My TBR Pile

The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge is hosted by Adam (@roofbeamreader.com). This challenge is a fun way to read books you already own and that have been sitting on your bookshelves for a long time just waiting for you to decide it’s time to read them! It’s time!

Click on the graphic above to read Adam’s rules for the challenge. And check back here to follow my links to the books I’ve finished and reviewed.

My TBR Pile:  Some of these books have been on my shelf for a very long time!

  1. The Enchantress of Florence, by Salman Rushdie
  2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
  3. The Princess Bride, by WIlliam Goldman
  4. A Very Easy Death, by Simone de Beauvoir
  5. This Star Shall Abide, by Sylvia Engdahl
  6. A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf
  7. The Joys of Motherhood, by Buchi Emecheta
  8. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
  9. Clandestine in Chile, by Gabriel García Márquez
  10. Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry
  11. Death in the Castle, by Pearl S. Buck
  12. Dipper of Copper Creek, by Jean Craighead George

Alternates:

  1. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
  2. Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, by Marta McDowell

Happy New Year!

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!

Painting by Charles James Lewis. “Reading by the Window, Hastings.”

Bookends

 

My first read of 2017 was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s, We Should All Be Feminists, so it was very fitting to read another short work by her, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions,  to end my reading year. Wonderful bookends for 2017!

Click here to reread my review of We Should All Be Feminists. I feel even more strongly than I did one year ago, that this short book is essential reading for all! The word “feminist” is such a scary word to so many people, but this book gives you important understandings of why we need to set aside fear and open our hearts to the ideas of feminism which empower and enrich the lives of both men and women.

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions was a letter written in response to a request from Adichie’s friend about how to raise her newborn daughter. Simply put, I wish this book had existed when my daughter was born 39 years ago. I did have some strong female role models that inspired and guided my parenting of both my son and my daughter, but this little book, so succinctly and eloquently written, would have been my hand guide. I decided that I will give a copy of it , along with the knitted blanket and baby sweater gifts I make for the new arrivals of family and friends. It would be a gift of love and caring for both the new family and for the future of our planet!

These two books were excellent bookends for a year full of conflicts, contradictions, and challenges to our national norms and priorities when it comes to families and the future. There is HOPE in these two books, and ideas that can make us better people making better choices.

A photo from 39 years ago! I am, more than ever, in awe of my strong, resilient, beautiful daughter!

Son and Grandson

A photo from 6 years ago. I am also in awe of the gentle and nurturing way my son parents his own son!

SaveSave

SaveSave

Classics Club Catch-Up

One of the nicest things I did for myself in 2017 was to join the Classics Club and set a goal of reading 50 classics in five years. (Click here to see my list of books chosen, and click on the graphic above to be transported to the Classics Club web site.) I am so glad I finally joined, and I’ve been happily reading some of the wonderful books from my list of 50. I have not, however, been very diligent about getting my reviews written! So in the next few weeks, I will be posting those missing reviews from my 2017 classics reading.

When the sun is shining and the temperatures are mild enough for me to spend time outdoors, I simply don’t spend as much time in my digital world. 2017 has been a year of gardening, walking long distances, and of soaking up vitamin D.  That’s my excuse anyway for my slow posting of reviews. But it is time to “catch up” with my responses to the classics I’ve read, and to continue on with my very enjoyable reading of the classics.

Forthcoming reviews:

  • The Rainbow and the Rose, by Nevil Shute (completed in April 2017)
  • Around the World in Eighty Days. by Jules Verne (completed in June 2017)
  • Persuasion, by Jane Austen (completed in December 2017)
  • The Secret Agent, by Joseph Conrad (Completed in December 2017)

Classics read and already reviewed this year:

SaveSave

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!

Furry Friends

Jessie_Willcox_Smith

We have allergies and asthma in my family, so unfortunately we’ve never been able to have a cat for a pet. I do love reading stories about cats, though, and have read a number of very sweet books with cats as the main character. There are many cat books to enjoy, and I’ve delighted in each one I’ve read so far…

The Abandoned, by Paul Gallico, is a book written out of love for his own cats. It’s quite a story! A little boy, neglected by his busy parents, runs into the street to rescue a cat that is in the way of a truck speeding down the road. The little boy is hit by the truck instead, and he survives but immediately enters the cat world, as a cat! I know that sounds weird, but the magic works and the little boy has to learn how to BE a cat because he is still very much a little boy. A kind cat, Jennie, befriends him and teaches him everything he needs to know to survive as a cat. It’s quite fascinating to read, and a poignant little story, beautifully written. I love the writings of Paul Gallico, so this was a special treat to read.

Tiggy, by Miss Read (who wrote the Fairacre and Thrush Green series), is another fun story. Tiggy is the true story of a stray cat that came to visit, bringing her kittens with her. How to tame the stray Mama, and then domesticate her kittens enough to find homes for each one, is a story full of heart and humor.

 

Nellie

I found Nellie, A Cat on her Own, by Natalie Babbitt, at the library. It was a story of a wooden marionette cat who loved to dance and who longed to roam freely even though she was happy living with the little old lady who made her. The story is sweet and magical, but more complex than you realize. It has to do with happiness, independence, growth and change, and friendship. A very interesting story!

The old woman had made Nellie from wood and yarn and broom straws, and every afternoon would take her down from her peg, wind up the music box, and pull her strings to make her leap and dip and spin, just like a dancer on stage.

Belong to yourself, then, like me,” said Big Tom. “That way, when changes come, you’ll always be ready to hold your tail high and move along.

Some other special cat books include The Catwings series, by Ursula le Guin, which was a favorite of my second graders for many years in a row!  I read The Fur Person, by May Sarton, many years ago but still enjoy giving that small volume to cat-loving friends for Christmas. And sitting on my nightstand is another little cat book that I intend to read soon:  The Guest Cat, by Takashi Hiraide.

And just to reassure you that I do have real live cat friends, despite our allergies… two neighborhood cats have made our garden and porch their own special places.

 

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.

SaveSave

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.

SaveSave

SaveSave