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Archive for May, 2009

Sometimes I wonder how I made it through school without having read these (some more than others), but I did. I guess you can’t read everything! A few of these I’ve read abridged verisons or excerpts, but I hope to read these “one day.”

For now…it’s a list.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.

Cather, Willa. My Antonia.

Cooper, James Fenimore. The Last of the Mohicans.

Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War.

Crane, Stephen. The Red Badge of Courage.

de Cervantes, Miguel. Don Quixote.

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities.

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations.

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment.

Fielding, Henry. Tom Jones.

Frank, Anne. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.

Forster, E. M. A Passage to India.

Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von Faust

Golding, William Lord of the Flies

Hawthorne, Nathaniel The Scarlet Letter

Heller, Joseph Catch 22

Hemingway, Ernest A Farewell to Arms

Hesse, Herman. Siddhartha

Hugo, Victor. Les Misérables.

Huxley, Aldous Brave New World

Irvin, John. A Prayer for Owen Meany

Joyce, James A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince.

Orwell, George. Animal Farm.

Orwell, George. 1984.

Plath, Sylvia The Bell Jar

Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front.

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye

Shaw, George Bernard Pygmalion

Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle.

Steinbeck, John The Grapes of Wrath

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men

Stevenson, Robert Louis Treasure Island

Stowe, Harriet Beecher Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s Travels.

Thackeray, William Vanity Fair

Thoreau, Henry David Walden

Twain, Mark The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Voltaire Candide

Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. Slaughterhouse-Five

Walker, Alice The Color Purple

Wells, H.G. The Time Machine

Welty, Eudora Thirteen Stories

Wilde, Oscar The Picture of Dorian Gray

Williams, Tennessee The Glass Menagerie.

Wolfe, Thomas. Look Homeward, Angel

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Loving Paperback Swap

PaperBackSwap.com - Book Club to Swap, Trade & Exchange Books for Free.
I love to see the little brown envelopes, slightly battered and torn, arriving in my mailbox. Why?

Because it means I have a new book to read! The best part is that it’s free–well, nearly free. It’s so exciting. It’s like a little sweet treat for me, but it’s a book. Maybe a little strange to some people, but I was that teenager that asked for books for presents. (One time a friend of my Mom’s asked her what kind of things she buys for her teenager, me, by my replied, “I don’t know. Mine likes books.)

Although, if you’re reading this blog–which is about books–I’m sure you share the love.

When I first heard of PaperBack Swap I was a little uncertain. It sounded like a good idea, but I wondered if I’d get the books I wanted or if I’d only be sending books out.

For those of you that don’t know, the way PaperBack Swap works is that you post books you want to swap with other members to the database and then you search for books you want. Each book is worth 1 credit and audiobooks are worth 2. To start you have to post at least 10 books, if I remember correctly. You can either ‘order’ books if they’re available from another member or you can add them to your wishlist and are notified when the book becomes available.

The cost to mail books is around $2, which is not a bad price for a like-new book. It can get frustrating when you feel like you’re mailing more books out than you are receiving. That’s what happened to me in my first few months, but after I switched my search settings to ‘All Books’ I found a lot more titles I wanted. I did have to wait for them, but it was nice to know I could get books I wanted.

Another way that PaperBack Swap is useful for me is I use it to get books I want to add permanently to my personal library or books my city library doesn’t have. With the latter, I order them with the intention of swapping them after I read them so I can get more books. It’s a win-win situation.

If you don’t want to get rid of books on your shelf, consider buying extra books next time you’re at a garage sale or book sale. It’s a little money up front, but it’ll help get you started swapping.

But, what’s more exciting than getting my new book in the mail today (A Sister’s Test, the second book in a series I started last month) is the books that are headed my way:

  • Reading Lolita in Tehran
  • The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen
  • The Queen of Babble
  • The Parting (Book 1 in The Courtship of Nellie Fisher series)

Yeah for me!

I also mailed four books this week, so once those are received I’ll get credit and will be able to order four more! I just have to figure out what books I want next. Hmmm….

