You gotta read this!

Hi everyone! I am so sorry I have been such an infrequent blogger this year. Interesting, original blog posts have been hard to come up with, and life has been so busy that I haven’t had many opportunities to read. But I hope I will be able to create more posts as we move into the second half of 2016.

This year, my goals is to re-read some of my favourite books, as well as to read some of the classics that I still haven’t read yet. Future posts will bring you up to date on my progress in those areas, but this post is about some new, interesting, and entertaining books I’ve read lately that I highly recommend.

  • The Case of the Secretive Sister by Nilanjan P. Choudhury

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I first heard of this absolutely delightful book from another blogger, The Bibulous Bibliobiuli. His review here is definitely worth reading to get more of a sense of this witty, engaging read. It’s published in India, and I have not read much contemporary Indian fiction, but this was a quick read that was fun from cover to cover. Perfect summer reading, or just to get away from everything for a while, I know you’ll be glad you read it.

  • Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

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This is the second book I’ve read by Amy Stewart, and I thoroughly enjoyed them both. Girl Waits With Gun takes place in pre-WWI America, and is based on true events. The author brings the past vividly to life in this story about a thug and his gang of hoodlums who hit a horse-drawn buggy while they are driving in their car. The three Kopp sisters were in the buggy at the time of the accident, and the story unfolds as they try to get the driver to pay up for the damages. A very satisfying story with a dose of history as well!

  • The Great Pearl Heist by Molly Caldwell Crosby

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The Great Pearl Heist falls into the true crime category. It’s a well-researched tale of the amazing theft of the world’s most expensive necklace. It happened in London in 1913, and as well as full details on the theft itself, we also learn a lot about policing and the art of detection at that time. For a synopsis, click here – but I have to warn you, if you don’t already, you will want to read the book after you learn more about it!

Book Art: Malena Valcarcel

It’s been far too long since I’ve done a post on Book Art (almost exactly a year, oh my!), but I realized that although I have admired the gorgeous creations of this artist for some time, I somehow failed to do a post about them.

Malena Valcarcel is a book artist from Spain, and has a wonderful shop on Etsy. For the exceptional quality of work, her items are very reasonably priced. She even makes jewelry! Click on the pictures to go to the items on Malena’s website.

This is one of my favorites:
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And look at this one. Amazing!
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Malena’s work is incredible and ships anywhere in the world. I hope you have enjoyed looking at these treasures, and I also hope you head over to Etsy and treat yourself to some bookish art! 😉

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Book-ify your office

Perhaps you, like me, love to be surrounded by books? And perhaps you also work in a place devoid of those articles which inspire, entertain, educate and delight. Did you know that without brining a stack of your own books to work and piling them on your desk, you can bring the books to you? It’s true! There are many ways to make your workspace more bookish, if need be.

  1. Library or bookish computer wallpaper. It’s true that this will be covered up for most of the day with various open and functioning apps, but to me it brings a smile every day when I log in and just before I log off.
  2. There’s always room for a book-themed poster or two (to three) on cubicle walls, so don’t be afraid to get something affordable from Art.com or Allposters.com and give yourself something to smile at all day long. This is what I have up in my workspace:
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  3. What about a library mousepad? Or a literary-themed calendar? I find that these little touches enable me to keep my inner book-lover alive and at peace while I spend my days away from actual books. And if you’re in my shoes, I hope these ideas will brighten your days as well.

Girl Power!

Lately there have been some very exciting news articles about young girls effecting positive change in the lives of their communities, and abroad.

#1000blackgirlbooks reached international news with the inspiring story of a young girl from New Jersey who started a movement to gather books that weren’t just about ‘white boys and their dogs.’ She wanted to collect 1,000 books and surpassed her goal with the help of many generous donors:
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*image retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/feb/09/marley-dias-1000-black-girl-books-hits-target-with-outpouring-of-donations

Also in February, we learned of two teens in India who saved their district library from decay. They formed a girl-power coalition, and approached the district’s administration about not only saving it, but giving it a facelift. Read more about it from the Times of India’s article, “Girl power puts district library in revamp mode.”

Recently, more good news from India reached us about a girl who sets up a small library at her home every day after school so the children nearby can access books they would not otherwise have access to. Read more on this amazing story here.
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*image retrieved from http://www.buzzfeed.com/andreborges/a-9-year-old-girl-is-running-a-library-for-underprivileged-c#.djvQNkz3w

What amazing, fearless, inspirational stories!

