Tuesday, February 27, 2007

BOOK: Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo

I decided to try to read books for a Reading Across Borders Challenge - books outside your usual comfort zone or geographical zone of reading. I've read a few in the last year or so anyway and I've really enjoyed them. Books such as Shadow in the Wind, The Kite Runner, and Istanbul were excellent stories.

When will I learn to stay away from books described as 'great literature' ? Pedro Paramo was, different. I could be flip and say there were too many pronouns and I couldn't figure out who anyone was. The story is told in the past and present, in first and third person, interchangably. There is a dead town, inhabited by ghosts telling their story, and the same people, maybe, are telling a story from the past. I could understand some parts, but it was like grabbing a wisp of smoke because I could almost see it or understand, but then I would lose it. I think I could follow parts of the story another time, but it took a lot of effort, and I don't like to put that much effort into a story.

To summarize, I just didn't get it. It was short (120 pages) so I didn't mind investing the time to finish it, but I guess I needed the Cliff notes to understand the plot and imagery. I like the setting in a small village in Mexico and some of the story and characters. But I needed more details.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

CHALLENGE: Banned Book Challenge

The six books I plan to read, between Feb 26 and June 30th, 2007 for the Banned Book Challenge are:

Ordinary People by Judith Guest
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Boy Who Lost his Face by Louis Sachar

I am focusing on great children's literature because these are the types of books my son is reading right now.[and they are usually shorter!] Other adult ones I am thinking of including would be: In Cold Blood, Naked Lunch, One Hundred Years of Solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera and One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest.

I'll add a list of other books from the list that I happen to read before the end of June:
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Friday, February 23, 2007

Freedom to Read Week

I am flabbergasted and, apparently, very naive. There is a site, banned books challenge that is promoting a banned book challenge. The list of books banned or challenged at schools or libraries somewhere is stunning. I am still in shock, and quite proud of the fact, that the last few books I bought for my nine year old to read- and some of his favorite books, are on the list: Harry Potter, Bridge to Terabithia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, How to Eat Fried Worms, and The Indian in the Cupboard.

Also, I am very pleased to see that some of the books banned are part of our high school curriculum including : To Kill a Mockingbird, a Separate Peace, Ordinary People, The Great Gatsby

And did I see On the Banks of Plum Creek on that list? Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, SE Hinton; my whole childhood reading is on this list. I'm joining the challenge and hope to read six books by the end of June. It will probably end up being more, because there are a few books on that list I was planning to read anyway.

Two of my favorite books of all time, Pillars of the Earth and Stones in the River both make the list. my books

So go see the site, and read some great books.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday
A couple weeks ago, we asked about how you take care of your books, with one of the questions asking whether you write in your books. Well, what about books that are meant to be written in? Like, say, a journal or diary? Do you keep one? Obviously, if you're answering this, you have a blog--do you just let your blog be your journal? Or do you also keep one for private stuff also? Don't forget to leave a link to your actual response in the comments--or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

I've never kept a journal before; I just don't have that compulsion to write or the discipline to keep up with it. I have a blog now, but I still have a hard time writing posts in it. I am always impressed with other people's posts and what they think to write about, but it is very new to me. I'm a reader, not a writer.
(but I am starting to have a bit of fun with all this blog stuff)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

MEME: Book List Meme

Book List Meme

This meme comes via Classical Bookworm. Well, I took it without acknowledging it.Oops. Here's how it works
Books I've read
Books I want to read
Books I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole
Books on my bookshelves
?Books I've never heard of
#Books I've seen in movie or TV form
!Books I've blogged about
Books I'm indifferent to

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. # To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. #! Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. #Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17.Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. #Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. # Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (George Orwell)
35. ?The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible [parts]
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. ?The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. #Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. ? Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. #Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. # The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. ? The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. ?A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. ? Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. # Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. ? Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. ?Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. ?Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. ? In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Cool, a list of books of which I've read a lot (43!) and are all familiar. Instead of classic books, more like popular books.

Friday, February 16, 2007

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday

  1. Love stories? Yes or No? I like a love story, but not all the time. And it has to be good; I don't like very many tragic love stories. Romeo and Juliet? no. Anne and Gilbert? a thousand times yes. Heathcliff and Cathy? no. Bridget and Mark Darcy? yes, indeed ( oh dear, I must confess to only recently reading Pride and Prejudice, so recently that I haven't been immersed in their love story. I have the Colin Firth love going, but not the original Mark Darcy. I do plan to read P&P again, because I hate to be left out of a cultural phenomenom.)
  2. If yes, "romances" as a genre? Or just, well, stories that have love stories? (Nobody's going to call "Pride & Prejudice" a "romance," right?) I don't think I've ever read a Harlequin romance, or romance story per se. But I adore the love stories in the books mentioned: Anne of Green Gables and Bridget Jones. And books like Clan of the Cave Bear, or Outlander with Clare and Jamie have a love story that I have to keep reading. To summarize: No to romances as a genre, yes to stories with love stories. I think I will have to make a list of books with my favorite love stories in it because I haven't put enough thought into love stories and I know there are more that I want to remember.

