Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Resolution Challenge 2014

New Year's Resolution Challenge 2014 - Short term, Through January 31 (hosted by Joy's Book Blog)

"The goal of this challenge is to build a community around reading books to support our New Year’s Resolutions so that we can share book ideas and encourage each other in our pursuits.

Whether you are resolved to apply to graduate school, write that novel, or eat healthier, there are books that will help. The New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge is to read 1 to 4 books that will stimulate action on your goal.

Here are the levels:

Resolved: 1 book / Determined: 2 books / Committed: 3 books / Passionate: 4 books
Ardent: 5 books /  Fervent: 6 books / Ridiculously Addicted: 7 books
(Thanks Bonnie for the three added levels)

I participated in this challenge last year and finished it primed and ready to achieve my goals. The new information helped and the motivation the challenge provided was wonderful, but . . . I ran into a few counter challenges that threw up unexpected roadblocks. Well, they weren't exactly unexpected but the amount of interference they caused was.

My chosen way of coping with life's ups and downs is gardening. I find it helpful when dealing with stress, anxiety, and all other things that come my way. For me, it is much needed therapy. Unfortunately, right now physical limitations are keeping me from it accomplishing even routine tasks, and the garden is in a sad state, so . . .

This year's plan is to get rid of, cut down, or learn to live with those challenges that seem here to stay, so that I might still move on with my life and achieve my goals. 

I will focus on shoring up my coping skills (and maintaining my access to garden therapy) as well as capitalizing on ways to improve my physical condition. This in turn will help me back onto the path toward my original goals.

That's the plan, anyway.

To further this goal, I plan to read:

1. Stories of Hope: Living in Serenity with Chronic Pain - Anonymous

I think it will help to to read stories of others who have not only found themselves in my position, but survived and flourished in spite of it.

This book is a part of a 12 step program. Some people swear by them and some people have no time for them. I, myself, feel that they can be helpful. It is not a book meant to be read cover to cover, rather it is meant to be used as support how and when needed. I, however, did devour it completely.

Positive attitudes and things that have actually worked for other folks did help to raise my spirits and reassure me that my future can also be full and happy.

I think that this may be the beginning of an ongoing relationship.

2. Healing Garden - Sue Minter
The author of this book also sees the garden as a place of healing and therapy, and shares ways to maximize these benefits.
I'm not sure what I expected this book to be, but whatever that was, it isn't.

For a small book, it is packed with history on healing and the garden, as well as the development of modern medicine with the contributions of all the various traditions.

The "healing" tackled in the book refers to much more than just the physical, covering the health of the whole body, mind, and spirit. It touches on different types of healing throughout the ages and the plants used, offering suggestions if you are interested in cultivation. But it contains so much more: sample healing gardens, lists of plants for different types of gardens, information on the plants, recipes, aromatherapy, lifestyle suggestions . . .

Oh! And it's full of beautiful pictures! 

This is not a self-help book, but it is a good reference book to keep around - and I will. It is a beautiful and useful garden book and will definitely be pressed into service in the future.

These last two books offer practical ways of helping me to overcome my physical limitations.

3. Accessible Gardening for People With Physical Disabilities: A Guide to Methods, Tools, and Plants - Janeen R. Adil 

This book is overflowing with practical information, tips, suggestions and ideas.

Until I opened it, I had come to view my possibilities in life as ever diminishing. But I've found that with careful thought, planning, and preparation, they can still be wide open - just different.

It will be a good book to keep handy for reference.

4. Accessible Gardening - Joann Woy

As you might guess, this book covers roughly the same territory as the last one. There was quit a bit of overlap between the two but the focus was different. In the last book the focus was outward on the environment and in this one it is more inward, on the individual. 

Don't get me wrong, the end result is the same, an environment adapted to your needs. But this book also helps the disabled gardener find ways to maximize her abilities.

I ran across this book in my library, and though it was not on my original list, it seemed so appropriate to tuck it in here.

29 Gifts - Cami Walker   

This is the journal of Ms Walker's journey to find a way of coping with her MS, and how it became a movement. She explains the 'prescription' she received and how it worked.

"The best way to solve your problems is to help another person." 
"By giving, you are focusing on what you have to offer others, inviting more abundance into your life."
"A closed hand cannot receive."

Forgive me, but I feel kind of like the cowardly lion here. "I do, I do believe."

It would be wonderful if everyone could experience the same positive results as Ms Walker, but . . . I will keep you posted.

So yeah,
I found a few more books that seem like they could help me toward my goal for this year. 

Get Fit Through Gardening - Jeffrey P. Restuccio

This little gem shows how to turn the movements of common gardening jobs into beneficial, strengthening motions - exercises.

It only takes a bit of tweaking.

I realize that this book wasn't on my original list, but it should have been.

Garden Your Way to Health and Fitness - Bunny Guinness & Jacqueline Knox  

This is an exercise book. It has absolutely beautiful pictures showing people working out in their gorgeous gardens.

