105 Ways to Give a Book

Weekend Reading for All

It’s going to be warm and lovely here, so the perfect time to sit outside with a book.

In fact it is warm and lovely here now, so what am I doing on the computer? So that I can quickly get outside and celebrate the true arrival of spring, I am going to keep this short and sweet. The following are the books I have picked to read based soley on the titles. I know nothing about them, except that at first glance they seem like they would be good reading for guys and gals.
One of these will be the lucky book I read this weekend. Oh, the tension builds...
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What Wine Goes with Spaghetti? It’s Red Wine.

For those of you who don’t know, a blogger can identify which searches have led to her/his blog. This can be helpful in shaping the content of the blog and in directing your keyword choices. The first time I saw that this particular search led to my blog, I was confused, but stranger things have happened. But it keeps happening, so I went to check it out.

If you search the phrase “what wine goes with spaghetti” in Google, you get my blog entry “What Wine Goes With Spaghetti-O’s and Strawberry Taffy?

Go ahead, try it. I’ll wait.

Ya see? Unbelievable. Try “gay penguin love.” I thought that was a unique title. Nowhere on the first page. Try “ProcrasDenial.” Nowhere at all — and I made that word up.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand this “Internet” of which you speak. Deep in my heart, I sort of believe that tiny wizards make computers work. So how people are coming up with my little, off-topic blog for “what wine goes with spaghetti” blows my mind.

If you people of the Google search are still with me, you might try Chiff.com’s wine-pairing guide. Oh, and hey, I may not know wine, but I’ve got some great book selections for the weekend...
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Wild and Woolly

It’s funny.

Have you ever been thinking about something, when someone comes up with the same idea? Like you’re at the office, thinking, “I should get pizza for lunch,” and a coworker invites you to get pizza. Or you make a movie about the zoo in Central Park, including a lion and a giraffe — neither of which reside in the Central Park Zoo, incidentally — and you call this movie Madagascar, and along comes a new movie featuring the non-residential lion and giraffe of the Central Park Zoo. Happens all the time.

Russell the SheepSo, I hadn’t done a picture book post in a while, but I’d had one in mind, when FuseNumber8 posted number seven in her series of hot men of children’s lit. Who is it but Rob Scotton, author of one of my favorite new books, Russell the Sheep. And I was just thinking about a post on sheep. How about that?

Russell the Sheep, besides having a hot author, also has a wonderful illustrator. Every expression on Russell’s face is just perfect, and the scenes offer much to look at (Where is the frog this time?). Russell is trying hard to get to sleep, but he just can’t do it. He tries everything, and finally gets to sleep by — ready? — counting sheep. No deep message, but a very cute book.

Pete the Sheep SheepNew this year is Jackie French’s Pete the Sheep Sheep, and it’s a funny one. While all of the other sheep shearers have sheep dogs, Shaun has a sheep... sheep. Pete talks very nicely to the sheep he’s herding, so all the sheep want to go to Shaun. The other sheep herders get mad and send Shaun and his sheep away. In his sadness, Shaun shears Pete — his only sheep left — and gives him a funky hairdo. When the other sheep see it, they want new hairdos also, and they seek out Shaun. The other shearers have no choice to to join Shaun and his sheep sheep, and they resolve all of their differences in an amusing way.

DelilahDelilah, by John Bemelmans Marciano, is one of my favorite books ever as far as planting a message to kids in a book. The farmer Red gets a lamb, Delilah, and she follows him everywhere. They become good friends working side by side on the farm. Red makes so much money from her wool that he decides to buy a bunch of sheep so Delilah will have friends. But the new sheep don’t like that Delilah associates with humans and doesn’t behave like a real sheep should. They leave her out until she agrees to take off the special bell that Red gave her and blend in with all of them. She tries this for quite a while, but is very sad, and watches Red being very sad. Then one day in the spring, as Red is shearing her, she can stand it no longer and licks him. They are overjoyed to find each other again, and Delilah doesn’t worry about what all the other sheep want. What a great message about being yourself and not following the crowd.

Farmer Brown Shears His SheepI bring this next book out every year at this time. Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep, by Teri Sloat, is a masterpiece of rhythm and rhyme and just plain fun. While kids are laughing at the story, they are learning about the process of turning wool into yarn. Farmer Brown shears his sheep in the spring, but they are too cold, so they follow him around as the wool is cleaned, dyed, and turned into yarn. He finally notices his shivering sheep and knits them all wool sweaters to wear after shearing each year. It’s fun to read and educational too.

