My mind rejects numbers.
I only do math if I have to: figuring out the tip at a restaurant, calculating the time of arrival for a drive to the big city.
But now there are Apps for both.
It’s sad but true, but there was a time when I would withdraw five dollars from the bank machine just to see what my balance was…but now I can just go online.
The “numbers” part of my brain has been seriously stagnating as of late
it hasn’t always been this way.
When I was young (before I hit double digits) I enjoyed math with the multiplication table taped to the refrigerator, practicing the “six times” table with my father (and getting all of them right) and the nine times table with my mother (and getting most of them wrong).
I enjoyed the language of word problems introduced in junior high, viewing them as mini-mysteries (how old WAS Joe if his sister was born four years after his cousin Henry who was born two months shy of a decade younger than Joe?).
math all got fuzzy.
The steps the teacher wrote on the board didn’t seem to make sense; there didn’t seem any rhyme or reason to the logic. Maybe that was it…there was no rhyme, I saw no art and had no emotional connection
other than confusion.
And my average dropped. I did end up graduating with the math course I needed but I waiting for my exam results was an exercise in torture.
Now, my mind turns to mush when I sit in front of my banker and he talks of compound interest and amortization. If I have to count money from fundraisers I start over and over again because my thoughts drift to colour and metaphor and numbers slip smoothly from my focus and I eventually have to find someone to do the counting for me.
And just to add insult to imagery, the news this evening ran a story of a shown a dog in China who can solve simple division.
Not to be outdone by a canine, I’ve downloaded Sudoku to my iPad just to keep the “numbers” part of my brain in shape. I’ve researched “the mathematics of poetry” so I can FEEL something for numbers.
AND, I’ve discovered something. There is a whole genre of fiction called “math fiction”. Sounds almost heretical doesn’t’ it? Like two lovers from different sides of the “tracks” running off together and having a book baby.
I’ve read the novel “The Solitude of Prime Numbers” and liked it. I am now looking at reading “A Certain Ambiguity” by Gaurav Suri and “Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture: A Novel of Mathematical Obsession” by Apostolos Doxiadis. Booth look intriguing. I’m particularly interested in “Flatland: A Romance in Many Directions” by Edwin A. Abbott…a mathematical romance! Who knew!
So there is hope. I just have to appreciate the patterns and connections in math that I gravitate towards in literature.
The magic of a private library is something every child should experience. I had such a library when I was growing up. It was two book-lined shelves above the freezer deep in our basement. I was a farm kid born and raised near a small Northern Alberta town that for the longest time had no bookstore. We did, however, have a public library but the library would not “allow” farm kids to sign out books…because they might not return them on time due to the long drive and all a fact I still hold bitter in my heart.
So I pillaged my mother’s library, a spritely array of volumes from Reader’s Digest Book of the Month, garage sale treasures and old school texts.I remember them all clearly. And my mother never, ever censored what books I could and could not read (although sometimes she made a few “unavailable” for her adolescent daughter). Here are a few books that will always remind me of growing up on the farm:
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It was all about Jo. I was a tomboy; Jo was a tomboy. She was more a sister to me at times than my own two. At the time of “The Great Bang Massacre of ‘72, when my mom would take us to the neighbor lady to get our haircut (it wasn’t years later that I found out she wasn’t a certified hairdresser) my distress was minimized when I read of Jo cutting her beautiful long hair.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I used to go up to the stone pile atop the hill behind our house and read aloud Scarlett O’Hara’s dialogue…especially between her and Rhett. The “Old South” was the furthest thing away from my reality of Northern Alberta but that didn’t matter because there was Rhett. Rhett Butler was my first literary crush.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Who was the woman in the attic? What was HER story? Is she a ghost?I couldn’t care less about Jane, I wanted to know about the crazy lady. It wasn’t years later until I read The Wide Sargasso Sea and found some possible answers.
I wanted to be just like Desiree in Annemarie Selinko’s novel Desiree. I wanted to grow up to be like with Desiree than I Jane. Desiree was precocious, she was a rule breaker, and she had caught the eye of young Napoleon. I was in these pages I got an understanding of what the grown-ups called “little man syndrome.” And Desiree could make quite the impression at a party smashing her glass splattering wine in a great arc across Josephine’s white dress – a scene forever in my imagination even though I haven’t read the book in decades. (There is a new-ish 2010 edition out with a beautiful cover!)
