Monday, April 26, 2010

New Crayons ~ what's new on my bookshelves

Remember when you were a kid and getting new crayons was a big deal?  Getting new books holds the same kind of magic for some of us big kids.  Susan at Color Online came up with the idea of New Crayons to represent new books that arrived during the week.

I got a half dozen new books this week.  My friend Donna took me to lunch today and gave me books, plus this big Happy Birthday cookie (yes, as you can see, I turned 70 today).

Donna also knows the kind of books I like.
The Pillars of the Earth, a novel by Ken Follett (1989), tells the story of Philip, "a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known." says, "As a new age dawns in England's twelfth century, the building of a mighty Gothic cathedral sets the stage for a story of intrigue and power, revenge and betrayal."  The back cover promises "a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state and brother against brother."  This sounds like one for the World Religions Challenge.

Jimmy Carter's Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis (2005) may also work for the World Religions Challenge.  Like in the other book Donna gave me, Carter "puts forth a passionate defense of separation of church and state, and a strong warning of where the country is heading as the lines between politics and rigid religious fundamentalism are blurred.  Many of the "moral values" he examines are under fierce debate:  preemptive war, women's rights, terrorism, civil liberties, homosexuality, abortion, the death penalty, science and religion, environmental degradation, nuclear arsenals, America's global image, fundamentalism, and the melding of religion and politics.
The next two books came from the library:
Kate Klise's novel, Trial by Journal (2001), is told through journal entries, news clippings, and letters.  The book is illustrated by the author's sister, M. Sarah Klise.  I'm curious about this one because I've never heard of a sixth grader being sequestered with a jury.  The whole thing gets "curiouser and curiouser" (as Alice would say) when I read that "twelve-year-old Lily finds herself on the jury of a murder trial while conducting her own undercover investigation of the case."  Hmm, my understanding of "sequestered" wouldn't allow that to happen, making an undercover investigation even MORE unlikely.  Still, I'm curious and willing to suspend my disbelief long enough to find out what happens.

Bare Your Soul: The Thinking Girl's Guide to Enlightenment, edited by Angela Watrous (2002), came from the library.  I've already started reading this one for the World Religions Challenge, based on this from the back cover.  It may even work for the Women Unbound reading challenge.  "Whether raised within a specific belief system or warned against all things religious, women today have been left with questions and conflicts that dating guides and pop feminism can't resolve.  This essential collection includes narratives from skeptics, reformists, and neo-traditionalists alike, representing a wide spectrum of traditions and practices -- from Buddhism to Islam, Judaism to Goddess worship, Catholicism to atheism, and many others.  Wise, compelling, and open-minded, Bare Your Soul offers a provocative look at the ways in which a new generation of women both celebrate and repudiate religion -- and, ultimately, find answers that fit."
I can't put the next book down -- it's that good.  My online book club will discuss it in May, and I posted a teaser about it yesterday. 
House Rules by Jodi Picoult (2010) is a novel about Jacob Hunt, a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome.  "He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject -- in his case, forensic analysis.  He's always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do ... and he's usually right.  But then his town is rocked by a terrible murder and, for a change, the police come to Jacob with questions" ... and then they charge him with murder.
I'll have to explain why I call this last book a "new" one at my house.  Although I bought it in 1977 (I wrote the date in the front of the book), I never got around to reading it and it's been in a box in a storage unit for several years.  I've been sorting out old books and taking them to trade at the used book store, but when I came across this one, I set it aside to read first.
Son of Man by Robert Silverberg (1971) is science fiction, though the blurb on the back cover sounds more like what I prefer to call speculative fiction.  "In the beginning there was no Brooklyn, no St. Louis, no Shakespeare, no moon, no hunger, no death ... In the beginning the heavens, the seas, and the earth belonged to more intelligent species than a man called Clay could ever have dreamed possible in his own time ... but his own time as a man had passed, and now his time as the son of man had come!"
What new books have you gotten this week?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Teaser ~ House Rules

Jodi Picoult's latest novel, House Rules, is about Jacob, a boy with a form of autism called Asperger's syndrome.  Here's a quote from page 163:
Dogs are like the kids in school I cannot stand:  the ones who hang around and then leave when they realize they are not getting want they want or need from the conversation.  They travel in packs.  They lick you and you think it's because they like you, but it's really just because your fingers still smell like your turkey sandwich.

