Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday Musings

I am a day late and a dollar short on Monday Musings but since it is the last one Mizb is hosting I will do this even though I am late!

"Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is a short meme:


I just started reading Candy Cane Murder by Joanna Fluke and I am rereading The Pearl by John Steinbeck (with the 10th grade class I am teaching).


The book I just finished was Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry. I loved it. I thought I had read it before but it was totally unfamiliar to me. Two weekends ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in Chincoteague. I saw the fair grounds where they have the pens and auctions and we went to the wildlife sanctuary on Assateague. Although we have been to Chincoteague before, this trip made me want to read the book. I will do a review of the book itself.


I am in the midst of the Winter Holiday Reading Challenge so my next few books are all Christmas themed. I think I will read A Christmas Journey by Anne Perry



Monday, November 17, 2008

Unplug the Christmas Machine

Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pub. Date: October 1991
SBN-13: 9780688109615
207 pages

Finish on 11/15/2008
Rating: 8/10 B Very Good

Back Cover:

Nine years and thirteen printings later, Unplug the Christmas Machine is still undisputed guide to creating a joyful, stress-free holiday season. Revised and filled with new material, this book will enjoy even greater popularity in the years to come.

"Unplug the Christmas Machine offers a wealth of suggestions for combating commercialism and filling the holidays with simple, spiritual celebrations that help families draw closer together." The New York Times Book Review

Who hasn't said at one time or another, "I need to slow down" or "Why are the stores putting up decorations so early"? Doesn't it seem that we are seeing Christmas decorations or hearing Carols earlier and earlier? At our house the mere mention of Christmas can cause a near rumble. My husband yells that we spend too much; my son wants to be with his family alone; and all I want is a Currier and Ives print with me at the center sitting with my feet propped up and my dog in my lap staring dreamily at the fire.

I was drawn to this book the minute I saw it in the public library. How can I bring peace and joy to our holidays? The chapters of this book offer insight into the celebrations of some pretty typical families and exercises to help the reader examine his or her views on the subject. The authors offer suggestions to handle the more frequent roadblocks in the effort to "cut back."

"When they [adults] have a better sense of the many subtle ways that commercialism has altered Christmas, they can see why the modern celebration seems so flat." (16)

As the above quote shows, much of the book was "preaching to the choir." The authors were not telling us anything new. We spend too much; we rush too hurried; and we all too often forget the purpose. What was new were the suggestions on ways to divert the mad dash and ways to spread the load.

I found the book to be a good resource to help me slow down and it was particularly reassuring that there are ways to avoid the commercialism attached to the season. Christmas is not about the sales. I don't have to buy the bill of goods the malls are trying to push on me.

Even though I intend to string up lights; I can Unplug the Christmas Machine and enjoy my holidays.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What's In a Name 2

Here is the next challenge that I am signing up to join. I shamelessly copied and pasted the rules from Annie's blog. I have to say that I really puzzled over these catagories. I wanted to read books that I knew not ones I just chose to fit the category. Admittedly some might be a stretch but I am not reading for the prizes but to whittle down my TBR lists.

*This is a challenge that anyone can join, no matter what types of books they like to read. You should be able to find books from any genre that will work.

*Dates: January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009

*The Challenge: Choose one book from each of the following categories.
1. A book with a "profession" in its title. Examples might include: The Book Thief, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Historian
2. A book with a "time of day" in its title. Examples might include: Twilight, Four Past Midnight, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
3. A book with a "relative" in its title. Examples might include: Eight Cousins, My Father's Dragon, The Daughter of Time
4. A book with a "body part" in its title. Examples might include: The Bluest Eye, Bag of Bones, The Heart of Darkness
5. A book with a "building" in its title. Examples might include: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Little House on the Prairie, The Looming Tower
6. A book with a "medical condition" in its title. Examples might include: Insomnia, Coma, The Plague

*You may overlap books with other challenges, but please don't use the same book for more than one category.

