Archive for March, 2007

Spring Break Reading

It is “Spring Break” in Yuma. My husband is off work for the week, the county fair is here, and even storytime is canceled at the library this Friday! Spring Break has always been a time of great reading for me. Here are some recent Spring Break reads.

Spring Break, 2004:
I was living in the North and came down to Arizona to spend time with my now-husband. I read Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dumphrey by Marjorie Peterson Haddix and Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen. But the big book of that Spring Break–the one I couldn’t put down–is A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. Swoon, swoon, swoon! Although I sobbed through the end of the book, it is one of my all-time faves. It’s one of those rare books that made me laugh and cry! I enjoy reading books about India, and this is my favorite Indian novel.

Spring Break, 2005:
This break was a glorious one for reading. I didn’t feel well for the first couple days of the week and spent hours in bed reading The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. That’s not my usual type of book, for sure, but I really enjoyed it and sometimes think about it still. Then, I read a flurry of children’s/YA lit from my school library: Tangerine by Edward Bloor, So B. It by Sarah Weeks, Zigzag by Ellen Wittlinger, Deathwatch by Robb White, and Bucking the Sarge by Christopher Paul Curtis. I finished the week with The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and, finally, another all-time favorite, LUV LUV LUV, In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez.

Spring Break, 2006:
I read one big book: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. A great book. I definitely couldn’t put that one down. I was eight months pregnant at the time, and it was a perfect “settle in and read” book.


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I Love Names!

Susan at Chicken Spaghetti, who is a famous blogger, tagged ME, who is definitely not a famous blogger, with this meme. Whoa, thanks Susan! The object of the meme is to name five non-kidlit blogs I read. Well, I’m going to break the rules and only name one. But, it’s just so awesome. Without further ado:

I stumbled upon this blog when I was pregnant with my son. I’ve been reading it WAY longer than any other blog. Laura Wattenburg, its writer, really analyzes names and her posts are SO interesting. Recently she has written about names that travel well (like, what names can be pronouced all over the world) and whether to “match” sibling names (like, Sarah and Katherine match; Sarah and Jayden do not). Unfortunately, Laura only posts once a week or so, but the comments section is very active.

bookcover.jpgOh, and guess what! Laura has written a book. Here’s what she says about it:

Each listing in the book is a complete snapshot of a name’s history, usage and style. You’ll find a graph of the name’s popularity over time, lists of alternate versions and nicknames, style categories for further reading, and some candid commentary from a writer who has spent thousands of hours studying names. You’ll also get the key feature of my “buyer’s guide” dream: a list of alternative suggestions with a matching style and feeling, for boys and girls alike.

Here are a couple of example “snapshots.”


Popularity: #584
Style: Celtic, Mythological
Variants: Rhian

Sisters: Guinevere, Siobhan, Aeron, Scarlett, Bronwyn
Brothers: Rowan, Donovan, Evander, Griffin, Emmanuel
Rhiannon was a goddess in Welsh mythology. Her name (hree-AN-un) generally wasn’t used by humans until the past century, which contributes to its romantic essence. The Fleetwood Mac song about a shadowy, elusive Rhiannon reinforces the image.


Popularity: #18
Style: Biblical, Timeless
Nicknames: Jim, Jamie, Jem,
Jaime, Jimmy

Sisters: Mary, Elizabeth, Anne, Camilly, Charlotte
Brothers: Robert, William, Thomas, Philip, John
James is one of the strongest of all names, an elegant, slashing verbal sword. Jim, on the other hand, is a laid-back sort of guy. And this is a name where you have to pick sides — if a guy is called Jim, he’s always, only Jim. If you want just an occational nickname try Jamie, or go the initial route à la James “JT” Taylor, or James “JC” Penney.

The Baby Name Wizard is one of my “can’t live without” books. I have it in the bathroom, and I’ll often crack it open (pun intended) to quickly read about a few names. I bet this blog would interest all literary types because most of us are word types, and names are just fancy words. Check out Baby Name Wizard!

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Help! I’m Bookless!

I usually go only about an hour, tops, between the time I finish one book and the time I choose my next. Usually, I begin reading my “new” book shortly after I finish my “old” book. But, help! I finished In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson late yesterday afternoon, and I haven’t touched a new book since!

You see, I’m in an adult book club, which is meeting (rumor is) next week. I’m meeting a friend for lunch, and she is letting me borrow this month’s selection (The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, in case you’re interested). Our lunch date isn’t until 12:30, so right now I have nothing to read! It’s not a good feeling. Having a “reading now” book anchors me. Without one, I’m adrift!

