“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Yesterday, this country said goodbye to an intelligent, compassionate, decent, hardworking President and First Lady. For me, the end of his administration is a profound loss, and I am deeply concerned about what this incoming administration might do to our country and the world.
This week I read a couple of articles about how reading was so important to President Obama during his time in office. How wonderful to have a president who found both guidance and solace in reading during the most difficult job in the world!
So today, instead of watching hours of inauguration coverage of a man who relishes the attention of others above all else, I am going to READ. I’m not hiding my head in the sand. I will be very active in my responses to these new challenges for all Americans. But I will follow the lead of My president, Barak Obama, and read for guidance and solace at this very sad time.
2016 has been a good reading year for me. I was “back to my books,” so to speak, and that’s a lovely feeling! Here are the covers to my top ten 5-star reviews on my Goodreads challenge page this year. Although I really enjoyed all of the books I read, my favorite of the year was one I have read numerous times in my life: The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I will tell you the story of WHY it was my favorite in a separate post.
I hope that you enjoyed your 2016 reading. Happy New Year to each of you and best wishes for a wonderful reading year in 2017!
Three-and-a-half years ago, I retired from teaching. I am enjoying my retirement very much. My husband and I love getting up each morning and “setting our own agenda,” as I have said numerous times on this blog. But there are days when I miss (very much!) my students and colleagues and the world of my classroom. Reading together was the most joyous part of my teaching experience, so I’d like to share with you this post I wrote in November 2012 about the reading we were sharing and loving in my 2nd Grade classroom.
FALL SHARED READING
Our Reading Rug…where we sit to share all these wonderful books.
When I say that I haven’t been reading very much recently, it’s not exactly true. My own reading has slowed down for many reasons, but I am still reading every day and going through books like crazy! Here’s why…
This is my 27th year of teaching, and this year I have the world’s sweetest class of Second Graders. They love to read and love listening to stories, so we are compiling quite a list of books shared (our Read Aloud books). We have a Read Aloud time every morning after recess, and it’s amazing how many books you can read in just 20-30 minutes a day! Here’s our list of the books we have shared during our Read Aloud time on our Reading Rug so far this year:
- Strega Nona, by Tomie dePaola
- Strega Nona: Her Story, by Tomie dePaola
- Big Anthony: His Story, by Tomie dePaola
- Strega Nona’s Magic Lessons, by Tomie dePaola
- Big Anthony and the Magic Ring, by Tomie dePaola
- Strega Nona Meets Her Match, by Tomie dePaola
- Strega Nona Takes a Vacation, by Tomie dePaola
- Strega Nona’s Harvest, by Tomie dePaola
- The Sunflower House, by Eve Bunting
- Tomie dePaola, by Eric Braun
- Mercy Watson to the Rescue, by Kate DiCamillo
- Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, by Kate DiCamillo
- Akimbo and the Elephants, by Alexander McCall Smith
- Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen
- Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
- Blueberries For Sal, by Robert McCloskey
- Squanto and the Pilgrims, by A.M. Anderson
- Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson (Thanks, Mrs. Lux, for reading this to us at our Halloween party!)
- Gooney Bird Greene, by Lois Lowry
- Catwings, by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Catwings Return, by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings, by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Jane on her Own: A Catwings Tale, by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Currently reading: Helen Keller, by Margaret Davidson
October just flew by this year and here it is November already. As the days grow shorter and darker, I spend more time reading and listening to audiobooks while doing winter knitting projects. Right now I am reading a number of different things. My current library book is Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler. This is my first time reading her work and I’ve found that I really like her writing. My current Audible listen is J.K. Rowling’s The Silkworm. My current Kindle book is Rules For a Successful Book Club (The Book Lovers, #2), by Victoria Connelly. And a friend loaned me another Kindle book to add to my annual holiday reading project. It’s called A Cornish Christmas, by Lily Graham. There’s no shortage of books to light up these shorter darkening days!
I must admit that I am an escapist. The national election scene in September and October has been an awful place to hang out. Yes, I watched all three presidential debates. Yes, I did my homework on local issues and candidates. And yes, I have voted. But it all left me feeling breathless, cold and shaken as if the Dementors have been hovering nearby!
So my reading list for September and October reflects my need to close out that crazy ugly world of politics and find more uplifting places in which to spend my time. I search for those kinds of books and appreciate so much the ones I find with kindness in them.
There. A kind word, a word of encouragement or admiration, could shift the heaviest, most recalcitrant baggage.
~from Precious and Grace, by Alexander McCall Smith
So, my September and October escapes…
January was an enjoyable reading month for me — I read seven books and also celebrated my own birthday as well as the 9th anniversary of the birth of this blog. As usual, my reading was all over the place, from Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road, to Anthony Trollope’s The Warden, and each of the 7 books was a good choice for me.
As far as reading challenges go, I usually sign up for a few starting in January, but this year I’ve decided to keep those commitments to a minimum and just focus on my own reading. So I am focusing on my own Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge, planning on reading at least 75 books, and I joined Emma Watson’s Goodreads feminist book club, “Our Shared Shelf,” and will read the 12 books she chooses for this year. Also, my Mom and I continue our daily phone chats, mostly talking about books, so my reading is strong and healthy and off to a good start for the year. It continues to bring me great joy.
So it is goodbye to January and hello to February which includes an extra day this year for extra reading!
Here are my January reads:
My sweet life-long reading buddy, always-reading Mom, age 96, didn’t want any gifts for Christmas. Really, what she didn’t want was to receive things that would take up any space in her small apartment. But since she loves to read, and loves her Kindle, I didn’t have any problem coming up with a very appropriate-for-her gift! I gave her a small library of Kindle books to keep her busy for the confining winter months when she can’t walk to her library (next door) or even her post office (also next door). So I sent her a Kindle book each day from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve. I tried to pick exactly the right book each time, and I think I got pretty close. Here are the books I sent her for winter reading.
A few weeks ago I received an email from my beloved KCLS (King County Library System). They have started up a new program called “Book Match.” You fill out a short questionnaire about your reading interests, listing favorite books and authors. Then, a librarian reviews that information and hand picks some books you might enjoy, and sends you your own personalized reading recommendations!
Yesterday, I received the nicest email from librarian, Michelle, who told me she enjoyed putting my list together, named the list “Excellent Stories, Excellent Writers”, and hoped I would like the recommendations. I was thrilled with the list and with what felt like having my very own librarian! Here’s a screen shot of her recommendations. I’m going to enjoy reading these selections!
Half of my June was delightfully spent traveling. We enjoyed a lovely family get-together, a time to celebrate my inspirational reading Mom, who will be turning 96 in August. The family spent a week reminiscing, laughing, walking, visiting a museum and a special library, eating at as many different restaurants as we could, watching sports and fun mini-series on TV, and talking about books. I’m always interested in what others are reading, and I particularly love to hear what my family recommends. Here are a few of the books that were being read or that we discussed: