Category Archives: Reading

Escape

I’ve been filling my time lately with books and videos. I’ve been either reading or listening to books or podcasts about books. I’ve been watching whatever will take me away from the thoughts in my head.

Reading

Other than current book group books, I’ve decided to read books I own: hard copies, e-books or audio books or books I can borrow from the library. I’m starting with the book group list of books that Diana sent out a few months ago. I’ve gone through the list and highlighted what I read (or remembered reading).

I began with A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. This book was one I was pretty sure I would not finish. Our book group met to discuss it in September of 2017 and I’d not gotten very far in it. It took place during the Chechen wars and I could not handle the background. I don’t think I even noticed how beautifully it was written because of the atrocities that were described. I tried to read it again, a few years ago, but ended around the same place I stopped the first time. I finally decided I was going to read/listen to it or make the decision it would never be for me. I am glad I did because it turned out to be one of the most beautiful, haunting, sad books I have ever read. I’ve recommended it quite a lot since I finished reading it last month.

The next book I read was our current book group read, Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde. I liked it, but I really like books about friendships between young and old. The young man in this book was 17 and the older woman was 92. The book was light and pure escapism. It was about fitting in and the kindness of strangers. Just what I needed.

Then I moved onto another book I had trouble getting into: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. The book group met to discuss this in February of 2009. I don’t remember if I went to that meeting or not. I did want to read it but I remember feeling it was too heavy to read at the time. I’ve since picked it up a couple of times, but never long enough to get into it. I finally finished it last week — reading some via my KIndle and listening to some via the library’s Libby app. My thoughts are that if the whole book was as good as the last quarter I may have finished it long ago. I reviewed it on Goodreads.

I finished Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah yesterday. I would not have read this had I not seen the Netflix series based on it and if the series had not ended on a cliffhanger or three. I was compelled to finish it, but it left a bad taste in my mouth once I read the author’s note at the end. I felt like a fool spending my time reading this and having my emotions played with when it was basically a public service announcement. I reviewed it on Goodreads which includes a hidden spoiler.

Yesterday I went back to the bookgroup list and started The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This book was a book group read before I joined the group, I believe. I am not sure I like it, but I am going to give it a couple more days.

Watching

Dean and I are watching the remake of All Creatures Great and Small on PBS. It’s good. I expected to feel nostalgic for the actors from the original series, but the actors in this remake are quite good. It was a little jarring to see Mrs. Hall played by someone young and attractive. And I admit that I missed Peter Davison as Tristan at first, but I might like Callum Woodhouse even better.

I binge watched Emily in Paris over a couple of nights. Fun, funny, escapism.

I also binge watched Bridgerton and Firefly Lane. Loved Bridgerton and thought Firefly Lane was good, except that it ended with several loose ties.

I need something to watch now. Any ideas?

Some Books from My Past

I’m finally getting to that “To Blog About” box in the closet on my side of the study. I found a few books that I am surprised I brought back from my mom’s house because I either have no memory of reading them or just plain didn’t like them much. I left many that I fondly recalled.

This is Maggie Muggins by Mary Grannan

This book must have been a gift. I probably read it more than once, but don’t really remember much. Actually I don’t remember it at all. Looking at the first paragraph, it seems like I should have liked it more than I did, but maybe I was too old when I got it.

Surprise in the Tree by Sara Asheron, Illustrated by Susan Perl

I do remember this book and I remember liking it enough to read several times. It was likely one of the first books I read by myself. I remember the illustrations and the cat named Penny who liked to get up to mischief.

Treasury of Christmas Stories ed. Ann McGovern

I think I got this as a hand-me-down from my cousin Cindy. I remember none of the stories so I suspect I never read them. While some of the authors (Edgar Allen Poe, Marchette Chute) are familiar, the rest are not. And the titles! Lord Octopus Went to the Christmas Fair, A Miserable, Merry Christmas). Another book I don’t know why I kept.

The House on East 88th Street by Bernard Waber

I definitely remember this one and read it many times. I think I also checked other Lyle, Lyle books out of the library. This copy was from a book subscription my parents got for me through the Weekly Reader. There’s even a musical based on the book that I watched part of a while back.

Sir Kevin of Devon by Adelaide Holl, Illustrated by Leonard Weisgard

Another Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club book, Sir Kevin of Devon was never a favorite. I barely remember reading it — perhaps because it was a long poem and not prose.

The Adventures of Robin Hood adapted by Eleanor Graham Vance, Illustrated by Jay Hyde Barnum

Likely another gift that I don’t remember reading, although it was probably my first introduction to Robin Hood.

Taro and the Tofu by Masako Matsuno, Illustrated by Kazue Mizumura

Another Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club selection. I remember having this book, but not being very interested in it. I think I will give it a read today.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am grateful to my parents for buying me so many books as a kid. These books helped define who I would grow up to be, even if I don’t remember reading them.

Readers are Leaders

I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. Weekly Saturday trips to the library (where my mom would drop me off and pick me up hours later) were sacred. I scored very high on my first grade reading evaluation and often read books above my grade level. I preferred reading to visiting friends on weekends and after school.

But I didn’t like writing about what I read. In 5th grade Miss Jaderman evaluated our reading ability on small book reports we wrote for books we read. After 5 book reports we got a small pin, after 15 we got a better pin and after 25 we got a gold pin. While I eventually earned my 25 book pin, I got low reading marks for a few quarters and was recommended for the remedial reading class for 6th grade.

We were not expected to write much on the book reports, they were less than half a sheet of 8.5×11 paper. The top half was reserved for an illustration. After filling out the title of the book and author, there was maybe room for 100 words. But I hated doing it. I know I read more than 25 books that year, probably more than most of the class, but because I was so reluctant to fill out the book report forms, I was considered a poor reader.

At the end of the year we were given all of our book reports, bound between two sheets of construction paper with brass colored brads. I think my book report portfolio was orange. I think I still have it somewhere, I distinctly remember what it looked like.

A few weeks ago I found the book report pins. Strange how I kept them all these years, despite despising the method of earning them.

I guess this is one of these things I need to let go. My anger at Miss Jaderman for not realizing I was a good reader — just a reluctant writer and the shame I felt being placed in the low reading class in 6th grade (luckily my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Anderson, figured out I was a good reader within days and brought me back to the regular/advanced reading group).

Things like this could squelch the love of reading out of someone. I am forever grateful to Mrs. Anderson for this, as well as for fostering an even greater love of reading.