Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Reading More: Yes, You Can!

Summer is the perfect time to read. Even though summer days remain 24 hours, they feel longer, which is a delicious situation for readers. 

School is out, work very well could slow down, and summer vacations away from the distractions of life present ample opportunities to bury yourself in a book.

We can create opportunities to increase the amount of time we read with a few tweaks to our habits.

(By the way, feel free to apply these practices appropriately to other activities you'd like to spend more time doing.)


  • Put down the social media. Take the summer off of your personal social media use. Trust me, it will still be there when you get back — and chances are, it will be easier to use, less intrusive, and maybe even a little more civil. 
  • Can't step away from personal  social media use? First, see a professional about this issue, then set limits for social media use:
    • set a timer for only a few minutes, then stop when the timer goes off
    • only read social media in certain situations that limit your time
      • X number of stops on your train commute
      • on the potty (to which you needn't admit)
      • on your 15-minute breaks at work
      • via certain electronic devices only (when you can access your desktop computer, for example, or at home on your tablet)
  • For the record, "setting limits" includes this blog. Check in to see what's up and enjoy my delightful and entertaining posts, then get back to reading.
  • Turn off the television — or whatever you use for "screen time," including You Tube, Netflix, and Hulu. 
    • Too radical? Then try Appointment Television, watching it "live" on the broadcast channel, or on a schedule (The Crown at 7 p.m. only on Thursdays, for example).
  • Read aloud with a buddy, alternating chapters or voicing characters. This increases the time you spend with friends (in person or virtually) and you get your reading in!
  • Get your family in on this deal: listen to audiobooks on road trips — or be like my friend Carole who reads aloud as her family motors down the road together. (She is hardcore.)
  • Get a single copy of a book you want to read, and set a deadline to share it with a reading buddy.
  • Join your library summer reading program, so you double the incentive for reading a lot. And if your library doesn't offer incentives for adults, talk to your librarians to change that.
  • Visit your library regularly. Make a weekly date, or spend time there instead of at work when avoiding rush hour. Yes, this way is fraught with peril, snatching books to stack on your TBR pile, but how else can you find your next read if not at the library?
  • Talk you your friendly neighborhood librarian and get introduced to books you will willingly put before other forms of entertainment.

These are just a few ideas, and no doubt you know of others that have worked for you. So, tell us: how do you make ample time for reading? Post your suggestions below, or contact me directly and I'll share with the rest of the class!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Summer Reading: What's on my TBR List?

Summer reading is fraught with peril.

Choose the wrong books and you've wasted your summer reading bad books. Choose nothing at all, and you may read nothing.

Choose too many books and you could be paralyzed with fear at the tide of books you face, and the possibility that you may not finish. Choose only a handful of books and so many are left unread.

Choose books, then risk not reading those particular tomes because you stumbled across other books.

Okay, "peril" is a strong word — but you get my drift. With choice comes limitation, or responsibility, or paralysis. Or, in my case, failure.

Last year, I listed 45 books I wanted to read. Of the 26 books I read last summer, eight were on the original list. Some books have been on the list for years. Some books are pies in the sky. Some books will always be on my TBR shelf.

However, this year, I decided to take a different approach. Instead of rustling up gobs of books from my bookshelves, scouring my library and my wish lists, I simply looked at what was on my nightstand.

Well, "nightstand" isn't quite accurate: In March, my husband David installed the floating shelves my stepson Phil gave me for Christmas (left). That has lightened the load on the nightstand itself, but I keep a few there anyway so I can reach them for reading in bed.

More importantly, it gave me the opportunity to prune the books teetering on my nightstand. There are two ways to look at TBR stacks: opportunity or oppression. By thinning the stack awaiting me for nighttime reading, I could see them as the former, and enjoy them more.

So, here are my Upstairs TBR Bedroom books, in no particular order:
  • Less
  • Small Great Things
  • The Divine Comedy
  • A Man Called Ove


  • Hamilton
  • The Book of the Unknown
  • The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu
  • Being Mortal
  • Reading Dante
  • Standard Deviation
  • The Bear and the Nightingale
  • The Lilac Girls
  • The Fall of the House of Cabal
  • March (books 1, 2, 3)
  • Educated
  • We Were Eight Years in Power
  • The Keeper of Lost Things
  • 4 3 2 1
  • The Art of War Visualized


I have a few more books in the home library that I will include on this list — but only once I clear these books from my upstairs shelves.

This does not include the multitude of books on my Kindle and in Audible, which often (but not always) duplicate what I have on my shelves. Among those is:

  • Norse Mythology
  • Lady Cop Makes Trouble
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
  • Differently Morphous
  • The Power
  • Welcome to Night Vale


Some of these books intersect with those to be featured this autumn at Fall for the Book, and the serendipity makes me smile. Others that have not yet been read will be, if not this summer, then at least before the October festival.

Those sentiments — home library, multiple books on multiple platforms, attending a major book festival — are steeped in privilege, and trust me, I know full well the privilege of purchasing and reading books. I share my good fortune when I can, and I hope those folks whose share my good fortune also spread the love of books and reading.

So, in a nutshell, that is what I hope to read this summer. I have heard from another reader, Karen,  whose reading list we will see in the coming days  — and yes, for ideas as well as for support.

What's on your nightstand or bookshelves that you plan to read this summer? Share your summer reading list in the comments below, or send it to me and I will share it with our fellow book lovers!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Summer Reading: Get With the Program

DoodleCats by Beth Wilson at www dot doodlecats dot com
Summer reading means hot days and humid nights reading any book you darn well please.

Reading with friends makes it even better — so get with the Program!

That's the whole reason for the Summer Reading Program: to gather friends, make new friends, and READ.

