We read...

To know we are not alone. ~C.S. Lewis~

Thursday, April 30, 2009

BTT is a long running bookish meme. To join in pop over and read the 100's of interesting comments. This week's question ...

Which is worse?
Finding a book you love and then hating everything else you try by that author, or
Reading a completely disappointing book by an author that you love?

I don't mind hating everything else I try by an author after one good read. I am well able to put the book down after giving it a fair go and moving on to another (there’s not enough time to be wasting it on a book I don’t enjoy as my good friend Renae says). If a second or third book disappoints too then I may try one more or I may just put the one good read down to a fluke and consider myself lucky to have had one good read.

On the other hand I'm devastated if a loved author has an off day, to the point that I might not actually admit it, even to myself. I had this disaster with Mary Stewart. At the risk of offending her many fans I must admit that Stormy Petrel and Rose Cottage offered only vestiges of her former glory. I know she was in her 80s when she wrote them and I tried so very hard to like them but to be honest they were feathers compared to the gold of her Merlin series and earlier romance/crime fiction.

I read them with my Mum, we were both fans, out of loyalty but we decided if there were any more to come from Stewart's pen we'd probably not read them - it was like loosing a friend.

p.s. Hello Emily this is for you

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Drop Dead Gorgeous

Well here goes, thanks to your encouragement and this fantastic book, which I can't stop talking about, here is my first review...

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Attwood

What did you do this morning? Hit the snooze button for just five more minutes? Shower? Shave? Make-up? Did you fit breakfast in or did you just poor a cup of strong coffee in your thermal travel mug and hit the road? When you read Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, all the little drudgeries of life suddenly become pleasures.

That’s when you know you’ve got a powerful story in your hands – when it impacts your daily life.

When I skipped breakfast I actually felt privileged, because Offred couldn’t do that. In her world, the world of Gilead so delicately drawn by Attwood, everyone has their set role with its own clearly defined freedoms and restrictions. Offred is a Handmaid and as such cannot decide to skip a meal, she must stay healthy in order to bare children in a world of extreme negative population growth.

Offred does not say ‘mine’ anymore. She has a room, clothes, plenty of food but no life beyond her assigned task of pregnancy. This she has been schooled to accept, as the ‘possession’ of Fred and his wife. She does not have her own name she is simply Of Fred. She cannot choose what she will wear her red summer dress will be replaced by her red winter dress on a certain date and not before. This task will be undertaken by the Marthas – the group of women designated ‘help’. As a handmaid Offred does have certain freedoms; she can walk in the open air to do the household shopping, albeit with the company of another handmaid, they can choose which route to take. She has the freedom of her thoughts and this gives her some control.

‘If this is a story I’m telling, then I have control over the ending.’ P49

This self-reflexive extremely close first person point of view colours and constructs the unsettling nature of The Handmaid’s Tale.

From the safety of inside her own head we have her story. We follow her thoughts, although not strictly speaking stream-of-consciousness, as she tells us what she sees, feels and remembers. We jump from distant past, recent past and present with no warning, dropped as we are unprepared into Gilead. It’s disconcerting but purposeful. Our confusion mirrors Offred’s own.

Piece by artful piece we hoard clues in an effort to make sense of this anarchic place and post nuclear devastation time. It is a place of no relationships/friendships/trust. A place tightly controlled where fear and lack of information is used to create and maintain that control. I’ve just watched a doco on North Korea and there were some really scary similarities.

It is broken into 15 sections, the titles of which are a wonderfully clever clue to Offred’s world.
1. Night
2. Shopping
3. Night
4. Waiting Room
5. Nap

These clipped concise words reflect the abruptness of a world reduced to the bare necessities.

World building is an essential part of Speculative Fiction – for this is most certainly the genre. Attwood’s world building is subtle and ingenious. Using form to reflect meaning she at once unsettles and entices the reader. I could not wait to find out how the world got this way, but I had to wait to chapter 28/46, almost half way through the book. With its Anthropological appendix it is an innovative and compulsive read.

The Handmaid’s Tale, like it’s forerunners; Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four, Huxley’s Brave New World, Wells’ The Shape of things To Come, presents a dystopian future for our race, one that is eerily plausible. As we watch our civil liberties disappear in a myopia of protectionism, as THEY become ever present in our news-casts, as we become more entangled in the ‘grid’ of surveillance, places like Gilead seem not at all farfetched – which is not good because, as knowledge is power, books are banned there.

my rating: DDG (Drop dead Gorgeous! Go out and get it, put some time aside, you won't be disappointed)

Monday, April 27, 2009

An Award - Yippee!

