2010, what a wonderful year!*

*for reading that is!

2010 seems like the longest year of my life. When I look back to what I was reading at the beginning of the year, I can’t believe that that was still 2010.  You mean I only read Anne of Green Gables this year?!  I only just read and fell in love with Blankets in 2010? That wasn’t last year? Are you sure?

Blogging has had its share of ups and downs this year, but I’m pleased to be ending the year on a strong note, with only more hopes for more excellent reading and blogging in 2011.  Over the past few days I have gone back and reread a lot of my posts from the early days of Regular Rumination and I think that my little blog and I have really come into our own over the last few months.

In terms of reading, there have certainly been some hits and some misses, but for the most part, I would say that my reading of 2010 was great.  So here we are, the 2010 Regular Rumination Awards.  These are the books that struck me as particularly wonderful, that still stick with me all these months later, that I think you should be reading to make your 2011 as excellent a reading year as my 2010 was.

To avoid this just being a normal old top ten list, I’ve added made-up superlatives.

The book that was so good, I had to reread it immediately

Is anyone surprised by this choice?  When I read Blankets back on the 2 of January, I was blown away.  When I turned the last page, I went back and started it all over again.  I stayed up until the wee hours of the night rereading and reliving the relationship between Craig and Raina – in fact, I’m pretty sure I’d like to name a future daughter Raina.

What makes Blankets the best graphic novel I read this year?  The drawings absolutely took my breath away, but so did the story.  Thompson weaves together the story of his relationship with his brother and family with the story of his first love.  It’s heartbreaking and beautiful and changed the way I read graphic novels forever.  I can’t wait for Thompson’s newest, Habibi, to be released.

Honorable mention: On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

Best Precocious Child Narrator

This book was a total surprise.  I don’t even know how it came into my hands, other than the fact that we all know I’m enticed by a blue cover with adorable pictures on it.  What I wasn’t expecting was one of the most intelligent, endearing middle-grade fiction books I have ever read.  Bapu is Anu’s grandfather and one day, while they are out walking, he collapses.  What follows is Anu’s journey to find his grandfather again after he has passed away.  This book with simultaneously crush your heart and heal it again.  Anu has such great friends and such a great family and such wonderful insights that somehow never seem out of place coming from such a young person.  I want everyone to read this book, it is wonderful.  It deals with such heavy topics, but is also so funny.

Honorable Mention: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Most Underrated Book By A Book Blog Darling

This is a book that I don’t think I ever expected to end up on this list, but here it is: Flight by Sherman Alexie.  Alexie has had his fair share of coverage on a lot of book blogs, especially for his most recent foray into YA with The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  I loved that book, but this one is better.  Most critics didn’t like it, but I say, they are crazy.  This book is great.

Zits, our narrator, is a homeless and poor Indian boy who, in a fit of desperation, decides to blow up a bank.  Instead of dying when the bomb goes off, he is transported back in time to inhabit some famous historical figures.  Yes, the premise is different, but that is why I loved it so much.  I couldn’t get enough of it.  If I had one complaint it would be that this book is too short.  Probably one of the best compliments you can give a book, now that I think about it.

Honorable Mention: A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle

Best Book Worth All the Hype

Look, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen, is my favorite book of 2010, BUT it is a book that I think is worth the hype it received.  Is Franzen the greatest American novelist? Um, no, but he is a great US novelist.  This book so perfectly captures a specific time in our history and has made me even more eager to pick up The Corrections, Franzen’s first novel.  Maybe that will make my list next year?

Honorable Mention: A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Best Book I Want To Put in the Hand of Every Girl/Woman I Know

It was tough to choose between the two Robin Brande books I read this year, Fat Cat and Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature, and while I thought Mena was such an amazing role model and the combination of religion and science in Freaks of Nature was brilliant, I had to pick Cat.  Maybe it’s because I saw a little bit (okay, a lot) of myself in Cat.  I wish Cat was real so we could be best friends.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I cannot wait for Brande’s next book, because I know it will be amazing.  It’s as simple as that.  Not enough people are reading these books.  Why aren’t you reading these books?  Hmmm?  Why?

