Mother Combing Sara’s Hair, by Mary Cassatt
One of my all-time favorite books is The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher, and I’ve reread it numerous times. The last time I read it I wrote down a quote that is very relevant to me right now, having just lost my mother last month. It’s something I am feeling and processing, and I love that a favorite author could put it into words for me.
But the next few months would not be easy. As long as Mumma was alive, she knew that some small part of herself had remained a child, cherished and adored. Perhaps you never completely grew up until your mother died.”
Feeding the Dragon, by Sharon Washington, was offered as an audiobook special from Audible last week. I didn’t know anything about it, but when I read that it was the story of a little girl who grew up in the New York Public Library, I knew I had to listen to it. It was quite a delightful listen — Sharon Washington wrote it and was the reader, and I learned after listening to it that she has also performed it as a very successful play.
It is her family story. Her father was the maintenance person at the library and kept the ancient coal-fed furnace stoked at all times, thus the idea of “feeding the dragon.” The family lived in the apartment on the top floor of the library, and Sharon grew up amongst the books downstairs.
From 1969 until 1973 my family lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. At 444 Amsterdam Avenue in an apartment on the top floor inside the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library:
my father George, my mother Connie; my grandmother, my dog Brownie, and me.
A typical American family.
Living in a not-so-typical place.
I enjoyed listening to this book and would love to see Sharon Washington’s performance of her story!
It’s been a number of years since I participated in the Readers Imbibing Peril Challenge that heralds the arrival of Autumn. I love reading mysteries, so it’s always a lot of fun to put together a want-to-read list and join this challenge. It was designed by Carl V. Anderson @ Stainless Steel Droppings and he hosted it for many years. Then Estella’s Revenge took over as hosts. This year, Kristen @ We Be Reading, is hosting it, and it’s a very special year for this challenge: Number 13! So I can’t resist…I’m signing up!
My list of possible reads for this challenge is enormous, but I already own all of these books, so that’s easy. Some of them are also on my TBR Challenge list or my Classics Club list, so that’s another good reason to participate! Plus, these are all books I want to read, so I foresee many hours of very pleasant Fall reading ahead!
The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:
The emphasis is never on the word challenge, instead it is about coming together as a community and embracing the autumnal mood, whether the weather is cooperative where you live or not.
The goals are simple.
1. Have fun reading.
2. Share that fun with others.
I am choosing PERIL THE FIRST [to read four books of any length during the challenge time period]. Here are the books in my pool of choices for this Peril. I am looking forward to starting this reading project on September 1st!
Forty-nine years ago today, I married my best friend. He and I were, and still are, kindred spirits. Both of us felt that kinship when we first met, but we also had proof sitting on our respective book shelves. Each of us owned a very old book from the same set of books….one on his shelf and a matching volume on mine. His was Pride and Prejudice (Reader, need I say more?), and mine was Silas Marner. For that reason, and of course many others, we decided WE were meant to be.
I love the artwork of Mary Engelbreit, and this is one of my favorites of her work. It’s perfect for today because I am giving myself a present this week and rereading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It’s a book I loved years ago when I first read it, and when I saw that the movie of it is available on Netflix, I decided it was time to reread it. I am loving it even more this time around!
Photo by Andre Kertesz, from his book On Reading.
It’s supposed to be 98 degrees here today. Must find a cool place to read this afternoon!
I am missing my Mom today…it’s her birthday and she would have been 99 years old! We lost her just three weeks ago, so celebrating her birthday today is a mixture of sadness and joy–she lived life to the fullest and left us with so many joyful memories!
After my Father passed away twenty-four years ago, I started a list of “Would Haves” because there were so many times when my brothers and I would say, “He would have loved this…or that.” I haven’t started a similar list for my Mother yet, but I will need to soon because there are already things happening that she would have liked! One thing for sure that will be on that list is the upcoming September release of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s new book, Leadership in Turbulent Times. That one would have been number one on her TBR list!
Happy birthday to my beautiful Mom, my special friend. I miss you!
My husband is reading Joseph Conrad’s, Lord Jim, and he shared with me this enlightened sentence from the book knowing how much I hate reading introductions, and knowing that I refuse to read introductions BEFORE I read a story. They always ruin the story for me!
The two photos above show how my Mom prepared for book club discussions. I brought these two books home with me after she passed away three weeks ago, and I will never move the colored tabs she put there because they are such a delight to see! This is the way she always prepared for her book club, whether the one she lead at the Mt. Olympus Senior Center for 14 years, or for the local library book club that came once a month to her assisted living facility. She loved to read and talk about books, and she prepared well for the group discussions often reading the book twice, always marking the important points she wanted to remember.
The other day, as my family and I were munching on blueberries from the Farmer’s Market, I once again thought of Blueberries For Sal, by Robert McCloskey. I adored this book when I was little, and my children adored it when they were little, too! When I pulled our tattered copy off the shelf to look at it, I discovered that it had received the Caldecott Honor Medal in my birth year, 1949!
For those of you who might not be familiar with with this classic of children’s literature, Blueberries For Sal is a story of two mothers who each take their child up the hillside to pick blueberries. Sal and her mother were humans. The other mother and child were bears! They all love blueberries, and when the children get mixed up and start following the wrong mother…well, it’s a kind book and things get gently sorted out.
If you haven’t read it yet, please do. And have a container of blueberries to munch on while you enjoy it!