The Extravagant Frugal Reader

 

   
When I get a little money I buy books;
and if any is left I buy food and clothes.
~ Erasmus

Originally the title of this post was The Frugal Reader. It has a nice cadence, but, alas, I don’t have the chutzpah to carry it off.  My husband reads my blog.

Because I am extravagant when it comes to book acquisition. All the same I like to think of myself as frugal. There are ways to read without weeping over your budget.

The Best Price Is Free 
     
The library is, of course, the one place you can indulge in thrifty reading.  If you live in an urban setting, you have many libraries at your beck.  I am regularly delighted at titles available in our small town library. The fastest growing segment of our library is audio books.  Before we take a trip, we cruise through the library to see what we can hear.

Inter-library loans are another source of free reading.  At my library a small charge for postage keeps IL loans out of the free zone, but they are still a frugal option.

Make friends with book collectors who generously lend their collection.  If you do this, keep borrowed books segregated from your own books.  The best friend is one who returns a borrowed book in the same condition it was lent.

Check to see if your library has free downloads of audio books.  The Oregon Library System employs Library2Go enabling patrons to download thousands of titles from their home computers.

Open Library is a work in progress, with the goal of a web page for every book published.

Librivox provides free audiobooks from the public domain.  These books are narrated by volunteer readers. Some are better than others.

Amazon Kindle has free books available to download. 

Google Books (go to Google and click on the tab “more” for Books) has many ebooks available.  Check on each title.

Project Gutenberg has 33,000 books available to download.

Page by Page
has classics available for free, as does Forgotten Classics; JustFreeBooks is a search engine for free books.

Bloggers often have drawings for free books.  Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon and Books and Movies often keep track of book giveaways.

If you write a book blog and build a following, you can receive free advanced review copies of books from publishers to read.

This one sounds weird and manipulative…but! When you volunteer to help friends move, they often consider it a favor if you take some books off their hands.  This is not why you offer to help!  Same principle applies when helping at a garage sale.  Often books you receive are not books you are interested in reading.  They may be great for trading or swapping to get the books you want to read.  It is shameless of me to mention this.

Finally, build a reputation as a reader and people will approach you with books. “You read,” they mumble as they thrust a box in your arms, “so here are books!” 

Let’s discuss the down side of free. One drawback from borrowing books is that you can’t write in them.  No really, you can’t.  I hope you don’t dog ear any book, but you mustn’t do that to library books. You also have a fixed time to read the books, renewals notwithstanding.  Reading on a screen instead of from a page may or may not be your cuppa. Some Kindle readers have noticed that they read more mediocre books simply because they were free.  I have never pursued free review books from publishers because they would delay me from imbibing in my tottering stacks.  The books are free, but not free from obligation.  Nevertheless, there are endless possibilities for free books.

Less than $5

Library sales are the best place to find books on the cheap.  Book Sale Finder.

Garage sales, yard sales, tag sales often have books.  In our area hardbounds cost $0.50 and paperbacks $0.25.

Thrift stores are another source for bargain books.  Once a month a book scout friend of mine would drive a 350 mile loop, stopping at thrift stores – Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc. – looking for books.  For him it was a lucrative hobby to pick up books for 25¢ and sell them for between $10 and $100. But the thrill of the chase and the expectation of finding treasure was what propelled him.  Some of the best times we had in Great Britain were popping into thrift shops looking for books.  I got so I could snift an Oxfam from a mile away.  What confused me is that thrift shops are named for the charity they benefit.  The first time I saw a store called British Heart Foundation I couldn’t imagine what they sold.  

Used bookstores provide a living for their owner, so their prices are necessarily higher.  Still, they have their clearance racks.  The cleaner and better organized the store is, the more you will pay for the books.  If you are willing to dig through piles and stacks and dust bunnies, the slovenly, slightly smelly book shop may reward your efforts.  My favorite chain of used bookstores is Half Price Books, for its large inventory, excellent organization, and pure fun.

A public service announcement.
What is an ISBN?
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number.
Think of it as a social security number for books.
You can find the ISBN on the back cover of a book,
or near the bottom of the copyright page.

When searching online for a book, it is very helpful to have the book’s ISBN. You can put this 10- or 13-digit number in the search engine.  And where to look online?

At amazon.com there are hundreds (and hundreds!) of used books selling for $0.01, which means that the books will cost you $4.00 after $3.99 is added for shipping.  Still.  I’ve done eye calisthenics that train my eye, whenever searching Amazon, to roam to the right column which says Used From, looking for a bargain price.  But here is another way to find the cheap books on Amazon. It’s a fun experiment! Click on amazon.com.  [Books, Advanced Search, Condition:Used, Format:Printed Books, Sort Results By: Price: Low to High] Click on Search and you will see pages of  $0.01 books.

Ebay.com and half.com have oodles of books for sale.  On the home page of half.com there is a category for $0.99 or less books.  Overstock.com sells books and shipping is always $2.95.  After you click on the category of books to browse, sort by Lowest Price.  If you are looking for a specific title or specific author you don’t need to browse; use the search button. 

The down side of browsing for cheap books is that it is very time-consuming. And you have to wade through pages of titles you are not interested in.  I prefer to keep a list of books I would like to read and look for specific titles. Like browsing in a bookstore, you may come across the occasional winner.

 

Search engines specifically for books can help you find the best bargain.  The first one I used (and thus know best) is fetchbook; others are BookFinder, AddALL.com, Usedbooksearch. When I homeschooled I always checked the availability of used books before I bought new.  One quarter I took my son’s college textbook list, plugged in ISBNs and bought used textbooks at a great savings.

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

Another splendid source for books is swapping.  I am a huge fan of Paperbackswap.  It’s an easy concept: you post books you no longer want; when another member requests a book, you mail the book to that member; when that book lover receives the book, you get credit for one free book.  Thus the cost to you for your free book is the cost of the postage to mail the book you didn’t want, normally $2.41.  I’ve been singing PBS praises for years now.  [And it would be silly of me not to mention that if you decide to sign up for PBS, please click on the icon above.  I am Carol B. and my nickname is ilovetolearn.]  Paperbackswap (unfortunately, the name wrongly implies that we don’t swap hardbounds: we do) is only a good deal if you don’t have post office phobias or procrastination tendencies.  You can print out most of the postage and mail from your home.  Patience is a virtue; put a book on your wishlist and you may receive it in two weeks (if it is available) or perhaps in two years (if it is an obscure title, or one so popular that you are in line behind 514 other readers, like I am with the book Outliers).  Book Mooch runs along the same plan as PaperBackSwap. 

The down side of swapping is that you don’t get books as soon as you want them.  And you could post 20 books that others want and have to pay $50 in postage mailing out the books.  To be a successful member you need to be organized enough to get the books mailed when they are requested. 

So there you have it: several ways to score cheap books and satisfy your need to read.  I’m sure you have other ideas…I’d love to hear them.  Happy Reading!

The Joy of Listening

 

I just finished listening to Ruby Dee’s gripping reading of Zora Neale Hurston’s book Their Eyes Were Watching God.  This was the first experience I’ve had with Hurston and with Ruby Dee. 

I am shaken.

I am riveted. 

I am bruised.

I need to turn the pages, think about the phrases, but I can’t imagine the reading of this book ever being close to as good as listening to this book.  Dee’s cadences were slow and sonorous. Just hearing her voice gave me pictures of the characters. During the narrative of the flood Dee was shouting and I wanted to stand up and shout, “De lake is coming!”  This book seems designed to be received through the ears instead of through the eyes.  Phonics get in the way of reading it.

I need to collect my thoughts before I respond to the book.

But I am compelled to tell you, dear reader, that some books are better in the audio version than in print.  Off my cuff, allow me to recommend:

Michel Chevalier’s reading captures the tones of a native of France.
Listening to this memoir is the audio equivalent to Crème brûlée.

At the time I posted this, six used CD sets of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
are available at Amazon (click on link) for under $1.62 (+ 3.99 shipping).
For less than it costs to see a movie you could have 8+ hours of
Lisette Lecat’s luscious African accents.

If an Irish brogue is your cuppa, you can’t go wrong with
Frank Delaney’s reading of Simple Courage.
I’m puzzled that so few know about this rip-roaring, harrowing adventure story.

Sissy Spacek’s languorous reading of To Kill a Mockingbird
remains my very favorite audio book.
Sissy is Scout Finch.
Her voice remains in my mind years after I first heard this performance.

There are drawbacks to audio books.
It’s hard to bookmark a sentence you want to remember.
It’s awkward to transcribe portions in your journal.

But if the book come from a part of the world
where words are pronounced differently,
where dialects lift words out of their common clothing,
where idioms are employed,
where hearing the voice of the narrator enriches the words,
go to audio.

A Near Miss

 
To the company that deducted money from my bank account with the helpful description BILLPAYING: Thank you.  Because if it weren’t for the delay unraveling that sweet bowl of spaghetti, I wouldn’t have heard a distant bank teller ask, “What’s this book sale where you buy books for a dollar an inch?” 

Excuse me?  How did one of the High Holy Days–the opening hours of the book sale–so quickly become Passover?  When did I get so busy that I missed the first sixteen hours of the annual university book sale? 

Glumly, I considered not going.  Surely all the good stuff was gone and I would have to root around in Judy Blume and Danielle Steel looking for a morsel.  But lo! I remembered that my literary tastes are so far out of the mainstream that they are completely dry.  Perhaps there were some unplucked treasures waiting for me.

Here, my friend, are my top five finds, books I snatched up as I breathed a prayer of thanksgiving.

Ever since watching Wit, I have wanted to get this book.
No man is an island…in this book.
Prayers, meditations, expostulations…in this book.
A sermon on the verse: And unto God the Lord belong the issues of death,
said to be Donne’s own funeral oration…in this book.

The Church Hymnal (1892) Episcopal
679 hymns + 211 canticles and Amens!!
I will spend hours at the piano, mining for gold.

The New Oxford Book of Christian Verse
Withdrawn from library with
completely blank Date Due sticker in back!
Poems from William Langland to Wendell Berry.

This book looks like gangs of fun.

The subtitle explains why I couldn’t resist.
Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany

Well, well, well.
I can’t wipe the grin off my face.

…happy, contented sigh…

Glory! More Books!

Sometimes email delivers happy surprises.

At 3.58 a.m. (my time) Anna and Serena, hosts of the War Through the Generations blog, notified me that I won the GRAND PRIZE in the Overachievers Giveaway!!  Seven new books!  One signed by the author, one an out-of-print book. 

I need to catch a gulp of air!

And now I am contemplating joining Anna and Serena’s Vietnam War Challenge.  I need to work my way through the recommended reading list.

Any suggestions on *good* books on Vietnam? 

 

Reading Plan 2010 & Book Giveaway

Tell me the landscape
in which you live
and I will tell you who you are.

~ José Ortega y Gasset

One of the first and finest lessons I learned from blogging (thank you, Janie) was to read with a plan.  It’s not that I needed a Reading Challenge to read more, but it kept my reading focused, gave it form.

For years my reading choices have been oriented to time, cataloged by chronology.  As I homeschooled, I read about the Greeks, the Romans, Medieval times, the Renaissance, colonization, etc.  Literature was linked with history.
 
But, now I’m ready for a different focus. Wendell Berry has made me think more about place.  I would like to orient my reading for 2010 (& ’11?) to geography, land, cultures.  I explored my bookshelves and, ladies and gentlemen, we have a plan: to read around the world from my home.  All the titles on this list reside in our house.  A few I have begun, but not completed; none are re-reads.  And because I like to read across time as well as across continents, I’ve included the year of publication.  The short descriptions are the publisher’s blurbs found on back covers and dust jackets or notes from the author’s introductions.

I don’t promise to read every book on this list in 2010.  Undoubtedly I will discover some not worth reading.  I don’t promise to read only books on this list. But this will be my core curriculum this year (and next?). 

These aren’t the *best* books to read on each country.  They are just the ones that happen to be on my shelf.  I want to read them, release the one-time-through-is-enough books and keep and love the others.  If you have recommendations on other titles, I’d love to hear them.  Just know that it’s close to giving a drunkard a bottle of wine.

This post is ridiculously long.  I have librarian DNA in me; formatting this was fun!  Connections (like a quote from Thubron on Fisher’s book…immediately after posting Thubron’s book) abound. I’m really revved up. 

If you scroll to the bottom, there are two books to be given away. 

