Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Principles of Uncertainty

JUGGLING
I am the girl who loves juggling the beautiful colored balls. See them now, way up in the air. The big red ball. The little yellow ball. The sparkling silver ball. My favorite, the blue ball with white stripes. See me juggling. They are all in the air, spinning, around and around. We are moving. We are alive. It's magic. Beautiful.

I am also the girl who loves the moment when all the beautiful colored balls fall to the old wooden floor, with the last bits of sunlight shining desperately under the blue curtains, the balls still spinning, rolling to a stop under the table, behind the bookcase, next to the five-panel door. A tiny beautiful moment. But then, quickly, before the anxiety sets in, I want the balls back in the air.

I like the juggling more than the stopping. But just for this week, I'm going to let all my juggling balls sit there on the floor and I'm going look at this beautiful moment and resist the urge to put them all back into the air. It's tricky.

THE PRINCIPLES OF UNCERTAINTY
I read a book this week. In truth, I reread a book. For me, that's quite remarkable.

I reread The Principles of Uncertainty. It's a picture book, really. A picture book for grownups. Maira Kalman writes and paints. She feels anguish and pain and thinks about Dostoevsky's epilepsy and alcoholism and gambling addiction and chronic debt. She shares with us, her readers, paintings she makes of people she sees in New York and beautiful food and surprising hats. I like her best when she wearies of thinking and suggests a trip to Paris instead.

Maira Kalman is really good at looking at all the beautiful juggling balls that have fallen on the old wooden floor, with the last bits of sunlight shining desperately under the blue curtains. She looks at each juggling ball carefully, and points out the little crack in the big red ball and wonders if it got the crack when the cat was batting the red ball around the dining room. Kalman notes that the little yellow ball stopped next to the five-panel door and shares with us the story that the five-panel door was scavenged from a construction site where workmen were using a wrecking ball on an old Victorian home in downtown Houston. We like knowing that. She tells us that the silver ball is slightly lopsided, but that, too, seems to be okay. She also likes best the blue ball with the white stripes and that is satisfying.

Maira Kalman, unlike me, seems to be able to look for hours and hours at these beautiful balls on the floor, reflecting on the way the final bits of sunlight fall on the shiny silver ball, questioning what might happen if a husband might step on the yellow ball in the night on his way to the bathroom, remarking on the beauty of the scar in the old wooden floor where someone once dropped an iron. And, if things get too anxious and tense, there is always Paris.

It is nice, sometimes, to sit and look at the juggling balls, still on the wooden floor.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Top Ten Children's Picture Books I Wish I Could Read for the Very First Time (But Which I Fear I'll Never Be Able to Read*)


Top Ten Children's Picture Books
I Wish I Could Read for the Very First Time
 (But Which I Fear I'll Never Be Able to Read*)


I'm trying to read all 1001 of the 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up. All of these are out of print in the US and impossible to find at the public library. So far, I have not been able to read any of these.
I hope a publisher out there is reading this.


Little Brown Bear by Claude Lebrun



Little Spook's Baby Sister
by Inger Sandberg



Julian the Rabbit by Nicoletta Costa
(I couldn't even find a photo of this one!)



Bunny Bath by Lena Anderson


Tatu and Paty in Helsinki by Aino Havukainen
(Another book for which I could find no photo)



Okilele by Claude Ponti



Fire-Engine Lil by Janet McLean



 Pancakes for Findus by Sven Nordqvist



 Postman Pat's Treasure Hunt by John A. Cunliffe



 Leo and Popi by Marie-Agnes Gaudrat

Don't you think these should be widely available?! 



*I modified the prompt to suit my own purposes.



And I'd also invite you to sign up for
This month,
I'll be giving away a lovely copy of
the book Matched!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Sunday-Salon/Literary-Blog-Hop Mashup: Dinner with Your Favorite Literary Figures

Literary Blog Hop

Welcome to the Literary Blog Hop
hosted by The Blue Bookcase!

This monthly blog hop is open to blogs
that primarily feature
book reviews of literary fiction,
classic literature, and general literary discussion.

Our question this week comes from Mel u over at The Reading Life:


When I was in my early teens I read a book called Van Loon's Lives by Hendrick Willlem Van Loon. It was written in 1942 (Van Loon was a Newberry Winner for another work). I was maybe ten or so when I first read it and I was totally fascinated. The story line is that Von Loon and his good friend found a magic way to invite three famous literary figures from different eras for a Sunday Dinner. The book gives mini bios of the guests, explains the food the would have wanted and shows their dinner conversations. If you could invite any three literary figures from different eras to a Sunday Dinner who would they be? Magic takes care of the language issues.


Let's have our Sunday Dinner in a small café near Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris. Trays of fresh fruits and cheeses with crusty baguettes and all the best wines. An endless supply of macaroons. I'd have little tables of three or so, but there is no way I'm limiting myself to three guests.

