Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Printz Project


Michael L. Printz Winners & Honor Books

Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta

  • The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation; Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves, by M.T. Anderson
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart
  • Nation, by Terry Pratchett
  • Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan

The White Darkness, by Geraldine McCaughrean

  • Dreamquake: Book Two of the Dreamhunter Duet, by Elizabeth Knox
  • One Whole and Perfect Day, by Judith Clarke
  • Repossessed, by A.M. Jenkins
  • Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath, by Stephanie Hemphill

American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang

  • The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation; Volume I: The Pox Party, by M.T. Anderson
  • An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green
  • Surrender, by Sonya Hartnett
  • The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

Looking for Alaska, by John Green

  • Black Juice, by Margo Lanagan
  • I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak
  • John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth, a Photographic Biography, by Elizabeth Partridge
  • A Wreath for Emmett Till, by Marilyn Nelson

how i live now, by Meg Rosoff

  • Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel
  • Chanda’s Secrets, by Allan Stratton
  • Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, by Gary D. Schmidt

The First Part Last, by Angela Johnson

  • A Northern Light, by Jennifer Donnelly
  • Keesha’s House, by Helen Frost
  • Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
  • The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler

Postcards from No Man’s Land, by Aidan Chambers

  • The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer
  • My Heartbeat, by Garret Freymann-Weyr
  • Hole in My Life, by Jack Gantos

A Step From Heaven, by An Na

  • The Ropemaker, by Peter Dickinson
  • Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art, by Jan Greenberg
  • Abrams Freewill, by Chris Lynch
  • True Believer, by Virginia Euwer Wolff

Kit’s Wilderness, by David Almond

  • Many Stones, by Carolyn Coman
  • The Body of Christopher Creed, by Carol Plum-Ucci
  • Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, by Louise Rennison
  • Stuck in Neutral, by Terry Trueman

Monster, by Walter Dean Myers

  • Skellig, by David Almond
  • Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Hard Love, by Ellen Wittlinger

Project Fill-in-the gaps

I stole this idea from Aerin who stole it from Moonrat who stole it from Andromeda. According to Moonrat, Andromeda wanted to collect a list of 100 books to read to fill in the gaps she has when it comes to classics and contemporary fiction. She gave herself 5 years to read all 100 books. She also gave herself a 25% forgiveness rate so 75% completion rate is victorious.

We’re all giving ourselves the same rules Andromeda gave herself. So I should be completed with my list by March 29, 2014.

The criteria for the list:

  • snobby classics I’ve always wished I could tell people I’ve read, but would never read otherwise because I can’t imagine enjoying them (these will probably end up making up the 25)
  • Books that I’ve bought and owned for a long time, but haven’t read because they’re reeeeally long and I’m easily daunted by length at time of reading–choosing
  • Some books I’ve been curious about and keep forgetting to buy/read
  • The gaps filled in with some award-winning books


  • Agee, James - A Death in the Family (’58 Pulitzer Prize)
  • Allende, Isabel - The House of Spirits
  • Anderson, Laurie Halse - Speak
  • Austen, Jane - Sense and Sensibility


  • Beagle, Peter S. - A Fine and Private Place
  • Beagle, Peter S. - We never talk about my brother
  • Beowulf
  • Boyle, T.C. - The Tortilla Curtain
  • Bragg, Rick - All over but the shoutin’
  • Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre


  • Carter, Angela - Nights at the Circus (’84 James Tait Black Memorial Prize)
  • Carter, Angela - The Bloody Chamber
  • Chandler, Raymond - The Big Sleep
  • Chaon, Dan - You remind me of me
  • Cheever, John - The Stories of John Cheever
  • Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
  • Chekhov, Anton - 40 Stories
  • Cisneros, Sandra - Caramelo
  • Cleaver, Eldridge - Soul on Ice
  • Colwin, Laurie - Home Cooking
  • Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness


  • Dante - The Inferno
  • Datlow, Ellen - Black Swan, White Raven
  • Didion, Joan - The White Album
  • Dillard, Annie - Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (’75 Pulitzer)
  • Dog, Mary Crow - Lakota Woman
  • Doyle, Arthur Conan - The Complete Sherlock Holmes Vol. 1


  • Eliot, George - Middlemarch
  • Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man (’53 National Book Award)
  • Erdrich, Louise - Love Medicine (’84 National Book Critics Circle Award)
  • Erdrich, Louise - Tales of Burning Love
  • Eugenides, Jeffrey - The Virgin Suicides


  • Faulker, William
  • Fisher, M F K -
  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
  • Friedan, Betty - The Feminine Mystique
  • Funke, Cornelia - Inkheart


  • Gaines, Ernest - A Lesson Before Dying (’93 NBCCA)
  • Green, John - Looking for Alaska (2006 Printz)
  • Greene, Graham - The End of the Affair


  • Hamilton, Edith - Mythology
  • Hansberry, Lorraine - A Raisin in the Sun
  • Harjo, Joy - She had Some Horses
  • Heat-Moon, William Least - Blue Highways
  • Hemingway, Ernest - Old Man and the Sea (’53 Pulitzer)
  • Hempel, Amy - Collected Stories
  • Hoffman, Alice - The Ice Queen
  • Hoffman, Nina Kiriki - A Fistful of Sky
  • Homer - The Odyssey (this time finish it)
  • Horn, Dara - The World to Come
  • Houston, Pam - Cowboys are my weakness


  • Ishiguro, Kazuo - Never Let Me Go


  • Jelloun, Tahar Ben - This Blinding Absence of Light (2004 Impac Dublin)
  • Jones, Edward - The Known World (’04 Pulitzer in Fiction)


  • Karr, Mary - Sinners Welcome
  • Kennedy, William J.- Ironweed (’84 Pulitzer in Fiction)
  • King, Laurie R. - The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
  • Kingston Maxine Hong - Woman Warrior (’76 NBCCA)
  • Kushner, Tony - Angels in America (’93 Pulitzer in Drama)


  • Lesser, Elizabeth - The Seeker’s Guide
  • Li, Yiyun - The Vagrants
  • Li, Yiyun - A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (’05 Pen/Hemingway)


  • Mansfield, Katherine - The Collected Stories
  • Mattiessen - Shadow Country (’08 National Book Award)
  • McCarthy, Cormac - Blood Meridan
  • McCarthy, Mary - The Group
  • Medley, Laura - Castle Waiting *completed 4/9/09
  • Melville, Herman - Moby Dick
  • Millay, Edna St. Vincent - Selected Poems (Pulitzer)
  • Momaday, N. Scott - House Made of Dawn (’69 Pulitzer)
  • Morrison, Toni - Beloved (’87 Pulitzer)
  • Munro, Alice - The View from Castle Rock
  • Murakami, Haruki - Norwegian Wood



