Archive for April, 2013

Sinners and the Sea by , Theras and His Town, and My Ántonia.

Sinners and the Sea, Theras and His Town, and My Ántonia.

This is my second Read-a-thon as a reader. My first outing was a cheerleader (Oct 2011) and last fall I participated at half-speed … doing more of a ‘Read-a-5k’ than a Read-a-thon.

This time, I read three books (shown above): Sinners and the Sea, by Rebecca Kanner; Theras and His Town by Caroline Dale Snedeker; and My Ántonia, by Willa Cather.

As well as several spring poems (it is Poetry Month after all), and most of the weekend New York Times—in 24 hours. That actually makes me kind of a slacker because we 494 participants who read 588 books and over 5,000 pages! Several readers cruised through 9 or 10 books, so I was perhaps flattening out the bell curve. But the glorious weather was a worthy distraction—I do hope the October 2013 Read-a-thon is on a dismal, rainy day. (Perfect for reading!)

I also participated in my first ‘mini-challenges’: the Book Sentence Challenge and the Share a Quote Challenge. Maybe the best part: I discovered some wonderful new book blogs and had a great time tweeting, commenting, and connecting with fellow bookworms.

Oh, and did I mention, I won a prize!! A book called Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle, so looking forward to getting that in the mail.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I did not turn on my TV during the whole Read-a-thon. Then, because Sunday was hectic catch-up (and nap!) day, I didn’t turn it on until Game of Thrones at 9 pm. So I went from Friday to Sunday night without even thinking of the TV.

Most importantly, the Read-a-thon reminded me how much more I used to read. Pre-iPhone, I always had a book with me in case I had a few spare minutes—at the checkout, at the bar, in the waiting room. Now, I sometimes do, but sometimes I’m texting or emailing. I’ve lost those few extra minutes every day of reading. Need to rectify that … for mental health purposes.

Another takeaway: it was soooo nice to turn of the phones and simply read for a few hours. That will be incorporated as a new weekend ritual.

So thank you Dewey’s Read-a-thon for a great weekend of #booklove.

readathon large Here We Go, Dewey’s Read-a-thon April 2013

Dewey’s Read-a-thon Book Sentence Challenge

Read-a-thon or Read-a-5k?

Dewey’s Read-a-Thon

Dewey’s Read-a-Thon Start Times

History of Dewey’s Read-a-Thon

Remembering Dewey Through Her Words

A Tribute to Dewey

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book sentence

Death comes to Pemberley in the time of butterflies;
bring up the bodies, unbroken atonement.

Midnight Book Girl has challenged us Dewey Read-a-thoners to create a Book Sentence. Mine is more like two sentences—I wangled the punctuation—but I had fun with it.

I wish I had also partaken of the Book Spine Poetry Contest—there are some great entries to browse!

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Read-a-thon Wrap Up: A Great Weekend of Book Love

In all, I read three books, several spring poems (it is Poetry Month after all), and the weekend New York Times—in 24 hours. Read-a-thoners worldwide read over 5,000 books collectively!

Check out my full Read-athon Wrap Up.


7:15 am Update: Back at the Books

I actually, gulp, went to bed for a few hours (#needsleep), but woke up just after 6 am. Cosy in bed finishing My Ántonia and wondering what to start next? Luckily, the doggie is still sacked out, so prime reading time. LAST HOUR #RahRahreadathon


11:15 pm Update: Closing in on Book 3

book 3 b

Oh, I do love My Ántonia.

After seeing my post on dogs and flowers, you may be asking, “Is she actually reading?” Yes, I am, though not at the rate of many #Readathon-ers who have racked up 5 to 10 books so far. I feel that I never have enough time to read, so I have really been trying to enjoy the Read-a-thon. Also, I got part of the NY Times Sunday paper delivered today, so I had to read a bit of that.

I am closing in on book 3: My Ántonia, a favorite that I am rereading for book group. Oh, I do love Willa Cather! Off to bed with my book, more tomorrow.


9:45 Update: Dangerous Distractions

Not only did my rascally dog Baci lure me outside for walks and games of fetch, but every time we came in … she took over my reading spot on the couch!

Dog odalisque.

Dog odalisque.

