fires would therefore improve. Franklin urged the licensing of chimney sweeps and proposed that homeowners should be required to keep leather fire-fighting buckets at their property.   

16 July 2011

Biographies...do you have any favorites?

Cash: The Autobiography

I love reading biographies/autobiographies. My favorites are of film/tv actors and popular musicians, especially those who were famous from the 40s through the 60s.

Here are some that I've read, including my rating out of 5*, in ascending order of my appreciation for them:

I'm Chevy Chase... and You're Not: Revised & Updated 
by Rena Fruchter 3*

I've always loved Chevy's acting.
After reading this book my lasting impression of him is that he always seemed to have an excuse when something turned out to be a box office failure; he never took ownership of any failings.

Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice 
by Maureen McCormick 3*

Maureen McCormick is not Marcia Brady.

Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse: My Life in Comedy 
by Phyllis Diller 3*

Upon reading this I found out she became an outspoken advocate for plastic surgery. Want to see why? (here's my favorite photo of her:
http://tinyurl.com/PhyllisDillerPlayboyShoot )
(there's a hint of a nude bottom; it's more suggestive than anything)

After All 
by Mary Tyler Moore 3*

Mary's book is laid out chronologically. She doesn't sidestep any of the tough or ugly parts of her life, having come to terms with such things over the years. She has lost her niece, her son, and both of her parents, as well as having gone through two divorces. 'AfterAll' she appears to come out of it okay.

Nobody's Fool 
by Martin Gottfried 3.5*

I was disappointed by this book. Not really the book, though, as much as the subject. Danny Kaye must have been a very depressed and searching man to have behaved in the curious manner in which he did. I have to say that I am sorry that it destroyed the false vision that I had of him.

The Tom Hanks Enigma: The Biography of the World's Most Intriguing Movie Star 
by David Gardner 3.5*

The author never convinced me that he had ever spoken directly with Tom or had his permission to write the book. This is the most poorly edited book I have read in many years! The quality of book construction was also the poorest I have seen in years. Both were so severe that I contacted Amazon to give them feedback and to request the ability to send the book back for a total refund. I have to believe that my affinity for Tom Hanks must have added 1/2 to a full 1* to my review of this title.

Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me 
by Howie Mandel 3.5*

Howie Mandel has OCD; I didn't know that before reading this book. While being a talented and loving guy he admits to not thinking through the results of his actions fairly often...and he apologizes for the things he feels he should apologize for (for the most part).

Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball 
by Stefan Kanfer 4*

 I learned a lot about Lucy, Ricky and even Cuba from this book. 

A Pirate Looks at Fifty 
by Jimmy Buffett 4.5*

I enjoyed this book a lot. It gives a lot of insight into his life.

Cash...The Autobiography 
by Johnny Cash 4.5*

Cash writes in a very relaxed, conversational tone. He told truth as he saw it without it seeming as if he was gossipping. In fact, he told most stories about himself. He was frank and open about his wrongful trek into drug abuse. He was also open about his faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour. I hope to meet him, one day, in Heaven.

Lucky Man 
by Michael J. Fox 4.5*

This selection has great depth. He explores his life in general as well as his battle with Parkinson Disease. I truly enjoyed the section about his role in the Back to the Future films.

15 July 2011

We've reached the middle of the year. How many books have you read?

So, we've reached the beginning of July 2011.

I have to say I haven't read nearly the number of books I normally read by this time of the year.
Reading a certain number of books hasn't been as much of my focus this year though.
I intended to focus on reading more classics this year.

Last year, for instance, I read 78 books. That would be 39 books by mid-year.

So far I have read 25 books in 2011.
One contributing factor to that is that I have read five classics this year.
Last year I read six classics but two of them were very short and not even equal the effort of one complete classic.

