it's the best kind of mail #bookmail as you walk up the driveway you spot it a box at the door this is an unexpected package you order a lot of #bookmail but don't recall a recent buy now, instant purchase (they make it so easy, too easy) scissors in position you point the blade into the black tape pull the sharp point down the seam such a satisfying motion and sound next the two short sides pop you bend the edges back to peer at the contents the translucent air bubbles guard your view the shadow of a book below removing the barrier it appears #bookmail today's #bookmail is a sweet surprise a book celebrating is debut in the world This is a School by John Schu and Veronica Miller Jamison the results of a Twitter giveaway a smile beams from your face you open the cover and begin to read a lovely story of a school community this is one to be savored one to be read over and over year after year it's the best kind of mail #bookmail
I look forward to it every Sunday: The New York Times Book Review. I pull it out of the stack of papers without regard to the other sections; I can catch up on those parts later. It’s like eating your dessert first; no saving the best for last in regards to this.
I enjoy checking out new books that are coming out, noticing which books are at the top of the best-seller list (Can you say Colleen Hoover?), looking at the artistic last page (often a panel of interesting book quips).
But by far, my favorite part is the section called “By the Book.” In this section, they ask a different author the same set of questions each week. I chose a few of those questions to answer today.
What books are on your nightstand? Love By the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
What is the last great book you read? A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time? Call of the Wild; Harry Potter…still working on it.
Describe your ideal reading experience. On a beach with my feet in the soft white sand, a gentle breeze blowing, looking out over the ocean, sipping a yummy drink
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite? Mary Oliver, Jason Reynolds, Jacqueline Woodson
What do you plan to read next? It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (from before mentioned best-seller list)
I would love to hear your answers to these questions!
the invitation came after breakfast coffee date after school? a proposition I rarely turn down a perfect parking spot found one block from our favorite downtown coffee shop a quick chilly and misty walk the hand lettered chalkboard menu with many options, but I always stick with my love a rich, creamy latte in a "real" cup and saucer with the signature seafoam Lucabe color just enough left on our gift card the tall table we favor open settled in for an hour of sipping and reading easing into the weekend
The forcast looked like rain the whole day. We had a decision to make. Pack up and head home a day early, or stick it out and hope for a bit of dry weather.
We chose to stay. Even if it rained all day, we had books to read, basketball to watch, and computers to connect us to the school week ahead.
We lucked out with a few rain free hours in the morning to be outside. Walking, hot tubbing, and reading in the wind and clouds. I was scrolling Twitter with my headphones in preparing to listen to a podcast when I came across this tweet.
For the last two years, listening to Penny and Kelly has been a bright spot in my spring. They talk everything reading and writing throughout 30 conversations together. Sometimes they have guests, sometimes they let us take a peek into their notebooks, and sometimes they share what they are reading. Their conversations are always so rich; so relevant and so meaningful. I feel uplifted and hopeful after listening to them.
I immediately clicked on the padlet link and the YouTube video. After listening, I quickly added two books to my “Want to Read” list on Goodreads. I imagine I’ll be adding many more over the next 29 conversations.
I’m not a one book at a time type of person. I have no problem having multiple books going on at the same time. I have no problem starting books and abandoning them. There are just too many good books out there to read with rules. So here’s the list of books I’m currently reading—
This is my current book club selection, so it was immediately moved to the top of the stack. Our book club shares copies of the book we are reading, so we try to read pretty quickly and pass the book on to the next reader. I won’t have any trouble finishing this one in just a few days. It hooked me within the first 25 pages.
I’m working my way through every Mary Oliver book. I read a few poems every morning as a part of my morning routine. Today, I learned about gannets and whelks through her poetry about the natural world. Her poetry is very grounding and starts my day off with an awareness of the world around me. I am reminded to slow down, to “Pay attention. Be astonished. And tell about it.”
I was introduced to this book by my office mate. She thought it was a quick read, and something I would like. I’m really enjoying reading a chapter at a time when I am able. I’ve also started listening to her podcast “Ten Things to Tell You.”
