I thought I’d take some time today to tell you what I’m reading currently.

In the car, I’m listening to Rabbit Hill – the 1945 Newbery Medal winner. Times are very different now. I can’t imagine anything as slow-moving as this book becoming popular in modern times. I have a hard time focusing. At first I thought maybe I just wasn’t okay with anthropomorphic animals, but then I remembered Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. So I’ve determined that it really is that this book is spending a lot of time on characterization and building suspense about the “new folks” coming to the hill, and I just wished they’d get there already. (I’m far enough along now that the “new folks” have arrived, yay!)

I’m almost done reading Ghosts of Albion: Accursed, which I’m reading in preparation for my upcoming interview with Amber Benson. (Thanks, slayground!) I don’t think I’ll be done with all three of her books in time for the interview, as I need to send the questions on in the next day or two, but I hope to have read them before I post it and then have a few reviews to post as well.

From the library, I’ve got No Sheep For You, a knitting book for people who can’t use wool. My sister is allergic to wool and this book has a lot of yarn-related info for crocheters that’s just as valuable as it is for knitters, so I thought I’d check it out and see if maybe I’d like to buy it for her. (She’s a knitter; I don’t crochet with wool on principle because I want my sister to be able to touch the things I make.)

I’ve got a whole host of Newbery winner audiobooks to keep me company on my daily commute, and I’m also working my way through a list I made of YA novels written by members of Romance Writers of America. Finally, I’ve checked out a book called You Grow Girl, which I hope will tell me what I need to know to get into urban gardening.

What about you? What are you reading now or getting ready to read?

via Lifehacker:

What a Lovely Name is a new website that lets you select multiple tags for personality traits associated with a name, as well as a gender if you wish, and it will suggest names for you. I selected romantic, creative, wise with no gender and got 12 names, the most boring of which was Jacqueline. Highly recommended if you’re looking for character names and don’t want to do lots of searching of baby name sites by meaning.

Where have I been? Where am I going?

Life gets in the way. Work makes me tired, and various projects capture my imagination at different times. And every once in a while, a book tricks me into thinking I don’t like reading.

So, my enthusiasm for the kid lit world has actually been dampened by attempt to keep a commitment to it. You see, I read this one book for The Edge of the Forest, and now owe Kelly a review, and I really liked that book. The book took me a while to get into, but after a little while I was really invested. So I thought, okay, I will move on to the next one of the books she sent me to review a year ago. (I am all kinds of slacker.)

Well, I’m on p. 130something, and I am just finding the book so dull. It’s not bad exactly; I just don’t care what happens to the characters. I thought, “Well I’ll get through and review it anyway,” but I thought, “What will I say about this book?” And quite honestly, were I to write a review it would go like this:

I thought this book was boring. I didn’t care what happened to the characters. I was never drawn into the world. I can’t even provide a reasonable explanation of what was wrong with it, as it was well-written enough. It wasn’t bad or anything. It just bored me.

I thought that wouldn’t be a very useful review; with books I don’t love I still try and figure out who would like them, for whom they’d be suited. But the fact of the matter is, if anyone was going to like this book, it was going to be me. It’s a fantasy set in the Dungeons and Dragons universe. (Dragonlance, for those of you familiar with the series.) It’s about sisters, and the sisterly dynamic is a big part of the book. But it just can’t hold my attention.

So I said, “Self,” I said to myself, “you need to try a different book, and see if you like it better.”

So I picked up Tim Lott’s Fearless, and that is a book I got into right away, and I will review it here at lectitans when I am done with it.  

Thank goodness I still like reading.

 

 

 

 

Let’s say I wanted to gain expertise in a certain area of children’s/YA lit.  Say, I don’t know, modern books about the ancient world – especially Greece and Rome.  Mythology and history both.  How would I go about staying abreast of new releases that would fall into my area of expertise?  Catalogs?  Reviews in the Horn Book?  Something else?  All suggestions are welcome!  Also suggestions of older books that fall into this domain are GREATLY appreciated.  (Already know Percy Jackson etc, plus Nobody’s Princess and related books.  Oh, and Iris, Messenger.)

If you haven’t been watching it, you should check out the LiveJournal
community . This is a community for writers
of urban fantasy/horror. Recently they’ve focused their discussion on
the topic of why they write about the creatures they do. I’ve really
enjoyed reading their responses.

 National Women’s History Month starts on Saturday; this week’s Booking Through Thursday question asks who your favorite female lead character is; Shannon Hale is having a discussion about being tough and feminine at the same time at her blog.

I have a response that will tie all of these together.  Unfortunately, I’ve been awake for 14 hours on less than 6 hours of sleep, so it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Looking for vintage book covers?  Go to Book Scans! The goal of the Bookscans Project is to provide a visual catalog of ALL vintage American paperbacks.”