The Guru said I'd love blogging and she was right to a point becasue I LOVE blogging (I can be so subtle when I want to be). I've said it before but how nice is it to meet other book-lovers, reading fanatics, list-makers, opinion holders! and then you get an award for sharing in this great community!

Thanks Wanda, this award means a lot to me and thanks to all the wonderful people who visit WeRead and inspire me with your comments and your own awesome blogs.
Viva la blogging!
Musing Monday is a weekly meme, hosted by based-on-fact Becca of Just One More Page. Want to join in?...leave a link to your Musing in my comments or pop on over to Just One More Page and muse along with many other clever musers.

This week's question is courtesy of Dianne.

Do you read non-fiction regularly? Do you read it in a different way or place than you read fiction?

If you'd asked me this question last year I'd have answered; yes, I read it regularly; yes, in a different, more task oriented, way. My last six years have been devoted to study and I loved every minute of reading non-fiction. Well actually it’s more a retrospective love of reading non-fiction ... now that I don’t have to read it I love it!

An awful lot of it was esoteric and I used it regularly as a cure for insomnia but I’m very appreciative of the experience and the knowledge it gave me. And that’s the root of my love of non-fiction – I want to know.

When I was away last week I purchased two books; one was a collection of short stories and the other was a history of the development of the English language. It’s a sign of the times that I’ve read the first short story but haven’t dipped into the history yet. I also have and extensive collection of books on functional grammar and literary criticism that are sitting in prim abandonment on my study shelves as I lose myself in fiction.

For me, as for many others I suspect, fiction offers an escape that non-fiction doesn’t. Take yesterday for example, whilst waiting with my father in a medical centre (for 90 minutes) I used fiction to escape an uncomfortable environment. I’m not a good nursemaid and geriatric nursing is a real struggle – whilst not diminishing Dad’s suffering, emphysema is a stomach turning ailment to witness.

We both had our books and I think it’s safe to say we could not have sat with such calm for 90 minutes without the escape they offered.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Top 3 by the c

Remember our recent discussion about blog comments? Well it got me thinking...I'd like to share my favourite responses from those who comment on my blog, so here are my
top 3 by the c(ommenters)
this week.

1. Becca You're the only one who calls me The Guru, you dork :)
This made me laugh out loud. I am a dork but the guru thing is taking off so ha ha to you Becca.

2. Matt's First line "Rose MacGregor laughed and shouldn't have." From Rose Variations by Marisha Chamberlain, made me think of that awkwardly supressed giggling I was inclined towards in Church when I was a little lass. Actually I still laugh at the most inappropriate moments, like when a loved-one walks into (& bounces off of) a very clean glass door holding a plate on newly cooked BBQ (which gets smooshed all down the front of his shirt - poor MGM).

3. Layla Wright of 2009 Read with kids Challenge who asked me to get the word out about this challenge which aims to get kids reading – goal 5 million minutes! – and offers a Disneyland Vacation prize too boot! I’m in Australia so I can’t say I’ll participate but I recomend these type of challenges to get your kids motivated. My kids participated in our Premier's Reading Challenge & enjoyed the competitiveness (it also makes reading a cool thing to talk about at school). My son was one a few top readers selected to have afternnon-tea with the Premier the year he participated. Any school library I've worked at has promoted it and reaped the rewards of readers asking for 'more books please.' It's great catalyst for getting kids and books together.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

First-to-hand firsts

* Copy/paste the question & button.
* leave a comment and link to your post, include author/title.
* There'll a puzzle, sometimes, answers next Friday. Most consistant first correct answer will get a prize (after the Guru shows me how I can do that).
*Lastly let me know what you think... got ideas for improvements?

This is sort of like Teaser Tuesday, I saw this somewhere in blogosphere sorry I can't tell you where but if it's your idea ...thanks (from a self-confessed copier).

Reach out and pick up the nearest book to you right now (don't go the bookshelf and pull off War and peace). What's the first line...

Mine is:

'Billy Weaver had travelled down from London on the slow afternoon train, with a change at Swindon on the way, and by the time he got to Bath it was about nine o'clock in the evening and the moon was coming up out of a clear starry sky over the houses opposite the station entrance.'

