Saturday, May 30, 2020

Weekly Wrap-Up: It's...What? May 30th? Where Did May Go?



It's...what? May 30th? Where did May go? For that matter, what happened to April and March? 

I'm trying not to think about it too much, but time is slipping away, and here we are, still at home. I haven't gotten my hair cut. I haven't been inside a store for almost three months. I haven't had a hug from my 93-year-old dad or my beautiful grandchildren in forever. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss my life.

Numbers are climbing in my little town. We were down to two active cases a short time ago and now we are at twenty-two. I drove past my favorite Mexican food restaurant yesterday and saw all the people outside, in the warm sunshine, under the big oak tree, and I wanted to stop. But I didn't. 

I will go on for now, with grocery pickup, and social distancing, and drive-by graduation celebrations, and watching the world go by from my front porch. I will repeat my mantra: This, too, will pass. This, too, will pass.





I liked everything I read last week. All of these were four-star reads for me. The links take you to the full reviews.

The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler
Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Afterlife by Julia Alvarez
Letters to a Young Writer by Colum McCann







War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Devotions by Mary Oliver
50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful Ordinary Life: Practical Lessons in Pencil and Paper
A Bad Birdwatcher's Companion by Simon Barnes







Judy Blume...an actress who played a prominent Star Wars character...an American ballerina...a US rap star...Marie Lu...What do all of these people have in common? They all spoke Thursday night at BookExpo Children's Book and Author Dinner about their upcoming books, and I got to hear them speak without flying to New York City, without spending hundreds of dollars to attend a conference. There are some good things about the world we are experiencing.













Good Thing #1: Mo Willems. Wisdom from a children's picture book author:
“Science is gonna get us out of this. But art is going to get us through this.”







Good Thing #2: Backyard birds. Woodpecker. Bluejay. Titmouse.





Good Thing #3: Online BookExpo. BookCon is online May 30th and 31st here.




How did your week go? Are you getting out more? 
Did you join in BookExpo? BookCon?






I'm happy you found your way to the Sunday Salon. There are no requirements for linking up at Sunday Salon. Sunday Salon is simply a place for us to link up and to share what we have been doing during the week. Sunday Salon is a great way to visit other blogs and join in the conversations going on there. I hope you will visit some blogs today, and that you will tell others about Sunday Salon.



Some of the things we often talk about at the Sunday Salon:

  • What was your week like?
  • Read any good books? Tell us about them.
  • What other bookish things did you do? 
  • What else is going on in your life?



Other places where you may like to link up over the weekend are below. Click on the picture to visit the site.


My linkup for Sunday Salon is below.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Summer Reading Goals: #bookaday and #bigbooksummer and #20booksofsummer20



Having a goal, having a focus centers me, especially during difficult times. You may be different, and that's perfectly okay. But if you'd like some focus for your reading life during this summer, I encourage you to join me in a couple of summer reading challenges. 


#bookaday online

Every summer for over ten years, the Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller, has hosted the #bookaday challenge. It's a public commitment to read or share a book each day over the long summer break. Of course, this summer it's a little different. As Miller writes, "If you asked me three months ago what I would do if the world was canceled and I was forced to stay at home, I would have said, 'Read a ton of books!' I am the Book Whisperer, after all. Currently, I am reading too many newspapers and not enough happy endings. My vast experience reading dystopias isn’t helping me right now because this is how they all start."

What are the guidelines for #bookaday?

  • You set your own start and end dates.
  • Read one book per day. This is an average, so if you take a week to read Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Virtue and Vengeance or Libba Bray’s The King of Crows (both fabulous on audio), you can balance it out with some picture books or early readers.
  • Any book in any format qualifies: picture books, nonfiction, professional books, audio books, graphic novels, poetry anthologies, or fiction—children, young adult, or adult titles.
  • Keep a list of the books you read and share them often via a social networking sites like Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Use the #bookaday hashtag to find other participants and share your recommendations. Titles or covers will do.
  • If you don’t feel like reading a book a day is the right reading goal for you, share a book every day—read with a child or family member, give away a book to someone who needs it, or buy a book from an independent bookstore if you can.
To find out more, check out this post at The Nerdy Book Club.

Think trying to read a book a day is a crazy idea? Maggie Galehouse of the Houston Chronicle offers tips here.




Sue Jackson of Book By Book is asking us to go big this summer with her Big Book Summer Reading Challenge. Sue has offered this challenge for the last nine years. The challenge culminates in a Big Book Giveaway. 

What are the rules for the Big Book Summer Reading Challenge?

  • Anything 400 pages or more qualifies as a big book.
  • The challenge will run from Memorial Day weekend (starting May 22 this year) through Labor Day weekend (Labor Day is September 7 this year).
  • Choose one or two or however many big books you want as your goal. Wait, did you get that?  You only need to read 1 book with 400+ pages this summer to participate! (though you are welcome to read more, if you want).
  • Sign up on the first links list at Book by Book so others can visit.
  • If you have a blog, write a post to kick things off: you can list the exact big books you plan to read or just publish your intent to participate, but be sure to include the Big Book Summer Challenge pic above, with a link back to Book by Book. It's fine to kick-off your Big Book Summer as part of another post.
  • Write a post to wrap up at the end, listing the big books you read during the summer.
  • You can write progress posts if you want to and/or reviews of the big books you've read ... but you don't have to! There is a separate links list below for big book reviews, progress update posts, and wrap-up posts.
To sign up for the challenge, add your link here.