Afghanistan

An Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan Jason Elliot (1999) In his skillful illumination of an ancient and noble history long obscured by war, Elliot has done service to a country rarely written about. But it’s his lyrical culling of beauty from despair that will resonate long after the last page has been turned.


Africa

Facing the Congo: A Modern-Day Journey into the Heart of Darkness, Jeffrey Tayler (2000) Faced with an identity crisis in his work and his life, seasoned traveler and journalist Jeffrey Tayler made a bold decision.  He would leave behind his mundane existence in Moscow to re-create the legendary British explorer Henry Stanley’s trip down the Congo in a dugout canoe, stocked with food, medicine, and even a gun-toting guide.

Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass Isak Dinesen (1937, 1960) At the age of twenty-seven, Isak Dinesen (née Karen Blixen) left Denmark and sailed for East Africa to marry her Swedish cousin, Baron Bror Blixen. Together they bought a four-thousand-acre coffee plantation in Kenya.  From 1914 to 1931 she managed the plantation, even after she and her husband separated. Her account of those years is transformed by the magic of her prose and her supreme gift as a storyteller into a vibrant re-creation of Africa, filled with her affection for and understanding of the land and its people.

  Out of My Life and Thought Albert Schweitzer (1933) A brilliant organist, musicologist, theologian and philosopher, Albert Schweitzer, at the age of thirty, turned his back on the dazzling rewards the world offered him in order to serve his fellow men as a medical missionary in Africa.  It is a thrilling account of a monumental personal quest, enormous self-sacrifice and extraordinary achievement, told with simplicity, modesty, and humor.
 The Heart of the Hunter: Customs and Myths of the African Bushman Laurens van der Post (1961) Traveling out of the Kalahari’s Central Desert, van der Post traverses the splendid terrain of southwestern Africa and finally encounters the Bushmen.  It is only at the end of this physical trek that the real journey can begin; once van der Post has found the tribe, he looks deep into the Bushmen’s customs and mythological life.  The true odyssey of The Heart of the Hunter is into the mind and culture of a legendary people.

Arrow of God Chinua Achebe (1969) It is a measure of Achebe’s creative gift that he has no need whatever for prose fireworks to light the flame of his intense drama.  Worthy of particular attention are the characters.  Achebe doesn’t create his people with fastidiously detailed line drawings: instead, he relies on a few short strokes that highlight whatever prominent features will bring the total personality into three-dimensional life.

The Reader’s Companion to South Africa edited Alan Ryan  Gathering nineteen eyewitness accounts of travelers to the world’s diamond capital, this book illuminates the complex culture and racial politics of a country well on its way to becoming one of history’s great success stories. As visitors, the authors bring a stranger’s questions and curiosity, not a native’s assumptions, to their observations. No standard guidebook can offer this intensely personal perspective.

Skeletons on the Zahara Dean King (2004)  Everywhere hailed as a masterpiece of historical adventure, this enthralling narrative recounts the experiences of twelve American sailors who were shipwrecked off the coast of Africa in 1815, captured by desert nomads, sold into slavery, and subjected to a hellish two-month journey through the bone-dry heart of the Sahara.  The ordeal of these men–who found themselves tested by barbarism, murder, starvation, death, dehydration, and hostile tribes that roamed the desert on camelback–is made indelibly vivid in this gripping account of courage, brotherhood, and survival.

Too Late The Phalarope Alan Paton (1953)  After violating his country’s ironclad law governing relationships between the races, a young white South African police lieutenant must struggle alone against the censure of an inflexible society, his family, and himself. / A great and enduring novel, written in exquisitely balanced prose.

West with the Night Beryl Markham (1942) She has written so well, and marvelously well, that I [Ernest Hemingway] was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But [she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers.

Alaska

The Reader’s Companion to Alaska Edited Alan Ryan  (1997) Inspiring and unforgiving, Alaska is vividly revealed in this collection of twenty-eight eyewitness reports from intrepid travelers to America’s last great frontier.  An enraptured John Muir first glimpses Glacier Bay in 1879.  John McPhee encounters kamikaze bush pilots, and Anne Morrow Lindbergh is amazed simply at the sight of a road after a long flight over the trackless wastes of the North Slope.  / Covers the majesty and terror of the great frontier.


American Midwest

Giants in the Earth: A Saga of the Prairie O.E. Rölvaag (1925) A classic story of a Norwegian pioneer family’s struggle with the land and the elements of the Dakota territory as they try to make a new life in America. / A fiercely woven tapestry of harsh texture wrought by a master sure in his choice of strong fiber and of color, telling with heroic gesture and intricate design its legend of simple people struggling in the eternal coil of unwitting life.


American  South

A Wake for the Living Andrew Nelson Lytle (1975) “Now that I have come to live in the sense of eternity” are the words with which Tennessean Andrew Lytle opens his lively family chronicle, A Wake for the Living, and it is perhaps the author’s detachment from time that allows him to invest these stories with such freshness and immediacy.  With his own often boisterous family as the focus, Lytle turns the narrative into a meditation on the meaning of American history, “the carnal serach for Eden.”

Penhally Caroline Gordon (1931)  A dynamic narrative of how a powerful Southern family came to lose its way, it is a tale of dynastic complications and self-dispossession, stewardship and the failure of the proprietary spirit. Penhally treats the Southerner’s relationship to the land, his rooted-ness to place, and the consequences of its loss.

Stomping The Blues Albert Murray (1976) Stomping the Blues is one of the three best books ever written on music. / Murray is possessed of the poet’s language, the novelist’s sensibility, the essayist’s clarity, the jazzman’s imagination, the gospel singer’s depth of feeling.


American West

A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains Isabella L. Bird (1873) Women were scarce enough in the West of the late nineteenth century, and a middle-aged English lady traveling alone, by horseback, was a real phenomenon. It was during the autumn and early winter of 1873 that Isabella Bird made this extended tour of the Rocky Mountain area of Colorado, when she was on her way back to England from the Sandwich Islands.  / Delightful letters by an English spinster who recorded a considerable portion of the real West.

Hole in the Sky William Kittredge (1992) This is the story of a grandfather whose single-minded hunger for property won him a ranch the size of Delaware but estranged him from his family; of a father who farmed with tractors and drainage ditches but consorted with movie stars; and of Kittredge himself, who was raised by cowboys and saw them become obsolete, who floundered through three marriages, hard drinking, and madness before becoming a writer.

   It Happened in Oregon and It Happened in Washington James A. Crutchfield (1994, 1999) Here you’ll read about the volcanic eruption that formed Crater Lake, the haphazard deal that led to the founding of Portland, and the reckless decision that resulted in the Great Tillamook Burn. / You will uncover the avalanche at Ozette, follow a massive manhunt from Tacoma to the wheat fields of eastern WA, and witness the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.
Journals of Lewis and Clark (1809) From 1804 to 1806 Captain Lewis and Captain Clark led their intrepid expeditionary crew on an 8,000-mile trek–from the mouth of the Missouri to the Pacific outlet of the Columbia River.  Paddling in canoes and riding on Indian horses, the “Corps of Discovery” confronted breathtaking mountains, white-water rapids, charging buffalo…a natural world never before seen by white men: Edenic landscapes, mysterious native peoples, and the first descriptions of hundreds of plants and animals (coyotes, bighorns, prairie dogs, jackrabbits, kit foxes, and Ursus horribilis, the grizzly bear).

Mountain Man Vardis Fisher (1965) Strange, that people can find so strong and fascinating a charm in this rude, nomadic, and hazardous mode of life, as to be estranged themselves from home, country, friends, and all the comforts, elegances, and privileges of civilization; but so it is, the toil, the danger, the loneliness, the deprivation of this condition of being, fraught with all its disadvantages, and replete with peril, is, they think, more than compensated by the lawless freedom, and the stirring excitement, incident to their situation and pursuits. 

The Mountains of California John Muir (1894)  This book reflects three aspects of John Muir’s remarkable life: first, as one of the leading figures in the fight for land and forest conservation; second, as a practicing geologist who saw in pre-historic glaciation one of the vital forces in land formation; and third, as an eloquent essayist who celebrated the beauties of the mountains of California for millions of readers.  Muir describes here the glacier meadows, the incomparable Sierra terrain, the exhilaration of mountain climbing.


My Oregon Bob Welch (2005) My Oregon is Bob Welch at his finest.  It is a literary journal to the soul of a state, reminding us that the virtues of a place are found not only in trees and mountains and beaches, but in people.  Full of heart and humor, this collection of essays belongs on the shelf of everyone who calls Oregon home.

Of Men and Mountains William O. Douglas (1950)  In 1949, after a fall from a horse broke all but one of his ribs, the busy 51-year-old Douglas had time to write about the profound influence nature had on his life. “These pages contain what I, as a boy, saw, felt, smelled, tasted, and heard in the mountains,” he begins.  What follows are evocative, compelling tales of the grandeur of the mountains and the solitude of the individual. “I learned that the richness of life is found in adventure,” Douglas writes. “It develops self-reliance and independence.  Life teems with excitement.  This book may help others to use the mountains to prepare for adventure.”
Rising From The Plains John McPhee (1986) If you like to read about geology, you will find good reading here. If, on the other hand, you are not much engaged by the spatial complexities of the science, you could miss a richness of human history that has its place among the strata described.  This is the story of an isolated ranch, soon after the turn of the century, and of the geologist who grew up there, at home with the composition of the high country in the way that someone growing up in a coastal harbor would be at home with the vagaries of the sea.

Tough Trip Through Paradise, 1878-1879 Andrew Garcia    Throughout the long nights, by lantern light, on this little mountain ranch, Garcia wrote a story that took place in a land so vast and varied that it is almost impossible to comprehend. / Tough Trip Through Paradise grew out of a manuscript left by Andrew Garcia on his death in 1942 after a long and colorful life in Montana. It tells Garcia’s story of the 1877 war between the U.S. government and the Nez Perce people, the end of the buffalo herds, and other historic events in Western life.

Appalachia

A Walk in the Woods Bill Bryson (1998) Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine.  The AT offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakes–and to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings.

Australia

In a Sunburned Country Bill Bryson (2000) Australia is a country that exists on a vast scale.  It is the only island that is also a continent and the only continent that is also a country.  Despite being the most desiccated, infertile, and climatically aggressive of all inhabited continents, it teems with life. In fact, Australia has more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else: sharks, crocodiles, the ten most deadly poisonous snakes on the planet, seashells that actually attack you, and the unbelievable box jellyfish.  It’s one tough country


Bosnia

The Bridge on the Drina  Ivo Andric (1945)   A great stone bridge built three centuries ago in the heart of the Balkans by a Grand Vezir of the Ottoman Empire dominates the setting of Ivo Andric’s novel.  Spanning generations, nationalities, and creeds, the bridge stands witness to the countless lives played out upon it…War finally destroys the span, and with it the last descendant of that family to which the Grand Vezir confided the care of his pious bequest–the bridge.

Canada

Roughing it in the Bush Susanna Moodie (1852)   When Roughing It in the Bush was published in 1852, it created an international sensation, not only for Susanna Moodie’s glowing narrative of personal incident, but also for her firm determination to puncture the illusions European land-agents were circulating about life in Canada. This frank and fascinating chronicle details her harsh–and humorous–experiences in homesteading with her family in the woods of Upper Canada.

Croatia

Dubrovnick (2004)  The town of a perfect harmony reveals itself.  The man is the measure of living in the town which changes its face every day, sings, keeps silent, grieves, which is melancholy and mysterious, but permanent in its beauty.  It is built in stone in which it inscribed the motto of its existence: Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro (You do not sell freedom for all the gold!).

Cuba

The Reader’s Companion to Cuba Edited by Alan Ryan (1859-1992) The Reader’s Companion to Cuba offers nearly two dozen captivating eye-witness “reports” from visitors to Cuba’s shores, among them Anais Nin’s introduction to the “Fairyland” of Havana, Langston Hughes’s surprising rumba party, an excursion around town with Fidel behind the wheel, Tommy Lasorda’s baseball interview with pistol presiding, and Thomas Merton’s pilgrimage to Our Lady of Cobre–a trip “nine-tenths vacation and one-tenth pilgrimage.”                                                        

England

Country Bunch: A Collection by ‘Miss Read’ (1963) Drawn from diaries, memoirs, poems, novels, recipes, spells and even curses, Country Bunch is a rich anthology that evokes all these things and more.  In it Miss Read shares her astonishing breadth of reading with us, taking us on a wonderful journey through the countryside with the help of, among others, Dorothy Wordsworth, Laurie Lee, Flora Thompson, Chaucer and Shakespeare. The writings included range from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day and cannot fail to delight all who read them, even the most jaded city-dweller.