  • Obama, Barack - Dreams from my father
  • O’Brien, Tim - The things they carried
  • O’Connor, Flannery - Collected Stories
  • Oliver, Mary - Red Bird


  • Paley, Grace- Collected Stories
  • Pattou, Edith - East *completed 3/30/09
  • Parks, Suzan-Lori - Topdog/Underdog (’02 Pulitzer in Drama) *completed 4/19/09
  • Porter, Katherine Anne - Collected Stories (’66 Pulitzer)
  • Pollock, Donald Ray - Knockemstiff
  • Potok, Chaim - The Chosen
  • Proulx, Annie



  • Robinson, Marilynne - Housekeeping (’81 Pen/Hemingway)
  • Russo, Richard - Empire Falls (’02 Pulitzer)
  • Rylant, Cynthia - Missing May (’93 Newbery Medal)


  • Said, Edward W. -Orientalism
  • Sexton, Anne
  • Shakespeare, William - Othello
  • Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
  • Smith, Zadie
  • Spiegelman, Art - The Complete Maus (’92 Pulitzer & ‘92 Eisner)
  • Stein, Steve - The Angel of Forgetfulness
  • Suskind, Patrick - Perfume: The story of a murderer


  • Tan, Amy - The Joy Luck Club
  • Taylor, Peter - A Summons To Memphis (’87 Pulitzer)
  • Teasdale, Sara - Love Poems (1918 Pulitzer for Poetry)
  • Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace




  • Walker, Alice - The Color Purple (’83 Pulitzer)
  • Wallace, David Foster - Consider the Lobster
  • Wells, H. G. - War of the Worlds
  • Wells, H.G. - The Invisible Man
  • Welty, Eudora - 13 stories
  • Welty - The Optimist’s Daughter (’72 Pulitzer Prize)
  • White, T.H. - The Sword in the Stone
  • Whitman, Walt - Song of Myself
  • Williams, Tennesse - A Streetcar Named Desire (’48 Pulitzer in Drama)
  • Woolf, Virginia - A Room of One’s Own
  • Wright, Richard - Native Son


  • X, Malcolm - Autobiography of Malcolm X


  • Yezierska, Anzia - Bread Givers
  • Yolen, Jane - Briar Rose
  • Yolen, Jane - Favorite Folktales from Around the World


  • Zafron, Carlos Ruiz - The Shadow of the Wind

Is there a book you think I left off? Leave a comment!

What I read in 2008

You don't have to read this. It's just for my records every book I read this year.

  1. Mouse Tales - Arnold Lobel
  2. Mouse Soup by Arnold Lobel
  3. Babymouse Vol. 1 - Jennifer Holm
  4. The Retired Kid - James Agee (Cybils)
  5. My letter to the world and other poems - Emily Dickinson (Cybils)
  6. Flotsam - David Weisner
  7. Life is a Verb - Patti Digh
  8. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
  9. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  10. Savvy - Ingrid Law (Cybils)
  11. Not a Stick - Antoinette Portis (Cybils)
  12. The Tales of Beedle the Bard - J. K. Rowling
  13. I know an old lady who swallowed fly guy - Tedd Arnold
  14. The Pocket Muse - Monica Wood
  15. It's not fair - Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Cybils)
  16. Snoring Beauty - Bruce Hale (Cybils)
  17. Me Hungry! - Jeremy Tankard (Cybils)
  18. Duck Soup - Jackie Urbanovic (Cybils)
  19. Big Bad Bunny - Franny Billingsley (Cybils)
  20. The boy who wouldn't share - Mike Reiss (Cybils)
  21. The Twin Giants - Dick King-Smith (Cybils)
  22. Fletcher and the Falling Leaves - Julia Rawlinson
  23. We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson (Cybils)
  24. Fool Moon- Jim Butcher
  25. Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant - Jack Prelusky
  26. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - F. Scott Fitzgerald (s.s.)
  27. Paradise Lost - John Milton
  28. Storm Front - Jim Butcher
  29. Owl at Home - Arnold Lobel
  30. Backup - Jim Butcher
  31. The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
  32. Delilah D. at the library - Jeanne Willis
  33. The Zoo - Suzy Lee
  34. Grace for President - Kelly Dipucchio (Cybils)
  35. Wolves - Emily Gravett
  36. The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
  37. A broom of one's own - Nancy Peacock
  38. The Bearskinner: A Tale of the Brothers Grimm - Laura Amy Schlitz
  39. The girl in the castle inside the museum - Kate Bernheimer (Cybils)
  40. Woolbur - Leslie Helakoski
  41. The Boy who grew flowers - Jen Wojtowicz
  42. The Sisters Grimm Vol. 1 - Michael Buckley
  43. I ain't gonna paint no more - Karen Beaumont
  44. The Way Back Home - Oliver Jeffers
  45. LadyBug Girl - Jacky Davis (Cybils)
  46. The Dangerous Alphabet - Neil Gaiman
  47. Arthur's Halloween - Marc Brown
  48. In a blue room - Jim Averbeck (Cybils)
  49. The Willoughbys - Lois Lowry
  50. The very brave witch - Alison McGee
  51. Geography of Love - Glenda Burgess
  52. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See
  53. Wanted - Brian K.
  54. Zami - Audre Lorde
  55. Gloom Cookie - Serena Valentino
  56. Art by Patrick McDonnell
  57. The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
  58. Just who will you be? Big Question. Little Book. Answer Within by Maria Shriver
  59. Housekeeping vs. the Dirt - Nick Hornby
  60. Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer
  61. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - The Pearl Poet
  62. The Pull of the Moon - Elizabeth Berg
  63. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling
  64. Flight Vol. 2- ed. Kazu Kibuishi
  65. Flight Vol. 1 - ed. Kazu Kibuishi
  66. Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose
  67. Robot Dreams - Sara Varon
  68. A wrinkle in Time - Madeline L'Engle
  69. The Book of Lost Things by John O'Connolly
  70. We are on our own - Miriam Katin
  71. The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch
  72. Bone Vol. 9 -Jeff Smith
  73. Bone Vol. 8 -Jeff Smith
  74. Bone Vol. 7 - Jeff Smith
  75. Bone Vol. 6 - Jeff Smith
  76. Bone Vol. 5 - Jeff Smith
  77. Bone Vol. 4: Jeff Smith
  78. Bone Vol. 3: Jeff Smith
  79. Bone Vol. 2: Jeff Smith
  80. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic - Alison Bechdel
  81. Understanding Comics- Scott McCloud
  82. Bone Vol. 1: Out of Boneville - Jeff Smith
  83. Comfort - Ann Hood
  84. What now? - Ann Patchett
  85. Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer
  86. New Moon - Stephenie Meyer
  87. Fables Vol. 5: The Mean Seasons
  88. Fables 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers
  89. Fables Vol. 3: Storybook Love
  90. Fables Vol. 2 Animal Farm - Bill Willingham
  91. The Well-Adjusted Child - Rachel Gathercole
  92. Twilight - Stephanie Meyer
  93. Dinner with Friends - Donald Margulies
  94. The Flower - John Light
  95. Steel Magnolias - Robert Harling
  96. Fables: Legends in Exile - Bill Willingham
  97. Time and Materials -Robert Hass
  98. The Wild Braid - Stanley Kunitz
  99. The Sandman Vol. 1 Preludes and Nocturnes - Neil Gaiman
  100. Driving Miss Daisy - Alfred Uhry
  101. Wit: a play - Margaret Edson
  102. Minnie and Moo and the seven wonders of the world - Denys Cazet
  103. The Book of Other People - Zadie Smith
  104. The Resurrectionist - Jack O'Connell
  105. The End of the Alphabet - CS Richardson
  106. Monsters of Templeton - Lauren Groff
  107. The Stolen Child - Keith Donohue
  108. Love Walked in - Marisa De Los Santos
  109. The Arrival - Shaun Tan
  110. BooBoo - Olivier Dunrea
  111. Peedie - Olivier Dunrea
  112. American Born Chinese - Gene Luen Yang
  113. The Happiness Code - Amy Herrick
  114. Ollie - Olivier Dunrea
  115. Purplicious - Victoria Kahn
  116. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Alan Moore
  117. How to be a Domestic Goddess - Nigella Lawson
  118. Amulet: Book 1 The Stonekeeper - Kazu Kibuishi
  119. Baby Bear, Baby Bear, what do you see? - Bill Martin Jr.
  120. Penelope - Marilyn Kaye
  121. Not quite what I was planning - Smith Magazine
  122. Every monday matters - matthew emerzian
  123. 52 projects - Jeffrey Yamaguchi
  124. Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician by Daniel Wallace
  125. That rabbit belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell
  126. The who who was raisied by librarians - Carla Morris
  127. The nighteater by Ana Juan
  128. Into the woods - Lyn Gardner
  129. Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems
  130. The Frog Prince continued by Jon Scieszka
  131. Nate the Great and the Monster Mess by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
  132. Nate the great and the mushy valentine by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
  133. Time to pee by Mo Willems
  134. Persepolis 2 -Marjane Satrapi
  135. One of those days - Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  136. Diary of a wimpy kid by Jeff Kinney
  137. Horns and Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson
  138. Good-bye, Chunky Rice - Criag Thompson
  139. Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi
  140. Julia's Chocolates -Cathy Lamb
  141. Riding the bus with my sister - Rachel Simon
  142. Minnie and Moo and the haunted sweater - Denys Cazet
  143. Minnie and Moo: The Case of the Missing Jelly Donut - Denys cazet
  144. Baby Bear's Books - Jane Yolen
  145. Stardust - Neil gaiman
  146. The Library - Sarah Stewart

