Monthly Archives: December 2011

Carpe Diem by Robert Frost

We’re very close to the kick-off of 2012, which will be another year full of great literature and poetry.  I hope that however, wherever, you’re celebrating this weekend that you have a wonderful (and safe!) time.  To bid adieu to 2011, and to sum up how we should approach each in 2012, here’s a poem by Robert Frost.

Carpe Diem

Age saw two quiet children
Go loving by at twilight,
He knew not whether homeward,
Or outward from the village,
Or (chimes were ringing) churchward,
He waited, (they were strangers)
Till they were out of hearing
To bid them both be happy.
“Be happy, happy, happy,
And seize the day of pleasure.”
The age-long theme is Age’s.
‘Twas Age imposed on poems
Their gather-roses burden
To warn against the danger
That overtaken lovers
From being overflooded
With happiness should have it.
And yet not know they have it.
But bid life seize the present?
It lives less in the present
Than in the future always,
And less in both together
Than in the past. The present
Is too much for the senses,
Too crowding, too confusing-
Too present to imagine.

Happy New Year!
Check out Robert Frost’s page on Amazon.

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Fun with words Friday! Pandiculation

pandiculation – noun

  1. the act of stretching oneself   cats love to pandiculate every chance that they get.

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Have you loved your local public library recently?

Despite the fact that I’ve always wanted to be a librarian, I’ve never been a big fan of borrowing books from one.  How come?  For one, I really enjoy owning my books and always having them there on the shelf, knowing that I can revisit them at any time that I so desire.  Also, it always seems that all of the books that I want from the library have been borrowed 10,000 times by the dirtiest, least book loving people imaginable.  Between the torn pages, penciled in notes, and miscellaneous stains, I’m typically left vigorously rubbing hand sanitizer into my palms every five minutes.

HOWEVER, I am always trying to change my ways and grow as a person, so when a co-worker asked me to check out a local-to-the-office library that she likes, I was incredibly excited to do so.  We visited The McAuliffe Branch of the Framingham Public Library, which is much smaller than the main branch (which, I will admit, I have yet to visit), but is absolutely wonderful inside!  They have a good selection of books right there (you can also order books from any library in the Minuteman Network or borrow electronic versions to your Kindle) and all of the books that I looked at are – gasp – CLEAN!

I didn’t waste any time in getting my hands on a card of my own either.  As soon as I got back to the office, I hopped online and put my name in on the list for The Buddha in the Attic and look forward to the call and/or e-mail notifying me that it’s in.

In short, I urge everyone to check out some library close to their home.  Libraries seem to be doing a lot to get on board with the trend towards digital reading and, really, our communities need libraries to stay.

Do you have a favorite nearby library that you frequent?

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Filed under Library, Non Sequitur Thursday

Books read in 2011

At the end of each year, I like to reflect upon a list of the titles that I consumed over the past 365 days.  And, every year, this required me trying to pull the titles from memory, which was always a daunting task.  In the past, I’ve attempted – and failed – to keep a running “book diary”, which always seemed like an incredibly awesome idea.  But then I’d finish a book, forgot to update it, remember that I forgot to update the diary while driving somewhere in the car, then make a mental note to update ASAP, but forgot once I got home and then five books later I’m wracking my brain for what I read a few months ago… and then I write horrible run-on, never-ending sentences about my failure as a bibliophile.

Now, thank God, I have GoodReads.com on my computer and the GoodReads.com App on my iPod.  I set a goal to read 40 books in 2011 (another awesome feature of this site) and, happily, exceeded that goal (so far) by 1.  Another reason that I love GoodReads.com (as well as seeing people’s “read in ‘x’ year lists) are for all of the wonderful new reading recommendations!

In no particular order, I’m listing out the 41 books that I read in 2011 + 1 that I have started.  If there is a link, that means that I’ve posted previously on this Blog about that title.

  1. Rules for Virgins by Amy Tan
  2. The Hunger Games (Book #1) by Suzanne Collins
  3. The Hunger Games (Book #2) – Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  4. The Hunger Games (Book #3) – The Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  5. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
  6. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  7. Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
  8. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  9. The Accident by Elise Wiesel
  10. Dawn by Elie Wiesel
  11. Night by Elie Wiesel
  12. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeson Burnett
  13. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  14. Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates
  15. The Sinner (Rizzoli & Isles #3) by Tess Gerritsen
  16. The Apprentice (Rizzoli & Isles #2) by Tess Gerritsen
  17. The Surgeon (Rizzoli & Isles #1) by Tess Gerritsen
  18. Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain
  19. The Vampire Lestat (Vampire Chronicles #2) by Anne Rice
  20. The Interview with the Vampire (Vampire Chronicles #1) by Anne Rice
  21. Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis
  22. Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis
  23. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  24. Sourland (Short Stories) by Joyce Carol Oates
  25. Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren
  26. Fury: a Memoir by Koren Zailckas
  27. God is Love (Deus Caritas Est) by Pope Benedict XVI
  28. Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
  29. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  30. The Dhammapada
  31. The Transformation of Suffering by Khenpo Konchok Gyaltshen Rinpoche
  32. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  33. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  34. Catholicism of Dummies by John Triglio Jr.
  35. In Search of the Stainless Ambrosia by Khenpo Konchog Gyaltshen
  36. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
  37. Never Let Me God by Kazuo Ishiguro
  38. No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July
  39. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  40. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  41. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  42. Currently Reading: Across Many Mountains: A Tibetan Family’s Epic Journey from Oppression to Freedom by Yangzom Brauen
What did you read this year?  If you have a list somewhere, please feel free to leave a link in the comments.  I’d love to see!

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Rules for Virgins by Amy Tan

Title:  Rules for Virgins
Author: Amy Tan
Length: Digital Short (42 pages)
Loved It! 