The Happy Hooker by Xaviera Hollander…ok, I didn’t read a lot of this one. I think this book was making its way around the neighbourhood because the neighbor lady’s name was written on the front cover (come to think of it may have been the name of lady that “cut” my hair!!). I would sneak down into the basement and sit on the freezer and read until I heard footsteps on the stairs which meant I could only read snatches at a time. I knew it was salacious reading because I never took it out of the storage room. One day the book disappeared off the shelf. I have a feeling mom knew I was sneaking snippets of this text rather than sneaking cookies. (Side note: while discussing this post with friends I have since learned that they too covertly read Hollander’s memoir. Was it the taboo book of the 70’s that all adolescent girls wondered about? What was the book of the 80’s?)
Being able to escape into this little “two-shelf” library was especially important to me during junior high. It was a place where I could magically escape the melodrama and bullying that sometimes accompanies adolescence. I visited this library almost every week, replacing one book with the next. I so loved my mother for letting me have free access to everything and anything I wanted to read.
I wish every child to have such a place.
I could cry,
and be scandalized
all atop that freezer,
book in one hand,
frozen cookie in the other.
“There arose a perfume of tenderness, that ghost of passion which, in the most unexpected relationship, can make a whole lifetime devoted to irksome duty pass like a gracious dream” (pg. 74)
The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder.
I have fallen in love with Thorton Wilder because of this quote.
How wonderful would a relationship like this be? Having to get close enough not only in physical proximity but emotional proximity as well, to one person and stay there long enough to inhale that “perfume of tenderness”
where your first instinct would be to wrap your arms around this person and hold them close.
Tenderness without forethought, without premeditation, without any agenda.
To be pleasantly surprised at a love that grows where you didn’t expect it to grow. And you look upon it in wonder, finding it near impossible to believe that it truly exists in you,
the most unlikely of places,
or so you believed.
Where obligation and duty never really existed in its denotative form. All business like and astringent.
No boundaries set by written laws or verbal promises but rather
a fidelity that is unexpected and natural.
Some of us have found in our relationships some such a manifestation of Wilder’s love
and some of us are still waiting.
Whatever the case I hope we recognize it as such
and hold on to it as a dream come true,
Let’s face it, those of us who are certified book nerds carry our obsession beyond the written word. Thankfully when circumstances are such that I can’t sit and read I can indulge my craving for “all things bookish” by plugging in and listening to some pretty amazing podcasts. Here are some of my favouites (all easily accessible by subscribing through iTunes).
What are you listening to?
*minutes after tweeting this post I got a lovely request to add the podcast HS BookClubPod a podcast recorded by teachers and students. I’ve listened to a couple sessions and it is really quite wonderful! You can find it on iTunes!
Fantasy isn’t usually my “go to” genre but I’ve been trying to expand my repertoire so that I can reccomend a variety of titles to students. Various book podcasts expounded upon the wonder of this novel. Needless to say I was expecting great things the moment my eyes settled on the first sentence…but I was a bit disappointed. I didn’t find it immediately riveting. But, I stuck to it (I have a “give a book 100 pages before giving up” rule), trooping through backstory and antecedent action.
I met Prunella
(no worries, Prunella showed up well within the first 100 pages).
Prunella has become my new favourite character making the story’s protagonist Zacharias more complex and interesting. After meeting Prunella I soon fell in love with this story and found myself completely immersed in the world of “old England” and the land of Fairy.
I cannot WAIT for the next in the series. I will definitely be adding this title to my little classroom library and have already reccomended it to our school librarian.
Zen Cho has become my front runner in fantasy favourites.
Last night I couldn’t sleep. So I did what most people do I in the darkest, loneliest hours of the night… downloaded free books on my iPad. Now, I always knew the selection of free books available to the public was extensive but I never realized how wonderfully accessible it all is. So, like a kid in a candy store, I downloaded works by Kate Chopin, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Virginia Wolf and Joseph Conrad. Kipling and Kafka and Carroll. It was my childhood junk food response all over again
– consume until satiated.
I knew no moderation.
I’ve mentioned before that growing up in small town Alberta we had no REAL bookstores to speak of and then the one that did finally pop up had a collection of “young adult” fiction that extended the length of one shelf of one bookcase. Thank goodness this miniscule collection included Nancy Drew Mysteries and works by the goddess of young adult literature, Judy Blume.
What filled the huge, cavernous gaps between the acquisition of reading material was the fact my mother had a little collection of literature that she accumulated before she was married and kept it neatly shelved in the storage room beside the “big freezer”. Mom was smart, when she was a young woman it too was impossible for her to purchase books in the middle of the Saskatchewan prairie during the early 1960’s, so she became part of the “Reader’s Digest Book Club” . She was shipped classics like “Wuthering Heights”, and “Gone with the Wind” every month or so.
