Sunday, April 26, 2009

Keep Your Hand Moving

Last weekend, I read for twenty-four hours straight.

I didn't read this weekend.

I wrote.

All day Saturday.

I went to Develop a Writing Practice Workshop. It was in Austin at Casa de Luz.

I showed my husband pictures of Casa de Luz and tried to talk him into making our backyard like it.

Here are the things I did this weekend that I've never done before:
1. Ate vegan.
2. Did sitting meditation.
3. Went to a bookstore three times and didn't buy a single book.

I am going to write every day now. I might do more sitting meditation. I hope I never eat vegan again.

A beautiful day. Except for the vegan. Except for the not-reading.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Readathon Meme

(Pictured: Grumpy Bird, who I suspect I may resemble today, after almost no sleep!)

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
This last one.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
Streetcar Named Desire
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Breakfast at Tiffany's

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Everything was very good just as it was.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
I especially liked the list of posts from bloggers.

5. How many books did you read?
17 (many of these I started earlier in the week)

6. What were the names of the books you read?
Goodbye, Mr. Chips; Breakfast at Tiffany's; Member of the Wedding; Death in Venice; Joey Fly, Private Eye; Tales from Outer Suburbia; The Great Fire; Years of Dust; The Black Pearl; Amelia's Notebook; Boyology; The Upstairs Room; The Old Man and the Sea; That Night; Poetry in Motion; Streetcar Named Desire; Afternoon of the Elves

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
Streetcar Named Desire

8. Which did you enjoy least?
I liked all of them.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
Reader, most likely.

Hour 23: More Books

Link to mini-challenge: Join BookCrossing!

I finished several books in the last hours and I feel compelled to post a little about each:

The Old Man and the Sea was possibly the worse choice I've ever made for a read-a-thon. The old man spends most of the book fighting the fish, weary, exhausted, tired. I'm not at all interested in fish but Hemingway is a writer I like, spare and lean.

The Great Fire is a look at the Chicago Fire. It moved fast and, because of a series of errors, spread over much of the city. Jim Murphy knows how to write nonfiction.

Years of Dust examines the Dust Bowl years, the causes, the problems, the way things resolved themselves. It could happen again.

The Black Pearl is the story of a boy who seeks a big pearl and finds it. The boy's father is lost at sea and the boy feels certain he must set things to rights with the pearl.

Afternoon of the Elves is the story of a friendship between Sara-Kate and Hillary. Sara-Kate unexpectedly shows Hillary an elf village in her backyard and Hillary becomes intrigued. The story is quite mysterious. Love the ending.

Hour 22: Limerick

Link to mini-challenge: Join BookCrossing!

Reading's made my eyes go bleary,
Twenty-four hours of reading...I'm weary.
I thought I could do it,
I've nearly read through it,
Completing the read-a-thon...I'm teary.

Hour 21: Dewey

Link to mini-challenge: Join BookCrossing!

I decided to jump into book blogging when I signed up for an online work-at-your-own-pace inservice called 23 Things last summer. Though I posted quite regularly to my blog, it was hit-or-miss (mostly miss) with comments posted to my blog. Comments were rare.

Then I learned about the Read-a-Thon. What a wonderful carnival of fun Dewey put together! Suddenly I saw there were book bloggers all over the place, and I wanted to join in.

Dewey taught me the importance of connection and fun. I am very glad to have met her here at Read-a-Thon.

From Dewey's blog: "Birth, life, and death -- each took place on the hidden side of a leaf." Toni Morrison

Hour 20: Worst Choice

Link to mini-challenge: Join BookCrossing!

There is no doubt I lost my mind when I decided to read The Old Man and the Sea for the Read-a-Thon.

And in the last hours of the Read-a-Thon, when I am struggling to stay awake....

What was I thinking?

I'm at the point of the story where the old man is struggling with the fish. He says, "I'm tireder than I have ever been...."

I, too, am struggling with the fish, Mr. Hemingway. The fish is winning.

Hour 19: Two More Books

Link to mini-challenge: Join BookCrossing!

I'm getting lots of books finished since the challenges and the read-a-thon is quieter now. Some read-a-thon-ers are probably sleeping. I'd really like to go to sleep.

Instead, I'll review the two books I finished.

Poetry in Motion from Coast to Coast is a book of short poems that were originally written on subways all across America. Some of my favorite poems were in this book including This is Just to Say.