From Kiss, Kiss by Roald Dahl

Puzzle: who thought she's get the flowers herself?
BTT is a long running bookish meme. To join in pop over and read the 100's of interesting comments. This week's question courtesy of Barbara

It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?

This is a really interesting question (BTT's always are). It might be one of those right brain vs left brain things, some readers just don't see the multiple layers that language offers; there's nothing wrong with that at all. The problem develops when one type of reader says 'my way or the highway', as criticism for either seeing too much or too little in any given narrative.

Reading is a subjective contextual experience. There's no harm in reading reading Aniaml Farm as a commentary on Stalin and WWII, or as prophecy, or as a great romp where pork is king. As to the question of whether symbolism is an older device - nup I don't think so. As long as words are set to paper there'll be readers looking beneath them for the hidden/symbolic. A psychoanalytical reading, for example, of any text will reveal hidden symbolism of even the most modern text.
Readers will find whatever they need to find (whether it was intended by the author or not). I agree with Roland Barthes - the author is dead - the miunte s/he writes "The "end".
I love this meme hosted by Marcia at the Printed Page celebrating the artistry of book covers. Pop over to The Printed Page and have a look at a selection of wonderful artwork that motivates our book choices (like we need any encouragement). Join in by leaving a link to your Cover Attraction or just leave it here if you’d rather. If you like my button please feel free to copy and paste it into your own post.

This week my cover attraction is a little of the macabre...

I had never read Iain Pears before but was entranced by the cover and the blurb. I haven't read it for years but remember it taking a slow hold on me until I was totally engorssed. I read it just after reading Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, I was in a medievil reading space.

Both are great reads, if you like medievil whodunits and wildly beautiful prose.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I'm ridiculously excited about this

An award, for me, for talking! Take that! all you teachers who said I'd never get anywhere if I didn't shut up as they were sending me out of the room!

To this day I'm convinced that my lack of aptitude for maths is due to the ratio (see nice maths word there!) of time I spent in the classroom to the time I spent in the hallway, about 20 (in)/80(out). I could tell you every detail of the lockers in that hallway (which is also where I did a lot of reading for English). One year I had a teacher who didn't even let me into the room at all. We had to line up outside our room, I could never master the two, straight, QUIET, lines thing so she just used to send me out of the room before I even got into the room (shortcutting I called it).

So I am extra specially pleased and honoured to get this award. A bit gushy I know but it's my first so I think I can have a bit of emotional latitude for this one, I'll be acting my age again soon I promise.

Thanks very much to Becca of Just One More Page (you might know her by her secret identity - The Guru).
Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB over at Should be Reading. Anyone can join in so here's what you do...

Grab your current read & let it fall open to a random page.
Share with us two “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
Share the title of the book… that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given but remember...
avoid spoilers please.

lLave a link to your Teaser in my comments or pop on over to Should Be Reading leave your Teaser and get tantalising glimpses of other reads.

*Disclaimer: this event may be hazardous to your TBR health.

My teaser is from The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Attwood

He doesn't know what he's accused of. A problem. There must be something, some accusation. Otherwise why are they keeping him, why isn't he already dead?

Sounds eerily familiar to our headlines doesn't it?

In darker moments, as I watch our civil liberties slowly disslove in the name of 'protection' I wonder, did anyone have these same misgivings in 1933?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

not 16 books for $16.50

Okay so I didn't manage to get 16 books last weekend when I went off to hicksville Victoria for a wedding but I DID visit every bookshop I passed and managed to get a couple of new old books.

MGM couldn't make it to out-the-back-of-nowhere by 11am on Saturday (he had a gig in Canberra the night before) so while the wedding was lovely the best part of the three day weekend was spending it with my daughter, isn't she gorgeous!

And oh so patient with her book-obsessed Mum. We visited Wangaratta (Ned Kelly country), as you can see, because my Dad was a journalist on the Wangaratta Chronicle when it was a broadsheet (he is 90 this year). Apart from the information centre, Gloria Jeans (for their famous iced chocolate) we spent our time in the bookshop.

We visited Albury and spent our time in A&R and the coffee shop around the corner from A&R.

We satyed at Rutherglen in this delightful B&B, Carlyle House . B&B freaks me out a little because I'm a bit shy when it comes to socialising with people I don't know but this place was perfect. We had our own privte entry, our ouwn private lounge room and a lovley hostess who knew just the right things to say to make us feel at home without being at all indimidating.

