Saturday, April 28, 2007

BOOK: The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

Book 2 : His Dark Materials Trilogy

Well I didn't plan to read this right away, but something made me pick it up and then I read it all day. Lyra and Will are travelling back and forth between worlds, dealing with new things, like a knife, Spectors, and mean kids. This series is fantastic, I love the physics in it, the dark matter or Dust and just confirms my view that physics and philosophy and religion are all tied up, just like this series. Great adventure, great characters and what an imaginiation to view our world like this, as part of a bigger universe. I hope to take a break before I finish this series, with The Amber Spyglass. But it may draw me to it, like the characters are drawn to their fate in these books.

CHALLENGE: Classics Challenge Kathrin

The Winter Classics Challenge got me started. There are so many classic books I have never read, that the chance to join another challenge and read a few more was too good to pass up. Kathrin missed the first and decided to host her own classic challenge, and it sounds perfect: read 3 - 5 books between July 1 and November 30. I'm in, definately. Additionally, I have some early decades for the 15books/15decades challenge (from 1890s - 1910s) that I want to read. They are classics. My book choices are:

  • Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte I am possibly the last reader on earth who has not read this.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde Along with Jane Eyre, this is on the list of top 20 50_books list. And I love Wilde's play 'The Importance of Being Earnest' (1890s)
  • O'Pioneers! - Willa Cather (1910s)
  • Hound of the Baskervilles - Arthur Conan Doyle (1900s) I always enjoy mysteries and Sherlock Holmes? A classic.

I am combining this challenge with the 15books/15decades challenge, and my own personal list of books I am trying to read: 50_books , from live journal, top 20 reads

CHALLENGE: Once upon a Time

I really didn't think I would do this challenge hosted by Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings. Fantasy, folklore, and fairy tales are not the type of books I look for or read very often. Of course I've read all the Harry Potters, but fantasy isn't usually what I've read. But I loved the idea of the challenge, especially the option to read one book from each of four subgenres. But when the challenge came out, I didn't feel I'd be able to pick enough books that I would read, even though I had just finished American Gods by Neil Gaiman, an amazing book.
Last week however, I started reading His Dark Materials trilogy and realized I may as well join up, because that series puts me half way done of the Once Upon a Time 2007 reading challenge. There are four or five quests you can choose from:

Quest One: Read at least 5 books from any of the 4 genres. This is set up more along the lines of the R.I.P. Challenge. Given the time frame it may not seem to be a big deal to commit to 5 books, but we all know how time, and reading, can get away from us.
Quest Two: Read at least one book from each of the four genres of story-Mythology, Folklore, Fairytale, and Fantasy.
Quest Three: Read at least one book from each of the four genres of story, and finish up the challenge with a June reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Quest Four: Read at least one book from the four genres. This is for those who don’t read much, or those who feel that this type of story is so far out of the realm of what they normally read that committing to anything beyond one story is asking too much. (In other words, this is only a one book commitment)
I'm picking quest number 1, a big sister version to quest number four. The books I plan to read between March 22 and June 21st would be:
  1. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  2. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
  3. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
  4. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchert
  5. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  6. Great. I just found Coraline by Neil Gaiman at the library. It looks short, so I'll probably try to read it. It looks really good. *I really didn't need another book*

I've actually got a few extra that I might read as well, depending on how my other challenges go. Maybe do The Midsummer's Night Dream on the last night; Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley a fairy tale telling of Beauty and the Beast which I just saw as the musical: excellent!; and I found a collection of fairy tales from around the world in the children's section of the library that I might take out to read as a selection. I also want to read Inkheart and The Eyre Affair, but I fear that won't happen before June 21st.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

OTHER: My Daemon

The site is very slow where I got this, but this was neat. I love the idea of a personal daemon. And, apparently, this book is being made into a movie, being released December 2007. I like to read a book before I see the movie.

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday

  1. Does what you read vary by the season? For instance, Do you read different kinds of books in the summer than the winter? Not really for bedtime books, but if I am going to the beach I would want a, how to describe it? less thought required book. But mostly not much difference. Any book that I can get engrossed in is a good book.

  2. If so, do you break it down by genre, length of book, or...? There is a reason books are called beach reads - fast, fluffy and fun. I think paperback and short would be the biggest requirement.

