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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Leaves and Pages are Turning!

Yes, my friends, the time has come. Autumn is here, and in celebration I plan to Fall Into Reading! A huge thank you goes out to Katrina over at Callapidder Days, for giving me the push I needed to tame my TBR pile once again. I Sprang into Spring with the Spring Reading Thing Challenge, and had so much fun, I can't tell you.

So, once again, in the interest of reducing the many piles of unread books that live in my home, I have spent a great deal of time and thought choosing which books I'll share these glorious autumn days with. They are a different bunch from my spring set. Fewer fiction, more reality. But, that's a good thing. They all come highly recommended, and I can't wait to dive in, and then share the best ones with you, here!

First on my shelf is Inkspell, by Cornelia Funke. The opening paragraph on page 1 reads as follows:

"Twilight was gathering, and Orpheus still wasn't here. Farid's heart beat faster, ans it always did when day left him alone with the darkness. Curse that Cheeseface! Where could he be? The birds were falling silent in the trees, as if the approach of night had stifled their voices, and the nearby mountains were turning black. You might have thought the setting sun had singed them. Soon the whole world would be black as pitch, even the grass beneath Farid's bare feet, and the ghosts would begin to whisper. Farid knew only one place where he felt safe from them: right behind Dustfinger, so close that he could feel his warmth. Dustfinger wasn't afraid of the night. He liked it."

I read Inkspell's prequel, Inkheart during the SRTC. It took up residence on the bookshelf in my heart, and will probably remain there until my future grandchildren are grown and reading it to their young ones. I am sure Inkspell will be just as amazing, and so, it tops my list!

Second on my shelf is Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. The first paragraph of chapter two says:

"The first useful concept is the idea of short assignments. Often, when you sit down to write, what you have in mind is an autobiographical novel about your childhood, or a play about the immigrant experience, or a history of---oh, say---say women. But this is like trying to scale a glacier. It's hard to get your footing, and your fingertips get all red and frozen and torn up. Then your mental illnesses arrive at the desk like your sickest, most secretive relatives. And they pull up chairs in a semicircle around the computer, and they try to be quiet but you know they are there with their weird coppery breath, leering at you behind your back."

I am already part-way into this book, and I am loving it. The practical tips Ms. Lamott shares are fundamental, and at the same time, very empowering. I look forward to finishing this book, and then referring to it again and again as I write my story.

The next book on my shelf is The Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success, by Andy Andrews. Just before chapter one, the author opens with a very powerful quote:

"In great deeds, something abides. On great fields, something stays. Forms change and pass, bodies disappear but spirits linger to consecrate ground for the vision place of the soul. And reverent men and wome from afar and generations that know us not and that we know not of, shall come here to ponder and to dream and the power of the vision shall pass into their souls. --Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, 1828-1914"

Published by Nelson Books, and recommended by John Maxwell and Barbara Johnson, this book may just have a profound affect on the way I fulfill my dream.

The first paragraph on page 48 of Writing Down the Bones reads:

"Writers live twice. They go along with their regular life, are as fast as anyone in the grocery store, crossing the street, getting dressed for work in the morning. But there's another part of them that they have been training. The one that lives everything a second time. That sits down and sees their life again and goes over it. Looks at the texture and the details."

The first paragraph in chapter one of Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life begins:

"For fifteen years now, at the beginning of every writing workshop, I have repeated the rules for writing practice. So, I will repeat them again here. And I want to say why I repeat them: Because they are the bottom line, the beginning of all writing, the foundation of learning to trust your own mind. Trusting your own mind is essential for writing. Words come out of the mind."

Both books come highly recommended, and I've been stealing peeks at the first one for several days, now. It looks to be another practical and useful reference book for my desk. I'm sure the second one will be just as valuable.

The sixth book on my shelf is The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau. The first paragraph of chapter one says:

"In the city of Ember, the sky was always dark. The only light came from the great flood lamps mounted on the buildings and at the tops of poles in the middle of the larger squares. When the lights were on,they cast a yellowish glow over the streets; people walking by threw long shadows that shortened and then stretched out again. When the lights were off, as they were between nine at night and six in the morning, the city was so dark that people might as well have been wearing blindfolds."

