The Book Flood

Iceland- the not so icy island with delicious hot springs and stunning views also is the land of high literacy culture.  I learned last Christmas right before the holiday that Iceland has a tradition dubbed “the book flood.”  It’s basically where everyone exchanges books on Christmas eve and spends the rest of the evening reading.

I first saw this posted on Facebook, but since Facebook’s accuracy may be up for debate I decided to do a little research and found an NPR article about Iceland’s tradition.

I was thrilled to confirm that this is a real occurrence.  I also learned that Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other nation in the world.  So naturally, Iceland is my new favorite county.  I mean its and entire nation doing what this girl loves.

I kind of hope to start this in my own family.  I want everybody reading or listening to books. I know that my aunt and mom would be on board.

I guess I like it so much because it’s not just about reading it’s about sharing the reading experience, sharing knowledge.  It’s a solo thing as well as a group thing.  It’s like the whole country is doing a big read-in. I find that notion just fascinating.

Okay, who’s ready to move to Iceland?!?

Book Digestion

I have what can be described as an overactive book metabolism.  What I mean by this is when I finish a book at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I can be found starting a new one by half past.  I rarely feel the need to process or digest the previous book. A few books have left me feeling “hungover.” This is when my mind is struggling.  It’s not due to a crazy plot twist, but something deeper that is difficult to describe. On those rare occasions, I do give myself time perhaps a day at max.  The Stand was one of these.  I needed time to come to terms with the epicness. Honestly, this is the only word I can use to describe this book.

However, there are many people I know that upon finishing any book take a couple of days before starting the next one.  My mother is one, and as I kid I never understood this.  I thought, “What if someone asks, ‘What are you reading?’” It was completely unacceptable to say nothing right now.  What!?! That’s crazy talk? I still feel this way.

Even in college when I would go months between free reading sessions I always had a book in progress. I couldn’t possibly have it any other way.  I get this hivy feeling when I finish my book at work and must ride the train home, and I don’t have anything to read. It’s only a half an hour ride but it is torturous without reading material.

My lack of digestion might mean I have a serious addiction problem, but I don’t feel that it’s necessary for me to ponder books in post.  Most of the time, I know how I feel about the book by the time I close the back cover.  I feel that I do need more digestion time than the book was probably a rare gem. An alternative explanation is that I’m a slow reader so it could be argued that I digest as I consume.

I think my slow reading has left me feeling behind as well, so I have this urge to rush into the next book because it took me so long to get through the previous one.  Over the years, I’ve gained reading speed, but my super slowness of yester-year still haunts me from when I was a kid and I had to read so many books or pages in order to get a reward.

While I tend to digest books at lightning speed I understand why some people need to wait before delving into the next story.  They need time to adjust.  They may need their brain to re-calibrate. In cases of really good books I think people need to come to terms with the idea that the story is over, and it might be quite a while before they read a book that invokes this feeling.

I admit I should probably take a slower approach to books and reading.  I should enjoy the journey and process more.  It’s not about how many you can get read in a year.  It’s not a race.  And I’ve improved on this.  There are just so many wonderful works out there, and I want to get to as many as I possibly can.

I suppose it is a balance and perhaps some more digesting time might not be a terrible idea.  How long is your book digestion?

WWW Wednesday

Say what?!?!

Have no fear, folks.  I can assure we have not gone Groundhogs Day and are repeating Tuesday, and no, unfortunately, we have not broken the space time continuum and jumped to Friday.  It is indeed Wednesday just with a bonus post this week.

Last Wednesday in my blog perusal I discovered WWW Wednesday from coffeeloving bookoholic who participates each week.  WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. (BTW both are great blogs and you should go check them out.) It looked like it would be fun, so I thought I would give it a go this week.

The three Ws are:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading-

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks  by Rebecca Skloot.  I started it just last night on my way home.  I’ve heard marvelous things, thus far I’m intrigued. So I’m certainly looking forward to see what’s in store.

