Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Great Article!

I found a great article about reading and some of its benefits. It is written by a homeschool mom, but it applies to anyone who enjoys stories. Check out the article here.

Are you sharing stories with the young people in your life? It is a wonderful way to connect with them about big and little ideas. Seeing one of your favorite books through the eyes of another person can be a great experience.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Library Dreams

I had a dream about the library last night. I think this dream was prompted by the fact that a new library branch is opening up near my house. In my dream, the new branch was open and we went to visit it. It was pretty well stocked and the trip was good until we tried to check out books. As we tried to check out books, we were informed of a new library policy. Only five books could be checked out at a time per household. I was horrified. That's not even one book per person at our house. I tried to negotiate with the librarian but it was fruitless.

When I woke up I was relieved that this had only been a dream. Our library actually has an incredibly generous book limit. With one card, you can check out up to 100 books. We have four library cards at our house, which really means we could have 400 books from the library at our house. We haven't gotten close to that number, but it is nice to know that I can check out books without concern over limits.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I love My Book Group

The book group I am currently a part of is the best one I have ever attended. I have been going for about a year now, but the group has been active for three years. We are called Mothers Who Know Read, and you can check out our blog here. We meet monthly and we focus mostly on the classics. We read Shakespeare plays twice a year. I like the challenge of reading these books, and discussing the ideas we encounter in them.

One of the great things about the book club is that there is always a lot of discussion and different opinions and ideas. It seems like everyone gets something slightly different out of the books, and we all benefit from one another's viewpoints. Sometimes opinions are changed and sometimes we just agree to disagree. It is a great experience to meet once a month to discuss books.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why Gender Matters

In this insightful book, Leonard Sax discusses research on the differences between males and females. Does gender matter? This book answers in a resounding yes, and goes on to illustrate why. Sax offers ideas on how to approach gender differences in life and school in order to better teach our children. This book gives examples, research findings, and ideas for parents and educators. It is a great book that every adult would benefit from. Read this book if you work with children.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson

"'Tis the good reader that makes the good book; in every book he finds passages which seem to be confidences or sides hidden from all else and unmistakably meant for his ear; the profit of books is according to the sensibility of the reader; the profound thought or passion sleeps as in a mine, until it is discovered by an equal mind and heart."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love this quote. I often read with a small notebook close by so that I can write down thoughts or ideas that spring from my reading. Sometimes I will be struck by a quote and want to record it so that I can read it again later. Other times, a situation in a book will remind me of something similar that I have experienced. I like to summarize my thoughts and reflect on books when I finish them.

The really wonderful and great thing about learning through books is that not every person comes away with the same message. So the hidden treasures of knowledge are not the same for each person, or even the same each time a great book is read. There are some books that seem to speak to me over and over again. I have found writing down my thoughts to be helpful in preserving the insights I get while reading.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Author Highlight: Patrick Rothfuss

Dear Patrick Rothfuss,

I love your work. You make me laugh, you make me cry, and your words are beautiful. You know how to craft a book that is truly a work of art. When I finished your book last night, I was bereft. What else could I possibly read that was going to live up to your book? (I chose something I've read before, with an interesting story but disappointing writing. I figured that would be safe.)

So, I am singing your praises and recommending your books to everyone, but I am also quite frustrated. I just don't know how to wait for years to read your next book. It is agonizing. It's good to build up anticipation for a book, but I think you are taking it to the extreme.

That's right, this is a love-hate letter. Because I love your writing, but I hate it that you are leaving me hanging for an indeterminate length of time. Again.

Wishing you speedy writing,
Melissa R. Wolfe

Monday, March 14, 2011

Library Fines

Right now I have fines at the library. This is going to be true pretty much no matter when you read this post, because I always have fines at the library. I have an imperfect system of going to the library. I don't go at a regular time, and so I tend to always have one or two books due. Combine my irregular trips with an array of due dates (one week for video games, two for new releases, four weeks for most books), and I end up with tardy returns.