Go ahead FuseNumber8, what am I thinking about... now?

Queen Bee Moms

Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin DadsI’m drinking my coffee trying to wake up for another day when this article in the Washington Post Health section catches my eye. Rosalind Wiseman, who wrote Queen Bees and Wannabes, is taking on the moms with her new book Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads. I am already hooked on three levels: psychology (my college major), moms (my chosen profession), and bees (because they make honey, and I looove honey).

The author explores the hidden world of moms, which isn’t as different from middle school as you might think. There are cliques and competition. There is gossip and shunning. There is the dreaded PTA, which should be an avenue for bringing parents together in the interest of the needs of the school and the children, but all too often is taken over by control freaks with their own pet projects in mind.

Brring. Brrring. The telephone rings. And lo and behold, it is one of my friends who needs to let off steam about this very thing. One of the moms on the PTA board wants the PTA to pay for a pizza party. But the PTA won’t pay for a party when it is usually this mom and four other families who come. Plus this mom doesn’t mingle with the other parents anyway, so why should the PTA pay for what is essentially her party? Another mom wants the PTA to contribute to her pet project, a charity walk. Well, it happens to be illegal for one nonprofit to pay out to another nonprofit (unless it is in that first nonprofit’s mission to do so). So, uh, no. We won’t be contributing. Another PTA parent gave money to her volunteers for helping her with a fund-raiser, obviously stretching the definition of volunteer.

My oldest used to go to a co-op preschool. Now the idea of the co-op preschool is to reduce costs and increase parental involvement by having parents running things overall and assisting in the classroom, but with a paid director and teachers. I loved the concept, but what I found was a tight clique of moms running things and putting other moms down. They were mostly women who had stopped working when they had kids, and now had to make work for themselves. We couldn’t have two fundraisers, we had to have twelve. We couldn’t do one thing for teacher appreciation week, we had to do five. I just wanted to send my daughter to preschool and help out in the classroom sometimes. How did it get so complicated?

Too many moms with too much time on their hands.

Please, take up knitting, quilting, tae bo, but stop mucking around in our schools and our PTAs.

I am heading out to buy this book, probably the first book I have bought new in a year, because I can’t wait for my library to get it. Beware — this isn’t the last you have heard from me on this topic.

Extreme Booktalking

When librarians (or teachers) talk about specific books to children to get them interested in reading them, we call that Booktalking (yes, counterintuitive, I know). When librarians talk about specific books to other librarians so that they can talk about the specific books to children to get them interested in reading them, we call that Extreme Booktalking (actually, “we” probably don’t call it that, but I am hoping to start a trend — like procrasdenial).

Extreme Booktalking is what I did today, my friends.

I only had four books to present, which was very manageable. I didn’t have to present a topic, like “preparing your booktalks.” Which is fortunate, because I wouldn’t have been much help to anyone. I do pretty much the opposite of everything I am supposed to do. I read the book (that part is pretty standard), and I wait for inspiration. Sometimes I know immediately how I am going to introduce this book in an exciting way. Otherwise, I just wait for it to hit me — washing dishes, driving the car, taking a shower, taking a nap — the idea will come. When the beginning hits me, the rest of the booktalk just flows. Or sometimes, I know how to describe the story, but I don’t have a hook. Then I ask my oldest daughter, who just shoots these things out like nobody’s business.

When I know mostly what I want to say, I don’t write it down. I rarely rehearse it out loud. I just run it through in my head. Sometimes I’ll be driving to the school and think of a booktalk that day. Or I’ll change to a different intro, just to mix things up. I would love nothing better than if I was asked on the morning of the booktalk to somehow include a chicken and a bowling ball in the mix. This is my own little improv show, and I like it.

Here are the four books and my hooks.

Sweet ToothSweet Tooth, by Margie Palatini
I just read the first few pages of this book with a suitably annoying voice for the obnoxious sweet tooth.

Fashion KittyFashion Kitty, by Charise Mericle Harper
Hi! I’m Kiki Kitty and I want to tell you three interesting things about my family. The first interesting thing about my family is that we have a mouse for a pet. Since we are cats, us having a mouse for a pet is like you having a chocolate cake for a pet. “I love you, but I’d like to eat you.” But we are vegetarians, so we don’t eat mice...