I heart Little Free Libraries

Do you have a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? I’ve never seen one in real life, but I love the concept of them!

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Photo retrieved from http://www.shareable.net /blog/ever-wondered-how-little-free-libraries-change-neighborhoods

In December 2014, the Globe and Mail published an article about them entitled, When your neighbor’s yard is a library. The article paints an appealing picture of neighbors getting to know each other and swapping books they never guessed would appear in these impromptu libraries.

If you don’t have one near you, and you’d like to put one up, there is a fantastic website called LittleFreeLibrary.org that has absolutely everything you need to start your own. You can learn about the movement’s history, you can buy supplies and/or accessories to make your own Little Free Library, you can register it, you can also buy The Little Free Library Book – a volume I would like to add to my own collection. There are marketing materials to help spread awareness of your new Little Free Library, and many more useful resources. This website is a great resource to anyone who wants to start one or who just wants to find out more about them.

Surprisingly (or perhaps not), not everyone in the world loves Little Free Libraries. Last February, The Atlantic published, The Danger of Being Neighborly Without a Permit and I think you can guess what that article is about (sad face). NOW Toronto also released an article in August 2015 about the under belly of Little Free Libraries – that people were putting garbagey books in them just so they didn’t have to throw the books away: Little Free Libraries have sprouted across Toronto, but yield few treasures.

Little Free Libraries are, in my opinion, a wonderful idea and I would definitely put one out if I could. But what do you think? Do you like the idea, or do you think they should require a permit and are just a way for people to throw out books they don’t like with a clear conscience?

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

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Hello! Today marks Day One of #BBAW (book blogger appreciation week) and it’s off to a good start: choosing a mere five books with which to represent ourselves. Thank you, Estella Society! I love a good challenge as much as anyone, so I thought I’d go for it.

Book #1: This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti
I read this book when I was 13 and will never forget how it painted such a clear picture of spiritual warfare. This book illustrates my beliefs as a Christian, as well as my appreciation for a gripping story.

Book #2: A book of bees by Sue Hubbell
I am a honeybee enthusiast and this book provides an idyllic portrayal of the life of a beekeeper. It was written in the 1980s, before many of the pests which plague honeybees today came to North America, so it really is an idyll now. But it still encourages me in my dream to one day keep bees.

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Book #3: The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley
This book was thoroughly enjoyable to read because most of it takes place *in* a bookshop. For a bibliophile, that right there was enough to make this book part of the ones which represent me. However, there is the added delight of it being set in the past (actually, it was written in the past – even better), another of the things I love in a book. So this selection sums up nicely my affinity for books and reading about the past.

Book #4: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Another thing about me: I love children’s books. I have all the Berenstein Bears books from before 1990 (what I really learned to read on), the Noddy books, some Bill Peet classics, a select few YA books from the 1950s (Minnow on the Say, Gone-Away Lake, Tom’s Midnight Garden) and most of the books from my childhood (Father Fox’s Penny Rhymes, What’s the Matter With Caruthers? and many, many more). The Phantom Tollbooth warms my heart every time I read it and I think it’s the perfect book to describe that part of me.

Book #5: The Earth Moved by Amy Stewart
Trees, flowers, worms, bugs, animals, I love them all. I’m a softie. When I was young, many rainy days saw me getting to school late because I was saving so many worms from puddles along the way. So this book was not only fascinating (there is more in it than just facts about worms!), but also comforting to know there are others out there who appreciate our subterranean friends.

So there you have it! That sums me up a fair amount. Not completely, of course, but it’s a good start.

So. Many. Challenges.

Is reading a competition? With so many reading challenges out there, I feel like it’s becoming a competition, or at least a means of putting one’s self on a pedestal. But maybe that’s because I haven’t done one yet 😉 I honestly don’t have the time – or maybe I do?