In Search of England H.V. Morton (1927)  Currently in its 40th printing with its original publisher in the UK, this is the book that one British newspaper has called “travel writing at its best. Bill Bryson must weep when he reads it.” Whether describing ruined gothic arches at Glastonbury or hilarious encounters with the inhabitants of Norfolk, Morton recalls a way of life far from gone even at the beginning of a new century.

Small Island Andrea Levy (2004) Hortense Joseph arrives in London from Jamaica in 1948 with her life in her suitcase, her heart broken, her resolve intact. Her husband, Gilbert Joseph, returns from the war expecting to be received as a hero, but finds his status as a black man in Britain to be second class. His white landlady, Queenie, raised as a farmer’s daughter, befriends Gilbert, and later Hortense, with innocence and courage, until the unexpected arrival of her husband, Bernard, who returns from combat with issues of his own to resolve.


Everywhere

1,000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler’s Life List Patricia Schultz (2003) Around the world, continent by continent, here is the best the world has to offer: 1,000 places guaranteed to give travelers the shivers. Sacred ruins, grand hotels, wildlife preserves, hilltop villages, snack shacks, castles, festivals, reefs, restaurants, cathedrals, hidden islands, opera houses, museums, and more.  Each entry tells exactly why it’s essential to visit.  Stop dreaming and get going.

A Year in the World: Journeys of A Passionate Traveller Frances Mayes (2006) Spain, Portugal, France, British Isles, Turkey, Greece, North Africa…Weaving together personal perceptions and informed commentary on art, architecture, history, landscape, and social and culinary traditions of each area, Mayes brings the immediacy of life in her temporary homes to the reader. Will be savored by all who loved Under the Tuscan Sun.

Locations Jan Morris (1992) For the most part, the pieces in Locations are not meant to tell readers how somewhere looks, or feels, or sounds, as most travel writings used to be, but simply present an individual response to a place–a wanderer’s response, offering no advice, expecting no emulations, and (whatever the intentions of some of my patrons) certainly not hoping to contribute to the leisure industry.  I gave the book its title partly because I liked the filmic sound of it, but partly because it did not sound like the title of a travel book, but just of a book about places here and there, seen by somebody who happened to be around.


My World of Islands Leslie Thomas (1983) This is Leslie Thomas’s vivid and personal account of his odyssey around some of the most fascinating islands of the globe.  Descriptive, evocative and liberally sprinkled with anecdotes, Leslie Thomas’s narrative, accompanied by his own color photographs, enables the reader to feel the unique mystery and character of each island as he himself has experienced it.

Places Hilaire Belloc (1942) The old security is gone. It does not follow that we ought to attempt an understanding of foreign people today.  Probably if we tried to do that things would get even worse; because they would become more perilous.  And yet one can’t help wishing, at least I can’t help wishing, that people in this country knew more about other people.  The great bond woudl be religion; but of that bond people today know nothing.  A secondary and much feebler bond is travel.

France

 

The Book of the City of Ladies Christine de Pizan (1405) Written in 1405, The Book of the City of Ladies is a history of Western civilization from the point of view of women.  Christine de Pizan, the author of this remarkable volume, is considered France’s first woman of letters.  She wrote more than twenty distinguished works, nearly all concerned with two themes: the political life of her country and the defense of her sex. 

France the Beautiful Cookbook  Scotto Sisters (1989) France, the Beautiful Cookbook gives a rare insight into the less-publicized side of French cooking: a cuisine which, for centuries, has been passed down through families by word of mouth. It explains the vital link between each region’s history, geography and culinary traditions, and the people who make the food so unique. Without the abundance of oysters, without cassoulet, without hochepot, without bourride, without the wines and beers that go with them, France would not be France.

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank Thad Carhart (2000)  Walking his two young children to school every morning, Thad Carhart passes an unassuming little storefront in his Paris neighborhood.  Intrigued by its simple sign–Desforges Pianos–he enters, only to have his way barred by the shop’s imperious owner. Intertwined with the story of a musical friendship are reflections on how pianos work, their glorious history, and stories of people who care for them, from amateur pianists to the craftsmen who make the mechanism sing.

The Story of San Michele  Axel Munthe (1929) This is the story of a remarkable life filled with fabulous experiences and ambitions. Axel Munthe was a fashionable physician in Paris who built one of the best-loved houses in the world–San Michele–on the Isle of Capri, on the site of the villa of Tiberius.

Two Towns in Provence  M.F.K. Fisher  (1964)  Here she not only celebrates, in her uniquely perceptive, evocative fashion, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, but also gives us ‘my picture, my map, of a place and therefore of myself’. Weaving together topography, history, folklore and personal memoirs with the looks, the sounds, the smells and the tastes of her chosen cities, M.F.K. Fisher provides the traveler, the gourmet and the lover of France and fine writing with unforgettable portraits of two remarkable and highly individual towns.

Germany

Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment  James R. Gaines (2005)  [Frederick] worked hard and long to draw “old Bach” into his celebrity menagerie. The king had prepared a cruel practical joke for his honored guest, asking him to improvise a six-figure fugue on a theme so fiendishly difficult some believe only Bach’s son could have devised it.  In a fever of composition, [Bach] used the coded, alchemical language of counterpoint to write A Musical Offering in response.  A stirring declaration of everything Bach had stood for all his life, it represented “as stark a rebuke of his beliefs and worldview as an absolute monarch has ever received.” It is also one of the great works of art in the history of music.

Guernsey

The Book of Ebenezer Le Page G.B. Edwards (1981) Ebenezer Le Page, a man of the Channel Islands tells his story, and from the moment we meet him, in mid-sentence, we are spellbound: he is funny and contrary with a furious loving attachment to the past and an old man’s querulousness towards the new. / Imagine a weekend spent in deep conversation with a superb old man, a crusty, intelligent, passionate and individualistic character at the peak of his powers as a raconteur, and you will have a very good idea of the impact of The Book of Ebenezer Le Page…Extraordinary.

