Tuesday, 29 September 2009

From Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

I fell in love with Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman last year when I read it for my British and American Lit Class. Leaves of Grass is one of the works that often end up on Banned or Challenged lists. I find verse 17 particularly pertinent to the subject of banning of books:

These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they are not original with me,
If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing, or next to nothing,
If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle they are nothing,
If they are not just as close as they are distant they are nothing.

This is the grass that rows wherever the land is and the water is,
This the common air that bathes the globe.

Verse 24 is also good as it speaks of the poet as the voice of the voiceless. When we ban books we quite voices. Voices that should be heard.

Teaser Tuesday

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!
I am reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

"The more stitches the less riches; the more stitches the less..."

"The introduction of Our Ford's first T-Model..."

(Pg 46)

Monday, 28 September 2009

Musing Mondays: Wishes Come True

Rebecca at Just One More Page asks:

Today's MUSING MONDAYS post is about your wishlist...

Do you keep a book wishlist, either on paper, Amazon/etc, or via a book database site (Shelfari, GoodReads, LibraryThing)? If yes do you share this list with others (especially coming up to Christmas)?

I do have an Amazon wishlist. I don't use it much any more because I've moved to using Shelfari because I can put down who or where it was recommended. That way I can credit when I blog about it. I will probably just use my Shelfari list and tell my family to buy the books at BookDepository which is so much cheaper for us. We do like wishlists in my family and in the last few weeks I've added so many new books to my TBR list.

I read banned books

I got this list from Amanda at Ramblings of a hopeful artist from last years Banned Book post. I love lists so I thought I would look at this one which is a list of the 115 most banned books.

Instructions: If you have read the whole book, bold it. If you have read part of the book, italicize it. If you own it but haven't gotten around to reading it yet, *** it.

1. The Bible
2. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain***
3. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (I highly doubt I will ever finish this)
4. The Koran***
5. Arabian Nights***
6. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain***
7. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift***
8. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer***
9. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
10. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
11. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
12. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
13. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
14. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
15. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
16. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo***
17. Dracula by Bram Stoker***
18. Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
19. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
20. Essays by Michel de Montaigne
21. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
22. History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
23. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
24. Origin of Species by Charles Darwin***
25. Ulysses by James Joyce***
26. Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
27. Animal Farm by George Orwell
28. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
29. Candide by Voltaire***
30. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
31. Analects by Confucius
32. Dubliners by James Joyce***
33. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
34. Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
35. Red and the Black by Stendhal
36. Das Capital by Karl Marx
37. Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
38. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
39. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
40. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
41. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
42. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell***
43. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
44. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque***
45. Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
46. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
47. Diary by Samuel Pepys
48. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
49. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
50. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury***
51. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
52. Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
53. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
54. Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
55. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller***
56. Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
57. The Color Purple by Alice Walker***
58. Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
59. Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
60. Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
61. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
62. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn***
63. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
64. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
65. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
66. Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
67. Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
68. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
69. The Talmud
70. Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
71. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
72. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
73. American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
74. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
75. A Separate Peace by John Knowles***
76. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
77. Red Pony by John Steinbeck
78. Popol Vuh
79. Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
80. Satyricon by Petronius
81. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
82. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov***
83. Black Boy by Richard Wright
84. Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
85. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
86. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
87. Metaphysics by Aristotle
88. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (all of them. many times)
89. Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
90. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
91. Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
92. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
93. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
94. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
95. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
96. Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
97. General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
98. Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
99. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
100. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
101. Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
102. Émile Jean by Jacques Rousseau***
103. Nana by Émile Zola***
104. Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
105. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
106. Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
107. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
108. Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
109. Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
110. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
111. Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume***
112. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
113. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare***
114. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle***
115. The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Keatly Snyder

Including the ones I gave up as bad jobs I've read 26. I am guessing I will need to get started on this list. There are several I want to read.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

The Sunday Salon: Banned Book Week

The Sunday Salon.com

We have entered one of my favourite weeks of the year. Banned Book Week. Why do I like a week that is all about the banning of books? Well I like it because it highlights something that we need to talk about. We need to talk about why people feel the need to ban books. I have an issue with the banning of books. I think it is wrong. It is wrong on so very many levels my blood starts boiling when I think about it. Do I think that the books that are often challenged are of great literary value? No not all of them (don't get me started on my opinions of Catcher in the Rye or Carrie). But at the same time I really don't think they should be banned. They fill an important function. Take one of the above mentioned examples, Catcher in the Rye. This is a book that failed the 50 page test for me. I found the narrator to be intolerable, my brother however really enjoyed the book. It spoke to something inside him. Just because I do not like a book I do not have the right to say that others may not read it. I have a great way of not reading it: I close it and if I own it I can give it to someone who will appreciate it (something I should do presto pronto with my copy of Carrie. Anyone want it? If so holler. It is in good condition.)

