Tag Archives: reading

To read or not to read?

Last week I had seven books when I went to the the library. One third of my HOLD list came up at the same time. Sometimes that happens.

There was also one DVD, Season 2 of The Detectorists, a very funny series (there are three seasons) about these fellows in Essex who belong to a detectorist club and spend their spare time out looking for Saxon treasure. The treasure is only a point to hang the story on as it is very much about the lives of all the characters in this small English village. It is very funny as well as poignant.

But back to that stack of books…I posted a photo of it both on Facebook and Instagram, as I have different audiences on the different social media. Comments were made about finding the time to read all those books, and that’s when the discussion started about how I read books.

You see, I am as particular about my books as I am about my social media, my television programs, the food I eat, even the people in my life. I am highly selective. I test the waters. I give a book, a person, or a recipe or food a chance. I check it out, to see if the person or item meets my standards, and if I can adapt. If not, then I move on. Life is short.

The discussion about my books, though, gave me a chuckle. One of my former teaching associates, director of award-winning forensic teams, teased me about the way I would read a book. And, he was right. If I’m unsure of a book, I will read the first chapter, then the middle, and then, maybe, just maybe, the end of the book, if the first and middle peak my interest.

Often I read the first of a book and toss it aside. I can see where it’s going, or not, as the case may be. Some writers just use too many words. They are long-winded and can’t tell a story in a short manner. Or, I like the premise of the story, I want to know what happens, but I’m not interested in all the details. Such was the case of Death in Provence.

Delightful character development by the author, Serena Kent. Lovely location, a small village in southern France. All I needed, though, after an introduction, was to know how she solved the murder so I skipped to the last quarter of the book, and in a couple hours’ time, I had “read” the book. On to the next book, A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl, by Jean Thompson. I haven’t skipped around on this one. The writing is brilliant. I’m not sure if I care about the storyline, but it really doesn’t matter when the writing is this good.

What I’m reading

This has been the summer of books. Lots and lots of books. If you follow my Instagram, then you’ve seen the parade of books. Currently, I’m reading Sue Grafton’s latest alphabet murder–Y is for Yesterday–and this delightful book:

If you read Ronni Bennett’s blog or Mr. Cooper’s WCenter Blog, you would enjoy this diary of a fellow in a retirement home in Amsterdam.

The stories he tells about his life and his friends are funny and poignant. He reminds us all that we should make every day count, no matter where we find ourselves in life.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen reminds me of another book I enjoyed a few years ago, The 100 year old man who climbed out the window and ran away. I heard it’s being made into a movie.


A lovely lazy weekend

I have accomplished almost nothing this weekend except to read two books, both of which I purchased just 48 hours ago, on Friday. 

The weather is amazing. High 70s, no wind, lots of sunshine. I worked awhile in the yard on Saturday, came in and plopped myself on the couch to read those books. By late evening my throat had the tickle and I was coughing. Again!  No amount of cough medicine makes a dent. Hot water with honey and brandy alleviates the tickle for awhile. I stayed home from church Sunday morning and read my books. 

Although I love to sit and read, I feel uber guilty as there is much to be done outdoors. I also need to dust in the house, but I’m out of those little Swiffer cloths that I use. Or that’s the excuse I’m making!  I will make a trip to Target on Monday to restock many of our basic necessities. Until then, I’ll sit and read and cough. 

As usual, the week flew

…and I slept soundly, tired after these busy days when I:

Read this book to four first grade classes

Ate this school lunch, and yes, it’s upside down. That was sort of the way the day was going.


Worked with the fourth graders, some of whom have finished their mission, two weeks ahead of schedule



I’m making turkey pot pie soup for the Lent Soup Lunch at church on Sunday so I went to Whole Foods this morning to buy the ingredients.  This was my view in the parking lot.

Our city is covered in these beautiful blooms right now. It’s such a wonderful season.

The week is done

I finished a very busy week with three school tours at Kearney Mansion today. Rambunctious third graders, the day before Christmas break begins. It feels wonderful to be home and sit on the couch with no more responsibilities until Sunday when Terry and I light the four Advent candles at church.

The past week was busy but fun. The school had lunch every day outside (in 50+ degree weather) because the cafeteria was being used for dance lessons. The lessons were provided through an arts grant, and I’m glad the whole school got the opportunity to dance. Fortunately the two days I was at school the sun shined and made for a pleasant lunch time. However, the kids were getting anxious for their holiday break (three weeks) and so behavior wasn’t always the best.

Oh Thursday, after lunch was eaten, I had to retreat to the office, and sit on the naughty bench, as the chaos at lunch and recess was more than my elderly brain could absorb. I chatted with a 4th grade boy who was sent to the office for throwing paper that hit the teacher.

