A Seven-Year-Old

celebrations

Yes, my Grandboy turned seven at the end of December, but he’s not the seven-year-old I’m talking about. No, I’m talking about this blog which is Seven years old today!

January 27th, 2007… I was on a medical leave from my teaching position, with time on my hands to enjoy my new Grandboy, read lots of books, (and talk about those books with my Mom over the phone) and also explore the new-to-me world of book blogging…

I am a very shy and private person, but I was intrigued by the book community discussions and the creativity of those blogs. So, as another way of sharing books with my Mom, this very shy person started a book blog and began to write about what I read and how my reading impacts my life.

I immediately discovered that the very best thing about the book blogging world is the people!  Blogging friends and authors are cherished people in my life now, even though most of us have not met each other in person yet, although I have been very fortunate to be able to actually meet a few of them. [Kristen, it was so fun to meet with that group of Seattle-area bloggers way back when. I love being able to picture Z when you write about him, although my mental picture of him is of a little boy and he has grown so much since then!] This blogging world has also inspired and expanded my reading, encouraging me to read beyond my usual patterns and explore other books worlds. It has all enriched my life tremendously.

The book blogging world has changed a lot in seven years. I remember when Twitter arrived, and I was intimidated by the very personal contact the bloggers were beginning to have with each other. My shyness factor kept me away from that world for a long time. Now, I enjoy those more personal and informal communications about books and life. But I still love sitting down and writing a blog post and exploring how a book intertwines with my life.

I am also “older and wiser” than I was seven years ago. A few years ago, after a series of sad family happenings, I stopped blogging for 15 months. Part of that silence was about grieving, but the other part of the silence had to do with privacy and trust. Unfortunately, I had learned first-hand that the internet can be used for malicious purposes or to present a completely fabricated view of a person’s life. It was a traumatic experience, and it took me a long time to come to terms with the vulnerability I felt for myself and my family by being online.

But I really missed blogging and the interactions with my blogging friends. I finally decided that the best thing I could do for myself was to return to my blog and continue to write about my life — with honesty and emotional integrity. That’s what really matters afterall.

So my blogging journey continues and I celebrate seven years of sharing my book life with you. Thank you, dear readers, for stopping by my blog occasionally to read my thoughts. And a special thank you to those of you who didn’t give up on me during my silence and warmly welcomed me back. You all mean the world to me!

Thank-you-post-it

A Reading Year

woman_reading

2013 has been a “return to reading” year for me. Sometimes life hits you with multiple punches at the same time…the “old one-two,” as my Dad used to say. And three years ago, my family was hit by a combination punch that left me emotionally unable to focus well enough to read [or blog] for well over a year. But when 2013 began, I was delighted to realize that my reading focus had returned. It’s been a wonderful, enjoyable year of books for me, and it’s interesting to step aside for a moment and look back on my year’s reading journey.

Some Quick Stats:

  • 90 books read this year (hoping to finish up a couple of ‘currently reading’ books before ringing in the New Year
  • 21 audiobooks (listening-while-knitting also made for quite a few FOs). And for comparison, last year, I only listened to 3 audiobooks in the entire year!
  • 27 Kindle books (I unashamedly love reading on my Kindle because I can enlarge the type, read in the dark, and download thousands of books from the library!)
  • 16 classics. I’ve always loved reading the classics, and reading those 16 books filled me with a wonderful feeling of “returning to myself.”

Favorite Series:  I am loving reading Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series. And I also loved reading Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwick series!

Favorite Non-Fiction: The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown.

Favorite Classic: Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury.

Favorite Book of the Year: The Morville Year, by Katharine Swift. This was the first book I read in 2013. As I read this book, I created a “visual book review” on Pinterest, with photos of all the plants, people, places mentioned in this wonderful story of an English garden. For me, it was a lovely project that combined my love of reading, gardening, and learning!

2013 also brought more major life changes for us, but this time they were the most positive of changes. My husband and I retired this year, and thus, there is more time for joyfully reading on my front porch as I take breaks from the garden. We’ll see where my reading journey takes me in 2014!

path

Celebrating December

Virtual_Advent

December has arrived and I am enjoying this holiday season. Thanksgiving weekend was fun with the Grandboy, who helped us put up the Christmas tree, adding his own creative “ornaments” — some of his books! (A boy after my own heart!)  I’m knitting as fast as I can to finish a couple of scarves for special people in my life. And I’m reading as many holiday books as I can, something I’ve never done before! I am also participating in Kelly & Marg’s Virtual Advent Tour, a lovely blogging community holiday tradition. Celebrating December!

book_tree

On Having Time to Smell the Roses

the_soul_of_the_rose

My husband and I retired in July of this year. We are slowly adjusting to this new stage of life, and are starting to realize that we actually have  time to do some of the things we couldn’t do before. And we have time to get back to some things that we left off because of the frenetic pace of our work lives. For me, that means that I am now able to get back to knitting projects, long walks, some gardening, and the kind of relaxed reading I did before the pace of life got crazy on us. It feels like a reward for all that hard work! It feels like “coming home” again…to myself.

