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Book Hoarder or Bibliophile?

I have always loved reading.  For my birthday and Christmas (and any other holiday that involves gift giving), I usually end up with at least one or two books.  My husband learned quickly that while flowers are pretty and nice, books are even better.

Books

Over the past week, between birthday gifts and a REALLY good sale at BarnesandNoble.com, I have added a whopping total of 12 new books to the “to-read” pile.  While I may have been a bit over-zealous in my birthday shopping, I really am more than excited to get into these books (if I EVER finish Sense and Sensibility).  They range from YA to Nonfiction; Crime to Vampires; Classics to Pop Culture phenomenons.

As I look at the list, I realize that those books are 12 more books closer to my goal I set at the beginning of the year.  Goodreads.com has an annual reading challenge.  It’s nothing truly competitive.  It’s more just for people to set personal reading goals for themselves.  This year, I pledged I would read 100 books.  I know that sounds a bit outlandish, but I figured what the hell, aim for the stars.  I am nowhere near that goal but I’m going to keep trying to hit it, after all I have five months left.

These new books will hopefully help me get a little closer to that goal but in all honesty, I don’t really care if I hit the goal.  There are just so many books and not enough time!

reading quote

That being said, I have to wonder if I have a problem.  Am I a book hoarder?  I cannot ever bring myself to give away a book I buy.  I once saw an interview with Neil Gaiman and proudly showed the interviewer his basement in which he had every single book he had ever read.  I felt like I had found a kindred spirit.  When I read a book, it’s like it’s part of me and I can’t just give it away.  I want to keep it.  I may want to re-read it some day and see if I find a new meaning in the words.  It happens, you know.  Take a book like the Fountainhead.  I read it my sophomore year in high school.  I hated every minute of it.  It was haughty and seemed to really push away what I thought I knew at that point.  Then I reread it after I left College #1 because I remember someone saying that they re-read it and enjoyed it the second time around.  I was at a crossroads and thought maybe now was the time to pick it up again.  As I read it for the second time, I started to understand different things in the book.  It had new meanings in different places.  It held new insights to life, whether it meant to or not.  I haven’t picked that one up in a while but I’m sure in a few more years, I may consider tackling it for a third time.

oscar wilde quote

But keeping all these books I have read over the years can take up space I don’t have.  Yes, there are Kindles, Nooks, iPads, e-readers but honestly, they are not the same.  They don’t have beautiful cover art.  They don’t have bindings that can be organized alphabetically by author and then chronologically by title, after being sorted by genre of course!  They are great space savers but, I feel like something is lost in their cold electronic fonts.  Does that stop me from filling mine up?  No.  It just lets me hide my books a little better.

I posted something to my FB wall today stating that I might have to admit a book hoarding problem and I was quickly answered with the idea that I was a bibliophile.

When-I-get-a-little-money

Call it what you will: Book hoarder, bibliophile, book collector.   I just know that nothing makes me happier than knowing I have worlds waiting for me (well, my kid might make me happier than that, but a good book is a close second).  I suppose I need to get started on that pile…after I finish that other book…

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A Most Valuable Lesson

Every day we are presented with an opportunity to teach and often, we don’t even realize it.  I look at my daughter and realize that every day, she’s learning something new. There’s so much her brain is processing and learning and it fascinates me.  Watching how she just picks up the smallest things and incorporates them into her life is amazing to see.

I enjoy being able to help someone learn something.  Watching a person have that “ah-ha” moment when they understand a new concept or idea is a very cool thing to witness.   With the Daughter, I get to see this in some form every day.  I know it sounds a little cheesy and sometimes I question myself writing about it.  Whatever.  I’m cheesy.

Most recently, I have been working on teaching the Daughter how to read.  She knows her letters and she knows most of the sounds of the letters.  Those are the two basic building blocks of reading so since she knows those things, it should be easy, right?   Being an avid reader myself, I always knew that I wanted to do my best to make sure that my child enjoyed a good story.  I figured that the leap between knowing the letters and their sounds and actually recognizing sight words would be a simple step.

Call me naive, it’s ok.  I just don’t remember how I learned to read so I’m not sure what the exact steps are.  It’s not like it comes with a manual, though that would be a little ironic wouldn’t it?  I’m sure somewhere, there’s a manual on how to teach someone to read, it’s probably called a “school book.”  At any rate…

She’s been slowly getting better at it.  Small words like “stop” and her own name are very easily recognized.  She knows that Mommy starts with “m” and Daddy has “d”s in it.  She has most of Green Eggs and Ham memorized which is also a good sign because now when we read it, I can point to a word and she knows what it is, at least in the early pages where it’s pretty much the same ten words just in a different order.  (Here’s your useless trivia for the day:  Dr. Seuss was challenged by his publisher to write a book using no more than fifty words.  Green Eggs and Ham was the winning story.  That is also why it’s such a great book to start teaching kids how to read!)