I was a big fan of Writers and Lovers by Lily King, so when I saw her new book of short stories, I knew I needed to check it out. I quickly put it on hold at the library. When I received notice that it was ready for pick up, I rushed there to get it. Now I read a story every few days as I work through this book.
I’ve usually always got an audio book on the ready to listen to as I walk or clean. I often choose nonfiction or memoir for my audio books. For some reason I can stay focused on those better than fiction. Our high school girls cross country team did a book club with this book over the summer. They went on to win the state title. I immediately added it to my “to read” list. So many important themes in this memoir.
I sometimes feel like I’m the only educator who has never read Harry Potter. I’ve tried multiple times. I put it on my “20 for 20” list. Then my “21 for 21” list. Still didn’t read it. When one of our fifth grade classes formed a book club in order to read Harry Potter, I thought to myself, this will be the year. Nope, I’m about half way through, and I can’t finish it. I may abandon it forever and resign myself to the fact that I’m not a fantasy reader.
Between Two Kingdoms, by Suleika Jaouad is one of the best books I read last year. I was so inspired by it as a writer and a human. Suleika started a writing community during the pandemic call The Isolation Journals. I receive her weekly newsletter which always contains a writing prompt. Today, I’m writing to the prompt “What We Leave Behind” by Joy Juliet Bullen. The heart of this prompt is to find an old object or picture and examine it for clues about the person that left it behind or what might have been happening in the moment.
As a child, this is how I spent every Wednesday of the summer. A day on Lake Monroe. My dad’s pride and joy, Bubba, a 1967 Chris Craft, was given to him by his father when he was a teenager. It is a beautiful wooden boat that he has cared for by hand for over 50 years. It is not just a relic; it doesn’t just sit to be looked at. My dad takes it out and enjoys it. My parents now live on a lake, and Bubba is still running and gets noticed every time my dad putters around the lake in him.
Clues about the past in this picture:
- Who is taking this picture? My Grandad. He was sitting on the back bench in the boat. He would often join us on our Wednesday boating trips. He was so proud of my dad and his love for water and this boat. I remember looking for geodes with Grandad. We would sink in the mud and at the banks and pull big out big geodes and try to get them back to the boat.
- My dad is driving the boat. He was always the driver. Never my mom. Never my Grandad. Never my brother or I, even when we got older. That was his role.
- My dad’s hair blowing in the wind. He was blessed with a full head of dark hair, and still has it to this day. My Grandad has been bald for as long as I can remember.
- My mom’s hand has probably just pushed her hair back out of her eyes. Of course it was windy on our boat rides. I remember how tangly my hair would be after a day at the lake. Matted down from repeatedly getting in and out of the water, drying, getting wet again, blowing in the wind. It was a rat’s nest by the time we got home.
- My brother and I lying face down on the motor box. We loved riding on the motor box. The vibration from the engine would lull us into a peaceful rest, sometimes even to sleep.
- The strap from the scratchy orange life jackets. They were so uncomfortable, but it was the rule. You wore your life jacket on the boat when it was moving. I remember what a treat is was to take your life jacket off for lunch.
- My feet curled over the back of the front seats. I can feel the sticky upholstery under my left foot and the cool sheet under my right foot.
- The Mini Mouse towel behind my mom’s back. The polka dotted sheet draped over the front seat.
- The leg of the ladder that hung along the back of the front seat. It was a challenge to get in and out of the boat. And we were always reminded to make sure the legs were out on the ladder or the boat would get scratched.
Boating with my family was a huge part of my childhood. I have such happy memories from it. My love of the sun and water was definitely a trait passed down from my parents.
It’s the kind of book you read in one sitting. A page turner. So many life lessons told in carefully chosen, impactful words.
Nikki Grimes wrote this novel in tanka poems. (A tanka poem follows the syllable pattern of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7) Garvey struggles to fit into the mold his father wants for him, that of an athlete. Instead Garvey has a passion for space, chess, and chorus. Garvey also struggles with his weight and constant belittling by classmates. He finds companionship with Joe and Emmanuel and learns more about himself through them.
