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snippets from books

Anyone who has ever owned or cared for or loved (and who doesn’t?!) a dog, will find this book moving.  {An aside: I often dream about the last dog we owned – Ginger – such a sweet sweet dog we had for fourteen loving years and I miss her to this day.}

A ‘blurb’ on the jacket of W. Bruce Cameron’s novel, A Dog’s Purpose A Novel for Humans:

“Usually when I read a book this brilliantly written, I wish I had written it, but in this case I’m just grateful it was written at all.  For years I grieved and agonized over the choices I made in caring for my dog at the end of her life, but after hearing from Bailey how deeply our dogs feel what we humans go through, I know my dog loved me till the end, and loves me still, as I love her.  This book healed me.” – Cathryn Michon, author of the Grrl Genius Guide to Life

One afternoon I was drowsily watching Sister and Fast yank on a scrap of cloth they’d found when my ears perked up–an animal of some kind was coming, something large and loud.  I scrambled to my feet, but before I could race down the creek bed to investigate the noise Mother was there, her body rigid with warning.  I saw with surprise that she had Hungry in her teeth, carrying him in a fashion that we’d left behind weeks ago.  She led us into the dark culvert and crouched down, her ears flat against her head.  The message was clear, and we heeded it, shrinking back from the tunnel opening in silence.

When the thing came into view, striding along the creek bed, I felt Mother’s fear ripple across her back.  It was big, it stood on two legs, and an acrid smoke wafted from its mouth as it shambled toward us.

I stared intently, absolutely fascinated.  For reasons I couldn’t fathom I was drawn to this creature, compelled, and I even tensed, preparing to bound out to greet it.  One look from my mother, though, and I decided against it.  This was something to be feared, to be avoided at all costs.

It was, of course, a man.  The first one I’d ever seen.

check it out

The Seguin-Guadalupe Library has an updated website that I absolutely love!  You can view your account, reserve and recommend books, receive notification when books are almost-due.  You can even apply for a library card online.

IN ADDITION, Hubby and I saved $$$ by borrowing books from our local library – to the tune of a combined total of $541!  [When I informed DH, he grunted and said that I had spent much more than that on books for our home library – I replied ” Isn’t it marvelous news that it wasn’t $541 more!”  DH groaned . . .  I smiled.]

WHAT A DEAL!  Our library is the best bargain in town!

Remember the date due library cards?
POOF!!
Gone! – now a borrower receives a computer printout of ALL books they have currently borrowed and not yet returned.  A good reminder and a record.

I love it!




Teaser Tuesday (one sentence)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesdays  participants can add the book to their To Read Lists if they like your teasers!

She had lived in the neighborhood since defecting from the suburbs the week after that funeral, but she generally avoid setting foot inside St. Raphael Cathedral, wary of her ancestors’ brand of piety.

Colleen Smith’s novel, Glass Halo, is a gem.

Nick Bantock (author of the Griffin and Sabine series) writes: “Eloquently bittersweet, Glass Halo takes you through a stained window into a world of shards.”

I miss Molly Ivins (a snippet from one of her books)

How I miss reading Molly Ivin’s column!

Excerpt from Molly Ivin’s book You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You.

Heart attacks, grand juries, DWI’s, divorces–this isn’t a story, it’s a saga.  Of course there is a different between [Bob] Bullock in his drinking days and Bullock today–he’s not quite a different person, but he sure is easier.  He went off to “Whiskey School” in California in 1981.  Six weeks later he returned to Austin in the middle of the night, sober and alone.  Only one person came out to the airport to meet him–Ann Richards.  He has never forgotten that kindness.

Just a couple of stories from the drinking years: One night Bullock and pal Nick Kralj (Bullock used to have any number of reprehensible friends) got bad drunk, went into the basement of Kralj’s nightclub, and proceeded to shoot roaches with pistols.  They claimed it took great skill.