I am not a fan of banning in general. Unless it will physically endanger someone I find it far more productive to talk about it. By forbidding something we make it more desirable. When we instead talk about it we might find that we learn something from it. There are authors out there who can imagine societies and events that I cannot. When I read their books and am presented with the idea I can evaluate it and decide that this is not what I want for my society. This way we will not make the mistakes in society that were presented in the book. We do not need to reinvent the wheel (I have a fondness for dystopian novels).

A banned book that had a profound impact on me as a teenager was Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It fundamentally changed the way I looked at society. As I see society move towards an ideal where "ending is better than mending" I try and not fall into the trap. I admire those who make their own, who mend, who live a sustainable lifestyle because thanks to Huxley I have seen the alternative and I do not like it. Another aspect of the book that I found interesting as a teenager and even more so was the promiscuous lifestyle of the characters. This aspect is one of the reasons it is often challenged:

Banned in Ireland (1932). Removed from classroom in Miller, MO (1980), because it made promiscuous sex "look like fun" and challenged frequently throughout the U.S. Challenged as required reading at the Yukon, Oklahoma High School (1988) because of "the book's language and moral content." Challenged as required reading in the Corona-Norco, California Unified School District (1993) because it is "centered around negative activity." Specifically, parents objected that the characters' sexual behavior directly opposed the health curriculum, which taught sexual abstinence until marriage. The book was retained, and teachers selected alternatives if students object to Huxley's novel. Brave New World was again challenged in Foley, Alabama (2000) because of the depictions of "orgies, self-flogging, suicide" and characters who show "contempt for religion, marriage, and the family." The book was removed from the library, pending review. Source: 2001 Banned Books Resource Guide From ALAs Website

I found this interesting because to me the book, although displayed the "negative activity" it certainly did not make it "look like fun". Instead it presented an empty existence. One where individuals made no real connection to others. They didn't really connect with themselves. It was the emptiness of the characters that stuck with me. I think that this book can so easily be used to start a discussion regarding appropriate behaviour and WHY this behaviour is appropriate (or not).

This week I read (or actually listened to) a Banned Book that has been on my TBR list for a very long time, The Giver by Lois Lowry. I am so glad I read it. Again it affected me in a profound and real way. It made me think about values and morals in society. About how we organise society. I also listened to another frequently challenged book recently Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and am currently listening to the Half-Blood Prince both by J. K. Rowling. This series is often challenged for "encouraging witchcraft". Again I disagree. To me the witchcraft and wizardry that is in it simply is. To me it is a character trait, much like someone being strong. The characters just have it. They don't choose to be witches or wizards. To me the books are more about the choices we make and how they affect ourselves and others. It is about friendship and about love. Surely these are things that need to be discussed in today's world?

Out of the books on the various banned and challenged lists I have read a fair few. Some I enjoy immensely like The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984 and Brave New World. Others I have a more complex relationship with. But none of them have left me without any feelings at all. All of them have made me think, some of them have solidified my feelings on some aspects of life others have changed me. All have lead to discussions at the time of reading and all have given me another building block of cultural knowledge. They have made it easier for me to see connections or make deductions. A few years ago I read Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence. The book is often banned or challenged for its rather crude language and I have to admit that I found it a bit over the top. But having read that book meant that when I read Snake by Lawrence last year for my literature class I was one of the few students who made the connection to something sexual and it was only the teacher who understood my offhand remark that one could not disregard that view since it was Lawrence. I think I have circled back to the point that reading books gives us a better foundation for making decisions on. A book itself is never dangerous. Knowledge can never be dangerous, but the books should not be read in isolation. They should be discussed and turned over. We should always ask ourselves if be believe it to be true and if we believe it to be right.

