Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Brain On Books IV

Note to the entrants of last week's book giveaways: The four contests close at NOON PST today but I won't be conducting the drawings until I wake up Sunday afternoon. Thank you for your patience.

<-- click the pic to learn about the Read-a-thon

I am reading for RIF today. I don't have a sponsor but I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their 2009 Read With Kids Challenge and maybe even sign up and help them reach this year's goal of 5 million minutes read with children in three months.

This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones.

5:55 I'll be spending the last hour cheerleading is anyone still out there? Haven't heard a peep for hours.

2:55 Eva's Mini-Challenge: A tribute to Dewey.

My favorite memory of Dewey was an exchange of emails we had last August and September. I had won a book in the summer Read-a-Thon and it never arrived so while I was email regarding some other business I got up the courage to 'annoy' her with that issue and she was so kind and professional about it, tracking down what happened and asking the author herself to see that I got a copy when it became evident that the blog or business that had sponsored the prize was unable to fulfill it.

Having got my courage up to ask about the missing book, I then took the plunge to ask her for tips about book blogging. Here is a part of the resulting exchange:

Me: things are heating up for Joystory and I'm getting overwhelmed and I don't want to blow this. you seem to have it so together. how do you do it? and i mean i need details about organizing things and time etc. you can blog about it instead of email if you like. or even ignore me. :) you have got to be so busy!!

Dewey: It's funny you should ask about organizing my time, because this summer, I feel like I just let my blog go. I was moving, and I had a houseguest for weeks .... and I just ended up not having much time for reading or blogging. But in general, I think that the key to keeping up is to know your own time constraints and just not take on more than you can handle. When you want to do something big, get helpers! I couldn't do the read-a-thon or the Bookworms carnival by myself. And Weekly Geeks was a nightmare until I decided to use Mr Linky! The blogsphere is very forgiving, though, and I don't think you can really ruin your blog unless you start fighting with all your readers or something. Oh, another thing that keeps me sane is writing lots of posts on days when I have the time, but just saving them for days when I don't have the time to write anything. You know how sometimes you just get on a roll and could write all day? Use those days and write five or six posts! Then you can set some aside for later.
Why did it take so much courage to ask for her help? Because I had been watching her blog grow over that year and had been in awe. Not only in awe but I had zeroed in on Underside of a Leaf to teach how to do 'book-blogging'. Before the first Read-a-thon my blog had leaned heavily to the personal journaling side with a smattering of my own fiction and poetry. Before the first Read-a-Thon no one had reached out to Joystory to host book giveaways or offered review copies. And before that happened my stats averaged around ten visits per day. Now they are over fifty and rising. And I give Dewey the credit for that. She taught me what I know about book-blogging. Including how to have more self-confidence.

I'm so glad Dewey's husband has left her blog up because I am still taking lessons from it

1:05 I just spent the last two hours cheerleading. I had promised the 11 to midnight hour but didn't want to stop at midnight. It was exhilarating and yawn banishing. I've promised the 4-5AM slot as well so that leaves me with three hours to spend with Billie Lettes' Shoot the Moon. I won't come close to finishing it but that was never the point I want to get lost in story. After all story is my joy.

I may not get back here for another up date until the closing bell so I'll leave you with
a pic of my current reading location.

I'm reading. Have to lay aside Hunger's Bride though. Didn't reach the point I'd aimed for as the best stopping place either. But at least it isn't in the middle of a scene or a cliff-hanger. I can let it go back to the library tomorrow and wait a few days and go back after it or, more likely, my sister would go pick it up for me.

Don't blame the story for my failure to stick with it. It's so good I'm thinking already it will be worth a re-read and worth having in my personal library someday. Blame it on my visual impairment. The font just whipped my eyes into submission. If it was an ebook which I could enlarge the font to 14pt on, I could read it all night.

And don't be mystified as to why a Read-a-thon vet like me (this is my forth time) would chose a book with such drawbacks--weight, length 1322p, 11pt font, complexity--for an event that begs for easy on the muscles and joints, easy on the eyes, conducive to sustained concentration and short enough you have hope of finishing at least one.

I knew all of that and chose it anyway because I'd been trying for over nine weeks to find time to read more than two consecutive pages in a sitting without interruptions. Today I read a total of 60 in chunks averaging 10 to 15 pages. That was what I wanted to do with the dedicated reading time today.

It is going to be hard to switch novels in mid-stream. But I'm going to start Billie Letts' Shoot the Moon as soon as I click publish. No danger of that one needing to go back to the library as I brought it with me from Phoenix. There is even a slight hope that I might finish it as it is a much faster read. Well maybe less than slight. There is only 7 hours left and I'm cheerleading for two of them. Watch for me between 11PM and Midnight PST (in about an hour) and again for the final hour.