Lowji Discovers AmericaLowji Discovers America, by Candace Fleming
Raise your hand if you came here from another school or town. Raise your hand if you came here from another state. Maybe you found different accents here, or new stores, or new trends. Now raise your hand if you came from another country. A lot was different for you, wasn’t it? Kids didn’t do things the same way, maybe you didn’t understand everything people were saying. Well, that is what happened to Lowji when he and his family came to America...

The Liberation of Gabriel KingThe Liberation of Gabriel King, by K.L. Going
What are you afraid of? Spiders? Ghosts? Robbers? Maybe it’s getting lost or missing your bus? Maybe even loose cows or sticking your hand in the blender? All of these and more are on Gabriel King’s list of fears...

I had you eating out of the palm of my hand with just those, didn’t I?

ProcrasDenial, and a Little Rambling

For many years now, my husband and I have been eating off of the good china. Actually, it isn’t our good china, but it was somebody’s good china until we acquired it from a secondhand store and ran it through the dishwasher 14,000 times. The failing of this china, besides its oh-so-slightly delicate pattern, is that it only has seven dinner plates. This was fine for a couple, and then even fine for a couple plus one, but when our youngest graduated from plastic Sesame Street plates (find a card at Hallmark for that), we were always scrounging for dinnerware.

This past October I stumbled across an incredible deal at Ross (which is a lower-class Marshall’s), a huge set of plates, bowls, mugs, serving plates for twenty bucks, just because the box was open, crunched, and two bowls were broken. Quite the bargain. The plates were simple white with a dark blue band around the edge. I took them home, washed them, and placed them in our cabinets. And immediately regretted my purchase.

The plates were huge. The bread and butter plates were the size of our old china dinner plates. The “cafe-style” dinner plates were large enough to serve a whole roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and corn-on-the-cob on the side. They didn’t fit well in our dishwasher, and in the next few days as I used them I felt like I was either skimping on the meal (from Chez le Fancy, here is your chicken nugget on a bed of corn) or fattening my kids up to make wrestling weight. (“Come on kids! We need to gain fourteen pounds by Friday! Eat your pound of s’getti!”)

Two months ago at Ross (I like lower-class Marshall’s) I found a set of dinner plates that were less imposing, and cheap. I loaded two boxes into the trunk of my car and took them home.

And there they sit, still in the trunk of my car.

Oh, I visit them. Every time I get groceries, I see them as I load the car. And as I take the groceries into the house, I think that I should really carry those plates in. But I am sick of carrying things after carrying all the groceries. And later, well...

Here’s the thing — it has gone past procrastination. I need to admit that I made a mistake, either in buying the old plates or the new ones. But something was a mistake. And I need to remedy that mistake, either by replacing the old plates or returning/donating the new ones. And either is going to involve work at this point. Packing up the old plates, washing and putting away the new plates. Arranging for donation. I don’t want to deal with it. That is why this is more than procrastination, it is also denial. Hence my new word, ProcrasDenial. (Hey, if Colbert can do it with “truthiness,” so can I.)

So, here I am today, Friday as it were, and looking to a weekend visiting my mother. That would leave little time, wouldn’t you say, for the rather important book-talking presentation I have to give on Monday, whereby I will stand up in front of seventy of my colleagues and demonstrate how they should present a select number of books to the schoolchildren across our large county. I will present four books. I have known about this presentation for five months. I have read the books, five months ago. My preparation for this presentation since then...


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Newbery Awards Take Two

I have officially read all of the Newbery Honor Winners for 2006 and they are... good.

Every year the Newbery awards disappoint me. I generally think that the books are good, but I am very rarely wowed. And when I am wowed, it is always by a book on the honor list and not by the winner — as it is this year. It hit me yesterday why the Newbery books are usually just all right: because they are selected by committee.

An individual will pick a book that rocks because it taps into something unique in its concept, plot, expression, etc. In a committee, someone else will hate that book for the very same reason. So the committee picks a book that generally offends no one and rarely makes a statement more controversial then “reading is important.” (Hence a subtext theme about reading or banned books in 4/5 of this year’s winners). Sometimes an issue book will make it onto the list, but the issue has to be pretty well agreed upon. Show Way tells us that years of oppression for blacks was bad. Hitler Youth tells us that years of brainwashing of German youth led to the Holocaust, which was bad. Actually, I think both of these books are very good, and in fact the best things on the list this year. But certainly not controversial.