Link round-up of great posts on Banned Books

Natasha at Maw Books Blog has a great round-up of links and some great thoughts.

As does The Biblio Blogazine. I am taking part in their challenge.

I also like the look of Burn This Book that Dawn at She is too Fond of Books has reviewed.

Now I am going to curl up with Brave New World, so look out for a review of it later in the week (or possibly later today, one never knows)

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry [Audiobook]

The Giver by Lois Lowry
Narrated by: Ron Rifkin

Synopsis: This is the story of Jonas, almost twelve. He lives with his Mother and Father and younger sister Lily. Jonas is a fairly typical boy. He goes to school, he plays with his best friend Asher and the other children. He loves to ride his bike. But when Jonas turns twelve something changes. Jonas meets the mysterious Giver and life will never be the same again.

My thoughts: Wow. Just wow. It has been a long time since a book stayed with me in this way. It was one of those books that you know has profoundly affected you but you are still not quite sure how. As a Teenager I loved one of Lowry's other books, Number the Stars. It really made me see courage in a different light. This book has affected me in a different way I think. The way the story is built up, the normalcy of it all, to have it changed makes you doubt and question your own perceptions. Lowry manages to make Jonas's feelings into the readers feelings. Although I am not a twelve year old boy I felt like I was feeling everything Jonas was feeling. Which for a book about feelings and memories is not only essential but also amazing. This was one of my banned books and although I can see why some would want it banned I think that it would be devastating! This book has so much to offer both purely stylistically and also as fodder for discussion. It is a book that one should not read and keep in their heart but rather one that should and must be talked about. This is truly an important book!

Audiobook: The narrator was superb. He didn't try and go to much into the voices of the characters. It wasn't really necessary. He slowed down and sped up in all the right places. He was masterful. I really could have done without the music that sometimes overlaid the narration. It desturbed me a lot actually. Especially when it was at an exciting place because I wanted to concentrate on the words not music!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Books that make me sad

What’s the saddest book you’ve read recently?

(Is any body getting bored with this series of “recent” questions? Because I’m having fun!)

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

On principal I try and stay away from sad books. I read to make myself feel good an I cry enough IRL that I try and avoid sad books. I did just finish The Giver by Lois Lowry and it made me feel sad, but not sad (and boy do I need to learn precision of language). It made me feel something that I cannot yet define (I will try and define it when I write my review of it over the weekend). I also recently read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling and I wasn't sad this time because I knew what was happening but I certainly felt sad the first time I read it. Maybe that will have to qualify for this time around.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Fall into Reading 2009: Reading List

This challenge is hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Day and it is my first challenge for this new format blog. I am going to take it a bit easy and not do so many books and to double up on some books for the Banned Book Challenge. This is also my post for the What's On Your Nightstand?

My list:

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

This is a re-read for me. It was one of my favourite books in high school. It is part of the Banned Book Challenge. I am not going to do so much of a review of this one as a discussion regarding the reasons it was challenged.

The Giver by Lowry

This is another Banned Book. This is an audio book from Audible. I've never actually read this book but I have wanted to do so for ages. I am absurdly fond of dystopian novels so this one is a treat for me.

The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs

I bought this book over the summer but I have only read a few pages so I am going to start it over for the challenge. I am looking forward to this book because I think it is a fascinating idea. I also wanted to include at least one non-fiction on the list.

My Ántonia by Willa Cather

I picked this one up during the summer as well. I wanted to read it because I have read very few books about the American frontier (I've read the Little House on the Prairie books and that is it!). How little I had read became clear this spring when I did my survey course in British and American Literature. I picked this book because it is about a woman by a woman, something I enjoy.

What's On Your Nightstand

I will also be continuing my re-read of The Belgariad and The Mallorean by David Eddings. In addition to this I am awaiting the release of the next In Death book by J. D. Robb: Kindred in Death which is due out on November 3rd. But I am not including them in the challenges since they are my relaxing books. Books I don't really take notes on when I read (the school bus here is also the regular bus and the kids were looking at me like I was insane since I was making notes today). So there we have it: My books for the challenge

Monday, 21 September 2009

Book Review: Queen of Sorcery

Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings
Category: Fantasy

Book two of Eddings saga The Belgariad takes us further into the mysteries of the missing important item (what it is is revealed) and we are introduced to new characters and new lands. Although the story picks up a few short weeks after the first book, Pawn of Prophecy, we meet a much more grown up Garion. What he has learned has taken him from a boy to a young man (although he still has quite a bit of growing up to do).