Yesterday, I spent some time looking at the books on our numerous bookshelves. As we prepared to move into our new home in July, we seriously culled our collection of books. We donated almost a thousand books to our local library…but we still have too many books! The ones we still have, however, were worth the pain of packing and loading into a U-Haul, and carting 220 miles to our new home. And it’s a wonderful collection of books to read!

me_reading-sm

So I decided to make a list of books I’d like to read or re-read now that I actually have some serious reading time. I used to love reading the classics, so I’ll start with a list of 50 Classics that have been patiently waiting for me on our bookshelves, and I will put a link to this list on the sidebar of my blog. When I finish a book, I’ll provide a link to my review.

What a delight to have some time to ‘stop and smell the roses’…and, in my case, to get back to more reading!

My 50 Classics List:

Alcott, Louisa May Eight Cousins
Alcott, Louisa May Rose in Bloom
Allende, Isabel The House of the Spirits
Alvarez, Julia In the Time of Butterflies
Adichie, Chimamanga Ngozi Half of a Yellow Sun
Austen, Jane Persuasion
Austen, Jane Sense and Sensibility
Baum, L. Frank The Sea Fairies
Berry, Wendell Hannah Coulter
Bowen, Elizabeth The House in Paris
Bradbury, Ray Dandelion Wine
Bronte, Anne The Tenant of Wildfeld Hall
Bronte, Charlotte The Professor
Buck, Pearl S. Sons
Buck, Pearl S. A House Divided
Burnett, Francis Hodgson The Land of the Blue Flower
Cather, Willa Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chandler, Raymond The Big Sleep
Chesterton, G.K. The Innocence of Father Brown
Collette Claudine’s House
Conrad, Joseph The Secret Agent
Dahl, Roald The BFG
Dickens, Charles Three Ghost Stories
Dinesen, Isak Winter’s Tales
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
du Maurier, Daphne My Cousin Rachel
Durrell, Gerald Marrying Off Mother, and other stories
Gibson, William Neuromancer
Godden, Rumer Coromandel Sea Change
Graham, Kenneth The Wind in the Willows
Greene, Graham Travels with my Aunt
Grey, Zane The Rainbow Trail
Gunther, John Death Be Not Proud
Hardy, Thomas A Pair of Blue Eyes
Holtby, Winifred South Riding
Hudson, Henry Green Mansions
Jewett, Sarah Orne Country of the Pointed Firs
Kipling, Rudyard The Jungle Book
Kundera, Milan The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Mahfouz, Naguib Arabian Nights and Days
Malraux, Andre Man’s Fate
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia One Hundred Years of Solitude
Pyle, Howard The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
Pym, Barbara Some Tame Gazelle
Pym, Barbara No Fond Return of Love
Remarque, Erich Maria All Quiet on the Western Front
Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye
Sandburg, Carl Rootabaga Stories
Smith, Betty A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Twain, Mark The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

NOTE:  I noticed that many of my blogging friends have lists of Classics on their blogs, too. Investigating, I discovered The Classics Club, and since this list is right in line with that self-challenge, I will provide a link to that site even though I haven’t joined up yet.

classicsclub-1
.

Overwhelmed, but still reading…

fast_motion

Life in fast motion…

My life right now is an interesting combination of a rushing blur of activity interspersed with stop-motion moments of beautiful, crystal clarity. My husband and I are preparing to retire at the end of this month and move to our beautiful new old home in Oregon. Making that happen is an enormous undertaking while finishing up our careers, selling our condo, and saying “goodbye” to dear friends and colleagues. OVERWHELMED is an understatement. But it’s all good, [our mantra throughout this time of stress] and we are excited and looking forward to beginning this new stage of life.

So, although life is crazy-busy right now, I am still reading (little bits at a time), and listening, and reading aloud to my Second Graders. Here are the reading delights of the last month:

Reading Synchronicity

This is what I love about reading and blogging… Last night I finished another Barbara Pym book, A Glass of Blessings. I am enjoying reading all her books this year in celebration of her centenary year. The title of this book comes from a poem, which I had never read, by the English poet, George Herbert. So this morning, with a cup of coffee in hand, I looked up the poem and read it so that I could further understand why Barbara Pym named her book by that particular phrase from his poem. Then, out of curiosity, I looked up George Herbert himself, because I am woefully uneducated about many of the English poets. And I found out…that today is his BIRTHDAY!  Another good example of what I call “reading synchronicity!”

enjoying_reading

Robin:

A post from my teaching blog…

Originally posted on Photo-a-Day in 2nd Grade:

This week the entire school has enjoyed another Read Across America celebration.  At a random time each day, the beginning of our school song is played over the loud speaker. That is the signal to “Drop Everything And Read!”  We love this! The kids immediately head to a comfy spot somewhere in the room, and this teacher quickly pulls out her book, and we all start reading! It’s a 15-minute reading break that we all love.

DEARDEAR2

View original