Early last year I re-read one of my favorite books, Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. It was delightful to revisit this old favorite, and I discovered that the landscapes of Grahame’s timeless story fit very well with the landscapes I see around me here in Oregon. I have some favorite spots that I pass by every day, and I’m sure they are inhabited by Mole and Ratty, Mr. Toad, and Badger. It keeps this beloved book close to my heart on a daily basis.
This morning I celebrate the first day of Spring by once again thinking of that delightful book which starts out with Mole doing some Spring cleaning. I’m sure that many of you, especially my friends enduring that endless East Coast winter this year, are also feeling that ‘spirit of divine discontent and longing’ on this first day of Spring. May your day be filled with wonderful stories, beautiful blossoms, perhaps some spring cleaning, and respite from those Winter storms! Happy Spring, friends!
The mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was going in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.
Illustration by Arthur Rackham.
Oh joy! Today I replaced my old clunky laptop with a snazzy new one! I am hoping that this newfangled machine will empower me to return to my blogging more often. My old, slow, very outdated computer made for easy excuses NOT to post. It’s heavenly to have a newer, faster, sweet machine! And I look forward to more frequent book conversations with you all!
Photo by Frank Hurley
January 1915. One hundred years ago, Ernest Shackleton‘s beautiful ship, Endurance, became completely locked in the ice of Antarctica. The story of this extraordinary expedition and the survival of the entire crew, despite being stranded for two years in one of the harshest environments in the world, is a fascinating story. All the men survived that experience because of the phenomenal leadership skills of Ernest Shackleton.
When I taught 6th grade many years ago, my teammates and I put together a January unit of study on the Shackleton story. We used Jennifer Armstrong’s book, Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, as the basis of the unit, and the 6th graders became as fascinated by the story as we (the teachers) were!, It was a unit in which we focused on some very important life lessons–lessons and discussions about leadership, compassion, hope, and endurance.
So in the middle of January, I stopped everything I was doing and revisited that story in honor of my hero. I loved sharing that book and story with my students, and, if you haven’t read anything about Sir Ernest Shackleton and his ill-fated ship, Endurance, I urge you to pick up one of the many books about this expedition and discover why this man is one of my heroes. There are quite a few books to choose from, but I’m very fond of the little, nicely written book I used to introduce him to young people. It is also available as an audio download through Audible.
Today is my birthday, and this week is also marks the 8th anniversary of starting this reading blog. I’m celebrating becoming an official senior citizen (according to the Social Security office) quietly today because I’ve been fighting a mean cold all week. The day will definitely be filled with books, however!
And I celebrate my 8 years of blogging, quietly, too. I’ve been an off-and-on blogger for the last few years, disappearing for months at a time while I focus on life happenings. But I return and check in, and share what I’m reading more often now. And I so appreciate my friends in the blogging world (hugs to each of you!), and all of you who visit me and comment on my sporadic posts. Thank you so much for being part of my reading life!
Goodbye, Mr. Chips, by James Hilton… What a gem, this little book! It perfectly describes the life and heart of a teacher, the joy of learning and of teaching, the love that goes into guiding/teaching the younger generations, and the simple but profound realization that the job of teacher is not a job but a calling.
While perusing the hundreds of different reading groups on Goodreads recently, I found one that called out to me: Travel the World in Books, hosted by three bloggers, Tanya at Mom’s Small Victories, Becca at I’m Lost in Books, and Savvy Working Gal.
The Goal of this challenge is to: “Travel the world in books, of course! Expand your horizons and read books set in or written by authors from countries other than the one you live in. Visit as many different countries in books as you wish.” The Time Frame for participation is open ended, which suits me well. And, best of all, they are having a January read-a-long of Barbara Kingsolver’s, The Poisonwood Bible, a book I’ve long had on my TBR list. I couldn’t resist, so have signed on to participate in both the challenge and the January read-a-long.
My own goal with joining this challenge is to expand my reading horizons, and enjoy some more of the world’s wonderful literature, which is something I love to do. I’ll compile a list of books, as I go, and will keep track of them under my Challenges header. I am looking forward to my reading travels this year!
I’ve always been an early riser, but one of the pleasures of retirement?… I’ve replaced that early morning get-ready-for-work rush with my quiet cocoon of beauty — filled with words and yarn. Knitting while listening to an audiobook. What an enjoyable way to start a day! This morning I started a new knitting project with this silk yarn (a gift for a beautiful friend) while listening to Barbara Kingsolver’s gorgeous writing in The Poisonwood Bible.
My Dad, fourth from the left…
My Mom told me that during World War II, my Dad always carried a paperback book in his pocket. Although I knew my Dad was an avid reader, I had no idea what that book in his pocket really meant until I read Molly Guptill Manning‘s, When Books Went to War. It is a well-researched book and a very interesting story. From the publisher’s description:
When America entered World War II in 1941, we faced an enemy that had banned and burned over 100 million books and caused fearful citizens to hide or destroy many more. Outraged librarians launched a campaign to send free books to American troops and gathered 20 million hardcover donations. In 1943, the War Department and the publishing industry stepped in with an extraordinary program: 120 million small, lightweight paperbacks, for troops to carry in their pockets and their rucksacks, in every theater of war.
The A.S.E. (Armed Service Editions) became a highly successful program, and the story of what those books meant to the troops is quite fascinating. Anyone who loves books will be interested in this story and especially interested in the list of books published as ASEs.
Photo from Molly Guptill Manning’s website. Click on the photo to visit her “museum” of photos.
How quickly, in one instant, years of happy life become only memories!
A Bridge for Passing, by Pearl S. Buck, was an interesting end for my 2014 reading year. Buck is a favorite author of mine, and I read her books slowly, absorbing her words and wisdom, enjoying the beauty of her prose.
I hadn’t heard of this book before, but when I saw the description of it, I knew it was my next read by her. One of my all time favorites of her books is The Big Wave, a story about life and death and what it means to be Japanese. I loved sharing it with my 6th grade students when I was teaching and we were studying the Pacific Rim countries. The discussions were so powerful. A Bridge for Passing is a memoir of the time when Buck was in Japan for the filming of The Big Wave. She had written the screenplay. During that time, she received word of the death of her husband, Richard Walsh. Her experiences in Japan at such a sad and difficult time provided solace and perspective, and became a “bridge” into her new life alone without her beloved husband. What an interesting experience to read this poignant book about grief and renewal, with its fascinating connection to another book I love!