My thoughts: This is perhaps my least favourite book in the series (please don't stop reading it though). I just felt like it plodded a long to much. It was a bit to much of a set up for future books. Having read the whole series before I can see the necessity of it a bit more but I have to admit that some of it still bores me a bit. I also don't much like the portrayal of Garion in this book. I know teenage boys can be sullen and moody and I understand his frustration with the adults withholding information from him. But at the same time the way he treats people seemed off to me, even when I, myself, was in the throws of teenage angst. There seemed little need for it. Especially since he is also portrayed as a "sensible lad". All in all I understand the books importance for the overall story arc but as a stand alone novel I would probably have given up on it.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The Sunday Salon: First Ever Post (for Me)

The Sunday Salon.com

So me being me I decide to get back into blogging about book the week before BBAW. I have spent the week reading some amazing bloggs getting inspired and building my virtual TBR pile (I use Shelfari and then buy a bunch of them at once and they go in my actual TBR pile). I wanted to start by thanking the organizers for putting on such an inspiring event!

So what to write about here? Well since it is my first post I thought I would make it a bit about me. While surfing the bloggs at BBAW I came across this blog from Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness where she asks the following question:

How do you squeeze reading into your schedule? What’s your best tip for making reading a habit when it feels like there’s no time? Or for students, how do you balance work and pleasure reading without burning yourself out?

I am currently a gradstudent studying for my MEd Secondary School English (primarily ESL). One of the reasons this blog got put on the back burner in the spring was because I became overwhelmed by school work. I did read, I mean I was doing a survey course in English and American Literature, but reading for pleasure didn't happen as much as I would have liked. This year I am determined to get a better balance. To allow myself more time for reading. My plan for now, and this will need to be tweaked probably since I start student teaching tomorrow *insert me as a headless chicken with my arms flailing here* and who knows what that will be like. The plan so far is:
  • In bed with book for fun at 9pm at the latest.
  • When I have to take the bus (which will happen at least Monday and Tuesday next week) either book or audio book on iPod.
  • Weekends are for fun stuff and this includes reading.
My sister and I also agreed on a rule last year: No school books in bed! Last year I allowed lit books in bed but I think come spring when I do my last term of English lit books will be banned from bed as well. It just made me stressed last year.

For me finding a balance between school books and fun books has come down to this: Setting aside time for each. I am fortunate that I do my school on a distance learning basis. That means I sit at home and my classes are through Adobe Connect or a video streaming site. This means that I don't have any time between classes where doing school work might be hard to do. So I have decided that from 8-5 I do school work (with a break for lunch where I can do fun stuff) and after 5pm is time for me. I am not always good at doing this and sometimes school scuppers it (giving us several long chapters to read on Friday for Monday) but most of the time I know what school needs and when. I also try and shove reading in when I do have "dead time" like next week when I am stuck on a bus for almost an hour. I intend to imitate the New Yorkers and bury my nose in a book.

Looking forward to next week:

I want to finish Queen of Sorcery and start Magician's Gambit both by David Eddings. They are part of my re-read of the The Belgariade and The Mallorean. When I heard that Eddings had passed away this spring I decided that I would re-read these two series, unfortunately at the time I was on a different continent from my Eddings books and the local library only had a couple of them from the middle of the series so that plan had to wait.

I also intend to take part in Fall Into Reading that Katrina at Callapidder Days is hosting. I was warned not to over reach with challenges and such (thank you so much to all who said that. I knew it but needed to hear it from more experienced people too) so I am not going to jump on to many to start with but this one seemed like a nice gentle introduction into the whole challenge scene. So be on the lookout for my post on that on Monday or Tuesday (it will probably be Monday since Tuesdays are a bit of a bear for me). I will also take part in Banned Book Week September 26th through October 3rd over at The Biblio Blogazine. I will be reading an old favourite of mine that I haven't read in forever: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and commenting on the reasons it was challenged (and banned from some places) and why I think it is an important book.

