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at the end of 2009

so many books - and life interferes

so many books – so little time

my overdue library book

I’ve been reading snippets of Barbara Kingsolver’s   High Tide in Tucson in between reading entire books that interest me.

Now, this book is overdue and I am reluctant to return it to the library until I’ve finished it.

From the book jacket:  “In sharing her thoughts about the urgent business of being alive, Kingsolver the essayist employs the same keen eyes, persuasive tongue, and understanding heart that characterize her acclaimed fiction.”

Barbara Kingsolver was trained as a biologist before becoming a writer.  And she certainly can write.

When I was twenty-two, I donned the shell of a tiny yellow Renault and drove with all I owned from Kentucky to Tucson.  I was a typical young American, striking out.  I had no earthly notion that I was bringing on myself a calamity of the magnitude of the one that befell poor Buster [you will have to read the book to catch up on ‘poor Buster’].  I am the commonest kind of North American refugee: I believe I like it here, far-flung from my original home.  I’ve come to love the desert that bristles and breathes and sleeps outside my windows.  In the course of seventeen years I’ve embedded myself in a family here–neighbors, colleagues, friends I can’t foresee living without, and a child who is native to this ground, with loves of her own.  I’m here for good it seems.

And yet I never cease to long in my bones for what I left behind.  I open my eyes on every new day expecting that a creek will run through my backyard under broad-leafed maples, and that my mother will be whistling in the kitchen.  Behind the howl of coyotes, I’m listening for meadowlarks.  I sometimes ache to be rocked in the bosom of the blood relations and busybodies of my childhood.  Particularly in my years as a mother without a mate, I have deeply missed the safety net of extended family.

In a city of half a million I still really look at every face, anticipating recognition, because I grew up in a town where every face meant something to me.  I have trouble remembering to lock the doors.  Wariness of strangers I learned the hard way.  When I was new to the city, I let a man into my house one hot afternoon because he seemed in dire need of a drink of water; when I turned from the kitchen sink I found sharpened steel shoved against my belly.  And so I know, I know.  But I cultivate suspicion with as much difficulty as I force tomatoes to grow in the drought-stricken hardpan of my strange backyard.  no creek runs here, but I’m still listening to secret tides, living as if I belonged to an earlier place: not Kentucky, necessarily, but a welcoming earth and a human family.  A forest.  A species.

In my life I’ve had frightening losses and unfathomable gifts: A knife in my stomach.  The death of an unborn child.  Sunrise in a rain forest.  A stupendous column of blue butterflies rising from a Greek monastery.  A car that spontaneously caught fire while I was driving it.  The end of a marriage, followed by a year in which I could barely understand how to keep living.  The discovery, just weeks ago when I rose from my desk and walked into the kitchen, of three strangers industriously relieving my house of its contents.

I persuaded the strangers to put down the things they were holding (what a bizarre tableau of anti-Magi they made, these three unwise men, bearing a camera, an electric guitar, and a Singer sewing machine), and to leave my home, pronto.  My daughter asked excitedly when she got home from school, “Mom, did you say bad words?”  (I told her this was the very occasion that bad words exist for.)  The police said, variously, that I was lucky, foolhardy, and “a brave lady.”  But it’s not good luck to be invaded, and neither foolish nor brave to stand your ground.  It’s only the way life goes, and I did it, just as years ago I fought off the knife; mourned the lost child; bore witness to the rain forest; claimed the blue butterflies as Holy Spirit in my private pantheon; got out of the burning car; survived the divorce by putting one foot in front of the other and taking good care of my child.  On most important occasions, I cannot think how to respond, I simply do.  What does it mean, anyway, to be an animal in human clothing?  We carry around these big brains of ours like the crown jewels, but mostly I find that millions of years of evolution have prepared me for one thing only: to follow internal rhythms.  To walk upright, to protect my loved ones, to cooperate with my family group–however broadly I care to define it–to do whatever will help us thrive.  Obviously, some habits that saw us through the millennia are proving hazardous in a modern context: for example, the yen to consume carbohydrates and fat whenever they cross our path, or the proclivity for unchecked reproduction.  But it’s surely worth forgiving ourselvdes these tendencies a little, in light of the fact that they are what got us here.

Ah – Kingsolver can write.

library haul

this week’s

library haul

Wordless Wednesday – on Tuesday

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Book Clubs

What better place to have a book club . . . than in a library . . . a library  FILLED with books??!!