On the other hand, I think cats have Asperger's.

Like me, they're very smart.

And like me, sometimes they simply need to be left alone.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Beezus and Ramona ~ by Beverly Cleary, 1955

It's kind of fun when I'm reading along in one book to run across a reference to another book I have recently read. That happened to me last night when I read the first page of Bare Your Soul, a 2002 nonfiction book edited by Angela Watrous.  In the chapter called "My Sister's Keeper, Twilight Greenaway writes:
"As kids, Mara and I were so close it was sometimes suffocating.  I was Beezus, she was Ramona."
Only if you know the other book would you understand that Mara was Twilight's annoying little sister.  Here's an example from page 14 of Beezus and Ramona:
"Beezus watched her little sister pedal furiously around the living room, inhaling and exhaling [to make noises on her harmonica].  Why did she have to like a book about a steam shovel anyway?  Girls weren't supposed to like machinery.  Why couldn't she like something quiet, like Peter Rabbit?"
This book from more than a half century ago (published in 1955) has Beezus (nickname for Beatrice Quimby) spouting the accepted norm, that girls were not "supposed" to like machinery.  But notice that at least one little girl did -- Ramona Quimby.  The reading guide at HarperCollins has a question about things we aren't supposed to do:
"At her birthday dinner Beezus tells Ramona, 'You can’t have jelly on your mashed potatoes because you aren’t supposed to.'  Of course, Beezus is right, but isn’t this also an example of the difference between Beezus and Ramona, between being older and being younger?  What are some arguments for and against the idea that there are some things we don’t do, because we aren’t supposed to?"
These sisters became so well known that a writer in the twenty-first century could, by saying their names, conjure up an image of what life with her sister had been like.  How many of you reading my blog have read any of the Beezus and Ramona books?  Could you relate to their life?

I rate this first book in the series 8 of 10, a very good book for children.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hug a tree ~ or plant one

I took part in the first Earth Day, back in April 1970. Wow, that's forty years ago! A few years ago I wrote about what happened that day, when I was a university student and went home to three young children. Read that post on my Greening the Blue Planet blog.

Have you ever actually hugged a tree?  I have had a favorite tree in every place I've ever lived, but hugging hasn't been part of my routine.  One day, however, I ran out through a drizzly rain to get my mail and stood inside my garage reading a letter from a friend who had recently moved away.  In her letter she asked me to hug the big tree in my yard that was her favorite tree -- and I ran through the drizzle and wrapped my arms around that tree.  Her letter said she knew I would do it, and she was right.  That would have been 1973, I believe.

On Earth Day in 2000 my seventh grandchild was born.  I wrote about Cady's birthday party a few years later.  That was a day I spent mostly at the zoo, before attending her party.

Earth Day has usually been a very good day for me, though I don't have anything special planned to celebrate.  Maybe I'll hug a tree.  How will you spend the day this year?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Note posted VERY LOW on a refrigerator door

Dear Dogs and Cats:  The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food.  The other dishes are mine and contain my food.  Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate of food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack.  Racing me to the bottom is not the object.  Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king-sized bed.  I am very sorry about this, but do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort.  Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep.  It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible.  I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom.  If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob, or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door.  I must exit through the same door I entered.  Also, I have been using the bathroom for years -- canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is:  Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt.  I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets:  I have posted the following message on the front door:
To all non-pet-owners who visit and like to complain about our pets:
(1)  They live here; you don't.
(2)  If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why it's called "fur"-niture.
(3)  I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
(4)  To you, they are animals.  To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours, and don't speak clearly.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

House Rules ~ online book discussion

My online book club -- Book Buddies -- is planning to read another book together.  We'll each get our hands on a copy of House Rules by Jodi Picoult, published in March 2010, and start reading it.  Beginning in May, we will discuss it bit by bit, as we read.  Usually we have posted our comments and questions on about a fourth of the book at a time.  In other words, you can read slowly if you like.

