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Monday Listicles: A booklist mashup

It seems fitting that as I sit down to write Stasha’s list (on, er, Tuesday night), my kids are mewling please please just ten more minutes…but they’re not begging for more screen time (although they have been known to hourly occasionally do that too).  They’re begging to have the light left on for just a few more minutes of reading time.  Liam is reading something called Divergent (thanks for the suggestion, Karen!) and Caleb…well, Caleb has discovered that Harry Potter is better in print than on the screen. He’s lost somewhere early in Book Six.

How to make a list of ten books? Books that I love to teach? Hate to teach? Books my kids love, books my kids loved but I hate (hellooo Thomas the goddamn Train), books I return to again and again? Books that “Everyone” loves but I hate (Franzen, Franzen, Franzen, let me count the ways). So many ways to make a list of books.

If I were going to make a list of books I loved as a kid…

1. Betsy-Tacy-Tib, by Maud Hart Lovelace. Set in the midwest in the early 1900s, these stories start when Betsy befriends Tacy, and they in turn befriend Tib. They have Big Adventures for little girls who are only six – they go over the Big Hill, they put on a show, glamorous relatives visit from the “big city” (aka Milwaukee), and Betsy, from the beginning of the series, wants to be a writer. The girls’ friendship remains the key through the entire series, which goes through to adulthood, marriage, and the beginnings of World War I. I loved that these characters grew up, unlike Nancy Drew, who I also loved but whose permanent high-school-hood eventually made me quite suspicious.

2. Maida’s Little Shop, Inez Haynes Irwin. Irwin was a radical character- a journalist who spent time at the turn of the 20th century reporting on revolutions in Europe – and who belonged to a feminist group called Heterodoxy, which met monthly in Greenwich Village to talk about suffrage (gasp!), birth control (horrors!), equal rights for African Americans (double gasp) – and, even more shockingly, to offer support for women who kept their own names after marriage. I know – can you imagine? But anyway. Maida is a sick little girl, finally recovered from a long illness, who is surprise surprise, also beautiful and the daughter of a bazillionaire, who sets her up in a little rickety storefront in Boston and tells her to make a go of it. So she does -and meets all kinds of kids from the working-class neighborhood she would never otherwise encounter.  This book is the first in a series of Maida’s adventures (all funded by her father, “Buffalo” Westabrook), and all of them (especially the first few) are wonderful illustrations of Irwin’s progressive, radical-for-her-era politics.

If I were to make a list about books I loved when I was a little older than young – a “tween,” I guess you’d call it, although back when I was a tween they just called it “awkward:” Continue Reading →

Continue Reading · on April 24, 2012 in Books, Monday Listicle

Monday Listicles: Quotables

The challenge for today’s list, courtesy of Bits of Bee via Stasha’s Good Life, is “quotable.”  I’m not one of those people, like my friend Richard, who can quote big chunks of Shakespeare, song lyrics, snippets of movie dialogue. I’m more of a “here’s the gist of what someone said somewhere, maybe in a book and it was sort of like this…” Because of my non-quoti-ness, I thought maybe I should make a list of all the things I swore I would never say…and now say on a daily, almost weekly basis (reminding my kids of the starving children in the world is tops on that list). But then that was just too humiliating.

So I decided I’d go with things I remember a bit more clearly than other things…and that means (mostly) books and writers I love.  And now I must hasten to say that there are lots of things not on this list, obviously–nothing from Dracula (one of the most amazing, most bizarre novels ever to spawn an entire genre), nothing from Moby Dick (took me four times through that damn whale of a book before I appreciated its beauty and its genius), nothing from Colette (whose Claudine quartet I’ve read probably eighty gazillion times).  And nothing from the many, many writers out there in internet-land, whose wit and wisdom keep me company all the time.

Herewith, then, a list of things that, for one reason or another, are stuck in the velcro of my brain:

when falsehood can look so like the truth, who can assure themselves of certain happiness  — Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

…the time may come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy —  JK Rowling, The Goblet of Fire

The fact that I was a girl never damaged my ambitions to be a pope or an emperor. 
 Willa Cather

Come like a light in the white mackerel sky,
come like a daytime comet
with a long unnebulous train of words,
from Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, on this fine morning,
please come flying.
Elizabeth Bishop – from “Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore”

Theoretically he knew that life is possible, may be even pleasant, without joy, without passionate griefs. But it had never occurred to him that he might have to live like that.
Willa Cather — The Professor’s House

Do or do not. There is no try.

“Ah, this is fine,” he cried triumphantly, holding up a small medallion on a chain. He dusted it off, and engraved on one side were the words “WHY NOT?” “That’s a good reason for almost anything – a bit used perhaps, but still quite serviceable.”
Norman Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
Edith Wharton


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Continue Reading · on October 3, 2011 in Books, Education, Monday Listicle

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