Sunday, September 23, 2018

Three Books Read, Inprint Season Begins, and a Few Small, Book-ish Moments

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK

I finished three big books this week, all very good reads.


I hope to work on reviews later today.




THE NEW SEASON OF INPRINT BEGIN

What is Inprint? From the website: "Inprint is Houston's premier literary arts nonprofit organization. Our programs support and engage readers and writers of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction." Every year Inprint brings many wonderful authors to Houston for readings and book discussions. Look who is coming this fall:








Esi Edugyan and Meg Wolitzer will be here tomorrow night. Can't wait!



RANDOM, SMALL, HAPPY BOOK-ISH MOMENTS THIS WEEK

First happy book-ish moment: I encouraged one of our book club members to invite her husband to read The Nightingale, our book for September, and join us for our discussion, and he did. He told us at book club, "Reading this book reminded me how much I like fiction." Oh, the words librarians love to hear.

Second happy book-ish moment: My brother read, at my recommendation, The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, and "really, really liked it."




How about you? 
What have you been up to this week?
What are you reading today?





What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've
wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound
 journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....That's what happens
at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their
own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly,
mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!
This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read”
book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted at The Book Date.




Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Harvey Pays a Visit to South Texas

A year ago, my part of the world was ripped apart by Hurricane Harvey. Harvey set a new record for the amount of rainfall a hurricane dropped; in four days, the area around Houston received 51.88 inches. When that amount of rain falls suddenly around here, you have trouble. Up to a million cars were flooded. Over 204,000 homes were flooded.

Here are some pictures we took last year during and after Harvey rolled through the Texas Gulf Coast.


Here is what the rain was like. Just a normal rain, right? 
But it went on and on for four days and nights.



My dad's neighbors.




My son's neighbors.




Cleanup begins at the home of some students from my school.



My husband's office building was flooded.
This was his office for many months.




Many friends and family spent the last year repairing their homes. I still have some friends who have not been able to return home.




For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Books I Hope to Read This Fall

I like to plan out my reading. But not too much. I don't like feeling constrained.

This is what I am planning, quite tentatively, to read this fall:

Recommended books about writing. I've compiled a list of books I may read before NaNoWriMo begins on November 1st. Here are some I might read:

          Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
          Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (reread)
          Bird by Bird (reread)
          A Writer by M. B. Goffstein
          The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
          Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyl
          Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
          Into the Woods: A Five-Act Journey Into Story
          Writing with Pictures by Uri Shulevitz
          If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland
          Mo Willems: Don't Pigeonhole Me
          The Ode Less Traveled by Stephen Fry

Books nominated for the Cybils Fiction Picture Books and Board Books. I don't know what these are yet, because nominations don't open until October 1st.

Books written by authors who are coming to Houston this fall. So far, I'm hoping to read books by these authors:

          Esi Edugyan (Washington Black, Half-Blood Blues)
          Meg Wolitzer (The Female Persuasion)
          Anne Lamott (Almost Everything: Notes on Hope)
          Barbara Kingsolver (Unsheltered)
          Jonathan Lethem (The Feral Detective)
          Gary Shteyngart (Lake Success)

Books from my Classics Club list. I haven't decided which books I might read yet, but I hope to read at least a book a month this fall. Here are some I am considering:

          The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Basho
          The Quiet American by Graham Greene
          The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
          One Thousand and One Arabian Nights
          White Fang by Jack London
          The Wonderful "O" by James Thurber
          Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Anything else that wanders my way this fall.





What are you hoping to read this fall? 
Do you have any suggestions for me? 
Does anything on my list look good to you?




          
         

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Cybils News, Texas Master Naturalist Program, and I Begin The Guidebook with Joy. Plus Sixteen Book Reviews.




It's been a busy week.



CYBILS NEWS

The judges have been chosen for the 2018 Cybils and the official announcement will be made on Tuesday. This is my third year as category chair of Fiction Picture Books and Board Books, and I had so many excellent people applying to be a judge that it was very hard to make a decision this year.