India

A Passage to India E. M. Forster (1924) Ranked among the greatest novels of the twentieth century, A Passage to India is the classic account of the clash of cultures in British India after the turn of the century.  With careful crafting, exquisite prose, and a well-developed sense of irony, Forster reveals the menace lurking just beneath the surface of ordinary life, as a common misunderstanding erupts into a devastating affair.  Mr. Forster possesses the secret of all poets, which is intensity of perception.

Clear Light of Day Anita Desai (1980) A wonderful novel about silence and music, about the partition of a family as well as a nation. / Set in India’s Old Delhi, Clear Light of Day is Anita Desai’s tender, warm, and compassionate novel about family scars, the ability to forgive and forget, and the trials and tribulations of familial love. / This is a wonderful book, a book where passages must be read and reread so that you savor their imagery, their language, and their wisdom.

Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India Madhur Jaffrey (2005) This memoir is both an enormously appealing account of an unusual childhood and a testament to the power of food to prompt memory, vividly bringing to life a lost time and place. Included here are recipes for more than thirty delicious dishes recovered from Jaffrey’s childhood.

Ireland

Ireland: A Novel Frank Delaney (2005) Ireland travels through the centuries, interweaving Ronan’s quest for the Storyteller with a richly evocative unfolding of the great moments of Irish history, ranging from the savage grip of the Ice Age to the green and troubled land of tourist brochures and political unrest.  Along the way, we meet foolish kings and innocent monks, fabled saints and great works of art, shrewd Norman raiders, strong tribal leaders, poets, politicians, and lovers.  Each illuminates the magic of Ireland and the eternal connection of its people to the land.

Twenty Years A-Growing Maurice O’Sullivan  (1933)   Maurice O’Sullivan was born in 1904 on a remote island off the Atlantic coast of Ireland–the Great Blasket.  In this classic book he tells the story of his youth, and of a way of life which belongs to the past.
If the reader laughs at the schoolmistress and the matrons, and is moved by the dream of a butterfly inside the horse’s skull–then he is assured of amusement and emotion to come.  He is ready to go to Ventry Races, and to make the great journey from Dingle East…This book is unique…for here is the egg of the sea-bird–lovely, perfect, and laid this very morning.
Warrenpoint Denis Donoghue (1990) Warrenpoint takes its title from the seaside town in Northern Ireland whose police barracks served as the residence for the Catholic Donoghue family…a love story bearing on the severe relations between Donoghue and his policeman father–“not,” by the master critic’s own admission, “a well-rounded character,” but instead one who might seem “partial and brittle.”…Here is that rarest of books, a necessary book–for everyone concerned with the life of the mind and with the hard business of living with the family romance.

Italy

Italy – The Beautiful Cookbook Lorenza De’ Medici (1996)  For those who imagine Italian food to consist of pizza, pasta and tomato sauce, this book will be a revelation.  It encompasses the culinary traditions of the whole of Italy – a country diverse in landscape, climate and traditions, but blessed with a wonderful array of ingredients and a people imaginative enough to make the most of them. The food is uncontrived but delicious, fresh and full-flavored.

Lavinia Ursula K. LeGuin (2008)  In The Aeneid, Vergil’s hero fights to claim the king’s daughter, Lavinia, with whom he is destined to found an empire.  Lavinia herself never speaks a word.  Now, Ursula K. LeGuin gives Lavinia a voice in a novel that takes us to the half-wild world of ancient Italy, when Rome was a muddy village near seven hills. / An elegant echo chamber for a canonical work, a reading of an epic poem, and a rewriting of that poem.

The Path to Rome Hilaire Belloc (1902)  ‘The only book I wrote for love.’ So Hilaire Belloc described this fusion of anecdote, humour and reflection, all grouped around the story of his pilgrimage to Rome.  Meet the Commercial Traveler, the Hungry Student, the Man in the Fur Coat and many more; taste the local wines and ales from the Moselle to central Italy, and view the scenery, laboriously traversed but exquisitely described.  Included also are dialogues with a pompous reader, the author’s sketches and a preface to end all prefaces!

Playing for Pizza John Grisham (2007)  Yes, Italians do play American football, to one degree or another, and the Parma Panthers desperately want a former NFL player–any former NFL player–at their helm.  So Rick reluctantly agrees to play for the Panthers–at least until a better offer comes along–and heads off to Italy. He knows nothing about Parma (not even where it is), has never been to Europe, and doesn’t speak or understand a word of Italian.  To say that Italy–the land of opera, fine wines, extremely small cars, romance, and football americano--holds a few surprises for Rick Dockery would be something of an understatement.

New York City

How the Other Half Lives Jacob A. Riis (1890)  In 1890, when the book was published, the Lower East Side was a landscape of teeming streets and filthy tenements crowded with immigrants living in dreadful conditions.  How the Other Half Lives brings them to life–the Italians, Jews, Bohemians (Czechs and Slovaks), Blacks, and Chinese–in precise descriptions of their habits and traditions, jobs and wages, rents paid and meals eaten, and explores the effects of crime, poverty, alchohol, and lack of education and opportunity on adults and children.

North Pole

Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape Barry Lopez (1986) It is a celebration of the artic landscape and of the animals that live there…of the Eskimo…a story of movement…a story of light–solar and lunar rings, halos, and coronas; the pale green and soft rose of the aurora borealis; the distant mountain that is actually a looming, and entirely convincing, mirage.  Unique in its vision, it is a book that asks what it means to live well.  In the integrity of that land one finds an answer.

My Attainment of the Pole Frederick A. Cook  (1913) Cook, allegedly the first man to reach the North Pole, recounts his adventures at the top of the world, his meetings with Eskimos and his hunting of musk ox, plus his subsequent debates with Robert Peary after he had returned to his homeland.  /  Cook must be considered an extraordinary personality in Polar history…he was a Bonaparte on the ice to his rival…

Nowhere

The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape James Howard Kunstler (1993) In elegant and often hilarious prose, Kunstler depicts our nation’s evolution from the Pilgrim settlements to the modern auto suburb in all its ghastliness.  The Geography of Nowhere tallies up the huge economic, social, and spiritual costs that America is paying for its car-crazed lifestyle.  It is also a wake-up call for citizens to reinvent the places where we live and work, to build communities that are once again worthy of our affection.
Pacific Ocean

Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft Thor Heyerdahl (1950) Kon-Tiki is the record of an astonishing adventure — a journey of 4,300 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean by raft. Intrigued by Polynesian folklore, biologist Thor Heyerdahl suspected that the South Sea Islands had been settled by an ancient race from thousands of miles to the east, led by a mythical hero, Kon-Tiki. He decided to prove his theory by duplicating the legendary voyage.