Here is the breakdown of the books I have completed reading this year:

Memoirs ~ 4
Non Fiction ~ 4
Classics ~ 5
Humor ~ 2
Juvenile Fiction ~ 5
Fiction ~ 3
Biography ~ 2
25 Titles

Classic titles I've read this year:
Emma by Jane Austen
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
My Man Jeeves by Wodehouse
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Emma (Penguin Popular Classics) Frankenstein (Puffin Classics)Humorous Fiction: My Man Jeeves by P.G. WodehouseCount of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics 60th Anniv ed)A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin Classics)

12 July 2011

I'm not very good at reading as a member of a book club.

Generally I find that I simply read much more quickly than everyone else.
If I try to keep apace with everyone else I tend to lose interest.

But, hey, even if I've been looking forward to reading a title I tend to lose interest once I "have" to read it. 

That's a bit different this summer. Actually, it's really different and I'm happy for it.

I told my best friend about a book I knew would be perfect for her. She said "I'll read it if you read it again, with me." And so I am reading it a second time. I am really enjoy it. It's the right time for me to reread it.

I am rereading another title. This one is because my husband and I decided I would homeschool our 16 year old in literature and writing this summer. I gave him ten titles from which to chose two or three depnding on their length. We are in the midst of the first selection. We'd be finished but we postponed our reading while he took a summer Russian course at the local university; his first college course. We are both really enjoying the book; him for the first time and me for the second.

Our daughter has a summer reading assignment for her upcoming sophomore Honors Literature course. She's been assigned a book that I previously read and really appreciated. The book was on my list of books that I would suggest our kids read during high school. That would be a "must read" list if I were still homsechooling. 

The results of all of my joint reading adventures will eventually be posted here!


A Fraction of The Whole by Steve Toltz

I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

(It's just a coincidence that two of the titles are by Zusak! In fact, both titles were given to my son as part of his ten titles for choice. The two titles are so very different from each other in writing style. Both were really terrific books in their own, differing ways.)

11 July 2011

For the love of words...

Reading is all about the creative use of words. Words convey messages between people. They allow a person to speak their thoughts or to convey their imagination to people across time and space. They're about the closest thing we have to time travel.

I not only enjoy reading, I also enjoy words in general. I love the creative use of words. I love wordplay. I love words.

Do you have favorite words? I know I do. Sometimes it is simply the sound of a word that garners interest. Often, for me, my love of a word is attached to its ability to convey deep meaning.

Developing a list of those words would be a challenge. I think I will just list my top favorite word.

Comment and tell us your favorite word/s.

serendipity ~ I love the meaning of this word:   the phenomenon of finding agreeable things not sought for...

10 July 2011

The man behind the curtain...(at Barnes and Noble).

I had no knowledge of the exact genius behind Barnes and Nobles' successful move into the ereader market. I have been impressed by their transition into the market though.

My search for information led me to this article:

Robert Brunner was director of industrial design for Apple in the late '80s and early '90s. 

It is interesting that he wants to make ereading more of a social event; possibly allowing people to connect with other people who are reading the same book, or even the same passage. I love the teaser in the final paragraph about the lack of corners on human beings and his wonder at why ereaders seem to require rectangular formats! What alternate shapes can you imagine? I can't wait to see something develop from this!

09 July 2011

Ereader news...

Some interesting facts gleaned from the link I'll give at the lower part of this page:

Ereader sales have increased 105% over last year.

NOOK Color has ousted the Kindle as the top-selling ereader; this being the first that Amazon has lost that distinction.

Rumor is that Amazon will release its own version of a tablet device in a few months.


If Amazon comes out with a tablet and it's priced right I will have to try to determine if our 10 yr old son would be better off with the Amazon product or with the NOOK Color that tops his Christmas wish list...

08 July 2011

If You Ask Me...And Of Course You Won't by Betty White

I love reading memoirs and autobiographies and biographies.

I think I prefer autobiographies because  I think there is a greater chance you will pick up on the feelings of the person the book is about.

I didn't learn a lot about Betty White from her book... The book seemed like a long chat with a friendly person more than anything. It progressed easily and without compulsion other than her obvious compulsion regarding animals. She loves animals.