The City of Ember is a young adult book that will hopefully be a great escape into fiction. I can't wait to open the cover and lose myself in the pages.

Seventh on my shelf is Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen. The front flap of the dust jacket begins with:

"I don't talk much about those days. Never did. I don't know why---I worked on circuses for nearly seven years, and if that isn't fodder for conversation, I don't know what is. Actually, I do know why: I never trusted myself. I was afraid I'd let it slip. I knew how important it was to keep her secret, and keep it I did---for the rest of her life, and then beyond. In seventy years, I've never told a blessed soul."

Set in the Depression, this novel hints at an enchanting tale about life and love in the 1930s. This one's gonna be good!

Eighth on my shelf is The Children of Hurin, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I am a Tolkien fan---one of many. Opening the book at random, I find I am intrigued by the following paragraph on page 48.

"On the morning of T'urin's birthday, H'urin gave his son a gift, an Elf-wrought knife, and the hilt and the sheath were silver and black; and he said: 'Heir of the House of Hador, here is a gift for the day. But have a care! It is a bitter blade, and steel serves only those that can weild it. It will cut your hand as willingly as aught else." And setting T'urin on a table, he kissed his son, and said: 'You overtop me already, son of Morwen' soon you will be as high on your own feet. In that day many may fear your blade.' "

I was thrilled to find that Tolkien's son edited this one, and can't wait to visit Middle Earth, once again.

The ninth and final book on my shelf for this challenge is The Center of Everything, by Laura Moriarty. The front flap of the dust jacket reads:

"Evelyn Bucknow is living with her single mother, Tina, in a small apartment outside Kerrville, Kansas. Though Tina is warm and loving, she is still young and immature herelf, prone to making hotheaded decisions that help create a precarious financial situation for her increasingly anxious daughter. When Tina's failed romance with her married boss leaves her jobless and desperate, Evelyn turns to her grandmother in an effort to distance herself from what she perceives as her mother's irresponsibility, immorality, and plain bad luck. But even the firmest convictions can crumble over time. As Evelyn winces her way through the trials of adolescence, she comes to realize that fortune, like people, can't always be categorized as good or bad. A curious student and a careful observer of her teachers, she learns the hardest lessons when confronted by the unexpected; a birth, a death, and the sting of unrequited love help Evelyn discover that luck is a tricky business, and a humbled compassion for others may be the greatest blessing of all."

This one sounds like a real coming-of-age story. I think it will round out my fall afternoons, quite nicely.

So, if you're a book-lover, and you're looking for a great way to while away Autumn's short stay, head on over to Katrina's place, and join the Fall Into Reading Challenge 2007!

See you there!

P.S. You can read BOOK REVIEWS written by participants in this challenge!


Deena said...

You have GOT to review those titles...I keep seeing Water For Elephants and I'm dying to know what it's like:-)

Nise' said...

I read Water for Elephants this summer and loved it! It is now on my all time favorite book list and I recommend it to everyone. Happy Reading.

Lana G! said...

My goodness, my list from the different reading lists is getting out of hand - adding Water for Elephants

Enjoy the reading challenge and Happy Autumn!

Donetta said...

Nice post. Hope your having a wonderful time of reading.

childlife said...

Great list! You will love 'Bird by Bird' and 'Writing Down The Bones'! They are truly indispensable. The children of H'urin is a great read too.

Sounds like you have hours of wonderful cozy reading ahead - I hope you post reviews!

Katrina said...

Looks like a great list -- lots of variety, and some great books on there. I really liked Bird by Bird, and probably need to read it again soon. And Cornelia Funke -- I am very curious about her books... I'd like to read them before too long. Thanks for being part of the challenge!

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

Great list! I had heard of some of these and wanted to read them. Your descriptions sound good.

Robin in CA said...

I love your blog and your presentation of the books. For a visual person like me, it is candy. I have Children of Hurin, but haven't been able to get into it. Maybe it should go on my list as incentive. Your description made me want to read it. Inkspell and a couple of the other books have gone on to my amazon wish list. Look forward to your reviews.


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