BOOK: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Book 1 of His Dark Materials trilogy

Trilogies are tricky things, because there is a lot to do. The first book has to set up the plot that will last through three whole books. It can take a while to introduce all the characters and understand their motives and establish conflict. This book took a little while to get going. Also, I haven't read a lot of fantasy, and it takes a while to set up the parameters of the world the characters inhabit. I really liked the blend of our world and the slight changes that make Lyra's world different. The idea of daemons for each person, creatures that reflect their character and soul was my favorite part of this book.

Once I got to around page 100, the story picked up steam and I quite enjoyed it. I wasn't completely happy with the ending, because it didn't make me want to follow Lyra onto her next world. Again, this is a trilogy problem because this book has to feel complete, but it also has to make you want to keep going. Tying up enough loose ends, but leaving a few strings to start the next tale with. I will continue reading the series because 1) I bought them and 2) it is for the Spring Reading Thing and 3) it is recommended by the 50_books challenge readers and because 4) I am sure I will enjoy the rest of the series.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

BOOK: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Another book for the Dystopian challenge and the eponymous named banned book challenge. I guess I really needed to read this since it is the original book banning book. My husband said he read this in high school and really liked it. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it in a class with the analysis and discussion. To read it on my own was okay. I can't say I loved it but I recognize that it is an important book. I really liked the rant by Captain Beatty about the future and how freakily true it is to today's society. The way that information had to be shortened and shortened and dumbed down and how quickly information had to be taken in sounds like the twenty first century. I liked the hopeful end, and the way that a little thought was all that was needed to outwit the Hound.

I liked Fahrenheit 451 like I like broccoli: I know it's good for me, and I do like it, but I'd pick chocolate over broccoli any day. There are better options, but it is a nice change every now and then.

CHALLENGE: Chunkster Update

This challenge is quite a challenge for me for a few reasons. The biggest reason is all the other crazy challenges that have come up, which makes picking up a big book all the more intimidating, because it will be a time investment that might affect the other challenges. My original goal was to read a minimum of two from a list of four books :

  1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

  2. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

  3. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

  4. With No One as My Witness by Elizabeth George

I have managed to finish the first two, woo hoo! (reviews at the links) My Sister's Keeper is barely a chunkster, but it is over 400 pages, and I hope to read that very soon. I also have another entry that should fit into this challenge, somewhat. I am reading His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman for the Spring Reading Thing. Each book is about 400 pages, so if when I finish them, by June, they could be considered as a large chunkster? Either way, I have met my minimum goal for this challenge, with the possibility of completing four, by the end of June.

I can't even pick up the Elizabeth George book. I was putting off reading it before all these other challenges began. Now? Scares the bejeeses out of me. I love her books, but they are so dense, they take forever.

My reading and blogging have changed so much since I found this challenge way back in December. I only used livejournal then, and have since developed this book blog. I added American Gods to some other challenges because I knew I would read it for this one. I've met some really interesting readers, and have got caught up in this whirlwind of great books, challenges, reviewing and blogging. I can also see how my reading has changed over since December, both quality and quantity. I'll check back in at Bookfoolery and Babble closer to June and see what's happening there. It's been a good challenge, because it has been more of a struggle to pick these books up. Both books were beyond excellent and I loved them. So it has been a very successful challenge all around.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

'Fess Up!

Booking Through Thursday
Okay, there must be something you read that's a guilty pleasure . . . a Harlequin romance stashed under the mattress. A cheesy sci-fi book tucked in the back of the freezer. A celebrity biography, a phoned-in Western . . . something that you'd really rather not be spotted reading. Even just a novel if you're a die-hard non-fiction fan. Come on, confess. We won't hold it against you!

I would have to say that reading children's novels would be my "I can't believe I admit I read that " books. I still go back and reread the Little House books, Gordon Korman's Bruno and Boots books, and the occasional Judy Blume. Maybe that is why I jumped on the Banned Book challenge so quickly: to be able to read and review some great children's books.
But to restate what many other people already have, there are no guilty pleasures. Just read what you like, and enjoy. It's the reading that's important, that transports you to another place and another time and fills the need you as a reader have, whether to be entertained, amused, or to learn and see the world from a new point of view.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

BOOK: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

I was glad to get another Chunkster finished, and the sign of a good chunkster is that it takes less time to read than a regular 250 page book - I'm looking at you Virgin Suicides. It takes less time because you read it at every spare moment, enveloped in the world created by the author.