As we near the end of May, we will discuss the whole thing -- and not worry about spoilers because everyone will have completed reading the book.  Click here for more information.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What's new?

One day I took four heavy boxes of books to the used book store and came home with a mere four books.  (That's pretty good for me!)  It isn't surprising that all six books that arrived at my house this week are related to the Women Unbound challenge.  One of the books is about women AND religion, so it fits the Religions of the World Challenge as well.
The Women Who Broke All the Rules: How the Choices of a Generation Changed Our Lives ~ by Susan B. Evans and Joan P. Avis, 1999
Has chapters with titles like "I've Become the Person My Mother Hoped I'd Marry" and "I've Made Lifestyle Choices That Surprised Even Me" and "I've Grown, What's His Problem?"
Joyous Greetings: The First International Women's Movement, 1830-1860 ~ by Bonnie S. Anderson, 2000
Is "the only work I know of that puts the first crucial stage of the women's movement -- 1824 to 1860 -- within the complex transatlantic context required for any full or even adequate understanding." (Quoting David Brion Davis on back cover.)
Waking the World: Classic Tales of Women and the Heroic Feminine ~ by A. B. Chinen, 1996
Forget women's passive role -- this collection of fairy tales from around the world focuses on strong, mature women.  They are so empowered that they go out and rescue the prince and change their worlds.
Spirit of Survival ~ by Gail Sheehy, 1986
Sheehy took in a refuge Cambodian girl and, with her, re-created her tragic past "to discover who she really was -- and what price the survivor had paid" (from the dust jacket).
Seven Women: Portraits from the American Radical Tradition ~ by Judith Nies, 1977
These women, according to the back cover, "stand out in a long tradition of American radicals who saw the madness of oppressive institutions."

And here's the book that fits both of my reading challenges:
Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion ~ edited by Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow, 1979
Tells the story of Western religion from women's perspective, concluding with "alternative traditions that ground theology and ritual primarily in women's life experiences."
These last two are so old I couldn't find images. Womanspirit Rising was only to be found in a teensy thumbnail shot. Seven Women has been revised to Nine Women; it's 25 years newer and up in price from $2.95 to $19.95 in paperback.

What books have recently arrived at your house?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ash from the volcano

Iceland's volcano has been much in the news lately, but you probably have not seen this photo of a plume of volcanic ash rising into the air.  This is an old photo, and the volcanic activity is not new.  Krakatoa exploded on August 27, 1883, and last year I wrote about Simon Winchester's book Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, which I read when it was first published in 2003.  That eruption in Indonesia was one of the most catastrophic ever witnessed in recorded history, with some of the tremendous explosions from the island of Krakatoa being heard 2,200 miles (3,540 kilometers) away in Australia.  Read more of my thoughts here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lissy's Friends ~ by Grace Lin, 2007

Lissy, a lonely little girl at a new school makes her own friends by folding them from paper.  One day they blow away and other children find them -- and then come looking for Lissy, who shows them how to fold paper into animal shapes (origami).  The online summary says:
"What do you do when you're the new girl at school? If you're Lissy, you make a friend. A paper friend. And to Lissy's surprise, her little origami bird opens his eyes and says hello! So she quickly makes more friends. And soon Lissy has more friends than she can count! But what do you do when your friends have to leave? If you're Lissy, you make another friend . . . but this time one that stays. Utterly imaginative and charming, Lissy's Friends is a fresh take on the importance of friendship."
The only "folded friend" I have ever made was a frog.  Several of them, actually, and they would really "hop" when I slid my finger down -- and off -- their backs.  Folding origami is fun!  My rating:  9 of 10, an excellent book!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Kite Flying ~ by Grace Lin, 2002

Kite Flying, a children's book written and illustrated by Grace Lin, celebrates the Chinese tradition of kite making and kite flying.  In it, a young girl describes in simple language how her family builds a dragon kite together.  The different shapes have different meanings.  Having been born in the year of the dragon, I was delighted to learn that a dragon kite represents wisdom.  I especially like those colorful whiskers added to the dragon.  See them streaming in the wind?