When I asked why he wasn’t doing his work, he said he had finished it and the teacher hadn’t given them any more to do. I asked why he wasn’t reading a book and he claimed he didn’t have one. So, I gave him a book I had been carrying around in my bag, just waiting for the right kid. It’s called The Red Rubber Ball and it’s about chasing one’s dream and being creative.

This young man talked about how he was creative and liked to build things. We also talked about how he would explain his situation to the principal who is also a retired educator who has been substituting at Columbia. She is beyond amazing.

When the boy was called in she asked what he had in his hand; he explained the book and crayons that “lady out there” gave them to him. The substitute principal came out, sat next to me on the naughty bench, and we had a good laugh about the whole thing. She said that she thought both she and I were too old to be doing this and should be suspended. She even tried to get the office manager to send us home. I told you she’s amazing. The office manager told us to get back to our jobs.

Good teachers know that kids will get into mischief if not presented with worthwhile tasks. Give a kid a book.

Can you follow directions?

This week’s story for the first graders is about following directions.

 A farmer, Mr. Gumpy, has a boat on which a whole menagerie asks to ride. He gives each rider specific directions so as not to rock the boat, but they disregard the directions and eventually all fall overboard. 

Mr. Gumpy is very calm about everything and they all go back to his house for tea. Sure turns out well for what could be a tragedy. My goal is to encourage the kids to follow the directions of adults. 

I made stick puppets of the various characters so the first graders can participate in the story. 


Food-obsessed reading

I just finished this book about three brothers and their restaurant businesses:


Yesterday I started reading this:


These two books are certainly giving me a behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant business. I’ve always known it is hard work, and also quite stressful. Definitely not something I desire to do.

Smart marketing by Barnes & Noble

I got a 20 percent coupon in my email from Barnes & Noble. They certainly have my number. I just finished my last book, and there are no more waiting in the pile.

Before grocery shopping this morning, I took a detour to that big box store and used the coupon, along with my member discount, to get these books:



Sweet November 9-inspiration

Where do you find your inspiration? When teaching I would often find a news article in the morning’s paper that would inspire a lesson later that day. Last year I taught first/second grade Sunday School and I found lots of inspiration for Sunday mornings in books and materials that I had “inherited” from others.

My cooking inspirations often come from social media. 10764316034_5e0512961bI just baked a batch of vanilla wafers that I saw on the Williams and Sonoma site.

You, dear Readers, inspire me, too. Recently I read on one of your blogs (but I don’t remember whose) about a movie, The Painted Veil, and that it was made from a book written by Somerset Maugham. 10715702864_4c335dc2aaI ordered the book from Powell’s, and although it didn’t seem to be a story I might care for, the blog had inspired me to give it a try. I loved the book. I really didn’t want it to end, and as I came to the last few pages, I put the book down many times just to draw out the ending.



The story takes place in early twenty century China during a cholera outbreak. The main character is a self-indulgent woman who is married to a man she doesn’t love. Her life drastically changes when she must leave Hong Kong and accompany her husband to an outpost where the cholera rages. Watching her transformation took my breath away.

Hope you have been inspired today to try something new or return to an old favorite. Inspiration–it’s every where.


Not done with summer reading

As I wrote previously, school has started, yet the temperatures are still summer-like. The days are definitely shorter and the light has shifted. Fall is coming, but there is still lots of summer left. And, I still have lots of summer reading to do. I just got a box of books from Powells, my favorite used bookstore. This was in it:


A true story about the wives of the astronauts of the 60s and 70s, starting all the way back in 1959 when the first team, the Mercury 7, was named as the men who will go into space.

There has been much written on the men, but no one has ever told the women’s story, the wives behind the astronauts and what their life was like. This is it. Although a true story, it reads like a novel, and it has fascinated me. Enough so that I did some research on these women, the seven on the cover, to learn more about them. Five of them are still living. Except for two, all the couples divorced. The astronauts went on to remarry, and most of them are now dead.

LIFE Magazine gave the seven families $500,000, to be split amongst them, if they would allow LIFE, and only LIFE, into their lives. The photo at the top of this post, the one on the cover of the book, is from a LIFE photo shoot done in 1959, before the first space flights even occurred. LIFE also promised to protect the families from the press and to guard their secrets (like Annie Glenn’s stuttering affliction). The astronauts and their wives were celebrities.

I found this photo while doing more research:



From left to right: Annie Glenn, Rene Carpenter, Louise Shepard, Betty Grissom, Trudy Cooper, Marge Slayton.

Reading about these women, and their friendship, made me think about Allied Arts Girls, the book I wrote last year about a women’s group in our church that I discovered while working in the archives. Think I’ll go back and do some editing on it.