Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Barbara Kingsolver Comes to Houston

Barbara Kingsolver
October 22, 2018
Cullen Auditorium, University of Houston, Houston, Texas




I snagged an advanced reader copy of Barbara Kingsolver's new book, Unsheltered, some months ago, and read, and read, and read, with increasing wonder at the cleverness, at the immediacy, at the right-ness of this book now. Here's my review, written a month ago, if you are interested.

So I've read (most of) Barbara Kingsolver, but I've never seen her speak; I wasn't sure what to expect. Would she be reserved, quiet, intellectual, as I've come to picture her over the years?

Nope. Not even close.



"Houston, bless your hearts. You've been through hell and high water." Barbara Kingsolver greeted the packed house at Cullen Auditorium on the UH campus as if she knew each of us personally. I immediately felt a sense of connectedness; Barbara Kingsolver is a member of my tribe.

"This book," Kingsolver told us, "is about the great divides in our country. It occurred to me that I was looking at the end of the world."

Nods. Sad smiles. We know what she is talking about.

"So many things we have always counted on---health insurance, pensions, the polar ice caps---are disappearing."

More nods. More sad smiles.

"Willa, my main character, has done everything right, yet has still failed."

Oh, Barbara. You have touched a nerve.



Kingsolver went on to tell us about the dual and parallel plots in her book, one set in the past after another event which deeply divided the country, the Civil War, and the other in our current time. The story set in the past has characters in turmoil over the work of Charles Darwin. Her contemporary characters are struggling with employment, with college debt, with suicide. And both sets of characters live in homes that are collapsing around them.

Whew. Powerful.



After Kingsolver read a small bit from her book, she sat down with author and former First Lady of Houston, Andrea White, to talk.

Kingsolver got to the point right away. "How do we bridge the divide when the solutions of yesterday no longer apply?"

That is the question, isn't it?

"The hope is that we're not all doomed, really," Kingsolver assured us. "The starting point is building trust. Hope is a decision. We must have hope that we can do something about this mess. To do otherwise is to abandon every child on earth."



Finally, Barbara Kingsolver turns to us and speaks directly to the audience. "I said there will be no altar call tonight. I lied. Go vote."

We applaud and applaud. Preach on, Barbara Kingsolver.





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, October 30, 2018

My Favorite Fairy Tales


I was born the day after Halloween. I always felt like Halloween was a glorious celebration of my birthday. Everyone dressed up. We shared lots of candy.

Halloween is a day of magic and illusion. 

To celebrate, here are my favorite fairy tales.


Rumpelstiltskin






Hansel and Gretel




The Frog Prince




The Twelve Dancing Princesses




The Wild Swans





The Emperor's New Clothes




King Midas and the Golden Touch




The Ugly Duckling




Little Red Riding Hood




The Little Match Girl




Which fairy tales are your favorites? Do you like any of these?




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.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction


Hooray, Nonfiction November is here! Nonfiction November is a month-long celebration of everything nonfiction. Each week, we’ll have a different prompt and a different host looking at different ideas about reading and loving nonfiction.

Week 1 (Oct. 29 to Nov. 2)
Your Year in Nonfiction So Far (Hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness)
Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?




What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? 

Easy question. Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson was my favorite nonfiction read of the year.

Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? 

I read, once again, more nonfiction (82 books) than fiction (49 books) this year (omitting books for the Cybils). I read lots of books on happiness (6), travel (11), cooking (3), writing (4), and books-about-books (4). I also read, oddly, books about Montaigne (3), Jane Austen (3), and Henry David Thoreau (3). 


What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? 

I've shared Tribe of Mentors and The Sufi Book of Life with several people.

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

It will be fun to reflect back on my nonfiction reads of the year. I also love to look for new nonfiction reads from suggestions on others' blogs.


How about you? 
Did you read more nonfiction than fiction? 
What topics did you read about this year?

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Preparing for November: NaNoWriMo and Nonfiction November


It's almost time for NaNoWriMo. I have signed up for eleven years, but I have yet to write a novel.

This year will be different.

I will write 50,000 words in November.

I'm preparing for NaNoWriMo right now.

I'd love to have some writing buddies. I'm debnance there.




Nonfiction November is a month dedicated to celebrating nonfiction…we’ll talk about our favorite nonfiction, trade recommendations, discuss our nonfiction reading habits, and hopefully discover some new book blogs! There will be a link-up for your posts every Monday…see Sarah’s Bookshelves for the schedule of events and where to find the link-ups.

Here are some books I may read/reread for Nonfiction November:
          Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
          Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
          Old Friend from Far Away: The Power of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg
          If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland

          


Are you planning to do Nonfiction November and/or NaNoWriMo? 


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

An Evening with Anne Lamott

An Evening with Anne Lamott
October 19, 2018
St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Houston

People are fanning themselves in the church. The air isn't on, it's a packed house, and it is a warm October night in Houston. I dare to ask to sit in an open pew less than fifty feet from the pulpit.


I am surrounded by people with strong political and spiritual views, and we talk about important things while we wait.

And then she arrives. It's Anne Lamott, and she seems different than the last time I heard her speak, ten or so years back, stronger, more confident, even...dare I say it?...happy. She has a new book.

"I accidentally wrote this book on hope. It was originally called Doomed," she tells us. We laugh. That's one thing we adore about Anne Lamott: she dares to be honest, and she finds a way to be honest while also making us laugh.

"I'm as scared and angry as everyone else, but one of the blessings of being a little bit older is that being scared and angry doesn't last as long. And you don't always remember why you are scared and angry."

Anne Lamott is here to share what she has learned in this life with us. She has put everything she knows in this little book, Almost Everything, written for her young niece and grandson:

"We are not alone."

"Love gives me hope."

"I spent a lot of years unlearning everything I'd been taught as a child."

"All truth is paradox."

We listen to Anne. We laugh with Anne. She reads a few bits from her book, but mostly she talks, seemingly extemporaneously. A few brave souls pose questions to Anne. One woman tells her that when she was at her lowest, in an abusive relationship, she saw Anne on tv, and she asked herself, "Who is this woman?" and she got Anne's books and she changed her life. "Could you give me a hug?" the woman asks Anne. Anne says yes.


This book is a hug from Anne to the world.








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, October 23, 2018

Odd Villains

I've run across some odd villains in my reading life.




Fungus the Bogeyman in
Fungus the Bogeyman by Raymond Briggs
Fungus spends his days in his job as a bogeyman frightening humans.
He loves the damp, the cold, and rotten food.
Level of Villainy: More disgusting than scary.




The Nargun in
The Nargun and the Stars by Patricia Wrightson
The Nargun is an ancient rocklike creature who is stirred to anger when people start clearing the land near his home.
He dumps the grader into a pond and hides the bulldozer inside a mountain.
Level of Villainy: We could use more Narguns, I think.




The Bureaucracy in 
The Castle by Franz Kafka
The Castle is the story of a man, K., trying to gain access to a huge castle. A mysterious bureaucracy requests K. come to the castle, yet when he arrives he is told he is not wanted. K. tries to do everything he can to get into the castle, but he never does.
Level of Villainy: High. Bureaucracies are a villain modern people must face every day. 




The Cucumber King in
The Cucumber King by Christine Nostlinger
A creature who describes himself as the Cucumber King arrives in the living room of a family and  haughtily demands that the family wait on him.
Level of Villainy: High. A guest who refuses to leave? A cucumber that insists others must be his servants?




Watches in
Hundreds of young women worked in factories, making glowing dials for watches using radium. But radium was a poison which gradually caused the teeth of the women to loosen and fall out and caused bones of the women to weaken and crumble.
Level of Villany: Very high. To be poisoned by your workplace.





War in
The Day War Came by Nicola Davies
On an ordinary day, war arrives in a town and turns it to rubble.
Level of Villainy: War feels unstoppable to a child.



Teenagers and the Educational System in
The Battle for Room 314: My Year of Hope and Despair in a New York City High School
Ed Boland idealistically decides to become a high school teacher in a school with high rates of poverty among its students. He ends up leaving his job, in despair. 
Level of Villainy: A system that tells you to one thing, yet offers you no way to do that thing, and no support, is deeply villainous.