Forgive me, but I have some doubts about whether those people actually do the work involved in keeping those wonderful gardens in tip top condition. I may be wrong . . . but there is no doubt that a struggling disabled woman would not be able to.

Did I mention that the pictures were lovely?

FINAL THOUGHTS 1/31/14: Well, here it is the end of the challenge. Have I succeeded in achieving my stated goals for the challenge? I believe so, yes. I now have a solid plan for moving forward. 

First, I was reminded through stories shared by others that there are many ways to cope with adversity, and that I need, at the risk of sounding too 'new agey,' to be still and listen to that steady inner voice that guides, listen to what my body is telling me, and ignore the taunting voice that always chides. I also learned that by changing my attitude and trying to focus on the positive I create more positive outcomes in my life, by being able to both recognize better alternatives and willing to try them.

The next revelation was actually practical advice, but solid examples and recommendations helped put it in a new perspective and make it more accessible. And that is, to change my responsibilities in a way that makes them easier to carry out. My garden is in a state of transformation right now. I am identifying the chores I can no longer accomplish, and finding different ways to do what needs to be done. Raised beds and soaker hoses are just two examples of accommodations that will benefit both my garden and myself. Changing the plants included in the garden will also make for a more successful and satisfying endeavor. Fussy, high maintenance divas are no longer welcome here.

Of course, some of this change requires the help of others for implementation, but contrary to what my chiding voice tells me, they really are happy to help me to be independent and succeed.

And of course, the last and possibly most important (and obvious, duh) suggestion was to make actual exercise a part of the program. I found suggestions of both exercises to prepare me for being in the garden, and ways to maximize the physical activity that gardening, itself, entails.

All in all, the increased physical activity, reduced stress, and positive approach to each day's challenges, can only enhance the quality of my life and aid in achieving my goals. There will still be bad days I'm sure, but at least I am no longer flailing aimlessly. Onward!

Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge 2014

Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge 2014 (hosted by: Opinions of a Wolf)

"Many reading challenges already exist in the book blogging community to address racism, sexism, and homophobia, but I could not find any to address the stigma faced by those suffering from mental illness.  . . .  I hope reading and reviewing books featuring characters struggling to deal with mental illness, whether their own or another person’s, will help remove the stigma faced on a daily basis by those with a mental illness."

The three levels are: Acquainted (4 books) Aware (8 books) Advocate (12 books)

This year I'm going for the Acquainted level at 4 books.

  1. Syndrome E (audiobook) - Franck Thilliez   {Review Link}
  2. Brain Bugs (audiobook) - Dean Buonomano   {Review Link}
  3. Monkey Mind (audiobook) - Daniel B. Smith    {Review Link}
  4. The Reason I Jump - Naoki Higashida     {Review Link}

The Nero Wolfe Not-so-Mini Challenge

The Nero Wolfe Not-so-Mini Challenge (hosted by: Becky's Book Reviews)
"I would love to encourage others to read some of these mysteries. And, of course, to watch some episodes of A Nero Wolfe Mystery.

How many books (or movies or TV shows or radio shows) are 'required' for the challenge? Well, that's up to you. ... Remember this is more than just a reading challenge. The TV show is QUITE ADDICTIVE. Extremely addictive.

Every participant can have their own goals for the challenge."

Start date: any time in 2011 End date: any time you want. You can sign up for the challenge by leaving a comment. (and Becky has helpfully listed all the novels as well as the radio and TV episodes.)

I have been a Nero Wolfe fan since I can remember, but I have read few of the novels. Perhaps this is the incentive I need to get them read.   

UPDATE 2/5/14: Gotta find em before I can read em, and that is actually turning out to be more difficult than I thought. I will, however, keep plugging away.

The Nero Wolfe novels:

  • Fer-de-Lance (1934)
  • The League of Frightened Men (1935)
  • The Rubber Band (1936)
  • The Red Box (1937)
  • Too Many Cooks (1938)
  • Some Buried Caesar (1939)
  • Over My Dead Body (1940)
  • Where There's A Will (1940)
  • Black Orchids (1942)
  • Not Quite Dead Enough (1944)
  • The Silent Speaker (1946)
  • Too Many Women (1947)
  • And Be A Villain (aka More Deaths Than One) (1948)
  • Trouble in Triplicate (1949)
  • The Second Confession (1949)
  • Three Doors to Death (1950)
  • In The Best Families (aka Even in the Best Families) (1950)
  • Curtains for Three (1951)
  • Murder by the Book (1951)
  • Triple Jeopardy (1952)
  • Prisoner's Base (aka Out Goes She) (1952)
  • The Golden Spiders (1953)
  • Three Men Out (1954)
  • Before Midnight (1955)
  • Three Witnesses (1956)
  • Might As Well Be Dead (1956)
  • The Black Mountain
  • Three for the Chair (1957)
  • If Death Ever Slept (1957)
  • And Four to Go (1958)
  • Champagne for One (1958)
  • Plot it Yourself (aka Murder in Style) (1959)
  • Three At Wolfe's Door (1960)
  • Too Many Clients (1960)
  • The Final Deduction (1961)
  • Homicide Trinity (1962)
  • Gambit (1962)
  • The Mother Hunt (1963)
  • Trio for Blunt Instruments (1964)
  • A Right to Die (1964)
  • The Doorbell Rang (1965)
  • Death of a Doxy (1966)
  • The Father Hunt (1968)
  • Death of a Dude (1969)
  • Please Pass the Guilt (1973)
  • A Family Affair (1975)
  • Death Times Three (1985)
Nero Wolfe Novellas:
  • Bitter End (1940)
  • Black Orchids (1941)
  • Cordially Invited to Meet Death (1942)
  • Not Quite Dead Enough (1942)
  • Booby Trap (1944)
  • Help Wanted, Male (1945)
  • Instead of Evidence (1946)
  • Before I Die (1947)
  • Man Alive (1947)
  • Bullet for One (1948)
  • Omit Flowers (1948)
  • Door to Death (1949)
  • The Gun With Wings (1949)
  • Disguise for Murder (1950)
  • The Cop-Killer (1951)
  • The Squirt and the Monkey (1951)
  • Home to Roost (1952)
  • This Won't Kill You (1952)
  • Invitation to Murder (1953)
  • The Zero Clue (1953)
  • When a Man Murders... (1954)
  • Die Like a Dog (1954)
  • The Next Witness (1955)
  • Immune to Murder (1955)
  • A Window for death (1956)
  • Too Many Detectives (1956)
  • Christmas Party (1957)
  • Easter Parade (1957)
  • Fourth of July Picnic (1957)
  • Murder is No Joke (aka Frame-Up for Murder) (1958)
  • Method Three For Murder (1960)
  • Poison a la Carte (1960)
  • The Rodeo Murder (1960)
  • Counterfeit for Murder (1961)
  • Death of a Demon (1961)
  • Kill Now--Pay Later  (1961)
  • Eeny Meeny Murder Mo (1962)
  • Blood Will Tell (1963)
  • Murder is Corny (1964)
  • Assault on a Brownstone (1985)
Episodes of A Nero Wolfe Mystery
  • The Golden Spiders
  • The Doorbell Rang
  • Champagne for One
  • Prisoner's Base
  • Eeny Meeny Murder Moe
  • Disguise for Murder
  • Door to Death
  • Christmas Party
  • Over My Dead Body
  • Death of a Doxy
  • The Next Witness
  • Die Like a Dog
  • Murder is Corny
  • Motherhunt
  • Poison a la Carte
  • Too Many Clients
  • Before I Die
  • Help Wanted, Male
  • The Silent Speaker
  • Cop Killer
  • Immune to Murder
Nero Wolfe was also adapted for radio. I found a link to listen to The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe--these programs were from 1950-1951. (Also on this site.)
  • Stamped for Murder
  • The Case of the Careworn Cuff
  • The Case of the Dear, Dead Lady
  • The Case of the Headless Hunter
  • The Case of the Careless Cleaner
  • The Case of the Beautiful Archer
  • The Case of the Brave Rabbit
  • The Case of the Impolite Corpse
  • The Case of the Girl Who Cried Wolfe
  • The Case of the Slaughtered Santas
  • The Case of the Bashful Body
  • The Case of the Deadly Sell-Out
  • The Case of the Killer Cards
  • The Case of the Calculated Risk
  • The Case of the Phantom Fingers
  • The Case of the Vanishing Shells
  • The Case of the Party for Death
  • The Case of the Malevolent Medic
  • The Case of the Hasty Will
  • The Case of the Disappearing Diamonds 
  • The Case of the Midnight Ride
  • The Case of the Final Page
  • The Case of the Tell-Tale Ribbon
  • The Case of the Shot in the Dark
  • The Case of the Lost Heir
  • The Case of Room 304

Stephen King Perpetual Reading Challenge

The Stephen King Challenge: A Perpetual Reading Challenge (hosted by: Michelle & Kate)
"The goal of this challenge is to, ultimately, read all of Stephen King's books.  The complete list of his works are posted in the footer section of the Challenge page. 
Since Stephen King has such a huge list of books, we decided to make this a perpetual challenge. 
I am a Stephen King fan from way back, but I got out of the habit while in Grad school (so little leisure reading time). This is the perfect push to get caught up (if that's really possible)
  1. The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass (1997) (COMPLETED 5/28/15)
  2. The Dark Tower 4.5: The Wind Through the Keyhole (COMPLETED 6/29/16)
  3. The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla (2003) (COMPLETED 11/12/15)
  4. The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah (2004) (COMPLETED 11/30/15)
  5. The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower (2004) (COMPLETED 12/15/15) 
  6. Revival - (audiobook) - Stephen King 
  7. The Long Walk (audiobook) - Stephen King 
  8. Joyland (audiobook) - Stephen King 
  9. The Wind Through the Keyhole (audiobook) - Stephen King 
  10. 11/22/63 - Stephen King 
  11. The Talisman (audiobook) - Stephen King & Peter Straub 
  12. The Library Policeman (audiobook) - Stephen King 
  13. On Writing (audiobook) - Stephen King 
  14. The Colorado Kid (audiobook)- Stephen King 
  15. Mr. Mercedes (audiobook) - Stephen King 
  16. Doctor Sleep - Stephen King
UPDATE 12/26/15: I made it! I finally completed the Dark Tower trilogy. Here is the {link} to my Dark Tower Challenge post. My reviews will be linked on my 2015 Reading Challenge page, {here}.