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Recommendation: Going Back to Bisbee

buyafriendabook.com081651289201_bo2204203200_pisitb-dp-500-arrowtopright45-64_ou01_aa240_sh20_sclzzzzzzz_.jpgA big thank you to the fine folks at One Book, One Arizona! Without them, I never would have read Going Back to Bisbee by Richard Shelton. And I love this book! Thanks to Going Back to Bisbee, I’m all aflutter with excitement over Arizona history and Southwest lit. This book even inspired me to read more non-fiction.

I said earlier that Going Back to Bisbee has a little bit of everything. Yes, ma’am, it does. Local plant and animal life isn’t really my bag, but I didn’t dislike even that part of the book. The part where Shelton describes his experiences as an English teacher (yay!) in late 1950s Bisbee is very interesting to me. But what I really love about this book is how Wild West mining town Bisbee comes alive. As I’ve said many times on this blog, I LOVE the turn-of-the-century. I particularly like how Shelton contrasts the rigid morals of the family that owned Bisbee’s mining company with the “sins” of Bisbee–its saloons and whorehouses. Good stuff.

This passage from page 204 of Going Back to Bisbee sums up why I love the Wild West:

I wonder how many teams careened over the edge of that one [mountain] and wound up in the gulch hundreds of feet below in a tangle of harness, dead animals, and human bodies.

Horses. Violence. A gulch. Yes, I’m wildly enthusiastic about this One Book, One Arizona choice. And, I’m thrilled to say, that Richard Shelton himself will be in Yuma on April 25. A team of wild horses couldn’t drag me away!

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Read To Me Update

For the last month, I’ve been working on Jennifer’s “Read To Me” mission with my 10-month-old son. I wrote about my goals here.

I’ve been good about reading to T in the morning–mainly thanks to this Read To Me mission. We read together most mornings. I can’t say we read 30 minutes every day, but some days we do. And almost every day we read for at least 20 minutes. Grade=B

I’ve been very good about reading to T each time we go to Barnes and Noble. My favorite book to read to him there is a GIGANTIC version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (sorry, I can’t find a link). Grade=A

My husband does read to our son. Every Thursday evening I have bell choir practice, and he watches T. I know they read together most Thursdays. I have recruited my husband to join us in our reading from time to time, but not as often as I should. I definitely need to work toward more family reading time. This was my best goal, and I did the worst at it. Boo. But I WILL keep trying! Grade=C

Overall Grade: B

Thanks so much, Jennifer for starting this mission!

On a related note: we have begun attending storytime at the public library! We’ve gone the past two Fridays. I was concerned that 10 months might be too young for storytime, but T has done great so far! We go to the “little kids” time, obviously, which includes a lot of singing and dancing. T enjoys bouncing to the music, watching the other kids, being held in Mommy’s lap, and looking at the librarian while she reads (even if he doesn’t understand many words yet!). I am proud of this new routine in our lives!

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Am I Hip? Heck, Yeah!

This isn’t really about reading (gasp!), but it is about blogging:

This week I talked to my brother, who is a college student. I asked him if he reads my blog, and he said yes but not in the last couple of weeks.
I said, “So you know how good it is and how I update it a lot.”
He said, “Yeah, you’re one of the few people who still updates their blog.”
I said, “Oh, so the fad is over amongst the college kids . . . maybe that makes me more hip since I update my blog.”
He said, “I think the hip thing now is not to update your blog.”
I said, “You know that part of Entertainment Weekly, where they say “In, Out, Five Minutes Ago?”
He said he did, and according to him:
In: Letting your blog die
Out: Starting a blog
Five Minutes Ago: Updating your blog

Whatever, Mr. 21-year-old. I know I’m hip to the max!

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Going Back to Bisbee

081651289201_bo2204203200_pisitb-dp-500-arrowtopright45-64_ou01_aa240_sh20_sclzzzzzzz_.jpgToday I started reading Going Back to Bisbee by Richard Shelton. And, guess what, I love it! I didn’t know how I’d feel about this book, but it’s the One Book, One Arizona choice this year, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve lived here in Arizona for almost four years, and I want to read more Arizona/Southwest literature–to get to know my adopted state a little better.

I’m 50 pages in, and Going Back to Bisbee has a little of everything so far. The writer tells some of his life story, some descriptions of the land and plant life, and some Wild West history. Very, very good. I recommend this book to all Arizonans and anyone interested in the Southwest.

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