Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tear Jerkers

Two good tear jerkers...

Where the Red Fern Grows and Beach Music.  I cried.  I bawled.  I turned red and splotchy.  I wouldn't trade that emotional roller coaster for anything.  Contrast that with reading the same books again and again, sometimes 5 times a day with my classes. As a d English teacher, I know this allows me to truly understand the work in greater depth than ever before but sometimes I find that the literature approved by the state board of education and district lacks true passion. 

Can you imagine a classroom where the students are brought to tears by book?  Someone please tell me the last time they heard of anyone getting excited about the Canterbury Tales.  One of my many goals for the year, which also includes taking over the world, is to find a way to inspire passion for reading in my students.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Is it Ayn or Ayn?

I read my first Ayn Rand book last weekend.  Anthem is a futuristic dystopic novel.  The use of we instead of I threw me for a little bit of a loop.  Yet after reading the very short evaluation of the state of society the most riveting question that I can come up with is...Is her name pronounced Ann or Ine? 

Has anyone read her novels?  I'm told Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are masterpieces but I am out of time.  My summer vacation is essentially over.  Hours of uninterrupted reading time are a thing of the past.  I'm working on the 4th Harry Potter book, high brow, I know, but this is what I have time for right now.  However, when I return to work with other well educated adults I would like to be able to spout off all of the classics I read over the summer and don't want to be embarassed by mispronouncing the name of Alan Greenspan's friend.  Help!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Recommendations

After a considerable reading drought and a serious craving for a good summer read, I have a few come up with a few recommendations.  The first is Ree Drummond's Black Heels to Tractor Wheels.  I am a Pioneer Woman enthusiast.  Stalking her blog on a daily basis makes me want to move to the country and grow my own vegetables.  I've perused her cookbook and while I cook from her recipes online on almost a weekly basis and I love the pictures in her cookbook, it was something I could live without.  But then, a few days ago on another trip to The Tattered Cover I saw it!  It was sitting on the edge of a stair up to the second floor of this fabled book palace.  Black Heels to Tractor Wheels with a beautiful silver sticker on the cover indicating that it was an autographed copy!  I stumbled, almost quite literally on the Pioneer Woman's book.  I sat down right there on the stairs and started reading.  Ree's writing style is lovely and light and having never been on a date with a cowboy myself, I was looking at my rather urban boyfriend picturing what he'd look like in a pair of boots and wranglers.  I devoured this delightful read in about 48 hours with out of town guests hampering my reading time.  I smiled all the way through and am now fantasizing my move to a bucolic paradise.

The next on my suggestion list for you is The Help.  I read it maybe one or two summers ago and being a daughter of the South, I found this novel funny, entertaining, and hitting a little close to home.  Now that it is coming to the silver screen I highly recommend it is an entertaining summer read.  The novel does tap into a few of the Southern cliche's and issues of racial tension that have characterized the South for so many years but it doesn't fall into these ruts for long.  There is much too much character drama to dwell in the shortcomings of our Southern heritage for long. 

The last recommendation on my short list for you this evening is Water for Elephants.  Another novel that has made its way to the big screen. Water for Elephants is full of romance, action, and a few terrible scenes of animal abuse.  But the abuse only endears our hero to us all the more.  I opted not to read this book on the recommendation of my mother for a few years because I didn't think I could handle the sad scenes of an elephant bearing the blows of a paranoid schizophrenic.  After mustering the courage I found it wasn't too graphic for my taste.  By the time I finished this book I actually was wishing for more.

I confess I have not seen either of the movies of the books I suggest, but as is true with 99.9% of novels turned to movie, the book is always better.  There are only two books that I have ever read that I feel fall into the other .1% and they are Last of the Mohicans and Cold Mountain.  Being an AP English teacher though, I have taught Cold Mountain and therefore read it at least 5 times now.  I am happy to say that every time I read that novel I fall more and more in love with it.  I don't know what that makes my percentage now.  After all, I'm an English teacher not a math wiz. 

Enjoy these light summer reads and share a few of your favorite summer time novels with the rest of us!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Power of Suggestion

I read.  Sometimes it comes and goes in spurts, sometimes there's a drought, and sometimes putting a book in front of my face is the quickest way I know how to fall asleep.  Because I read so much, or at least hold books in my hand a majority of the time, I find that I don't want to waste my time with a book that takes 150 pages to get going.  I don't want to waste my time with a book that has no character development.  I don't want to waste my time reading more bad writing. 

My hope for this blog is that it will be a place for readers to come together to share good reads.  I'll do my part to share what I'm reading, whether its good or bad.  I hope you will share too and more specifically your opinion about it. 

Scouring the New York Times Best Seller List has only gotten me so far in book recommendations.  The majority of the time I feel that a good publicity campaign will get you to the top of the list better than an actually good novel.  The best books I've EVER read have been sent to me as gifts or on loan from good friends.  Occasionally I stumble across a good book on my own but for every captivating novel there are at least 10 that I could have lived without. 

Join my bibliophile community so we can enjoy some of the really great books the world has to offer.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Different people visit certain places on this beautiful planet of ours for a variety of reasons, some spiritual, some emotional, some adventurous, some because it makes them happier than any other place in the world.  I feel all these things about bookstores, particularly quirky, unique, independent bookstores.  I am in Denver for the summer to get away from the Texas heat, to visit my mother, so I will still love Love of My Life (LOML) by the end of summer, and most of all to make my annual, or bi-annual if I'm lucky, pilgrimage to The Tattered Cover.
This is an independently owned, by a woman no less, bookstore.  There are three locations in the Denver area but my favorite is in the LoDo district of Denver just at the end of the 16th street mall.  Its in an old refurbished/ re-purposed building.  It smells like books and coffee when you walk in the door, not plastic and gloss.  The wooden floors creek under your feet.  Denver's unique collective gathers there for a quiet hour of reading and an iced latte on their lunch breaks.  There are stories of bookshelves, rather reminiscent of a public library, anyone remember what those are?  But The Tattered Cover is better!  Its better because it has character, it has kitsch it has knowledgeable staff, it has used books, it has bargain books, it holds author discussions.  TTC is at the forefront of keeping the written and PRINTED word alive.
As you know, I am an English teacher.  I didn't start out my adult life that way, and didn't really develop a love of reading until I was in my early twenties.  But having made the voyage into the good life I really promote reading from actual books to my students.  I'm sure I will delve into the benefits of reading from paper in future posts but I shall get back on topic...
The need for real bookstores that have actual paper books in them is so important for our culture, our children, and civilization as a whole for that matter! (Picture my fist in the air, index finger pointed at the sky for extra emphasis)  I am so grateful to The Tattered Cover for all that they do to make the world a better place.  I'll be back as soon as I can!  Don't change a thing TTC!

Friday, June 24, 2011

I Vow!

To post more consistently.

To make my blog worth reading.

To try not to embarrass my family with my posts.

To share my inner most thoughts and hopefully you will too.

To be a good blogger.

(Did you picture me with right hand raised and left hand over a Bible?  Good)

-even if it means this is all you get for today.