Rating:  8 of 10, a very good book

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Red Thread ~ by Grace Lin, 2007

Do you see those red threads attached to the queen and king?  That's what this story is all about.  The book's summary says,
"A sad king and queen find joy and happiness after a mysterious red thread leads them to a baby waiting to be adopted."
I always read dedications at the front of books, which sometimes give me important information.  Like the one in this book:
"This book is dedicated to all children adopted, the parents who loved them but could not keep them, and the parents who traveled far to find them."
On the page opposite the dedication is another clue to the subject of this book:
"There is an ancient Chinese belief that an invisible, unbreakable red thread connects all those who are destined to be together."
By now I don't really have to tell you the book is about the royal parents (pictured on the cover above) going on a journey to find whatever is at the other end of those red threads attached to their hearts.  You see, they woke up one morning and realized their hearts were hurting.  A peddler knew what to do.  He produced some spectacles that helped helped the queen and king see red threads looping all over the place.  They are wearing those glasses in the cover photo as they follow where the red threads lead them, over hill and dale, through villages, even tangled in a tree.  SPOILER (if you are a small child):  The strings led them to a baby!  (Oh, that was in the summary above, wasn't it?)  They hadn't realized why their hearts ached, but now they know.
"So the king and queen took the baby home to their castle, and she became the princess of the kingdom.  They never felt the pain in their hearts again.  Instead, they were filled with joy and happiness.  They never found out how the red thread had connected hem to their daughter, but they knew why.  And that was all that mattered."
But you knew that, didn't you?  And that peddler?
"The king and queen searched for the old peddler to reward him for his help.  But he had moved on to the next kingdom.  He had heard the king and queen there were suffering from a pain in their hearts."
It's a beautiful fairy tale, but my favorite pages were the first double-page spread and the last.  These were at the beginning and end of the book, framing the story of parents finding their baby.  The first page spread shows a little girl handing her mother this book.  I know it's this book because it has the exact same cover.  Both her parents are sitting on the sofa when she brings the book:
"This story again?  You've heard it a hundred times.  Are you sure?  Okay, I'll read it."
At the back of the book, all three are on the sofa.  The girl is sitting on her mommy's lap and her daddy has moved close beside them.  They are all -- now -- wearing gold crowns, helping to emphasize that the parents have brown hair and the girl has black hair.
"Yes, it's our favorite story, too."
Now for the complete title -- I give The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale by Grace Lin, author and illustrator, a rating of 9 out of 10, an excellent book.  It could become YOUR favorite story, too.

Monday, April 12, 2010

National Library Week ~ and books brought home

National Library Week officially started yesterday.  That's also when one of my book clubs discussed Grace Lin's book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, a Newbery Honor Book.  I wanted to read some of her other books, so during this week I've gotten these Grace Lin books from the library.

I also visited a bookstore and came home some books related to the Women Unbound reading challenge.

What books did you bring home this week?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Readathon ~ second half

Mini-challenges and updates for the second half of the 24-hour Read-a-Thon will go here.  My original updates post got mighty long!   Maybe, since it's gotten dark now on my side of the planet, I won't be taking as many photos with my cell phone.  But I like adding pictures!  As before, I'll put the latest update or mini-challenge at the top.  After "its hour" has passed, I'll move it to the bottom in chronological order.


Hour 13 mini-challenge (Romancing Your Friendship, 8:00 p.m.)
"So you know how there are those books out there where ... a boy and a girl are friends ... only to find out at the end they have loved each other the whole time and its just soooooo amazingly beautiful.  Well, that's the basis for this challenge.  I want you to pick out your favorite book or series where there is a boy/girl, boy/boy, girl/girl couple that fall in love."
Oh, this is soooooo not me!  I think I'll keep reading.

Hour 14 (9:00 p.m.)

