If you don’t like the book, you do not have to read it. Put it aside and read something you do like, because there is no reason at all why you should read what bores you during your serious reading time. You have to read enough boring stuff in the ordinary way of life without extending the borders of ennui. But if you do like the book, if it engages you seriously, do not rush at it. Read it at the pace when you can pronounce and hear every word in your own head. Read eloquently.
~ Robertson Davies
Happy New Year, dear friends! I am so happy to leave 2017 behind and make the great leap into 2018! I am looking forward to my 2018 reading, and am planning on taking on some longer books that have been waiting on my bookshelves forever.
There are a few reading “resolutions” I’m going to make for 2018. One is to read at least 10 of the classics on my Classics Club list of 50 books to read in 5 years. I’m also going to focus on my TBR pile of already owned books. To help with motivation and accountability, I’ve decided to join Adam’s (@roofbeamreader) TBR Pile Challenge. I will post about it shortly.
I plan to blog as often as I can, knowing that when the weather warms up and I can get out into the garden or work on my training for 5k races, I won’t have as much time to sit in front of the computer. It’s funny how at this stage of life (retirement), I absolutely love being outdoors and am spending much more time out there than I have since I was a child! It feels like a really healthy thing to do…and it’s fun!
I’m also looking forward to seeing what your 2018 plans are and what books you choose for your first reads of this new year.
Happy reading, dear friends!
For me, this has been a summer of reading! While my blogging lagged, my reading continued and has been a real pleasure. I often copy down quotes that resonate with me from the books I’m reading, so I thought I’d share with you a few of those summer favorites so you can see where my reading journey has taken me.
“The house was refreshingly peaceful, and I pottered about enjoying my leisure and solitude. It is deeply satisfying to me, after spending so much of my time among a number of energetic young people, to hear the clink of a hot coal and the whisper of flames in my own chimney, the purring of Tibby delighting in company, and the chiming of the clock on the mantelpiece.”
~ from Storm in the Village, by Miss Read
“Far above the Ephel Dúath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
~ from The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien
“The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”
~ from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling
“At the very beginning, anticipatory obedience means adapting instinctively, without reflecting, to a new situation.”
~ from On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, by Timothy Snyder
“To those who will decide if he should be tried for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ -the House of Representatives-
And to those who would sit in judgment at such a trial if the House impeaches -the Senate-
And to the man who would preside at such an impeachment trial -the Chief Justice of the United States, Warren Burger-
And to the nation…
The President said, ‘I want you to know that I have no intention whatever of ever walking away from the job that the American people elected me to do for the people of the United States.’
~ from All the President’s Men, by Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward”
“She could teach them to face whatever came with calmness and courage, to love their families and their friends with unswerving loyalty, and to relish the lovely face of the countryside in which they lived.”
~ from Miss Clare Remembers, by Miss Read
Early May is a special time in my family. The family often gathers to celebrate the birthdays of my brother and of my father who would have been 97 years old on this birthday. We also celebrate Mother’s Day (a little early this year) and honor our amazing Mom who is still so strong in intellect and spirit, although increasingly unsteady physically.
So our visit meant a road trip for Hubby and me, which we are enjoying very much, especially after this long and confining winter. We, of course, brought our Kindles with us. When it was my turn to drive, Hubby read The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance, by Anthony Gottlieb. And while he drove, I read my current mystery: Death in La Fenice, by Donna Leon.
We stopped for an overnight visit with my brother and sister-in-law, both voracious readers, so we left with this extensive list of books to read:
- Dark Money, Jane Mayer
- The Emperor of all Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee
- The Big Fat Surprise, Nina Teicholtz
- Nobody Cares About Crazy People, Ron Powers
- A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles
- A Deadly Wandering, Matt Richtel
- The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson
- On Immunity, Eula Biss
- Lab Girl, Hope Jahren
- At Home, Bill Bryson
- The Zookeeper’s Wife, Diane Ackerman
And when we arrived at my mother’s place, I found that she had just finished reading Girl Waits With Gun, by Amy Stewart, for her book club . I also thought you might be interested to see some of the books on her shelf so I took some photos for you.
With the family together (minus one brother and sister-in-law), we talked a lot about the current state of affairs in this country and the world, but we also talked a lot about books. It’s so nice to come from a family of readers!
Audible just told me that my long-awaIted pre-order will be available in 13 hours. I know what I will be listening to tomorrow while I try to finish up my current knitting project! I love the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear and am so looking forward to reading this latest installment, In This Grave Hour! I read the first book in the series, but have listened to the audiobooks of all the rest. Orlagh Cassidy if a wonderful narrator and, in my opinion, a perfect voice for Maisie Dobbs.