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Another Challenge!!

Wendy at Caribousmom is hosting the 2nd annual Mini-challenges again. I love this challenge. There are 12 mini-challenges that you can do in any order starting January 1st and ending December 31st. The only catch is that you have to either blog about the completed challenge or tell Wendy's Yahoo group A Novel Challenge about it. Here are the challenges cut and pasted:

1.Read a collection of short stories and either blog about it, OR tell the group about what you read

2. Read a play. Blog about it, OR tell the group about your experience.

3. Read a nonfiction book; write a review on your blog or post it to the group.

4. Read an 2 essays from the same collection; write a review on your blog or tell the group about what you read.

5. Go to a book event; blog about it or tell the group about it.

6. Borrow a library book
, read it and review it on your blog (or tell the group about it).

7. Read a book by a new to you author. Do a little research on the author…do they have a blog? How many books have they written? Have they won any prizes? Where do they live? etc… Blog about the book you read and the author OR tell the group about them.

8. Make a donation
. You can either donate to an organization that supports reading OR make a physical donation of a book (or books) to ANYONE. Blog about it or tell the group what you did.

9.Promote literacy
. This is wide open - use your imagination. You could give a child a book, or read a book to someone who cannot read, or volunteer at an event which promotes literacy, or donate to your local library, or write something on your blog with a link to a group which promotes literacy, or anything in between. The only rule with this one is that you must PROMOTE literacy in some way…

10. Participate in a buddy read or Group discussion. This can be a face to face group, an on-line group or a one on one discussion with a friend who read the same book. Either way, blog about your experience or share with the group. Did the discussion give you greater appreciation or insight into what you read?

11. Read a book outside your comfort level or from a genre you don’t normally read
. Blog about it, or tell the group about it.

12.Read a classic
(defined as anything published before 1970). Tell us why it fits the category of being a classic. Write a review or tell the group about the book.

My Favorites of 2008

2008 was not my best reading year but it was my best year when it comes to exploring the blogosphere. I've been blogging for a year and half now, discovering new books and genres while expanding my horizons and making new friends along the way. Thanks to Dewey and Nymeth, I've tried and fell in love with graphic novels. Because of Wendy, I know about every reading challenge on this side of the sphere. The great J.Kaye turned me back on to young adult books.

I've read so many great books this year, most of which were published years ago. So I can't honestly say what the best books of this year are, but I can tell you what my favorites are. I tried to come up with my top 20 but found that impossible.

Favorite young adult/high school
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn and David Leviathan

Favorite Middle School fiction
1. Savvy by Ingrid Law
2. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
3. Into the Woods -Lyn Gardner

Favorite Self-Help
Life is a Verb - Patti Digh

Favorite Adult Fiction
1. The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
2. Wit: A Play - Margaret Edson
3. The Book of Other People: short stories edited by Zadie Smith
4. Love Walked In - Marisa de Los Santos
5. The End of the Alphabet - CS Richardson

Favorite graphic novels
1. We are own our own - Miriam Katin (also one of my favorite non-fiction reads)
2. Amulet Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper - Kazu Kibuishi
3. Goodbye, Chunky Rice - Craig Thompson
4. Babymouse Vol. 1 - Jennifer and Matthew Holm
5. Fables series -Bill Willingham

Favorite nonfiction
1. The Geography of Love - Glenda Burgess
2. The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch
3. Understanding Comics - Scott McCloud
4. Comfort - Ann Hood

Favorite Children's Books
1. The Flower -John Light
2. Flotsam - David Weisner
3. Minnie and Moo series - Denys Cazet
4. The Retired Kid - James Agee

Favorite Series
Fables by Bill Willingham

Favorite Challenges
1. Once Upon a Time hosted by Carl V.
2. R.I.P. (Readers Imbibing Peril) also hosted by Carl V.
3. 24 Hour Read-a-thon hosted by Dewey

Favorite bloggers
All of you who visit 1330v and leave comments. Thank you so much. I appreciate you and wish you happy readings and great times in 2009.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Salon: The Last Sunday

It amazes me that 2009 is just a few days away. This year went by so fast! With my vacation from school lasting until the middle of January, I've been trying to read as many books as possible to make up for all those I couldn't read during the semester.