We spent one whole day wondering the pretty streets of Rutherglen (mostly in the bookshop really) where I bought because I'm inot Dahl's short stories atm.
and because I love the English language.
My only souvenirs (unless you count wine as souvenirs?). If so then we also bought back 5 bottles of the yummiest wine we could find in an afternoon of Rutherglen wine tasting.
And we spent the eveings in our cozy little room reading...perfect!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Musing Monday is a weekly meme, hosted by Best Book Becca of Just One More Page. Why don’t you join in?...copy/paste the button and the question onto your blog.
leave a link to your Musing in my comments or pop on over to Just One More Page leave a link to your Musing there.

This week's question, courtesy of MizB ...

Coming towards the end of April, we’re a third of the way through the way through the year. What’s the favourite book you’ve read so far in 2009? What about your least favourite?

I must begin by saying it’s a bit confronting to be told we’re a 1/3 of the way through the year don’t you think? How shocking! But to the question ...well we read To Kill a Mockingbird for bookclub this year (which is my all time favourite-get-caught-on-a-desert-island-read) so this is an easy question to answer. I love this book could read it and re-read it ad infinitum. I love it for its lessons (I’m a lefty - earning my social justice stance from TKAM), for the moments that make me cry every single time I read them ('Stand up your Father is passing') and for some parenting tips – 1) read to your kids and 2) teach them ‘it’s not time to worry yet.’

My least favourite read would easily be Friday Night Knitting Club. I was disappointed by this book because it didn’t live up to my expectations. I was looking for a gradual introduction of individual the characters and a gentle meshing of them into a cohesive group where their individual talents would serve the greater good. I was looking for that wonderful thing where you’ve experienced something in your life (my BookFreaks group is like this) and then you read about it in a book and you realise you’re not the only one who’s felt that way...well it just didn’t eventuate. The main character spends an overabundance of time wallowing in the mire of self-pity which I found immensely off-putting. And then...


She dies!

I read the first ¾ of the book hoping for it to get better and then skimmed the last 1/4 . the group of characters was just confusing, never rose to the class of ensemble and I just could not like it – sorry whoever picked it for BookFreaks.

What this Musing has highlighted for me is that I still don’t have a list of what I read! That’s why I started this blog in the first place (must speak to the guru about this).

what if...?

Anyone who knows me will attest to my affection for Speculative fiction. I haven't done much creative writing, my degree in English Text & Writing was more focused on discourse analysis than production, but what I have produced in the few creative writing classes I allowed myself was all speculative fiction. The question, 'what if...?', is a strong motivator. I'm reading Margaret Attwood's thrilling book The Handmaid's Tale at the moment, revelling in my favourite genre so brilliantly realised & I'm itching to share my thoughts. I haven't blogged any book reviews yet for a number of reasons...

1) What if I'm coming too late to the game? Has it all been said before much more brilliantly, making anything I say embarrassingly inadequate or at the very least repetitive? (all my insecurities are showing, I know).
2) What if I don't have the time to do them justice?
3) What if my critique just isn't interesting reading?
4) What if I can't come up with a snazzily concise rating system (I've noticed some extremely innovative ones in my blog-lurking).

I haven't come to any conclusions yet but, as I know many people who say 'what fiction?' when I say my favourite genre is speculative fiction, I think I'll risk embarrassment and review this fantastic dystopia Atwood has created (when I finish it of course!).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A meme hosted by me all about those all important first words:
* Copy/paste the theme/question and FF button into your own blog (remember to include author/title in your answer)
* leave a comment and link to your post. If you don’t have a blog yet, please leave a comment I’d love to hear from you.
* Some week's there'll a puzzle, the answer will be up next Friday (or earlier if it's really bugging you).
*Lastly let me know what you think...love Friday Firsts? hate it? got ideas to improve it? got ideas for questions/themes?

This week’s question is about children's literature firsts. This question is prompted by
* Staci who, last week, reminded me of a long forgotten favourite from Charlotte’s Web
' "Where's Papa going with that axe?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.' It's so full of foreboding and well ahead of its time I think.
* Becca with her favourite first last week Barrie's classic 'All children, except one, grow up.'

Do you have any fond memories from your childhood or can you share any remarkable firsts that, like E.B White's, were a bit... unexpected?

Mine is from teen fiction I read as an adult...The Book Thief by Markus Zusak ...
'Here is a small fact. You are going to die.' Another first line full of foreboding. Actually I'm not sure it's a first line the book is arranged unusually, with little asides by the narrator (The Devil) so it could be one of those but it's right at the start so that's what I'm going with for this week!