When I was 16 years old my father gave me the complete set, which at that time was 9 volumes, of Will and Ariel Durant’s The Story of Civilization. I was both thrilled with and overwhelmed by the gift. I love history, as did my Dad, but 9 volumes (soon to be 10, and then eventually 11) with fine print just overwhelmed me. Although I’ve used them like an encyclopedia, looking up information needed, in all this time I’ve never read them cover to cover, although they have traveled with me through every move and have survived every purge of books in my lifetime, thus far.
You will understand, then, when I tell you why I am extremely proud of my son. In the last few years, our son, Dan, has had a long commute to work. He has made that time spent in the car both productive and bearable by listening to audiobooks. He has just completed a huge project listening to the complete unabridged set of the 11 volumes of The Story of Civilization! If I added correctly, that’s over 424 hours of listening time! But it’s more than that because along the way on his historical journey, he took many “side roads” and listened to much of the classic literature of the time period he was immersed in.
We have had the most wonderful and fascinating long talks with him about the different historical time periods, about the amazing people involved, about human nature and culture, and about the writing of this epic life’s work by Will Durant and his wife, Ariel. What an amazing education Dan is giving himself over the miles! I know my college professor Dad would have been incredibly proud of him, too, and they would have had amazing discussions about all that Dan has learned. The pleasure of learning is certainly a powerful gene in our family, and I’m so very proud of the self-education Dan is giving himself through his reading.
“Perhaps the cause of our contemporary pessimism is our tendency to view history as a turbulent stream of conflicts – between individuals in economic life, between groups in politics, between creeds in religion, between states in war. This is the more dramatic side of history; it captures the eye of the historian and the interest of the reader. But if we turn from that Mississippi of strife, hot with hate and dark with blood, to look upon the banks of the stream, we find quieter but more inspiring scenes: women rearing children, men building homes, peasants drawing food from the soil, artisans making the conveniences of life, statesmen sometimes organizing peace instead of war, teachers forming savages into citizens, musicians taming our hearts with harmony and rhythm, scientists patiently accumulating knowledge, philosophers groping for truth, saints suggesting the wisdom of love. History has been too often a picture of the bloody stream. The history of civilization is a record of what happened on the banks.”
— Will Durant
“World Book Day is a celebration! It’s a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.”
So, Happy World Book Day to you! May your day be filled with books and wonderful stories!
To celebrate Henry Wadsworth Longfellow‘s 210th birthday today, I want to share with you a post I wrote and originally published on this blog on February 27, 2008.
born February 27, 1807
Teaching young people how to read is one thing, but sparking a passion for reading is another. As a teacher, I’m highly trained in how to teach children to read, but after 22 years of teaching, I think it’s my own passion for reading that is the most powerful tool I have as I try to ignite that spark in my students. I’ve wondered exactly where my passion came from, and I’ve been able to identify a couple of things that certainly fueled the flames. One was being lovingly read to by my parents. The other was a book experience I had when I was seven or eight years old.
My father, a university professor, asked me to go with him to visit an older, retired professor in town. Dad prepared me on the drive over to this man’s house, letting me know that he was an unusual person, old and always very grumpy with people, sort of a “hermit,” he said. What he didn’t tell me was that the man was a book person extraordinaire.
I don’t think I could ever adequately describe what this man’s house was like. I walked in the front door, my father introduced us, then I looked around. I had never seen so many books in all my life. Bookshelves were everywhere and overflowing with books. Books were piled up everywhere…and I mean everywhere! The living room was completely full of books, so there was no place to sit down. The kitchen was piled high with books — the stovetop and a small space next to the sink were the only places without piles of books. The chairs and table were piled high. There were stacks of books in the bathroom, towers of books in the bedroom. Books were piled high along the hallway. Then, he took us downstairs into his basement, which was also filled with books, except that those books were on rows and rows of bookshelves, just like in a library.
Old Professor Poulson must have recognized me as a fellow book person, even though I was only eight and he was over eighty, because he very proudly showed me his entire collection, was gentle and kind to me, and before I left he gave me a book. That book has always been my most treasured book. It was a very old, lovely volume of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poems, called Voices of the Night. I still read it and treasure it.
I remember spending hours and hours reading those poems and looking at the beautiful art “plates.” I memorized his poem, “The Wreck of the Hersperus,” which fascinated me, and I can still recite it today. And when my father passed away, it was a stanza from Longfellow’s “A Psalm of Life” that I chose to use during my remarks at his memorial service:
“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.”
Looking back, I think my Dad knew exactly what he was doing by showing me this striking example of a person’s passion for reading. It had a tremendous impact on me at a very young age! So, in searching through memories to answer the question of where my passion for reading came from, I realize that, first, my dad and mom taught me to read … and then, in so many different ways, they taught me to love reading, passionately.