In the last week or so I read nine books and my favorites are:

Savvy by Ingrid Law
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn and David Leviathan
Life is a Verb - Patti Digh
My letter to the world and other poems - Emily Dickinson

Between reading and relaxing, I just had to sign up for some of next year's reading challenges. I promised myself that I would only sign up for six challenges next year, but at yesterday's count I signed up for nineteen! All are pretty flexible and I can make my list as I go. Most of the challenges are new to me, only three are challenges I've heard about or participated in before: Jewish Literature, Book Awards, and the challenge I'm hosting the In Their Shoes Challenge. The great thing about reading challenges is you have the opportunity to sign up to read books you normally would not have read on your own.

On December 31st, I will be posting my 20 favorite books of 2008. So far this year I've read 139 books, most of which were not published this year. It's going to be hard to come up with my top 20, but I'll try. Don't be surprise if you see my top 23 or 25!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Unshelved Reading Challenge

I promise this will be my last challenge post for today. This challenge is being hosted by Becky at Becky's Book Reviews. It starts February 1st and ends June 1st 2009. The goal is to read at least three books reviewed by the Unshelved Book Club. My picks:

1. An Abundance of Katherines - John Green
2. The Confessions of Max Tivoli - Andrew Sean Greer
3. The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson
4. Mouse Guard Fall 1152 - David Peterson
5. Sharp Teeth - Toby Barlow

Lambda Challenge

I really do need to keep up with all the challenges I'm signed up for. The Lambda Challenge is being hosted by Adventures in Reading. There's no time limit and the only rule is to read books that have won the Lambda Award. The award celebrates the best in LBGT literature. My list so far with books I've read in bold:

Call me by your name - Andre Aciman
The bill from my father - Bernard Cooper
Fun Home - Alison Bechdel
Me talk pretty one day - David Sedaris

Jewish Literature

I know, I know, I said I wasn't going to sign up for that many challenges next year, but I can't help it. I'm addicted.

The Jewish Literature Challenge is being hosted by Callista. The rules to read at least four books by Jewish authors or about Judaism. It started December 21st and ends April 27, 2008.

My picks:

1. Angel of Forgetfulness - Steve Stern
2. The World to Come - Dara Horn
3. People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks
4. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn and David Leviathan (finished)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Day Seven's Summary

I finished reading Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan this morning. What a great read! It's marketed towards the high school crowd, but after several references to the sitcom My So-Called Life, I knew this book is really for my generation.

The book is about the "five-minute" relationship between two strangers that turns into an unforgettable first date complete with great music, drunk loyal friends, ex-girlfriends from hell, and the possibility of new love.

I also finished Patti Digh's Life is a Verb: 37 Days to wake up, be mindful, and live intentionallyy. It's a great self-help book with tons of stories, exercises, examples and laughs to get you going. The inspiration for the book come from Digh's father. Her father was diagnosed with lung cancer and died just thirty seven days later. This is not a book of sadness or grief, but one that celebrates life and the human potential fully. I cannot say enough about the book, but I can say this: go out and buy it now. Also go and check out Patti's blog:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Day Six Summary

Right now I'm reading the young adult novel Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. I wanted to see the movie, which is currently out, but it's not playing in my area. The book is great so far! Don't you feel lucky when you read one great book after the other? Yesterday I didn't get much reading done, but maybe today will be better.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Day four's summary, a library visit, and some books thrown in

Instead of giving you a million posts in one day, I'll just make this one a little longer than usual. I ended up finishing Savvy by Ingrid Law hours after I wrote day two's summary. I took the book to bed with me and stayed up until the last page was read. With three kids I'm strict about getting every hour of sleep that I can get, so it's the ultimate compliment.

Savvy starts with Mississippi (Mibs) Beaumont two days away from her thirteenth birthday, wondering about what "savvy" she will receive. A savvy is the special powers Beaumonts receive on their thirteenth birthday. With an older brother who can almost instantly make hurricanes, a mother who is perfect at everything she do, and a grandfather who can cause earthquakes, Mibs knows her savvy will be special. But when her father is hospitalized after a car accident, Mibs knows that her savvy will help her heal him and bring him home. The problem is how to get to the hospital. She finally sneaks on the bus of a bible salesman's, going on a road trip that's filled with adventures. A great coming-of-age story.

Yesterday I didn't read anything. Instead I spent the day hunting through new and used bookstores for great finds. Unfortunately I didn't find even one book, something that rarely happens to me. Maybe next time . . .

Today I read Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. I'll review it later this week, but for now: it's a great read.

At my visit to the library in between readings of Stargirl, I picked up more books, ignoring what's already on my bookshelf.

Classics for Pleasure by Michael Dirda. A collection of essays about Dirda's favorite classics.

Rumi: The Book of Love.

Great Books by David Denby. A memoir about Denby's year at Columbia University as an adult, rediscovering the classics all over again. (See a theme here?)

An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Day Two Summary

I'm 127 pages into Savvy by Ingrid Law, a great story about a girl who gets her "savvy" or special powers on her thirteenth birthday.

I'm only twelve pages into Abigail Thomas's memoir A Three Dog Life.

I'm too addicted to the internet. Tomorrow I'm spending less time on the computer.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Day one summary

In total I read four books today: The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling, The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood, Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis, and I know an old lady who swallowed fly guy by Tedd Arnold.

The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing (2004)
Monica Wood
256 pages

I received this book just yesterday from paperbackswap. The Pocket Muse is filled with exercises, quotes, and advice on writing. I read this in almost one sitting. Before I started I had a new pack of post-its for pages I liked. When I finished the book I had went through all of my post-its tagging page after page. One of my favorite exercises was "Inventing an Opposite" (what's the opposite of a kiss?). Included also are black and white photos and fill in the blank sentences to inspire.

Not A Stick (2007)
Antoinette Portis
32 pages
2008 Cybil Nominee for Fiction Picture Book

I had to read this sequel to Not a Box. This time there's a little pig whose imagination takes a stick and makes it so much more like a paintbrush and sword among other things.

There was an old lady who swallowed Fly Guy (2007)
Tedd Arnold
2008 Cybil Nominee for Easy Reader

A funny read about Fly Guy being swallowed by an old lady along with several farm animals.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard (2008)
J.K. Rowling
112 pages

Part of the world of Harry Potter, this book is a great addition for any HP fan's library. My favorite stories were "The Warlock's Hairy Heart," "The Fountain of Fair Fortune," and "The Tale of The Three Brothers."