Today in the mail came the two most tempting junk mail magazines, including the ‘Most Beautiful’ People. I don’t even subscribe to People, so why would the gods of junk reading send this to me today …  of all days. (I do subscribe to Entertainment Weekly—great book reviews and everything else!)

Hard to resist.

Hard to resist … but I did!


7:30 Update: Spring Poetry

It has been glorious out today. I’m not going to lie—I snuk out for a few dog walks. But, in keeping with Read-a-thon spirit, I first read one of my favorite spring poems, Today by Billy Collins.

“If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze …”

If you need a poetry break, try these lovely Spring Poems, via the Poetry Foundation. I also savored a reread of Tintern Abbey, by William Wordsworth.

My own azalias are at their peak, but I also saw vibrant forsythias, blooming magnolias, and the last of the daffodils.


Spring in flowers and poetry.


5:50 pm Update: Book Sentence Challenge

I’ve had some fun checking out all the Mini-Challenges as part of the Dewey’s Read-a-thon. Such vibrant book and readerly creativity!

Check out my entry to the Book Sentence Challenge.


4:30 pm Update: Two Books Read


This is a GREAT book for kids!! Educational and so much adventure.

Just as I suspected, I have gone off-piste and selected a book not from my  #Readathon TBR. How can you really know which book you feel like reading until you are about to start?

I chose a children’s classic that was one of my repeat reads as a kid,  Theras and His Town, by Caroline Dale Snedeker.

Theras is a young boy growing up in Athens who has  all sorts of adventures. (It would make a great  Disney film!)

Also, er, I took a nap. Something about allowing yourself a day of reading is soooo relaxing!


12:30 pm Update: Got Physical

The Read-a-thon website said “Let’s Get Physical!” I took my dog Baci to the park for an intense game of fetch. She loves tennis balls the way I love books, so I couldn’t deprive her. Also, this is the nicest Saturday we’ve had this spring. Throwing is a good way to open up the muscles and stretch after a morning hunched over my book. I try not to hunch, but one does get sucked in.

Baci Fetch

Baci is indefatigable!


11:00 am Update: One Book Read

Yes, I get a buzz from decaf.

Yes, I get a buzz from decaf.


One book down–Sinners and the Sea. I’m not reading as fast as some (who have knocked off two or three), but I have been  distracted by all the fun #Readathon updates on Twitter.

Woo hoo, #Readathon has trended to the TOP spot!!! And I am loving reading everyone’s blog updates … I was told that this counts . 😉 😉

Also, had to finally make coffee! Didn’t get to it due to pre-start dog walk and eagerness to get cracking, spine cracking that is.

Now, which book next?!


9:15 am Update: Love the first book!

I was so excited about the day of reading that I woke up early at 4:30 am—like on Christmas! Woke up for real at 7:17 am and feeling great after a night of dreaming about books!

I’m starting with Sinners and the Sea, by Rebecca Kanner—the tale of Noah’s Ark told by his unnamed wife. I had peeked at the first few pages last night. So far I am really liking this book—lovely but spare writing and so readable! I’m on page 217 out of 337.

Book 1 Sinners and the Sea

Bookmark from Barrett Bookstore, featuring their mascot Riley, the Golden Retriever.


Friday Preparations: the Stack to choose from … but not limited to!


Readathon Stack

My Read-a-thon Stack: mostly rounded up from
independent bookstores and the public library.

I’m psyched for the Dewey’s Read-a-thon tomorrow, Sat April 27. It’s not too late to sign up if you want to join more than 400 bookworms in this worldwide read-in.

Dewey’s Read-a-thon starts at 8am for me, that’s Eastern Standard Time. Here’s a link to all the Read-a-thon Start Times around the globe.

Above is the stack of books I will be choosing from, though I’m not sure I can get through them all. (Unlike most participants who mow through stacks much taller than this!)

I am soo excited to have a great excuse to sit and read … and read and read!! Last time, I Read-a-5k, but hoping to crank tomorrow. More later, as I will be updating as I read…

readathon large Read-a-thon or Read-a-5k?