Finished Reading-

Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell.  It’s a short book, but a long read. This isn’t bad. There was just a lot to digest.  On the whole, I thought it was a good, but it certainly wasn’t light.

Next Read up-

This is a difficult question because while I have a pile of books to be read. I don’t normally know what I’ll read next until I’m nearly finished with my current book. I like to see what’s striking my mood in the moment.  Thus I can really only guess what will be next; however, I do have a sneaking suspicion it will be The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg.  I’m very excited about this read.  I’ve greatly enjoyed other works by Flagg.  Can’t wait to get to Heaven will always have a special place in my heart.

Hope you enjoyed this little extra. I will be back on Friday per usual. And please share in comments your three Ws!  Happy reading!

A Paper Desire

When I was in grade school every few months or so the teacher would pass out these booklet flyers things on newsprint from Scholastic, and it always felt like the world was filled with unimaginable possibilities.  I would scour the pages and dream of having a new book in my hands.

On one of these occasions we were given an extra insert about joining the Scholastic book club.  There was a monthly member fee, but you would receive two books in the mail every month.  The books would be suited for the student’s age.

I think I must have been only in first or second grade.  All the details are a bit fuzzy, but I remember wanting it so very much that after the idea was pitched to my parents I was sent off to my room so they could discuss it. I think they wanted to discuss it sans puppy dog eyes.

I vaguely remember trying to listen through the door to their conversation without much success.  However, the final verdict was that I would be allowed to join.  It was a triumphant moment, and I received books every month for several years before my parents and I decided to stop.

At that point, they were sending me two chapter books a month and I wasn’t able to keep up with reading all of them due to school work and activities.  But I remember a lot of those books; particularly those from the early years.  I probably remember them because I read them over and over and over again.  I was especially a fan of the book called Underwear. I also thoroughly enjoyed No Dogs Allowed and Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm.

Actually, I think my parents still have most of these books.  They are just packed away now.  I can’t imagine my mom getting rid of them.  She has a soft spot for these as much as I do.

It was also due to a Scholastic order mix up that I ended up discovering Harry Potter before it became the craze that it did.  One of the things that Scholastic did was enable students to purchase books at the end of the school year, so when you came back to school in the fall there would be books waiting for you.  I had convinced my mom to get me an Amber Brown book at the end of my 5th grade year all the popular girls were into them so when I came back to sixth grade (just across the hall from my fifth grade classroom), I could pick it up.

However, when I asked my former 5th grade teacher about it.  She said that some sort of error had occurred. By the time realized it, they were out of the Amber Brown book I had ordered.  In a pinch, she had picked me another one called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I was less than pleased with this news, but thanked her anyway.

Well I’m sure you all know the end to that story. Love…true book love. I guess it was just a happy accident.

Those Scholastic flyers were the best, and I was excited to learn that they still send them out to school children today.  They still print them on the same newsprint and the ink still has a certain haziness to it.  And it seems that kids still get excited to take them home and try to pitch to their parents why they will simply die if they don’t get the books they believe they vitally need.

It’s wonderful to know that somethings don’t change because they don’t need to.  Thank you Scholastic for being the rock of the children’s book world.

Does anybody else remember these magical flyers?

An Action Adventure: The Templar Legacy

Happy Friday everyone! We’ve made it to the end of the week. And since there is a lot of Friday-ness to celebrate, I thought a quick little review might be nice just in case you are in need of some weekend reading recommendations.

Vitals- 

Title: The Templar Legacy; Author: Steve Berry; Genre: Fiction

The Gist– An action-packed adventure about lost treasure and the Knights Templar.

What Stuck A new take on a secret brotherhood’s story that never gets old. I never get sick of this tale and Berry gives it a new angle making it all the more interesting.

Should you give a flip?- Yes.  If you liked The DiVinci Code or the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, this is going to be your kind of book.

Book Graduation

My departure from young adult fiction was rather abrupt. When I was in seventh grade I found that I had out grown the Boxcar Children books, and I was up-to-date on Harry Potter; eagerly awaiting the next book.  But that left me with the conundrum of what I should read in the meantime. At this particular time, the young adult section wasn’t the expansive place it is now.