It won't be long and it will be time to nominate books for the Cybils. I've already started a spreadsheet of my favorite children and young adult books from last year. Anyone can nominate books, so I hope you will start thinking about the best books you read that were published between October 16, 2017 and October 15, 2018.

Here's the entire Cybils organizing team. I love the crazy photo of me, taken when I was working as a fortune teller at our school carnival. It looks like I've gazed into my crystal ball and I'm about to reveal the winners.




TEXAS MASTER NATURALIST INTERN

My husband and I have started our classes to become master naturalists. We will be learning about grasslands, forests, fish, insects, mammals, birds, snakes, and many other features and creatures native to our part of Texas. For the next ten weeks, we will spend Wednesday mornings in classes and Wednesday afternoons on field trips. I've just barely begun, but I already feel like I have learned so much.



OUR KITCHEN IS FINISHED

Happy news! Our kitchen is finished! I'll post some pictures soon.





I BEGIN THE GUIDEBOOK WITH JOY 

Joy from Joy's Book Blog was looking for a few good men (and women) to join her this fall to complete a creative project. I decided it was a perfect way for me to segue into NaNoWriMo. And so I joined Joy this week for the first session with The Guidebook. The Guidebook is a six step process to work through many of the problems people typically confront as they work through a project. Joy's program also offers support and accountability. I begin The Guidebook with Joy with joy!


BOOKS I'VE READ LATELY AND AM READING NOW

Books have been pouring into my mailbox in the last few months, but I feel like I've been keeping up really well. Some books I've read and reviewed and enjoyed include:








And what am I reading now, you ask?


Just four books: The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King, Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver, An American Marriage: A Novel by Tayari Jones, and Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad & Criminal in 19th-Century New York by Stacy Horn. I am loving all of these so far.

In fact, I think I will be off to read a little more on these right now.




How about you? 
What have you been up to this week?
What are you reading today?







What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've
wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound
 journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....That's what happens
at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their
own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly,
mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!
This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read”
book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted at The Book Date.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A Cooking Class in Lucca

Where better to learn about cooking than in Italy? That's what my sister and I did on our recent trip to Lucca, in Tuscany. Taught by Chef Giuseppe Mazzocchi, we started early where all good cooks start, at the market.




We followed our trip to the market with a jaunt to a panetteria. Look at that bread for our bruschetta.


Many of the people in our class were cooking class veterans, including my sister. But there is always more to learn.





The chef actually worked for many years here in Texas.


Risotta with Leeks and White Truffle Butter. Veal Saltimbocca. 



Bucchelatto and Lemon Custard.

Buon Appetito!


It was a wonderful day.







For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Hidden Gems




Everybody knows that some books are fabulous. Harry Potter, of course....

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)
4.62
 2,034,263 


Over 2,000,000 people have read Harry Potter #7 on Goodreads, with an average rating of 4.62. That's amazing.


There's also Game of Thrones...

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)
4.45
1,627,467


Over 1,500,000 million people have read Game of Thrones on Goodreads, with an average rating of 4.45.



I'm happy so many people have read and loved Harry and Game. But I've read some unbelievably good books that have been overlooked. Let me share some of my favorites....



Two Wallace Stegner books, Crossing to Safety and Angle of Repose, both rated higher than 4.10, but neither has more than 50,000 readers.

Crossing to Safety
4.16
31,293


Angle of Repose
4.27
45,462



An amazing MG book, Ghost, by Jason Reynolds is rated 4.22, but has only been read by a little more than 10,000 readers. 

Ghost (Track, #1)
4.22
11,504



I can't believe that less than 1500 people have read the complex and intriguing Gold Bug Variations.

The Gold Bug Variations
4.11
1,471



Ellen Gilchrist is a sadly neglected author. Two of my favorite books of hers have less than 1,000 readers each.