Monday, February 12, 2007

BOOK: Einstein's Dreams

Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman

"It is 1905 in Berne, Switzerland. A young patent clerk has been dreaming marvelous dreams about the nature of time. He is Albert Einstein and he has almost finished his special theory of relativity. What were his dreams like those last pivotal few months? Here, in this extraordinary and highly acclaimed work by physicist Alan Lightman, thirty fables conjure up as many theoretical realms of time, dreamt in as many nights." ( taken from http://www.twbookmark.com/books/92/0446670111/  and also the book cover I believe))

I read this book to my grade twelve physics students at the beginning of each class. Some classes really enjoy it and ask for a story every day, and some classes just don't get it. This is the idea I am most likely to be remembered about when I meet students: 'You read that weird book about time to us.' I also like to show some students that physcis doesn't have to be just theory and formulas. It can be fiction and poetry and philosophy.

" ...the theme that unifies these varied worlds, [is that] people are almost uniformly unhappy. Mr. Lightman seems to have adopted the anthropic principle--which states that: We may occupy a preferred place or preferred time in the Universe (we may also occupy a preferred universe)--at least for purposes of this book. It's hard to come to any other conclusion but that he thinks we live in a universe where the laws that govern time are structured in such a manner that they maximize human happiness and/or achievement. This makes the book ultimately uplifting, though many of the stories within are ineffably sad." (a review at the Brothers Judd )

I was glad to read this, because often the comment after a chapter is 'How sad. Or that was depressing.' But it really isn't. They also don't realize I use this as a classroom management technique. Each chapter is very short and I start it at the beginning of class. Latecomers have to enter quietly and sit right down, no talking because I am reading. When I finish the chapter, everyone is seated and, hopefully, ready to begin. It's so sneaky!
For people who haven't heard the outline of the book, there can be a stunned silence - What was that?

"Almost every world describes a person or a class of people that we encounter in our daily lives.  In seeing how and why these fictional people act, we can't help but to examine our own behaviors in our "real" world. " ( from Idris Hsi's home page)

This is the part of the book that I like, that connects physics to philosophy. Because as I am reading, I often see somethng new in a chapter, a facet of life that I recognize, how we live and react to the world. For example, in the world where there is no future, people cannot plan for the future because they cannot envision a future. This is like babies, who have no sense of later, only now. It's why the hiccups don't bother babies, because they don't know that another hiccup is coming. Each one is an individual event.

And apparently, this book has been turned into  the musical? Now that would be interesting.

Friday, February 9, 2007

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday

What kind of care do you take of your books? Let's review, shall we?

  1. Are you careful with the spines? Or do you crack your books open to make them lay flat? I'm pretty sure I crack the spine

  2. Do you use bookmarks? Or do you dog-ear the corners? If you do use bookmarks, do you use those fashionable metal ones? Or paper? Whatever's handy will do as a bookmark. I have a few nice ones but if they're not around then I might dog-ear or even use a kleenex (thanks Dad for the wonderful lessons you've taught me)

  3. Do you write in your books? Ever? If you do, do you make small marks, or write in as much blank space as you can find? Pen or pencil? Highlighter? Your name on the front page? Not really. I felt so rebellious the first time I wrote in a book - I grafittied my freshman Calculus book with sarcastic comments. I sometimes write my name in my book but lately I've been putting my name on a post-it note if I'm lending it. However, I did write my name in all my books when I was young, but I think that had more to do with claiming books and making sure I got them and not my sister.
  4. Do you toss your books on the floor? Into book bags? Or do you treat them tenderly, with respect? mostly respect, but sometimes I'll toss it into whatever. And sometimes they fall on the floor at night if I doze off in mid-read.

  5. Do you ever lay your book face-down, to save your place? Oh yeah.
  6. Um--water? Do you bathe with your books? Hold them with wet hands? Read out in the rain? Anything of that sort? I've been known to read in the tub, but I've never lost one in the drink.

  7. Are your books lined up on a bookshelf? Or crammed in any which way? Stacked on the floor? I begin lining them up, but then there is no more room to line them up, so they begin to get crammed and stacked. Then I organize, delete, rearrange and have them line up. Rinse and repeat.
  8. Do you make a distinction--as regards book care--between hardcovers and paperbacks? no

  9. And, to recap? Naturally, you love all of your books, but how, exactly? Are your books loved in the battered way of a well-loved teddy bear, or like a cherished photo album or item of clothing that's used, appreciated, but carefully cared for? Anne of Green Gables and the rest of the series are more than just books - they are part of a display in my living room with family photos and oranments. It is important to keep some favorite books just to pick up and remember how much I loved the story. As a child I always kept good care of my loved books and can now bring up from the basement my old Gordon Kormans and Great Brains, Little House and Judy Blumes for my own kids to read.

  10. Any additional comments? I have a teacher's edition physics book at school. It's a wrap around edition and is very large and unwieldy.So I've taken to ripping individual pages out as I work out a problem at the board. It is now a large, large book with over 300 indivdual pages jammed into a case. Somehow, I've managed to keep everything in order and not lost any pages. but God help me if I ever drop the book or if a large wind were to blow through my classroom. It's well loved and written through.
  11. I was horrified as a parent to have my first child eat a board book. I never imagined that books could be damaged.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


OK I am such a spaz. I tried to name this blog 'raidergirl3' but when I tried to enter it, that name was unavailable. I was not impressed. Guess who already has that name? Apparently I do, on another blog. this place is confusing me.