Now four down and nineteen to go.

Graphic Novels Challenge

In the midst of reading as much as I could today, I also signed up for Laza's Graphic Novel Challenge. The challenge starts January 1st and ends December 31st. The challenge is really flexible with participants choosing their level of involvement:

Doctorate - read 24 books
Masters - read 18 books
Major - read 12 books
Minor - read 6 books

I'm going to participate on the Doctorate level. I already plan on reading as many graphic novels as I can next year, so I know this will be a great way to make more blogging friends. I probably won't make a list though I know at the very least the Fables series by Bill Willingham will be on my list.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

23 Books in 23 Days Personal Challenge

Starts: Tomorrow, December 20, 2008
Ends: January 11, 2009, Sunday

With the fall semester officially over for me as of this morning, I can finally relax and read without guilt until the start of spring semester next year. Every year I usually hit the 150 mark when it comes to books read, but since I became a full-time student this year, I am currently at 128 books. So I came up a personal challenge to read 23 books in the next 23 days. I'm starting the challenge tomorrow and will end it on Sunday, January 11th, the day before the semester starts. I'm not giving myself any restrictions on genre or book length, though I do plan on reading Roberto Bolano's masterpiece 2666 which clocks in at a whooping 894 pages. This might end up the 22 books in 23 days challenge. Any way, wish me luck!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Salon

My reading week started out great with me reading the first two books in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series: Storm Front And Fool Moon. Harry Dresden is a young wizard living in present day Chicago, fighting demon-calling sorcerers, vampires, werewolves, fairy godmothers, and many more creatures of the Nevernever, a land just for special creatures. Everything was going okay, until someone started sending these creatures Harry's way. . .

These were great books, fast-paced with a great plot. In the first book, Storm Front, the only thing that turned me a bit off was all of Harry's sarcasm. You know the character is doing it so he won't be so serious, but a couple of times I wanted to just close the book because it started to become a cliche. Run-in with a strange creature, almost get killed, sarcasm. Fool Moon had less of the sarcasm and was just as well-written as Storm Front.

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson is a beautiful tribute to all the men who played Negro League Baseball and those who organized it. The book is a non-fiction picture book aimed at readers eight and up. The illustrations are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. I don't know anything about baseball now or then, but the conditions these great athletes played in for the love of the game was astonishing: because of segregation many times there was no place to sleep after a game so many players slept crammed in a car with other teammates, sometimes there was no place to get a meal or take a shower. . . Not to mention the sixty-year agreement by white major league owners to not allow any African-American to play in the major leagues. This is one of my favorite books of the year and I am so glad I read it. I don't normally buy hardcovers, but I will definitely be buying this book soon.

Have a great week and happy readings!

What book I am

You're Loosely Based!
by Storey Clayton

While most people haven't heard of you, you're a really good and interesting person. Rather clever and witty, you crack a lot of jokes about the world around you. You do have a serious side, however, where your interest covers the homeless and the inequalities of society. You're good at bringing people together, but they keep asking you what your name means.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?

No, but I will be able to for Christmas vacation.

2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?

I'll read whatever I wanted to read. I never read to escape. Nor do I read magazines unless it's Bookmarks. I would probably be reading contemporary fiction.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dewey's Books

Just yesterday I wrote the I wouldn't be joining that many challenges next year, but this one I could not resist. Chris and Robin are hosting the Dewey's Books challenge.

The rules are:

1. 1. Pick one book from each of the 6 years that Dewey has archives of. You can access her archives by clicking on the archive link in the sidebar of her website. It’s a dropdown menu. For instance, you would read one book that she reviewed in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 for a total of six books.

2. The other option is to read 5 books that Dewey reviewed. These can be from any year and I’m guessing that each of us has at least 5 books on our TBR list because of Dewey!

To join pick either option one or two. The challenge officially starts January 1st, but you can start now and ends December 31, 2009.

This is such a great idea. Dewey had great taste in books from award-winners to graphic novels to young adults. This is a challenge that has something for everybody. I'm going to do option one. I'm staying flexible, so I won't be making a list.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Salon: 2009 Personal Challenge

As great as challenges are, there are many I won't be joining next year because of limited time. So instead I plan on having a personal challenge that includes no more than six challenges from the blogosphere. There are so many books I want to read and of course not enough time to read them.

I'm starting my personal challenge on Dec. 18, 2008 and it will run through Dec. 31, 2009. I know the dates are odd but the 18th is the last day of school for me and I plan on reading the second I walk out of class.

The plan: to read 150 books

6 in translation. (Lost in Translation challenge)
12 young adult novels (J. Kaye's Y.A. Challenge)
10 award winners (Book Award Challenge)
25 on my TBR bookshelf
100 short stories (100 shots of short story challenge)
The rest? Who cares?

I'm also participating in The Year of Readers Challenge that is hosted by Jodie. The challenge is a year-long read-a-thon in 2009 to raise money for literary charities through reading. Instead of asking people to donate money to me for my charities, First Book and 826 National, I'm going to personally donate $1.50 for each book I read. If I read 150 books I'll have donated a total of $225 by the end of the year. I plan on donating money at the end of each month instead of waiting until the end of the year. If you would like to join and help raise money, go over to the challenge. If not, why don't you support one of your fellow bloggers and donate money for a great cause?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Lost in Translation Challenge

Lost in Translation Challenge
Jan. 1st - December 31, 2009

The goal is to read 6 books in translation.

My list:

The girl with the dragon tattoo - Steig Larsson (Swedish)
Living to tell the tale - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Spanish)
Death with interruptions - Jose Saramago (Portuguese)
Shadow of the wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Spanish)
After the Quake - Haruki Murakami (Japanese)

40 stories - Anton Chekhov (Russian)
Perfume: the story of a murderer - Patrick Suskind (French)
2666- Robert Bolano (Spanish)
The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery (French)
The Little Prince - Antoine de Exupery (French)

Out Stealing Horses - Per Petterson (Norwegian)
Memory - Philippe Grimbert (French)
Waiting for Godot - Samuel Beckett (French)
The Lost Daughter - Elena Ferrante (Italian)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Weekly Geeks #27: Thinking of Dewey

Dear Dewey,

This week has been such a sad one with you gone. For there to be silence instead of words from you feels impossible. I miss you. I feel so sad for your family who I know is missing your presence. I have read so many great things about you and I hope that wherever you are, you hear it all and know how special you were to so many people.

One of my favorite posts from you is a book meme that was posted earlier this year. In it you answered the question that all lovers of books hear: Why do you read? I read your very funny story about shouting out the names of establishments as your parents drove you by. I read how reading gave you as much peace as sleep. I read how you felt like an anthropologist when you read, learning about the human race.