On another occasion, one of Bullock’s early wives kicked him out of the house, presumably for good cause.  So he went to crash with his friend Carlton Carl, who was himself out drinking.  Unable to get into Carl’s apartment, Bullock crawled into the backseat of Carl’s car, which was parked in an alley, got under a blanket, and passed out there.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t Carl’s car, just looked like it.  When Bullock came to the next morning, he was being driven along I-35 by a total stranger who had no idea anyone was in the backseat.  After pondering his options, Bullock sat up and said to the unsuspecting citizen, “Hi there, I’m Bob Bullock, your secretary of state.”  Poor guy almost drove off the road.

snippets from books

Marina Endicotts novel, Good to a Fault, was shortlisted for Canada’s prestigious Giller Prize.

Margaret Atwood, who was on the Giller Prize jury, remarked that “There’s heartbreak, there’s joy, there are parts where you cry–and it’s very high-quality writing.”

From the book:

To give herself a clear mind, or else to delay, Clara went to church before going to the hospital.  She slipped in late to the early service and did not genuflect, but crossed herself quickly.  She always felt slightly snooty crossing herself, but her mother had ingrained it in her.  All this ritual was so complicated: whether to sand for communion or kneel, stand or kneel for prayer, fold hands or adopt the charismatic pose, swaying and open-palmed.  Many of the older women, surprisingly, swayed.

It was all superstition, anyway.  Just sitting there, being there, was the essential thing, she had come to believe.  But of course she could be wrong.

The Gospel was Mary choosing the better part, to let the dishes go and listen to Jesus talking in the living room–a reading that always annoyed Clara, although she’d never considered herself a Martha.  What would happen if she let go of the dishes now?  It would be all right, because Mrs. Zenko would do them for her, popping in and out of the kitchen with her bright glance catching everything, tidy little ears priced for the conversation while she got supper cleared up without a wasted movement or a sigh or a fuss.  Occupied with Mrs. Zenko’s holiness, Clara had trouble keeping her mind on the sermon.  Paul Tippett was telling an anecdote.  She wondered if he made them up, since so many were apropos, but that was ungenerous.  Anyone life is full of meaning.  She should have phoned to thank him for visiting Lorraine.

He was contrasting Mary and Martha with last week’s Gospel on the Good Samaritan–she hadn’t consciously heard a word of it, as she sat fretting and deciding.

“A man no one would think of as saintly, a dirty Samaritan, took practical action to save the life of someone left to die by the side of the road.  Today, Jesus scolds Martha for her brand of practicality, and insists that spiritual discussion is more important than putting the supper on.  Why is practicality praised in one case, and in the other, reviled?  I don’t think that’s too strong a word, reviled, for the way we call women Marthas with an edge of contempt, because they are busy in the kitchen feeding the masses.  Jesus himself was good at feeding the masses.  And staying under budget.”

Paul seemed so pleased with this loaves-and-fishes nudge that Clara couldn’t help laughing.  She hoped she hadn’t been too loud.

“The Samaritan acts in a moment of genuine crisis, when no one can see his goodness.  But the flavour of self-importance in Martha’s actions, and her peevishness toward her sister, may be uncomfortably familiar to us when we think of our own acts of goodness and how we look for recognition of our work.”

to sleep or to read??

A good mystery is hard to put down!!

snippets from books

From his perch on Skull Rock, they looked like pale eggs sunny-side up moving just beneath the water’s surface.  Some kind of jellyfish.  Half a dozen, pulsating vigorously through the black surf like muscular parachutes.

Odd.  Jack Koryan had spent several summers of his childhood out here and could remember only a few occasions seeing jellyfish in the cove, mot of them washed ashore by the night tide–dinner-plate-sized slime bombs with frilly aprons and long fat tentacles.  But these creatures were small round globs, translucent jelly bells with noting visible in trail.

Maybe some tropical species that the warm water brought in, he thought.

Jack watched them pump by in formation, driven by primitive urgings and warm eddies.  Somewhere he had read that jellyfish were ninety-five percent water–creatures with no brains, bones, or blood.  What enabled them to react to the world around them was a network of nerves.  What a lousy fate, Jack thought–to relate to the world only through nerve endings: a life devoid of thought, passion, or memory.