Dewey’s Read-a-Thon

Dewey’s Read-a-Thon Start Times

History of Dewey’s Read-a-Thon

Remembering Dewey Through Her Words

A Tribute to Dewey

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Files cover“Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place,
but there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around.”
—E. L. Konigsburg

I stopped and caught myself when I heard that E.L. Konigsburg passed away last Friday. It hurt. But almost immediately, that gave way to the familiar, deep-in happiness I always feel when I think of her. Oh, I loved her books when I was growing up!

Like Elizabeth, I had a pet frog so I was thrilled by the schemes and magic in Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth. And, I have to point to Konigsburg’s tale of Eleanor of Acquitane, A Proud Taste for Scarlett and Miniver, for sparking my interest in biographies and historical fiction. (Cannot wait for the next Hilary Mantel!)

But most of all, I loved From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler—the story of Claudia and her little brother Jamie, who run away to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Claudia is the reluctant adventurer. “Secrets are the kind of adventure she needs. Secrets are safe, and they do much to make you different. On the inside where it counts.”

Still, ‘the Mixed-Up Files’ had just enough adventure (and mystery) to keep me hooked, but there was also the research and library angle, which especially appealed to a bookworm like me. I’ve read the book countless times and have given it to almost every kid I know.  After they read it (and are in on the secret), it’s especially fun to take a child to the Metropolitan Museum to see the “Mixed-Up” haunts.

Claudia and Jamie spent a lot of time in the Egyptian galleries and the very bronze cat they admired is still in a case there. There are several period bedrooms on display, though the exact bed that the kids slept in has been dismantled. Likewise, the fountain they bathed in is gone, though there are several others in the Charles Engelhard Court. Finally, in a case of life imitating art—well, art imitating fiction—the Met recently put on display a small marble statue called the ‘Young Archer’ which may or may not have been carved by Michelangelo.

In fact, so many children ask about the book, that the museum has put out a special “Mixed-up Files” guide to their collection. (As opposed to the American Museum of Natural History, which pretty much has nothing from Night at the Museum. #disappointedkids)

In addition to being a great storyteller, Konigsburg wrote beautifully. When Elizabeth looks out at spring from her window she finds, “new green was all over … green so new that it was kissing yellow.” The author won two Newbery Medals and several other literary citations.

Konigsburg would often tell her readers, “before you can be anything, you have to be yourself. That’s the hardest thing to find.” Most of her novels were about self-discovery and that time in life when children start to define themselves with their actions and choices.

I like to think of E.L. Konigsburg starting off like the out-of-place, questioning Claudia and in her later years resembling the accomplished Mrs Frankweiler, smiling with her secret. I’m so grateful to Konigsburg, and I am sad that she is gone. But mostly, when I think of her, I feel that happiness and excitement which she so perfectly described, and I can still it flapping around a little.

Scholastic Book Clubs Tribute Page to E.L. Konigsburg

Washington Post: E. L. Konigsburg Obituary and Bio

New York Times Books: E. L. Konigsburg, Author, Dead at 83

WP Style Blog: To My Lawyer, Saxonberg, the Genius of E.L. Kongisburg

The Metropolitan Museum Kids Guide: the “Mixed-Up Files” Issue

The Metropolitan Museum Unveils a ‘Maybe’ Michelangelo

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blackout graphicWordHits is joining the #CISPABlackout today. The latest threat to our privacy (online and IRL) is CISPA–a bill that will allow pretty much any agency of the government (Post Office? IRS? Forest Service) to access your personal data culled through websites.

Yes, that means all of your emails, Facebook posts, online purchase history, online search history—all will be accessible to government agencies and their employees without a warrant.

Not only is this Orwellian Big Brother scary, but also it will be a boon to stalkers and identity thieves. #StopCISPA

What Everyone Needs to Know About CISPA

WIRED: CISPA and Privacy Issues and Identity Theft

List of US Government Agencies That Will Have Access to Your Data

Security Expert: CISPA Not Needed, Would Do More Harm Than Good

ZDNet on How to Join the CISPA Protest

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npm2013_posterApril is National Poetry Month, founded in 1996 by the American Academy of Poets. And, I have been loving it! Poetry is therapeutic, especially in this, “the cruelest month” when we have days that feel like we just haven’t shaken winter.