I talked about the Newbery books I had read before, so here are the three that I hadn’t read.

WhittingtonWhittington, by Alan Armstrong, is the story of a cat and his boy in history, as told by a different cat to a barn full of animals. Also woven into the story is a boy who comes to the barn with his sister to learn to read, and doesn’t seem the least surprised to have the animals talk to him. So I guess this is a fantasy. It’s a nice book for elementary school readers.

Princess AcademyPrincess Academy, by Shannon Hale, is the story of a society from long ago with a little bit of magic about it. It has been foretold that the new princess will come from this village of mountain miners, so the girls are sent to a school to learn how to be a proper princess and be selected by the prince. They also manage to learn to read in an incredibly short time. Must be the mountain air. Our library cataloged this book for teens, but it is certainly appropriate for older elementary school readers.

Hitler YouthHitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, is a nonfiction looking at the children of Germany in the years preceding the Holocaust. Children were all but forced into the Hitler Youth “clubs,” almost all academic schooling was suspended, books were banned, and that was just the beginning. I learned a lot reading this book, things I never knew about the kids under the Hitler regime and their role in bringing about World War II. And I have read a few things about the Holocaust. This is an extraordinary book and I wish that every adult would read it, along with the teens for whom it is intended.

Next year I am advocating a Newbery dictatorship. Five people are selected at random from the committee, they each submit their favorite book, rock/paper/scissors to decide the winner. And please, no more books about how great reading is. We get it.

Improv This

Shout out to my improv friends. Improv is so, so hot right now.

I am, admittedly, an improv wanna-be. With the suburban mom/working gig I can’t find the time, but man I love the idea of improvisational acting. I got a little taste when I worked on Tohubohu Productions’ first short film. We outlined the scenes, but improvised all of the script. The film was a bit rough around the edges, since it was the first one, but the improv gave it such a fresh feel.

Improv WisdomBut if I can’t do improv, I can read about it. Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up, by Patricia Ryan Madson, is a new book taking the maxims of improv and applying them to life. She asks us to “say yes” and to “start anywhere.” It is another way of looking at the world in a creative way, and the author even gives the reader exercises from improv to make her points. Sometimes her ideas seemed like a bit of a stretch, other times they seemed quite valid. It didn’t all resonate with me, but I think it would mean a lot to the people who do improv acting and follow the principles she outlines.

For me, interesting, but not life-altering. Any comments, improv buffs?

First Day of Spring My Ass

I just want it known that I have officially had it. I am done with winter. Done, I tell you. I had sworn to many people that I was boycotting the whole winter thing by putting away my sweaters and heavy coat, and I didn’t care how cold I got in my three-quarter-sleeve button-up shirts from Old Navy.

Hah, winter — your move.

Freaking snow.

Nicely played, winter. Nicely played.

My move? Weak, and yet at the same time decisive. A little book spring cleaning took place last week. (Did you hear me winter? Last week!) In my book spring cleaning I returned:
  • An Idiot Girl’s Christmas by Laurie Notaro
    Would have been funnier at Xmas.

  • Easier Than You Think, by Richard Carlson
    Yeah, that’s what you say.

  • Clutter’s Last Stand, by Don Aslett
    Clutter is bad. Repeat concept 413 times.

  • Leon and the Champion Chip, by Kurzweil
    Kids’ book. Failed to engage.

  • Girl in a Cage, by Yolen
    Not what you think. Couldn’t get into it. (The book, not the cage.)

  • Sex with Kings, by Eleanor Herman
    Exactly what you think, but not as interesting as you would think.

  • The Bush Dyslexicon, by Mark Crispin Miller
    Bush says things funny and we elected him. Too ticked to read this book.

  • Time Management, by Marshall Cook
    I wanted to keep this, but couldn’t resist the irony of returning it unread.
There you have it. My book spring cleaning is done and now I am going to wash all the drapes or wax the tabletops or whatever else I have to do to prove that spring has begun. And no snow is going to change my mind.
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Introducing the Three-Way

Obviously, I need something serious in my life — something that challenges me, something that fulfills me. But... I also like to have fun, to laugh, to lighten up. And then, sometimes, I want to reach out of my comfort zone and try something different, explore a new culture, race even.