Honorable Mention: Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande and Reading Women: How the Great Book of Feminism Changed My Life by Stephanie Staal
Best Memoir in a Year Full of Excellent Memoirs

 

I read so many great memoirs this year that I didn’t even get a chance to review them all and going back to pick my favorite was difficult.  I finally decided on Flyaway by Suzie Gilbert because it’s just so unique and I learned so much.  Gilbert is a wild bird rehabber and her journey is just so interesting and full of humor.  I dare you to read Gilbert’s memoir and not be charmed.

Honorable mention: Harry, a History by Melissa Anelli

Biggest Disappointment

I don’t think Great House by Nicole Krauss is a bad book, but I had such high expectation for it and it floundered under those expectations.  I don’t know if that’s my fault or the fault of the book.  It was such an even book that it was even more disappointing.  There was real greatness here, but it was ruined (for me) by the inconsistencies.

Honorable Mention: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

But let’s end this on a happy note…

Favorite Classic of 2010

Mrs. Dalloway is beautiful and contains easily some of the most amazing writing… ever.  I would have quoted the entire book if I could have.  I’m so glad the Woolf In Winter readalong made me read it, because I loved it.

Honorable  Mention: Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery (a very close second!)

2010 was a great year for reading, but here’s to hoping 2011 is even better!  Happy New Year, everyone!  I’ll see you next year, lolol.

ABCs of Thankfulness

Happy Thanksgiving, USA.  Like last year, I’m going to come up with the ABCs of things I am thankful for.

Anne of Green Gables. Such a comfort read. Thank you for being there, Anne.

Books. Does this need explanation?

Cooking. There are few things in this world that I find as satisfying as cooking a delicious meal.

Dreams. I have some crazy ones and they certainly make sleeping entertaining.

Eating. I love to eat as much as I love to cook. Thankfully Thanksgiving is a holiday that let’s me do just that.

Friends. I have some fabulous friends. We are not always all together, but when we do finally get together, it’s like not a day has passed.

Ginger. Such a delicious ingredient!  We should use it more often.

Happiness. Sometimes we forget to sit back and think about how happy we are. We often think about our sadnesses, but how often do we say, “I am just so happy right now?”  I’m always thankful when I am so happy, it has to be mentioned.

Internet. Where would we be without the internet? Even though I lived (briefly) in a world without the modern conveniences of cell phones and internet and computers, I can’t really imagine going back.

Japanese food. Sushi! You are delicious.

Kaitlin, Kelsey and Claire. The sisters.

Literature. Like books, does this need any explanation?

Maps. I really love maps, both as art and as a functional object.

Nuance. Subtleties make life interesting.

Owls. I love owls!

Poetry. I love to write poetry and I love to read poetry.  So thank you, poetry, for existing.

Quips. Who doesn’t love quips?

Relatives.  Of all kinds, I am thankful for you.

Study abroad. My travels to Spain this year were certainly something to be thankful for.

Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present!

Underwear. I would certainly miss underwear if it weren’t in my life.

Vegetables. Exploring incorporating more vegetarian meals into my diet (not all the way vegetarian), and it is making me appreciate vegetables even more.

Writing. From blogging, to novel-writing, to poetry, I’m so thankful for writing.

Xmas. Just around the corner! I love Christmas.

Yesterday. Love the memories we made, so why not be thankful for everything wonderful that was yesterday?

Z, love of my life. Of course I’m thankful for you!

Enjoy the time with your family, enjoy the food.  Remember what you’re thankful for in your life today 🙂

Turkey cupcake photo from WishUponACupcake

Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite book quotes

Top Ten Tuesday is a new feature for me that I’ve always seen on English Major’s Junk Food, one of my favorite blogs.  It’s run by The Broke and the Bookish, a new-to-me blog I discovered during BBAW.   Finally this week I’ve decided to participate!

This week’s topic is Top Ten Favorite Book Quotes

1. That’s one good thing about this world… there are always sure to be more springs.” – Anne of Avonlea by LM Montgomery

Doesn’t that quote just sum up the entire series beautifully?  I love Anne.

2. We were lost then.  And talking about dark!  You think dark is just one color, but it ain’t.  There’re five or six kinds of black.  Some silky, some wooly.  Some just empty.  Some like fingers.  And it don’t stay still.  It move and changes from one kind of black to another.  Saying something is pitch black is like saying something is green.  What kind of green?  Green like my bottles?  Green like a grasshopper?  Green like a cucumber, lettuce, or green like the sky is just before it breaks loose to a storm.  Well, night black is the same way.  May as well be a rainbow.” – Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

I think this is gorgeous, and so true.