Writer Joseph Finder (New York Times bestselling author of Paranoia) writes that “Gary Braver’s Flashback combines an irresistible premise with the medical intrigue of Robin Cook and the scientific plausibility of Michael Crichton–a powerful, gripping, and moving tale with a beating heart.”

 

NOTE:

What do jellyfish and your brain have in common? Scientists at the 2010 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Honolulu report that the jellyfish protein apoaequorin may improve cognitive function in people who have memory problems.

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

May and I have no intention of getting on that boat.  We couldn’t even if we wanted to because I threw away the tickets, but our parents don’t know that.

I couldn’t put this book down

I read  Room by Emma Donoghue in one sitting.  You will too (I bet).

devotion and grief

“What they never tell you about grief is that missing someone is the simple part.”

“. . . It’s taken years for me to understand that dying doesn’t end the story; it transforms it.  Edits, rewrites, the blur and epiphany of one-way dialogue.  Most of us wander in and out of another’s lives until not death, but distance, does us part — time and space and the heart’s weariness are the blander executioners of human connection.”

“. . . The heart breaks open,” a friend said to me upon Clementine’s death.  I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures.  Sometimes I think that the pain is what yields the solution.  Grief and memory create their own narrative: This is the shining truth at the heart of Freud and Neruda and every war story ever told.  The death mandates and gives rise to the story for the same reason that ancient tribes used to bury flowers with their dead.  We tell the story to get them back, to capture the traces of footfalls through the snow.”

snippets from books

 

. . . Subsequently the tabloids made much of our different backgrounds, the working-class Jewish boy from the East End and the Catholic aristocrat with her title.  But we were, in our early forties, a long way from our backgrounds and, as usual with the tabloids, these descriptions were more for headlines than accuracy.  Although Harold was technically born into the working class–his father worked in a tailoring factory–ever since the success of The Caretaker in 1960 he had been extremely well-off by most standards: he was able, for example, to retire his father, worn-out with his labours, to salubrious Hove where his parents would live happily for another thirty years.

Again technically, since my father was an earl and my mother a countess, I could be argued to be an aristocrat.  But my father, born Frank Pakenham, only succeeded to the Earldom of Longford when I was nearly thirty; my childhood was spent in a modest North Oxford house, my father, with no private income, teaching at the University.  My mother, being a Harley Street doctor’s daughter, was in any case convinced (and thus convinced us) that the middle classes were the salt of the earth whereas the aristocracy was feckless, unpunctual and extravagant, an assumption that our beloved father’s attitude to life did nothing to discourage.  I had no inherited money myself, and had earned my own living since the age of twenty-one, first working for a publisher and, after marriage, by journalism and books.

snippets from books

The Good Children by Kate Wilhelm

Two years earlier a counselor had told Amy that we were not unlike army children, who had to make friends quickly and adjust to new surroundings all the time.  We knew the difference even then.  Army brats were with other army brats.  A best friend on Friday might be half a world away by Monday, but they might meet again later, and they were all in the same situation.  We were always going into a community of children who had known one another for years, who had slumber parties, whose parents knew the other parents and shared car pools, were room mothers, went running together.  If the schools we had come from had not yet touched on subjects, we were the new dummies.  Amy and Kevin had taught me fractions.  Dad had taught Amy how to diagram sentences.  If our previous schools had been more advanced, we were stuck-up, snobs.  We always knew more about geography than anyone, often more than our teachers.  We all learned not to volunteer answers.  Our accents were always wrong — too southern, too northern, too midwestern. . . . We never knew the new recess rules, the pecking order.  If we carried lunches in boxes, the other kids used brown paper bags.  If we took drinks in thermoses, they bought milk at school.  We were used to being out of step for weeks or even months.

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I had at once pushed back the bedclothes and tiptoed into my mother’s room–and there sure enough had found her staring at the ceiling all glassy-eyed and with her throat cut.

Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar

snippets from books

“Now we’ll start this band of robbers and call it Tom Sawyer’s Gang.  Everybody that wants to join has got to take an oath, and write his name in blood.”

Everybody was willing.  So Tom got out a sheet of paper that he had wrote the oath on, and read it.  It swore every boy to stick to the band, and never tell any of the secrets; and if anybody done anything to any boy in the band, whichever boy was ordered to kill that person and his family must do it, and he musn’t eat and he musn’t sleep till he had killed them and hacked a cross in their breasts, which was the sign of the band.  And nobody that didn’t belong to the band could use that mark, and if he did he  must be sued; and if he done it again he must be killed.  And if anybody that belonged to the band told the secrets, he must have his throat cut, and then have his carcass burnt up and the ashes scattered all around, and his name blotted off of the list with blood and never mentioned again by the gang, but have a curse put on it and be forgot, forever.

In Notebook #35, Mark Twain wrote: “In those old slave-holding days the whole community was agreed as to one thing–the awful sacredness of slave property. To help steal a horse or a cow was a low crime, but to help a hunted slave, or feed him or shelter him, or hide him, or comfort him, in his troubles, his terrors, his despair, or hesitate to promptly betray him to the slave-catcher when opportunity offered was a much baser crime, & carried with it a stain, a moral smirch which nothing could wipe away. That this sentiment should exist among slave-owners is comprehensible–there were good commercial reasons for it–but that it should exist & did exist among the paupers, the loafers the tag-rag & bobtail of the community, & in a passionate & uncompromising form, is not in our remote day realizable. It seemed natural enough to me then; natural enough that Huck & his father the worthless loafer should feel it & approve it, though it seems now absurd. It shows that that strange thing, the conscience–the unerring monitor–can be trained to approve any wild thing you want it to approve if you begin its education early & stick to it.”

“The Theory of Mind” and the importance of public libraries

An M.R.I. of a brain highlighting areas used during reading

“It’s not that evolution gives us insight into fiction,” William Flesch [a professor of English at Brandeis University] said, “but that fiction gives us insight into evolution.”

I can’t remember a time I didn’t visit a public library: before I could even read, I would accompany my mother to the library and marvel at all of the books with colorful jackets.  As soon as I could read, I was selecting books at a mobile library that would come to our neighborhood at certain times of the week.

Admittedly, I do have an extensive home library; however, I constantly borrow books from our public library and take advantage of the research books and periodicals in the library and occasionally do a little regional and genealogy research.  The ability to borrow books from other libraries (interlibrary loan) through the Seguin library is marvelous and I certainly avail myself of that opportunity.

Seguin’s library is a small facility with very limited parking and no $$;  I am astonished at all our small competent library staff accomplishes and very thankful for them.

The new electronic age makes the nation’s 15,000 public libraries “more, rather than less, important to the progress of the United States in the 21st Century,” James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, told Congress.

Dr. Billington testified before the Joint Committee on the Library, chaired by Rep. Charlie Rose (D., N.C.), along with other witnesses, including Dr. Marilyn Miller, president of the American Library Association, on the “state of our nation’s libraries.”

Citing cutbacks in locally financed public libraries, Dr. Billington warned that Americans are “in serious danger of eroding a unique legacy laboriously created by our forebears” even as public demands for modern library services increase and two-thirds of all Americans use a library in the course of a year.

The Library’s Importance in Tough Times

A new discovery by me! – I just learned that I can take my floppy disks to the library and upload to a flash drive.  There is no floppy disk drive on our computer and I have boxes of floppy disks (some not so important – some very important – to me).  I was delighted to learn of this library service and plan to take advantage of it.

Do you know that:
Libraries save lives. In a 1991 study physicians said that information provided by the library contributed to their ability to avoid patient mortality. The physicians also rated the information provided by the library more highly than that provided by other information sources such as diagn
ostic imaging, lab tests, and discussions with colleagues. 

U.S. libraries circulate about the same number of items as FedEx ships each day, i.e., about 5.3 million items.

Numerous studies have confirmed that school libraries staffed by qualified library media specialists do make a measurable difference on student achievement. 