If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won't)

I also learned that she never had children but does have step-children who she enjoys very much. She deeply loved her husband who has passed away.

(I mostly post only books that I would give four or five star ratings to but as memoirs go this will suit some and not others and that's okay. For me it was about a 3.5 out of 5*. I didn't love it, but I also didn't despise it. If you love and fight for animal rights this book will have greater appeal for you.)

07 July 2011

Have you heard of "Make a Reading Promise"?

Alice Ozma's father promised to read to her for 100 consecutive nights. 
Eventually the number of nights they read together reached 3,218 nights!

Alice wrote a book documenting their reading adventure:
The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Sharedby Alice Ozma
(I hope to read her book at some point!)
The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared

She also has a website:

I try to frequently read to our kids.
We have five.
Life sometimes gets in the way...but sometimes reading is the thing we are most looking forward to so it sometimes happens during the busiest of times and when it really is least convenient.

I can become somewhat compulsive with such quests so I think I am not going to make an unretractable promise to read with/to our kids. I think I'll just keep on keepin' on... I set a good example. I buy them books. I help them find books that will be interesting to them. Right now our three youngest children are reading frequently on their own as well as appreciating it when I read to them. I like that they look forward to the times that we read together.

Our second oldest, our almost fifteen year old daughter, has been taking a summer course in history to claim extra credits for high school. We've just decided we have to pull her from the course though, due to a health problem that will require many physical therapy appointments and doctor visits. It became apparent that she would have to miss more than the allowable two classes or portions of class. This means that her schedule is suddenly more free. She will use her time to begin reading the book she has chosen for her summer reading assignment for school. She is going to read The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, a favorite of mine. I will try to reread that as she reads it (where will I find the time!)

Our oldest, our sixteen year old son, has a lot of my attention right now!
I am homeschooling him in literature for this summer. I'll be posting about that soon!

02 July 2011

Want to upgrade your ereader?

Barnes and Noble is offering an upgrade promotion that began 1 July 2011.

If you take in an old ereader and purchase a new one you will receive thirty free ebooks on a pre-loaded microSD card. No choice, but hey, it would get you started, especially if you were going to give the new ereader as a gift.

I haven't found anything on Barnes and Noble's site about this but I've seen it posted on other sites; here are a couple:



Since I haven't seen this deal on B&N's site I can't discern any real specifics about it.

It looks to me as if you only have to prove that you own an ereader and wish to buy another ereader.
It does not appear that they are taking possession of your old ereader as a trade-in.
It appears that the deal really consists of the incentive of thirty free digital titles of B&N's choice.

I'd post a direct B&N link if only I could find one...

(I wrote this post late last week but have been too busy to post it online.)

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost

I enjoyed this book though it wasn't quite what I expected. It was fun and light reading and taught about a culture with whom I was not familiar. I just bought the sequel. Getting Stoned with Savages. His writing style is one I enjoy.

The book follows Troost through two years of life on a South Pacific island; Tarawa, an island of the Republic of Kiribati. He headed there with the belief that it was a hopelessly romantic thing to do...

What he really found was disillusionment: bugs, heat, danger...you name it. I still laugh out loud when thinking of the bug incident he wrote up in one of his books. 

The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific

Here's a bit of the blurb from the back of the book:

"He and his stalwart girlfriend, Sylvia, spend the next two years battling incompetent government officials, alarmingly large critters, erratic electricity, and a paucity of food options (including the Great Beer Crisis); and contending with a bizarre cast of local characters, including "Half-Dead Fred" and the self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Tarawa (a British drunkard who's never written a poem in his life).

If you've ever though of moving to a tropical island or you've just had any really, really bad vacations...you might enjoy reading this book. 

(I read this in Jan 2007 and did not note whether it includes any gratuitous sex or language.)

Troost's follow-up project is "Getting Stoned with Savages" in which he chronicles his time on Vanuatu and then Fiji. 

Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu
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