So, I spent my weekend at Henry VIII's court, amidst the intrigue and treachery and decadent lifestyle of sixteenth century England. I haven't read much historical fiction lately, all caught up with classics and challenges, and I had forgotten how much I love a good epic tale. I love how with historical fiction, you can know the outcome - Anne Boleyn isn't going to survive- and yet you want to keep reading to find out what will happen to the characters and how the author will get to the outcome. The characters of Anne Boleyn, her sister Mary, the narrator, and their brother George, were the center of this tale and their closeness and friendship and stick togetherness was my favorite part of the story. Through all the double crossing and treachery, these three stuck together and helped and supported each other to the very end.
Philippa Greogory's interview at the back of the book states she wants readers to :

  • take away a terrific reading experience which has absorbed them and moved them and excited them. check

  • have a new vision of the Tudor period and some interesting information about the role of women and the inequalities of English society check

  • understand that while the Tudor court was glamorous there was deep poverty and that was a normal way of life check

  • get a sense of the Tudor landscape, the courts and the city of London and the countryside check

  • get an insight into the psychology of the characters check

And the best part about this book: two more books! The Constant Princess, about Katherine of Aragon the first wife of Henry VIII, and The Boleyn Inheritance, which looks at the next three or four wives after Anne Boleyn as Henry continues his quest to have a male to inherit the throne. And we all know how that turns out. Yet, I'll read the book to see how Gregory imagines it all played out.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

BOOK: the perks of being a wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

What a wonderful coming of age story. I devoured this last night, staying up too late in order to finish. Charlie, the narrator, has taken to writing letters of his life to an unknown friend as he goes through one year of his life at sixteen. Charlie is an intelligent, sensitive boy, trying to fit in and make friends, deal with his family and girls and school, and lots of 'home problems'. I really enjoyed this story; Charlie's voice was wonderful, and I kept hoping for him to make it through the angsty teenage years. I've seen the following quote before, but didn't realize it was from this book:

I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they're here. If they like their jobs. Or us. And I wonder how smart they were when they were fifteen. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It's like looking at all the students and wondering who's had their heart broken that day, and how they are able to cope with having three quizzes and a book report on top of that.

This was a book I picked because it made the top 20 books of the 50_books list and I can see why it did. I will hopefully go back and read about Charlie again. A poignant, sweet read.

Friday, April 13, 2007

BOOK:The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

Meh, this book was OK. I read it, slowly, because I couldn't get completely into it. I have read Eugenides' Middlesex and I couldn't read it fast enough, tearing through the pages, and I think it was twice as long. So, I don't know if I'd recommend The Virgin Suicides to anyone. It was well written, with many descriptions and the details were wonderful. There just wasn't enough plot or story for me. We know from the first sentence that all the sisters will commit suicide,(I dont' think I'm giving anything away here) so there is no suspense. I was somewhat bewildered by the narrative, told from the point of view of some neighbour boys, but many years after the deaths. The narrators compile this story somewhat like a court investigation, with interviews from family and witnesses, and exhibits mentioned as they try to make sense of the suicides.
I looked up the Sparks notes on this story, but in the end, the novel didn't intrigue me enough to even read through it all. Maybe I was too tired when I read this, but I kept falling asleep. I don't blame this completely on the book, but I kept losing my spot as I was thinking what I might write about the book. I could never get immersed enough to be a part of the story. I much preferred Middlesex.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

BOOK: The Giver

Finishing The Giver puts to rest my Banned Book Challenge, although I plan to read another couple before the end of June, but I feel like I met my committment. Phew.
It also starts my Dystopian Challenge, and wow, what a way to start. This book was amazing. I couldn't put it down once I started it. I haven't read a lot of this type of book. From the back:

Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns twelve he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now it's time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

I am never too sure how much I want to disclose about a book and its plot or characters when I write these reviews. I knew very little about this book, so I went into it with no ideas, other than I'd read of people who loved the book so I don't want to say very much. I can understand why this book would be a favorite. Watching Jonas grow, at that magical age twelve, when children first begin to see beyond their safe little world, and as he begins to gain an understanding of his community and his bewilderment with the society that he lives in , was so well written and you hope he can come to some decision about sharing his feelings and memories.
This was an excellent story. I'm glad I purchased my copy so I can revisit it again. It is banned and challenged because of the euthanasia and birth decisions in the community, and "partially because some critics believe that Lowry is promoting the community Jonas lives in as an exemplary place to live."

