Wednesday, July 27, 2016

75 Books

The Parade magazine that comes in our Sunday paper published a “summer reading issue” on June 26th. One of the articles was by author Ann Patchett. She was asked by Parade magazine to list the 75 best books of the past 75 years.  I read her list and I was not that impressed. Anyone can put together a list of best sellers. If she would have listed HER favorites, that might have been more compelling.

So I decided it would be interesting for me to do something like that. I use Goodreads to help me, yet it's still taken me a couple weeks to put my list together. The books I am sharing have all been in the top 100 most popular (not best seller, necessarily) for their year. I am only listing books that I have actually read. (If I did not read a top 100 in a particular year, I simply skipped that year.)

One caveat: Many of the books were not necessarily read by me the year they were published. Simply because A) I didn’t know how to read it yet or B) I hadn’t heard of it yet.

Oh, and one more thing: Since I was born in 1960, I thought I’d  start there and stop at 2015, however, for me 55 books was not enough. Ladies and gentlemen, this list is 75 books long!

Here. We. Go!

1960: Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.
1961: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
1962: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
1963: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak,
1964: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory By Roald Dahl
1967: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  (She started this novel when she 
was 15 and published at 17!)
1968: Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
1969: the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
1970: Love Story by Erich Segal
1971: The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone (I didn’t read 
this book until I had my one little kiddos.)
1973: Socks by Beverly Cleary
1974: Jaws by Peter Benchley
1975: Forever by Judy Blume
1977: The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
1977: Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss (This was my first in a long line of adult romance novels!)
1978: Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel (Used in my teaching years- a great beginner reader book!)
1979: Bunnicula by James Howe
1980: Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
1981: The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks (My last read aloud to my quickly growing kids!)
1981: Ramona Quimbly, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
1983: Just Go to Bed by Mercer Mayer (A little critter fav in our house!)
1984: Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
1986: Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
1987: Owl Moon by Jane Yolen (A great kid book)
1988: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
1989: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
1991: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (The first is a series—I read them all!)
1993: The Giver by Lois Lowry
1995: Where  the Heart Is by Billie Letts
1997: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
1998: One Thousand White Women: The Journal of Mary Dodd by Jim Fergus
1999: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
2001: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
2001: Deception Point by Dan Brown
2002: Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne (A kid’s book featuring time travel. I love my time travel books!)
2003: The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
2004: The Jane Austin Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
2005: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (I read the whole series of this one too!)
2005: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2005: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
2006: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
2006: Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
2006: Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson
2007: The Shack by William Paul Young
2008: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (read the whole series)
2009: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
2009: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
2010: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (I still can’t watch the movie…)
2010 I Am Four by Pittacus Lore (Fun Fact: Pittacus Lore is not a real person…the real author is unknown)
2010 Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
2010: The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
2011: Divergent by Veronica Roth (Read this series too..)
2011: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (I didn’t read the others… really, this was more than enough!)
2011: The Martian by Andy Weir (This guy couldn’t get a publisher so he put his book on line chapter by chapter. It was so popular that publishers actually (finally) came to him!!!)
2011: 11/22/63 by Stephen King (A time travel novel- trying to stop the assassination of JFK. Great book!!)
2011: A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
2012: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
2012: Gone Girl by Jillian Flynn
2012: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
2012: The Light Between the Oceans by M.L. Stedman
2012: The Rope by Nevada Barr (This is an origin story of how Anna Pigeon became a park ranger. There are several mysteries with her as the central character  that started way back in 2003)
2013: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
2013: Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall
2013: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
2013: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
2013: Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler
2014: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
2014: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
2014: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
2014: Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
2015: Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
2015: Girl At War by Sara Novic
2015: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
2016: Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets

There you have it! Seventy-five winners! I hope you give one (or more) of these books a try.
Until next time,
Be Good to Yourself


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Go Ahead, Read TO Your Big Kids!

* Due to technical difficulties on my part, this blog did not get posted at its scheduled time! Thanks for sticking with me, friends!*

I’m a member of an on-line Facebook magazine called Writer’s Circle.  Like all magazines, some articles appear more interesting to the reader than others.

A few days ago an article crossed my FB page that caught my attention. It was about the importance of reading out loud to your older children. The last chapter book I read to my “older” kids flashed through my mind, so I clicked on the link to find out more.

Scholastic, a well-known publisher of children’s books, hired a separate entity to find out reading habits of families with older children. The study concluded that 90 percent of parents read to their young children. (This is a good percentage! Way to go Mom and Dad!) However, the report also stated that by the age of 9, twenty percent of these same parents stopped reading to their children.

(Courtesy of Google images)
By the time they were just nine years old.

I think I understand how this happens. I taught this very age group. Nine-year-olds are typically in third grade. Third grade is a transition year. This is the year they’re not the babies of the school any longer—but they’re not the big kids yet, either.  Pre-school through second grade are the “baby years” of education. Lots of language/reading learning is done through songs, rhymes and games. A huge change in the delivery of reading instruction starts in third grade. By this time, most students are expected to be “good” readers. Songs and dance and rhymes and games are pared waaaay down in third grade.

Parents start to see their child grow socially, physically, and emotionally during this time. The children can read on their own, and don’t seem to need as much “cuddle time” as they once did.  This combination is the perfect set up for the demise of reading out loud to your kiddos. (It’s not your fault!)