The Upstairs Room is the fictionalized memoir of a Jewish girl who was kept hidden with her sister in an attic room for over two years during WWII in the Netherlands. Reiss originally wrote the story to explain what had happened to her two daughters. Very sad.

Why did I choose so many sad books? I could use a happy little story right now.

Hour 17 and 18: Rereading and That Night

Link to mini-challenge: Join BookCrossing!

I almost never reread. I can only think of a few books I've reread. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one.

I wish I reread more.

Two more reviews:

Amelia's Notebook by Marissa Moss. A little children's book, written in the form of a notebook. The notebook format is perfect for such a close look inside the life of a child.

That Night by Alice McDermott. A masterpiece. I wish I'd read this book this morning when I was still able to write coherently instead of midnight when I'm in the last seven hours of a twenty-four hour read-a-thon.

I loved the way the author switches from first person singular narrator to first person plural narrator in the story. I also loved the way the author provides little glimpses of the future for the characters who pop into the narrative. These give the story a big vision both broad and yet full of disappointment.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hour 14 and 15: Death in Venice and Joey Fly

Link to mini-challenge: Join BookCrossing!

Two more books completed in this read-a-thon. Could there be two more dissimilar books?

First, Joey Fly: Private Eye in Creepy Crawly Crime. Written in a comic book format, this thin book is charactered with insects, arachnids, and worms. The dialogue is clever, filled with bug-populated similes. Will kids get the humor? A bit, I think. Kids will just like the silly detectives trying to solve the mystery of the missing pencil box.

Second, Death in Venice. I liked and disliked this book. Mann has his character, Aschenbach, preach a little more than I like, preaching his thoughts about beauty and writing and control. That's what I disliked. For the first third of the book, I could barely force myself to keep reading.

Then Aschenbach falls in love and begins to tail the object of his affection all over Venice. The story takes a different turn and the writing moves from a rant about virtue to a real story. Venice is beautifully depicted and Aschenbach becomes a real, brilliant, tortured human being. That's what I liked.

I gave both books a 6/10. I feel scared to rate both books the same, almost as if I could be barred from the world of books if I do so, but the truth is that I liked both about the same.

Hour 13: Boyology

Mini-Challenge to Join BookCrossing Continues....

Boyology was my toughest read of the Read-a-Thon. I'm 52 and I've been married almost 31 years, so it was hard to read through page after page of how to flirt and how to kiss. :-) I can see it would be very, very useful for a teen girl. And fun.

Another book ready to pass on to a read-a-thon-er....

Hour 13: Mid-Event Survey and My Mini-Challenge Goes On!

Link to mini-challenge: Join BookCrossing!

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now?

2. How many books have you read so far?
5: Goodbye, Mr. Chips; Streetcar Named Desire; Member of the Wedding; Breakfast at Tiffany's; Tales from Outer Suburbia

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
That Night

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
I had to be transported by big truck from a shower I had to attend when our streets were so flooded my small car couldn't make it through the water!

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
See above!

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
I am very prepared!

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Everything has been wonderful.

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
No showers on the same day as a Read-a-Thon or no heavy rain! :-)

9. Are you getting tired yet?

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
Read half the book before the Read-a-Thon starts to get you deeply into the book.

Mini-Challenge: Join BookCrossing

I am a long-time BookCrossing member and I would love to see more bloggers become members.

What is BookCrossing? From the website:

"Here is BookCrossing in 4 easy steps:
Pick one of your books-one you have read or one you haven't read.
Click on "register book" under the "My Shelf" tab. [If you can't see the "My Shelf" tab at the top of the page, you may need to log in to the site.] Follow the prompts to register the book and generate a BCID (BookCrossing ID).
Write the BCID in ink inside the cover. Add a label or write the BookCrossing info. you can add some additional markings, stickers, notes, etc to make the book noticeable, if you wish.
Release the Book."
It is a fun way to share books with others.

My mini-challenge would be to join BookCrossing and comment on my blog leaving your new BC name or, if the person is already a member, simply post his or her BC name.

Then list your three favorite books from the list below. I send each person who posts his BC name a book from the list until I run out of books.

I would love to give away all the books I read during the Read-a-Thon that are registered at BookCrossing to those who join BC or post their BC name.

