Book Review: Three Haiku books for children

Confession: When I get stuck while writing – such as 400 words into a scene that I realize doesn’t move the plot – I have a couple pick-me-ups. One is to pick up a dry academic book and read until my brain screams for creative release.* The other is to read a children’s book.

While perusing my library’s catalogue, I came across a title I hadn’t seen since I was little: Flower Moon SnowA Book of Haiku by Kazue Mizumura. I requested a couple contemporary haiku books, too, which made an interesting contrast. Continue reading

The Book Project continues…

Have you ever noticed that when you decide on a course of action, serendipity comes into play? Something similar happened when I started the Book Project.

First, the library started taking donations for its March book sale. It’s hard to give up books, knowing may never see them again.  But our librarians are thrifty. If my donated book is particularly interesting or in better shape than a book in their collection, it will end up on the shelf.

I started bagging books that someone else might enjoy. I filled three bags!

Second, I got a free copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  I can’t say it was on my reading list. In fact, so many people were discussing it, I felt as if I’d already read the Cliff Notes and listened to the audio commentary!* Continue reading

The passing of a bibliophile

Whenever I met with him, I learned quickly not to compliment or even comment on any of the books stacked around his shelf or his desk. This was hard, since we are both book lovers and we loved to discuss old books, new books, and whatever we were reading. But if I even said, “Oh, I heard great things about that book!” he would make me take it home. Even if I was able to keep my lips shut, he still sent me off with a handful of books. (…)

Fr. Ed was one of the most detached people I have ever met. He knew, with assurance, that his treasures were stored up in heaven and that his possessions on earth were only passing, and because of that, he was open-handed with everything—his books, his money, his meals, and especially his time. He was the embodiment of self-gift. His life was a lesson for us, to let go of our possessions and see them only as tools or gifts for others.

-Brandon Vogt’s eulogy for Fr. Ed Thompson

The Book Nook is progressing nicely…

As I mentioned recently, La Casa de Tontería would be much improved by a library – if only there were space.

I decided to create a “book nook” in the smallest room, which previous tenants use as a home office and a nursery respectively. I’d been using it as a “spare room” – the local name for a room full of old furniture and miscellany.  A treadmill dominated it, nearly blocking the window.

A warning to readers: I’m indulging in decorating details. Continue reading

Oh, lovely books!

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore? –Henry Ward Beecher

With the office rearranged and (mostly) organized, I see clearly my bibliophilia.  It’s not a surprise to me, since I’ve loved reading since I first learned how. When I was a little kid, I used to read an English dictionary while riding the bus.  When my older brother entered high school, I’d borrow his literature book when it happened to be lying around.

Our family always had books at home, whether library books or the old hardcovers passed on from other family members; e.g. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn with its advertisement urging readers “Buy War Bonds!” Once in a very great while, my teacher hung a book publisher’s poster in the classroom and my mother let me order something.

It was so much fun looking at cover art, reading titles and blurbs, and finally selecting the best one.  My best friend Tōn was my consultant, since we both loved books. I still recall the thrill of receiving the enormous paperback of Watership Down. It was the biggest children’s book I’d ever seen, a novel I read and re-read until even tape couldn’t keep the pages in the broken spine.  Continue reading

12th Day of Christmas 2015

“Get out a piece of paper or pull up a fresh document and write down every goal you intend to accomplish in your literary lifetime. Write down all your ultimate dreams and then try to write your way to them.” 

-Katz, Christina. “Diversity As You Go.” The Writer’s Workout: 366 Tips, Tasks, & Techniques from Your Writing Career Coach. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest, 2011. 42. Print.

One of the fun things I did this past weekend was taking six books off the shelf and putting them in a bag for the library. A few were guilt-inducing books of writing exercises; they brought me no breakthroughs or epiphanies.

I considered getting rid of Katz’s book but when flipping through, a couple entries caught my eyes. This was one. I like to think of having a lifetime of writing in me, loop after loop of story like a thread spooled somewhere in my heart. Endless. Full of colour and promise.

It reminded me of reading Ray Bradbury explain that he wrote a list of story titles and then wrote the stories that went with them. It took him years, but he did it. Sometimes he had no more than the germ of an idea when he started, but somehow it grew.



10th Day of Christmas 2015

“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.” -J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone

Poor Dumbledore. I’d like to take them off his hands. I didn’t get any books as gifts this year, although maybe that’s good. I’ve been working on organizing what I have.

As a bibliophile, I’ve long been captivated by libraries. Many years ago, a friend invited me to a fundraiser at Meadow Brook Hall, a Tudor-revival home.  That was my introduction to a private library (and a gorgeous one at that). Continue reading

5th Day of Christmas 2015

Perfectionism is an all-or-nothing attitude; and ruled by it, you will nearly always end up with nothing.

-Mundis, Jerrold (2011-09-14). Break Writer’s Block Now!: How to Demolish It Forever and Establish a Productive Working Schedule in One Afternoon (Kindle Locations 346-347). Wolf River Press. Kindle Edition.

You might wonder why I use this quote for the Twelve Days of Christmas. I think it ties in nicely with this time of year.

Perfectionism ruins Christmas preparation for many people. Just take a look at the women’s magazines displayed at the market check-out!  It also taints giving and receiving Christmas presents. In year’s past, I worried about giving the perfect gifts. And I’ve been really saddened annoyed when recipients verbally or physically rejected my gifts. (NOTE: It’s difficult to ruin El Día de los Reyes Magos. Who expects the “perfect” gift to fit in a shoe?) Continue reading