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Remember summertime . . . and the big relief it was when that last day of school came at last, and you could turn your worn stack of textbooks back in, and turn to real books again? That’s what May makes me think of: walking to the library (happily, just a couple blocks away), breathing in a bit of lilac that I had snagged from a neighbor’s bush at my nose, poring over the well handled copies of Laura Ingalls Wilder books, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew (yes, I read both series), the Borrowers, the Littles, all my favorites. Tingling with anticipation over possibly finding new treasures to read this summer. The volumes were library-bound hard backs, with fabric covers and softly worn corners.
I grew up in a very small town, but I never remember being bored. There was no movie theatre, no mall, no internet, only three channels on the t.v. to choose from, but we always had plenty to do. Hey, we wouldn’t have been allowed to sit and watch t.v. during the day, even if there had been anything interesting to watch, anyway. Unless we were sick. Really, really, really sick.
Mom always had lots of little chores for us to help with–we had a big garden, berry patch, orchard, and lots of animals to care for–we learned very early–as mewling infants!–not to complain of boredom. We were in 4-H, and so we were always dabbling in sewing, knitting, and baking challenges, and we walked to the town swimming pool nearly every day. We started working in Dad’s drugstore as soon as we could reliably make change, and make a decent cherry phosphate.
And we read piles and piles of books. It was lovely.
I was surprised by the results of one of my impromptu survey questions on my Facebook fan page (by the way, if you haven’t liked it yet, please do! I would love to have you in on the discussions over there!). I asked my friends: what are you reading? I expected enthusiastic reports of books that I could check out myself. I got very few comments at all, and many were thus: “I read Facebook and magazines,” or “I don’t have time for books.” Oh.
This is a sad state of affairs, Gentle Readers. I’m sure you agree.
I love books. I absolutely get giddy around them. I hope to continue my love affair with books until the day I die. I always have at least two books on my bed, and I sneak in a few pages in the afternoon, if I have time to lie down for a short nap (I’m not ashamed) and at bedtime, if I can get little Mack tucked into bed early enough to still actually be able to focus my eyes, myself, on the pages.
This just occurred to me: I ought to make t-shirts: “Napper and Unashamed” or “I Nap and I’m Proud of It” or “Napping: Just Do It!” or “Isn’t it time for a NAP?”
Great. Now I want to go take a nap.
My daughter Bethany last summer worked as an electrician’s apprentice, and she was pleasantly surprised by the fact that she was able to read three big thick books over the summer, in two fifteen-minute breaks a day. She had no idea that those little breaks would result in so much reading time. So if you are one of those “I don’t have time for books” folks, then be encouraged. You probably do!
So there’s the encouragement-to-read books part of this post. Now I’ll tell you what I’ve been reading. And then you may want to scuttle off to your local bookstore, or your local library, or maybe just click one of the links provided here, and get one or two for yourself. And start reading books again! It’s such a treat to get lost in the arms of a good book. (*sigh*) Trust me. You won’t regret it.
Now, on to the books I’ve been reading. If it has been a while since you’ve read a book, but you do remember how much you used to love to read a good book, you might want to pick up this first one right away. It will light a fire underneath you to organize your time better, to find secret bits of time that you didn’t think were even there (like my daughter’s two 15-minute breaks) and it will make you feel great about reading books again.
Steve Leveen, in The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life (the subtitle got me, honestly: How to get more books in your life and more life from your books) will not only give you permission (if you feel guilty about sitting down to read, which, in my opinion, you shouldn’t) to indulge in the simple pleasure of reading a good book, no matter how busy you are, but also will suggest great ways to get more book-reading into your life. It’s an awesome little book!
(Here’s a secret, just between you et moi: I actually bought this little book as a gift for my son Matthew, who is more fond of books than anybody I know, but Amalia and I decided to read it together, first. I may still give it to Matthew, eventually. 😉 Or I may keep this volume for my collection, and buy Matthew a new one.) (In any case, shhhhh! don’t tell!)
I love this Atwood H. Townsend quote from the book:
The author, Tom Rath, sucked me right into this next book, with his personal story in the beginning pages. When he was a teenager, he discovered that he had a rare genetic disorder, Von Hippel-Lindau Disorder. It’s essentially a mutation that shuts off a powerful tumor suppressor gene and leads to rampant cancerous growth throughout the body.
Can you imagine?
The author didn’t waste time feeling sorry for himself. Instead, he turned his attention to researching all the areas of his life that he could control, in order to keep the cancers from growing, and thereby living as long a life as possible, despite this disease. He distilled the results of his research into this little book, and all the information is broken up into three areas: Eating, Moving, and Sleeping.
So with a premise like that, how can you not want to know what he discovered? If his research can help Tom Rath live a longer, fuller life, then I’m sure it can help me do the same. And you, Gentle Reader. I love this book! Eat Move Sleep: How Small Changes Lead to Big Changes.
Small Move, Big Change (Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently) by Caroline L. Arnold, is another book along the same lines. But I like this line of thinking that small habits that we develop in our lives can make really big changes. I’ve got my daily dance card absolutely packed full, and I don’t have the time, frankly, to contemplate making big changes. But small changes, I can do!
