Read-Alouds for December 2006

December 31, 2006 Categories: Books , Homeschooling , Kid Stuff | Comments Off  

Egermeier’s Bible Story Book: A Complete Narration from Genesis to Revelation for Young and Old by Elsie E. Egermeier
Favorite Poems Old and New selected by Helen Ferris
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Christmas Around the World by Mary D. Lankford
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

Noah’s Reading – December 2006

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Seventh Garfield Treasury by Jim Davis

Natalie’s Reading – December 2006

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The Adventure Bible for Young Readers
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket
The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket
I Hate Rules: Katie Kazoo, Switcheroo #5 by Nancy Krulik
Girls Don’t Have Cooties: Katie Kazoo, Switcheroo #4 by Nancy Krulik

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

First off, the author’s name. Could she have been anything else? She had to be a writer, right? Just saying.

I said a few days ago that I didn’t expect to finish any more books before the end of the year. That was before I opened this gem on Christmas morning. This book should be read by anyone who loves to read and wants to write. Can you want to write without loving to read? Hmmmmm….. I don’t see how.

Ms. Prose showed me how to read, how I should be reading in order to be a writer. And this book is so lovely, it made me feel like a better writer just having read it! Each chapter examines a different aspect of writing, from the minute detail like word choice, to broader topics like dialogue and character. Along the way, the author quotes passages from the great writers and shows why the choices they made have created classics. (As a result, there are a few new authors added to my to-read list.) As I read this book, Ms. Prose’s love for reading and the craft of writing fills every page, and made my fingers itch to start writing something truly beautiful.

Here are a few favorite passages:

“Part of a reader’s job is to find out why certain writers endure. This may require some rewiring, unhooking the connection that makes you think you have to have an opinion about the book and reconnecting that wire to whatever terminal lets you see reading as something that might move or delight you. You will do yourself a disservice if you confine your reading to the rising star whose six-figure, two-book contract might seem to indicate where your own work should be heading. I’m not saying you shouldn’t read such writers, some of whom are excellent and deserving of celebrity. I’m only pointing out that they represent the dot at the end of the long, glorious, complex sentence in which literature has been written.

With so much reading ahead of you, the temptation might be to speed up. But in fact it’s essential to slow down and read every word. Because one important thing that can be learned by reading slowly is the seemingly obvious underappreciated fact that language is the medium we use in much the same way a composer uses notes, the way a painter uses paint. I realize it may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how easily we lose sight of the fact that words are the raw material out of which literature is crafted.

Every page was once a blank page, just as every word that appears on it now was not always there, but instead reflects the final result of countless large and small deliberations. All the elements of good writing depend on the writer’s skill in choosing one word instead of another. And what grabs and keeps our interest has everything to do with those choices.” p. 15-16

“The well-made sentence transcends time and genre. A beautiful sentence is a beautiful sentence, regardless of when it was written, or whether it appears in a play or a magazine article.” p. 36

“When we humans speak, we are not merely communicating information but attempting to make an impression and achieve a goal. And sometimes we are hoping to prevent the listener from noticing what we are not saying, which is often not merely distracting but, we fear, as audible as what we are saying. As a result, dialogue usually contains as much or even more subtext than it does text. More is going on under the surface than on it. One mark of bad written dialogue is that it is only doing one thing, at most, at once.” p. 144

“Reading Chekhov, I felt not happy, exactly, but as close to happiness as I knew I was likely to come. And it occurred to me that this was the pleasure and mystery of reading, as well as the answer to those who say that books will disappear. For now, books are still the best way of taking great art and its consolations along with us on a bus.” p. 235

“When we think about how many terrifying things people are called on to do every day as they fight fires, defend their rights, perform brain surgery, give birth, drive on the freeway, and wash skycraper windows, it seems frivolous, self-indulgent, and self-important to talk about writing as an act that requires courage. What could be safer than sitting at your desk, lightly tapping a few keys, pushing your chair back, and pausing to see what marvelous tidbits of art your brain has brought forth to amuse you?

And yet most people who have tried to write have experienced not only the need for bravery but a failure of nerve as the real or imagined consequences, faults and humiliations, exposures and inadequacies dance before their eyes and across the empty screen or page. The fear of writing badly, of revealing something you would rather keep hidden, of losing the good opinion of the world, of violating your own high standards, or of discovering something about yourself that you would just as soon not know – those are just a few of the phantoms scary enough to make the writer wonder if there might be a job available washing skyscraper windows.

All of which brings up yet another reason to read. Literature is an endless source of courage and confirmation. The reader and beginning writer can count on being heartened by all the brave and original works that have been written without the slightest regard for how strange or risky they were, or for what the writer’s mother might have thought when she read them.” p. 249-250

Nooooooooo!

December 30, 2006 Categories: Books | 2 Comments  

Last week, I finished my Master To-Read List, complete with Amazon links and everything – but now it’s gone! Well, part of it is there – but only a fraction of it. So if you click on the link on the sidebar, that’s not the whole thing – I’m trying to figure out how to get it back. Or else I’ll have to do it all again. Sob.

Guess what?

December 29, 2006 Categories: Books , Holidays , Movies , This and That | 6 Comments  

Kevin and I are home right now – alone! He’s downstairs on his computer – I’m upstairs on mine. Pathetic, I know. But in our defense, we did just get back from dinner, and we are meeting in a short while in the living room to watch Lady in the Water.

