Thursday, January 28, 2016

Desk cleared - found books

I have a journal that I record most fiction books I have ever read. I used to keep lists of authors and their book titles so I could check things off. When the kids were little, I raced to the library's shelf of new releases and grabbed.
Image result for bookshelf with books
After too many times grabbing something I had read earlier, this journal evolved. Over time, I liked too many authors to keep track, and became more selective. Libraries don't usually keep an entire series, they spread the series out over all the branches. That meant putting in requests and remembering that I had. The journal became more complicated, with a list of holds and another list of books read. Then I joined a couple of book clubs and had to keep track of my opinions of the books read, the book club lists and all those other lists
.Image result for Woozles book store
I participated in the "Battle of the Books" as a volunteer with Woozles book store - keeping book summaries and creating 10 questions for each book. I read an average of 10 books each year. I did that for 5 years. One silly year I tried keeping track of things in document files on the computer. That might have been the year I punched the computer screen.

It is the end of January and I haven't kept track of a single thing. I am down to one book club list and a chronological list for each year. My efforts of keeping track to avoid previously read books seems to have fallen by the wayside. I think the journal's main purpose has come to an end after around 20 years.
Image result for journal cover
I now photocopy the inside list of books written by an author and tick that off. Those photocopies float around the studio covering books. Which brings me to today's found books - the latest two read-a-louds.
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A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett. This is the second in the Wee Free Men series and enjoyable. Eleven year of Tiffany's ability to leave her body while she does something else attracts the attention of an immortal being that is searching for a host body. Tiffany is off to learn magic, the Mac Feegle men follow in order to protect the "Wee Hag" and chaos ensues. The plot isn't as crisp as book one and the Mac Feegles aren't as engaged as I would like, but there is nothing wrong with this book. It was enjoyable to read and think about in between. I learned that Pratchett had written a fourth book for this series before his death. I'm looking forward to it.
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The Chimney Sweepers come to Dust by Alan Bradley was both enjoyable and disappointing. I really like the character, Flavia de Luce. At times I think she is borderline delusional. She has been sent to Canada to Miss Bodycote's Female Academy, presumably because Flavia is so bright and needs a good challenge. She also needs to get away from all the corpses she keeps stumbling over. Naturally, she discovers a corpse in the chimney of her room's fireplace on the first night. A good start but the consequent meeting of a new character list, setting, and the discovery of misleading clues is confused and sometimes pointless. Bradley has lost his ability to write a mystery. This story couldn't make up it's mind if it was a mystery, a boarding school adventure, a sad journey away from home, a girl who remains friendless and unsupported by her family or some kind of secret society intrigue. Flavia is the thread that keeps things going. At one point I wondered if Flavia had been sent to a boarding school for mental illness. Bradley's book 6, Speaking From Among the Bones, was also not a mystery but mostly an exploration of grief, funerals and a secret society. This might be last Bradley book for us as a read-aloud.
I wonder if it is by reading a book out loud that these pitfalls in plot or character become more apparent. There is a lot of time to ponder the story between chapters. Maybe each author should engage 'readers aloud' for just such a purpose.

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