So after some initial hesitation, my mom recommended Chromosome 6 by Robin Cook. She thought it might fill the void that I was currently experiencing.  She had read it many years before and thought it might interest me.  She was right.  I loved it.  It had adventure and mystery and my favorite…science. I proceeded to read almost every other book Mr. Cook had published.  I became fascinated with forensics and couldn’t get enough of Patricia Cornwell’s novels either.  There was a distinct time period that I had my nose stuck in a Cook or a Cornwell novel at all times.

It showed me I could not only get through a fair sized adult book, but it could be really good. I realize that Harry Potter books are quiet girthy themselves; however, Chromosome 6 wasn’t really meant for my age group that made it a bit intimidating. Nevertheless, it drew me into the story, and if I could read one there had to be so many more.

My teachers didn’t seem to mind.  At least I was reading of my own volition.  As time went on I broadened my horizons ever so slightly.  I read some Doyle, Christie, Dan Brown.  But I must give a lot of credit to that first book.  Had it been bad I can’t say that I would be the avid reader I am today.

And I discovered my reading also had unexpected perks.  Every Friday in Social Studies we played a trivia quiz bowl.  The teacher would split us up into teams and then there were different categories that we could choose from.  And each category had questions that were worth different amount of points.  Obviously the higher the point value, the harder the question.

My team decided one Friday to go for the goal and choose Arts and Literature for 80 points.  The question was to name the main reoccurring character of Patricia Cornwell novels. Without even thinking, I simply looked at my teacher and said, “Dr. Kay Scarpetta.”  There was an instant flash of hatred in the eyes of my teammates until Mr. Krambeer’s lips quirked into a smile and he said, “Correct.”

I think that day was a real win for nerd-dom.  My classmates didn’t think quite as little of me and my reading as they once had.  And it was probably the first time my free reading knowledge had been useful.  It was reinforcement that all reading has merit.

I don’t read many books these days like those of Mr. Cook or Ms. Cornwell.  I may have over done it in high school.  But they will always be remembered with a nostalgic softness because they made a difference at a critical time in my reading career.

A Little Extra Love

In my last post, I gave a quick review of The Little Paris Bookshop. I acknowledged that I could go on-and-on about this read and one of the reasons was due to its elegant prose.  Ms. George seems to have the ability to say things in ways that make me envious.

While I loved this book, I almost did not post a review because it’s one of the rare books I’ve read and enjoyed so much that I’m afraid to share it.  I’m afraid to shout to the world about this book for fear that people will not like it nearly as much as I do.  This thought is quite unbearable to me.

However, I feel that not telling the world is just as unjust.  Thus, I wrote the review, and I have decided to take it one step further and technically break my own rule about book reviews and over-pontification.  But what are rules without an exception or two?

I do not wish to spoil the plot, character-development or all the wonderful verbiage, but I would like to offer a taste.

From the very beginning, George sets a standard of striking comparisons.  A character tells the protagonist, “You are cashmere compared with the normal yarn from which men are spun.”  I will fully admit that it’s lines like this that make my eyebrows meet my hair line, and my head cock to the side in interest and intrigue.

The story, as mentioned in the review, is an emotional one and probably relatable for most of us who have loved and lost. Perhaps that’s why for me certain lines seemed to ring so true.

“It’s amazing how unimpressed people are by being loved when it doesn’t fit in with their plans.  Love irks them so much that they change the locks or leave without warning.”

I read this line about four times in utter awe.  We are so thunderstruck when someone doesn’t love us, but we can be so indifferent to being loved.  Perhaps because it’s too accessible and easy.  There is definitely some truth in the idea of playing hard to get.  Just nobody had put it to me quite this starkly.

I will not ruin it by saying anymore; that is the taste I will offer. And if this was intriguing then I would say this wonderful novel is one for you.  I realize this post was in many ways self-indulgent, but I feel that words that strike me like this are rare and deserve some pointed praise.