3. “And this is our life, exempt from public haunt,
finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
sermons in stones, and good in everything.” – As You Like It by William Shakespeare

As You Like It is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays and I love this quote.

4. “Shredding and slicing, dividing and subdividing, the clocks of Harley Street nibbled at the June day, counselled submission, upheld authority and pointed out in chorus the supreme advantages of a sense of proportion, until the mound of time was so far diminished that a commercial clock, suspended above a shop on Oxford Street, announced, genially and fraternally, as if it were a pleasure to Messrs. Rigby and Lowndes to give the information graüs, that it was half-past one.” – Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

I knew I had to pick a quote from Mrs. Dalloway because I’m pretty sure I tried to quote the whole book in my review.  This one is just wonderful.  I love what it does with the concept of time and clocks, but also the way it uses language.

5. SPEAKING OF THE DEVIL

Just when I begin to believe English is lucky,
full of choices like trumpet and ash, curlicue,
olive, armrest and hostile, I see that its vastness

is urban, lonely: too many people live in its center,
and the environs are losing population fast.
Few are interested in leaving the inner cities of language,

so each tongue shrinks, deletes its consummate
geographies, copse and dell, ravine and fen,
boonies, coulées, bailiwicks, and sloughs.But English is not the only shrinking province.

I watch two French boys on the train
from Turin to Nice burn a pair of earphones,

delighted as the plastic withers, whitens,
sends up its little wick of toxic smoke. Watch
and wow and fuck, all the words they need to test

the butane’s power to make plastic disappear.
Not sure if I can understand their chat, they test me too.
The one with his thumb on the flame looks at me

from under lavish lashes, merest shadow
of mustache riding his budded lips, Diable,
he asks me, how you say him in English?

and I marvel at how few syllables
anyone needs to make a world. – Leslie Adrienne Miller

Sorry, it might be a bit much to quote an entire poem, but this is one of my all-time favorite poems.  I think it’s perfect.

5. “I wanted to tell him that I knew how he felt, though I probably did not.  How can you know what another person is going through when your own life is so different from his?  People had done this to me often enough, telling they knew how I felt because they had suffered this or that loss, felt some sort of pain.  The words were in my mouth to tell Lawrence that I knew what it was not to be able to make the family you want to have, not because you are a bad person or because you haven’t tried hard enough, but because you just can’t.  I could predict his response, his words, polite enough, thanking me for my empathy, my generosity of spirit.  And I could imagine his thoughts, that no, I couldn’t possibly empathize.  Our situations were not the same at all.” – The Untelling by Tayari Jones.

I don’t know how many times I’ve thought this or felt this, on both sides.  I love the way that Jones put that into words.

6.” She supposed that houses, after all – like the lives that were lived in them – were mostly made of space.  It was the spaces, in fact, which counted, rather than the bricks.” – The Night Watch by Sarah Waters.

Maybe you’ve heard me talk about The Night Watch?  I loved it and this quote sums up why.

7. “Sometimes you never feel meaner than the moment you stop being mean.  It’s like how turning on a light makes you realize how dark the room had gotten.  And the way you usually act, the things you would have normally done, are like these ghosts that everyone can see but pretends not to.” When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me is a novel heavily influenced by A Wrinkle in Time, another favorite of mine.  Isn’t this quote lovely?

8. “I think: perhaps there’s a light inside people, perhaps a clarity; perhaps people aren’t made of darkness, perhaps certainties are a breeze inside people, and perhaps people are the certainties they possess.” The Implacable Order of Things by Jose Luis Piexoto

I really should have featured The Implacable Order of Things during BBAW.  I don’t know any other book blogger who has read it and it is amazing.  So beautiful and perfect, though fairly upsetting.

9.” Is it her, will she know
What I’ve seen & done,
How my boots leave little grave-stone
shapes in the wet dirt,” Neon Vernacular by Yusef Komunyakaa

I recently reminded you of my love for Yusef Komunyakaa and these four lines are an example of why.  He takes something that is so simple (the shape of a footprint) and turns it into something so much bigger than that.  I love it.