I think we read because it's as essential as breathing to us.

Thank you for being so caring and so kind. Thank you for sharing yourself and your life with us. You were a great friend. We all miss you. I love you, Dewey, and I'm glad you're no longer in pain.

N. Vasillis

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bedtime Stories

More than a year has passed since the kids and I started a book club. The kids' ages range from three to nine. At the time only the oldest (the girls) were readers. The boys were just starting to learn their letters. I wanted to start something that would be fun for the kids and not feel like school: no lessons or homework, just listening to a good story.

We usually get together every day and read. On the weekends we visit our local library, checking out too many books. We also watch movies based on books like The Velveteen Rabbit, Stuart Little, Harry Potter, and many more. The kids enjoy themselves while unknowingly adding new words to their vocabularies and enriching their love of books.

This week we are reading some great finds from our library:

Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Carin Berger (2006)
Ages 4-6
40 pages

As a group we never read poetry. The kids, with very different interests, would rather not. But after reading some great reviews about this book, I checked it out for myself and ended up reading it to the group every night. The book is about imaginary creatures that are part inanimate object and part animal. So far the kids' favorite is the toadster, an animal that is part toad and part toaster who loves popping out toast from the top of its head.

Owl at Home written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel (1982)
Ages 4-8
64 pages

It's amazing how even as an adult you can rediscover your childhood by falling in love with children's books. This was published the year I was born but I've never encountered books by Lobel until now.

Owl at Home is a collection of five stories about the adventures of Owl in his home. The kids loved reading about the silly character as he welcomed winter into his warm and cozy home one night, walked home with the moon, and others.

Owl at Home has been such a good fit with my family, I am finding as many books as I can by Lobel.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Dear Dewey,

Without even knowing you were gone, I missed you. Every morning when I turn on my computer, I go straight to "The Hidden Side" to see what you have posted next. Every day there was something new to read: a comment on life, a book review, a contest, or event. . . What I loved most about you was your honesty, your sense of humor, and your ability to bring bloggers from all over together to know each other and celebrate our love of books. If it wasn't for you, so many of us would not know each other.

You have been a mentor to me, teaching me it is okay to write, to put down your thoughts, and let the world see. You made writing seem so effortless. I am sorry I waited until this sad day to tell you all of this. I know better now.

Thank you for making me feel so good by hosting the Read-a-thon. I only participated once but I felt great cheering others on while making new blogging friends and reading.

To know that now there is only silence instead of your words, your thoughts is almost unbelievable. Your role can never be replaced or diminished with time.

Missing you,

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Salon: End of Novemebr and everything books

After reading so many great reviews about Neil Gaiman's newest novel, The Graveyard Book, I did something I usually don't do: bought it in hardcover. As much as I love books I never buy a book in hardcover unless it's used. Books are so expensive that I rather check them out at my local library, receive them from paperbackswap, wait a year or more until they come out in paperback or buy them used. I am glad I bought The Graveyard Book.

The description from Amazon perfectly sums it up:

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy.

He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead.

There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy-an ancient Indigo Man beneath the hill, a gateway to a desert leading to an abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer.

But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family. . . .

I have so many obligations this week: studying for finals, essays, homework, and family that reading this book felt a little rushed so I plan on rereading it later on this week.

I started November out in a book funk. I could not finish any books I started. The cure: picture books. I read so many great picture books like Delilah D at the Library by Jeanne Willis about a young girl with a very big imagination, The Bearskinner by Laura Amy Schlitz which was a spin on a Grimm fairy tale, and Woolbur by Leslie Holakoski about being your own person. My kids loved all three books.

Even in a book funk and with Christmas approaching, I have madly been searching through thrift stores, libraries, paperbackswap, and used bookstores for great finds and have acquired so many great reads ranging from Joyce Carol Oates's The Gravedigger's Daughter, to Ami McKay's The Birth House to Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres. Now I just have to find the time to read!

Have a great week and happy reading!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year has been a pretty challenging one with me going back to college and learning through experience how to balance school, kids, and free time for myself. Right now as I look around, I see only blessings.

I am so thankful for my family who supports me as I deal with homework, tests, and late-night studying.

I am thankful for finally having the opportunity to go back to school.

For every book I get my hands on.

The four walls around us and the roof above our heads. There are so many who don't have that.

For decent health.

Our love for each other.

Now it's time to go back to cooking. How are you spending Thanksgiving and what are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For the love of books

"The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something undefering about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included. Literature, she thought, is a commonwealth; letters a republic." -Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not again.

I have writer's block. I also have reader's block. The only thing I can read is the required reading assignment from my British Lit class, Paradise Lost. Sigh. I better start checking out some children's books. It's the best cure for reader's block. Maybe it'll help the writer's block also.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Salon

For the past two weeks I have been boycotting my life: boycotting school and its endless assignments and readings, boycotting chores at home (unsuccessfully,) and boycotting life in general. I need a vacation and with a little bit more than a month until I can have one, like the teenager I once was, I am rebelling. I refuse to let my reading suffer a bit more.
Earlier last week I found out about 100 Shots of Short reading challenge hosted by Rob. The challenge has no time limit and no specific titles to read, it's the reader's pick. No one can argue that short stories can take any great amount of time away from one's day. Since I have family and school responsibilities my free time is very limited but my goal is to read one short story a day for the next 100 days.

Last Saturday I checked out The Best American Short Stories 2008. As much as I love short stories, I rarely read a collection of them. Salman Rushdie is this year's co-editor and has picked some great stories. Out of the six short stories I have read so far in this collection, five I have loved. After reading the first two stories, T.C. Boyle's Admiral and Kevin Brockmeier's wonderful The Year of Silence, I knew I had to have this book. Katie Chase, Nicole Krauss, Alice Munro, and Danielle Evans are among the many writers in this collection.

With several fires burning in Southern California, many Californians are stuck indoors because of bad air quality. I am grateful that I am nowhere near the fires and my family is safe. My prayers goes out to everyone in the areas. Have a good week and happy readings!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday Quote

"There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny."
-Steve Pressfield, The War of Art

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm addicted to Wordle!

Thanks, Jill! One more thing for me to do for hours at a time. Go and try it:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Books for the Holidays Campaign

I just found out about a great challenge for book bloggers organized by Amy. I'm Buying Books for the Holidays is a campaign challenging people to buy books as gifts for as many people on our holiday lists as possible. The challenge's blog will feature book reviews and try to raise awareness of literary charities. Amy promises to donate $100 to First Book if at least 100 people sign up for the challenge.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Salon: So many books, too little time

As last Saturday's quote says, school is getting in the way of my education. Between assigned readings, field trips, essays, hours and hours of lectures, and my family I have very little time for myself, reading, or nanowrimo.