The Strange Library in
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
A spooky library won't let you leave.
Level of Villainy: If the book selection was good, I wouldn't mind staying.



Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen
Cyn's friend is crazy about the new school librarian. But the librarian seems to be sucking the life force out of the students. Could he be...a demon?
Level of Villainy: This book was so scary I couldn't finish it. Nothing is scary like a scary librarian.



What odd villains have you run across in your reading?





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.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-thon (Give or Take Twenty Hours)





As often happens to me, I'm off to a late start with the readathon today. I already know that I'm going to be interrupted for many hours as we are going with my daughter-in-law and son and granddaughter to the county fair.

But that's okay. Perfect, really. I've done many, many readathons and the point is to try to draw a line around as many hours as you can and devote them to reading.

That's what I'm going to do today.




I've got books at the ready, including a stack of twenty Cybils picture books I'd like to read, four books about Yellowstone Park I'm reading in preparation for NaNoWriMo, and a brand-new shiny copy of Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott that I'm itching to read. If I get those finished, I have a few (oh, probably a hundred books under my bed and another hundred on the top shelf of my closet) that I can pull out.


I splurged on some fabulous snacks. The ubiquitous coffee, of course. Plus this year Gardetto's Garlic Rye Chips and Chile Limon Pistachi.

Shall we get this readathon underway? I think we shall.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Alvin, Texas.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Almost Everything by Anne Lamott.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Chile Lime Pistachios.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I'm a reader of children's picture books, literary fiction, and nonfiction that reads like fiction.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? This is my 20-something-th readathon. Today I plan to read and visit others' blogs. And go to the county fair.



HOUR 12 UPDATE


Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now? A Yellowstone Savage from Fishing Bridge.
2. How many books have you read so far? One. Squatters in Paradise.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I still have hopes I may read the new Anne Lamott book.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? I took off six hours to go with my family to the county fair, but I'm back to reading.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? I plowed through a book in about two hours, cover to cover.




I love the mini-challenges. I had to join for:
Book and a Snack
Modern Classics
Title Haiku.

Title Haiku was perfect for my readathon TBR. All of these are Yellowstone books, which I'm reading in anticipation of writing a Yellowstone memoir during NaNoWriMo. Here's what I have:


Circling Yellowstone
A Yellowstone Savage from Fishing Bridge
Squatters in Paradise
Yellowstone Has Teeth


FINAL UPDATE


Closing Survey!


1. Which hour was most daunting for you? I fell asleep at 8:30 pm. 
2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read! Two: A Yellowstone Savage from Fishing Bridge. Squatters in Paradise: A Yellowstone Memoir.
3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners? I didn't get to Anne Lamott's new book, but I'm pretty sure that's going to be a book I'll recommend.
4. What’s a really rad thing we could do during the next Read-a-thon that would make you happy? Just keeping it going....
5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep? 100%. Of course I'd love to help.




Did you join in? Leave me your link and I'll stop by later and visit.





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, October 17, 2018

(One of ) My New Favorite Author(s)






Do you recognize him? It's Jason Reynolds, author of Long Way Down and Ghost. All these photos are from the 2017 BookExpo. He will be coming to Houston on Sunday, November 4 for the Inprint Cool Brains series. I hope to see him there.



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, October 16, 2018

The Coolest Libraries I Haven't Yet Visited

I am so crazy about libraries that I keep a Pinterest board of libraries I love and wish I could visit.

Some libraries I will never be able to visit, like this walking library of the 1930's...



...or the smallest public library in America, now, sadly, closed, which was built and maintained for seventy years by eight women in South Dakota....


But I can still visit this library in a tree in Berlin, I think.



I'd like to have a bicycle library some day.



I'd love to visit the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, a tribute to one of the world's oldest libraries.

'

Could someone please build me this garden library?


 The first time I saw the Kansas City Library I didn't even think it was real.


Maybe one day I'll put together my own version of a Lego library.


One day I'll stay at the Library Hotel in New York City.


 Look at this beautiful picture book library in Japan.


Who wouldn't love visiting a library like this library in rural Italy?


 We could use a vending machine library in every Walmart, I think.


How about you? What libraries do you want to visit? Share some 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.