Have you noticed how many reading challenges there are out there? Some of them definitely pique my interest, and I find myself tempted to participate. Like this one from Modern Mrs. Darcy: 12 Books, 12 Categories, 12 Months. Now that, I could do.
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Then there are the incremental challenges that I see and think, “I could do that.. I could do that one too, probably.. Nope, couldn’t do that… Do these people read for a living?!” Like this set of challenges on challies.com. The Light Reader does 13 books in a year. No problem! Easy. Definitely doable. The Avid Reader does 26 books a year. Also possible. I consider myself around (if not technically in) the Avid Reader category, so 26 books in one year should be fine. But then comes The Committed Reader, with an entire book in each week. I have to ask myself, are we reading books that are 100 pages long? Are we speed reading? I begin getting skeptical at this point. But, there is yet another category: The Obsessed Reader. This category reads 2 whole books each and every week for an entire year. Really? Is that possible? Again, the skepticism; but, maybe it can be done – after all, I’ve never tried (or kept track)! If you are looking for a reading challenge for 2016, I hope you clicked on the link because there is a wonderful chart for keeping tack of your books for each level (Light, Avid, Committed and Obsessed) on Challies.com.

When looking for some fun reading challenges for this post, I came across You, Me, and a Cup of Tea which has a wonderful assortment of themed reading challenges and links to the websites/blogs that host them. Like the audiobook challenge by HotListens.com and the Back to the Classics challenge by Books and Chocolate, and even the Hard Core Re-Reading challenge hosted by You, Me, and a Cup of Tea! So if you’re looking for a challenge to guide your reading this year, please check these out. And happy reading! Maybe next year I will be posting about a challenge I completed…

 

 

Controversial Books

My sincere apologies for not writing much lately. Life has been far too busy and is starting to seriously impair my ability to write an engaging blog. Blogs are meant to be fun and not a source of stress, however, so I continue on and blog when I can, in the hopes that you all understand and don’t hold the infrequency of my posting against me.

Now that it’s well into September and school is in full swing, I wanted to do a post on controversial books. I’ve just begun reading The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, and I still recall the uproar it caused when it was first published in 1988.
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Last year I read Native Son by Richard Wright, which has been ‘challenged’ repeatedly since it was published. The challengers are right – it does have very explicit sexual scenes and violence, but it is an incredible book. I still can’t believe it was written in 1940, with a searing social commentary on race relations in the United States that is still relevant today.
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I’m looking forward to the epic read that Satanic Verses promises to be, and I wonder what controversial books all of you have read. Did you enjoy it (or them)? Did you wish you hadn’t read it, or agree with those who challenged it – that it should not have been published? Or did you like it so much you wish it were required reading for everyone?

Blogging Shout Out!

One of the great things about having a blog is the great community of bloggers you get to meet. I have really enjoyed finding and following new blogs, and I realized it is long past time to introduce three of my favorite blogs to you so you can get to know them too!

So Many Books – the agony and ecstasy of a reading life, by Stefanie Hollmichel.
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I enjoy reading this blog, and I really like the Bookish Quotes page – I think that’s a unique, personal touch that helps to set this blog apart from the rest. Stefanie has lists of all the books she has read over the years with active links to their reviews, as well as an alphabetical list of all the blog entries down the left-hand side of the page, so you can easily get to the post you’re looking for.

Words Read and Written – the ramblings of an Aussie Book Blogger by Jodie.
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This was one of the very first blog I started following. Jodie’s blog has thousands of followers (I can only dream of that!), and I find her posts engaging and easy to relate to. Along with reviews, she also often features author interviews, which are always interesting!

Dolce Bellezza – for literary and translated fiction is my newest find, and I’ve already added several books to my To Read list based on reviews from this blog.
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Bellezza is refreshing because there are books mentioned and reviewed here that I would not otherwise have heard of! And who doesn’t love discovering new books?!

I hope everyone checks out these blogs and enjoys them as much as I have. And who knows? You might discover your new favorite blog, or a book you never knew you were missing.

Biblio Body Art

I like books, obviously. I would even say without reserve that I love them. And there are a lot of people out there who share my enthusiasm, based on the number of Instagram profiles I’ve seen where people unabashedly proclaim their love for the codex. However, I think I can safely say that I will never love a book so much that I feel the need to put it in my skin. It turns out that I might be in the minority on that one, because there are a lot of pictures of book-related tattoos out there.

Let me say that even though I’m not a tattoo person, I do enjoy looking at interesting body art, and what could be more interesting than art about books?

44 Adorable Tattoo Designs for Book Lovers by Sortra.com :
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36 Stunning Book Tattoos That Are Surprisingly Badass at Buzzed.com:
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Literary Tattoos at POPSUGAR.com:
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I hope you enjoy these creative nods to literature as much as I did!