So much fun!

1. I officially have the patience for novels again.  Yay!
2. I got to go to Kerry Madden’s release party for Jessie’s Mountain.  It was awesome to meet Kerry.  It was ironic that I had to go all the way to California to find a vanilla moonpie to bring back to North Carolina for my boyfriend.
3. I kind of want to do a general survey of sci fi, i. e., reading old classics and such.  Then I want to take notes on the women in these stories.
4. I’ve decided my goal for books read this year is 48.  Last year I read 35, almost 3 a month.  So 4 a month should be doable.
5. In that case, I need to finish 2 books in the next 2 weeks in order to catch up.
6. I’ve got The Lightning Thief waiting for me at the library.  Maybe I’ll pick it up tomorrow.
7. I also am going to get cracking on my TBR pile full of ARCs/not A but just RCs.

I have been out and about.  I haven’t had the attention span for fiction in weeks.  So I’ve been reading non-fiction.  I recently finished Craft, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco.  I’m reading The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine by Rozsika Parker.

I think to get me out of my refusing-to-read-fiction rut I need something familiar, but still new enough to maintain my interest.  I prescribe Piers Anthony: Vale of the Vole.  Just requested it from the library.

In a numbered list, no less!

1. My reading goal for the year was 30 books.  I’ve already surpassed that, if audio books count, and am at 34 right now.
2. Today I bought Twilight as my airplane book for my Saturday trip to Florida.  (I’ll be there a little less than a week.)  Thanks to everyone who expressed opinions on it and other books.  I’ve been meaning to read it a while now, and the library wait is quite long, and it was just looking at me there on the shelf in Target at $2 off cover, so, now it is mine.
3. Re: Last week’s bad day – it was mainly because of a sinus infection I was developing, which today was diagnosed and antibioticized.  So in a few days I should be having much better days, both because the sinus infection will be clearing up, and I’ll be on vacation in the best state in the union.  i. e., Florida.  The Sunshine Except For That Thunderstorm At 3 PM State.  Thanks for all the bad day book recommendations.  I think I ended up just getting in bed, sadly.

It’s been more than a couple of weeks since I last posted.  I’ve been in a non-litty headspace.  But after a conversation with the boyf today about what I do and don’t like, and what is and is not important to me, I may be ready to come back.

Today I was discussing with my students what things were “Roman” pursuits and what things were “Greek” pursuits.  We’ve been reading about this in their text.  We reviewed the “Roman” activities: building roads and bridges; farming; fighting wars.  The students agreed that these were “physical” pursuits, “work.”  We then reviewed the “Greek” activities: sculpting, painting, reading.  I said, “And what kind of activities are these?”  I was thinking “intellectual” here, as that’s what folks generally oppose to the physical.

Their response?  “Boring.” That just made me sad.  After further discussion, I realized that the students know being able to read is important; they simply didn’t value it as a leisure pursuit.

Of course, that’s just one class.  In a different class, we could have booktalks just about every day.  They’re almost all heavy readers in that class.  At any given time, at least a third of the class has a novel to pull out in case of free time.  So that was reassuring.

So, yeah.  Reading is important.  I get it, universe.  I’m with you.

I just finished reading The Golden Compass.  What have you been reading?

The other pursuit that takes up my time and often keeps me away from the kidlitosphere is craft.  My preferred craft is crochet, though I love to read about others.  Fortunately, a relatively new blog has united these two realms.  Children’s Lit ‘n Knit is written by Shelly Hattan, an engineer, knitter, and reader.  Shelly’s lit-knit began with a Captain Underpants she made for her nephew, and has continued with various other suggestions.  She’s soliciting ideas for the blog, so if you’ve got a brilliant idea for a toy/book pairing, drop her a line!  My favorite entry is Where the Wild Things Are.  I am all about crowns and cat hats.

See you soon, I hope!

Upon seeing that two books I was sent review copies of months ago and haven’t touched except to put on my TBR shelf are being released today, I began to feel guilty.  My number of posts has significantly dropped off, and for that I am very sorry.  I wanted to offer up a quick explanation of why this is, because no matter how much I try and make myself post, it doesn’t look to be changing any time soon.

Posting a good entry requires brainpower.

I am working harder at my job than I ever have before.  I am investing more energy in it.  My hours are not the longest they’ve ever been, but during my contact time with students I am using the most energy I ever have.  This is having very positive results in the classroom and with my colleagues.

Unfortunately, it is completely exhausting.  It is exhausting to the point that my recent hobbies have become reading (but not writing), playing video games (mindless but because they give you tasks to do still gives a sense of accomplishment), and complaining (a rather unattractive trait, being a complainer).  I very rarely cook real food anymore.  A year ago, I was cooking myself a nutritious dinner every night.

