Category Archives: Book notes

Connections

I am awake early this morning. Sadness woke me from a grieving dream about a friend who is moving away.

So I made some tea and opened a book of poems from the library. Poems by Ursula le Guin. I read her introduction and then a couple of random poems. Poetry touches me like music, going straight to my heart in a way that bypasses all my filters and protections. I was touched by her words — words that describe similar experiences and familiar feelings — we have shared common ground, the Poet and the Reader.

And then I found her poem called “Dos Poesias Para Mi Diana.” There, inside this poem, was an electrical connection!  Without knowing anything about the personal life of this writer, her words alone, without explanation or history, let me know that we have walked the same pathways, shared two far-distant places on this planet. I am thrilled, touched, overwhelmed momentarily by the synchronicity of this magical connection. And it’s like the voice of a friend from far away gently reminding me that distance, and time, are irrelevant. Our connections, our friendships, transcend time and space.

Good morning, my friends!

January Reflections

January is one of my favorite months. I love new beginnings and the New Year. It’s my birthday month, my brother’s birthday month, my nephew’s birthday month, and my blogging anniversary month. Lots of happy things! Lots of celebrating!

I started the month by setting a new reading goal for myself on Goodreads, and lowered the goal number from last year’s 75 books to 52 books. A lower number because I have some long books, or series of books, I want to read, so I’m giving myself extra time for them. I want to read slowly and get lost in some good long stories. Here’s a sneak preview of a couple of the chunksters I would like to read this year and some of the series that I’d like to read or that are already keeping me busy.

January turned out to be a good reading month for me and was a real pleasure! I finished 10 books in all, and I’m also continuing on with my very enjoyable rereading of the Harry Potter series. My favorite book read in January was The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning! It certainly inspired some ongoing cleaning up here at home! I’m trying hard to keep that momentum going!

Two books this month had a tremendous emotional impact on me and I am still processing them. A Very Easy Death, by Simone de Beauvoir, was beautifully written and touched me very deeply. My review is here.  Also, Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book, Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race, is a powerful must-read book. I’ve decided that I will need to reread it because there is so much in it to think about and question oneself about…I need to revisit it soon as part of my processing!

One January read that I thought I would love, but didn’t, was The Alchemist. I had heard so many people tell me it was their favorite book, and I think it could have been a favorite of mine if I had read it when I was young. But although I’m  glad I read it, I just didn’t love it.

The end of January was filled with family time — birthday celebrations, news from the Seattle part of our family that a new baby girl had arrived, and a short medical crisis here at home with my husband fighting a kidney stone (he’s doing well now.). So I’m happy to welcome February and have actually managed to finish one book so far.

January reads:

The Series of 2017

All the Books of 2017” is a December reading challenge created and hosted by Ann, from @annreads on Instagram.  I’ve almost completed the challenge on my Instagram page, posting a photo for most of the prompts, but I’m waiting until the very end of the month to post the last few prompts because I’m still reading like crazy and am not finished with this reading year of 2017!

Do you love getting caught up in a series? I do, and this was a year that I wanted to read or re-read numerous series. After the election of November 2016, I felt a tremendous need to revisit my favorite series of all time: The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien.  I love the books and have lost track of how many times I’ve reread them, but I also love the movies. I just wanted to re-immerse myself in Middle Earth, and it turned out to be a very healing place for me to spend time in 2017.  The Return of the King was definitely my choice for the prompt: “Best Conclusion to a Series.


But I am enjoying reading a number of other series this year, as well. Some I’ve completed, and others on ongoing for however long they take.

I loved reading The Green Knowe Chronicles, by L.M. Boston, this year! They’ve been on my TBR list for many years and were a real treat when I finally got to them.

I’m almost finished with Jean Craighead George’s survival series that starts with the Newbery Award winning My Side of the Mountain. It’s been a fun series to read, and I understand better now why these books were some of the popular ones in my class library when I taught 6th grade!