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

Where does the time go?

Booking Through Thursday

Have you ever missed an important appointment because you have become so engrossed in a book you forgot the time or were up so late reading that you didn't wake up in time? Been late to work because you couldn't resist the temptation and left the house too late?

I've certainly become engrossed in books - anyone else read The Stand in one sitting? I was getting bedsores that night. I've stayed up too late, much too late, on a work night to finish a book and I couldn't let myself read while I was in university many years ago, because I would have missed classes, BUT, I've never missed anything or been late. I've been bleary eyed and cranky, and I once burned a pot of carrots dry that I was cooking to make baby food, but that's my worst disaster.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

CHALLENGE: Southern Reading Challenge

Hmm, what to do? Because I hate to miss out on anything. However, there are no books in my pile that even remotely connect to this lovely idea by maggie at maggie reads - read three books set in the south, written by southern authors. But there is the problem: there is a genre of books I've been ignoring. There are suggestions posted here, generously compiled and posted by Lisa at Books.Lists.Life.

So, I will think on this. Appropriately it will be held in the summer months of June, July and August. I must peruse the list to see if anything catches my eye and then check my lists to see how crazy and ambitious I feel. And ambitious is not usually an adjective that gets thrown around with my name very often. I think I'll have to pass, but see me being sneaky, and getting to put the cute button on my blog anyway. Score.

Monday, April 9, 2007

QUIZ: Novel First Lines, books and movies, Harry Potter

I found this quiz based on opening lines of novels on another blog at livejournal. I didn't do very well,*hangs head in shame* 6/13

I did better on the books into movie quiz. Figures. 7/10

And Harry Potter quiz? 11/12 I can't wait for the last book to come out.

CHALLENGE: Dystopian Challenge

Lisa at Books. Lists. Life is hosting a Dystopian Challenge

The rules were as follows:
1. Pick any number of books you wish to read that fall into the Utopia/Dystopia genre.
2. They do not have to be books you've never read, but hopefully they aren't books you read last week.
3. Challenge is open now, and will last until November 6th.

Well, I confess I didn't know there was a genre of books called dystopian/utopian until very recently. (utopian for the optimists? dystopian for the pessimists?) This certainly isn't a category of books I've read many of, but I enjoyed The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood many years ago, and I've read 1984 by Orwell a long time ago. I had a few books I was planning to read, not realizing they fit into this genre. So, I can commit to two books, and may be able to read a few more by November, depending on what other challenges come up.

Books I plan to read:
1. The Giver by Lois Lowry (banned book challenge as well)
2. Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro
3. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
5. either The Road by Cormac McCarthy or Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (recced by laura)

maybes: Children of Men PD James;
Uglies, Pretties, etc, by Scott Westerfield;
something by Margaret Atwood

And I found this list on wikipedia. Wow, who knew there were this many dystopian books. I didn't look up utopian either.

These challenges are fun because you get to read new books, meet new people, and make a list and cross stuff off the list. List people know what I mean by this.

BOOK: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

This is my entry for the 1930s in the 15books/15decades challenge and it screams the 1930s. In a good way. Hammett is described as the creator of the modern suspense story and it was very good. It probably helps if you loved the movie, which I haven't seen, or heard the radio recording, which I remember hearing once twenty years ago and becoming totally enthralled, but I couldn't finish listening for some reason. Also, I am developing a crush on Humphrey Bogart and he is so tied up with this role of Sam Spade that he really has become Spade.

The story takes a while to get going but sets the mood of the hard-boiled detective story, with dames and guns and double-crossing. Our hero is not the greatest guy, but you know he's the smartest one there and will come out on top. I loved the way things were alluded to between Spade and Brigid without any descriptions; even when Spade got told off, it was done in a way that no words starting with f had to be used, but it was very clear. Subtle.

