Saturday, December 30, 2006

Chunkster Challenge!

Read a book or books over 400 pages
January 1st - June 30th
The Chunkster Challenge is sponsored by Bookfool
at Bookfoolery & Babble, a fine Mississippi, book blog.
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (960pgs)
Bonus Book
The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (720pgs)

Reading Round Table Books!

Reading Round Table is a monthly book forum for adults in the Northwest Mississippi Community College service area. Anyone interested in reading and discussing a variety of books is welcome to join other lifelong learners the last Monday of each month at the RC Pugh Library on the Senatobia campus. Discussions, led by faculty and friends, begin promptly at 2 p.m.

January 29, 2007
Waltzing at the Piggly Wiggly
by Robert Dalby
Discussion led by the author Robert Dalby

February 26, 2007
Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored
by Clifton Taulbert
Led by Technical Service Librarian Crystal Giles

March 26, 2007
A Walk in the Woods
by Bill Bryson
Led by Public Service/Reference Librarian Maggie Moran

April 30, 2007
Princess: Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia
by Jean Sasson
Led by Learning Resource Director Margaret Rogers

Friday, December 29, 2006

Pecan Sandy!

Pecan season is about to wind down. At the end of January we will have picked over 600 pounds. We live in a small pecan grove...

This is Sandy! Right between Sandy's ears in the background is a dead pecan tree. (We didn't pick that one!)

These pecans are waiting to be sent to the crack house.

This is me wishing you all Happy Readings in 2007!

Page 123 meme

The instructions are as follows:

1. Grab the book closest to you.
2. Open to page 123, go down to the fifth sentence.
3. Post the text of the next three sentences on your blog.
4. Name of the book and the author.
5. Tag three people.
I'm currently reading How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster. I graciously accepted Kimbofo of Reading Matters open call to participate, because I thought the passages insightful.

"Here as elsewhere, one does well to remember that writing literature is an exercise of the imagination. And so is reading it. We have to bring our imaginations to bear on a story if we are to see all the possibilities; otherwise it's just about somebody who did something."

Again, I'll not tag anyone, but feel free to do this meme if you wish.

Military Book Blog!

I found a great blog for military books! Jlmnman, at Strategist's Personal Library, reviews books and makes suggestions (or Not) in different categories located on the sidebar. You may choose books from his four shelves: Afghanistan, Holocaust, Iraq and World War II. I imagine the more he reads the bigger his categories/bookshelves will get. Jlmnman is another Canadian finding a theme and doing his bloggiest to make it world worthy!

Do I see a Civil War Bookshelf in your future?

I am Dedicated!

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Literate Good Citizen
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Got this from Library Dust!

5 Things You May Not Know about Me

I was tagged by Rick!
1. I graduated with a BS in Aerospace not a BA in English.

2. I started reading for fun in my late 20's. I thought it was a dull pursuit as a hipster; now, I don't go anywhere w/out a book.

3. I sold my '69 Citabria to pay for my MLIS. (A Citabria is an aerobatic plane, and yes I looped-de-looped. Oh, Citabria spelled backwards is airbatic. Get it!?!)

4. I was one of those loud, obnoxious kids librarians (public/school) were always tossing to the curb. (JeMarcus, I was just like you!)

5. Forever by Judy Blume was hidden in my sock drawer during Jr. high.

I'll not tag anyone, but feel free to do this meme if you wish. I was looking at all the blogs I read and I think everyone has been hit by this one. :-P

Winter Classic Challenge!

Read 5 classics from January 1st - February 28th
Winter Classic Challenge is sponsored by Booklogged at A Reader's Journal. I would like to thank Fic Chick at Lake of Oz for providing a list of the shortest classics known to man. I'm hoping I will be able to do this challenge between all my other assigned readings.
The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy (60pgs)
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (71pgs)
Daisy Miller by Henry James (83pgs)
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (83 pgs)
Billy Budd by Herman Melville (98pgs)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Christmas Carol Trivia

Gift Challenge #4

Most of us think of A Christmas Carol as a morality play; actually, it is a political stance. Dickens’ play attacks a popular Victorian thought: to feed the poor would only encourage reproduction to take advantage of the extra food. This thought, known as Malthusian, named for the British social thinker Thomas Malthus.

In the book How to Read Literature Like a Professor, author Thomas C. Foster explains the history:

Dickens caricatures this Malthusian thinking in Scrooge’s insistence that he wants nothing to do with the destitute and that if they would rather starve than live in the poorhouse or in debtor’s prison, then, by golly, “they had best hurry up and do it and decrease the excess population.” Scrooge actually says that. What a guy!

The photo above depicts my favorite Scrooge, actor Alastair Sim.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Missing Gallatin...

GIFT Challenge #3

Isn't it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for - I don't know what exactly, but it's something that you don't mind so much not having at other times. ~Kate L. Bosher

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Heard the Bells

GIFT Challenge #2

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep,
God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Blog Sagan Day!