I'd love to seat eighth century Chinese haiku poet Li Po with twentieth century mysteriously disappearing poet Weldon Kees and (Stop it! I know it's odd, but it's my Sunday Dinner!) Billy Collins, all at the Poetry Table. I'll place my favorite librarian Nancy Pearl with avid readers Steven Gilbar and Sara Nelson and Michael Dirda and Susan Hill at the Let's-Talk-About-Good-Books table. I'd like to see ZAMM author Robert Pirsig with the Dali Lama and Happiness Project author and blogger Gretchen Rubin at the Happiness Table. And, finally, I'll put Dr. Seuss with snarly Mo Willems and William Steig and Window author Jeannie Baker and Don and Audrey Wood (happily reunited in marriage and writing and working together again) and the she-could-sit-anywhere Maira Kalman at the Picture Book Table.

And I, merrily flitting from table to table, refilling glasses of Bordeaux and sneaking off now and then to scribble down some of my guests' beautiful words. 

Of course, you are invited. You know how these Parisian soirées can run late into the night. Come on over. We are waiting for you.



And I'd also invite you to sign up for
This month,
I'll be giving away a lovely copy of
the book Matched!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Imagine...All the People




Trying to take a photo at the Imagine Memorial to
John Lennon in Central Park....
For more wordless photos,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Top Ten Book Endings That Left Me With My Mouth Hanging Open



































What books had endings that left you with your mouth hanging open?!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Readerbuzz October Giveaway: Matched! as well as It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


WHAT I'M READING NOW
I'm all caught up in a beautiful Reading Flow. You know, Flow, like that described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. That kind of Flow.

My Reading Flow consists of four good books:
Matched (a nice dytopian experience)...
Howards End is on the Landing (a respected author and critic takes another look at the books on her shelves)...
CityLit: Paris (a collection of little one-page excerpts from big books about Paris)...and...
The Information (a nonfiction look at information that has been important to our world through time).

WHAT I FINISHED LAST WEEK
A Game of Thrones (not yet reviewed)
Hamlet's Blackberry (not yet reviewed)
The Black Stallion (not yet reviewed)

WHAT I MIGHT READ NEXT
The Hardy Boys: Tower Treasure (Book 1)
I'm awaiting its arrival at the library.



The Readerbuzz
October Giveaway!

What if each month
I give away a book?

So, for my sixth giveaway,
how about...


Matched!
Rules for the Readerbuzz Monthly Giveaway
are simple:

(1) You must follow me.

(2) You must leave a comment here
that expresses your interest in this giveaway
and includes an e-mail address
 (posted in an elusive way to thwart the wicked).

(3) If you really, really want to win this book,
you are welcome to receive extra entries by:

Following me at Twitter
and leaving a comment +1 

Befriending me at Goodreads
and leaving a comment +1

Befriending me at Facebook
and leaving a comment +1

I will leave this giveaway open until October 31st.
Good luck!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Re-Read-Less-Ness


I don't reread. I guess that's another strike against me as a reader. All the best readers seem to reread.

Of course, given that I am a children's librarian by profession, I make exceptions for children's picture books. Not only do I frequently reread children's picture books, but I have been known to reread them as much as thirty-two times in one week.

I never get tired of rereading children's picture books. I love anticipating the laughter, the sudden solemnity in the children's faces, the thoughtful looks, that ensue from passages read aloud, class after class, during my busy eight-class-a-day schedule. Children seem to love to hear the same books read aloud, too, over and over, year after year. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Tadpole's Promise. Madeline. Skippyjon Jones. No, David. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Where Is the Green Sheep? Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. We're Going on a Bear Hunt. I have many of these memorized.

So, rereading. I reread a lot of picture books. And I reread poetry. What else? I poured through my old book reviews and found only a handful of rereads. A Wrinkle in Time. My Name is Asher Lev. Gilead. The nonfiction of Anne Lamott. ZAMM. Gone With the Wind. Half Magic. Phantom Tollbooth. That's about it for me and rereading.

The odd thing is that rereading has always been a good experience. An excellent experience, really. The second time through a book I always see things I didn't see before, beautiful language I missed the first time out,  deeper insight into characters, nuances, all things easy overlooked during that initial dive into a book.


Photos reveal the problem: 
Photo on the left shows books I have at home for a possible reread while
photo on the right shows books in my To-Be-Read stacks. 

It's the siren call of the hundreds of books out there I haven't read at all, waiting for me to read them, that keeps me stuck in this life of Re-Read-Less-Ness. It's my American competitive nature, my Texan belief that more is always better.

Every New Year's Day, when I sit down to write my reading resolutions for the next twelve months, I always include a decision to slow down in my reading. I always fail. This year, I'm going to aim once again to slow down and add a new resolution to reread.

Do you often reread? Do you have certain books you like to reread? What helps you choose to reread rather than tackling one of the many unread books you have on hand?