BRICS: Reader Harder Challenge

Posted on Friday, July 13, 2018 by Reading Addict

World Map

How is the Read Harder challenge going for you? I was flying along until I hit some of the tasks that are truly reading HARDER for me. Now I feel like I have slowed down a little. On some of the challenges I may even be a little stuck.

If you are still trying to find a book to fulfill the Read Harder task #5 for a book set in one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China or South Africa) here are a few more suggestions for you — one nonfiction and one fiction for each country. Continue reading “BRICS: Reader Harder Challenge”

A Book About Nature: Read Harder 2018

Posted on Monday, June 11, 2018 by Reading Addict

"Le Cannet, Madame Lebasque Reading in the Garden," oil on canvas, by the French artist Henri Lebasque

There has already been a list made for this Read Harder Challenge task but I couldn’t help myself. I had to make ANOTHER list! This is one of my favorite categories, and there’s just so much out there! The category is so broad, too.

Grace from the Garden book cover

Do you want a book about nature but maybe just the nature in your own backyard? How about “Grace From the Garden” by Debra Landwehr Engle? There is something about being elbow deep in dirt — it’s very grounding. Or maybe it’s not grace you’re looking for, but something else from the garden. How about “The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Drinks” by Amy Stewart?  Amy will lead you on a world tour of plants, flowers and fruits with plenty of history and fun facts about the things we love to drink. But I must warn you, you might end up a little thirsty.

“Drunken botanists? Given the role they play in creating the world’s great drinks, it’s a wonder there are any sober botanists at all.”

“The Drunken Botanist” by Amy Stewart

Continue reading “A Book About Nature: Read Harder 2018”

The Great American Read: Some Alternate Reads

Posted on Monday, May 21, 2018 by Reading Addict

Great American Read Banner
Beginning May 22, PBS is hosting The Great American Read, “an eight-part series that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels.” (Sorry nonfiction readers.) To choose the 100 novels, a public opinion poll surveyed approximately 7,200 people and the list was narrowed to the top 100 responses, filtering for just one title per author and combining series titles into one. You can find the list of 100 here. Over the course of the PBS series, there will be a nationwide vote to choose one book as America’s most loved novel.

I was surprised about many of the books on the list and wondered how in the world they made it. There are many on the list that I love and many that I just really didn’t like. I have seen, in post after post, people say they think they have to read them all. I have personally read 55 of the 100, and I will probably try to read a few more during the course of the series, but I resist the inclination to HAVE to read all of them. There are some that I just have no interest in reading. So, I have come up with a few alternatives. Continue reading “The Great American Read: Some Alternate Reads”

Read Harder Essay Anthologies

Posted on Monday, April 9, 2018 by Reading Addict

Melcher's Woman Reading by a WindowI may be a little weird (aren’t we all?), but I tend to read a lot of nonfiction, and I actually love reading essays. I don’t usually make the time to sit down with a magazine to read the articles, but it seems different to me if they are collected in a book format. I also find essay anthologies to be appealing because I can just skim (or skip) the ones I’m not particularly interested in and linger over the ones I like. And if I need to put it down and walk away for a while, it’s easy to come back to later.

If you are participating in the Read Harder 2018 Challenge, task #22 read an essay anthology, and here are some of my favorites:

The Fire Next Time Book CoverThe Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin is a classic and is just as relevant today as it was when he wrote it in 1963. I love reading and listening to James Baldwin. I have seen interviews with him that just floored me. It’s a small book of a letters to Baldwin’s nephew and an essay on America’s “racial nightmare.” Continue reading “Read Harder Essay Anthologies”

Have Sum Pi

Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 by Reading Addict

Math jokeHappy Pi Day!

I remember back in school learning the value of pi out to as many digits as I could manage. I would like to say that I memorized it all the way to 20 digits past the decimal or more, but that might be a tall tale. I can at least still remember it to five digits (3.14159). It might have been hard, but it was also fun.