"But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown." ~Carl Sagan

Season's Readings! (copy)

The University of Memphis reported that while 32 teenage girls watched TV their metabolism dropped 16 percent below resting metabolic rate, according to Raphael Calzadilla of eDiets.

Can you believe it? A person burns 70 calories reading a book and only 47 watching TV. That’s right, kind of knocks that over-weight, bookworm stereotype off her comfy couch as big(ger) sister wields the remote.

Ready to flip off that TV and flip open a book? I thought so! Make 2007 the year you lose weight and gain knowledge by reading.

First, let us travel back in time for an oldie but goodie, The History of Reading by Alberto Manguel, which was published in 1996. As a young man, Alberto Manguel read books aloud to fellow Argentinaian, Jorge Luis Borges. At the time, Borges was 58 and almost blind. Author Manguel has written or edited thirty works of non-fiction.

Manguel’s first chapter is titled, “The Last Page.” Who out there reads the last page first? The following are other chapter titles: “Learning to Read,” “Being Read To,” and “Private Reading.” Library Journal claims, “The result is a fascinating book to dip into or read cover to cover.” If you like this book, you may like his follow-up, A Reading Diary: A Passionate Reader’s Reflection on a Year of Books.

Francine Prose, author of 14 books of fiction, has written an excellent book on reading, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them. Author Prose says, “The trick to writing is reading—carefully, deliberately and slowly.” You might want to read a book from her “Books to be Read Immediately” list.

There are two new books on the “art of reading” literarily. The Look of Reading by Garrett Stewart and Reading Women by Stefan Bollmann with forward by Karen Joy Fowler. Both books include paintings, drawings, and photographs of men, women and children reading. Stewart’s art book also includes those pieces with text in the medium.

Bollmann’s book, as the title suggest, concentrates on women. In Fowler’s forward she states, “A woman reading, after all, is a woman not cooking or cleaning.” Darn those lazy women readers.

What a Year! (copy)

What a year! Beginning in January, I walked into Northwest’s R.C. Pugh Library and became the Public Services and Reference Librarian. My location and job title changed, but my mission remained the same—Make Mississippi Read!

Of course, no one can really make a person read. The old adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” applies here. I guess studies have been conducted to prove this point.

Imagine a windowless, solid-white room containing only one object, a book. Now, place a human being in said room. The odds will not be in our “reading” favor. We only have a 50 percent chance he will pick the book up and flip through it. We have a 25 percent chance he will actually read it, but we also have a 25 percent chance he will use it as a pillow.

My work is, as they say, cut out for me. At a reading level of one, an adult will be able to make out important words like “stop” and “sale” but will not be able to read simple sentences. Thirty percent of adults in the state of Mississippi are at level one. Thirty-four percent of adult Mississippians read at level two—equivalent to an eight-grade level.

I will say it again; I have my work cut out for me, but I am not alone. Many teachers and librarians across the state have the same challenge.

These articles have been my opportunity to reach newspaper readers in north Mississippi. As of January 1, 2006, I have written fifty articles featuring over 100 books. At an average of 400 words an article, that’s 20,000 words worth of book talking. Pshew, I’m tired.

The following were my favorite books for 2006: A Year of Magical Thinking (2005) by Joan Didion, Marley and Me (2005) by John Grogan, Devil’s Teeth (2006) by Susan Casey, Early Escapades (2006) by Eudora Welty, Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons (2002) by Lorna Ladvik, In Cold Blood (1965) by Truman Capote, Zamba (2005) by Ralph Helfer, and An Ordinary Man (2006) by Paul Rusesabagina.

I understand that I am reaching a reading public, but my hope is the book talks spread. I envision a word-of-mouth possibly firing up a non-reader to get involved. I realize I cannot make a person read. The individual must make that life enhancing choice.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Uncommon Carriers (Copy)

It is 4:45 p.m. on a sunny, 70-degree, Friday afternoon, as I emerge from Uncommon Carriers by John McPhee to find a FedEx deliveryman at my door. Did he know I was just reading about his competitor, UPS? Is he here in my driveway to chastise me for being unfaithful?

What are the odds? I was reading how UPS perfected a sorting technology known only to them, right before he rang the doorbell. I quote, “The technology is not new, but nowhere else in the world is it used on this scale, including Memphis.” Can he see the guilt in my eyes as he hands me a package from relatives?

FedEx experienced their biggest day of the year December 18, 2006, a Monday before Christmas, when 9.8 million packages shipped to satisfy our gift giving needs. That is an alarming amount of L.L. Bean robes, Pottery Barn initialed towels, and Harry & David fruit baskets.

According to author McPhee, the busiest day to ship lobsters by UPS is Christmas Eve. Apparently, the traditional Christmas dinner in France is not turkey, but fresh lobster. In the chapter titled “Out in the Sort,” there are more crustaceans flying in 757s to Paris than humans.