Other series I’ve immersed myself in this year:

  • I’m just finishing the 4th book in my rereading of the Harry Potter series. I love this series even more this time around. Does it just get better and better each time you read it?
  • Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series is fun to read. I’m somewhere in the middle of the series, with lots left to read, so I know I’ll enjoy it for a long time yet. 
  • New-to-me author, Nnedi Okorafor, is writing the Binti series, a very interesting and creative science fiction series. I’ve read two of them, and look forward to the third volume which comes out mid-January.
  • The most powerful series I read this year was by far the March graphic novels series, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. It’s an especially important subject today, and beautifully done.

I’m always looking for new (or old) series to discover, new worlds to immerse myself in. If you have some suggestions of your favorites, please let me know!

The Best Sequel of 2017

“Best Sequel I Read” is the prompt for day 3 of the “All the Books of 2017” challenge hosted by @annreads on Instagram.. This year’s best was Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling. I’m enjoying a slow, leisurely re-reading of the Harry Potter series, and this time around, I absolutely loved The Prisoner of Azkaban! It was just so much fun!

My favorite quote from the book is, of course, “…when in doubt, go to the library.” But the former teacher in me also got a big kick out of this quote:

History of Magic was the dullest subject on their schedule. Professor Binns, who taught it, was their only ghost teacher, and the most exciting thing that ever happened in his classes was his entering the room through the blackboard. Ancient and shriveled, many people said he hadn’t noticed he was dead. He had simply got up to teach one day and left his body behind him in an armchair in front of the staffroom fire; his routine had not varied in the slightest since.

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The Shortest Book of 2017

Shortest book I read in 2017” is the prompt for day 2 of the “All the Books of 2017” challenge hosted by @annreads on Instagram. I looked closely at my list of books read so far in 2017 and found that the book I posted about yesterday, We Should All Be Feminists, was actually the shortest one I read this year. So instead, I am posting about the second shortest book.

Ajax Penumbra 1969, by Robin Sloan, is the prequel to the very popular Mr. Penumbra’s 24- Bookstore, a book which has been on my TBR list for years! But when I realized there was a prequel, I decided to read that first, and then the novel. I enjoyed both books, but actually liked the prequel better.  I think the reason for that is that 1969 was a very important year in my own life — my husband and I got married in 1969!  So I got a real kick out of the time setting of this book, as well as the location setting — 1969 in San Francisco. We were there!

These are both books for book lovers, and both are very enjoyable reads.

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All the Books of 2017

 

A new challenge appeared on Instagram this morning, and I thought it looked like a lot of December fun! It’s called “All the Books of 2017” and is created and hosted by Ann, from @annreads on Instagram. So I will be posting for the next 15 days on the books I’ve read so far in 2017.

Prompt #1 is the “first read of the year.”  My first read of 2017 was an intelligent little book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists, and was a great book to start out the new year. It was a very positive and important book, and I think should be required reading for everyone! Click here to watch her presentation of the book on Ted Talks.

August Reflections

I had a wonderful August this year!  August is usually one of my least favorite months because of the intense and constant heat. But despite record-breaking heat in our area, I loved the month!  It was full of family — extended time with our grandson, and a family reunion in celebration of my mother’s 98th birthday. We enjoyed travel, gardening projects, 5K races, and watching the awesome total eclipse of the sun! And when it wasn’t too smoky in our area (due to the many wildfires!), I loved the daily views on my walks and drives through this gorgeous part of Oregon.

My reading time was limited, but I did enjoy 4 different books during the month. My favorite book of the month was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I am rereading the series just for fun and as an antidote to the misery of the daily news. I also reread Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, which is my least favorite of her books…still. A refreshing and delightful read was of Philippa Pearce’s The Way to Sattin Shore. And a fascinating library book was The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures. It was a fun book and brought back many memories, including a memory of volunteering in the school library at my junior high school –typing cards for the catalog!