If you love to read; if you equate reading right up there with breathing (well – almost) and you like to talk about the books you are reading, the books you want to read, the books others are reading, recommended books, fiction – non fiction – mysteries – biographies —- ALL books . . . hope to see you Monday evening, October 26th, at the Seguin library!

booknuts_blog

Reason #1 to join a book club: read new books

In a book club, you’re exposed to books you wouldn’t normally read. Sometimes certain books don’t suite your tastes; you’ll either stop reading or slog your way through. Either way, you’re gaining insight into yourself, your personality, and the personality of the book club member who suggested that book. Getting the most out of book club involves reading new books.

Reason #2 to join a book club: hear different opinions

Listening – really hearing – the opinions of other people is crucial to growing into a well-rounded, developed person. Cogitating on their thoughts and perspectives opens up your brain to a whole new world – and that’s a good thing! Learning how to share your thoughts and opinions, especially if you disagree, teaches communication and social skills. Getting the most out of book club is about listening to other perspectives.

Reason #3 to join a book club: different food & wine

Most book clubs meet over a potluck snack-food meal, which breaks the ice and sparks up the atmosphere. Tasting new dishes, wines, and teas is a great way to expand your horizons and learn about your fellow book club members. Getting the most out of book club involves trying new things.

Reason #4 to join a book club: motivation to read

A book club forces you to read at least a book a month, if not more. No more “I’d read if I had the time,” or “I love to read, but it’s not important to me.” When you’re part of a book club you have a reason or even an excuse to read. You HAVE to seek a quiet spot and settle in with a cup of cocoa or tea; that’s your job for the next few hours. Getting the most out of book club is about reading for a reason.

Reason #5 to join a book club: networking

Though not intended for professional use, book clubs can provide business opportunities. You could be sitting next to a vice-president or chef, teacher or computer technician. It never hurts to know another plumber, doctor, or stock analyst, either…Getting the most out of book club involves being open to networking.

Reason #6 to join a book club: social ties

Most book clubs aren’t only about reading the book and discussing characterization, literary devices, plot, function versus form, theme, etc. Book clubs are about your take on the book and characters – and your feelings and thoughts about what happened inside the pages. When you share your perspective, you get the most out of book club. You forge connections with others that you may not otherwise have found. You’ll disagree, agree, and be confused – but you’ll hardly ever be bored.

Kids love to read!

Seguin Guadalupe County Library Summer Reading Program

Seguin-Guadalupe County Library Summer Reading Program

Kids love to read!

Kids love to read!

The summer reading program at the library is in full swing – note all of the Texas cut-outs in the photo above!

Check out the reading program; it will be an interesting summer for these kids.

The goal of the Texas Reading Club is to encourage the children of Texas to become library users and lifelong readers. The hope of the staff of the Seguin-Guadalupe County Public Library is that when youth of all ages discover that the library is a friendly, fun, welcoming place, they will avail themselves of the library collection, programs, and services.

Summer Reading Program

Hundreds of kids showed up for the Reading Program Kick-Off!
Hundreds of kids showed up for the Reading Program Kick-Off!
Everyone had fun!

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Everyone had fun!
Summer Reading Program kicks off with games!
Summer Reading Program kicks off with games!
Summer Reading Program at the Library
Summer Reading Program at the Library

There were hundreds of children signing up for the Summer Reading program sponsored by the Seguin-Guadalupe County Library.  The ‘kickoff’ for this program included games, prizes, treats, and great fun on the lawn of the library.

READ.  READ.  READ.


The long hot days of summer provide lots of time to read. It’s also a time to make sure kids don’t fall behind. Researchers commonly find that students score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer than they do at the beginning. The reading achievement of children from low-income families takes a particularly big hit.

Research about how much children lose ground over the summer is well documented. Harris Cooper of Duke University notes, “Overall, children experience an average summer learning loss across reading and mathematics of about one month” (1996).

The thing is, though, kids don’t have to lose over the summer. In fact, you can encourage your child to have a summer of fun and learning with these five free and easy things to do.

1. Read Every Day

The Research

At the middle school level, reading four to five books over the summer has a positive impact on fall reading achievement comparable to attending summer school (Kim, 2004).

Suggestions

Take your kids to the library often and let them choose which books to check out. Listen to books on tape. Subscribe them to a magazine. Take turns reading to each other. Allow your kids to stay up a half hour later at night as long as they’re reading.

2. Use Math Every Day

The Research

The largest summer learning losses for all children occur in mathematical computation, an average of 2.6 months (Cooper, 1996).

Extracted from an article by Brenda McLaughlin and Jane Voorhees Sharp (2005)