Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The books I like to read

If you’re a dreamer, come in. If you’re a dreamer, a wisher, a liar. A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer… If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some fla-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!

Not to get all English major on you, but do you know that poem “Invitation” by Shel Silverstein? Don’t worry, there isn’t a particularly reason you should; it is the first poem in Silverstein’s collection of poems in Where the Sidewalk Ends, and the short verse is not a particularly spectacular poem or anything, but I’ve always loved how it is just so welcoming. “Come in! Come in!” to this new exciting world that I have written just for you. Often, when I’m beginning a new book, it pops into my head just like that. Lately, Daisy and I have been stretching out in our backyard every afternoon. We bring out our blanket, a stack of books, and measuring cups to play with (her very favorite toy). She crawls on the grass, splashes on her water table, plucks dandelions, and we read. Sometimes she sits next to me while I read a picture book, or most often I’ll read my latest novel out loud to her while she plays alongside of me. 

So, the reason for my long blog absence: I’ve been reading a ton. And, because I thrive on list making, I present to you a list of what I’ve been reading:

Rashi’s Daughters: Joheved by Maggie Anton. I know, I know, this is a really random read. I think part of the appeal of this novel is that I knew nothing about medieval France, and even less about Orthodox Judaism. The story is the first in a three-part series following the life of the three daughters of Salomon ben Issac, a.k.a. Rashi in 11th century Troyes, France. Joheved is the eldest, and the story follows her betrothal, first years of married life, pregnancy, along with her work as a vintner and Talmud & Biblical scholar: especially interesting as this historical fiction took place when most women were illiterate. It took me a bit to get into the story, mostly because I had no idea who Rashi was, and had never heard of the Talmud, but once I got through the first two or so chapters, I was absorbed.

The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD. I read the counterpart version of this book and watched the DVD for babies, and while we never seemed to have a problem with Daisy’s sleep schedule and she was constantly a very happy baby, the book gave me confidence more than anything. So, when a child at playgroup threw a temper tantrum I went out to get this book - pronto. I am very nervous about the so-called “terrible twos,” and wanted to be prepared. Overall, I liked the way Karp explains a toddler’s emotional state, and have already begun to implement several of his child-rearing philosophies, most specifically mirroring Daisy’s emotions. However, I cannot engage in “caveman speak” as recommended. I am an English teacher, after all.

Our Town by Thorton Wilder. My summer school classes will read and analyze and write essays on this play, so I thought I should get a head start.

The Mother of All Toddler Books by Ann Douglas. This is a library checkout, and is just alright. I really enjoyed the chapter on play & games. It has great suggestions for toys and games for toddlers, our favorite so far, using an empty strawberry basket for blowing bubbles.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Another library snag, I actually can’t believe we, a book collecting family, actually do not own one single copy of any of Hemingway’s novels. Actually I’m embarrassed to admit that I have never read any Hemingway before.  Truth be told, I’m just starting this short read, but am already impressed with the elegance of his writing style.

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. This is a read-aloud for Daisy (but, I am thoroughly enjoying it!) at first during either breakfast or lunch, but has moved on to other times of day as well. These are classic tales, and still old Pooh is as loveable as ever. Daisy usually laughs out loud at parts when I read (I’m pretty sure in response to the voices I use), and often times when I start to put it away, she signs for “more” which, at first I assumed she meant more food, but then I realized she means “more” reading. As this particular copy has limited pictures, she likes to have something to hold or quietly play with as I read (hence the eating).

And just so you don’t think my reading is all high-brow, I just returned from the library with Behind the Palace Walls: William & Harry by Katie Nicholl. What I really want to read is The Making of a Royal Romance as I am currently obsessed with all things Royal, and I’m convinced that Kate & I will soon be BFF’s, but our library system doesn’t own a copy of it.

What are you reading these days, anything I should add to my list?

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