Monday, June 18, 2018

TTT: Summer Locales


With the delightful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish moving on to other things, TTT is now hosted by just one of their contingent, That Artsy Reader Girl .  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is:
Books to Read By the Pool/At the Beach

I decided to go super literal with this, and chose titles that were related to beaches, pools, and other summer pursuits.

For years I would have told you this fishing and God book was my very favorite. Not because I'd ever been fishing, and not because I read a lot of books about faith. But I loved this coming of age story set in my state, and its journey from broad comedy to philosophical musing. I haven't read it in 20 years, but I like to think it would still hold up.

I read this one for the Cybils judging last winter, and was utterly charmed. Life in a boat is all a river pirate princess needs.

I was never a fan of Frog, and didn't love his chapters as much, but Ratty and Mole drifting on the river on a summer day are true #squadgoals.

Ramona not only shares a name with a lovely waterfall on Mt. Hood, she's also a swimmer. Heck, the cover art shows her sitting underwater in her swimsuit. I adore this book so much.

Chris Crutcher is a swimmer and a damn fine human being. Both of these things make themselves known in every book he writes. Whale Talk was the book that first made me a fan of his. (His foul-mouthed and spot-on Facebook diatribes against the current political climate in this country are currently cementing his status as a personal hero too.)

This well-researched and fascinating story is about a man in Maine who spent 27 years living in the forest, without any human interaction. Thoreau on steroids.

This one is somewhat based on a true story that I remember reading about in the news at the time. A dad and early teenaged daughter were discovered to be living wild in Forest Park, Portland's huge natural area, for four years. I read the first half of the book, which is told from the daughter's point of view, and shows their woodsy life and how they eventually get discovered. It turns out that they disappeared a week or so after being set up to work on a horse farm in a rural area, so the second half of the book is purely speculative.

Bill Bryson is a funny, funny man. I don't love this one as much as his travelogues Neither Here Nor There and Lost Continent, but it has some brilliant moments as he describes attempting the Appalachian trail as a out of shape middle aged guy, accompanied by an even more out of shape guy he used to be friends with.

Heidi is living the dream. Well, my dream, anyway. A cabin in the Alps, wind rushing through the trees, cute local goatherd hanging around. Plus she gets to wear dirndls.

I know I've talked about this book before, but I really think it's a crying shame Harriet the Spy gets all the press. Beth Ellen takes center stage in this book, as both her family and Harriet's vacation in the same beach town.

You'll never guess where this book is set. A homeless teen helps track down a runaway, and all of a sudden he's the junior detective in town.

This picture book is about a barnacle. To say more would spoil it. 

Oh, and one more thing-

Friday, June 15, 2018

Lists, Crosschecks, and Bullet Journaling for the Un-Cute

Welcome to the smorgasbord that this blog post will be, as evinced by the title.

I made a (I think) rather lovely summer reading list for myself last month. I varied genres and difficulties, library books with already owned. Books I'll fly through, and books I'd only attempt during my school-free days of summer.  Since making the list in late May, I've read about 11 books. Only one was from the list. (Dread Nation.)

(Well. I also started to read All the Crooked Saints, and after about two chapters decided it wasn't for me. So I've at least addressed two of the books.)

All of which is to say, I don't do a very good job at following my own plans.

So it only makes sense, then, that I have a shelf on Goodreads called "Buy for my classroom," a wishlist at Powell's called "Classroom Wishlist," and a wishlist at First Book for my classes, AND that all of those lists include both overlaps and unique items. So I went through all three of them, plus the list of books students never brought back this year (well, the ones they checked out and didn't bring back--I don't have a good list of books that just sort of drifted out of my classroom), and put together this list, which I will most likely ignore as well:

The circled ones are my tippy tippy top priorities. I will probably get at least a couple of those. I still struggle with buying books I think students SHOULD read (Ramona Blue, Amina's Voice) instead of what they WANT to read (Milk & Honey, horror). It's not so much that I'm a snob, just that I am a confident enough reader to tackle things that require some investment of time and thought to get to the payoff, while many of my students just go, "Oh, it looks really long, and when I read the first two pages I was confused" and pick up Smile again instead.  A lot of the books I think they should love they do love, if I read them aloud. 

I couldn't help but notice the difference between the aesthetics of these two layouts. My summer reading list is something I planned (look! alphabetized!) and even sketched elements of in pencil before committing. The spread I made today is just jotted down as I perused lists online. I made the title somewhat neat, although I didn't bother to think about spacing, and I threw down some washi tape to make it cute. 

This is why I've stuck with bullet journaling for a year and a half, despite being chronically unorganized and constitutionally resistant to plans. Even though the ones on Instagram are (duh) gorgeous and themed and scrupulously laid out, mine doesn't have to look like that to work for me. If I feel like playing around with color and form I can do this:

and if I just need to get some thoughts down before I forget them, I can do this:

Okay, so I stuck some washi tape on again--what can I say, my kid and I saw a sale and caved! And I sketched a bucket next to my summer bucket list, but then again, I scrawled that list sideways next to the other lists I was doing, so clearly this was something I just tossed together as I thought. 