I'm a winner!  "We also have Winners to Announce for the Intro Meme!  Each of the following get their choice of a book prize pack, and the first winner ALSO gets the chocolate monkey:  Bonnie Jacobs (Bonnie’s Books), Michelle at Literaily Speaking, The 1st Daughter from There’s a Book, Fyrefly from Fyrefly’s Book Blog, and Shauna- Reading and Ruminations."

I went back to the first hour to see what I won and found this:  "We’ll draw 5 winners randomly. Each winner gets a book prize pack, and the first winner will also get the chocolate monkey you see on the right. Again, it’s tradition!"  I'm first?  I get the chocolate monkey?  I remember when Dewey raved about the first chocolate monkey she offered.


Hour 15 (10:00 p.m.)

I'm looking over the book sets and trying to decide which one I'd like to have for my win (see Hour 14).  This is the one I picked from the page of prizes:
Erica Barmash at Harper Perennial (publicist):  Lovers of Fiction Young and Old Prize Pack (one copy each of Shelf Discovery and The Cougar Club)

Hour 16 mini-challenge (Title Teasers, 11:00 p.m.)
"The goal of this challenge is to complete some book titles.  I am going to give you a list of 20 titles, leaving out some of the words.  Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to complete the title."
  1. The Dark _____  (The Dark Divine by Bree Despain)
  2. An _____  _____ Girl  (An Irish Country Girl by Patrick Taylor)
  3. The Lost _____ of _____ May _____  (The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees)
  4. Necessary _____  (Necessary Heartbreak by M. J. Sullivan)
  5. She's So _____ to _____  (She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott,)
  6. _____ Over Toccoa  (Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff)
  7. _____ Dead  (Beautiful Dead by Eden Maguire)
  8. Scones & _____  (Scones and Sensibility by Lindsay Eland)
  9. All _____ Things  (All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab)
  10. Beautiful _____  (Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl)
  11. _____ to Dream  (Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev)
  12. The _____-_____ Waves  (The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan)
  13. I Kissed a _____ and I _____ It  (I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It by Adam Selzer)
  14. Prophecy of the _____  (Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink)
  15. Very _____ (Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn)
  16. The Girl Who _____ from the _____  (The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow)
  17. Marriage and Other _____ of _____  (Marriage and Other Acts of Charity by Kate Braestrup)
  18. Making _____  (Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt)
  19. _____ Cat  (White Cat by Holly Black)
  20. Letters to My _____  (Letters to My Father by O. Raye Adkins)
If I should happen to win, I would choose The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow.

(While trying to post this hour's mini-challenge, my computer program -- Firefox -- has crashed FOUR TIMES, making me lose the whole list TWICE.  I hope I'm not too late to enter the contest by the time I get this posted!  And I hope I didn't mix up any titles that I had so carefully done before, having found them all on her blog.)


Hour 17 (12:00 midnight) is known as Dewey’s Hour
"As you have probably noticed this read-a-thon is called Dewey’s Read-A-Thon, that is because it is in memory of Dewey - she was the instigator of this insanely cool event! Some of you ‘knew’ her and did a Read-A-Thon or two with her as your host. If you never got the chance, let me tell you - she was fab. For this hour we’d like you to leave a comment on this post telling us something you enjoyed about Dewey or remember her fondly for or just something sweet."
Dewey drew this picture for me.

Click this link to my post about this cat Dewey drew, and be sure to read the comments because Dewey and I had a conversation about cats where she said, "My cat says it's too hot out to cuddle, and she probably won't get into my lap again until at least November."  That would be November 2008, when Dewey died.


Hour 24 ~ I'm a WINNER in the RIF mini-challenge (see Hour 10 in the earlier Updates post)

Joy Renee just notified me (see comments below) that I'm a winner in her mini-challenge.  Wow!  Thanks!


Hour 24 (End of Event Meme, 7:00 a.m.)
This will have to wait until I am thinking.  After posting about Dewey (Hour 17), I went to bed to read and sleep.  I need to shower now and go teach a class, so I'll answer the rest of these questions when I get home.

