Monday, April 23, 2012

Bloom by Kelle Hampton

I just finished Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected.  When Kelle Hampton gave birth to her 2nd daughter, she was unprepared for a Down Syndrome baby.  This is her story. 

Hampton's reaction is understandable--and she is horrified by it.  The rest of her book is coming to grips with being a Down Syndrome Mom and how that will change her family.

Maybe more than that, this is a good lesson in choosing our attitude and choosing to live with purpose.  If you're looking for a shot of "change your attitude" mixed with a little "live deliberately" this is the book for you.  Prepare yourself to feel like you don't do celebrations the way you should.  (Hampton makes our celebrations on Easy Street look pathetic by comparison.)

Finally, this is a book about the friendship of women.  Hampton's girlfriends are a big part of the birth and the coming to grips with what life is going to be like now.  I guess we expect family to be there for us.  (Hampton's family is an important part of her support group.)  We should all be so lucky to have the girlfriends that Hampton relies on. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

I confess.  I've read it.  Fifty Shades of Grey was suggested because the book is "all the rage."  I can understand why it is:  Sex sells.

Did I like it?  Not especially.

I know there was a plot in there somewhere; there's a story longing to be told.

I'm guessing that if I bought the sequels (this is the first of a trilogy), I might find out a bit more about how the main character came to be like he is.  The trouble is that E.L. James spends so much time describing the strange bondage sex lives of the main characters that she forgets to concentrate on what is actually important--the story.

I was disappointed.  I don't plan to waste my reading time on the rest of the trilogy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wild By Strayed

I finished the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  I liked it, and I'm ready to pack my backpack and hike a long trail.  (Except for her description of her feet.  Eww...!)

She includes the books that she read along the Pacific Crest Trail.  She had them mailed to her along the route.  I loved the fact that besides food, money, and clothes, she needed great books to read.  (Though she burned them when she finished them, so she could lighten her pack. I understand, but it still killed me.)

There is also a soundtrack running through Strayed's thoughts on her trek.  Music is a part of her hike in several ways. 

I was scared for Strayed several times on the trail.  A single woman on an 1,100+ trip, alone?  Yes, there was danger.  My fears for her are the fears I would have for myself, hiking alone. Yet, she meets interesting people along the PCT.  She introduces us to the culture and camaraderie of the trail hikers and those who run the campgrounds and resorts along the trail.

Strayed's story is told about 15 years after her actual hike.  I wonder how her story would have differed had it been told six months after her trek.  What did she leave out that she might have included had she been blogging as she hiked? Though truth be told, Strayed doesn't seem to leave out even some personal information that I probably wouldn't have shared.

Wild was a good read.  And now I'm off to hunt The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich, the one book Strayed carried the entire trip and didn't burn.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

To Kill A Mockingbird

My favorite book of all time is To Kill A Mockingbird. (TKAM)  How fortunate am I to teach that novel every year?  I never tire of it.  Best.job.ever.

What do I love about TKAM?

Two plot lines that seem unrelated mesh to form one of the best endings of a book that I have ever read.

All of the hatred and racism is seen through the eyes of children.  And because of that, the novel is funny and heartwarming. (Scout takes up cussing to avoid going to school: "Pass the damn ham."  They watch a neighbor pee off of his porch, and the boys start having contests to see who can go further.  They roll in tires, make up games, and try to peek in the window of the neighborhood recluse.)  Such a serious subject is still serious, and maybe more so because they are kids trying to understand an unspeakable situation and it is intermingled with their childish ways.  

The view of a "one size fits all" education didn't work in the 1930's, and it doesn't work today.  (And when will the Powers That Be realize that?)

Organized religion doesn't fair much better than education.  The Christians of the town don't act very Christian, and most of the problems with one local family are probably directly tied to the father's austere view of how life should be lived according to his religion.  The ladies of the missionary circle are vicious, gossipy, and blind to the needy in their own community.

Atticus Finch.  He is the most unforgettable character in the book and the movie, and maybe the most unforgettable character in modern literature.  He is the parent every parent wishes that they could be.  Actually, he is the person we all aspire to be.

TKAM is a finely crafted novel.  Every chapter has a conflict and a resolution.  Each of those chapters are creating the two major conflicts of the novel that lead to a resolution that pulls it all together.  I am amazed every time I finish reading it. 

All that being said, I am not a huge fan of the movie.  I love Gregory Peck's portrayal of Atticus, but other than that I think the ending of the movie is far less believable than the book.  They left out too many things to make it plausible

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Two Books On This Tuesday

So what am I reading right now?  Actually, two books.

Cousin H suggested the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  She said the story line reminded her a bit of Peter Jenkins' book Walk Across America.  I loved that book, and it marked the beginning of a lifelong love of nonfiction.

I'm reading Wild on my Nook eReader.  I love it.  I cried through the early chapters, but I admire Strayed's courage in attacking this journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. I find myself wishing I could plan a long hiking trip.  I'm only six chapters in, and I am enjoying the description of her trip and coming to grip with her demons.

Last summer, cousin M sent me the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo books, the Stieg Larsson trilogy.  It has been a hectic school year, but I am finally reading The Girl Who Played With Fire. I am glad to finally have time to read; I am completely sucked into this second book. 

I usually hate mysteries.  Often, they spend time trying to scare the reader. (Fear is highly overrated for this reader.  I don't like being afraid.  I avoid horror movies for this reason.)  Larsson writes a mystery of intrigue.  I like his characters, and I especially like the fact that I can't figure out how the story is going to end.  He isn't predictable.

Cousin M, I hope to finish the 2nd and move on to the 3rd so I can return your books by summer.  Thanks for your generous loan, and I'm sorry I am so slow.

So, this is what is on my end table today.  Two great books at one time-- that doesn't happen every day!

Monday, April 9, 2012


I have loved reading from the first days of school.  Learning to read was, by far, the most important thing I ever learned.

Through the years I have come to love a lot of books.  I will share some of those favorites on this blog, but I also plan to share the books I am currently reading.

I will always be glad to hear about books you love or books you are reading.

And that is the jumping-off point for this blog.