So I’ve been doing the bare minimum here – participating in group events, and then making other posts as I have energy.

So when will you see posts from me?

A week from tomorrow on October 17 I’ll be writing a feature about illustrator Brie Spangler and her work for Robert’s Snow

In November, during the Winter Blog Blast Tour, I’ll feature interviews with Kerry Madden and Dia Calhoun.

I have a whole schedule of things through May but I don’t want to reveal them as they’re all group events that we haven’t begun to publicize yet.  In any case, you are guaranteed a post a month from me.  I know that’s not a lot, but that will be there for sure.  Beyond that, you will get reviews when the mood strikes me to write one, commentary on days when I have the good fortune to read the other blogs, and participation in memes/regular weekly events when I get a chance to sit down at the computer.

I just wanted to let you know what was going on so you didn’t think I’d disappeared entirely.

See you next week if not before!

I have many book reviews to write, but as it is time to set up for the new school year, most of my brain power is absorbed by that.  What’s left from that is going to preparation for next week’s Radar Recommendations.  So today, you get links which I got from other blogs who linked to them.  This is how the blogosphere works, right?  Three people create original content, and everyone else links to them.

No?

I’m glad to hear there’s more than three people creating the internet.  I’m equally glad that the people who create stuff are seen by people I read, thus leading me to cool stuff.

It’s funny, but for all that I am shy and a near-misanthrope (there’s a pun in there), real people’s stories fascinate me.  I love biographies, but more than that I love diaries and journals.  I love personal notes.  So today you get documentation of a process, and inscriptions.

First, via Bookshelves of Doom, I give you the Book Inscription Project.  These folks collect scans/photos of things people have written in books.  My favorite: This Book Stinks.  And of course now I want to go shelf-diving to find my own inscribed books.

Next, BookMoot brings us Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog about her experience creating three Coraline dolls in honor of the special edition release of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.  I love process documents, so this one is excellent.  I don’t have the attention span to look at all of it right now, but I’m keeping it open to check again later.

Now go forth and explore the internet, and find more wondrous things to share with the rest of us!

Now that I’m reading lots of kidlit blogs, I find myself needing to make lists, all the time.  

I find books that I need to read because they relate to the ancient Mediterranean, which is my area of expertise  (I so long to have a classroom so I can reward students for hard work by giving them time to read fiction from a library of class-related books that I keep on a shelf.  But instead, I have a cart, which does not have enough room for the books.)

I find books that are not out yet, which I want to give as gifts.

It’s so exciting and a little overwhelming, too.

Do you find yourself needing to keep track of lots of lists of books?

I guess Good Reads is the place to do this, isn’t it?

On Thursday, TadMack at Finding Wonderland issued a few Most Egregious Misuse awards.  She focused on punctuation errors.  I myself hate finding extra apostrophes places, and often find myself wanting to take a red pen to signs.

It’s not just punctuation that is the problem, however.  Misuse of words is rampant, as well.  I recall once in high school a classmate of mine called something a “gregarious error.”  She was the subject of much mockery.  You see, it’s always better to use the word that best communicates your meaning.  Sometimes you want a less common word for this, because its meaning is more specific than that of other words.  (See how I avoided putting an extra apostrophe in “its”?  It would have been very embarrassing if I hadn’t.)

In some cases, however, I think people use odd words just to sound more educated, or because they are bored with their usual vocabulary.  This is not okay, if they don’t know the meaning of the words.

For example:
While catching up on my kidlit newsletters I came upon an article about a new line of children’s nonfiction books.  In this article, the publisher of these books was quoted as saying their illustrations “provide an infinitesimal range of perspectives.”

Let’s take a look at “infinitesimal,” shall we?

From m-w.com:
 Main Entry: 2infinitesimal
Function: adjective
1 : taking on values arbitrarily close to but greater than zero
2 : immeasurably or incalculably small <an infinitesimal difference>

I don’t think one would want to publish non-fiction that provided only an infinitesimal range of perspectives.  It would be very limiting, wouldn’t it?

Lloyd Alexander died today.  People know him best for his Chronicles of Prydain.  They fueled my imagination when I was a child, and I did love them.  But where he really captured my interest was with the Vesper Holly series.  I like to have a character with whom I strongly identify in a book, and Vesper Holly was that character.  Vesper Holly, Teen Archaeologist.  I don’t remember much about the series except that I loved it and I read it while my parents were at the gym.  I think I shall have to get it from the library in memoriam.  The internet has shockingly little information about the series.  It doesn’t have its own Wikipedia entry.  It’s just briefly mentioned in the entry for Lloyd Alexander.  We may have to set about fixing that.  Who’s with me?