So here is my proposed list. Luckily we didn't have to list books ahead of time so I guess that means I can alter my list as I go along.

1. Profession: The Dollmaker by Harriet Arnow
2. Time of Day: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
3. Relative: The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty
4. Body Part: Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
5. Building: The Gate House by Nelson Demille
6. Medical Condition: Life Support by Tess Gerritsen

I will post reviews as I finish them.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Library Challenge

If you read my BTT post, you know that because of my move to a condo I don't buy many books any more. I am already a big-time library fan. I may as well participate in J. Kaye's challenge. I will post the books as I read them here. I will write my reviews separately. The library already knows me!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Buying Books

"I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?"

This is the BTT question for today. I used to buy excusively. I had a house with lots of room and lots of rooms. There were oodles of shelves and my family room was like a library with a corner of floor to ceiling book shelves. I loved it. BUT I didn't buy just to stock the shelves, that simply made my obsession easier. I need to possess my books. I want to know they are there when I need them. I like to feel them and smell them. I want to underline or star important ideas. When I read, I caress.

We moved.

Our desire was to simplify our lives. We wanted to make our lives easier. It isn't easy to move books. A condo is not conducive to book obsessions. I had to learn how to let go. I still have a room for my books. There is a third bedroom that has my shelves and two comfy chairs and good lighting. That is my hideaway but there isn't room to expand. I need to make use of the library (which is within walking distance).

Our library is excellent. The county system must be among the best in the country. I can search the catalog online at home in my pjs. Put in my request and in a few days everything is ready to pick up or on order for my turn. There is something exciting about a library.

but I still like Barnes and Noble...

Casual Classics Challenge

Read 4 “Classics” between January 1st and December 31st, 2009

  • Overlaps with other challenges ARE allowed
  • eBooks and Audiobooks ARE allowed

Mizb is hosting the Casual Classics Challenge for 2009. I am adding this to my challenge list. It does not seem to be unreasonable (lol) since only four books are necessary and overlaps are allowed. Now that I think about it, why would I participate if it were unreasonable? With that figured out, here are my choices:

1. All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

2. Candide by Voltaire

3. The Inferno by Dante

4. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

John Steinbeck Mini-Challenge

Becky is hosting this challenge at her Mini-Challenge blog. Steinbeck is an all time favorite of mine so I can't resist this one. The 10th grade class that I am teaching this year is reading *The Pearl* now and the 11th classes usually read *Of Mice and Men*. I promise I won't read them. In fact, I look forward to reading two new titles.

I think I will read

1. In Dubious Battle
2. The Winter of Our Discontent
and maybe
3. The Moon is Down

I should be able to tackle all three since the challenge runs all of 2009. That is a pretty fair amount of time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Winter Holiday Reading Challenge

This is the first challenge listed on my new reading blog. I am including the rules that I have copied from Book in Hand Blog which is hosting this.

1. The Winter Holiday Reading Challenge will last from November 1, 2008 to January 31, 2009.

2. The theme for this challenge is Winter Holidays. The books that you choose to read must have a storyline that includes celebrating a winter holiday, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's, etc. (However, the holidays are not limited to just these examples.)You choose the number of books you wish to read.

3. Leave a comment at the end of this post if you want to join in on the fun.Each month, leave a comment at the end of the Winter Holiday Reading Challenge Update post that includes the book (title and author) that you read for that month and the link to your review (if you have one).

4. And finally... Enjoy your holiday reading!

Now all I have to do is list my choices! The decisions were difficult. There were "classics" of the seasons as well as new additions to the list. What to do!

After puzzling over titles, I have come up with these four titles:

1. A Christmas Journey by Anne Perry
2. Candy Cane Murder by Joanna Fluke
3. Christmas Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
4. Unplug the Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson

The deadline is January 31, 2009 but since all my titles are Christmas themed, I will try to have this finished by December 25. What a better way to get in the Spirit!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Under Construction

This is a new blog just about reading. It is currently under construction. Thanks for dropping in. I'll be up an running soon.