We are enjoying this blissful date night thanks to my wonderful friend Michelle and her equally wonderful husband Don, who invited all three of our boys to their house for a sleepover and Game Cube blowout. Natalie is staying with Grandmama and Papa, and voila!, we get dinner out, a movie to watch, and a morning to sleep in.

A few days ago when I listed my favorite Christmas presents, I neglected to mention the wonderful gift Michelle gave me – probably because she gave it to me a couple weeks ago, knowing that we were taking a few weeks off of school and I would have more reading time available. She gave me a first edition of Trinity by Leon Uris, one of my favoritest, favoritest books in the whole world! (You can read more about how much I love this book here – and here.) Plus, she also gave me a copy of Redemption, the sequel. I tell you, book-loving friends make the best gift-givers.

Well, I’m off to watch a movie with my hubby. I don’t know if I’ll post again before 2007, so Happy New Year, everyone!

Winter Reading Challenge

December 27, 2006 Categories: Books | 7 Comments  

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Time for another reading challenge. For this challenge, winter means from now until the end of February – at least, for me.

To start with, I want to finish all of my current in progress books:

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose

Redemption by Leon Uris

Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour

The Collected Works of Emily Dickinson

Proverbs and Sayings of Ireland Edited by Sean Gaffney & Seamus Cashman

Bibliotopia: Mr. Gilbar’s Book of Books & Catch-all of Literary Facts And Curiosities Compiled by Steven Gilbar

I also want to read at least five more from the top portion of my Master To-Read List. The top portion includes books that I currently own and are waiting to be read.

Happy Boxing Day

December 26, 2006 Categories: Books , Football , Holidays , Kid Stuff , Television | 10 Comments  

Well, since we don’t have any servants to give the day off and to gift with our leftovers, I’ll be serving leftovers for dinner and giving myself the day off! I even had leftover cobbler for breakfast.

Our Christmas was wonderful, but today seems like a letdown since Kevin had to go back to work. He had Thursday and Friday off, so we had a long weekend and I really shouldn’t complain. On Saturday, Kevin took the kids sledding for a couple hours in the afternoon and later that evening we all went swimming at the local indoor pool. The kids slept really good that night!

On Christmas Eve, I cleaned house and made green bean casserole and raspberry cobbler while watching the heart-breaking Seahawks vs. Chargers game. That evening we went to a Christmas Eve service at a local church we’ve been visiting. The service was very nice – lots of beautiful music – but a little long. It was at least an hour and a half and didn’t start until 7 p.m., so by the time we looked at lights on the way home, we only had an hour or so to visit with our friends who came by for cookies and egg nog. All in all, though, it was a very nice Christmas Eve. And the service really focused on Who Christmas is about, and the kids didn’t get too crazy, so all was well.

Kevin and I stayed up much too late, though, watching season one of Battlestar Galactica. I dragged myself out of bed at 7:15, thinking I told my parents to come at 8:30. I took a quick shower, woke Kevin up who needed a shower and to wrap my presents (he’s even more of a procrastinator than I am!). I had just eaten a quick piece of toast and made sure the kids were dressed when my parents arrived – at 8:00! I had told them 8, but told myself 8:30. Oops!

Opening presents is so much fun – especially when the kids have carefully picked out gifts for each other. They were (almost) more excited to see everyone open the gifts from them than they were to see their own gifts. Almost. ;)

We gave and received some really nice things. Among the greatest hits were this for Kevin:

This for Natalie:

This for Noah (the 100-piece kit, I couldn’t fine a link to it):

For Jonathan:

For Josiah:

I can’t pick a favorite, so here’s what I received:

This is from my lovely sister Andrea, and I already started reading it:

From Kevin:

(That way I can stop borrowing his every time I have to drive down to Chewelah for Nan’s ballet class.)

And I used my last Club Mom check and a Barnes & Noble card earned with the last of my monthly Club Mom points to purchase seasons 3 and 4 of this:

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Nothing like buying yourself a Christmas gift! So what was your favorite gift?

Love’s Pure Light

December 24, 2006 Categories: Faith , Holidays | 2 Comments  

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Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light,
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

Links for Friday…and Merry Christmas!

December 22, 2006 Categories: Books , Faith , Holidays , This and That | 7 Comments  

The baking is finished, the presents are wrapped. I am mostly ready, and that is a good feeling. Tomorrow will be spent doing some housecleaning and just being lazy. Probably reading and watching some Monarch of the Glen.

Sunday, I will be making some of Christmas dinner ahead of time – the green bean casserole, the cobbler – while I watch the Seahawks game. Those long commercial and half-time breaks are great for getting things done! I will also do last minute straightening up. At 7 p.m. we will attend a Christmas Eve service and then come home with some friends for goodies and egg nog.

Christmas morning, my parents will arrive early in order to keep the kids from spontaneously combusting from impatience to open their presents. I am fixing Christmas dinner, so my day will be busy, but it will be fun. I probably won’t be posting again until after Christmas.

Here are a few links for those few of you who are still with me during this busy, blessed time of year:

~You’ve probably already heard, but J. K. Rowling announced the title for Harry Potter 7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now if she would just give us a release date!

~If you need some mindless fun in the midst of all the holiday preparations, try this game. But keep in mind, it’s addicting! My husband sent me this link from work, and I had to keep playing until I beat his score. Just had to.

~Lastly, here is a beautiful article by Luci Shaw about Mary and her experiences as the mother of Jesus: Yes to Shame and Glory.

I hope all of you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!