Reviews for books read in 2016 will be linked {here}.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.

2013 Book Challenges: FINAL POST

Another year is gone. (Their passing seems to pick up speed with each new one.)

I fell far short of my goals this year, and no, I'm not just referring to my reading goals. That is not to say that I didn't accomplish any thing; it just means that much on my list remains undone.

I haven't given up, although I may need to rethink my goal making process - my tendency to take on too much.

Many of my favorite bloggers have been having the same sort of difficulties lately. Frustrations and doubts, conflicting priorities, and just plain life, conspire to make the going rough at times.

And yes, I know that this is a problem hardly restricted to those in the blogosphere. My hope is that the new year brings better times for all.  As for now, it's time for taking stock and perhaps modifying tactics.
Below are the links to my 2013 challenges and the final posts: 

New Year's Resolution Reading Challenge. {My Final Post}
Dive Into poetry Challenge 2013. {My Initial Post} {My Final Post}
Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge 2013. {My Final Post}

My final thoughts on the following challenges are all on the same post,
and {that post is HERE}.

2013 Women Challenge.
2013 Ebook Challenge.
2013 Mystery/Crime Reading Challenge.
2013 Mount TBR Reading Challenge.
2013 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge.

My Ongoing Challenges:

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Reading Challenge. {My Post}.

The Dark Tower Reading Challenge. {My Post}.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013: FINAL POST

Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013

I'm actually fairly happy with my results for this challenge, hosted at Savvy Verse & Wit. It offered a number of ways to take on the challenge, and though I signed up late, I set out to do everything I could. Overreach is my middle name.

The first task was to Read and review up to 2 books of poetry throughout 2013. At this task, I was quite successful, as my final tally is 20 books. 

1. Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair - Pablo Neruda  
2. Conversation Pieces: poems that talk to other poems - Kurt Brown, ed.
3. Coming Into Eighty - May Sarton
4. Modern Haiku Volume 43.3
5. Acorn #29
6. The Moon is Always Female - Marge Piercy 
7. The Book of American Negro Poetry - James Weldon Johnson  
8. The trouble With Poetry - Billy Collins   
9. Ariel - Sylvia Plath   
10. Haiku: This other World - Richard Wright 
11. The Dream Keeper and Other Poems - Langston Hughes
12. Ardor: Poems of Life - Janine Canan
13. The Woman Who Fell from the Sky - Joy Harjo
14. The Ring and the Book - Robert Browning
15. An Introduction to Haiku: An anthology of Poems and Poets - ed. Harold G. Henderson
16. Not a Muse: The inner Lives of Women - ed. Kate Rogers, Viki Holmes
17. Tracing the Tradition: An Anthology of Poetry by Women - ed. Linda Hall
18. Classic Poetry: An Illustrated Collection - ed. Michael Rosen, illus. Paul Howard
19. Poems of Rumi (audiobook) - Jalaluddin Rumi   
(audiobook) - Jalaluddin Rumi
Poems of Rumi (audiobook) - Jalaluddin Rumi
Poems of Rumi (audiobook) - Jalaluddin Rumi
20. The Knopf National Poetry Month(TM) catalog Collection (audiobook) - Various    

My second task, Participate in at least 3 Virtual Poetry Circles throughout the year, was also a success. 

1. 208th - The Swing - Robert Louis Stevenson.
2. 210th - Epitaph for a Romantic Woman - Louise Bogan.
3. 224th - Last Lines - Anne Bronte.
4. 234th - Requium for the New Year - Mary Karr.

At my third task, Feature one poet per month on your own blog, I was mostly successful once I began. Unfortunately, I missed the final poet for December. Life.

June - Countee Cullen  
July - Louise Erdrich  
August - Lucille Clifton
September - E. E. Cummings  
November - Wislawa Szymborska  

2013 Mental Illness Advocacy (MIA) Reading Challenge: FINAL POST

2013 Mental Illness Advocacy (MIA) Reading Challenge

"Many reading challenges already exist in the book blogging community to address racism, sexism, and homophobia, but I could not find any to address the stigma faced by those suffering from mental illness."