Twitter offers one of the best ways to experience National Poetry Month.

Every day, a stream of poetic tweets posts to #PoetryMonth, #NPM, and #NaPoMo. It’s like a poetry stock ticker! Here are some tweeps who are making Poetry Month extra special.

@POETSorg #poetsviapost
The American Academy of Poets tweets quotes, insights and poetry-related news. Even better, this month they feature postcards with advice to young poets at #poetsviapost. The whole montage of cards is also collected at the Poets Via Post Archive.

@penguinusa #penguinpoetry
Penguin is highlighting quotes by poets from Hafiz to Blake to Rilke. Users who retweet or share their favorite lines at #penguinpoetry qualify to WIN a book of poems—a new *prize and winner* each day!

@fsgbooks #LorcaNYC
Farrar Straus & Giroux tweets from Federico García Lorca’s Poet in New York to celebrate their beautiful paperback reissue of this important collection, written while Lorca was a student at Columbia in 1929-1930.

The winners of the New York Public Library Annual Poetry Contest are being showcased throughout the month. Entries were sent to them in March, and they have posted screengrabs of winning poems (aka tweets) on their website.

The Rumpus Poetry Month Project is publishing an original poem and tweeting it out every day of April. This is the fifth year they have celebrated Poetry Month with a previously unpublished poem of the day.

@PoetryFound @poetrymagazine
The Poetry Foundation and their accompanying Poetry Magazine are tweeting quotes and links to poems by twenty featured poets this month. Click here for the complete list of poets along with biographies.

National Poetry Month from Poets.org

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beach winter 2Spring has taken its time. I went to the beach for Easter, but it was chilly, and the sun slanted across the sand at a winter angle. Today, the winds howl and the rains pour. I think of how, on a much colder day deep with snow, Emily Dickinson consoled herself with words and images of summer.

#342 by Emily Dickinson

It will be Summer — eventually.
Ladies — with parasols —
Sauntering Gentlemen — with Canes
And little Girls — with Dolls —

Will tint the pallid landscape —
As ’twere a bright Bouquet —
Tho’ drifted deep, in Parian —
The Village lies — today —

The Lilacs — bending many a year —
Will sway with purple load —
The Bees — will not despise the tune —
Their Forefathers — have hummed —

The Wild Rose — redden in the Bog —
The Aster — on the Hill
Her everlasting fashion — set —
And Covenant Gentians — frill —

Till Summer folds her miracle —
As Women — do — their Gown —
Or Priests — adjust the Symbols —
When Sacrament — is done —

April is National Poetry Month

Emily Dickinson Bio, Poems, & More via Poetry Foundation

Emily Dickinson Museum

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triple covers

How, HOW did I not know that Marvel published a comic book, er graphic novel, of Pride & Prejudice?! It came out three years ago. I am hugely, abominably embarrassed. I wouldn’t even share this mortifying tale, except for the hope that others might benefit.

Let me say up front that this Marvel P&P is a gem. Regency romance meets comic book—pure genius!

p and p danceAs a kid, I loved Betty and Veronica and all the superheroes comics. I don’t read them much anymore. (I go to all the movies!) When I see the Marvel or DC logo, warm memories of childhood summers flush to the surface. For Christmas, I got my 10-year-old godson the DC Comics Encyclopedia. He already had the Marvel one (the boy is very advanced).

To blend Marvel with Jane Austen is such a frothy new twist (well, to me). The illustrations really capture the characters—except Mr. Collins could be more repellent. Also, Pemberley looks a bit like the White House, but overall the settings are spot on. The editors chose the best quotes—the banter between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, the snobbery of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. They even included the moment when Darcy acknowledges that Jane Bingley is very pretty, “though she smiled too much.”

Here’s another great way to celebrate Pride and Prejudice’s 200th Anniversary. Even better news: Marvel has also come out with Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and Emma. I haven’t been this excited since Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!

fun extra coverAusten Fans Celebrate 200 Years of ‘Pride and Prejudice’

When Pride and Prejudice Clicks: Boring to Brilliant

So Glad Jane Austen Made Me Do It

A Joyous Season for Janeites

Spoiler Alert: This Book Has No Ending

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