Uncommon Carriers is the story of our nation’s freight transportation system. Short articles include how 18-wheelers transport hazardous material from coast to coast, how tow boats maneuver barges on the Mississippi River, how fuel tankers handle the open sea, how trains with miles of coal cars ascend a grade, and how lobsters fly.

Each article, first written for The New Yorker, provides fascinating information about men and women who navigate uncommon carriers. McPhee shadows major players like Don Ainsworth, a true “road” scholar, who’s shiny, chemical-tanker truck carries “hazmats.”

Unfortunately, the chapter, “Five Days on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers,” isn’t about movement of freight, but about the passage of time as McPhee and his brother recreate Henry David Thoreau and his brother’s canoe trip in 1839. Even a fanatic Thoreau fan will find this article a little slow.

This book is an enjoyable read filled with unique phraseology, slang and manly banter. Now, if I could just swap my FedEx box from Crate & Barrel with a Clearwater Seafoods.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Giving Inspiration, Fostering Tradition

Carl is at it again! His challenge is an easy one and will not interfere with Christmas "crunch" time. Just promise to do five things, involving Christmas, and blog about them. Read a poem, write a poem, read a book, watch a movie, relate a family story, etc.

One original post from Bookie involves Christmas Cartoons!

I'll be participating as the opportunities arise. Thanks again Carl!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas Quiz, Anyone?

GIFT Challenge #1

As you bask in the glow of your finely lit Christmas tree, I thought you might enjoy a holiday quiz. It is real simple and may require help from other family members. So, put down that angel-shaped cookie and back away from the eggnog!

Each paragraph is a quote from a beloved Christmas book, seven in all. You are to guess which book goes with each quote. Easy peasey, right? Well, I’m not going to give you the titles. To find the answers look at the following blog entry titled “Christmas Quiz Answers”. Good luck!

A. “The Kranks are skipping Christmas! No party! No tree! Nothing but money in their pockets so they can blow it on a cruise.”

B. “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”

C. Chapter title “My Old Man And The Lascivious Special Award That Heralded The Birth Of Pop Art”

D. “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more.”

E. “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”

F. “The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world. They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls) and talked dirty and hit little kids and cussed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain and set fire…”

G. “His eyes-how they twinkled! His dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!”

H. “On Christmas Eve, many years ago, I lay quietly in my bed. I did not rustle the sheets. I was listening for a sound—a sound a friend had told me I’d never hear—the ringing bells of Santa’s sleigh.”

I. “…the Man, the Connection, Santa Claus himself”

J. “More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!”

K. “God bless us every one!”

Christmas Quiz Answers

(B, E, K) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

(C, I) A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd

(F) The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

(D) How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss

(G, J) The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

(H) The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

(A) Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gift Books for Men

Need books to entertain the males in your family this Christmas? Here are a few suggestions….

If the movie, Casino Royale, awoke a new James Bond enthusiast in your family, wrap a couple of Ian Fleming’s paperbacks for him. For the older aficionado, try Mondo Cocktail: A Shaken and Stirred History by Christine Sismondo. This book contains the history of twelve popular cocktails, plus specific instructions on their construction.

For that par"d"ner in your life, there is a new collection of modern, short-story Westerns titled Gallatin Canyon. Author Thomas McGuane is, “thought of as a writer of manly-man reticence in the school of Hemingway,” notes the New York Times Book Review. They state the book is, “beautified with dashes of Big Sky coloring” and “masculine themes.”

Does the man in your life crave real stories in espionage? New in paperback, A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the Central Intelligence Agency is the story of Richard Helms. This man once had lunch with Hitler, pre-World War II, and later became the CIA director from 1966 to 1973.

For the rocker-boy cousin, U2BYU2, is hot this season. He will be able to follow Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. through the years as the band goes from Irish pub to Mega-stadium stardom. Tattoo by Dale Rio might appeal to those males who wear their attitudes on their arms rather than their sleeves.

Do you know any men who like hard-boiled mysteries? Robert Parker has a new Spenser out titled Hundred-Dollar Baby. Publisher Weekly says, “Spenser exchanges witty dialogue with the faithful Hawk, sexy dialogue with his beloved Susan and smart-alecky dialogue with cops and villains.”

Michael Connelly is back this season with a new Harry Bosch novel titled Echo Park. This serial-killer thriller has Bosch reflecting on the bad guy who got away. Go get him, Harry.

For the man with the funny bone, Carl Hiaasen’s new title Nature Girl will keep the laughs coming. People magazine explains, “Zapped during dinner by a telemarketer peddling Florida ‘ranchettes,’ Honey Santana doesn’t just go postal, she devises a get-even scheme of demented brilliance.”

Monday, December 04, 2006

Exciting NEW Literary Terms

AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin
Litrosexual anyone?
KEVIN SAMPSELL, comes to the rescue
with his funny and knowing list
of tomorrow's terminology ... today.