Challenge Levels:
Acquainted–4 books / Aware–8 books / Advocate–12 books

This will be my third year with this challenge, and I hope to outdo my prior performance.

1. Break the Bipolar Cycle - Elizabeth Brondolo & Xavier Amador
2. The Tao of Bipolar - C. Alexander Simpkins & Annellen Simpkins
3. Ten Days in a Mad-House (ebook) - Nellie Bly
4. Learning from the Voices in My Head (ebook) - Eleanor Longden    
5. The Bedlam Detective (audiobook) - Stephen Gallagher
6. Bipolar not ADHD (ebook) - George Isaac

Well, I made it to 6 books. 
Does that mean I'm only partially aware?

This challenge is important to me because It reminds me not to become complacent. It reminds me that there is always something new to learn, or relearn. It also lets me touch base with like minded folks and connect with other perspectives. In short, it helps me grow.

Quote of the Day

We must all obey the great law of change. It is the most powerful law of nature, and the means perhaps of its conservation.

 - Edmund Burke.

The Lists That Started It All . . . Continued . . .

I have continued my journey through Kailana's lists of poems, determined to complete both lists and share the poetry on them with you.

Below are the poems I had left after my first post, and my final tally. The ones I have read are crossed off, and those I have not yet found are listed in bold.

There is a total of 7 poems I was unable to find. (But I'm sure it's only a matter of time.) I do, however, declare this challenge at an end. It has been a great experience because of the many new poets and poems to which I have been introduced, as well as all the old friends with which I had the chance to become reacquainted.

Of course, the poems on these lists have been showing up on the blog as I've found and read them.

Jason's List of A Month's Worth of Poems:

5 - If Not, Winter by Sappho (Haven't been able to get a hold of this one yet)
9 - Poems for Akhmatova by Marina Tsvetaeva (Haven't found this one either)

Lu's List of 100 Poems:

17. “What the Body Told” by Rafael Campo
18. “Cultural Stakes: or, How to Learn English as a Second Language” by Kevin A. González
19. “To You” by Kevin A. González
25. “The Afterbirth, 1931” by Nikky Finney
31. “Artichoke” by Joseph Hutchinson
32. “Something About the Trees” by Linda Pastan
33. “Lines” by Ruth Stone
34. “Prayer for Sleep” by Cheryl Dumesnil
35. “Of the Parrat and other birds that can speake” by Nick Lantz
36. “i have found what you are like” by e. e. cummings
39. “Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World” by Sherman Alexie
40. “How to Write the Great American Indian Novel” by Sherman Alexie
43. “Speaking of the Devil” by Leslie Adrienne Miller
44. “Cherries” by Leslie Adrienne Miller
49. “Pesto in August” by Katrina Vendenberg
50. “Op-Talk” by Rives (spoken word)
51. “Glaucoma” by Rives (spoken word)
52. “I Could Be A Poet” by Taylor Mali (spoken word)
54. “To My Lover, Concerning the Yird-Swine” by Julianna Baggott
55. “When At A Certain Party in NYC” by Erin Belieu
59. “Natural Wonder” by Diane Ackerman
60. “Buckroe, After the Season, 1942” by Virginia Hamilton Adair
61. “Louisiana Line” by Betty Adcock
62. “Language of Love” by Rae Armantrout
63. “Dusk” by Rae Armantrout
64. “Mothers” by Nikki Giovanni
65. “Poem for a Lady Whose Voice I Like” by Nikki Giovanni
69. “Lost in the Hospital” by Rafael Campo
70. “Firefly Under the Tongue” by Coral Bracho
72. “This Corner of the Western World” by Jennifer Chang
73. “Bankruptcy Hearing” by Dana Bisignani
74. “Requiem for a Nest” by Wanda Coleman
75. “sweet reader, flannelled and tulled” by Olena Kalytiak Davis
76. “Weighing In” by Rhina P. Espaillat
77. “Bilingual/Bilingüe” by Rhina P. Espaillat
78. “The Sign in My Father’s Hands” by Martín Espada
80. “After Fifty Years” by William Faulkner
81. “Ways of Talking” by Ha Jin
82. “Chernobyl Year” by Jehanne Dubrow
83. “Visiting My Gravesite: Talbott Churchyard, West Virginia” by Irene McKinney
84. “Our Lady of Perpetual Loss” by Deborah A. Miranda
85. “Love Poem to a Butch Woman” by Deborah A. Miranda
89. “Clarinet” by Terrance Hayes
92. “Genesis: The Resilient Colors” by Roberto Tejada
93. “As from a Quiver of Arrows” by Carl Phillips
94. “This Can’t Be” by Bruce Smith
95. “A Certain Kind of Eden” by Kay Ryan
96. “Paired Things” by Kay Ryan

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Quote of the Day

The Lord commands us to do ‘good unto all people,’ universally, a great part of whom, estimated according to their own merits, are very undeserving ... we must not regard the intrinsic merit of a person, but must consider the image of God in them, to which we owe all possible honor and love. 