5:05 I'm going to have to take a break from the fun for awhile. My help is needed for the dinner hours prep thru clean-up. I may be able to duck in for a peek-a-boo or possibly a booless peek. It's hard to predict how long. 1-3 hours. :(

4:55 This is my entry in the Hour 11 mini-challenge at Flight into Fancy which is to write a letter to a character in one of the stories we read today.

Dear Juana Inez de la Cruz

Your precociousness in verbal and reasoning skills do not amaze me nearly as much as your tender heart. It is one thing to learn how to read at age three by spying through your sister's schoolroom window, it is another to notice and be disturbed by the way in which your family's native born servants are treated as less-than.

It is one thing to read with comprehension the reports of Thucydides at age 9? 10? it is yet another to be heart-broken when Thucydides' Athenian compatriots (representing to your mind the epitome of rationality and civilization) follow their logic to the bitterest of conclusions thus displaying it's empty heart when they slaughter all the males on the isle of Menos and sell their women and children into slavery because the people of Menos refused to swear loyalty and subservience to Athens.

You, at such a young age, 9? 10? were able to see the equality of the Athens and Menos peoples, even the parity of their respective logic (ATHENS: Exceptions would weaken us in our enemies eyes; MENOS: Acquiescing to slavery is cowardice and worse than death.) As head-shaking stunning as that achievement, it is as nothing compared to the way in which you saw your own beloved Abuelo (Grandpa) through new eyes and found him wanting in some unnameable crucial thing when he attempted to explain that ancient conflict as pragmatism (ATHENS) vs. idealism (MENOS) clearly favoring pragmatism.

The only explanation is that you were born with the soul of a poet.

Oh that we had a few such as you living in our generation.

If I could ask you to answer one question for me, it would be: Why, as an adult, did you choose to enter a cloister and take not only the vows of a nun but a vow of silence as well? Based on the reason suffused with heart you exhibited as a pre-teen, I cannot believe it was simple expediency. Not even the expediency of protecting your own life.

Your awed admirer from beyond the 'Unstable Margins'
Joy Renee

Speaking of libraries...(see update directly under this one) I had to take about an hour's break from reading to prepare and pack library books for return to the Longview Library. Books I had/have checked out on my sister's card. Some of them were due last Thursday and some of them are due next Tuesday. I've used up the two renewals. Meaning I've had them for 3x3 weeks! That's how long I've been at my Mom's. Well even longer than that because I didn't even make it out of the house let alone to the library until late January and I arrived here before New Year's by half a week. It was/is difficult for both my sister and I to be out of the house at the same time. We still are not comfortable leaving Mom alone and in January there wasn't even a hint of a question that it was possible. Because I am legally blind like our Mom, in order for me to go anywhere we have to find someone to drive me or someone to sit with Mom so my sister can drive me. (Mom broke her hip November 23 and suffered a mild stroke post surgery causing aphasia and I came north to help out.)

The Longview Public Library was my first library and the one that I grew up with until age 21. It was also my library throughout the 90s.

One of the prep steps before packing the books up today was to take down the author and title of each book for which I did not already have that info recorded already. Becasue I did actually read paragraphs, even whole pages, as I handled each book I'm going to post a partial of that list. Fiction is sparse on it because I tend to have the info recorded elsewhere if only in a wishlist.

Cults in our midst by M T Singer
Making Shapely fiction by Jerome Stearn
The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray
Creative Capitalism: A conversation with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and other economic leaders
Imperial america by Gore Vidal
The Way of the World: a story of truth and hope in an age of extremism by Ron Suskind
Planet Google: One Company's Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We know by Randall Stross
The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory , the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next by Lee Smolin
Maya Cosmogenesis 2012: The true meaning of the Maya calendar end-date by John Major Jenkins
The Body and the Blodd: The Middle East's Vanishing Christians and the Possibility for Peace by Charles M Sennott
The Gospel According to America: A Meditation on a God-blessed, Christ-haunted Idea by David Dark
unchristian: what a new generation really thinks about Christianity...and why it matters by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
Collected Stories of katherine Anne Porter (Library of America)
The American Short Story: a collectionof the best known and most memorable short stories by the great american authors edited by Thomas K. Parkes

Excuse the typos etc. I'm not fussing with it right now.

I actually handled and dipped into nearly double that number and just didn't need to record their bib info.

Now.... I'm going to go back to reading Hunger's Bride for awhile. I was supposed to send that one back today but had not reached a good stopping point. I must or else by the time I sleep because its going back tomorrow afternoon regardless. Sigh.