So I’m taking on all three, and I refuse to feel guilty about it.

The Children of Henry VIIIWith The Children of Henry VIII, by Alison Weir, it is definitely serious and challenging. I am fascinated by Henry VIII, his wives, and his children and have read some great fiction about them (to be covered another day). This book, though, is nonfiction and truly dense. I want to learn more, but I can’t read too much at one time or my head spins. (Now, if I was loose with the word literally, like some people are, I would have said that “it literally makes my head spin,” which I would have thought meant “it really makes my head spin,” but would actually have meant “it propels my head off the stablizing force of my neck and twirls it around like a ballerina at a Swan Lake audition.”) So I read a chapter in this book and then switch to...

Diana Lively Is Falling DownDiana Lively Is Falling Down, by Sheila Curran, which is a chick lit book, and a British chick lit book to boot. I mean “Mackintosh” for “raincoat” in the second sentence kind of British. Being that I love all things British, especially the accents, I may love this book. It is light, and funny. Starting off a little rough, but I am willing to give it a go. It is the sorbet in my reading meal so I can get back to...

Dreams From My FatherDreams From My Father, by Barack Obama, which I have wanted to read ever since he gave his speech for the Democratic Convention. Son of a goat herder, self-named “skinny kid with a funny name.” Love this guy. The book is going well, and I could probably just whiz through it, but I want to savor it. Really get to know Barack. (Do you think he minds if I call him that? I feel so close to him.)

What can I say? One book at a time may be enough for some people, but it isn’t enough for me.

When Good Authors Write Bad Books

Bad, bad, bad, bad books.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward TulaneI like Kate DiCamillo. Her book Because of Winn Dixie was a masterpiece in character development and pacing. The Tale of Despereaux won the Newbery Medal. What ever would make her write this new, depressing book, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane?

The story is of a china rabbit who is cold and needs to learn to love, which apparently involves the roughest treatment a china rabbit has ever known. In the story, the rabbit is lost, thrown in the ocean, lives in a garbage dump, watches a little girl die, and gets nailed to a post. Have I ruined the plot for you? Good. Now, there is one more person in the world who won’t be subjected to this book.

I admit, I am a softy. I don’t own The Veleteen Rabbit or read it to my kids. I didn’t even want my nine year old to read Charlotte’s Web because I thought it was too sad (of course, she found it on her own and loved it). But I am not the only one with this opinion on this book. Check out this article in Book World, “When Bad Things Happen to Bad Bunnies.”

And a personal note to Kate DiCamillo. Kate, please check with your doctor about upping your Prozac. Or start taking Prozac. Or even take a vacation. But please, until you get yourself together, don’t write again.

Stream of Consciousness

I think I have a fever and my hand hurts from pulling dead plants out of the garden for six hours yesterday and I don’t know what was I thinking doing that nonsense for six hours but I guess I just wanted to be outside because it was so lovely and I felt guilty for not going home to help my mom out so I had to do something productive even though it was not my fault that we didn’t go home because my youngest had a low fever and we were worried about traveling three hours with her, because what if she got sicker or we gave the illness to my mom or one of the adults got sick and couldn’t make the drive back which is apparently what happened so maybe staying here was the right choice, though perhaps six hours of gardening wasn’t the right choice given that there is so much undone laundry in the house that I am down to granny pants and thongs in my underwear drawer, emergency underwear as it were for those times when I haven’t been able to get anything done which we might call now after I have literally leaped over the pile of clothes falling out of my closet onto the floor and encroaching on the bed area necessitating the leap over them and believe me, when I use the word “literally” I mean it, not like some people use “literally” to mean “a lot” but I mean it in that both feet left the floor as I made my way around this pile thinking as I jumped that it was just one more thing I needed to take care off like the clutter of blog entries I am ready to make with titles like “A Confession,” “Crushed,” “Another Three-Way,” and other clever things but I can’t get my head around writing them even though the books are lining up in my mind like airplanes ready for takeoff and perhaps I should let one of these ideas fly, but I just want to go back to bed or stare at the TV and watch mentally uninspiring shows because I don’t want to have to work my brain for a moment more because I think I have a fever.
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Gay Penguin Love II

And Tango Makes ThreeHow edgy am I? Just so on the cusp of what is hot, that I selected and suggested the book And Tango Makes Three mere weeks before it appears on The Colbert Report.