I'm like most people: a guerrilla learner. I learn whatever it is that interests me, for as long as it interests me before moving on to the next subject. In the last year my interests have included: graphic novels, comics, fairy tales, the perfect personal essay, journal writing, and more. Great for me, horrible for school. Or is it the other way around? Either way I've have had little time to do the things I've loved.

This past week has been a great week for books. Through the mail I've received:
Too Soon Old, Too Little Smart - Gordon Livingston
The Gift: Poems by Hafiz - Daniel Ladinsky
Good Poems for Hard Times
A Broom of One's Own - Nancy Peacock
Life is a Verb - Patti Digh
Forty Stories - Anton Chekhov

I went to the thrift store Friday and walked away with eleven great books including Perfume by Patrick Suskind and Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. Since I have the next two days off from school I plan on reading and writing until my heart is full. Wish me luck.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday's Quote

"Loving a baby or child is a circular business, a kind of feedback loop. The more you give, the more you get, and the more you get, the more you feel like giving."
-Penelope Leach

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Three of my favorite blogs

Dewey is hosting a great contest by giving away five copies of five different books. One of her requests is for participants to tell us what are three of their favorite blogs are. I have more than fifty blogs bookmarked on my list, so I'm not going to give you my top three but just three random blogs.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. On her blog Gretchen shares with her readers all the happiness techniques that she spent a year learning about and testing driving out. One of my favorite posts by Gretchen is a recent one about trying to come to terms with who you are and all the things you want to do and be but can't.

37 Days. The generous, intelligent, and caring Patti Digh is the author of this blog. 37 Days comes from the title of her book, Life is a Verb: 37 days to wake up, be mindful, and live intentionally. Five years ago Patti's stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed only 37 days later. Patti's blog always makes my day so much brighter. Go and over and browse her archives. I found out about both the book and the blog through the blog Head Butler.

Head Butler is hosted by Jesse K. The purpose of this blog: to tell you about the great movies, music, and books that Jesse thinks you'll probably enjoy. I am forever thankful to Jesse for blogging about Ann Hood's eloquent memoir Comfort, about the death of Hood's daughter.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday's Quote

“If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.” -Dorothy Law Nolte

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesday's quote

I shall pass through
this world but once.
Any good therefore
that i can do or any
kindness that I can
show to any fellow
creature, let me do it now.
Let me not defer or
neglect it for I shall
not pass this way


I think this will be my literary tattoo.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday's Quote

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart…Try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
-MLK Jr.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Salon: This is what procrastination and not having enough sleep looks like

I have been up since four o'clock this morning. Why? My body thought it was five and I could not go back to sleep. After being too tired to do almost anything today, I only have 358 words typed for my book. I did find a great new blog called 37 Days hosted by Patti. I also studied for an upcoming biology test and spent some much-needed time with one of my kid sisters. So I did accomplish something.
Total word count: 2165. Not bad.
Just need to think about my character more.

Sunday's quote

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart…Try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Nanowrimo Day 1

I finally hit my quota of 1,667 words. I wrote an amazing (for me) 1,707 words. I'm starting to get a feel for my character and her life. I know it's a novel with the supernatural mixed in. I'm just blown that I completed today's count. At 5k words I will buy myself a nanowrimo-young writers program t-shirt. But I have to write five thousand words and remember to buy the damn shirt.

I need everyone reading this to leave a comment Monday, reminding me about my five thousand words. Tuesday I need you guys to remind me to buy the shirt only if I have every single word written down.

Now I can go read and wash dishes. Good luck to everyone participating.

Weekly Geeks #23

This week's Weekly Geeks assignment is to repeat a previous w.g. assignment. I chose #17, which is posting a quote every day. I really enjoyed looking for new and old quotes during this assignment. I found today's quote in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's memoir Living to Tell the Tale.

"From a very early age I've had to interrupt my education to go to school."-George Bernard Shaw

Now I'm off to complete my daily word count for Nanowrimo.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Nanowrimo and The Bloody Chamber

I am not a writer.

I am a reader.

A lover of the real and the bizarre, great plots and even better sentences.

But since I think everyone should get step out of their comfort zone for a minute, I'm participating in this year's Nanowrimo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. Nanowrimo starts every year on November 1st and for the whole month, thousands of people will write a novel, word by word, while trying to accomplishing their total word count. The prize: the ability to say honestly that you wrote a novel.

This will be the third year I've participated and I am determined to accomplish my word count of 50,000 words. What is my book about or its title, you ask? I have no idea. I barely have my protagonist's name.

But that will not stop me.

I will write word after word until I reach my goal despite tests, studying, family, and life in general. I will get to 50, 000 words by writing 1,667 words a day. I just have no idea what I'm going to reward myself with at the end. Maybe with a nice book.

It's Halloween night and not one child has knocked on my door. I'm glad I'm not the one who bought the candy this year. But no worries; I have Angela Carter's fairy tale masterpiece The Bloody Chamber to keep me company on this spooky night.

I heard about Angela Carter through a review by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. Then recently I read a great essay called "The Angela Carter Workshop" in Tin House. The essay's author, Ricky Moody, described what it was like to be a student in one of her workshops and to have an ongoing correspondence with her.

Carter went and retold old stories in a way that leaves the reader in awe. I know I held my breath several times while reading "The Company of Wolves," a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Once I finished reading it, I had to read the story over again. Highly recommended.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween and the R.I.P. Challenge

All Hallows Eve is almost here and so is the end of the R.I.P. challenge hosted by Carl. This was my second time participating in the challenge and I had so much fun. I signed up for Peril the First, which was to read four books of any length, but I read a little more than that. My only regrets are that several of the books on my list I'm still waiting for my library to get in and that the weather is finally starting to feel like fall. Today started out so cold and foggy but then the sun came out late morning and a cool wind started to blow. A lot of Californians call it "earthquake weather" but I call it fall.

I read:

  1. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - The Pearl Poet
  2. The Halloween Tree - Ray Bradbury
  3. Gloom Cookie - Serena Valentino
  4. Wanted - Mark Millar
  5. The Sisters Grimm Volume 1 - Michael Buckley
  6. The Bearskinner: A Tale of the Brothers Grimm - Laura Amy Schiltz

I just received today The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter and Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago from the library. Both books go perfectly with this challenge. I'm spending the next week devouring both while studying for a test.