Racing Through Paradise: A Pacific Passage William F. Buckley, Jr.  (1987)  Each Buckley voyage is distinctive, yet each is an enhancement of earlier journeys.  And a journey with Buckley is inevitably an expedition into oddly assorted experiences and comedy, into observation and illumination–into wit and reflection, and into friendships that overcome friction.  Here the irrepressible, eloquent, enjoyable Buckley guides us through his beloved Azores, and the the Galapagos (“the Bronx Zoo at the Equator”), about which he inclines more to Melville’s view than to Darwin’s…

Russia

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1962)  First published in 1962, it is considered one of the most significant works ever to emerge from Soviet Russia.  Illuminating a dark chapter in Russian history, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is at once a graphic picture of work camp life and a moving tribute to man’s will to prevail over relentless dehumanization, told by “a literary genius whose talent matches that of Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy [and] Gorky.”

Tevye the Dairyman and The Railroad Stories Sholem Aleichem (1883) Of all the characters in modern Jewish fiction, the most beloved is Tevye, the buoyant, compassionate, philosophical, Bible-quoting dairy-man whose life story formed the basis for the musical Fiddler on the Roof.  And no Yiddish writer was more beloved than Tevye’s creator, Sholem Rbinovich [1859-1916] who wrote under the pen name of Sholem Aleichem [Yiddish for “hello there”].

Where Nights Are Longest: Travels by Car Through Western Russia Colin Thubron  (1983)  Everywhere he went he struck up fascinating acquaintances, and clearly possesses a deep talent for inspiring confidence and eliciting those views and experiences which can illuminate a whole life in a few paragraphs..A book to warmly recommend to anyone with the slightest interest in Russia and her people.  / Colin Thubron is an ideal guide. Well informed about icons, architecture, and history, he is also wonderfully articulate…especially in descriptive passages, the language becomes a grave and stately music.

Scotland

In Search of Scotland H.V. Morton (1929) There is, I think, something to be said for books written by an explorer who admits frankly, as I do, that he knew nothing about Scotland when he set out, because then commonplace knowledge comes freshly with an air of discovery, and those readers who are also ignorant are possibly stimulated to go forth and perform the same trick of progressive absorption.

Men of the Covenant Alexander Smellie (1903) This book is not a dull history but a series of brilliant sketches. It has the breathless excitement of a historical novel, but it is all true. / Alexander Smellie was indeed the very man to write this book.  One of the best expository preachers of his day, an exceptionally well-read man, and endowed with a rare, happy saintliness, he penetrated deeply into the inner significance of Covenanting times…

Utah

The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail Wallace Stegner (1964)  Wallace Stegner has written the best single volume to appear on the Mormon migration westward…His sensitivity to human beings and his ability to understand the spirit motivating the oft-persecuted Latter Day Saints allow him insights missed by earlier writers. Stegner draws on scores of printed and unprinted diaries kept by the Saints, and has used these very personal documents to pinpoint events that take on new meaning when viewed through the eyes of commonplace mortals.

Virginia

The Burning : Sheridan’s Devastation of the Shenandoah Valley John Heatwole (1998) The Burning captures the tragedy of two weeks in the Shenandoah Valley in the autumn of 1864.  It is the story that…reminds modern readers how the Civil War visited with man-made flame and fury the granery of the Confederacy.  Rich in detail, incidents, and drama, The Burning is a gripping story and a fine book.

Wales

Wild Wales: Its People, Language and Scenery George Borrow (1901) Wales signifies a land of mountains, of vales, of dingles, chasms, and springs.  It is connected with the Cumbric bal, a protuberance, a springing forth; with the Celtic beul or beal, a mouth; with the old English welle, a fountain; with the original name of Italy, still called by the Germans Welshland; with Balkan and Vulcan, both of which signify a casting out, an eruption…

Give Away

I have a copy of 1,000 Places To See Before You Die
and an ex-library (but charming if you like old textbooks)
1929 edition of How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis.
Riis was a photojournalist; his photos are compelling.
[Leave a comment either here or on Facebook.
Please mark your preference. Thanks!]
I will draw names on January 12th.

The Year in Books

 

Because I love to read reading lists, here is my offering of books read in 2009. 
Titles with Ω next to them indicate audio books.

It was a good reading year; there were many painful stories relative to WWII, but the comfortable books in-between helped.  Many of you influenced my reading with your own book reviews and recommendations.  Thank you!  I am grateful for the book-loving blogging community.

Loved

■   Rachel Ray, Anthony Trollope (written in 1863, my favorite of 2009)
■   The Herb of Grace, Elizabeth Goudge (comfort and joy)
■   Cold Sassy Tree, Olive Ann Burns (quirky, colorful, lovable, Southern)

■   Band of Brothers, Stephen E. Ambrose (grand and gripping)
■   D-Day, June 6, 1944, Stephen E. Ambrose (I couldn’t put it down)
■   Beyond Band of Brothers, Dick Winters  Ω (I totally admire this man)

■   My Lucky Star, Zdenka Fantlova (absorbing, haunting)
■   The Book Thief, Markus Zusak Ω  (most unusual – a must re-read)
■   The Pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman (Holocaust memoir, Poland)

■  All but My Life, Gerda Weissman Klein (left me in an emotional puddle)
■  The Proud Tower, Barbara Tuchman Ω (1895-1912 could be compelling? Yes!)
■   How to Cook a Wolf, M.F.K. Fisher (written for the starving; acerbic wit)

■   Simple Courage, Frank Delaney Ω (I yearn to write this well, audio excellent)
■   A Thread of Grace, Mary Doria Russell (Jewish resistance in Italy during WWII)
■   String Too Short to Be Saved, Donald Hall (life on a Maine farm, rec. by Wendell Berry)

Really Liked

■   Suite Française, Irène Némirovsky Ω (captures the horror of invasion)
■   Garlic and Sapphires, Ruth Reichl (mischievous, sparkling, crackin’ good fun)
■   Schindler’s List, Thomas Keneally (he saved > 1000 Jewish lives in WWII)