Apparently, a couple of parents in Missouri objected to this book being in their public library, and somehow the news feeds picked up the story. The library did not remove the book from its collection, but did move it to the nonfiction section, so it would be less likely to “blindside” somebody.

Ah, so many layers to this story. Where to even begin?

There is the sociological implication of our worries about gay penguins taking over the world. For an angry take on that, perhaps, you might go to another site, maybe Prometheus Unleashed. Though I would looooooove to go into it, that’s not what I’m about here at MotherReader.

There is the response of the library to consider, which was not wrong, but was pretty meek. I mean, two parents complain, and you move the book? What if I object that I don’t want my preschooler to inadvertently pick up a book about Noah’s Ark? Should all of those books go into the religion section? There are picture books that deal with the death of a parent or of a pet. Maybe they should all go in the section on grief? Where do you want to draw the line on what is unobjectionable? To the library’s credit, at least they didn’t get rid of the book. So that is something.

There is the mindset of the parents to explore. It is a public libary holding books for all the public. If you don’t like a book, if it offends you in some way... don’t check it out. It is really that simple. You can exercise your parental control to say, “I do not wish to read this book to my child.” So. Don’t. Read. It. To. Them.

There is the worry of introducing delicate subjects to children. Remember, parents, children will ask you questions based on what they are capable of processing, and you, as a parent, can answer accordingly. A child may listen to this book and ask why it was that two boy penguins wanted to stay together. We as parents can say, “Sometimes a man may love a man or a woman may love a woman, and they want to be together.” We do not have to go into the whole gay culture or what a man and a man do together in bed, any more then we would explain the whole bar scene or what a man and a woman do together in bed. When sex comes up with children, I would go with the “when a man and woman love each other very much...” talk, not the “when a man and a woman get drunk and they feel this special itch...” talk.

Then there is the book itself, which I stand by as a lovely, gentle story about adoption and love. You could use it as a springboard to talk about the diversity of the world, but you don’t have to do so. I would be willing to bet that four out of five preschoolers wouldn’t ask a single question about the two boy penguins. So it doesn’t need to be that worrisome. The authors told the story, they didn't put thoughts in the penguins heads. We are making the interpretation ourselves. There is no gay penguin love agenda.

What is most important here — what we can’t forget — is how incrediblly cutting edge I am to have suggested the book in the first place.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Sometimes you just know that it isn’t working out. Sure, there was an initial attraction, but then... nothing. You’re just bored. Little irritations become big issues. “Who uses the word paradigm anyway?” You fight to stay invested. It may get better. It may be worth all the struggles in the end. But maybe you’re just not in that place now, for something light or something serious or something different. You know you need to make room in your life for something new, but it feels so wrong.

It’s okay to say, “It’s not you, it’s me,” when you’re dumping a book.

The CourtesanI dumped a book just this week, and do feel some regret. It was The Courtesan, by Susan Carroll, and as I was reading it I had the sneaking suspician that I was missing something, after the first one hundred pages seemed to be all back story. Maybe the first book in the series would be good, but I am just not willing to invest that kind of time in a book I was only marginally interested in in the first place. So, one hundred pages into it, I stopped reading and returned the book.

You can dump a decent book if it just doesn’t fit you, doesn’t engage you, doesn’t interest you, doesn’t make you want to keep reading. There are too many fish in the sea — or books on the shelves, as it were — to waste time on the wrong one. Even if it’s just the wrong book for you, for now.

I was not always this harsh, this cold. I would read the worst book to the very end, but I would be resentful. I wasn’t enjoying myself, or worse, wasn’t reading at all, stifled with guilt over the book I was avoiding. I had to change. I still find it difficult to let go, but it is getting easier.

I helped a friend get out of a bad book relationship recently. With a young child, she has limited time to read and was strugging with a book of short stories. We talked about it, and I told her it was time to move on — especially with A Million Little Pieces waiting in the wings. She took my advice and later confessed what a pleasure it was to finally remove the bookmark from the pages. You go, girl! Movin’ on.