If you want to know what I looked like about 20 years ago, be sure to check out this blog’s new look.  There was a stock picture in the new design until yesterday, but now, the reading girl is me.

When I think of Library School, I think of the Florida State University School of Library and Information Studies.  It’s called the College of Information now.  When I was in second grade, my dad went to library school.  He wanted to be a law librarian.  I spent a lot of time there.  I remember it better than I remember my mom’s part of the university, which was the Department of Religion.

I first checked out D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths from the children’s library there. I made rubbings from a big clay fountainy thing in the front hall of the building. I spent a lot of time sitting outside the computer place (it’s probably all different now) being bored.

The grad students used to keep puzzles on card tables there, and my mom and I would do them.

My eighth birthday was spent in that building, being anxious and uncertain about the future.  And bored.  For some reason whenever I sat in front of the computer part of the library school, I never had a book.  Or perhaps I only had a few, and finished them too quickly.

It’s all coming together a bit now.  I’m reading Peter Pan.  It feels like home, because the Comden and Greene musical is fairly faithful to the book, and I know the musical very well.  I watched that musical on a big projector in the library school.  It may have been around the time of my dad’s graduation.  I’m not sure.  I remember eating petit-fours.

This is how my memory is constructed.  I like to make books part of my memories of a place, as much as smells or sounds.  Library School will always equal D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths to me.

There are few things quite as thrilling as getting a package from Amazon.  Amazon usually means media for me, and I love media.  Especially books.

Today’s box brought On Pointe, the readergirlz pick this month, and the 2007 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market.  I’m enjoying both.  I’m especially excited about the articles in CW&IM.  There’s some synchronicity in my life, as the only book at the airport that looked interesting was Death Dance, leading me to read two books about dancers at once.  I don’t have dance class tonight because it’s spring break for most of the younger students, but I figure reading about dance should make up for it.

I wish I could figure out what my favorite Amazon box ever contained.  Do you have a favorite package you’ve ever received?  Especially a book you or someone else ordered for you, perhaps?

This may be the longest I’ve gone between posts since back when I started this blog. I’m going to address a few topics all at once.

Thing One: I’ve a lot of things I want to say, but not a lot of time. I’ve been doing a lot of catching up at work, and it’s used most of my energy. I’m still reading, so here’s my currentlies:

1. Virtual Mode by Piers Anthony; this is a re-read. Due to recent events in life I’ve set it aside for a bit, as it brings up some emotional issues I’m not quite ready to handle.
2. I, Claudius by Robert Graves; this is my read-at-work book but it has been displaced by others for now. About one week a month I have to perform lunch duty, which usually consists of sitting in a chair, watching students go by, and checking hall passes. That’s a good twenty minutes a day I can devote to reading when I’m not checking the passes. It looks good to be a Latin teacher reading I, Claudius, and I, Claudius is a book I’ve always wanted to read. Most recently, though, I have been reading my other books during this time.
3. The Last Dragon by Silva de Mari; reading this because it was a Cybils nominee, and enjoying it thoroughly. It doesn’t go as quickly as many YA or children’s books do, though.
4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Gatekeeper Trilogy: Out of the Madhouse by Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder. I also walk for twenty minutes a day and I like to read while I do this. I saw one of my favorite professors doing it on campus once. I thought it looked charmingly academic, so I took it up myself. Don’t worry; I’m very careful not to run into or in front of things. Reading this has been a fun flashback and, combined with a recent re-watching of Buffy Season 4, provoked new thoughts about the show’s themes, what I did and did not like about it, and why. As a rule, I love Buffy, in case you were wondering.

Thing Two: A colleague and I were talking about YA fiction a couple of weeks ago and agreed that especially for us as teachers, it’s exactly the right thing. You can read a book with substance to it, but usually YA books don’t bog you down so much as books for an adult audience would. You get through the books quickly but still feel like you’ve really read something. So we’ve decided to start recommending and swapping YA books. I only own two, so I’ll be loaning those to her: Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen by Dyan Sheldon. These are my two recent favorites, which is why I own them. Because of the aforementioned rapidity of reading, I generally get my YA books from the library. I’m looking forward to seeing what she has for me. I told her that even though I don’t have a lot of books, I can provide her with plenty of lists. Maybe I’ll even tell her that I get most of my YA recommendations from Little Willow at Bildungsroman.

Thing Three: I love the feel of books. At Costco they set the books out in stacks on tables. I touched all of them, and felt that even though I hadn’t read them, the books were part of me. It was a good feeling.

Thing Four: Content I hope to provide soon:
Elizabeth I review
Millicent Min review
The Last Dragon review
Love in Shadow review

Thing Five: Spring break starts Friday! I will be traveling to Florida for most of it, but hope to find time in the car and at my lodgings for reading.

That is all.