Saturday, March 30, 2013

Celebrating Vincent Van Gogh

"You can't be at the pole and the equator at the same time.
You must choose your own line..."
--Vincent Van Gogh

Field of Poppies

       On Van Gogh's 160th birthday, it is fitting to remember and celebrate his artistic genius.  No one painted like Vincent!  As stunning as his paintings are in books and postcards and prints, nothing beats seeing them in person.  If you're ever in Amsterdam, take a day to visit the Vincent Van Gogh Museum; that's where I first fell in love with his talent and vision.  And there are rooms in the Musee D'Orsay with such amazing examples of his work it will bring tears to your eyes.  It did mine.  So, here's to one of my favorite artists!

Happy Birthday, Vincent!

Wheatfield with Cypresses

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Bookish Dilemma

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be."  --William Shakespeare

I sometimes feel this way when it comes to loaning out my books.  Especially when the book loaned out comes back torn, bent, or damaged; or worse, doesn't come back at all.  (Which has happened to me more than once.)  So, the question is, to loan or not to loan.  But, what is the answer?  It's a bookish dilemma.

I love sharing the books I've read and love with others, I really do, but I don't always trust them to handle my favorite books the way I would.  (Especially when those books are out-of-print and hard to replace.)  Luckily, my sisters and closest friends love books as much as I do, so I know I can trust my books with them.  Which is good, because they own a lot of books that I want to borrow in return.

So what about you?  Do you keep your favorite books under lock and key?  Loan them out to friends and hope they come back safe and sound?  Or are you one of those people who, once they're done reading a book, can't wait to give it away?

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

     "I leaned over the rail and studied the black horizon.  Moonlight reflected on the waves like scales of some dark dragon.  I couldn't tell where the night ended and the sea began.  Between them, somewhere, was my father."

Megan Shepherd's The Madman's Daughter is a haunting retelling of H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau told through the eyes of Moreau's 16-year-old daughter, Juliet.  Abandoned by her father years earlier, Juliet journeys halfway around the world to find him.  But her father's island is full of nightmares.  And their reunion leaves Juliet wondering if her father is a misunderstood genius, or a monstrous madman.

Shepherd has created a sympathetic and memorable character in Juliet Moreau; I liked her from page one.  And Shepherd's beautiful writing makes this fast-paced story even more compelling.  This book makes me want to go back and reread H.G. Wells' classic novel all over again.  Both are great reads!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Of Lists and Books...

"I was born with a reading list I will never finish."
--Maud Casey

     I counted up my TBR books today -- all those books sitting on my shelves waiting to be read.  So far, they total 29.  (Which was actually a lower number than I thought it would be!)  They make up my first reading list.
     Then there's all the books I've heard about, or read about, or seen at the book store or online, that I've written down and want to read.  This list is considerably longer than 29...and, sadly, growing daily.
     My last list consists of the books that I've read and love and want to read again.  It's a smaller list than the first two, but just as important.  The complication comes in trying to decide what to read first -- which book from which list.  Does anyone else have this problem?
     It's tricky, sometimes, finding the right mix of old and new; the right book at the right time.  It can be a real bookish juggling act.  But it's not a bad problem to have.  And while I know I'll never be able to read all the books on all my lists, I'm sure going to have fun trying.

Happy Reading!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Elephant Enchanted

I love this picture!
But it always makes me wonder... just what book
do you read to an elephant?

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

      Mabel and Jack move to a homestead in Alaska to escape their sorrow at not being able to have a child of their own.  There, in the first snowfall of winter, they build a child from snow.  "...Jack had etched her lips and eyes.  Mabel had given her mittens and reddened her lips.  That night the child was born to them of ice and snow and longing."  But in the morning their snow child is gone.  That same day they glimpse a little girl running through the woods.
      Her name is Faina.  Jack has reason to believe that she is a real child, reasons he can't tell Mabel; Mabel is sure she is born from magic, like the snow child from her favorite Russian fairy tale.  Their nearest neighbors are sure Faina is a figment of Jack's and Mabel's feverish imaginations.  What's the truth?  And what will happen to Faina when the winter snow melts?
      The Snow Child reminded me of all the fairy tales I read and loved as a child. Eowyn Ivey does a masterful job translating this Russian fairy tale into a grown-up novel of love and magic.  I really like the way she writes. This book was a treat to read.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Books are the Answer ...

. . . to everything.  See for yourself.  Answer the following with titles of books you've recently read.  It's fun; and the results just might surprise you.  Here are mine:

1.  Describe yourself:   Girl Reading (by Katie Ward)
2.  Describe your life:   An Uncertain Place (by Fred Vargas)
3.  Describe your job:   Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (by Jonathan Safron Foer)
4.  Something you regret:  A Hundred Words For Hate (by Thomas E. Sniegoski)
5.  Your wish for the future:   The American Heiress (by Daisy Goodwin)
6.  Your perfect day:  On the Island (by Tracey Garvis Graves)
7.  Your favorite advice:  In the Sea There Are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda

Now it's your turn.  Have fun!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Catching Happiness

     "The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness.  You have to catch it yourself."                      --Benjamin Franklin

     Franklin was a wise man.  Catching happiness is up to each one of us.  It can be as simple as finding a seashell on the shore, a beautiful overlook at the end of a hiking trail, or a sharp-shinned hawk in flight.  I'm partial to playing games like Forbidden Island, Dominion, and The Haunting House with my nephews and niece.  (A library book sale is always good, too.)
     In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin spent one year consciously seeking ways to incorporate more happiness in her life.  It's a great read!  Her second book, Happier At Home, is out now as well.
             So, go out there and catch some happiness for yourself this year!