■   Good Night, Mr. Tom, Michelle Magorian (sweet story without syrup)
■   The Last Chronicle of Barset, Anthony Trollope Ω (good but not Trollope’s best)
■   A Gravestone Made of Wheat, Will Weaver (basis of movie Sweet Land)

■   Children of the Storm, Natasha Vins (modern Soviet memoir)
■   The Second World War in Color, Stewart Binns  (great photography)
■   Dr. Seuss Goes to War, Theodor Geisel (a different side of Dr. Seuss)

■   The Rising Tide, Jeff Shaara Ω (brings history alive)
■   The Steel Wave, Jeff Shaara Ω (D-Day was a particular focus in my reading)
■   The Hours After, Gerda Weismann Klein and Kurt Klein (sequel to ABML)

■   All God’s Children & Blue Suede Shoes, Kenneth Myers (culture & faith)
■   Walter, The Story of a Rat, Barbara Wersba (the rat loves books)
■   Island on Bird Street, Uri Olev (young adult book based on author’s life)

■   The Art of Civilized Conversation, Margaret Shepherd (full of delightful quotes)
■   The Holy Wild, March Buchanan (quality writing not usually found in devotionals)
■   Easy Company Soldier, Don Marlarkey Ω (another Band of Brothers soldier)

■   The Phoenix and the Carpet, E. Nesbit (warmth of Narnia without the allegory)
■   Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, Alexander McCall Smith (an easy, enjoyable read)
■   A Nice Cup of Tea & A Sit Down, Nicey and Wifey (from a blog on tea and biscuits)

■   The Book That Changed My Life, ed. Diane Osen (authors interviewed)
■   The Incredible Shrinking Critic, Jami Bernard (NYC-style wit and sarcasm)
■   The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, Lewis Buzbee (adventures of a book seller)

Liked Parts of It

■   Living in a Foreign Language, Michael Tucker (TV stars move to Italy)
■   Head Over Heels in the Dales, Gervase Phinn (James Herriot of schools)
■   The Water is Wide, Pat Conroy (a young teacher, a South Carolina island)

■   The Invisible Heart, Russell Roberts (economics for dummies)
■   1916, Morgan Llywelyn (historical fiction, Easter Rising in Ireland)
■   Fire in the Blood, Irène Némirovsky Ω (a bit strange)

■   Bedside Manners, David Watt MD  (some weird patients/maladies)
■   The Gathering Storm, Winston Churchill (“see? I told you so!”)
■   The Airman’s War, WWII in the Sky, Albert Marrin (juvenile history)

■   Overlord, D-Day, Albert Marrin (another good juvenile history)
■   Churchill, Hitler & the Unnecessary War, Pat Buchanan Ω(didn’t buy premise)
■   The Penderwicks, Jeanne Birdsall (not up to Nesbit, Alcott, & Lewis)

■   The Ocean of Truth, Sir Isaac Newton, Joyce McPherson (juvenile history)
■   Isaac Newton, Scientific Genius, Pearl & Henry Schultz (another juvenile history)
■   The Wild Blue, Stephen E. Ambrose (pilots of the B-24)

■   Luther and His Katie, Dolina MacCuish (juvenile history)
■   Women of the Old Testament, Abraham Kuyper (devotional)
■   The Illumined Heart, Frederica Mathewes-Green (Orthodox author, devotional)

■   Luncheon of the Boating Party, Susan Vreeland Ω (book based on Renoir’s painting)
■   The Panama Hat Trail, Tom Miller (made in Ecuador; compelling non-fiction)
■   A Year Down Yonder, Richard Peck (juvenile fiction, the cover drew me in)

■   Evasions, Melanie Jeschke (preferred author’s other books)
■   The Spiritual Life, Evelyn Underhill (a deep book, I didn’t “get it”)
■   Isaac and His Devils, Fernanda Eberstadt (parts I loved, parts I hated)

■   Common Sense Christian Living, Edith Schaeffer (a spin-off of film series)
■   The Uncommon Reader, Alan Bennett (excellent sections, except for the gay bits…why?)
■   Vanishing Acts, Jodi Picoult (a page-turner)
■   Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod, Gary Paulsen (intense)

Didn’t Care For It

■   Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler (How bad was it?  Very bad.)
■   Eating My Words, Mimi Sheraton (her voice grated–and it wasn’t an audio book!)
■   The American Classics, Denis Donoghue (I don’t like literary criticism; I prefer literature)
■   Speaking of Beauty, Denis Donoghue (it was a struggle to make it to the end)

Summer Reading Challenge

Janie, one of my heroes, introduced me to reading challenges.  She persuaded me to make a plan.  And my reading has been strongly influenced by her recommendations.  With great interest I’ve watched her transition from homeschool mom to full-time teacher. 

I can commiserate with Janie more now that I’m also working full-time.  I cannot “not read”.  Unthinkable.  Right now, though, I cannot read my daily quota of 50 pages before I’m drooling and nodding and waking with a jolt. 

I had thought this would be my Summer of Southern Literature.  It sounds grand and glorious–like something Scarlett would say–, but I think I need to wait until the season of staying home returns when I can sit in an Adirondack chair and sip iced tea on my yet-to-be-built patio.      

Since I’ve joined PaperBackSwap.com - Book Club to Swap, Trade & Exchange Books for Free.  I’ve filled my Wish List to the maximum 200 books and get a new book or two every month.  But I have too many books in my house right now!  How I hate to admit this (I am my father’s daughter), but…..I’m double shelving. 

So my first rule for the Summer Reading Challenge 2009 is:

1.  Read books on my shelves.

The good thing is that I have several books which I want to read, but I don’t necessarily want to keep.  Paperbackswap indicates books I have that are also on other people’s wish lists.  So I can read and release.  Which means more shelf space.  Thus, the next rule which is a general principle, not an exclusive rule:

2.  Read books I’m willing to release.

My shelves have dozens of worthy books which I began but did not finish.  I know that it is unrealistic (and foolish) to vow not to read any new books until I’ve finished all the books I’ve started.  Especially since


  and     are due to arrive next week. 


And our dear friend sent us      and   

But I’m willing to live within the ratio of 2 finishes to 1 new.  Currently I am reading D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climatic Battle of World War II, which I had hoped to finish before June 6th!   Which gives me three easy rules.

3.  Finish two partially-read books for every new book I read.

~     ~     ~

Summer Reading Challenge 2009

    

   

Happy Summer Reading, Friends!