Mom was very free in letting me peruse her volumes, reading whatever caught my eye. Once in awhile I’d find a trashy paperback loaned to her by one of her friends (or so the name inside the front cover showed) and I’d secretly read it sitting atop of the freezer consuming all sorts of mild debauchery I couldn’t understand…as well as frozen cookies. I’d quickly replace it (and the baking) if I heard her footstep on the staircase.
And I still haven’t gotten over the fact the public library wouldn’t allow “farm kids” to get library cards. I’d LIVE for library time at school so that I could sign out books to my heart’s content (that would be two, two books. One fiction, one nonfiction). Needless to say I now abuse my public library privilege and download with a frenzy seen only at blue light specials at Kmart.
As a kid, if I would have known my future would include immediate accessibility to all sorts of stories I would have found the wait torturous and willed myself to fast forward in time. But alas, I would have had to appease my impatience with the world of H. G Wells… if finding a volume wasn’t as impossible as time travel.
I’ve always loved reading. The acquisition of a good story sitting at my fingertips is one simple thing that truly makes me happy. Maybe it’s because it was a struggle to simply find a book and doing so was like finding a treasure, a glittering gem in a pile of ash. Needless to say the fact that today a plethora of tales lies at my immediate disposal is like a dream come true and I find myself behaving like a little kid at Christmas surrounded by wrapped gifts…. so giddy and excited she starts unwrapped one gift, then notices another with glittering paper and starts unwrapping it just to drop it for another – often have three or four books on the go because I need to consume as many stories as I can for fear they will be taken away.
I used Classicly to feed my free book obsession.
I am someone who believes in the magic of books I am a passionate advocate for giving sharing, and buying books for every occasion. As a teacher I have a little classroom library and I’ve seen how a collection of books can create a safe place for my students. The shiest student can be standing in front of my bookshelves and be spontaneous met by another student where an impromptu conversation starts around “what to read”. Other times if a student has no place to “be” during lunch or break I often find him/her wandering into my classroom to look at my books and then finding a quiet corner to read. EVERY human should have their own little library at home even if it’s just a collection of a few books. What better occasion to help contribute to this library than Christmas! Because I always have people ask “what should I read?” I’ve decided to gather some of my favouites this year and post them for you! Please include any of your own suggestions in the comment section. It’s always a good thing to share title suggestions.
I have to admit most of my titles are for young adult and adult readers, however I HAVE to mention “The Good Little Book” by Kyo Mclear for young readers, especially young reluctant readers. It’s a charming story about how a book can be a young boy’s friend.
Young Adult titles
I have just brushed the surface but I hope this little list helps you in your book gift buying adventures! Please write your own favourites of the year in the comments of this post!
Merry Christmas and Happy Reading!
Yay! Another year of book cub. Last month my book buddies and I met to vote on books to read for the next 12 months and I’m so excited about the diversity of our list this year! We’ve got Sci Fi, Mystery, Fantasy, Literary, Historical…a plethra of genres. The competition was fierce but here is the list! I will also include the “runners up” if you want to expand your reading list (And who doesn’t?). Enjoy! Let me know what your book clubs are reading this year.
2015/16 Book Club Selections The Winners
November – The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon
January – The Illegal by Lawrence Hill
February – The Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
March – The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penney
April – Sweetland by Michael Crummey
May – The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
Runners – Up:
The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown
Village of Secrets by Carolyn Morehead
The Martian by Andy Weir
What We Talk About When We Talk About God by Rob Bell
The Legacy of Grazia Dei Rossi by Jacqueline Park
The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland
Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeyer Authority by Jeff Vandermeyer Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeyer
Moonshot – edited by Hope Nicholson Thunderstruck by Elizabeth McCracken
The Library at Mount Char – Scott Hawkins
A Novel Bookstore by Lawrence Cosse
Cross Your Heart and Hope to Die by James Patterson
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
Kino, having been hurt by the closest person he had, opened a bar that became his sanctuary. (Disconnect from reality) He is a character that was not in touch with his feelings, and doesn’t know how to emotionally react to situations. An unusual man breached his defences by repeatedly visiting his bar and forced Kino to ponder his life. The events that have recently occurred, life his wife’s affair (her betrayal) and his lack of emotional entanglements. As a result, this mindset caused him to disregard events that happened.
In writing Kino, Murakami shows the need of people to be true to themselves and their emotions. It is to be human to have emotions. They need to be felt otherwise solitude, silence, and loneliness begins to dictate life. It is emotion that connects humans, allows us to understand others, and by extension, ourselves, as well as keeps us grounded in reality.
