Celebrate the Small Things – August 16th

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It’s time to Celebrate the Small Things! Have you been checking off your to-do list? Making progress with your latest project? Share your success with us!

I’ve filled two bags of children’s books to be donated. My kids have outgrown some books, so now we have a little more room on the bookshelf.  I also donated a large bag of children’s clothing. Kids grow out of clothes so quickly!

Any small things you are celebrating this week?

A to Z Challenge – V for Voracious Readers

Library books in black and white

I know many voracious readers who give me great book recommendations. I keep those books in mind, but I have to prioritize which ones I will read next. I enjoy some variety when coming up with my to-read list. So here’s where you come in. Tell me about a good book or two you’ve read recently. Or maybe mention an author whose work you love.

Here are my picks. Wild and Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. In Wild, Strayed writes about her experiences hiking the Pacific Coast Trail after dealing with the death of her mother. Tiny, Beautiful Things is a collection of advice columns Strayed wrote as Dear Sugar from therumpus.net . The letters and responses are heartbreaking, honest, and encompass a range of issues and life stages.

 So voracious readers, read any good books lately?

Four Short Stories Challenge – Week #2 Check-In

Writing

 

My short story challenge is in full swing. I’m halfway done with meeting my goals, and I’m enjoying the process. The first draft to short story # 2 is complete. Each time I attempt a new short story, I learn something new or remind myself of some good advice I can apply to my writing.

During a jog last week, I had time to really think about my story so far and figure out how to best revise it. The first scene could be cut. Now I have a more exciting place to start. I was getting to know the characters and discovered that one of them could narrate the story well. She’s been keeping a secret from her friends, so it would be interesting to see how she deals with her relationships with that secret. I’ll try this out to see if the story works. If not, I’ll keep experimenting with the point of view.

 

Since I’m focusing on short story writing this month, I want to take apart some stories to explore how they are constructed.  I’ll continue reading The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories by Aimee Bender. Her writing is unique and fascinating to me. I’m excited to read This is How You Lose Her, the latest short story collection by Junot Diaz. I also want to reread some favorite and memorable short stories. There are so many good ones out there.

What are your favorite short stories?

Are you writing a short story? Where are you in the writing process?

Photo courtesy of jjpacres

For the Love of (Audio) Books

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Photo Courtesy of Michael Casey

Do you have many books you want to read, but little time for them all? I manage to have some reading time at night and a few minutes here and there during the day. But having time to physically sit down and read is at a premium. That’s why I’ve given audio books a try. Here’s what I’ve found about audiobooks:

Audio books are convenient. You can listen to audio books in your car, on your computer, and even on your iPod. You can pick up right where you left off and get back into the story.

Audio books are time-efficient. You can enjoy an audio book while washing dishes, folding laundry, and even exercising. Just go about your usual routine and listen to a book. You’ll be able to catch up on your reading list.

Audio books are available for free at the library. I am thankful for the library providing so many free services, and audio books are at the top of the list. When you check out a book, you are allowed to upload the files to your computer or MP3 player. (Just be sure to delete it when you are done.) Could it be any easier or cheaper?

Services like librivox.org also provide free audio files of works published before 1923. Their readers are volunteers.

Audio books give a new dimension to your reading experience. There are some audio book narrators/readers who bring a certain liveliness to the book. I remember a few really great ones and that made me enjoy the book even more. Books with various narrators like The Help and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao had exceptional readers that pulled the story together well.

I love print books and hope that they will always be around, but I’ve also found that audio books serve a purpose for me.

Have you listened to audio books? Any favorites? 

What is Your Favorite Children’s Book?

Photo Credit: Meg Fish

Great books inspire us, and children’s books are no exception. Over the years, I’ve learned about the many talented authors who create timeless, memorable children’s stories that are near and dear to people of all ages. While some books serve a purpose in teaching particular lessons, some of these books have this magic quality that makes kids want to hear them again and again.

The beauty of picture books is that they get to the point quickly, and their messages can be thought-provoking because they touch upon many deep issues and topics. To this day, I can’t read The Giving Tree without shedding a tear. I love this story so much. Such a simple tale about the complexities of love, relationships, and gratitude.

Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary were some of my favorite authors. They wrote with honesty about growing up, so their stories were easy to relate to. I want to revisit Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret because it brings up many quintessential issues of adolescence. I might encourage my daughter to read it when the right time comes.

I think everyone has at least one childhood book that moved them in a way no other book has before. What was that book for you?

Do you ever reread children’s books you once loved and see them in a different light as an adult? What surprised you?

Maurice Sendak: The Man Behind the Wild Things

It was sad to hear of Maurice Sendak’s passing a few weeks ago. He graced the world with Where the Wild Things Are along with many other books and illustrations. I’ve read Where the Wild Things Are to my children dozens of times because they enjoy it so much. I’ve seen some of his work in Chicken Soup with Rice and the Little Bear series, but I hardly knew much about his more recent work and personality in general.

A friend recommended I listen to the recent Fresh Air segment about Sendak. I quickly uploaded it on my ipod to check it out. Fresh Air compiled highlights from four Sendak interviews by Terry Gross. Sendak was cranky, honest, and sentimental. His painful family history and words of wisdom made these highlights quite fascinating.

Listen to the segment and tell me what you think. I haven’t listened to the original interviews, but they are also posted on that page.

I started searching a bit more for some interviews and info about Sendak. In January, Stephen Colbert interviewed him. Check out these clips— part 1, part 2, and the uncensored clips. They are hilarious!

Listening to him helped me understand and appreciate his work even more. I do hope you take some time to listen to these interviews and take a look at some of his work if you haven’t already.

Are you familiar with Sendak’s work? Any favorites?

Was he what you expected in the interviews?

Off The Shelf 2012

http://bookishardour.com/off-the-shelf/

Reading continues to be a big part of my life. Even with a busy household, I’ve been able to squeeze reading in. This year I want to get to some of the unread books that have been on my shelf for far too long. Here is my list:

1. An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender

2. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories by Aimee Bender

3. The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead

4. Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead

5. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

6. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

I’m keeping the list short since I also read a book club selection each month. I also want to leave room for audiobooks and recommended titles that come up. So many books, so little time!

What are  some books on your shelf you want to finally read this year? 

**Be sure to check out the Off the Shelf Challenge and join in!**