- John Calvin.

My Guilty Secret . . .



Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay. In the modern state there are very few sites where this is possible. The only others that come readily to my mind require belief in an omnipotent creator as a condition for membership. 
It would seem the most obvious thing in the world to say that the reason why the market is not an efficient solution to libraries is because the market has no use for a library. But it seems we need, right now, to keep re-stating the obvious. 
There aren’t many institutions left that fit so precisely Keynes’ definition of things that no one else but the state is willing to take on. Nor can the experience of library life be recreated online. It’s not just a matter of free books. 
A library is a different kind of social reality (of the three dimensional kind), which by its very existence teaches a system of values beyond the fiscal.
- Zadie Smith,

As independent bookstores crash and burn in the United States and Britain, the book market in France is doing just fine. France boasts 2,500 bookstores, and for every neighborhood bookstore that closes, another seems to open. From 2003 to 2011 book sales in France increased by 6.5 percent.

Friday, December 27, 2013


12th of Never (audiobook) - James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

As I worked my way through the first eleven novels in this series I never had to wait more than a couple of days to borrow the book from my library. When I tried to borrow this one I found myself reader 39 in the cue. Yikes! The next one has just been published and I expect it will be a looooong wait.

It just goes to show you though, firefighters are our heroes in so many ways!

The Brothers of Baker Street (audiobook) - Michael Robertson  

I have a notorious inability to stop reading a series once I begin, but today I made the decision to let this one go.

This is the second book in the series, and I read both, but I can not go any further. Let's just say that when a book keeps you continually irritated, it's time to let it go.

Both the premise and the plots have promise, but their execution falls short.

Just After Sunset - Stephen King   

"If you wanted to lie on some professional's couch in the summer of 2002, you had to take a number and wait in line." . . . or maybe you could do some writing . . .

Several of these stories carry echoes of the infamous autumn of 2001, even a few whose subject matter doesn't come close. I think that's not unexpected. Some things touch us so deeply they color everything we touch hereafter.

King has an interesting little a section in the back of this collection where he writes a small bit about each of the stories, and here he calls writing "an act of willed understanding."

The Body on the Beach (Feathering Mystery Series) (audiobook) - Simon Brett   

Book one in the Feathering Mystery Series started out a bit slow, but it has potential.

The solving of the crime allowed space for the characters to grow on me. They changed and grew a bit with the circumstances, showing potential.

I will definitely try another.

A Novena for Murder - Sister Carol Anne O'Marie    

A seventy year old nun solving Murders. Let me rephrase that; a bright, personable, funny, seventy year old nun solving murders. (and standing up for the voiceless)

Can you guess her favorite reading material? Murder mysteries!

This is the first of eleven novels in the series.

I think I have a new best friend.

Some Buried Caesar (audiobook) - Rex Stout  

I'm a sucker for noir, and Nero Wolfe is a long time favorite of mine.

Do you remember the television series staring Timothy Hutton and Maury Chaykin? I actually hear Hutton as Archie Goodwin narrating the story in my head as I read.

Oh, and you'll never think of BBQ season the same way again.

Over My Dead Body (audiobook) - Rex Stout

Political and international intrigue . . . (without ever leaving home)!

That man accomplishes more in one day, without actually moving, than I do in a month.

That is the value of a good assistant. Any one know where I can find one of those?

The Anatomist's Apprentice (audiobook) - Tessa Harris   

So, how does one get that smell out of one's hair?

I'm sure Dr. Silkstone is talented and all, but he is kind of boring and has scant little imagination. (kind of like an old boyfriend of mine)

I was way ahead of him, and it wasn't a fun trip.

The House of Silk (audiobook) - Anthony Horowitz

OMG! OMG! OMG! Narrated by Sir! Derek! Jacobi!

This was promoted as the first  new Sherlock Holmes story approved by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, however I've seen quite a few claims that it was far from the first. I am not invested in the argument enough to research it, but I thought I'd let you know.

Mr. Horowitz does capture Conan Doyle's voice quite well in his depiction of the era and the characters, however, early in the narrative it seemed a bit forced in places, like a short story that was padded to reach novel length. It picked up through the later part of the story and though it wasn't bad, there weren't any surprises for me, at all.

If I can stay several steps ahead of Sherlock Holmes . . .

That being said, it was far better than many I've read. I guess I was just expecting more from an "officially" sanctioned novel.

Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong (audiobook) - Pierre Bayard

Whatever I expected this book to be, it was not. It was billed as tongue in cheek, but it definitely did not come across that way.

Mr. Bayard seemed to have lost track of the fact that The Hound of the Baskervilles is a work of fiction and therefore all made up, and that the details were chosen to further the plot and provide the necessary mood, not because they were any kind of truth. 

Whatever the author's intent, it came across as an earnest treatment of a fictional detective and his investigations as if they were real, and the clues subject to objective examination.