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
Hour 16 when my computer kept crashing, maybe because it had been on most of the day?  I wasted a lot of time doing and re-doing that hour's mini-challenge.
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
Every reader is different, and very few people read the books I prefer.
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Nope, everything seemed to run smoothly.
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
The mini-challenges kept me busy, which was fun.  If I really want to read, however, I do best when nothing else distracts me and I can stay focused.
5. How many books did you read?
Parts of three adult books and all of three children's books.
6. What were the names of the books you read?
  The Writing on My Forehead by Nafisa Haji (50 pages of 308),

The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler (36 pages of 221),

Patriarchal Attitudes by Eva Figes (34 pages of 191),

Robert's Snowflakes by Grace Lin (40 pages),

Kite Flying by Grace Lin (32 pages),

Fortune Cookie Fortunes by Grace Lin (32 pages)
7. Which book did you enjoy most?
All of them.
8. Which did you enjoy least?
There wasn't one.
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
Not applicable this year.
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
Very likely, and in the role of reader.

Updates ~ on the 24-hour readathon (first 12 hours)

Here's where I'll post updates for the 24-Hour Read-a-Thon, which I told you about on Thursday.  The latest update will always be up above, and I'll "store" the older updates below every time I post a new update. I'm all set now to start reading in 7 hours and 15 minutes. That's 8:00 a.m. my time here in the Eastern time zone.  (Ready, set, read!)


Hour 1 mini-challenge (Intro Meme, 8:00 a.m.)
"Answer some questions."
Where are you reading from today?
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
Three facts about me?
  1. Before I could read, I "read" books to my baby brother by memorizing the entire book, turning the pages at the right spots.
  2. I've always been fascinated with words.
  3. Today I'm reading books to satisfy the two reading challenges I've joined: Women Unbound and World Religions Challenge.
How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
  1. The Writing on My Forehead ~ by Nafisa Haji (fiction)
  2. Patriarchal Attitudes: Women in Society ~ by Eva Figes (women's studies)
  3. Keeping Corner ~ by Kashmira Sheth (fiction)
  4. The First Coming: How the Kingdom of God Became Christianity ~ by Thomas Sheehan (religion)
  5. Change Baby ~ by June Spence (fiction)
  6. Mrs Man ~ by Una Stannard (women's studies)
  7. Ming: A Novel of Seventeenth-Century China (fiction)
  8. The Vagina Monologues ~ by Eve Ensler (women's studies)
  9. The Summer Before the Dark ~ by Doris Lessing (fiction)
  10. The Feminine Mystique ~ by Betty Friedan (women's studies)
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)?
  1. finish two or three books
  2. do updates at least six times (every four hours or oftener)
If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?
  1. take regular breaks
  2. keep track of how many minutes/hours you read
  3. record how many pages you read 
  4. vary your reading (I have half fiction, half nonfiction)

Hour 2 mini-challenge (The Kick Off of Champions, 9:00 a.m.)

"What have I surrounded myself with?"

Ten books (shown here and listed below), a mug for hot tea, my lap desk with a pen for making notes, and a good lamp beside my sofa so I can read on into the night.  During parts of the day, I also plan to stretch out and read on my bed where my cat is already curled up asleep.  I don't want to sit in one spot for too long.


Hour 3 mini-challenge (And the Nominees Are, 10:00 a.m.)
"List your favorites."  (These are all subject to change as I have time to think about them.)
  • Favorite Female Character in a Book:  Lily Owens in The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Favorite Male Character in a Book: Simon Morley in Time and Again by Jack Finney
  • Favorite Sidekick in a Book:  Hermione Granger, in the Harry Potter series
  • Favorite Couple in a Book:  Charles and Emma Darwin in Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman
  • Favorite Book Series:  Junie B Jones books for children
  • Favorite Author:  Gail Godwin, who wrote the novel Evensong
  • Favorite Book Cover:  Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
  • Favorite Book of 2009:  The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Hour 4 mini-challenge (Book Title Sentence, 11:00 a.m.)
"Take a photograph of three or four books from my bookshelves that form a sentence."

"Writing on my forehead ~ having our say in a different voice!"