Have you heard the urban legend about the US legislator who tried to make a law redefining pi so that it equals three? I’ve heard it told that the legislator was from several different states, and the legend is usually on a rather vague time scale. It happened last week? Or it could have been decades ago. That alone is enough to consider the story to be a hoax. But truth is stranger than fiction, as there actually was a case in American history where someone really did try to redefine the value of pi. Continue reading “Have Sum Pi”

Literary Links: The Spanish Flu of 1918

Posted on Sunday, February 11, 2018 by Reading Addict

Pale Rider book coverIt has been 100 years since the Spanish Flu pandemic. The flu, which was first recorded in March 1918, killed 50 to 100 million people by March 1920.  It coincided with the First World War, which often overshadows the pandemic in our collective memory. Despite the fact far more people worldwide died of the flu, the two may be inextricable. Laura Spinney examines that connection in the recently published “Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World.” Spinney writes, “Conflict makes people hungry and anxious; it uproots them, packs them into insanitary camps and requisitions their doctors. It makes them vulnerable to infection, and then it sets large numbers of them in motion so that they can carry that infection to new places. In every conflict of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, more lives were lost to disease than to battlefield injuries.” Spinney also suggests that memory for a pandemic simply takes time to develop because “… it’s not so easy to count the dead. They don’t wear uniforms, display exit wounds or fall down in a circumscribed arena. They die in large numbers in a short space of time over a vast expanse of space, and many of them disappear into mass graves, not only before their disease has been diagnosed, but often before their lives have been recorded.” Continue reading “Literary Links: The Spanish Flu of 1918”

The Scoop on the Coop: Raising Urban Chickens

Posted on Friday, February 9, 2018 by Reading Addict

photo of white chicken taken from outside fence

Many years ago, just before my family left the suburbs of Dallas to move to Columbia, we felt the need to take on City Hall in the attempt to legalize backyard chickens. I will be honest with you– our chickens were outlaws. It was legal to have them in Dallas, but the suburbs were a different story. Anyway … that is how I earned the moniker of “The Crazy Chicken Lady.” My notoriety followed me to the gas station, library, grocery store and pretty much anywhere else we went. I’m still a little crazy about chickens. We were so excited that we could have our chickens here in Columbia guilt-free.

I’m not sure if I can even tell you how we, otherwise normal urban/suburbanites, fell in with the likes of chickens but when we fell, we fell madly in love. It could have been the wonderful Dallas Earth Day celebrations that featured a local backyard chicken group (and their chickens.) On second thought, it could have been from reading books like “My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned His Big City Backyard into a Farm: A Cautionary Tale” by Manny Howard. By the way, that “cautionary” part is no lie, but I was intrigued.  I would like to think that we didn’t dive right off the deep end like Mr. Howard obviously and hilariously did, but we did end up with a backyard full of chickens with names like Ingrid Birdman, Gwyneth Poultry and Madame Curry. They are the best garden help! Continue reading “The Scoop on the Coop: Raising Urban Chickens”

Posthumously Published Books: Read Harder 2018

Posted on Friday, January 12, 2018 by Reading Addict

Man sitting on a bench reading in the snow

It’s January once again — time for reflection and setting new goals. It’s also time for book challenges! I almost always set a yearly goal of so many books but this year the Columbia Public Library is hosting a year-long program around reading through the 2018 Read Harder Challenge. How could I not participate in that? The very first task on the Read Harder Challenge is a book published posthumously, meaning that it must have been published after the author has died. I have a few that I have read and loved. Continue reading “Posthumously Published Books: Read Harder 2018”

A Month of Gratitude

Posted on Friday, November 24, 2017 by Reading Addict

Photo of trees in autumn

Sometimes it’s easy to be grateful because some things simply demand gratitude, such as avoiding a collision or winning a lottery — or even just finding $20 in an old coat pocket. But it can also be hard to be grateful. Every day. Day after day. Life gets busy and overwhelming partly because of the big things swirling around us, but also because of the small and petty things that demand our attention. It can be hard to refocus and reflect on our blessings. That is why November, the month of Thanksgiving, has become my time to make a concerted effort by focusing on a different gratitude each day. And, as with most things in my life, that includes a healthy dose of books. Continue reading “A Month of Gratitude”

The Future of Bees!

Posted on Monday, October 23, 2017 by Reading Addict

photo of bee collecting pollen

Did you know that Missouri has more than 450 species of bees, including several kinds of bumble bee? Many of those natives have evolved to pollinate very specific plants such as blueberries, squash, tomatoes or peppers. Did you also know that the honeybee is NOT a native of the US? Bees, both our native bees and the honeybee, are responsible for pollinating around 75% of the produce that we eat, and they maintain the habitats on which many other animals rely. That’s a big responsibility. Continue reading “The Future of Bees!”