I'm still waiting for Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book and Y: The Last Man Volume 2. But until then, I will spend the rest of winter reading the books on my list.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Martel-Harper Challenge

My favorite blogger ever, Dewey, is hosting The Martel-Harper Challenge. The M-H challenge is a mini quarterly challenge that lasts three months and you only have to read two books. It's based on the books that author Yann Martel sends Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper every two weeks.
For the October-November-December quarter I plan on reading:
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

Monday, October 27, 2008


Woke up this morning with
a terrific urge to lie in bed all day
and read. Fought against it for a minute.
Then looked out the window at the rain.
And gave over. Put myself entirely
in the keep of this rainy morning.
Would I live my live over again?
Make the same unforgivable mistakes?
Yes, given half a chance. Yes.
Raymond Carver, All of Us: The Collected Poems

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Writer's Block

Even though I should be writing an essay for my English class and studying for upcoming tests, instead I am reading all that I have not been able to read because of midterms. Studying for midterms gave me the worst case of reader's block; you know the inability to finish any book you read or to even try to muster up the desire to even look at a book.
Last weekend I took my siblings and kids to the main library to check out as many Halloween books as possible. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, second only to Thanksgiving. I love the feeling I get when I first walk into a bookstore or a library for the first time in a while. It's like going on a date with someone you really like and feeling butterflies.
So this week I sat and read. I read while waiting for the bus to take me to school or pick me up from it, I read while walking down the street (which is really dangerous considering that I could have walked into a pole,) read while the kids took naps and sleep. I even read when I should have been studying.
If you don't know, the cure to reader's block is reading children's picture books. The cure is guaranteed. I read so many children's books this week and felt so good doing so. I started with In A Blue Room by newcomer Jim Averbeck, the story of a young girl whose mother is putting her to sleep using her favorite things. I also read Neil Gaiman's The Dangerous Alphabet. Once you read one Neil Gaiman book you try to read as many as possible.
Oliver Jeffers is a favorite in this house, having wrote How To Catch a Star, The Incredible Book Eating Boy, Lost and Found, and his newest book The Way Back Home, about a boy from Earth and a boy who is a Martian being stuck far from home on the moon.
Because I am a voracious reader, I am trying to slow down and smell the pages. I can devour a book in a matter of hours. Though I can remember the plot, sometimes I read so fast that I can barely remember the character's names! So I started reading Francine Prose's Reading like a Writer. It's such a helpful book. I see how much I have probably skimmed over reading, so I'll probably spend Thanksgiving and winter breaks reading my favorites all over again. I already started re-reading The Best American Spiritual Writing 2004 edited by Philip Zaleski.
One of my favorite essays in the anthology is "Word Hoard" by B.K. Loren about the decade he spent being unable to comphrend words. It is a great story with Loren illustrating throughout the essay how important words are to convey our desires and needs.
Once, I was aphasic. The condition lasted, to some extent or another, nearly ten years. When I came back to words I came back like a lover who'd had a mistaken affair. Once the damage is done, it's done. But there's a carefulness that follows. You don't take things for granted. You speak from the soles of your feet, a current of meaning running through your body, each word carrying with it is history and the intimate mouths of your ancestors speaking it. Their lips touch yours as the word leaves you.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Weekly Geeks #19

This week's Weekly Geeks we have to make a list of our favorite reads that were published in 2008. Sad to say, I didn't like most of the books I read that were published this year. But my favorites:

1. The Book of Other People: short stories edited by Zadie Smith
2. The Geography of Love - Glenda Burges (memoir)
3. The Way back Home - Oliver Jeffers (children's)
4. What now? - Ann Patchett
There are several 2008 books I expect to read this year:

1. Awesome - Jack Pendarvis
2. Just After Sunset - Stephen King
3. The Graveyard book - Neil Gaiman
4. Best American Short Stories 2008

5. A Broom of One's Own: Words on Writing,
Housecleaning, and Life - Nancy Peacock
6. Death with Interruptions - Jose Saramago
7. The Entropy of Aaron Rosclatt - James Sandham
8. Fables Vol. 11 - Bill Willingham
Did you see that? After giving up so many challenges this year, I went and made a list. It's a very flexible list but still, it's a list.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

After a long break . . .

I am finally back after taking weeks off to study for my midterms. I think I did pretty well. Now I can finally get back to reading.

The read-a-thon was a disaster for me; I was too busy worrying about tests to enjoy myself and read. But now I can.

I have several books on hold at the library including Alan Bennett's novella The Uncommon Reader. I'm #1 on the list for The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I'm trying not to buy it until my library finally gets it in. (Which can be forever.)
But until then, I will just relax and try to at least catch up on my magazine reading. Happy reading!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Read-a-thon picks

Dewey's Read-a-thon is this Saturday, October 18th. For 24 consecutive hours, starting at 5 am pacific time, participants will read as much as they choose while cheerleaders and others cheer them on. There will be mini-challenges and great prizes to win.
For the last Read-a-thon I read short stories, children's books, poetry, plays, and graphic novels. This time will be no different. By reading short works I keep the fun going and the pressure off though I will not be online this time.
My reading picks are:
Sinners Welcome - Mary Karr (poetry)
6 short stories from The Best American Short Stories of the Century
A Midsummer's Night Dream - Shakespeare
Repair - C.K. Williams (poetry)
2 short stories from Alice Munro's Runaway
6 short stories from The Better of McSweeney's
3 short stories from The Best American Mystery Stories 2007
This year's batch of Tin House magazine that I had not read though I subscribe faithfully to it
the rest of The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
The Shiniest Jewel - Marian Henley (graphic novel)
I predict that I'll get halfway through this list.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Gone for a while

Because my internet connection will be down for a while, I will be taking a mini blogging break. See you guys in October.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Salon: What a beautiful day!

Right now the sun is behind clouds and it is gloomy and cold. I love these kind of days, perfect for reading a book at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee next to me.

Dewey has just made my day by posting the sign-up sheet for October's 24 Hour Read-a-thon. The Read-a-thon is a 24 hour challenge where readers read as much as they can while cheerleaders cheer them on, and there are prize giveaways and mini-challenges almost every hour. You also end up meeting great bloggers who share your passion for books. I'm already eyeing what books I'm going to give away. It's one of my favorite challenges.
This week's theme for Weekly Geeks is to "catch up." So I've decided to catch up on reducing my TBR pile and challenges list and to also catch up on my homework. I've missed a lot in my classes because I'm sick with the flu. I also want to catch up on my magazine reading and journal writing.
I reduced my challenges from 31 to only 4. The challenges I'm keeping are: The 24 Hour Read-a-thon and Kate's Short Story Challenge that has been going on since January and ends in December. I'm also keeping the Classics Challenge and R.I.P. since I only have one book left for both to read. I'm also going to have a personal challenge to read at least ten of the books on my TBR bookcase in the next five months.
This week has been pretty slow for reading. I've read Gloom Cookie by Serena Valentino and The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury, based on the movie by the same title. Both could have been better and both were read for R.I.P. I also read Just who will you be by Maria Shriver. It's a short book based on a commencement speech she gave about knowing who you are. I was expecting more, but . . .
Currently I'm reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. Both are great reads so far and I will post reviews on both later this week.
Have a happy Sunday.