Guys, It’s About Time

Today I discovered that we had no honey for me to make my favorite sandwich, peanut butter and honey. And we didn’t have milk, so I wouldn’t want peanut butter anyway, ’cause what is a peanut butter sandwich without milk? Just wrong, I tell you. With a moment’s reflection, I decided upon tuna fish, and the sigh that inadvertently escaped my body at that moment of decision reflected my extreme irritation at having to take the time to make a tuna fish sandwich. You would think I had to catch, scale, and fillet the tuna for the internal reaction it caused. Changing the paradigm, I decided to time my tuna fish sandwich making process. Four minutes. And that included toasting the bread and putting some Fritos on the plate. Maybe I have that kind of time. Other things I tend to put off that I have timed:

Unloading the dishwasher: Four minutes with my kids helping, three minutes with them not helping.

Opening two days of mail: Six minutes. While eating a tuna fish sandwich, seven minutes.

Reading my email today: Two minutes.

Thinking about why no one sends me emails: Two minutes.

Going to my site to reread my “Ode to Seuss”: One minute.

Calling a friend to ask why he hasn’t read my “Ode to Seuss” yet, or does he even really like me at all, ’cause I know he is my husband’s friend, but really, I listen to all of his crap and overuse of profanity, so can’t he like spend ONE minute to check out my site after I have only told him about it four times: Fourteen minutes.

So, remember today, we have the time. Don’t make me call you.
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Ode to Seuss

The sun did not shine
It was too wet to play.
So I sat by the computer
All that cold, cold, wet day.

I sat with my blog.
We sat there, just deuce.
And I said, “How I wish
I could rip off Dr. Seuss.”

Then I looked up,
And saw him step in on the mat!
I looked up. I saw him!
The Cat in the Hat!

(Or it could have all been
in my head, not a fact.
I’d taken two Advil
And at least four Prozac.)

The Cat said,“Now why
Do you sit there so gloomy?
Your house looks quite clean
Your playroom quite roomy.”

I said, “It’s my blog,
I need something to write.
I can find no inspiration
At least not by tonight.”

“Inspiration, you want.”
(sounding kind of like Yoda)
“Open your eyes,” he said,
“And get me a soda.”

“All that you’re looking for
Is here on this shelf.
You don’t need any more,
You can get it yourself.”

And then all the titles
Popped right out at me
With a surreal neon glimmer.
(Note: Avoid LSD.)

Oh, Say Can You Say?
The Foot Book, ABC,
Hop on Pop, Mr. Brown,
The Shape of Me.

Horton, and Yertle
The Lorax and Grinch
The King’s Stilts, Mulberry Street
Oh, this was a cinch!

I turned then to thank him,
That Cat in the Hat.
I turned then to thank him
But he’d have none of that.

Then putting a finger
Aside of his nose,
He gave me a wink
And up the chimney he rose!

(Sorry about that —
A little Xmas got in.
Guess I shouldn’t have taken
That third Vicodin.)

Let me say to you all
Dr. Seuss broke the mold,
Giving us the best books
For all of time told.

From America to Uruguay
Readers, thinkers, let loose.
Take a moment to say,
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss.
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Book Purge

You hear about the occupational hazards of firefighters and police officers, but do you hear about the librarians? No, you don’t. But our hazards are just as real, if less serious than say, being burned or shot.

I am talking about book binges. Yes, I said it. Confronted with thousands of books every working day, we can’t help but bring a few home — and then a few more, and a few more, until it is far too much for any one person to read.

For me, today, it’s time to purge. And here’s what’s going back to the library — with no links, because they didn’t make the cut.
  • The World’s Easiest Guide to Understanding the Bible
    Skim-read parts of this; can’t remember why I checked it out.

  • Fun With the Family in Virginia
    Checked out when we had a free weekend, only to realize that if I had a free weekend I had a lot to do at home.

  • Fun With the Family in Maryland

  • Trash to Treasure
    Only two good ideas in the book for me. Do I really need a use for crushed soda cans?

  • Altered Art: Techniques for Creating Altered Books, Boxes, Cards and More
    Love the concept, but the art examples they use are soooo surreal that it turned me off.

  • The Ten Things You Can’t Say in America
    Hold it, is this guy a Republican?

  • Loving Lefties
    Read parts of this, skipped parts of this. Actually an interesting book, but I’ve finished it.

  • Birth of Venus
    Had this forever; couldn’t get into it.

  • Shroud of the Thwacker
    Didn’t finish it, need to move on.

  • Technique in Singing
    More intense than I thought it would be.
I still have fifteen books at home, so look soon for Book Purge II.
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