I read this and The Big Sleep this year and I think I preferred The Big Sleep and Rick Diamond to Sam Spade, because I was more confused in The Maltese Falcon during the reading, but I often find intrigue and suspense confusing, because those red herrings get me everytime. Both are very good reads; I find myself slipping into this genre of story along with Agatha Christie's this year. These old mysteries are classics for a reason. The library has collections of stories by Chandler and Hammett that I plan to investigate further.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

OTHER: BAFABW and Thinking

What a great week-end I had!

First, I was nominated by Chris at book-a-rama for a Thinking Blogger Award. Doesn't this look nice:

Thank you to Chris. I'm supposed to nominate five other bloggers who make me think when I read their blog. My problem is I'm very new at this and most of the blogs I read have already, very deservedly, been nominated. And I am so impressed with the blogs I've been finding, the reviews they do, the books they read, and just the overall friendly, generous nature of this book-blog-osphere. I think I may hold on to this, and wait a while before I can pick five new people. I hope this isn't like those chain mail emails you get, that say if you don't send this in ten minutes to five more people, you will have bad luck. I confess, I'm a deleter of those emails and my luck hasn't run out yet.

On the contrary, my luck is quite good this weekend. I was so pleased and surprised to find that I won one of booklogged books she was giving away at her site for BuyGive a Friend a Book Week: Flowers for Algernon. After her review of the book, I was quite anxious to read it, and now I get it as a gift, and in the mail? How great is that. I love getting mail, and books. (I think that is 's best selling point - books, in the mail.)

There are so many great nouns in that phrase Give a Friend a Book Week. And it isn't easy to do, because I went shopping last week to do just that: buy a book for a real life friend. But how do you pick? Partially the problem was my friend and I often do not agree on books. We've had a few in common that we love, but we miss more often than not. So, do I pick a book I've read and think she might like? Or just get a book I haven't read abut think she might like? Here's a question for people out there: Would you buy a friend a book from a second hand book store if you found a good book there? I know I would not mind getting a used book, but what about others? I query that at Christmas sometimes too.

So thank you out there to Chris and booklogged, who happen to be some of the first people I met here in blogspot. Have a great week to everybody out there who stops by. I'm off to finish The Maltese Falcon before The Amazing Race starts.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

UPDATE: March books

I see other people doing a monthly update and that seems like a great idea. I wish I had started earlier in the year, just as I wish I had started doing reviews of my reading earlier. Oh well. March was a great reading month for me, and all the children's books from the banned book challenge helped, as did having a March break week. I am not doing well in the Chunkster Challenge at all, and I need to pick up a big book and sacrifice the numbers. I feel like there have been a lot of classic books that I missed in my reading over the years, and I am trying to read some of these famous books and get myself caught up. Of course, seeing lists like "the 1001 books you need to read" certainly ups the ante and makes any goals you set seem rather meaningless.

Total Books Read: 18
Books Read for Banned Book Challenge: 5
Books Read for Spring Reading Thing: 3
Books Read for Reading Across Borders: 6
Books Read for Chunkster Challenge: 1
Books Read for 15books/15decades: 4
Books Read for top 50_books challenge: 2

New Authors that I want to read again: Kundera, Adams, Gaiman, Gunesekera, Camus, Calvino, (I even have books picked out for each of them I would like to read, eventually)

Best books: The Gun Seller, American Gods, Ordinary People, The Big Sleep
Blah: Elizabeth Costello, On the Water
Great Mysteries: The Shape of Water, Partners in Crime

BOOK: A History of the World in 10.5 Chapters by Julian Barnes

This book was not what I thought it would be, but I still liked it. I thought it would be like the title said- a history of the world, and when the first chapter was about a stowaway on Noah's Ark it made sense. But the book then veered off and the rest of the chapters related somehow back to Noah's Ark and wormwood, the bugs. I was dazzled by Barnes ambition and ability to connect some very disparate stories, but they weren't really different in theme. Boats and religion were all there in each chapter in someway. I liked the chapters about the dream of heaven, the art criticism, the court record of sixteenth century France against wormwood. It reminded me about a Colin Firth movie I saw, set in the same time in France, where a pig was charged with murder. Several chapters were based on true accounts including one about a boat full of Jewish refugees as the second world war is getting started. And how Barnes was able to tie all the chapters together somehow was fun to watch for. I like short story collections and ones with a theme or connection are even better. I liked this book a lot.
heidijane wrote a great review of this book for the 15books/15decades challenge that sums up this book very nicely.
I'm sure I read another book like this, with one object passing through many generations or hands and told in a series of seemingly unconnected short stories, but I can't remember the name. There was a movie called The Red Violin somewhat like this as well.