The author suggests making very tiny “microresolutions,” only two at a time, and then doggedly sticking at them, until they become a mindless part of your daily routine. Like brushing your teeth. Or making your morning coffee. Sounds easy, eh? Then she discusses all the areas of life that most of us have margin for improvement in: diet and nutrition. Clutter (cough). Relationships, and Organization. Definitely this can be a life-changing book!
I’m working on two microresolutions right now, and I feel (dare I say it?) empowered by this. It’s exciting!
The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman: either my good husband Bryan must be unaware of my mad crush on author and gardener extraordinaire Eliot Coleman, or he really felt sorry for me as I lay on my birthday deathbed (worst birthday ever: I had the stomach flu and barely moved off my bed the entire day!) a few days ago, for he gave me this book, which I’ve been hankering after forever.
I wrote about Eliot Coleman’s book Four-Season Harvest years ago, and why it CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER and also gave me a greater awareness of how I could stretch the gardening season fore and aft, and ALSO spurred me to
whine until my husband agreed to take on the massive building project last summer of building our own hoophouse. And why I have such a crush on the author. Swoon. (Oh, Eliot.)
And yet, Bryan gave me this luscious book. What a good guy he is. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that my crush lives in Maine or Vermont or someplace very far away, indeed.
It’s a heavy book, packed with meaty, practical stuff: maps, diagrams, planting tips, schedules, amazing photos, too. I love it like a brother, already, and I haven’t even read much of it yet. Or a sister. Or a sweet little baby chick. I just love it, I do. If you’re an avid gardener and want to get more out of your garden, and especially if you want to stretch the margins of your gardening season, you really must check out this book!
I started reading Alexander McCall Smith’s books, the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series, years ago, and every time I see a new one at the local library, I grab it up so fast and so vigorously that the library shifts on its foundations just a tiny bit. My kids know how much I love these books, too, and they’ll root out the new ones for me, too, when they see them.
The author creates an African detective, Precious Ramotswe, a “traditionally built” woman, who plays the detective as folk hero, solving crimes through an innate, self-possessed wisdom that, combined with an understanding of human nature, invariably penetrates into the heart of every puzzle. If Miss Marple were fat and jolly and lived in Botswana–and decided to go against the conventional notions of what an unmarried woman should do, spending the money she got from selling her late father’s cattle to set up a Ladies’ Detective Agency–then you have an idea of how Precious sets herself up as her country’s first female detective.
The books are funny, charming, and a perfect summer read. I just read the 14th installment, and it is titled The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon. If you’ve never read any of the series, though, you may just want to treat yourself and start with the first one and read the entire series.
My kids have always liked comic books. (I KNOW, right?) I’m a homeschooling mom and have always
forced encouraged them to read mainly “dollar” books (think C. S. Lewis. J.R.R. Tolkien. Jane Austen. Charles Dickens, et al) not “quarter” books (most contemporary stuff) or (gak) “penny” books (comic books). But my kids have always liked comic books. Go figure.
The Adventures of Tintin series of comic books written and illustrated by Hergé are fun to read, and even a bit educational(ish) with their international locales and historical settings, and mysterious characters. Anybody who saw the recent Tintin movie knows what I’m talking about. The unlikely hero, the reporter Tintin, with his shrewd dog Snowy, solve crimes and get into trouble and nearly always escape unscathed. The drawings are wonderful, and the cast of colorful supporting characters is fun, too.
Bottom line: even a
book snob reader with high expectations for her childrens’ reading choices, like yours truly, can enjoy and appreciate Tintin’s adventures! Little Mack has a few of these checked out from the library, and we’ve been sitting down every afternoon and reading a portion of one. It’s fun! And fun is good, don’t you agree?
I picked up a volume of Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion at a garage sale this weekend. My daughter was with me. “Do we have this book?” I asked her (such is our library–which is spread out in most rooms of our house–too vast to keep neatly inventoried in my brain) “I have a copy of that, Mom, but I don’t think you do.” Okay. So that’s the way it is. We all have our favorites, and our favorites must be in each of our individual libraries. Someday Amalia will move away, and she will take her favorite books with her–including Harry the Dirty Dog, but now I have nothing to fear: now that I have my own copy of this classic.
Because, of course, I snatched that baby up.
Harry is a sweet little dog with a very loving family, and he gets into some sort of innocent trouble in the books. There are several in the series. In this story, he gets so dirty as he tries to evade a bath (ironically) that his family doesn’t recognize him when he returns home, and they go out searching for him. (He reminds me of a little boy I know quite well.) (*sigh*) But his family loves him and they finally realize it is him, and he gets the bath he badly needs (and deserves).
I’ve read this series of books over and over to my children, and I’m looking forward to reading them over and over to my grandchildren. (happy anticipation!)
Well, Gentle Readers, that’s all the recommendations for books that I have for you today. I hope you take the time–even just a little–to read today. I sure do intend to!
I also intend to share this post with the nice folks over at The Prairie Homestead. I hope you pop over for a minute and check it out!
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