And if I really hate a spread--I can turn the page and keep going. No need to be precious about it. 

I know some people wonder why anyone would sit down and create their own planner week by week when there are already planners one can buy, but this method actually does more for my organization than buying a planner and using it for 2 weeks would. I think my bouncy brain actually needs the variety that I get in my bullet journal. I don't feel hemmed in by it, so I don't have to resist it. 

Okay, since this has been such a random post, I'm just going to end by sharing some tweets I saved recently for various family members.

For my sister, who has moved in with us for a couple of months while she tried to find a new place to live:

For my daughter, who made us perfect omelettes during spring break and has yet to successfully recreate that experience:

And for my husband, who recently asked me if I'd clean out the fridge because he was getting overwhelmed by all the yogurt containers that don't actually contain yogurt any more:

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Twenty Answers Book Tag

I was in the mood for a book tag, so I'm stealing the Twenty Questions Book Tag from AJ at Read All the Things! She saw in on Books, Vertigo, and Tea, and so on and so on. I found the name a little off, because 20 questions is a guessing game. This is not a guessing game. Just Q&A. So I'm pedantically renaming it.

1. How many books are too many books in a book series? 
Get used to hearing this but--it depends. There are four books and a set of short stories in the Unwind series. There are, obviously, seven books in both The Chronicle of Narnia and in Harry Potter. My favorite mystery authors, Elizabeth George and Reginald Hill, both have series that are well over ten, and in the case of the one still alive, presumably more to come. I would not want one book less in most of these (The Last Battle is boring and The Horse and His Boy is racist, so yeah, I could lose those two.) That being said, three is a very good number as a general rule. Or even two. A nice duology lets you really dive into a world and see characters develop without having to track too much information over time.

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers? 
Cliffhangers are the most logical justification for ebooks--you can just buy the next one. Or if we're talking chapter ending cliffhangers, they're the best reason to just stay up reading until the whole book is done. Or for checking out an entire series at once. In other words, I think cliffhangers do a great job at, you know, building suspense and excitement for the next part, but I only appreciate that if I get to go straight on to the next part. If I'm reading a series as it's being published then ARRRRRGH. Thunderhead, for example.  I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. And frankly, my memory isn't good enough to keep that enthusiasm if I have to wait a long time. If I can't access the next book immediately, than I vastly prefer a book that wraps up some of the issues while still leaving bigger picture questions to develop over time.

3. Hardback or paperback? 
Don't care. Hardbacks look nice and stay in shape longer. Paperbacks are lighter and easier to transport. But I'm mostly just interested in the contents, not the packaging.

4. Favorite book?
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Who asks book bloggers to pick a favorite book? I can't even pick a favorite genre! I have a "favorites" shelf on Goodreads that has 149 books on it, and I haven't updated it in a long time. There's also a page on my blog with some favorites, but again, it's more of a representative sampling that anything.
5. Least favorite book? 
Now, this is a smaller list. I'm going with Ethan Frome
6. Love triangles, yes or no? 
See, I'm the person who hates watching sporting events because I feel bad for the team that loses. Why would I want to see characters compete for love? It's just a contrived way to build drama. I don't mind a character that is interested in more than one person, but to be in love with two at once? Yeah, no. 
7. The most recent book you just couldn’t finish? 
We discussed this recently, right? Night comes to mind.
8. A book you’re currently reading? 
My daughter and I still need to finish The Garden of Eve and also the first Trials of Apollo book. I'm also reading Hello Universe and All Out. And some professional books.

9. Last book you recommended to someone?
Just tried to talk my sister into picking up Dread Nation last night. Or you! You go read it!

10. Oldest book you’ve read? (Publication date) 
The Taming of the Shrew, published 1593. For actual novels, Sense and Sensibility, published October 30, 1811. I'm sure I've attempted some older works (Beowulf, Prose Edda, Robinson Crusoe) long ago, but either didn't get through it, or only did so for a class.
11. Newest book you’ve read? (Publication date)
Tradition, by Brendan Kiely. Published May 3, 2018.
12. Favorite author?
See #4. A few favorites off the top of my head: Dickens, Le Guin, Shusterman, Schwab, Albertalli, de la Pena, Bardugo, Reynolds, Hardy, Magoon, Morrison, Kingsolver, Lamott, Pratchett, Gaiman, McKinley...
13. Buying books or borrowing books? 

Were I in a position to maintain a large library, I'd do so. Since I'm not, I adore my local public library and cheerfully borrow from them in large quantities. Actually, I'm pretty sure they'd have to open a larger branch if I didn't shelve so many books for them at any given time.
14. A book you dislike that everyone else seems to love?

The Help. It really highlights all the reasons why #ownvoices are so important.
15. Bookmarks or dog-ears? 