10. “Days I have held,
days I have lost,

days that outgrow, like daughters,
my harbouring arms.”

“Midsummer, Tobago” by Derek Walcott

Another quote from a poem to round out the list.  Never was there a more perfect description of life slipping away.

I’ve really enjoyed participating in Top Ten Tuesday!  It think I’ll be back next week!

BBAW 2010 – New Treasure Interview Swap

My favorite day of BBAW is already here!   It’s the interview swap, a great chance to meet new-to-you book bloggers.  Last year I was introduced to the wonderful Steph, of Steph Su Reads and this year I get to introduce to you Melissa, of One Librarian’s Book Reviews!  First of all, Melissa is a librarian, which is pretty much the coolest job I can think of.  She’s also a lovely artist and a fabulous book reviewer.  Please go check her out!  I got to ask her some of my favorite questions from last year’s interview swap, so let’s get on with it!

Tell us about your blog.

My blog essentially started for a way for me to keep track of what I’ve read and what I thought about it.  I tend to be one of those who forgets very quickly what a book is about and if I’ve read it or not.  I also started including ratings on swearing, sex, and violence, since I usually like to know if a book has a lot of stuff like that in it before I pick a book up.  I’m currently an academic librarian, but I seem to have an unusual fondness for middle grade and teen books, perhaps to escape from all that boring adult content. 🙂

If you had to live in one book’s world/time/place, which book would it be and why?

This is a hard one for me.  I have a fondness for dystopian and post-apocalyptic books, but really would never want to live in them.  I guess I have to go for an old favorite.  I’d like to live in the Shire from Lord of the Rings.  It seems like a simple, happy, and beautiful place to live (after the rebuilding of course).  A simple existence sounds very good when life gets crazy.

What do your family and friends think about your blog, do they read it?

I know one of my sisters reads it regularly, since she often talks about books I suggested that she liked. I don’t think anyone else from my family reads it regularly.  I know I’ve had a few friends check it out before, but I also don’t think they are regulars.  I guess I don’t have many friends who are as crazy about reading as I am!

What advice do you have to give to new book bloggers?

Try not to worry about followers or having a lot of readers.  Worry about just the content of your blog and how you can make it even

better.  It’s hard lots of times not to think about it, but it is much more fun and less stressful, when you only have to worry about what you think of your blog.

In five words, tell us what you think makes a great book.

Exciting plot, realistic characters, style.

What is your favorite thing about reading?

Entering a new world or life and seeing things from a different person’s perspective.  I like that we can, in a way, really see the world through someone else’s eyes.  Fantasy for me is all about imagination and all the things that we wish were real or are glad they aren’t real.

What genre of books do your favorites (generally) come from?

Most of my original favorites (the ones I’ve had for a long time) were classics – Count of Monte Cristo, Little Women,Anne of Green Gables, Bleak House, Lord of the Rings.  Most of my newer favorites are teen books (which I read a lot of) and are either fantasy or dystopian in nature.

What do you do when you aren’t reading or blogging?

I work at my little college library and keep track of resources and a whole lot more there.  I’m the only person who works in our library, and even though it’s small, it seems like a lot for one person to do.  I would like to start painting and drawing again – I haven’t done it in a really long time, but I used to enjoy it a lot.

Thanks, Melissa! (See, I told you she is a fabulous artist!  And she has an adorable nephew!)  If you head on over to her blog, she’ll have my answers to some of these questions and more.  I’m afraid I sound very inarticulate in most of them, but they’re there!

Head on over to the BBAW website to read more interviews.

PS. I can’t find the photo credit for the photo of the Shire, so if anyone knows where it came from, I would really appreciate it!

Anne of Avonlea – LM Montgomery

You may remember that a few weeks ago, I read the first book in the Anne of Green Gables series and was completely enamored.  The first book was clever, funny, touching and sad all at once and was so readable.  I fell for Anne immediately and even though I didn’t love Anne of Avonlea as much as Anne of Green Gables, I still really enjoyed reading this book.

Anne is sixteen, teaching at the school and unexpectedly helping Marilla raise twins Davey and Dora after their mother, a distant relative of Marilla, dies.  Of course there are some silly moments when Anne, but now also Davy, make a mess of things.  There were more than a few occasions when I shook my head and muttered “Oh, Anne” out loud.