Friday, April 6, 2007

BOOK: The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

I remember reading this to a grade five class, maybe during student teaching, and I remembered that it was sweet. I picked it up at the second hand book store for my son, and then when the Banned Book Challenge started, I decided to reread it. What a great book!

I forgot the details of the story except that Omri recieves a plastic Indian for his birthday, and a cupboard that magically brings the Indian to life. From there, complications ensue. It was so well written, with wonderful characters and a great theme of the value of human life and the responsibilities of looking after a real person. Omri can't resist showing Little Bear, his Indian, to his friend, who then wants his own little person. Things start getting out of hand. This book was as good as I remembered and I'm glad I revisisted it. I would think the stereotypes of the Indian and his language were reason for banning. Now I need to get my son to read this.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

LIST: Books to read

I went on a little spell recently, book buying. It's such a bad habit and I've been trying to use the library a lot more. But when I want to read a book, I want it RIGHT NOW, and some of the books in the library have to come throught interlibrary loan, so they take a week or two. I know, I have enough books that I should be able to read another one instead, but I get impulsive. My school library is great to borrow books from, because teachers can take out books and they never get overdue. Additionally, our librarian is wonderful as most librarians are, and she orders books for the teachers too, or she lets the teachers get the new great books first. She's fabulous!

So, what have I indulged in lately, added to the ever growing books to be read list?
1. In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant
I needed another book on an Amazon order of gameboy games to get the free shipping, and this fit the bill. I loved her Birth of Venus book and have been waiting to get my hands on this one.
2. The Giver by Lois Lowry Finished
Second hand book store, and I got this because I saw it on some lists of favorite books, and it's on the banned book list.
3. Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam
Another amazon order from a while ago; I've had good luck reading Giller prize winners.
4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
At an Indigo visit, I found this for 4.99, a reissue of classic stories. I plan to read this for the first time, as it is on so many best books list and I hate to feel I'm missing out on something.
5. Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
Second hand book store find. The NYT Notable book list challengers are reading this
6. The Plague by Albert Camus
I read The Stranger recently and quite enjoyed it. I'm not sure why I enjoyed it, but I just did. This will fit as a Reading Across Borders book; it's set in Algeria
7. Gods and Monsters by Christopher Bram
Another sale book at amazon, used to fill in an order.
8. The Princess of Burundi
9. The Translator
10. The Other Boleyn Girl Finished
The last three are arriving from amazon very soon. I had the Boleyn book from the library, but I didn't get to it in time and they wouldn't let me renew it because someone requested it. So I ordered in instead. Sometimes the pressure of the due date makes it hard to read.
I'll fit these in between library reads.

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

Truly Biblical

Booking Through Thursday

  1. Just out of curiosity, as we enter into Passover and Easter season... have you ever read the Bible? Just the odd chapter or Psalm? The whole thing? (Or, almost the whole thing? It's some heavy reading, of course, and those "begats" get kind of tedious.) Haven't read very much, at all. I received a new testament in grade four catechism, and other than passages read in church, I don't read it.
  2. If so, was it from religious motivation or from a literary perspective? Stuck with nothing else to read in a hotel room the Gideon's have visited? Any combination? Any reading at all would be from a religious perspective. I was in Esphesus, Turkey this summer, and I did look up Paul's letters to them when I got home, because that was kind of cool.
  3. If not, why not? Against your religious principles? Too boring? Just not interested? Something you're planning on taking care of when you get marooned on a desert island? Just not interested, and a little boring. There is so much boring stuff to get around to find the good stuff. I don't take things literally in the bible, and it always concerns me that people take everything as the gospel, so to speak, in the bible. It was written by men and their perspectives and alterations and biases are all present.
  4. And while we're on the subject... what about the other great religious works out there? Are they more to your liking? I would find it interesting to study how the bible was written, where the passages came from. And I enjoyed reading The Red Tent, and Pope Joan, historical fiction that takes a small item and builds a whole story around them.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