Other than that I am hoping to enjoy some more crisp fall days here where I can go for walks in the woods and pick mushrooms and then come home and curl up with a good book and a steaming cup of tea.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix [Audio book]

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling. Read by Jim Dale

I was one of those people who sat outside a bookstore for hours waiting for the last book. In fact some friends and I organised a Harry Potter tour of the UK for members of a website in the two weeks leading up to the release. I make sure I re-read the books every so often. Over the summer I managed to get my hands on almost all the US audio books and I have been listening to them off and on since, mainly when I go for my walks or while I eat lunch. I have just finished the Order of Phoenix.

This is one of my favourite books mainly because it is the introduction of one of my favourite characters: Tonks. I also love the deliciously evil Dolores Umbridge and the mischief of Fred and George. It is a funny book but at the same time dark. I find the balance between the two perfectly managed in this book. I also find Harry's burgeoning realisation of what friends really are to be an important lesson to be learned. The fact that at the start of the book he wants to be seen with the cool kids but towards the end he reaches an understanding and appreciation of Luna and Neville, two of the not so cool kids.

Audio version: I am a bit meh about this audio version. I listened to the British Stephen Fry version a few years ago and I suppose I fell in love with it. What I find particularly grating in this one is the accents. Dale reads Dean Thomas with a Scottish accent. As a Harry Potter fan who has lived in the UK I find this grating since Dean Thomas is an Aston Villa fan and therefore, in my mind, from London. He should not have such a Scottish accent. I also do not read Bellatrix to have such a french accent. To me she was British too. She is probably one of the few characters in the book where I really see the actress who played her because that was so very well cast. Helena Bonham Carter is PERFECT in the role. But that isn't what I was going to talk about. Yes so I have a problem with the accent. One day I will definitely buy the British versions instead.

The Penguin in the picture is called Gred. He was our mascot on the aforementioned trip. And if Mor ever reads this, send me your address and he will be returned to you.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Philadelphia Libraries Safe

Some wonderful news just reached me. The Pennsylvania budget passed and the Philadelphia Free Libraries will remain open!!

This makes me ever so happy. I have very fond memories of the libraries in Philly and I know that I have family members who will continue to enjoy them for a long time (especially my brand new cousin Sam).

BBAW: Goals

Today's topic at Book Blogger Appreciation Week is:

Hopefully this week you’ve been visiting a bunch of new book blogs and maybe noticing some things about them you’d like to try yourself. Or maybe you’ve just had some ideas for improvements to your blog you’d like to put into place or new ideas for content. But there’s also probably something you really love about your blog, too, something you’re really proud of. It’s time to show off! Tell us and this is really important, in 50 words or less what you love best about your blog! And then in 50 words or less where you want your blog to be by the next BBAW! Ready? GO!

What am I most proud of?
That's a hard question since I have just started seriously book blogging. I suppose that is what I am most proud of. Taking that first step to share what I love. Putting my thoughts out there.

Goals for the future:
I want to...
...find a layout and background I love (maybe even a personalized one).
...continue to blogg regularly
...entertain and give tips to others
...take part in different challenges
...get a structure to my entries and my weeks and months (I'm playing with this still)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Booking Through Thursday

What’s the most enjoyable, most fun, most just-darn-entertaining book you’ve read recently?

(Mind you, this doesn’t necessarily mean funny, since we covered that already. Just … GOOD.)

My choice is A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.

It was funny but it was also thought provoking and made me not want to stop reading. Which to me is an Entertaining book!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
Occasionally. And it really depends. Nuts are good 'cause then I don't get the pages sticky. I do always have a cup of tea at hand.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
Depends on the book I'm reading. I have stared doing it more and more since Susan Wise Bauer said we should and could in her book The Well-Educated Mind. It really does help me think.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
To remember where I am? Neither (unless I am running up to answer the phone or something and I will be right back to the book in which case I leave it flat open, then my dad yells at me)

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?
Both but mainly fiction.

Hard copy or audiobooks?
Both. I like to listen to a book while I'm eating breakfast or lunch or when I am doing some other (boring) household task. And I can also listen to books I have already read when I drive.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?
Depends on the book if I want to put it down or just read one more page! I usually carry a book that I can put down at any point for when I am waiting at the bus stop/doctors office/generally waiting but I need to put it down once it is my turn.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?
Not unless it really bothers me that I don't know it. Often I can guess the meaning from the context.