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nightstand

May was a good month for reading. I’m actually quite surprised at the number of books. Eight!be

I think June will be an interesting month for reading since we’ll be packing up for our big move to Louisville and I’m not sure how many books I want to travel with. That said, I’m planning on June being “finish reading” month. I’ll attempt to tackle those books I’ve started yet never finished, hopefully before the move date of June 22nd.

This month I finished reading:

I’m still reading:

  • Story, by Robert McKee (I finally started, but I think this will be summer reading. Maybe. If I decide to pack it in my suitcase for the move.)
  • Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler, by Wade Rouse (It’s entertaining, but I’m not quite sure where it’s headed.)

Next month I plan to read:

  • Emma, by Jane Austen
  • Lipstick Jihad, by Azadeh Moaveni
  • The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Sacred Chaos, by Tricia Rhodes (My pastor’s wife!)

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I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver  for the Simple Mom book club, although I ended up not animal-vegetable-miracleparticipating in the discussion. I thought it would be a much faster read and wasn’t expecting a book about eating locally to be so lengthy. It took me six weeks to finish picking it up here and there.

It was entertaining to hear the Kingsolver family’s journey through a year of eating locally from what they grew themselves (including their own poultry) or bought locally, except for a few things like olive oil.

At some points the reading felt dry and obligatory, while there were times I was quite captivating like on harvest day. That would be harvest day for the turkeys with the aptly named chapter: You Can’t Runaway on Harvest Day. I was intrigued by their cheesemaking, canning, and the daily fresh bread. After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life I’m tempted to add turkeys to the list of animals on our future farm. Maybe. The story of the lovesick turkey is pretty hilarious. But there’s also the reminder that living off your own produce also means fewer days off and still there’s something sweetly alluring and simple about that lifestyle.

I’m definitely exciting to start my own container gardens (herbs first) after we move to Louisville and the plethora of farmer’s markets I can’t wait to visit. Before we actually move we’ll be staying for a month at my parent’s house in South Carolina where they’ve planted a substantial garden and I’ll get to do some harvesting, canning, and weeding (yeah!). I’m looking forward to it.

If you’re interested in eating locally, what “organic” really means, the downside of how far your food travels and the fuel it uses, or the procreation of turkeys then Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life may be of interest to you. Just know you’re in for the long haul!

Kingsolver has a website dedicated to this book with pictures from their farm (which they didn’t have in the book), recipes, and many other resources: www.animalvegetablemiracle.com

There’s also a few challenges around the web encouraging to eat locally. You can check them out:

Eat Local

One Local Summer

My new word for the year: locavore.

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lgHidden-Art-of-HomemakingI don’t remember where I first saw this book, but I was intrigued. The Hidden Art of Homemaking? Sign me up! Of course, Edith Schaeffer isn’t really talking about a secret to managing your home, although I wish there was a secret or at least an “easy” button.

But the idea of “hidden art” is interesting. When Schaeffer says “hidden art” what she means is “the art which is found in the ‘minor’ areas of life. By ‘minor’ I mean what is involved in the ‘everyday’ of anyone’s life, rather than his career or profession. Each person, I believe, has some talent which is unfulfilled in some ‘hidden area’ of his being, and which could be expressed and developed” (31).

Everyone has a gift, some talent, that they can use to enrich their lives, home, and the lives of others around them. She goes on to say that when we don’t use those gifts in our everyday life it can have negative effects on the way we view ourselves and others.

We may think ‘If only…’ –If only I weren’t so tied down with the mundane things of life. If only I had a chance to go to art school. If only I had time to develop instead of being caught in this job. If only I hadn’t this endless round of housework and crying babies to overwhelm me. ‘If only…’ feelings can distort our personalities, and give us an obsession which can only lead to more and more dissatisfaction, as well as making us into ‘Eeyore-ish’ and uncomfortable-to-be-with people! (33)

Edith Schaffer approaches this “hidden art” mentality from the Christian perspective. She puts forth, and I think rightly so, that man is made in the image of a creative God and

a Christian, above all people, should live artistically, aesthetically, and creatively. We are supposed to be representing teh Creator who is there, and whom we acknowledge to be there. It is true that all men are created in the image of God, but Christians are supposed to be conscious of that fact, and being conscious of it should recognize the importance of living artistically, aesthetically, and creatively, as creative creatures of the Creator (32).