So, I just have to say that August turned out to be a delightful month for me overall. I am now 5 books “behind schedule” with my Goodreads goal for the year, but that’s totally okay. The special memories from this delightful month of August will warm me through many cold winter months ahead.

Rivers of Oregon

On my trip to the library last week I picked up a beautiful new book called Rivers of Oregon, by photographer/conservationist Tim Palmer, and published by Oregon State University Press.  “Rivers are the essence of Oregon,” stated the author, and this book is full of beautiful photographs and interesting essays about these hundreds of waterways.

“Healthy rivers are not only essential to the abundance of life and a historically robust economy in both sport and commercial fishing, but to all we do. The livability of whole towns and regions would wither if i weren’t for rivers and the water they deliver.

Oregon’s rivers are likewise embedded in our history and culture, from the route of Lewis and Clark across the Northwest to urban greenways that brighten Portland, Pendleton, Eugene, Corvallis, Salem, Grants Pass, Bend, and other towns large and small. Whether in our backyards or in our most cherished wilderness, the rivers give us a refuge from the stress and clutter of our busy lives. At the stream’s edge, we can adjust our expectations in synchrony with the natural world.”

This book is filled with absolutely gorgeous photographs of an amazing number of rivers in Oregon with information about each one. Besides being a talented photographer, Tim Palmer is an excellent writer so this is a very readable book as well as a lovely photography book.

I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Oregon, the natural world, and in conserving the beauty of nature and our rivers in this challenging time in our nation when decisions are being made that put many rivers in peril.

 

March Reflections

March has been another busy month. Despite the many obligations and activities that kept me busy, I managed to finish reading the above five books and am in the middle of three others!

Early in the month, I joined The Classics Club, which was something I had thought about doing for years and so finally decided to just jump in. I put together a list of 50 books to read in 5 years, and filled my list with books I already own and really want to read, so there are some very nice choices ready for me. In March I read three books from that list and am almost finished with The Moorland Cottage, by Elizabeth Gaskell, which was the book on my list that was chosen as the “Spin” book for March/April. I’ve always loved reading the classics, for both adults and children, and so this is a challenge/group that fits me well.

Some of the other things that kept me very busy in March were my knitting and my walking. Because March was such a rainy month (record-setting, flood level rains!), I was indoors a lot and managed to finish two knitting projects — a scarf for me and a baby blanket for a soon-to-arrive grand nephew! (I love being a great aunt! My nephew calls us “Graunt” and “Gruncle”. )

I’ve also become a serious walker in the last year thanks to my 82-year-old walking partner, Gloria. She is a runner, and I’m a fast walker, so we’re the perfect match at our ages/stages of life! We walk/run a 5k distance twice a week, and meet in exercise class 3 days a week. In March, we both participated in the Shamrock Run in downtown Portland. Gloria finished 1st in her age division, and I came in 24th in my division. A very successful race for both of us!

March definitely came in like a lion, with an incredible number of storms and an amazing amount of rain. It’s going out today like a lamb, with mostly sunny skies and no rain. In between the lion and the lamb, came a lot of enjoyable reading and other activities.

February Reflections

February was a good reading month for me!  It was not a month of “escape,” however. I took on some very powerful reading experiences with The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood; and March, Book 2, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell. I thought that In the Wet would be a wonderful old romance by Nevil Shute, but it was much more than that. It turned out to be a story of political intrigue in an England of the “future.” The book was published in 1953, the story takes place in 1983.

I finished The Two Towers, by J.R.R. Tolkien, which I read slowly and enjoyed very much. Being so familiar with the story, I was able to notice and focus more on the writing itself. That was a real pleasure. Founding Gardeners, by Andrea Wulf was an interesting view of the founding fathers as gentlemen farmers. And Death Without Company, by Craig Johnson, was another enjoyable Walt Longmire mystery. I do love a good mystery!

All in all, a good reading month for me, and I’m looking forward to my March reads.