What are you currently reading?
Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings, The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs, Running for Mortals by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield and I am currently reading my way through the Bible in a year.

What is the last book you bought?
The Epic of Gilgamesh

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?
Well as you can see from my answer above I read several books at once :D

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
Time of day: No. I read all the time. Favourite place: My bed or curled up in the Red Chair of Doom (unfortunately for me the Red Chair of Doom is on a different continent from me).

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
Hmmm...series probably. But only because I have a compulsive need to know what happens next.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
J.D. Robbs In Death Series, David Eddings The Belgariad and The Mallorean, Anne McCaffrey's Pern Series and the Anne of Green Gables Series.

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)
Right now? Where ever they fit. I am once again running out of bookshelf space. One day when I have my own place (which at this rate is going to need to be a mansion) I would like to organise my books by genre and then author's last name. I like organisation.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Book Review: Pawn of Prophecy

Publishers Blurb: A magnificent epic set against a history of seven thousand years of the struggles of Gods and Kings and men - of strange lands and events - of fate and a prophecy that must be fulfilled!


Long ago, so the Storyteller claimed, the evil God Torak sought dominion and drove men and Gods to war. But Belgarath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected men of the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe.

But that was only a story, and Garion did not believe in magic dooms, even though the dark man without a shadow had haunted him for years.

Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved - but did not know?

For a while his dreams of innocence were safe, untroubled by knowledge of his strange heritage. For a little while...


My Review: I've loved this book since my mother first read it to me when I was about 10 or 11. Back then I think I loved the adventure. Now I can appreciate the insight we get into the confused mind of a teenage boy along with the mystery that the quest presents. It is an easy read that is definitely accessible for most readers but at the same time there are many layers to the book that makes re-reading a pleasure. As it is the first book in a series I will write a longer review once I've read the whole series.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Closing of Philadelphia Libraries

This was never supposed to be a political blog. I do that in other places. This was supposed to be a blog about reading and books and learning. Unfortunately these two worlds have crashed together in the most awful way in my American home town. Due to budget issues (and I do not and will not get into why or how or who is to blame for it) there is a chance, a BIG chance, that the Philadelphia Free Library system will have to close down come October 2nd. This would be devastating to a large portion of the community for whom the library is a life line. I know this because during the last few years of my grandmothers life the Chestnut Hill branch was where she got the books that we firmly believe kept her going for many more years than she should have. This woman read at least a book a day. At least. She was the indisputable heart of the family and from whom we have all inherited our love of books. The library kept her alive and for it to close would be a tragedy of epic proportions (sorry getting emotional here). The library has always been my refuge. It was the place where I felt safe. To take that possibility away from the children of Philadelphia (many who have no other safe place to go in the afternoons) would be offensive and inhumane. I don't want money to be taken from any of the other vital services in Philadelphia (the courts would loose all their funding under the so called Plan C alternative, there would be cuts to the police and fire service). I want them to come up with a workable solution that keeps the libraries open and provides for vital services to the citizens of Philadelphia.

If you live in the Philadelphia area here is some information on how to progress.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Book Review: A Walk in the Woods

I spent the summer in North Carolina with friends and they lent me this book. I loved it. I've never read any of Bill Bryson's books before but now I have an urge to go out and buy all of them.

This book tells the story of how Bryson and his friend Katz hike the Appalachian Trail (AT. Or at least attempt to do so. It also tells the history of the AT and the surrounding areas. It is a story of the loss of biodiversity, the stupidity and remarkableness of mankind and a bit of a buddy movie. It is also absolutely hilarious. Bryson has a great deal of dry wit and his observations regarding life in America are laugh out loud funny (yes I laughed out loud in airports and on airplanes reading this and I will not apologies) .

While reading this book I kept getting urges to pull out my hiking boots and set of on an adventure. Then I remembered that I consider the day trip up Ben Nevis to be one of my greatest accomplishments but that my friend James will tell you I complained the whole way up and whined the whole way down (he resorted to trickery, we were halfway to the summit for a very long time). I am not a thru-hiker by any stretch of the imagination, but one day I would like to hike at least part of it.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a passing interest in hiking, the outdoors, buddy stories or history. It truly is a book for anyone.