The Bedlam Detective (audiobook) - Stephen Gallagher

An 'unspeakable' crime, an uncomfortable investigation, and a story within a story, make for an interesting novel.

I enjoyed this novel and will definitely be looking up more of this author's writing.

Bones of Contention - Jeanne Matthews

Murder down under, family politics and intrigue, and a lot of Aussie slang.

A rather intricate plot keeps twisting.

I like that.

Ten Days in a Mad-House - Nellie Bly

After reading this little book, my thinking became quite political and angry as I thought about what I had read.

I thought of how far we have come in the treatment of the mentally ill, the poor and dispossessed, those most vulnerable among us, but those thoughts were followed closely buy anger and frustration.  Right now there is a campaign to strip those self same people of what little they have in the way of lifelines and safety nets - while blaming them for their own plight. (cut aid, repeal healthcare, deny vote, etc.)

Gone also is a journalism that tried to uncover and report on facts, without censoring them and robing them in false equivalences.

Ms Bly is not a gifted wordsmith, (at least not in this case) but in this small book she communicates clearly the horror and depravity that destroyed the lives of so many who had been robbed of their own voices. And with her little adventure she brought about the beginnings of real change.

Learning from the Voices in My Head - Eleanor Longden

I finally learned how to bookmark on my Nook with this one. (I still haven't figured out how to refer back to them without paging through the whole book though. Small steps.)

"Sometimes, you know, it snows as late as May, but summer always comes eventually." - Pat Bracken.

I found this book very informative (and uplifting, in light of the last one). It shines a light of hope on an area I previously thought impenetrable. It also highlights the fact that the media, by focusing its concentration narrowly, is often highly misleading.

My favorite quote from the book, and possibly my favorite quote ever (which will surely find its way into a post):

"Those who say it cannot be done shouldn't interrupt the people doing it." - George Bernard Shaw

Bipolar not ADHD - George Isaac  

Mr. isaac has some interesting ideas and brings up many good points. However, at the same time he accuses main stream psychiatry of over diagnosing ADHD when they are really seeing Bipolar disorder, he then turns around and makes his own blanket generalizations.

Quote of the Day

I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. ... but by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill.

- Søren Kierkegaard

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Here We Go a Caroling . . .

And So Today I Still Have a Dream. . .

. . . I still have a dream today that one day war will come to an end, that men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, that nations will no longer rise up against nations, neither will they study war any more. I still have a dream today that one day the lamb and the lion will lie down together and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.

I still have a dream today that one day every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill will be made low, the rough places will be made smooth and the crooked places straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. I still have a dream that with this faith we will be able to adjourn the councils of despair and bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism.

With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when there will be peace on earth and good will toward men. It will be a glorious day, the morning stars will sing together, and the sons of God will shout for joy.

- Dr. Martin Luther King,
 from: A Christmas Sermon on Peace, 1967.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Kilt monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.

Merry Christmas!

On the Distaff Side . . .


A different Christmas tradition,

A genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of Miriam,
the daughter of Anna:
Sarah was the mother of Isaac,
And Rebekah was the mother of Jacob,
Leah was the mother of Judah,
Tamar was the mother of Perez.
The names of the mothers of Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon
and Salmon have been lost.
Rahab was the mother of Boaz,
and Ruth was the mother of Obed.
Obed’s wife, whose name is unknown, bore Jesse.
The wife of Jesse was the mother of David.
Bathsheba was the mother of Solomon,
Naamah, the Ammonite, was the mother of Rehoboam.
Maacah was the mother of Abijam and the grandmother of Asa.
Azubah was the mother of Jehoshaphat.
The name of Jehoram’s mother is unknown.
Athaliah was the mother of Ahaziah,
Zibiah of Beersheba, the mother of Joash.
Jecoliah of Jerusalem bore Uzziah,
Jerusha bore Jotham; Ahaz’s mother is unknown.
Abi was the mother of Hezekiah,
Hephzibah was the mother of Manasseh,
Meshullemeth was the mother of Amon,
Jedidah was the mother of Josiah.
Zebidah was the mother of Jehoiahim,
Nehushta was the mother of Jehiachinm
Hamutal was the mother of Zedekiaj.
Then the deportation to Babylon
the names of the mothers go unrecorded.
These are their sons:
Jechoniah, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel,
Abiud, Eliakim, Azor and Zadok,
Achim, Eliud, Eleazar,
Matthan, Jacob and Joseph, the husband of Miriam.
Of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.
The sum of generations is therefore:
fourteen from Sarah to David’s mother;
fourteen from Bathsheba to the Babylonian deportation;
and fourteen from the Babylonian deportation
to Miriam, the mother of Christ.