12:44 PM
I answered this hour's mini-challenge Love Your Local Library thusly:

Name: The Phoenix Branch of the Jackson County Library System (Southern Oregon) Located in Phoenix OR a tiny town between Medford and Ashland of Shakespearean Fesival fame.

When I'm not out of town as now, I go once or twice a month and occasionally send my husband to pick up reserves for me in between. I used to go once a week before the new building was built too far for an easy round trip on foot with book bags.

Yep the staff know me by name.

I do browse while there even tho I've usually got a dozen or more reserves waiting. Especially the new books' shelf as many of those can't be reserved. And the DVD shelf dito.

My fav thing about my library is that it is open. In 2006 the entire system of 15 branches closed for over six months for lack of funding. I was devastated. I blogged about it at the time. I started blogging daily the day I returned the last book April 2006. Before that my blog was more miss than hit.

11:45 Prompted by the hub blog to take a walk, I went out on my mini-tramp which is on Mom's front porch. I took Hunger's Bride with me so even my arms got a work out. :)

These pics were taken a week or two ago of my Mom's yard. In the first you can see the porch where my tramp sets in the upper right but the tramp isn't visible.

In the second pic, taken from the same general spot but facing down the street to the right, you can see the nearby park where Little League games are hosted. I heard them singing the national anthem as a game was about to begin while I was out there. Often while I'm out on the tramp in the afternoons, I'll hear the crack of bats on balls and the announcer chatter. The sounds of spring!

Also heard was distant lawnmowers and birds. More sounds of spring.

Well, I see it took me too long to prepare this update for it to qualify for the hour 7 challenge. :( Oh well. It was worth it. The outing did revive me.

10:22 Just spent over an hour visiting other readers but only hit a few because I spend so long on each one.

5:25 AM I'm beginning the day with Paul Anderson's Hunger's Brides. This novel is HEAVY and I mean that in both senses of the word--it's over 1300 pages and annotated like an academic treatise.

It is also smallish print so I know I couldn't stay with it for the duration today even if it didn't need to go back to the library this afternoon. I checked it out on my sister's card nine weeks ago and have used up the two renewals. I started it the first time that first week but set it aside to finish the novel I was already reading. I've restarted it at least twice since then but life keep getting in the way.

It is not the story's fault. It is the kind of story that enthralls me--stories nested inside stories. Anderson handles language like a poet. One of the central characters is an historical figure--17th century poet, nun, mystic Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz of Mexico.

The principle reason I've kept setting it aside is that it does not lend itself well to being read in snatches of moments nor to being schlepped about the house under the arm and held one-handed while stirring a pot or even two-handed while high-stepping on the mini-tramp. Like I said, HEAVY.

So I'm going to devote at least the next two, maybe three hours to it in hopes I can reach a good-enough stopping place. Then sometime next week we can get it back from the library. I hope.

5:00 AM Let's get started y'all. (i've set this to autopost at 5AM. if this parenthetical is still here I may not have had time to stop in here before starting. At least I hope it's not because I overslept.)

12 tell me a story:

Eva 4/18/2009 6:54 AM  

I'm awful with small print during the read-a-thon! So go you. :D

Unknown 4/18/2009 8:56 AM  

Good luck! Keep up the good work :-) I'll be cheering you and the other readers on!

~Melissa @ Melissa's Bookshelf

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) 4/18/2009 12:30 PM  

What beautiful flowers! It looks like a lovely day outside where you are.

Good luck with the Read-a-Thon!
Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

Lorin 4/18/2009 1:04 PM  

Good luck with the rest of the read-a-thon and have fun!

Nise' 4/18/2009 2:26 PM  

I would be so lost if our branches closed due to lack of funding. The flowers are so pretty. Happy reading.

Eva 4/18/2009 3:43 PM  

Keep it up: you're doing great! It sounds like it's been a tough year, so I hope things get a little easier. :)

Jessica 4/18/2009 4:13 PM  

Joy, happy read-a-thon! I love that you are reading for RIF. RIF is my favorite book-related charity.

christina 4/18/2009 4:44 PM  

Nice job! (And I think that all typos are excusable! *smile*)


Kailana 4/18/2009 5:03 PM  

I love seeing flowers. It means that spring is here. Yay!

Laura 4/19/2009 1:42 AM  

There's not a whole lot of time left! You were brave to volunteer during that early morning spot! Go you! :)

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books 4/19/2009 3:51 AM  

I just read thru your readathon posts, starting with most recent (tribute to Dewey). It is so great that her husband has kept the site up!

Nice work with all you did during the readathon! Congrats!

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