Nise' was totally correct with the answer to the puzzle: A Tale of Two Cities. There's no puzzle this week as I'm yet to work out functionality hopefully next week!

16 books for $6.50 - I should be so lucky!

Becca is so funny. She’s down one minute because of pesky uni assignments and then up the next because of books. Not drugs or booze, or chocolate or even ice-cream just books. Although I must admit that if I got 16 books in one go for $6.50 I’d be pretty chuffed too.

Becca loves lists, an affection I’ve noticed many bibliophiles share. The Dymocks Booklover’s Best 101 list is out and Becca’s head is spinning with questions over at Just One More Page ...

Are those of you in Australia aware (I’m sure you are) that the 2009 Dymocks 101 Booklover’s List is now out. Have you got it yet? Have you checked it off? Have you compared it to last year's list? What do you think of the changes? What was your score? Did you go up or down? Did you get the top ten? What do you think? Huh? Huh?… yeah, the girls at Dymocks think I’m crazy too…

I have, of course, got the list; checked it off – have read 7 of the top 10 and 40% overall – and highlighted the ones I’ll buy this year. I don’t know how I compare to last year, sorry Becca I don’t keep this list form year to year. I like lists but this one’s not necessarily my favourite as I don’t always read/like what’s popular. I’m amazed that the Twilight series is #1 but I hope this means that a lot of younger people are reading more. I know, I sound so old, very don’t-know-what-the-younger-generation-is-coming-too, but I do worry that the electronic age is adversely affecting reading habits (subject for another post I think). My introduction to the 2009 list being out went something like this...

Whilst shopping with my fabulous girlfriends (don’t you just love shopping with the girls), after a liquid lunch, we wandered past Dymocks. ‘oo oo Ive gotta get our next bookclub book!’ said one and that was all it took. I was in the shop and leaving them behind in the dust. I heard one say ‘of course Wendy would know exactly where it was on the shelf, I can never find anything in here’, as they followed along. So you can imagine my chagrin when To Kill a Mockingbird was not where it should be!

It’s a little annoying from my point of view. Don’t get me wrong, I love the list, but they create a new run of books and slap them up the front of the shop, I know marketing and libraries are worlds apart, but it makes it confusing – as if arranging the fiction by genre isn’t confusing enough.

Anyway we found the book she wanted and she was very happy to discover the 3 books for the price of 2 promotion. It was the least amount of time I’ve ever spent in a bookshop, I am in awe of her snappy decisions, perhaps motivated by the fact that we were on our way to get pedicures – books and a foot massage l-u-x-u-r-y!

edit: If you've checked out the Dymocks List please note that the Panda says NO!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I love this meme hosted by Marcia at the Printed Page celebrating the artistry of book covers. Pop over to The Printed Page and have a look at a selection of wonderful artwork that motivates our book choices (like we need any encouragement). Join in by leaving a link to your Cover Attraction or just leave it here if you’d rather. If you like my button please feel free to copy and paste it into your own post.

This week my cover attraction is a book I bought at the airport (yes I know risky) the purchase of which was based purely on the cover. I ended up giving it to my son when I realised I had souvenirs for everyone but him (bad mother). It was just a short get-away to nowhere exotic and he’s a bookworm too so he didn’t think it at all odd to get a book instead of a Gold Coast key ring. He has that whole new-book-excitement-thing too and, as a bonus, he loved the book. He recommends it as a great short read - he read it on the day he got it in one sitting.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB over at Should be Reading. Anyone can join in so here's what you do...

Grab your current read & let it fall open to a random page.
Share with us two “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
Share the title of the book… that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given but remember...avoid spoilers please.
leave a link to your Teaser in my comments or pop on over to
Should Be Reading leave your Teaser and get tantalising glimpses of other reads.

*Disclaimer: this event may be hazardous to your TBR health.

My teaser is from Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected...

At that point, Mary Maloney simply walked up behind him and without any pause she swung the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brought it down as hard as she could on the back of his head. She might just as well have hit him with a steel club.

*and all women who have ever had their cooking skills dissed say, amen.

Monday, April 13, 2009

This week’s MM, hosted by BFF Becca of Just one more page asks...

How do you respond to the comments on your blog? Do you try to email individually or comment on the post yourself, answering the comments above? What do you think is the best way to respond to comments and do you respond to all of them? Do you feel slighted if you don't receive a response back from the blog owner?