I first ready Amy Tan a few years ago.  The book was The Joy Luck Club and I remember that I enjoyed it, but I can’t remember any one single detail about it.  Therefore, it’s made its way back onto my “must read” list for 2012.  In the meantime, however, I opted to check out Rules for Virgins, which is available as a Digital Short on Amazon for .99.  Put out by Byliner Fiction (link brings you to an excerpt and their write ups on it), this is Tan’s first release of fiction in over six years.  Needless to say, Tan fans are very excited to get their hands on this.  And, in my opinion, they won’t be disappointed.

The story is a narration of advice from an older, experienced courtesan to a younger courtesan who is still a virgin.  Personally, I knew absolutely nothing about courtesan culture (or, really, anything about Chinese culture during this time period), so I was automatically intrigued.  The conversational tone keeps the story moving (you’ll be at the end before you know it) and the advice is, at times, shocking, hilarious, and might make you go “hmmm”.  In short, don’t read this if you’re a kid or blush easily.

In Tan’s own words (from the Byliner article linked above):

So now there is a story called Rules for Virgins. It takes place in Shanghai in 1912, when my grandmother’s cousin was a young woman in Shanghai. It concerns a fourteen-year-old virgin courtesan who is mentored by a seasoned one, Magic Gourd, now over the hill at age thirty-three, who has a no-nonsense attitude, modeled after my mother’s. If you take out the nature of these women’s profession, the actual advice is more like the marketing strategies of any business, and in this story’s case, humorous ones having to do with the vulnerability of men’s egos. That makes it an age-old story, I think.

This book is currently only available in a digital format, but if you don’t own an actual eReader, you can download an app onto your computer, iPhone, or iPad.  Enjoy!  This short story definitely makes for a good “last read” of the year!
Visit Amy Tan’s page on Amazon.

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Filed under Amy Tan, Books, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Women Writers

Monday Quote: From The Hunger Games

 

I came across this particular quote in the third book of The Hunger Games and immediately knew that it was one that I had to hold onto.  Since I was reading someone else’s version, I couldn’t underline or highlight, so I did the next best thing… I took a picture of the paragraph with my iPod.  I like this quote because it remains pertinent to the world in the novel, but it also seems like a pretty good reminder/bit of advice for those of us currently living on earth…

Frankly, our ancestors don’t seem much to brag about. I mean, look at the state they left us in, with the wars and the broken planet.  Clearly, they didn’t care about what would happen to the people who came after them.

 

The Hunger Games on Amazon.

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Fun with words Friday! Dystopia vs. Utopia

Nothing says Merry Christmas quite like this – yikes!
 
 
dystopia – noun
  1. a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.

as opposed to…

Nice?

utopia – noun

  1. an imaginary island described in Sir Thomas More’s Utopia  (1516) as enjoying perfection in law, politics, etc.
  2. (usually lowercase) an ideal place or state.
  3. (usually lowercase) any visionary system of political or social perfection.

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Cute Christmas cat photo

 

 

That is all.

 

 

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Favorite Christmas books


Christmas is coming.  We’re only days away and, whether you’re prepared or not, it’s gonna happen.  But what’s a holiday without some good holiday-appropriate books?  Sadly (?), while I had a whole list for Halloween, I’m struggling to remember all of the Christmas books that I read as a child.  The only one that really sticks out is The Night Before Christmas.  The above isn’t a picture of the version that I owned, which is unfortunate, because what I loved most about this story were the pictures.  I also like mice.  And poems.  I guess that I’ve always liked poems.

In celebration of the holiday, please enjoy ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore.  And please do share some of your favorite Christmas tales – whether they’re meant for children, adults, or everyone!

 

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

 

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

 

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

 

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

 

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

 

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

 

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

 

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

 

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

 

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

 

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

 

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

 

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

 

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”


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Filed under Books, Children's Books, Holidays, Poetry

The Hunger Games (Book #3) – Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay

 
Title:  The Hunger Games (Book #3): Mockingjay
Author:  Suzanne Collins
Length: 400 pages
LOVED IT!
 
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but… I loved this book!  As I was reading through the 2nd book, I wasn’t entirely sure where Collins was going to go with the final installment, but I was both surprised and delighted with the direction that she chose.  I don’t want to ruin this for anyone who stumbles across my blog and had yet to read the trilogy, so I’ll apologize if I get vague at any point!
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.
There were some elements and twists in the book that I’m guessing some readers could have seen coming, but, honestly, I didn’t.  Every character who died, survived, ended up here or there was a complete surprise to me.  There were far fewer happier moments in this book and the scenes got progressively more gruesome (if you can imagine that after the first two Games).  BUT all of the above was served up in the right portion to keep me reading and wanting more.
 
There is one portion of the novel, towards the very end, when an important and rather emotional scene takes places that I wasn’t 100% pleased by how it was presented – it felt a little rushed and slightly informal. Though, at the same time, I can see how the format the information was presented in could be in line with how the narrator would probably have to relay the details.  So, I guess that my one “gripe” isn’t a real full-on gripe.
 
Even though this book is quite obviously fiction (and possibly even a little fantasy, at that), I continue to see some parallels between the world and society of Panem and our current world.  I feel like there are many excellent lessons within these three books and I’m excited by the fact that this series is so widely popular, especially with teenagers.
 
In the end, looking back through the novels, I fell in love with characters of Katniss and Peeta.  I rarely end a book and feel a little bit of longing for the characters that I leave behind when shutting the cover, but I definitely felt it with The Hunger Games.  Now I’ll just have to sit tight until March when the first film is released in the theaters.  The trailer gives me chills.
 
 
What were your thoughts on these books?  Are you going to see the movie(s)?

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