This was a beautiful story, elegantly written, and heartbreakingly inspirational. The characters are lovely, have their own hangups, their own stories and individual motivations to somewhat ambiguous ends. They’re interesting and clearly reflect the realism of habit and subconscious action. The minute details, such as the rain and the vividness of the willow tree outside the bar, add to the atmosphere and unify the story.
The cat is a plus. The way lack of emotion was portrayed rang so true that one couldn’t help but continue reading. Absolutely stunning in portrayal, the short story, Kino, is easily identifiable with, and the character struggles are justifiable.
Our book club FINALLY met last week (thank you Pam for hostessing)! We are a month late because life was über complicated for several of us,
as life is wont to be,
but meet we did indeed!
And it was a wonderful celebration of friendship and reading!
So many book suggestions!! ALL of them calling to be read.
Here are the chosen eight, (after a long and hard deliberation from all members). We also include “honourable mentions”…so those titles don’t feel shunned. : )
The Chosen Ones
The History of the Rain by Niall Williams – November
In Falling Snow by Rosemary MacColl – December
‘S’ by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorset – January
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – February
The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose – March
The Luminaries by Elinor Catton – April
The Rosie Project by Graham Simsion – May
The World Before Us – Aislinn Hunter -June
The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
Belzhar – Meg Worlitzer
The Girl Who Couldn’t Read – John Harding
The Bird Box – John Malloran
The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters
A Train in Winter – Carolyn Morehead
Adultery – Paulo Coelho
Winter of the World –Ken Follett
What We Really Talk About When We Talk About God – Rob Bell
The Other Side of the Bridge – Mary Lawson
My English students are studying Gatsby. For a writing assignment I get them to choose (and this is THE most difficult part of the assignment) their favourite quote from the novel….
They can responded any number of ways, I just want them to write.
Write with abandon.
Here are some questions I may pose to get the creative juices flowing:
What is it that you like about this quote? The language choice? The imagery?
What confuses you?
How can you personally identify with what is being stated?
….guiding questions aside, they usually choose to approach this assignment their own way. And their own way is usually more profound.
I then share with them MY own response to the assignment. Sharing your writing with others is a difficult thing to do. It makes you feel vulnerable. It makes you feel über vulnerable when you’re 17. I figure I can’t ask them to do what I am incapable of doing myself.
What you’ll read here is my attempt at the assignment. You will find my student’s responses as text or as links to their own personal blogs, in the comment section:
“It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced – or seemed to face – the whole external world for a moment then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you, at your best, you wanted to convey.” Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby
I long for such a smile. I would find it difficult not to fall in love with someone who smiled at me this way,
someone who has taken everyone and everything in the world into account and
focuses on me with “an irresistible prejudice”.
Because, if truth be told, I often want it to be all about me.
With one look you know, deep within the recesses of your existence, thatyou’ve been understood and accepted even with all your flaws, and shortcomings and ugliness that once in a while rears its ugly head.
That someone thoroughly believes in you more than you can ever believe in yourself – all without condescension or impatience or obligation.
Imagine being looked at with the assurance that you are presenting yourself at your best and that best is pretty spectacular.
I am going to practice this smile. The most difficult thing will be its authenticity. Not to merely procure and manifest such a smile but to do so with sincerity. To smile at someone with absolute pure delight where a switch has flipped and joy released.
I bet you can remember a time you’ve been given such a look, the gift of such a smile. The first time you met your spouse? Your baby’s first smile? And I bet you’ve stored the wonderful feeling it created in your memory. But do you remember giving such a look?
To whom did you bestow such a gift and why?
Please enjoy the “comments” that follow!!
I recieved this Advanced Reading Copy from goodreads. “Sleep in Peace Tonight” is a novel I didn’t expect to like as much as I did. Sure,I enjoy learning history through the use of story but WWII has never been a favourite historical event of mine, and being a Canadian I never took interest in Roosevelt’s involvement…Churchill being the more vibrant character. But I must say James MacManus kept me both intellectually and emotionally engaged throughout the entire narrative. Simple to read but not condescendingly so, I especially wanted to know more about our heroine Lenora. And I’m so grateful to MacManus for not making her the token arm candy some male writers of historical fiction do. Surprisingly the author does not bog us down with pages of political maneuvering but includes just enough to support the narrative, develop character, and maintain a sense of historical authenticity. I must say I did enjoy combing home after a hard day’s work and escaping to the London Blitz. Would love a sequel to know the fate of one of our characters!
<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/9325942-lisa”>View all my reviews</a>
It's All About Life Long Learning!
This blog is about stuff from my brain. Ranging from play-doh to Plato. Hopefully you find something you like within that spectrum.
Currently Streaming My Conciousness
The Art and Craft of Blogging
WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.