The Summer Reading Program lasts from the Friday before Memorial Day and the first weekend in autumn. In 2018, that is Friday, May 25 through Sunday, September 23. 

If you read the most of anyone in our program, I will give you a book. (I know, right?)

So, to get in on this sweet deal, what do you have to do? Not much. Contact me directly or leave a comment below. 

We programmers can tell each other what we are reading, what we plan to read, what we actually read, and what we would read if we had way more time.

What kind of books count? All kinds! Mix a few graphic novels in with non-graphic novels, catch up on your comics, toss in some audiobooks, and front-load the e-reader of your choice. (We are equal opportunity here at the Summer Reading Program: Nooks, Kindles, tablets, phablets — all are welcome.)

Kickstart your reading with a treat: go to your favorite book source and pick up that book you have been promising yourself you will read. 

Is it trashy? Good. 
Is it short? Excellent. 
Is the cover bright? Perfect! 
Is it the next in your beloved series? Go for it!

Once I figure out how to easily put my photos on my computer (long story), I will share my reading list — which consists of books that are literally hanging around my nightstand.

Even if you don't join the reading program, I still would love to know: what's on your summer reading list? Tell me!chattingwithchris@gmail.com

And a special shout-out to the artists of this year's Summer Reading graphic: Beth Wilson and her DoodleCats!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Summer Reading: Get Booked!

I hope you had a good Memorial Day, stacking up your books on the nightstand or desk, putting them in order for —

Oh, maybe that was just me. 

Anyway, summer reading has begun, so get with the program!

Summer reading means long days and humid nights reading any book you darned well choose. We count books read between the Friday before Memorial Day and the first Sunday in autumn. In 2018, that is Friday, May 25 through Sunday, September 23.

I have an idea of what is going on my list, and I will share my TBR with you soon.

If you still are thinking about how to spend your summer reading, visit your library (public or private), your local bookstores and thrift shops, yard sales and online book suppliers, friends and family, and choose what books look like they need to be read this summer.


Join the Summer Reading Program and put yourself in the running for a new book. Read as much as you wish  — and if you read the most books during the club reading dates, you will win a book of your own. Seriously. I will give you a book.

To get with the program, just contact me directly or leave a message below. 


Then, at the end of the summer reading period, send me an e-mail or include your reading list in a blog comment. If you read the most, congratulations! If not, you still are a winner because you spent your summer reading. And who knows, you may win a book anyway.


I've already had a few e-mails from eager readers, and I can't wait to read your list!


Even if you don't get with the program, I still would love to know: what's on your summer reading list? Tell me!


And a special shout-out to the artists of the 2018 Summer Reading graphic: Beth Wilson and her DoodleCats!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Squirrel • National Poetry Month


Thank you for spending National Poetry Month here with us at Hedgehog Lover. Keep reading poetry, keep sharing poetry, and keep loving poetry!


Squirrel


It's not a dignified end, dangling
from my fingers, held fast with
a candy wrapper salvaged from
my car floor. I found no napkin, so
I improvised, judging the safety
of the road while drudging about
for a makeshift shroud.
                                     She is small,
light, and I whisper a prayer. No,
more of an apology: had it been me,
I would have stopped, she would have
made it across. When one stops,
others follow, whether out of shame
or habit or kindness I never can tell.


I lay her gently at the curb, tuck
the wrapper under her, too small for a shroud.
A prayer, unbidden, escapes my lips:
for her, for me, for the careless driver
who brought us here, together, on the side
of the now-quiet road. It’s too late for
the peace I beg for in my fervent whisper.
It’s too late for us both.

By Chris Fow Cohen
Shared with the author's permission

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Ring • National Poetry Month



The Ring

Soon my father will lose his wedding ring
but before that happens we take the path
along the cliff-edge past the sign that says
Danger: Keep Back because the waves below
have undermined it, and the next big storm
will be enough to bring the whole face down.

I know this but I can’t help looking down
and noticing how each wave throws a ring
of pretty foam that’s nothing like a storm
round fallen rocks forming a sort of path
for someone who might find themselves below
which no one ever would, my father says.

It’s much too dangerous, my father says,
new rock-falls any time might tumble down
and injure them, and while the sea below
looks calm, a quickly-rising tide would ring
and terrify them, devastate the path,
then drown them just as surely as a storm.

I hear him out about the calm and storm
and fall in line with everything he says,
continuing along the cliff-top path
until it leads us in a zig-zag down
onto the sea-shore where a wormy ring
of sand recalls the tunneling below.

My father says the North Sea is below
freezing almost, thanks to a recent storm,
and so he eases off his wedding ring
because the cold is bound to shrink, he says,
his fingers, and his ring would then slip down
and vanish like the dangerous cliff path.

He turns around to see once more the path,
the dizzy fall, the rocks, the waves below.
He thinks his only choice is to set down
on one stone of the many that the storm
has carried from their North Sea bed, which says
a lot about the power of storms, his ring.

It slides down out of sight as though the storm
has also switched his path to run below.
This neither of us says. He never finds his ring.

by Andrew Motion
Courtesy poets.org

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Photograph of Earth From Space • National Poetry Month




Photograph of Earth
From Space

On the outskirts of Luanda, Angola,
Gerald Nduma has walked an hour to school
carrying his chair, which is really
an empty coffee can. Nine years old,
 he holds in his other hand a mango which
will be his lunch.At school,
which is really a tree, Gerald
places his lunch beneath his chair.
This day, a missionary has come
With magazines. Gerald takes what
is given him. Soon he does not hear
the teacher’s instructions. He does not hear
the students’ chatter. He is looking
at the photograph of Earth
floating in a dark sea
which Gerald imagines
is plenteous with fish.

By Pamela Porter
Courtesy Poets.ca
The League of Canadian Poets