Our branch allows up to $10 of unpaid fines on your card before you can no longer check out books. I love this policy, but I also vaguely feel that it fosters bad habits. I am aware that the book is due back, because I got an email saying it was due soon. Sometimes I try to renew online, but not every item can be renewed. Have I mentioned how fun it is to take four kids to the library? So, I might not make it to the library before that book is due, which results in a fine. But I don't stress out about it too much, because after all I can still check out books.

I'm curious to know whether others have perpetual library fines as well? Or perhaps someone has a great system for making sure their books are always turned in on time?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Part 2 of Do Hard Things

I wrote a standard review about the book Do Hard Things here. My oldest daughter is now reading the book and we have been discussing it quite a bit. She is enjoying the book and I can see that it is inspiring her to think about how she can make an impact in the world around her. I think this is great, and I think the book does a good job of offering that inspiration to young people.

In the book, Alex and Brett talk about how they arrived at the point of working harder and engaging more fully in the world around them. They share that it began as they were reading some of the classics. Their father had prescribed an intense study schedule for them, and they were reading books that were about big ideas. They were having discussions about the big ideas when they decided to begin the blog that grew into their website and book.

In Do Hard Things, Alex and Brett are just telling their story. They don't actually recommend reading the classics to others in the book. Perhaps they are unsure of how important that step was in their journey.

I was struck by the fact that they were reading classics when they formed the plan of how to begin making a difference. The classics are about big ideas, and people that have taken action on the big ideas. Classics can offer us inspiration about where to start, and give us the strength to continue when it becomes hard. I feel that any person wanting to do hard things will be better off if they study the classics.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Grayton Beach Affair

Today I am participating in the blog tour of the book The Grayton Beach Affair by James Harvey.

Christian Wolfe moved back to Germany in 1936. He had lived, gone to school, and worked in the United States, but he missed his home land. However, the Germany he returned to wasn't quite the same as he remembered. Despite his attempts to go unnoticed, his bravery and perfect English send him on a mission to rescue a German prisoner of war. He heads to the US in a submarine. During the few days he is attempting the rescue, he meets Maggie. His heart and life are changed by his experience with her.

This book combines history, war, and love. I learned some new things about World War II as I read this book, and I was happy that the author included some historical information at the back of the book to clarify facts. The book touches on large issues, such as race relations and perspectives of the war, but it also deals with the more day to day issues of the heart and soul.

If you like love stories mixed with history, this book is for you. If you want to learn more about World War II, you will find the unique perspectives presented in this book interesting. This is definitely a book for adults, as some parts are graphic. The balance between the love story and the war is well done in this book, so it will appeal to those just looking for a good love story.

I was given this book for free to review. My opinions are my own, and are not influenced by the receipt of the book.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Jane Austen Ruined My Life

Emma grew up believing in happy endings. She thought she had found it until she discovered her husband in a compromising position with her teaching assistant. This book begins after her life seems to have crumbled around her. She flees to England when she is contacted by someone claiming to have Jane Austen's missing letters. As Emma explores the land where Jane Austen lived, she struggles with her own ideas about love, romance, and happy endings.

This story will be a good read for Jane Austen lovers. The book explores some of Jane Austen's life, including the places she spent time. The author develops a theory of what may have been in the missing letters of Jane Austen. This chick lit is a fun, quick read for any woman, but it will especially appeal to Jane Austen lovers.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Books Finished February 2011

Dear Pen Pal by Heather Vogel Frederick
Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo
Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning by Oliver and Rachel Demille
Lost Boys by Orson Scott Card
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard
Secrets of Eden by Chris Bahjalian
The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
The Mortal Messiah: Book 1 by Bruce R. McConkie
The Relationship Seasons by Matthew O. Richardson
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

*These are books that I have finished reading. This list does not include books that I have skimmed. The list does not include picture books that I have read to my children, nor does it show all the other reading I have done. These books were finished in this month, but some may have taken considerable time to read, bit by bit.