In the Land of Dreamy Dreams
4.25
965

Rhoda: A Life in Stories
4.22
652



Is there any writer who captures families better than Richard Yates? Yet Easter Parade only has 6500 readers?

The Easter Parade
4.03
6,542



George Saunders is an innovative adult book author. But he has a children's book that you should not miss. 

The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip
4.11
2,764



Thi Bui has written a poignant illustrated memoir that was a 2017 National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Finalist, an ABA Indies Introduce Winter / Spring 2017 Selection, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Spring 2017 Selection, and anALA 2018 Notable Books Selection. Why, then, have less than 10,000 people read it at Goodreads?

Why is J.L. Carr's novel, A Month in the Country, finding less than 6,000 readers? 

A Month in the Country
4.10
5,692



Over the years, I've met many people who read and loved Mrs. Mike. Why don't more people know about it?

Mrs. Mike (Mrs. Mike, #1)
4.14
15,572



Over 200,000 people have read Pearl Buck's Good Earth on Goodreads, but what about...

Pavilion of Women: A Novel of Life in the Women's Quarters
4.12
10,474


Pavilion of Women by Pearl Buck is rated 4.12, higher than Good Earth.



You've read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, but what about The Grass Harp? Capote is a masterful writer of fiction, too.


In Iceland, everyone knows the name Halldor Laxness, but not so many people outside his homeland.
Independent People
4.18
7,207



People raved to me about True Grit for years, but it was only within the last five years that I finally broke down and read it. Now I number among the TG ravers.

True Grit
4.14
31,734



Almost 1,500,000 people have read The Book Thief, but what about this one by the same author?


Over 200,000 people have read The Things They Carried. If you loved TTTC, I bet you will love The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North
4.01
39,717



I ran across The Radium Girls at a library conference. It's a powerful true story.

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women
4.22
26,275



Now this is just sad. The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction is a collection of brilliant pieces of creative nonfiction. No one who considers herself a writer should miss reading this book.

Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present
4.13
483



I don't read scary and Robert McCammon is a name I associate with scary. Boy's Life is not scary; it is an excellent novel. It is ridiculous that only a little over 20,000 people have read this book at Goodreads.

Boy's Life
4.34
20,879




Maira Kalman. How I adore Maira Kalman. Look at her numbers, though. You all really need to get her books and read her today.

And the Pursuit of Happiness
4.29
3,291

The Principles of Uncertainty
4.03
8,138




Mrs. Bridge is a contemporary classic. How is it that so few people have read it?

Mrs. Bridge
4.05
3,437





I was completely fascinated with this collection of letters. Others are taken with it, too, with an average rating of 4.35, but why so few people?

Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience
4.35
3,628



If you love historical fiction, you must seek out this book by French author Zoe Oldenbourg. Trust me on this. It is a travesty that less than two hundred people have found this masterpiece.



There has never been a better book written that deals with themes of the conflict of spirituality and creativity than My Name is Asher Lev.

My Name Is Asher Lev
4.19
32,491




One can only hope that many, many more people are reading this collection of Italian folktales in the original Italian.

Italian Folktales
4.19
3,194




I just discovered this wonderful book by Mark Helprin, and it was only published last year. There's still time for its number to go up.

Paris in the Present Tense
4.11
1,689





I read anything---stories for adults, stories for children---by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who, sadly, passed away last year. This book is pure fun.

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
4.24
2,156




I'm not a sports reader, as a general rule, but this book tugged at my heart.

The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams
4.16
4,835



Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand has over half a million ratings on Goodreads. Here are a few more nonfiction books that are deserving of more readers:

Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science
4.25
31,160

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court
4.07
14,524

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
4.08
83,791

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families
4.26
22,986

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette
4.19
15,173

Into That Good Night
4.24
41




Have you read any of these? What hidden gems do you know about? Share your favorites with me.




Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.