I love how Marilla and Anne have really grown into one another.  They are the perfect foils for each other, with Marilla completely no-nonsense and Anne so imaginative, they are the perfect balance.  With Anne’s help, Marilla has just a little bit more imagination and Anne can be just a little bit more serious.   I wasn’t sure how I felt about the twins at first, but eventually they grew on me (after Davy stopped trying to terrify his sister!).  Finally Anne starts talking to Gilbert… sort of.  So I’m looking forward to their budding relationship.

My roommate, who recommended these books to me and bought me the set for Christmas, made a good point.  She said that one of the reasons she loved  Anne so much was because she got to grow up with Anne.  Her favorite Anne books were always the ones when the characters were the same age as her.  She thinks that I will really like the next installment, where Anne is in her early twenties.  I’m looking forward to it and will be reading it in March!

Favorite quotes:

“Well, one  can’t get over the habit of being a little girl all at once,” said Anne gaily.  “You see, I was little for fourteen years and I’ve only been grown-uppish for scarcely three.  I’m sure I shall always feel like a child in the woods.  These walks home from school are almost the only time I have for dreaming… except the half hour or so before I go to sleep.  I’m so busy with teaching and studying and helping Marilla with the twins that I haven’t anothermoment for imagining things.  You don’t know what splendid adventures I have for a little while after I go to bed in the east gable every night.  I always imagine I’m something very brilliant and triumphant and splendid… a great prima donna or a Red Cross nurse or a queen.  Last night I was a queen.  It’s really splendid to imagine you are a queen.  You have all the fun of it without any of the inconveniences and you can stop being a queen whenever you want to, which you couldn’t in real life.  But here in the woods I like best to imagine quite different things… I’m a dryad living in an old pine, or a little brown wood-elf hiding under a crinkled leaf.  That white birch you caught me kissing is a sister of mine.   The only difference is, she’s a tree and I’m a girl, but that’s no real difference (75).”

“‘Anne,’ said Davy, sitting up in bed and propping his chin on his hands, ‘Anne, where is sleep?  People go to sleep every night, and of course I know it’s the place where I do the things I dream, but I want to know where it is and how I get there and back without knowing anything about it… and in my nighty too.  Where is it?’ (151)

“That is one good thing about this world… there are always sure to be more springs.” (215)

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR

Also reviewed by: Dreadlock Girl, Ramya’s Bookshelf, The Blue Stocking Society, things mean a lot.

A classic that truly feels timeless

“Oh, I’m so glad.  I know you and I are going to get along together fine.  It’s such a relief to talk when one wants to and not be told that children should be seen and not heard.  I’ve had that said to me a million times if I have once.  And people laugh at me because I use big words.  But if you have big ideas you have to use big words to express them, haven’t  you?”  (15)

Continue reading “A classic that truly feels timeless”

TSS – Putting the right foot foward

It’s always wonderful when you can sit back and say, “I definitely started this year off the right way.”  I decided to read Anne of Green Gables as my first book of 2010 and I’m so glad I did.  It was beautiful and heartbreaking and amazing.  Everything everyone ever said it would be, but I just needed a shove to get to it.   Fortunately I have the rest of the series waiting for me when I return to school!  I also decided to read the graphic novel Blankets.  It absolutely blew me away.  I say a lot of times that a book makes me want to open it up and start reading it again right away.  Well, this time I actually did it.  I reread all 592 pages again.  I’ll be posting proper reviews of both Anne of Green Gables and Blankets this week, but I really can’t think of a better way to start off 2010.

I have a lot of books that I’m currently in the middle of, but I’m not quite sure which one I want to read today.  I think I might also do some crocheting, because I’m going to New York on Wednesday and I need something to keep me warm!  Maybe I’ll actually finish a pair of gloves!!

What are you reading today?

I’ll leave you with some images from Blankets, just so you can get a taste.

I’m so glad I read this book a second time.  I spent a little bit more time with each image and there were so many small things that I missed the first time.  There are genius parallels that I didn’t even notice when I read through it.  The ending informs the beginning, so you almost have to go back and reread.  Don’t worry, I’ll be talking about this one for a long time.

All images from Craig Thompson’s Blankets.