It doesn’t matter
how wide I am when I sing.
Like Goldilocks, I
have finally found what fits:
my high tenor is just right.
by Nikki Grimes
Three Bears It doesn't matter where I go, or what I do words bubble in me. Whether in notebook or screen telling stories is just right.
What fits just right for you?
It’s one of the first things I do in the morning–check my sleep score. Often I use it to predict my day. Anything 80 or above, and it’s going to be a great day. I feel refreshed and ready to tackle the world. The 70s are just fair. I don’t get too worked up over a 72, but I don’t have that spring in my step that an 85 would give me. Only once have I achieved a 90. It was like scoring a perfect 10 on the balance beam. I questioned what happened in my body to receive such an outstanding score.
I find the detailed information that makes up my sleep score fascinating…deep sleep, light sleep, REM sleep, oxygenation levels, restlessness. It makes me curious to learn more about my sleep. Maybe I should read Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker or The Promise of Sleep by William C. Dement.
Maybe I should add this to my “Tell me you are getting old” post. I’m more concerned with my sleep score than my exercise or steps for the day.
Packing for Spring Break, I was chatting with my friend about the expected weather and what clothes I planned to take. Then she stopped the conversation and said, “But let’s talk about what books you are taking.” She knows me well. I spend more time gathering my reading material than my outfits for a trip. Here’s the low down on what I’m taking this year.
The Vanishing Half—I’m over half way done with this book, so I will finish it before I move on to any other books. I’m definitely at the point where I don’t want to put it down. Stella and Desiree are black (light skinned) twins. They leave their town as teenagers and head to New Orleans. While there, Stella is able to pass as white. She ends up leaving New Orleans (without notice) for Boston with a white man. Desiree spends the rest of her life looking for Stella. Things start to get interesting when Desiree’s daughter and Stella’s daughter meet in Los Angeles.
The Four Winds—This is my next book club book. Our book club started in 2015, and our first book was Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. We eagerly read The Great Alone in 2017, and couldn’t wait for The Four Winds to come out this year. I’ve saved the book for this trip, so I could give it my undivided-attention.
Why We Get Fat and What to do About It—Ever since hearing Gretchen Rubin talk about this book and interview this author, I knew I needed to read it. I want to make some changes with what I eat, and I know after I know the facts and science, I will be convinced to make a change.
When Stars are Scattered—This graphic novel has been on my to read list for many months. I’ve heard such great things about it. It may be out 4th quarter 4th-6th book club choice.
Garvey’s Choice— I’m reading this to help our 5th grade teacher prepare for a novel study for this quarter. It is a novel in verse, so I should be able to read it quickly.
Conscious Discipline—I’m reading this professional book with a group of colleagues. We have our final book study meeting upon return from break. I will read it a few sections at a time. It’s very dense with lots of great classroom application.
Not sure I can get all of these done, but I’m excited to try. I’m hoping to have several hours each day over break to read!
“I want to stay until I finish the book,” my daughter pressed, “I’ve only got 30 more pages.” My heart beamed at that moment. The feeling of not being able to put a book down had escaped my daughter in her teen years. Assignments, readings for school, social media, and Netflix all compete for her time.
In spite of her lack of pleasure reading, I have continued to buy her books for every occasion: Christmas, birthdays, trips, just because. But, they have sat on her shelf waiting to be picked up or started and set to the side when something more pressing came up.
This past summer we took a day trip to a neighboring town for lunch, shopping, and a stop at a sunflower field. While there, we visited a small bookshop called Wild Geese Bookshop. When Gretchen found two books she was interested in, of course we bought them. I have never been able to say no to any book purchase. It was one of these books that she could not put down this week. Choice. It is so important in the life of a reader. No matter how many books I gifted her that I thought she would like, her personal interest is what was important. I would never have chosen this book for her.
Now she is at that point, “What will I read next?” “I don’t have another book with me.” She is hooked again. Her university has suspended all in person classes for the semester. She has another week before her online classes start up. Just enough time without assignments to get drawn into another book, or two, or three.