I’ve only ever commented on the posts – don’t know anything about emailing responses yet. I’m not sure of the best way to respond to comments but I love reading them and am very excited when someone comments on my posts. This is the best thing about blogging, if you ask me, it’s a validation of the very nicest kind when like-minded people from all over the world take the time to leave a comment. Plus I love seeing the many different sides of the same coin as the discussion develops. I can’t tell you how often I’ve said to myself ‘good point I‘d never have thought of that’!

Take my recent Friday First experience for example, I went over to Under the boardwalk to respond to Nise’s comment on my Friday First post and while I was there I read the comments on her Friday First post... Staci’s comment reminded me of a long lost treasure AND gave me an idea for next week’s Friday First. I commented on this I hope that's okay, I'm not sure if it's polite to respond to the comments left on someone else's blog.

As you can see this week's MM is a timely question (courtesy of Jenny) because, as I don’t really know what the etiquette for blog comments is, I’ve have been reading up on it whilst lurking and learning. One really informative blogger I’ve discovered, who all probably know, is Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness (don’t you just love that blog name!).

Kim’s BIP (Blog Improvement Project) is really helpful to a new blogger, I’ve been catching up on old posts too but April’s project is perfect for me...it’s all about comments. I’m going to try out a few of the suggestions found here and in some of the links Kim suggests. I like the sound of hoisting, well actually it sounds a tad uncomfortable (wedgies come to mind). More to the point I like the sound of community building which it promotes. Don’t really understand it yet, will let you know when I do.

I find it easy to respond to the comments on my blog as I don’t get that many (I don’t know how you’d manage comments in double figures) and they are always interesting, conversation sparking ones. I hope I'm responding properly - I'd hate to offend and am more than willing to be instructed if you ever feel slighted!

I’ve popped out of the shadows where I lurk a couple of times to leave a few gushy comments on other blogs. Hopefully people (who don’t know me) don't worry about the crazy lady stalking their blog.

While I’ve visited my follower’s blogs I haven’t ‘talked’ to them all yet – this is my project for this week. I don't mind if I don't receive a comment back from the blog owner, I figure I'm here for the experience not for sweating the small stuff (enough of that to do IRL).

So much to lurking/learning to do... so little time. The irony that blogging about reading does actually cut into my reading time has NOT escaped me. How do you deal with that?!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

The First Friday First

A meme all about those all important first words:
So, here's what you do.. .
* Copy the theme/question and the FF button & paste into your own blog.
* Include the author and title of the book your first line is from.
* When you’ve posted your response, leave a comment here so everyone can find your post.
* If you don’t have a blog yet, just reply in the comments section.
* You don’t have to answer on Fridays, it's just great to hear from you anytme.
* Some week's there'll a puzzle, the answer will be up the following week (or earlier if it's really bugging you).
*Lastly let me know what you think...love Friday Firsts? hate it? got ideas to improve it? got ideas for questions/themes? I'm keen to know your thoughts and add your ideas to this adventure,

Since this is our first Friday First and as it's Good Friday why don't we start with a good first...

Favourite Firsts: Do you have one or many? Share one of your favourites. with us. Why do you love it, remember it or feel connected to it.

One of my favourite first lines happens to be in one of my top five books, which I also happen to be (re)reading atm for BookFreaks.

'When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.'

In this one perfect sentence we are introduced to the two pivotal characters - the narrator, and her brother, and the allegorious sub-plot of Boo Radley. And in the category of 'perfect first line' this one gets you hooked...you've read the first chapter before you realise you've heard no more about that broken arm.

In fact, in what I think is wonderful symmetry, we don't return to the broken arm until the apparent decrescendo of the book, the third last chapter and those amazingly thrilling words, 'Run Scout! Run! Run! Jem screamed.' By this stage of the book the court case is over, the crescendo has built up to the verdict and result is known, prejudice has won -or so we think. The broken arm is forgrounding of the best kind, it is a link to the redeeming victory of tolerance over prejudice that is the 'kitchen knife stuck up under the ribs' of Bob Ewell.

A "First Famous Coarse Thread" is a Famous First Line translated from English and back again.
This time we have a famous first line translated from English --> Chinese --> English:
can you unravel this coarse thread?

'This is the best time, it is the worst time; this is a wisdom, its age is the stupid age...'

