Hello readers…thanks for joining me for this month’s Where Bloggers Live 07.2021: Books I Love. Thought about titling this “Favorite Books” but my list of favorite books is ever-evolving and changing. A book that I might really love now might not have spoken to me in my younger years. And might not be a favorite down the road. Although, I do have a few perennial favorites that will forever remain near and dear.
Hope you will grab a cuppa, kick off your shoes and get comfortable because when this retired librarian shares about books, she can get long-winded.
WHERE BLOGGERS LIVE
Happy to report I have a few new readers!! Welcome to my world. And welcome back always to those of you who stop by regularly for a few minutes here with me. Where Bloggers Live is kind of like HGTV’s “Celebrities at Home,” but…with bloggers! Each month I am always happy to see that my Where Bloggers Live posts are among my most popular. Probably because we are all a little curious about other people’s homes and lives. You can read my last Where Bloggers Live post, here, where we talked about organizing something in our home. That something was my craft space. I like to organize almost as much as I like to read. It’s the librarian in me. You can take the retired librarian out of the library but you can’t take the library out of the retired librarian. Organizing books is my idea of a real good time.
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WHERE BLOGGERS LIVE 07.2021
Did you know I host an online book club? Well, I do. I think we have been together for 2, maybe 3 years now. I should probably know which. But have never been big on anniversaries… The book club is called “Come Read With Me” and we are over 100 members as of this month. It is hosted on Facebook. And has been a real blessing to me because it has allowed me to share books and a love of reading just as I did for so long in my professional life.
We read mostly fiction. Almost entirely fiction. Each month I create a list of 8 titles with summaries and a voting link and email it out to the members. They vote on which of the 8 books they would most like to read. And the book with the most votes wins. Occasionally, I will sneak a memoir, biography or nonfiction book onto the consideration list but I don’t think we have ever selected anything but fiction to read as a group.
I have a running bibliography of all the books we have considered and it is available to the members on our Facebook page. There is never any pressure for anyone to read the winning book of the month but doing so myself has introduced me to a number of books I might have missed out on otherwise.
If you are interested in joining our group, please let me know. Thank you for excusing this shameless plug!!
Onward and upward…
Books I Love
There are a bunch.
As a Young Person
For years when I was asked for some of my favorite books, that list included Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (for its fantasy world) and Christy by Catherine Marshall (I imagined teaching, like the main character, in the poverty-stricken Smokies where I did my student teaching). Discovered The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, my first real grown up books, as a high school junior in honors English.
As a High School Librarian
When I became a school librarian, I read the latest and greatest books for the students I was teaching. Read the most titillating parts of Forever by Judy Blume aloud to my high school classes. As well as the most poignant chapters of Tears of a Tiger, the most alarming pages of Forged by Fire, both by Sharon M. Draper. My students lives often paralleled the lives of the teens in these books. After a book talk, we wouldn’t be able to keep the books on the shelves for months. It has been many years since I worked with high school students so I am sure there are lots of new books for this age group with which I am not familiar.
As an Elementary School Librarian
If you haven’t already, go ahead kick off your shoes. This section could go on forever!!
Most of my favorite elementary level books are about an underdog who overcomes. I always had the privilege of working in Title I schools where the children were from very low socio-economic situations. Mostly bilingual. Or monolingual…Spanish. While their lives were often sad, I wanted to share books with them about children who rose above their circumstances. Here are a few of my all-time faves.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio – and the whole series. The Joey Pigza books by Jack Gantos. Firegirl by Tony Abbott; One-Handed Catch by M.J. Auch. There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom by Louis Sachar. Anything by Katherine Applegate…especially, The One and Only Ivan. Kate DiCamillo, too, like Because of Winn Dixie. Barbara O’Connor…How to Steal a Dog. For a 31 days of writing challenge one year, I shared reviews of many of my favorite children’s books. And then on day 25 of the challenge, my mom made a suicide attempt, and I never finished the series. You can read the reviews I did write and some other children’s book posts, here. If you have children to entertain this summer, you can’t go wrong with books by any of these delightful authors.
Oprah’s Book Club
For years, the only books I read were children’s books. For work all day, and with my daughters at bedtime. When Oprah created her book club in the late ’90s, I jumped in with both feet. For the first couple of years of her book lists, I read many of Oprah’s recommendations. Mostly the titles from 1996-1998. The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman. And Jewel by Bret Lott, She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb (pretty sure people think that about me all the time). One of my all-time faves…Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts. I relished my grown up reading time. You can find a comprehensive slide show of her books, here. While some of the recent titles are familiar to me, it is the older ones that are my favorites.
Come Read With Me
As much as I love books, I am sad to admit that many of the stories don’t stick with me. Even the special favorites. It’s like with the last page, the last words…the story evaporates into the clouds of my mind. Same thing with movies. Anyone else have that trouble?
I should go back to count how many books we have read together in my book club. Will do that. But these titles are some that we considered or read that were special to me.
One of our earliest books was Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate – based on the true story of the Tennessee Children’s Home. The group doesn’t discuss much but it seemed that everyone was touched by that story. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly – fabulous WWII story with 2 prequels of sorts. We recently read The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth and her book The Mother-in-Law, which made us all think about family relationships and responsibilities. Both well discussed by the group. Kristin Harmel’s The Sweetness of Forgetting – family secrets, in particular one kept by a dying grandmother. I often to listen to books with Audible and The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate was like watching a play with my ears. Wonderful story of past and present.
Two Last Mentions
Have been saying that I am going to get back to my original purpose for blogging but can’t seem to do so. This post took me a step or two closer. But I want to get back to my theme of life after retirement. And have a guest post coming up with my friend Leanne at Cresting the Hill that I hope will be a step in that direction, too.
Several months ago I read the book Yeah, No. Not Happening.: How I Found Happiness Swearing Off Self-Improvement and Saying F*ck It All―and How You Can Too by Karen Karbo. It was such a breath of fresh air. A permission to feel a lot of what I had/have been feeling but felt bad about!! Self-help, self-healing and self-hope (which is what I originally typed accidentally instead of self-help) in one liberating book. So good.
And my favorite book of all times deserves a mention just because I could never write a list of books I love without adding it. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. My sweet father encouraged me to read the book. I think he loaned me his copy. It is one whose story I have never forgotten.
I thought this post would be easy to write but it wasn’t. Am always wordy. And could easily go on and on and on today. But will leave you with these titles in hopes that maybe you will find a book that piques your interest. Or something to share with a child you love.
Please join me in visiting the blogs of my comadres. Can’t wait to see which books made their lists.
Thank you for spending a few moments here with me. Off to do some spring cleaning mid-July!! Enjoy your weekend. Set aside a few minutes to read!!
Hugs and kisses,