Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Summer Reading Club: The Reading List (Most Likely Too Ambitious, But What's New?)

Summer means reading — and summer book club! 

As a child, I loved joining the local library's summer reading club the first day of summer break, reading the requisite number of books and more, and visiting the library as often as I could get there (I lived within walking distance, ands it was the 1970s, so it was often).

Well, let this be your annual summer book club for those of us who do not have one anymore. Read for the sheer joy of it — and perhaps win a free book!

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.

So here's what I hope to consume this summer between the Memorial Day weekend and the first weekend in autumn. This year, that date is Friday, May 27 through Sunday, September 25.

If past years serve as guides, I shall carefully create a list, pondering my own library and my published library wish list, check out what is scheduled for publication — then eschew most of these titles for whatever strikes my fancy as the summer progresses. I'll express surprise, as will you, and we'll laugh at my foibles. Good times.

Now, the summer has unofficially begun with Memorial Day, a solemn occasion to remember why we have the freedom and opportunity to exercise our rights and privileges as Americans. Please, take a moment to remember the true reason for the day.

Review your bookshelves or nightstand to decide what to put on your summer reading list. Here is mine, in no particular order:

  1. Hamilton: The Revolution
  2. In the Heights: The Complete Book and Lyrics of the Broadway Musical
  3. Evicted
  4. Crenshaw
  5. Dark Money
  6. Between the World and Me
  7. The Portable Dorothy Parker
  8. Farewell, Dorothy Parker
  9. Fates and Furies
  10. Map of the Sky
  11. The Map of Chaos
  12. Ready Player One
  13. The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books
  14. Me Before You
  15. The Descent
  16. The Bookseller
  17. At the Water's Edge
  18. When Breath Becomes Air
  19. The Glass Sentence
  20. Wicked
  21. Son of a Witch
  22. A Lion Among Men
  23. Out of Oz 
  24. Bone Season
  25. The Gun Seller
  26. Wolf Hall
  27. The Lowland
  28. And the Mountains Echoed
  29. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter 
  30. The Sixth Extinction
  31. Revival
  32. Bellman and Black
  33. Just Mercy
  34. Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits
  35. Redeployment

This is a working list, so I suspect it will change. I shall come across another delectable morsel, possibly this afternoon, and I shall have to include it.

Join the Summer Reading Club and put yourself in the running for a new book. Read as much as you wish from May 22 through September 27, and if you read the most book, you will win a book of your own. 

To join the club, just send me an e-mail or leave a message below. Then, at the end of the summer reading period, send me a message or include your reading list in a blog message. If you read the most, congratulations! If not, you still are a winner because you spent your summer reading.

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

I make sure summer reading is beneficial to my community. As I have done in years past, I will  donate $5 per book I read to Main Street Child Development Center (minimum $150) (I know, no sweat, right?), and I will buy three new books for the Fairfax County Public Library from its Amazon Wish List

Hopefully, reading club members also will find a way to help their communities through their reading, or to help share the love of reading with their communities. It's not a requirement, of course, but it certainly is a worthy effort. It doesn't have to be financial support, either — think of what the community wants and needs. Every reader can determine what is within her or his power to bestow.

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

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Summer Reading Has Begun — Join the Club!

It's that time of year again: summer days full of books and discovery.

Join our annual summer reading club and spend the summer reading all of the books you want — and put yourself in the running for a free book!

That's right: if you are the book club member who reads the most books — electronic, audio and print — you will win a new book.

The reading period is from Memorial Day weekend through the end of summer. This year, let's choose Friday, May 27 through Sunday, September 25.

Send me your list any time you're ready. I'll publish mine by the end of May.

Join the club: read all summer!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Poetry Wednesday: Despair


So much gloom and doubt in our poetry-
flowers wilting on the table,
the self regarding itself in a watery mirror.

Dead leaves cover the ground,
the wind moans in the chimney,
and the tendrils of the yew tree inch toward the coffin.

I wonder what the ancient Chinese poets
would make of all this,
these shadows and empty cupboards?

Today, with the sun blazing in the trees,
my thoughts turn to the great
tenth-century celebrator of experience,

Wa-Hoo, whose delight in the smallest things
could hardly be restrained,
and to his joyous counterpart in the western provinces,

by Billy Collins

Courtesy The Writer's Almanac

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Reading Lists: Helpful or Merely Hopeful?

I have shelves and shelves of books. Nearly two dozen shelves alone are dedicated to fiction. A couple of these books already have been read, but most are waiting for the tender caress of this reader's eyes. The same holds true for my bursting-at-the-seams Kindle.

Many of these books are ones I have been promising myself to read. These were lovingly snatched out of the bookstore on Publishing Day or pre-ordered online. I couldn't wait to read them. So, what happened?

Time. Energy. A massive, towering, intimidating to-read stack on my nightstand and desk. Life. You name it, that pushes it down the to-read list.

From time to time, I jump the line (John Connolly and Night Music: Nocturnes 2, I am looking at you!) but certainly not often enough if The Map of the Sky is not yet read (let alone The Map of Chaos) and Beastly Bones remained "new" on my Kindle for months.

What is the answer to reading what I want when my sole task is to read what I want?

One suggestion is to abandon the reading list.

I approach this idea with more than a little trepidation. The intention of a reading list is to move books up my Abandoned-But-Still-Waiting List, such as The Gun Seller or The God of Small Things. It was the sole purpose of my Filling in the Gaps list (which continues to be a success). I am a member of a book club, which regularly hands me books I may never consider reading on my own. (Not all are successful, but the same could be said of my own independent selection — like anything by Neville Shute, which I submitted to that patient group.)

The other option is to implement something akin to The Book Jar, and choose titles regularly from there as often as I do from seasonal or special reading lists. I like this idea, but that still can dilute the effort, especially if I invoke first right of refusal. One would think The Book Jar is only for Special Books, but sometimes it's just not the right time to read Anna Karenina. (Perish the thought.)

So, it may be time to be a little more free-wheeling than a "reading list" often permits. Will de-listing books aid the cause? Will jarring my intentions help? Am I doomed to a teetering stack of to-reads, no matter what I do? I shall keep you apprised, fellow readers.

What have you done that has moved books up your to-read list, or do you still keep such a thing? Let me know!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Spring-Song — One Last Poem for National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month may have ended, but poetry never does. Here is one last poem to greet May. Keep reading poetry, and share poetry far and wide!


THE air was full of sun and birds,
The fresh air sparkled clearly.
Remembrance wakened in my heart
And I knew I loved her dearly.

The fallows and the leafless trees
And all my spirit tingled.
My earliest thought of love, and Spring's
First puff of perfume mingled.

In my still heart the thoughts awoke,
Came lone by lone together -
Say, birds and Sun and Spring, is Love
A mere affair of weather?