1. Writing on My Forehead ~ by Nafisa Haji (which I'm reading first today)
2. Having Our Say ~ by Sarah and Elizabeth Delany
3. In a Different Voice ~ by Carol Gilligan

I really must make myself read for a long stretch before I report on number of pages read. It's embarrassingly low so far because all I seem to be doing is mini-challenges and reading what others have posted. The first book I'm reading is The Writing on My Forehead, a novel by Nafisa Haji (2009).


Hour 5 mini-challenge (Feed Me Seymour Challenge, 12:00 noon)

"Share a picture and a passage about some food I've encountered in my reading today."

This is a pani-puri cart in India.  Pani-puris are popular snacks sold by the side of the road.  In the quote below, Nanima is the grandmother of the girl narrating the story and Big Nanima is the grandmother's sister (fromThe Writing on My Forehead by Nafisa Haji, p. 22):
"Nanima disapproved of dining out in general and of Karachi street cuisine in particular.  She insisted, with good reason, that the food made on the streets of Karachi was dirty and not fit for consumption.  Big Nanima scoffed at such caution.  Food, as her figure could attest, was her friend, and the cheap and spicy fare sold in the stalls at every corner in Karachi was what she thrived on.  Bun kababs, a hybrid hamburger made mostly of potatoes smothered with sweet and sour tamarind chutney and chili paste, were among her favorites.  And pani puris, deep-fried, crispy, and puffed up little flatbreads dripping with a spice-flavored water that had never known the process of boiling, which was mandatory among people respectable enough to afford the luxury of having a kitchen.  She introduced me to these delicacies, among others."
Hmpf, now I'm hungry.  Well, it is noon here, which means lunch time, right?  I don't have any pani puris or chutney, but I do have English muffins and cream cheese.  (Big difference, huh?)


Hour 6 mini-challenge (Lights, Camera Read!, 1:00 p.m.)

"While you are reading and posting this day, acquire some pictures of yourself reading.  When you have a few (six is a good minimum), assemble them into a slideshow using Animoto or anything else you want to use.  It must include music.  Post a link to your digital creation in the comments section."

I may not be able to combine photos and music using an unknown program, but in the meantime I'll start taking photos to add here.  Since I'm reading books for the Women Unbound challenge, an appropriate song may be "I Am Woman," but the music is probably not available.

Here I am at the piano, trying to pick out the tune to "I Am Woman."  What am I thinking!?  My hands should be holding a book, not making music for a slideshow.  Forget it and pick up that book facing the camera on the shelf beyond my face.  It seems my stack of books followed me there, probably just to make me feel guilty. The one facing forward is "the book I'm not reading."


Hour 7 (2:00 p.m.)
I'm skipping this mini-challenge ~ in order to READ.  See?  I'm reading, I'm reading!  And "the book I'm not reading" has become once again "the book I am reading."


Hour 8 mini-challenge (Drabble Time, 3:00 p.m.)
"A drabble is an extremely short work of fiction exactly one hundred words in length.  Your mini-challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a drabble based on a book OR you can do a drabble based on your Readathon experience. Your drabble does not have to be true to the book.  It's all about being creative, but it must be a complete story in 100 words.  I'm willing to give you a 10 word leeway so make your drabble 90-110 words long, but shoot for 100!"
Reading in Dribs and Drabs

The Readathon begins.  First challenge:  write a meme.  Done!  Second hour:  photograph books I hope to read.  Posted that.  Third challenge:  think about books previously read.  Did that.  Fourth hour:  use book titles to make a sentence.  Been there, got the picture to prove it.  Fifth challenge: need a food photo.  Googled that.  Sixth challenge:  animate a slideshow.  Pecked at the piano making music before ditching the deal.  Seventh hour:  I finally read.  Got to page 38, in only eight hours!
Sorry, I'm busy reading ... FINALLY.


Hour 9 mini-challenge (Soundtrack Song, 4:00 p.m.)
Here’s how to play:
* Pick up a book that you’ve read today, or are currently reading.
* Choose a song that goes with the book – could be that it fits the overall feel of it or even a certain scene.
* Create a blog post answering the following:  book title, soundtrack song, why you chose that song.
* If possible, include a clip of the song (ie, youtube video).
Book title: The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan.
Soundtrack song:  "I Am Woman" by Helen Reddy
Why I chose this song:  The book marks the beginning of the second wave of feminism when women of the 1960s and 1970s struggled to get equal rights, especially in the workplace.  The song was chosen as the theme song for International Women's Year (1975).