So, what am I hoping to read this summer? I can easily read a book a day anyway; so far, by day 147 of 2020, I have read 183 books. But I will attempt to post something about a book each day of this summer to satisfy the #bookaday guidelines.

As for the #bigbooksummer challenge, I have eleven books on my Classics Club list that are 400 pages or more:

Collected Stories of Katherine Anne PorterPorter, Katherine Anne1965Fiction512 pages
Decameron, TheBoccaccio, Giovanni1353Short stories554 pages
End of the AffairGreene, Graham1951Fiction237 pages
FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American PoetryStavans, Ilan, ed.2011Poetry726 pages
Mary BartonGaskell, Elizabeth1848Novel464 pages
Of Human BondageMaugham, W. Somerset1915Novel658 pages
Selected Stories of O. HenryHenry, O.1922Short stories544 pages
Tin Drum, TheGrass, Gunter1959Novel576 pages
Tom Brown's SchooldaysHughes, Thomas1857Children's420 pages
War and PeaceTolstoy, Leo1869Fiction1229 pages
Wives and DaughtersGaskell, Elizabeth1864Fiction583 pages







How about one more? Why not?

Cathy at 746 Books offers the 20 Books of Summer Challenge for 2020. Look how easy this is:

One summer.
Three months.
93 Days.
20 books.

Are you in?
Post a sign up list and be sure to share your progress with #20booksofsummer20.

And if twenty books sounds too daunting, she offers fifteen and ten book challenges also.

I shall plan to serendipitously read this summer from the stacks under my bed and from whatever comes in at my library.



Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Chatauquas: Education and Uplift



I first ran across the word "Chatauqua" in 1975 when I first read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The author, Robert Pirsig, explains that in writing ZAMM he was inspired by the idea of a Chatauqua, and that ZAMM is a Chatauqua.

Okay, so what is a Chatauqua? 


Chautauquas were first begun in 1874 to teach "out-of-school, vacation learning" in an informal setting, and the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle was established in 1878 as "the opportunity of acquiring the skills and essential knowledge of a college education" for those who could not attend college. "The CLSC program was intended to show people how best to use their leisure time and avoid the growing availability of idle pastimes, such as drinking, gambling, dancing, and theater-going, that posed a threat both to good morals and to good health." 


Chautauquas rapidly became a popular form of "education and uplift." They primarily took the form of a community-wide lecture. Speakers talked about a wide variety of topics, including travel, current events, and storytelling. Some Chautauquas had permanent housing but others traveled from town to town with a circus tent. 


Theodore Roosevelt called the Chautauqua "the most American thing in America," and William Jennings Bryant called it "a potent human factor in molding the mind of the nation." 

The Chautauqua continued in popularity until the Great Depression brought about its demise in the 1930s. 

I love the idea of Chautauquas. There are only so many puzzles you can put together and sit-coms you can watch. Why not learn something while we are stuck at home?


Here are some modern-day Chautauquas I've run across lately:

Many authors are talking about their books over Zoom these days. I've not found a centralized source of these talks, but I've received many alerts about upcoming talks through email.



The Great Courses has long been a source of casual learning. I've found many Great Courses available on Overdrive through my library. Great Courses can also be purchased online here.



The Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service provides many lectures on natural resources, animals, plants and gardening, food, and nutrition. Your state or country may have something similar. Many of the classes are free. A list of courses is here.



Learn a language through Mango. Many libraries have Mango as part of their free online services. 


Want to write a novel? Revise a novel? Create another writing project? Join Camp NaNoWriMo. It begins in July, but you can announce your project in June and start organizing things. For more information, take a look here.




Take a free online course. Check out edX here.

Or you can always create your own course or project. Decide on a goal you'd like to achieve. Look for resources available online. And start. Share it with others, if you think there might be widespread interest.



What Chautauquas are you participating in at this time?
What Chautauquas have I forgotten to include?






Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky at Bermuda Onion!

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, May 26, 2020

Best Opening Lines of a Novel


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. 
                                                                                —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities 
                                                                               




"Where's Papa going with that axe?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast. 
                                                                                ---E. B. White, Charlotte's Web





“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug. 
                                                                                ---Louisa May Alcott, Little Women





In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort. 
                                                                                ---J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit






Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. 
                                                                                ---J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone




Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. 
                                                                        ---Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude






It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. 
                                                                                —George Orwell, 1984





Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. 
                                                                                —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina






Call me Ishmael. 
                                                                                —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick







It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. 
                                                                                —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice







There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. 
                                                                            —C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 




It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. 
                                                                                —Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford





It was a dark and stormy night. 
                                                                                ---Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time






Once upon a time there was a Little House way out in the country. She was a pretty Little House and she was strong and well built. 
                                                                                ---Virginia Lee Burton, The Little House






It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York. 
                                                                                —Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar





Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. 
                                                                                Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway






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.