The article contends that the reasons you read to your child(ren) when they were young, still apply to your older child(ren.) Not the least of which is having quality time in this fast, noisy world of ours!
The Indian in the Cupboard
by Lynne Reid Banks
(Courtesy of Google images)

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks was the last chapter book I read to my son and daughter.  They were in junior high, and I read it over Christmas Break that year. They didn’t sit by me. No. And I didn’t care. Each day that I read to them, Nate and Erin would flop down somewhere- gangly arms and legs akimbo- and listen to the story about the boy who had the responsibility of the life of another being, and the hard lessons that arose.

Summer is starting to fade. School is on the horizon. Pick out a good book and read it TO your big kids. They’ll love it. (Really- they just don’t show it like the littles do.)

Until next time,
Be Good to Yourself.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

I had my very first Jet Ski ride this past week. It was scary. It was fun.

Three friends and I took a girls vacation to Florida for a few days. While we were there someone (named Tara) came up with the idea to rent Jet Skis. (I’m unsure of the actual brand of personal watercraft we used, so for simplicity, we’ll just call it a jet ski- - kind of like facial tissues are called Kleenex. But I digress…)

Yum! Iowa corn-fed! Tastes just like chicken! 
(Courtesy of Google Images.)
I was less than thrilled. I don’t like deep water and I wasn’t too keen on being shark bait. But, I didn’t want to be a party-pooper, so I went along with the idea.

We rented two jet skis and rode double. Two of the girls were experienced drivers and riders.  Two of us had never been on a jet ski. So it was deemed that the experienced girls would drive us newbies around.

Tara rode with Becky. I rode with Karen. Becky is nice. Karen? Not so much.

I knew that riding with Karen would be an adventure. She’s kind of a crazy girl sometimes and even as I protested, she told me to step out of my comfort zone. 

It would be fun, she said.

 This is what I DO NOT want to happen to me!
(Courtesy of Google Images.)
As soon as we hit the end of the no wake zone she hit the gas! I thanked God right then and there that I was holding on tight. I told her that I would be super scared if I fell off and asked her not to do anything that would cause me to do so.  She honored my wish- just barely.  We went straight but we went FAST!  (No donuts! Thank Goodness!)

One time we both bounced on a big wave. Even though I was laughing, I was terrified when we separated from the seat. My zany chauffeur slowed down for a while to let me catch my breath, and from that point forward, if a big wave came our way she either slowed down, or warned me before we went through it.
Karen and me before I peed my pants. (We did wear life jackets.)

I had a blast!  I would do it again. I gave Karen a lot of grief over the next couple of days; contending that her driving abilities were less that optimal, but really, it was so much fun.

I have a pretty long list of fears. Some of them I’m trying to conquer. Some of them are better left alone. The Jet Ski Event was a step forward for me. I’m proud that I didn’t let my fear win out.

But don’t get crazy, here. I’ll never go haunted housing (again). Also, I will never para-sail.
So what fears do you want to conquer? I’ll send my friend Karen right over- she’ll take care of ya!

Until next time,
Be Good to Yourself.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Night Camping

The lighting of the tikis crew.
Last week I talked about camping with my book club girls. I think the real camping begins at dusk.  A dark night with a full moon gives the camping experience a little more teeth, don’t you think?

Someone's goofing off while on tiki duty.
We were walking back to the shed from the cemetery as dusk was settling in. Tiki torches had been placed around the perimeter of our camp and it was time to get them lit. The tiki torches give me a sense of security that no wild animals will wander into our camp. 

The fire, which had been burning for several hours, was now a bed of red-hot coals- perfect for our foil dinners. Our family calls the meal Hobo Stew. Some call it Hobo Dinner, still other names were bantered about but in the end it’s all the same great meal. A hamburger patty, sliced potatoes, carrots, onion, bacon and asparagus in butter, salt and pepper; all wrapped in foil and baked in the coals.

After we ate and cleaned up, we built up the fire and watched it crackle and burn. It’s that simple. Just relax and watch the fire and wait for the stars to come out.

Our moon.

Just before the moon rose above the trees we heard it. Coyotes howling in the woods. No matter how many times you’ve heard them, the cries of a pack of coyotes are unnerving.  After a few minutes they were silent and we didn’t hear them for the rest of the night.

I brought glow stick bracelets. We put them on our wrists and in our hair and took many group selfies, which pretty much did not turn out but made us laugh anyway.

We’d gotten text messages from our husbands about possible storms overnight. Because we’re such smart and resourceful women and we knew rain was a possibility, the tents were abandoned for the shed and blow up mattresses in the back of trucks with toppers.

We had a late-night snack of bananas and chocolate heated in foil over the fire, then squirted with whipped topping. Oh yum.  Then we decided to try whip topping (squirted straight into our mouth a la Tom Hanks’ character in Big style) with a Fireball chaser. That’ll cure what ails ya!

We may or may not have smoked cigars.

At 1:30 a.m. the rain started. We dashed for our respective sleeping bags and called it a night.

The scariest thing about the whole night was the very strong odor of skunk. A couple of weeks ago my husband and one of his camping buddies had a skunk come into camp. I was afraid of that happening again. I shined my huge flashlight over the perimeter to the woods several times but never caught sight of anything
The next day was still rainy. The grill wouldn’t work and the fire was water-logged. We had left over taco dip and Rice Krispy treats for breakfast, instead of the omelets we were planning. We packed up and were heading out when the minivan got stuck.
All in all, the camp out was a huge success.The weather was warm with low humidity. It was a beautiful day and night up until it rained. We got drenched the next day, and we ended up having to get help from the men, but we had a blast at Girls Camp Out.

Until next time,
Be Good to Yourself,