Compiled by Ann Patrick Ware
of the Women’s Liturgy Group of New York

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Weighing In

 - Rhina P. Espaillat

What the scale tells you is how much the earth
has missed you, body, how it wants you back
again after you leave it to go forth

into the light. Do you remember how
earth hardly noticed you then? Others would rock
you in their arms, warm in the flow

that fed you, coaxed you upright. Then earth began
to claim you with spots and fevers, began to lick
at you with a bruised knee, a bloody shin,

and finally to stoke you, body, drumming
intimate coded messages through music
you danced to unawares, there in your dreaming

and your poems and your obedient blood.
Body, how useful you became, how lucky,
heavy with news and breakage, rich, and sad,

sometimes, imagining that greedy zero
you must have been, that promising empty sack
of possibilities, never-to-come tomorrow.

But look at you now, body, soft old shoe
that love wears when it’s stirring, look down, look
how earth wants what you weigh, needs what you know.

From: Where Horizons Go, Copyright 1998.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Sign in My Father’s Hands

- Martín Espada
                   for Frank Espada

The beer company
did not hire Blacks or Puerto Ricans,
so my father joined the picket line
at the Schaefer Beer Pavilion, New York World’s Fair,   
amid the crowds glaring with canine hostility.   
But the cops brandished nightsticks
and handcuffs to protect the beer,
and my father disappeared.

In 1964, I had never tasted beer,
and no one told me about the picket signs   
torn in two by the cops of brewery.
I knew what dead was: dead was a cat   
overrun with parasites and dumped   
in the hallway incinerator.
I knew my father was dead.
I went mute and filmy-eyed, the slow boy   
who did not hear the question in school.   
I sat studying his framed photograph   
like a mirror, my darker face.

Days later, he appeared in the doorway   
grinning with his gilded tooth.
Not dead, though I would come to learn   
that sometimes Puerto Ricans die   
in jail, with bruises no one can explain   
swelling their eyes shut.
I would learn too that “boycott”
is not a boy’s haircut,
that I could sketch a picket line   
on the blank side of a leaflet.

That day my father returned
from the netherworld
easily as riding the elevator to apartment 14-F,   
and the brewery cops could only watch   
in drunken disappointment.
I searched my father’s hands
for a sign of the miracle.

from: Imagine the Angels of Bread, Copyright 1996.

Friday, December 20, 2013

House By the Side of the Road

 – Sam Walter Foss


There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the peace of their self-content;
There are souls, like stars, that swell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
Where highways never ran;
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.


Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by;
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban;
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.


I see from my house by the side of the road,
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears
Both parts of an infinite plan;
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.


Let me live in my house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by;
They are good, they are bad, they are weak,
They are strong,
Wise, foolish – so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat
Or hurl the cynic’s ban? -
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Quiet Moment . . .

Our Lady of Perpetual Loss

- Deborah A. Miranda

Maybe all losses before this one are practice:
maybe all grief that comes after her death seems tame.
I wish I knew how to make dying simple,
wish our mother’s last week were not constructed
of clear plastic tubing, IVs, oxygen hiss,
cough medicine, morphine patches, radiation tattoos,
the useless burn on her chest.
I’m still the incurable optimist, she whispers,
you’re still the eternal pessimist.
My sister sleeps on a sofa; our brother, exhausted,
rolls up in a blanket on the hard floor.
Curled in a rented white bed, our mother’s body
races to catch up with her driven, nomadic soul.
Those nights alone, foster care, empty beer bottles
taught us she was always already vanishing.

Source: The Zen of La Llorona, Copyright 2005.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Happy Birthday M . . . Wherever you are . . .

Quote of the Day

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.

- Albert Camus

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Quote(s) of the Day

I’m not a humanitarian, I’m a hell-raiser.

No matter what the fight, don’t be ladylike! God almighty made women and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies.

I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator.

If they want to hang me, let them. And on the scaffold I will shout Freedom for the working class! 

She offers a vivid reminder of what remains among the most underacknowledged issues of our day: that America is a class-driven society, where the wealthy have grown obscenely rich as working people have fallen further behind. (This was written in 2001; so little has changed)

This Corner of the Western World

 - Jennifer Chang
Dark thing,
make a myth of yourself:

all women turn into lilacs,

all men grow sick of their errant scent.
You could learn

to build a window, to change flesh
into isinglass, nothing

but a brittle river, a love of bone.

You could snap like a branch—No,

this way, he says, and the fence
releases the forest,

and every blue insect finds an inch of skin.
He loves low voices, diffidence

on the invented trail,

the stones you fuck him on. Yes
to sweat’s souvenir, yes to his fist

in your hair, you bite

because you can. Silence
rides the back of your throat,

his tongue, your name.

from: The History of Anonymity, Copyright 2008.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.

I Can't Think of a Better Mission. Can You?

The mission of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is to assist the U. S. Marine Corps in providing a tangible sign of hope to economically disadvantaged children at Christmas. ...

The primary goal of the Foundation is ... to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them into becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. ...

Please help a child in need this Christmas. We all need hope. . . .

Hope is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I've heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

- Emily Dickinson

Sunday, December 15, 2013