Check back next week to find out what book it's from or look at more coarse threads here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

This week's BTT question is an old one revisited which is good because I wasn't doing BTT 2 years ago so it's all new to me!
Some people read one book at a time. Some people have a number of them on the go at any given time, perhaps a reading in bed book, a breakfast table book, a bathroom book, and so on, which leads me to…
Are you currently reading more than one book? If so, how many books are you currently reading? Is this normal for you? Where do you keep your current reads?

I have always been a one-book-at-a-time devotee. My thinking was that I wanted to give my whole heart and soul to each read and I found that diffucult if I had more than one on the go. I say WAS becasue my reading habits were changed perforce by uni. It took me six years to get my degree and the amount of reading required demanded concurrent reading.

Although I'm no longer writing essays and reading primary texts along side secondary criticism I find emersing myself in multiple reads possible. This is good because I do like to have more than one book to show off at the "what I read last month" part of
BookFreaks (my bookclub). Especially as some members (Becca) have little OCD problem and bring anintimidatingly huge pile of recent reads.

I keep my current read with me at all times (Becca's not along in the OCD department), it's usually my bookFreaks book. The others are on my bedside table (BST), I dip into each according to my mood. At the moment my BST reading consists of
The Devil's Brood = I've gone to bed early to escape the world and I'm in the mood for a nice long read (It's HUGE so it'll be on my current read pile for quite a while); Tales of the Unexpected = I'm tired or short story mood; and for those outside the square moods I've started Mrs Dalloway.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cover Attraction

Marcia from The Printed Page hosts a weekly meme celebrating the delicate artistry of book covers. Pop over and have a look at all the wonderful artwork that motivates our book choices (like we need any encouragement).

This week my cover attraction is The Book Theif. I just love the playfulness of a child skipping along with the grim reaper that reinforces the 'playing with death' aspect of the grim storyline set in WWII.

Zuzak uses the format of dialogue with death popular in the 16th century to tell this poignent story of a little girl who loves books and is deprived of them. Spectacular imagery and quirky sense of humour propel the narrative. Anyone who loves books and language should have this book on their bookshleves, and in their booklovers' heart.

Behold a New Meme

You may have noticed a new meme button on my sidebar. Like many of my fellow bibliophiles I have a passion for opening lines (I know a few too many by heart) and I though I might turn this interest into a discussion. So If you're interested pop in on Fridays and join in.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading
Anyone can join in so here's what you do...
Grab your current read.
Let the book fall open to a random page.
Share with us two “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12
Share the title of the book… that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given but remember...
please avoid spoilers.
leave a link to your Teaser in my comments or pop on over to Should Be Reading leave your Teaser and get tanalising glimpses of other reads.
*Disclaimer: this event may cause TBR explosion.

'Mr Ewell, ' Atticus began, 'Folks were doing a lot of runnning last night, Let's see, you say you ran into the house, you ran to the window, you ran inside, you ran to Mayella, you can for Mr Tate. Did you, during all this running, run for a doctor?'

From To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Monday, April 6, 2009

Isn’t it interesting to see how conversations develop. Last week’s MM sparked this week’s question when Joseph asked:
how you keep track of your tbr list. Do you have a paper list or on your computer? Do you take it with you when you go shopping? How do you decide what gets added to it?
following up on: keeping track of what you read from last week .

The answer to both is this blog! I started this blog a) because Becca made me - that’s my excuse when my family start to bemoan burnt offerings (dinner), half answered homework help or drowned rat syndrome (caused by waiting at the train station in the rain for a lift that is long overdue).

b) to keep track of both what I’ve read: I plan to add a list ‘read in 2009’ AND want to read. It seems so appropriate to have a bookshelf on my blog when I can’t fit anymore bookshelves into my home. I love shelfari although I’m finding it a bit quirky and not as intuitive as someone like me (a little techno-useless) needs so I’m experimenting with goodreads now too.

c) to broaden my reading horizons.

In a past life, while working as 2IC in a children’s library, I was responsible for book-buying. Selecting books from publisher’s catalogues and warehouses was my idea of heaven and they paid me too! There was no way I could keep track of everything I wanted to read as it passed through my hands on its way from purchase to the shelves so I started a reading list on index cards that included TBR and WIR (what I’d read) complete with subject see references to allow me to help patrons who wanted to read a good book about magicians, ponies, pirates etc. Unfortunately is was tossed away in a moment of madness as my study made way for a nursery.