Image result for bookmarks are for quitters
16. A book you can always reread? 

I don't re-read all that much, but I know I've read Anne of Green Gables, Oliver Twist, and The Thief multiple times. 

17. Can you read while hearing music? 

This question makes me wonder if the originator of this tag was a native English speaker, which I say not to be snarky, but because yes, I can read while hearing music, but not while actively listening to it. If I put music on while I read, after a few minutes I am completely oblivious to it, so it's kind of a waste.
18. One POV or multiple POV’s? (POV’s = Point of views) 

I would certainly never demand that all book be written with multiple POVs, but I adore a well written multiple POV book. Witness, The Sidekicks, and Lily & Dunkin are some examples of multiple POV books I've loved.
19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days? 

See #15. Of course, it's not always possible, but it's the ideal. I rarely take longer than 3 days to get through a book, unless it's George R. R. Martin long, or unless I haven't really gotten into it yet. 
20. A book you’ve read because of the cover?

I'm pretty sure I picked up both Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and Marcelo in the Real World because of their covers, although I read them for the premise and loved them for the writing. I also recently grabbed a book at the library 100% because of the title alone: Evil Librarian

If you want to do this tag too, you are most welcome to!

Monday, June 4, 2018

TTT: I didn't DNF it, I just...stopped reading it.

With the delightful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish moving on to other things, TTT is now hosted by just one of their contingent, That Artsy Reader Girl .  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is:   Books I Decided to DNF (did not finish) too Quickly

I'm a pretty ruthless DNF-er. There are so many more great books than I'll ever be able to read, so if a book isn't working for me, I'm okay with abandoning it. However, there are some books that I feel like I've picked up at the wrong time. Almost all of them are Serious Books, and frankly, I'm not always in the mood for serious and heavy. So sometime in the last year or two I added a Goodreads shelf called "Maybe Later."  These are the ones I paused in too long to really say I'm still reading them, but I'm interested in giving them another try at some point.

1. Night by Elie Wiesel
I've been trying to read this for nearly a decade. It's like 40 pages long, so "trying to read" is maybe not the right term. But I've been meaning to read it, and I've started it a couple of times. I know he's been called out for being a lech, but in this case I don't think that affects the power of the book.

2. Longbourne by Jo Baker. 
Pride and Prejudice from the staff's POV. Doesn't it sound fantastic? But when I tried it last summer, I wasn't in the right mood or something. I think I had just read Jane Steele and didn't handle the shift in tone between my literary classic updates very well. 

3. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Man, I wanted to love this SO BAD. I saw the author speak at NCTE last fall, at a ticketed event I lucked into when some random person said, "Hey do you want this ticket to the luncheon with this guy named, um, oldest or something?" He was AMAZING (Older, not the random person, although I appreciate him as well). Anyway, I was excited to read a modern fantasy with a non-white protagonist. But I just couldn't get into it. I still feel like I SHOULD though.

4. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
I got a copy of this at the ALAN workshop the day after NCTE. It's set in my state, and it's about resisting rape culture. I am hoping to give it another go this summer, because I tried twice this school year and never made it past chapter 2. 

5. The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin
I was so impressed with Sheinkin's Most Dangerous that I wanted to give another one of his nonfiction works a shot. I've had this book in my classroom for years, from unknown provenance, but I actually tried listening to a library audiobook of it on a road trip last January. It was okay, but the pace of audiobooks did it no favors. I went on to a different audiobook, but I hope to pick up the paper copy someday and try again.

The next section of the list are sequels. I wanted to read them because I loved the first book. I tried to read them. I somehow...didn't manage to read them. But I'm still invested in the series, so I'll be back!

6. Akata Warrior by Nnedi Akanofor
Akata Witch was one of those terrific surprises some books can be. But I just never got going on the sequel.

7.  Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
This is the third book of a trilogy. I was completely enamored of book one and book two. I listened to the companion novel and adored it. I am equally smitten with Strange the Dreamer and can't wait for Muse of Nightmares. But I just couldn't keep going with this one. It felt like more of the same, I think? Or like maybe I'd just read two giant books in a row in her style and I needed a break?

8. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
Speaking of reading two giant books in a row and lacking the strength to go's been 2 summers since I read Game of Thrones and Clash of Kings. Maybe I'm ready to plunge into the world of Westeros again--or maybe I've forgotten most of what happened.

9. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
I LOVED Life After Life. It was so unique and creative while still being very engaging. But I just couldn't get as caught up in Teddy's life.

And finally (and most embarrassingly)
10. Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro
I actually won a Goodreads giveaway for the first time in forever. And the book I won is #ownvoices, intersectional, and YA. PERFECT for my classes. Definitely something I want to support by reviewing. But...I kept reading thrillers instead.

I've gotta be honest with you--I would not put large sums of money on me finishing most of this list. But there was something about them that made me unable to just say, "Nope, not for me." Are there any on here that you feel strongly about--either to dive back into, or to put aside for good?