LIST: Favorite Young Children's Books

The books you start reading to your young children are some of the best books in the world. They have to be visually appealing, and not just tasty boardbook but that does seem to have an appeal for some, melodic, with rhythms and poetic patterns that rival the best poetry. These books below have been read to all three of our children, and the last little one is just four last week, and getting near the end of some of these books. She was actually trying to read Go, Dog. Go! today, by looking for words she recognizes - go, one, three, red, up. My dear!
These would be my favorite books to read to my young kids, night after night after repetitive night; the ones I could read even without having the book in my hand. Sadly, after three children, some of these books are showing their love. Short books are usually my favourite, but these are the quality ones:

1. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
I made the mistake of reading this to my first born the morning I went back to work for the fist time. Mascara disaster. Three baby owls wake up and find their mother not home. They worry, and fret, and when she comes "soft and silent, she swoops through the trees" back to their home, she admonishes them " You knew I'd come back", I nearly lose it every time. It also has some fun repetitive phrases for the children, and identifiable babies. I give this book as baby presents too.

2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
I knew this was considered a classic, but we had never read it when I was a child. I bought it for the first one, and we have loved it. All three have enjoyed it and even the very old illustrations, quiet and charming, keep their attention. Such a calm quiet way to get the little one ready for sleep.

3. The Monster at the End of the Book by Sesame Street
I do remember this one from my childhood, and Grover was always my favourite muppet, after Bert of course. Poor Bert. I found this for 1.99 somewhere, and all three again have enjoyed being so strong, turning the page, getting to the end of the book. Imagining what will happen is always worse than the actual thing. A great lesson for silly, lovable old Grover.

4. Will's Mammoth by Rafe Martin and Stephen Gammell
I think part of the appeal of this book was that I found it just after I finished reading the Clan of the Cave Bear books, and all the illustrations would have fit into those stories. This book is nearly all illustrations, and part of what I liked about it. I could make up a new story each night. Will loves mammoths and he has one in his backyard that he rides around the prehistoric neighbourhood. Delightful watercolours tell the story themselves. Count the mammoths in Will's room!

5. Go Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman ( a Dr Seuss book)
There are so many wonderful Dr Seuss books and the rhymes in this one take the cake. "Do you like my hat?"

6. Hand, Hand Fingers Thumb by Al Perkins (a Dr Seuss book)
This little board book has the best rhythms. It builds and builds, and who doesn't love monkeys. My little monkeys certainly did.

7. little, big!
The third child got this for her first Christmas and we all loved reading this. Big car, (turn page) little car; all spoken with corresponding volume. She loved this book so much and would throw it at people to get them to read it to her.

8. Peepo! by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
This wonderful little British board book was set in the, hmm, forties? They give baths in a wash tub beside the fire, carry in coal for the stove, and then each page has a hole cut out, to show a little bit of the next page. What does baby see? Peepo! The baby follows his day from morning to nighttime. Delightful rhymes.

9. Mabel Murple by Sheree Fitch
I love Sheree Fitch and especially some of her older books: Monkeys in the Kitchen, Sleeping Dragons, and the poem collection Toes in my Nose, reminiscent of Dennis Lee, the wonderful Canadian poet as is Fitch. This poem grew out of a Toes in my Nose selection. We all recite Mabel Murple when we drive by the purple house because:

Mabel Murple's house was purple,
So was Mabel's hair
Mabel Murple's dog was purple
A purple poodle named Pierre

I'm probably paraphrasing, but the poem has evolved in our car.

10. Red is Best by Kathy Stinson
This book had such an effect, I completely brainwashed the second child. She believed in all her heart that red was best.
What do you want for Christmas? asks me. My two year old child says: a red chair.
What kind of chair? Red. What kind of birthday cake do you want? red. And it went on and on.
Daughter had everything red for several years.
And this is a wonderful book to help parents realize why a child might need the red cup - juice tastes better or why the too small red shoes - she jumps higher. The illustrations capture the pudgy little legs and hands. And why is red best? Because red is best.

Oh, the memeories that writing this brought back. And I'm sure I missed a few favorite books, but each of these went through a phase and truly stood the test of time. I left out all the licensed characters: Blue's Clues books, Maisy, Franklin, and tons and tons of number books and alphabet books (the Dr Seuess ABC book is the best in my opinion. "Many mummbling mice...") I'm sure I could have kept going for another ten.

So, what memories have been dredged up? What books have you already bought for children possibly yet to come? What were your favourite children's books?