Here are the books I am going to try to read that are registered at BookCrossing:

*The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
*Poetry in Motion from Coast to Coast
*Amelia's Notebook by Marissa Moss
Goodnight, Bush: An Unauthorized Parody
*Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan (ARC)
*The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang
*The Traveler by Darin and Daniel Simkin
*Boyology: A Crash Course in All Things Boy by Sarah O'Leary Burningham (ARC)
*Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner
The Dream Stealer by Sid Fleischman, illustrated by Peter Sis (ARC)
Albert Einstein:The Miracle Mind by Tabatha Yeats (ARC)
*Joey Fly, Private Eye by Aaron Reynolds
*The Black Pearl by Scott O'Dell
The Old Man and the Sea
*A Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
*Good-bye, Mr. Chips by James Hinton
*Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
*Afternoon of the Elves by Janet Taylor Lisle
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
*The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
*The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss
*(George) by E.L. Konigsburg
That Night by Alice McDermott
*Being There by Jerzy Kosinski
*To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
*The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
*Years of Dust: The Story of the Dust Bowl by Albert Marrin (ARC)
*The Great Fire by Jim Murphy
*Allie Finkle's Fules for Girls: Best Friends and Drama Queens by Meg Cabot (ARC)
*Mr. Fooster Traveling on a Whim: A Visual Novel by Tom Corwin
*Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure
*Tomorrow: Adventures in an Uncertain World by Bradley Greive
Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck
*Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak

*Have already been claimed

Hours 6-9: Trapped at a Bridal Shower

Oh dear. The rain came down in torrents and now the streets are flooded and I'm trapped here at the bridal shower, continuing to watch the rain coming down.

Not sure if I will make it home in time to post my mini-challenge in an hour and a half....

Hour 5: Tales from Outer Suburbia

It's not on anyone's classics book...yet. But what a fantastic read! Fantastic is a key word, because every story feels like a fantasy, yet terribly real.

Yes, I, who grew up in suburbia when nobody knew it would take over America like a disease, I always thought of suburbia as a strange world but never ventured into the corners of suburbia that Tan takes us to in this book.

The pictures are perfect and the stories so thoughtful I would love to read them again and again.

Another excellent read. Did I ever pick some great reads for the read-a-thon?!

Hour 4: Breakfast at Tiffany's

Fourth hour, fourth book completed. (Mind you, all my books for the read-a-thon were jump started; I'm not really reading books...I'm finishing them.)

And not just another book completed...another GREAT book completed. I would recommend highly all the books I've read today.

Breakfast at Tiffany's. I'd seen the movie. I've read two other Capote books and was wowed by them. Breakfast at Tiffany's is equally wonderful. The juxtaposition of our narrator and Holly Golightly makes the book. Holly would probably be called manic-depressive today when she was hospitalized but to the narrator and her other admirers she has that rare zest for life that is to wonderous to behold. Others, more thoughtful observers, would also see in Holly the devastation she left in her wake.

A powerful story.

Hour 3: Member of the Wedding

Hour 3 had me responding to a mini-challenge (quite hopelessly as I knew only one of the book covers pictured and made a mad guess at one other...unlikely to win this one).

Then I finished The Member of the Wedding. Third book of the Read-a-Thon. Third excellent book of the Read-a-Thon. I am marvelling at how odd it is that I've finished three books in three hours and they were all three excellent reads.

Frankie provides our eyes and ears for A Member of the Wedding and what a view she gives us readers! Frankie is poised on the edge of childhood and adulthood, that awful spot we now call adolescence, but she is not sitting quietly on the edge; she is teetering back and forth between the worlds and it is not a happy place to be. She has lost her connections to her world. There are only two who try to call her back into the world: Berenice, the housekeeper, and her cousin, John Henry. As Frankie questions the world, Berenice is the voice of the grownup world, trying to ease Frankie into the new world. At the same time, John Henry is the voice of Frankie's childhood, urging her to play, to experience the world, to forget the world of thinking. Frankie's one hope becomes her desire to escape and join her brother and his new wife after their wedding. Of course, this does not happen and Frankie goes back to her world, but she is not the same person she once was.

What a rich, marvelous book! I could read it all over again and I think I would love it just as much. Frankie's encounter with the soldier...the monkey and the monkey owner...the Freaks....the noises and the pictures the author draws of this world...a rich, rich story.