There is now research to support what librarians have always said, i.e., libraries are busier during hard economic times.

Five times more people visit U.S. public libraries each year than attend U.S. professional and college football, basketball, baseball and hockey games combined. (1.1 billion vs. 204 million)
In a 2003 Wisconsin study, one-third of non-users of libraries said that libraries deserve more state financial support.


Public libraries are good for the economy. Studies have shown that public libraries have an economic impact that greatly exceeds their cost, returning somewhere between $4 to $6 to the local economy for every $1 invested. A healthy library system is indicative of a healthy community. A community without a library is unattractive to businesses and individuals looking to locate to a new area.

Libraries play an important role in helping young children develop reading skills. Early childhood literacy and exposure to a book-rich environment are significant predictors of a child’s success in school and in life. The Internet has yet to come anywhere near filling this need.

Libraries are forward- thinking, and play an important role at the cutting edge of information technology. Libraries provide Internet access to many who cannot afford it, or who live in areas where access is unavailable or slow. Librarians are trained to help Internet users winnow out irrelevant information, find specialized Internet resources, and determine the reliability, authority and safety of the information retrieved. In addition, American librarians are lobbying to maintain “net neutrality” to ensure that Internet resources remain available to everyone — not just to those who can afford to pay for them.

A vital and attractive library helps define a community, encourages civic pride, and invests residents with a sense of ownership.

Libraries are the heart and soul of a community and reflect the value residents place on literacy, education, culture, and freedom.

Source: excerpt from 2007 article by Margaret Jakubcin, librarian

Libraries treat every question, every need, every person equally, with the same respect.

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesdays  participants can add the book to their To Read Lists if they like your teasers!

It is wise to remember that, when we are reading letters never intended for us, any problems of understanding are ours and not theirs.

page 444

One sentence from Freedom by Jonathan Franzen:

He became another data point in the American experiment of self-government, an experiment statistically skewed from the outset, because it wasn’t the people with sociable genes who fled the crowded Old World for the new continent; it was the people who didn’t get along well with others.

think for yourself

This week marks the yearly celebration of First Amendment rights and freedom of information in a nationwide event: Banned Books Week. This event seeks to promote the benefits of a society in which all are free to express ideas and read the opinions of others, while rejecting the closed-mindedness and intellectual stagnation caused by censorship.

Literature has great power; we must never forget this. Through writing, billions of people can attempt to share the same experience across thousands of miles and thousands of years. This attempt to communicate and relate our life to the experiences of others is arguably the most important and continuous struggle of human life.

Freedom of information is an essential element of the American ideal, allowing all views to be expressed even if they are found unorthodox or unacceptable to the majority. All opinions are given value and a place in the discussion, no matter how unpopular they may be.

Censorship usually targets those topics that many are either uncomfortable with or too afraid to even acknowledge. Of the books most frequently targeted, common themes are sex, homosexuality, gender identity, rape and abuse.

Attempts to silence or ignore the issues that are less palatable to the mainstream work against the values upon which the United States was founded. The perceived evils of society will not disappear if books that express them are banned, and nothing can be done to solve them if the discussion is closed because it is “inappropriate” or “offensive” to some.

published in 1851

So long as the law considers all these human beings, with beating hearts and living affections, only as so many things belonging to a master, -so long as the failure, or misfortune, or imprudence, or death of the kindest owner, may cause them any day to exchange a life of kind protection and indulgence for one of hopeless misery and toil, -so long it is impossible to make anything beautiful or desirable in the best-regulated administration of slavery. – from Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Quote of the Day

The only thing worse than not reading a book
in the last ninety days
is not reading a book
in the last ninety days
and thinking that it doesn’t matter.

Jim Rohn, 1930 – 2009


quote of the day

“I read omnivorously, I always have, my entire life. I would rather be dead than not read. So, there’s always time for that. I read while I eat, and our whole family did. We all had very bad manners at the table. All of our books are stained with spaghetti sauce, and that sort of thing.”

Annie Proulx