The book contains many useful and practical suggestions for using our own hidden art. Some chapters are music, interior decorating, gardening, food, drama, clothes, flower arranging, and painting among others.

I liked how Schaffer continued to emphasize throughout the book that it is not practical to attempt to do everything. She reminds the reader that we are finite creatures who are limited by choice, (often) talent, and resources and are not expected nor should we expect ourselves to pursue every area of ‘hidden art’ there may be.

Two things I really took away from the book were

  1. Suppressing our talents and desires for the creative does very little to help or fulfill us. More often than not it leaves us frustrated that our current circumstances are not conducive to our dreams and goals, which often times makes us bitter and disgruntled.
  2. All too often we wait for the right circumstances before we start our “dream,” whether it be planting a garden, learning a certain style of cooking, writing a novel, building a house, or learning to play an instrument. Schaffer’s advice is not to wait until “all the circumstances are what  you think they must be before you will find it worthwhile to start. You have started, whether you recognize that fact or not” (77).

That I think is the ultimate take-away from The Hidden Art of Homemaking. Pursue your talents, your dreams. Don’t wait until the “right” time presents itself and everything is aligned. Start something today, whatever desire you have milling around in your head. If you want to plant a garden, but live in an apartment begin with a container garden. If you want to write, pick up and start writing whether you have a story mapped out or not. Just do something.

“The only way to start, is to start.”

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u1_kitrunner I found a new favorite.

At first glance The Kite Runnerattracted me because this area of the world has been highlighted in recent years. The last decade really. It’s not just foreign because of citizenship, but that whole region is like a secret. A little secluded island set away from the world with traditions, languages, and songs different from any I’ve known. It’s been cloaked from the world like a woman in her burqa, hidden from view for all except its own countrymen.

Then, there’s the humanity and realtiy of the story. From the beginnig you know where it is headed. Maybe not line and verse, but you know the story is not without troubles and war looms in its future tangling itself among the characters.

It’s like watching a car accident after its been pulled to the side of the road, surrounded by police officers and an ambulance. You can’t help  yourself. You slow to look. Intrigued. But at the same time you can’t help but wonder if someone was injured, knowing with most certainty someone is. You hope no one’s hurt, but you just can’t look away.

That’s what it was like watching Amir. I couldn’t believe the things he did (or rather didn’t do) and his inner demons. But I couldn’t look away. I wanted to see how it ended. (I had to restrain myself from peeking at the final pages.)

Which brings me to the humanity of the story. It revealed human nature–the desire for love and acceptance, it revealed disappointment and cowardice as it weaved itself through the darkness of man. It opened up hope in the form of love and restoration in sacrifice.

It was a story of father and son, two friends as close as brothers, betrayal, death, war, and loyalty. In some ways I believe The Kite Runneris more about faith than anything else, but then I hear Hassan say, “for you a thousand times over” and know it is a story of friends tied by loyalty and sacrifice in completely different ways.

As Rahim Kahn said, “There is a way to be good again.”

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I love a good book and I’m always glad to add a few new titles to my personal library. This last week I saw a few people post on the great finds they got recently from book sales in their area and to be honest I was a tad bit jealous.

I haven’t been to a book sale in so long! I loved the book sales my college library had, down in the basement I’d come out with old textbooks and literature so proud of all my finds.

But on Tuesday, which is also library day in our family, I came across a book sale. Yeah for me! I picked up a few books. I could have gotten more. They were having a buy one, get one deal, but I had really planned on just returning books and heading on to more important things–like buying food for my family. But the books were calling…

Here’s what I got:

A Simple Heart, by Gustave Flaubert

Washington Square, by Henry James

The Name, by Michal Gorvin

We Were the Mulvaneys, by Joyce Carol Oates

Leota’s Garden, by Francine Rivers

I’m excited. Maybe a few of them will make my book list for the second half of the year.

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