Hour 2: Mini-Challenge at Book Gazing

Here's my response to the mini-challenge at Book Gazing:

Hour 1: Intro Meme

Where are you reading from today?
I'm in my amazing meditation room right now...comfortable reading chair...relaxing day bed...candle...two laptops...iPhone...and a huge pile of short books....

3 facts about me …
1. I read.
2. I read.
3. I read.

(Surely, you say, there is more? Alas, I must say: I read.)

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
Going to count right now...eek...believe it or not...34!

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
Read and blog, read and blog, read and blog, with a little time out for a bridal shower (ah, but I've still got my iPhone and Kindle!)

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?
Slow and steady finishes the race.

Hour 1: Two Books Completed!

I gave myself a jump start on the read-a-thon: I read deeply into about fifteen books. It's quite possible that I could finish a lot of books today!

At the end of the first hour, I've already finished two.

The first is Good-bye, Mr. Chips. It's the gentle story of a man who taught in a British private boys' school for many decades. I love the way Chips starts out as a very average sort of person and teacher. It's the experiences of life---the death of his wonderful wife, the tragedies of the war, the days, years spent teaching children---that transform Chips into a thoughtful, clever, and exemplary human being.

The second is A Streetcar Named Desire. Whew! What a ride. What a terrible ride into the lives of three sad, miserable lives. Blanche comes to stay with her sister, Stella, after Blanche's life deteriorates. Stella has married and is expecting a baby, but her life is anything but cozy and warm. Stella's husband, Stanley, beats his wife and drinks heavily. Everything in this story echoes, No Way Out, and You are Doomed to Misery.

Whew. Two powerful stories to start this read-a-thon.

Whole truth and nothing but the truth: 47 pages of Mr. Chips and 40 pages of Streetcar Named Desire

So Good-bye, Mr. Chips and A Streetcar Named Desire will be available for prizes when I start my mini-challenge later in the day.

Start Your Engines!

It's seven o'clock and it's time to start reading. I've got a pot of coffee ready and a huge stack of books. I'm ready to go!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Astonishing BookCrossing Release Results!

It's been a week since I did my big library conference BookCrossing release in Houston. When I put out a call for books, I was amazed to receive over 450 books from all over America and England and Canada and Australia for release!

I've never tried to release 450 books and I was a little worried about it, but somehow I was able to bring my rolly-cart each day of the conference....I just packed up 110 books each day and rolled them all over the conference hall, leaving them on tables and benches and next to trees and against walls and up stairs.

Very fun. Lots of comments from onlookers: "Can I take one of these?" and "Tell me about this" and "What a great idea BookCrossing is!"

I've had thirteen BookCrossing books logged in so far and eight people have joined BookCrossing (that I know of).

Here are the comments on the books logged in so far:

"Journal entry 4 by AnonymousFinder from n/a, n/a n/a on Friday, April 10, 2009

I found this book at the Texas Library Association Convention (TLA) last week(April 2) at the George Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. What a surprise!! I read this book as a child over and over again. I have always wanted to "find" a Book Crossing book!! Thank you!! I am going to read this to my K-1 library classes, talk about Book Crossings - I would like to do this at the Elementary School level, and then let the students help me decide where to "release" it.


David Goes to School
"Journal entry 4 by LibraryDiva92 from Rockwall, Texas USA on Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I found the book sitting on a windowsill in Houston at the Texas Library Association Conference. It is one of my students' favorite books. I plan to leave it for one of my teacher's to find and use with her class.


The Moved Outers
"Journal entry 8 by sdose from Coleman, Texas USA on Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I pick the book up at a table at the Texas Library Convention in Houston Texas, 4-1-09. The book is a little worn but still readable.


A Message from the Match Girl
"Journal entry 9 by AnonymousFinder from n/a, n/a n/a on Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Have read chapter 1-2 and plan to continue.


The Empty Mirror
"Journal entry 5 by msmcgohan from n/a, n/a n/a on Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I caught this book under a tree at the Texas Library Association conference. I am a librarian near Houston. What a great suprise this book was! It really brightened my day!!


Swamp Monster in the Third Grade
"Journal entry 3 by AnonymousFinder from n/a, n/a n/a on Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I have to say that I have never heard of book crossing before this, but I found the book at a Texas Library Association conference and picked one up (there were several). What a great idea! I did not read the book, but i like the idea of tracking a book to see where it lands. I'll pass the book on. It is now in the Dallas area.