 Hey!  I'm one of 15 finalists in the Hour 4 Mini-Challenge!  Here are the photos chosen:

In no particular order here are my favourite 15 entries, it’s now over to you to pick the winner!
Just a reminder the idea was to create a readable sentence using book titles alone.
The voting booth is at the bottom of the post, I’ll keep voting open until the end of hour #10 and you can vote for up to three entries!
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The Silent Governess, treasured the truth about forever. by Eliza Osborn The Outsiders lost White Fang by Kristen Writing on my forehead; having our say in a different voice. by Bonnie
Gods behaving badly after dark, in my father’s den. by Rachael Run liar, because of Anya, the cat ate my gymsuit. by Helen Jayne Eyre, whispers, I’d kill for that. by Lissa
Bonk the last madam, if you want to write sexuality today. by Rayna The clouds roll away, when turtles fly, bending toward the sun. by Kristi On Chesil Beach The Savage Detectives Waltz with Bashir In Search of a Distant Voice by Gnoe
Crazy, beautiful, breathless, boys that bite need Jessica’s guide to dating on the dark side. by Elie Dangerous Angels Catching Fire, In The Bleak Midwinter. by Bitsy Beautiful Creatures Lament The Hidden Dawn. by Heather
The King of Attolia kidnapped one corpse too many. by Jenn Darkly dreaming Dexter; Sinner, monster, an echo in the darkness… by Angela Learning to lose, by fire, by water; a small place. by Vasily
Remember voting is open until the end of hour #10 and you can vote for up to three entries!

Here's how the votes went:

Which of the following sentences is your winner? (Poll Closed)


Joy Renee's Hour 10 mini-challenge (Reading Is Fundamental, 5:00 p.m.)
"The challenge is to create a post celebrating the reading child and to link to the Reading is Fundamental webpage.  Suggestions for content:  post a picture or video of a child or children reading or being read to."

The very first suggestions works for me.  I have a photo of my granddaughter Cady reading one of the books we reviewed together, And Tango Makes Three.  Click on the book's title to read her review.


Hour 10 has TWO mini-challenges (Where in the World Have You Read Today?, 5:00 p.m.)
"Click on a Google map.  Zoom until you find the location you want to click.  Enter the book(s) you're reading or have read today. Include the title and author."
I'm reading in Karachi, Pakistan, during part of the novel The Writing on My Forehead by Nafisa Haji.  One other person is in Pakistan, but s/he is way up north in Lahore.  Other parts of the story take place in London and in America, but I marked only Karachi for this mini-challenge.  See the map itself.

Hour 11 mini-challenge (Get Up and Move Challenge, 6:00 p.m.)

Bye, I'm going for a walk.  I'll take out my garbage, pick up the mail on my walk back, and enjoy a bit of sunshine along the way.  It's a beautiful day, with the temperature currently at 71F.


Hour 12 mini-challenge (Mid-Event Survey, 7:00 p.m.)

1. What are you reading right now?
The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
2. How many books have you read so far?
Parts of three adult books, plus three children's books.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, for the Women Unbound reading challenge.
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
No, I'm retired and make my own days, which means I usually get more read than I have today!
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
My only "interruption" was before I started.  I invited my friend in to discuss tomorrow's class that I'll be teaching, but she left about the time the Read-a-Thon began.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
No surprises.
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
I like the main thing that keeps me from reading, the mini-challenges.
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
Nothing, I'd still "waste" my time on the mini-challenges and read when I feel like it.  I read every day of the year and will always do that as long as I'm able.
9. Are you getting tired yet?
Oh, yeah, my back aches.  But walking helped.  So does occasionally stretching out to read.
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?
Enjoy whatever rocks your boat.  If you are having fun with the mini-challenges, as I am, don't worry about how many pages or books you read or how much time you spend actually reading.