The next time I remember pausing for a breath, 19 or so years later, I realised that for the longest time I’d been wishing I still had those cards. I was finding myself bereft of TBR’s. My somewhat overkill response was to go back to school in my 40’s to do English at uni – well it certainly cured my TBR problem. As well as all the books that were added to the TBR list through uni, I add constantly from my blog surfing which can sometimes lead to TRB anxiety.

We do read to know we’re not alone, but C.S. Lewis’s words have taken on new meaning in this a global reading group in which I can now take part.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

So to sumarise

My last post was a long winded way to award certain bloggers and acknowledge their contribution to my own fledgling attempts to fly in this virtual world. If you visit Becca at Just one more page you’ll see what I mean, she has such good taste (well at least the same as mine so I think it’s great) so every element I add ends up being just like hers and she has never once said ‘stop copying me!’ either, isn’t she nice!

So if you’ve received this award you’ll see elements of your page here on mine, you will have amazed me & you will have inspired me to find out ‘how can I do that too’. But perhaps more than that you’ll have made me smile and feel good about myself as I recognise I’m not alone if I’m reading.

1) display the grasshopper award (in my last post) on your blog knowing you have touched someone you may never meet IRL.
2) pass this on to any fellow bloggers who have taught, inspired or entertained you.

Recently I was in a bit of a snit. I'd had a string of all-for-someone-else days to complete 6 weeks of way-too-busy and I didn't quite know how to handle it and then I had an epiphany...wasn’t this why I started blogging? For moments such as these? A way of using the written word to work through angst, emotions, life etc. that avoids resentment and shrillness without overburdening others (pity my one reader who’s now on the receiving end of all my dross!). So off I went and vented my spleen on my (other) blog and voilĂ  I felt better.

Usually I get cranky if my creative urges are stifled for too long. I know the symptoms and find that if I can just fit in a bit of sewing, beading, paper crafting my world will shift back to its rightful axis. As I continued blogging I realised that blogging satisfies these same creative urges. MGM told me when we got our first computer, seems like 100’s of years ago now, that I’d love the creative side of it and of course he has once again been proved correct and it has once again taken me decades to understand something that he just got in the first 5 minutes!

As my enjoyment of blogging increases, I lean heavily on my fellow bloggers for inspiration. You’re all so generous with your encouragement (& instructions) and understanding with my baby steps; and I’m so thingy about intellectual property that I wanted to acknowledge everyone I’ve copied (errrr who has inspired me).

This award goes out from grasshopper (or padawan if you weren't born in the 60’s) to all the blogging Kwai Chang Caines out there, who, I know, will be understanding if I do this award thing the wrong way. I’ve seen them on blogs on the side-bar but I don’t really know how to get it there. So Becca,
Robin, Nise...you’re my test-awardees...if I do it wrong let me know before I send it on somewhere else...k?

how excitment

I have a follower! My first! Welcome Alaine...I'm sorry I haven't mentioned you earlier, it appears you've been a follower since February but because I'm so new to blogging I didn't think to scroll down on my own blog. I'm adding a blogaversary counter button tonight so I had to find out when I started blogging and as I scrolled down there you were...how very excitement.

Also because I'm new (I wonder how long I can use this excuse) I can't work out how to catch you at you blog so maybe you or someone else can help me do that (Becca this means you!) so that I can come on over and say high. I see you're into scrapbooking so that is a whole other conversation we can have!

Edit: This is probably not the cool thing to do sorry if I've embarrassed you Alaine but I'm still easily excited by the whole blogging-thing

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Much to my chagrin I'm coming late to the MM discussion on keeping track of what and/or how many books you read? How long have you been doing this? What's your favourite tracking method, and why? If you don't keep track, why not?

I'm not even posting it as a MM but my answer would be...that's why I started this blog - becasue I had no way of keeping track of what I've read/want to read.

I do have a couple of comments for Becca (who I know reads this blog even if I don't post to MM). Firstly for a blessed Becca - congrats on the blog awards - and secondly to slightly definition-challenged and a little bit bewildered Becca ..."latent OCD"?


Pause for a moment and read the definition of latent. Sorry to burst your bubble my friend but what you have is not hidden, buried, concealed, embryonic, underlying, suppressed, undeveloped OCD; but rather where books are concerned what you have is full-blown, unconcealed, explicit, evident, open, plain, blatant, manifest, apparent I-need-to-be-in-control OCD.

Clearly blog-shushing doesn't work on me.