Saturday Linky Love: Book Challenges and Reading Dreams

My recent foray into The Louisa Challenge has introduced me to some interesting new online friends. I had no idea that I had not created something original — there are LOTS of book challenges out there among the book bloggers. It makes me feel kind of naive; I’ve just been poking along in my little 4th bedroom/office, writing about my life and the places to which I travel and dishes and catalog dreaming and the books I read.

My son, the social media guru and recently published e-book author, has told me that I need to isolate my niche. Contentedly blathering away about the things that touch my heart, I’ve been blogging for about 2 1/2 years, but I’ve yet to gain a widespread following. My loyal friends and family comment regularly, and I love them for that. Frankly, I’m satisfied with a small group of online friends, because it fills a gap in my soul to just write about what’s on my mind. Many of you probably feel this same need in our busy society; expressing one’s self is difficult because very few people actually take the time to listen. After all, we can always read about it later… or look at the video online. But who doesn’t want to be Pioneer Woman deep in one’s private soul?

Recently I got one and then another email from a medical malpractice attorney (???) who apparently stalks blogs to see if she can convince someone to allow her to do a guest post along with a link-up in return. I’ve always figured this was a scam, but surely many bloggers get unsolicited requests to promote a product. I have assumed I was small potatoes and there was no way I could ever “monetize my blog.” And did I want to? When Illinois no longer allowed amazon.com to pay me referrals, I kind of gave up. Do I actually have a niche, or am I just writing an online diary for the world to see about being an empty nester and woman in her latent prime?

Miraculously, I’ve been saved from these difficult questions by finding a bunch of kindred spirits. I immediately recognized the reconstructed shack on the shore of Walden Pond and the allusion in Jillian’s A Room of One’s Own. I’ve been intrigued by the reviews and challenges provided by Jenner at Life With Books. I’ve been inspired by the photography and creativity of  Michele at The Great Read. I was absolutely thrilled to find out that someone loves Louisa May Alcott as much as I do by meeting Susan at Louisa May Alcott is My Passion. I’ve met Merrick at Elf Paper who’s reading along with us on The Louisa Challenge. I love that my niece, Vanderbilt Wife, who is raising two toddlers, editing other people’s books, cooking, and reading and writing as much as her busy life will allow, connects up with The Louisa Challenge.  She also loves Gwendolyn Brooks and March, the fictional biography of Bronson Alcott, while he’s “off at the Civil War.” Who else is lurking out there? I’ve yet to meet her or him, but I’m looking forward to it.

Linking up with my new online friends,  I was obsessed with the layers of book challenges:

My students are currently deciding which book to read in literature circles for the Holocaust unit. I’ve recommended Night by Elie Wiesel if they’ve never read it; it’s a classic and belongs in the current canon, in my opinion. What’s in your canon? Many of the writers I’ve linked here have ideas about what should be in a modern-day list of must-read books.

To paraphrase one of my favorite movies, what’s your dream? What do you wish you had time to read?

“Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don’t; but keep on dreamin’ – this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin’.”

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6 responses

  1. I only made it halfway through Tolstoy too — also so darn long! 🙂 Both are very good though, and I should finish them in 2012.

    Thanks for the link love! 😀

    1. I have not tried Tolstoy yet, but I did listen to A Passage to India in my car. The readers helped me to separate out the characters and to understand how to say the names, making it easier to differentiate among the characters. I don’t think I would have ever finished what is a wonderful book without someone reading it to me!

  2. Latent Prime? Hope that is an euphemism for shifting gears and just hitting your stride and not that you are going dormant during the cold winter.

    1. Latent: present and capable of emerging or developing but not now visible, obvious, or active. I think retirement will bring on my “prime.”

  3. Thank you for the sweet mention, Jennie! I mentioned you in my links today as well.

    I wish I had more time to read the classics – Dostoevsky, Faulkner, Emile Zola to name a few. And not just read their books – you have taught me through the Louisa Challenge that understanding the author’s back-story radically changes the dimension of their writing for the reader.

    My oldest son is taking a class trip to DC in a few months and they will be visiting the children’s section of the Holocaust Museum, so naturally I’ve been bringing home reads from the library. The true story of Jaap Penraat (the book is called “Forging Freedom” by Hudson Talbott) is so moving and educational – it might seem too young for your students – but I would highly recommend it anyway. I had no idea they were building a German Wall around Europe until I read this book, and Jaap is a hero that should be recognized by the next generation (we added this to our home library). Also, “The Book Thief” is excellent but I haven’t let Nick read that yet – I have “Night” in our home library, still undecided if I should read it to Nick. Your thoughts? And if you have additional recommends for an 11 year old, I would love to be in the know!

    My dream? That every person in this country appreciates the priceless gift of our public library system. And that parents would read to their children daily – even after the children are old enough to read on their own. As they get older it actually becomes more addictive, although more of an effort is needed to carve out that time.

    Hope you are having a great weekend.

    1. We use Book Thief (for our advanced and more mature readers), Night, Someone Named Eva, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Yellow Star (narrative poem in free verse), The Boy Who Dared, and All But My Life in our book circles. The 8th graders love Pajamas and are almost caught by the surprise ending (it’s SAD); it’s a beautifully crafted story. My personal favorite is Boy Who Dared. It tells a true story that not everyone knows about the Germans who defied the Nazis.

      By the time I was in high school, I had read my way through a lot of my small town library. I did most of my first master’s degree in the rooms at the Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago while I waited for my daughter to take her music lessons. Their periodical collection is amazing. I love libraries!

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