We also make sure that we spell out the smaller words so she can start to understand how the letters go together, kind of like how Word World makes everything out of the words themselves.  It’s fun to see her spell things like h-a-t, hat and c-u-p, cup.  My favorite thing is how she comes up with her own spelling.  Like on Sunday, she was telling us how she needed a “drink, p-i-n, drink.”  Her random string of letters are sometimes comical and I often have to stifle laughter so I don’t insult her attempt at spelling the word she is so desperate to communicate.

Word-World_Still1

Word World – where words come alive

I’m sure that as the weeks go by and we keep reading books over and over, taking care to point out the smaller three and four letter words, we will be reading even more in no time at all.  Until then, I will relish the fact that I am able to spell-talk with the Husband or any other adult.

This post is part of December’s NaBloPoMo.  Check it out!  Today’s prompt was: Do you enjoy teaching others? Talk about a time you taught someone how to do something.

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Book Review: Where Rivers Change Direction

We have a bookshelf in our break room at work that is used as our book swap area.  People bring in all kinds of books: fantasy, thrillers, romance, self-help.  Being the book lover that I am, I can’t help but checking the bookshelf every Monday to see if there are any new titles.

In the past I have picked up some gems like Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees and The Best American Short Stories 1991.

Most recently, I picked up a book that had an interesting title: Where Rivers Change Direction.  The title had enough meaning to make me use my tried and true book test.  After reading the back cover, I will read the first and the last sentence of a book just to see if both hook me.  I do not read anything more.  Just the very first and the very last sentence.

I can hear you gasping where you are reading this.

No, reading the last sentence doesn’t ruin a book.  I like to see if the first sentence grabs me.  Then I read the last sentence and if the two are interesting enough for me to ask “How did we start with that sentence and end with this one?” then I read it.  Sometimes the last sentence is just one word.  To be honest, I’ve yet to be let down by my little test.

That being said, the first sentence of this book is “When I was a boy my father had horses, over a hundred of them, some of them rank, and I sat them well.”  The last sentence of the book is “The fear that I have lived a careless life sweeps some nights over me with liquid flame  – hot as the fires that clear these ditches for their clean water.”  What brought that fear about?  What did his father do with the horses?  These questions instantly flood my mind.  I wanted to dive into Spragg’s world and discover what I could.

The book is an autobiographical memoir of his life on one of the oldest dude ranches in Wyoming just outside of Yellowstone Park.  Each chapter is an essay that moves through the author’s life and highlights the way life in the vastness of the Wyoming country.

Crossed Sabres Ranch

The essays are beautifully crafted, bringing the reader back into the author’s memories.  Each of the ranch hands are introduced in a way that you can easily understand why they still live in Spragg’s memory.  The descriptions of events at the ranch that hosted many people who came only for a week to play cowboy were wonderfully described in a way that I felt I was with Spragg as he rode his horses down the trails.

As he grew up, the essays took on a different tone, that of a young boy becoming a man.  His view changed, but his heart never really did.  Through each essay, you saw him deal with the reality of life yet hold on to the tenderness of his youth just more hidden than before because he understood more.

I have always held a romantic view of the American West.  The greatness of the land and the rugged wildness of it always called to me.  Maybe I was a ranch hand in a past life and reading this memoir allowed me to reconnect to that time when life was simpler in so many ways yet still forged strong people.

This book just confirmed the fact that I need to go on a dude ranch vacation before I die.  Even if they see me as a silly tourist playing cowgirl, I don’t care.  The idea of just being out in the open on a horse riding through the mountains and valleys is something that just seems so freeing and wonderful.

I also can see the value of having children read this book.  It’s the perfect coming of age story that really shows the struggles a child goes through on the path to becoming an adult.  The pains of first loves, spending one-on-one time with a parent, first jobs, dealing with loss are all artfully told in a way that allows the reader to immerse him or herself into the story and completely be able to relate.  The book also allows you to re-read it again in a few years and pick up entirely new meaning from the collection of memories.  If I ever become a teacher, I would like to think that I would include this in the reading list just for the sheer fact that it’s a beautiful memoir.

So, if you are looking for something different to read and something that will spark your imagination and probably increase your wanderlust, pick up Mark Spragg’s Where Rivers Change Direction.  You won’t regret it.

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