I Spy Gold Challenger
"Journal entry 5 by AnonymousFinder from n/a, n/a n/a on Tuesday, April 07, 2009

It is a fun book. "It rocks, it is awesome, it is a challenger book, it is the ultimate I SPY book" according to my third graders!


and " Journal entry 6 by 3GradeSkinner from Axtell, Texas USA on Tuesday, April 07, 2009

This is our first bookcrossing experience! How unique!"

Look and Find Disney's Atlantis
"Journal entry 5 by njlimmer from Houston, Texas USA on Monday, April 06, 2009

My daughter and I enjoy look and finds as it really makes you focus on details. I'm planning to pass it on to another teacher in my building so that she can share it with her daughter."

The Bad Beginning
"Journal entry 3 by AnonymousFinder from n/a, n/a n/a on Sunday, April 05, 2009

I found the book at the Houston convention center at the end of the 2009 Texas Library Association conference. I read the Lemony Snicket series (including this volume) a few years ago and found it disturbingly charming. Definitely worth reading! I'm passing on this copy to someone at Texas Woman's University.


Curious George and the Birthday Surprise
"Journal entry 6 by ding57 from Richardson, Texas USA on Sunday, April 05, 2009

Caught the book at the Texas Library Association conference in the skybridge between the conference center and hotel. I was so happy to have found a Book Crossing book! Thanks, debnance!


"Journal entry 5 by Azrabaker from Brooklyn, New York USA on Saturday, April 04, 2009

I got the book from my mom. She brought it home from a library conference in Houston, TX. This book made me feel good when I read it. I LOVED it! I will let this book travel and make someone else feel good too! "

Count All the Way to Sesame Street
"Journal entry 5 by ilreading from Cleburne, Texas USA on Friday, April 03, 2009

I am a first time attendee of the enormous Texas Library Association Conference 2009! This book caught my attention because I can read it to my 4 year old daughter. We will read it a couple of times and then choose some place to set it free in a week or so. For now we are taking care of it - thanks!"

Old Bones the Wonder Horse
"Journal entry 4 by AnonymousFinder from n/a, n/a n/a on Friday, April 03, 2009

Old BOnes was my favorite character!


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Musings from the Library Conference: TLA 2009

Some people I met at the conference....Disappointment: I only came home with a couple of new author photos for my author tablecloth. The best was the author of the Black Lagoon series.

Surprise: I came home with 137 free books, uncorrected proofs, more than I've ever brought home from a conference. Rolly-carts were not banned until day three. No excruciating back pain from carrying a hundred pound of books for four days when you can push a rolly-cart. I've already started several of the freebies, including Absolutely Maybe (which is a resounding Yes! so far) and Tales from Outer Suburbia (loved the first little story). I will be reading the ones I like, taking some to pass on to good readers at my school, and passing some on here at my blog in the near future.

Spent Way Too Much Time: A skyscraper is going up across from the convention center. Three enormous cranes were working almost nonstop and simultaneously. If I looked very hard (and I looked very hard), I could see tiny people in the cabs of the cranes. Here's the the thing: those cranes are hanging there, a hundred feet above the fifteenth floor of this future skyscraper. That's way up there. And a long way down. How much do they pay those crane operators? I hope they are getting lots and lots of money.

Sign of the Times: As the vendors were tearing down the library conference, I started seeing the exhibit hall next door begin to set up...for a gun and knife show. High calibre guns, mind you. And there was a long line waiting outside a third exhibit hall. The people were waiting to buy tickets for the 25th celebration of Wrestlemania. Should I have tried to pass along some of my BookCrossing books to these folks?

And...BookCrossing: When I put out a call for books at BC for books to be released at the conference, I was hoping I might receive fifteen or twenty books. I received over 450! That meant I brought my rolly-cart filled with over a hundred books each day and distributed them. I heard over and over, "I love this idea." When I left the convention hall, all the books had been taken. And, so far, I've had two books logged in. That makes me very happy.

Finally, Pepe: Pepe insisted on coming home with me from the conference. He seems to like books. I think the kids in the library will love him.

My favorite sessions were 23 Things, Librarian in Black's Strategies for Staying on Top in the Library World, and Leaders in the Libraries. I'm coming back to my library with lots of new ideas in my brain!