Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “vacation”

Reader Round Up: April


Recently in an e-mail a student inquired how my coronacation was going. I can’t say I feel like a pandemic stay-at-home has the feel of a vacation. It’s not even a staycation since I am not electing to stay home to lounge out. I am staying home (when masses of people are not) because it’s the wise, safe, and healthy decision for the times upon us. Besides I’m working. My computer and I have a love/hate relationship going at present. I love that I have a reliable laptop, yet I hate how I’m chained to it 6-8 hours a day as I create lesson videos, watch webinars to create lesson plans, answer emails, write emails, log the emails and phone calls I make to students and families, and grade the assignments that trickle in. Then again, that sounds like I’m complaining I have meaningful work, and for that noisome whine, I apologize. I will say I have developed eye twitching from all the constant screen use. Blink more. Thank you. I will do that.

As for reading? I would usually be jumping up and down to have so much “extra” time to read. Having something to read, and having the inclination to read are needed to create a Reader’s Round Up. Honestly, when I do find time to read I end up napping. Maybe I will create a monthly blog post titled “Nap Chat” in which I discuss my best and favorite naps of the month. For now, highlight books read during April:

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ *weighing in at over 600 pages of small print, it kept me occupied for at least a week Wilkie Collins, a contemporary of Charles Dickens, writes in the similar fashion of florid description, and memorable characterization within a complex plot. An intriguing tale filled with twists and turns, A Woman in White is a mystery that provides a grand story of mistaken identities, sleuthing, secrets, and deception. The BBC adaptation is similar to Collins’ novel, yet as they say, the book is the book and the movie the movie.”

Extras by Scott Westerfield ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ *one of the quick grabs off my classroom shelf before everything shut down—it’s a popular series with my students, so why not? The fourth book in the Uglies series is full of action and unique characters. At times the inventions seem contrived, and at other times ingenious. There is some surprising science interjected within the plot which balances out some of the silly fame banter.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens star ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Book hype usually puts me off of reading the title. I read it because it was in a bag of books dropped off to me, and I read it in one day. Somewhat implausible, yet a well told story with courtroom drama that rivals the glory of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Lady Susan by Jane Austen ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Lady Susan is not usually counted amongst Austen’s titles. Speculation could be it is so short it’s not a novel but a long short story, at best a novella. Another speculation being Lady Susan is so totally unlike any of Austen novels that it is in a category of its own. Somewhat like that one really peculiar meal that a prestigious chef once made that, well, just wasn’t up to par with the other fine cuisine, so we just won’t mention it. Out of courtesy. Lady Susan is no Lizzie Bennet, not an Emma, and definitely unlike any of the heroines Austen has presented to readers. Lady Susan is an unscrupulous conniver—in fact there is no one worth rooting for in the story. On the other hand, it is Jane Austen—just nod and say it was delicious, but you probably won’t be asking for seconds.

Last minute squeaker of an April read
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
A combination of fact and lots of artistic license, yet provides a fascinating insight into Vincent Van Gogh’s tortured brilliance. Theo is real hero.

I should have rolled a wheelbarrow into the library and started emptying shelves. It doesn’t help that my Goodreads counter keeps nudging me that I am behind in my book reading. I know. I know.

Hold it, Hold it


My idea of vacation is a quiet condo equipped with a comfy couch and a sunlit balcony–and being within walking distance of a library.

Fortunately, I got all that at a great price–free! Yup, I’m staying at my mom’s place for a couple of weeks while she is traveling. Perfect set up. It’s my old neighborhood, just down from my high school and I’m here for about two weeks.

No yard to tend. No tv to distract. No tempting pantry beckoning me. So no weeding, channel zoning, or needless snacking. Just reading. And yeah, I’m here to focus on my writing too.

image: roanoke.com
Upon unpacking I immediately trotted next door to the library, the one I grew up with from fifth grade through part of college, and scoured the shelves and ordered books not readily available. I’m thinking they would come in a bit at a time, kind of staggered in their return to the shelves.

Nope.

They all popped in within two days and I am reading, reading, reading.

Life should be so complicated, right?

I am now at 53% towards my reading challenge of 101 books. Ooh, I do so like having a batch of books at my fingertips. *sigh*

So far I’ve read:

Anna and the Swallow Man

The Wednesday Wars

Reduced Shakespeare

Blackberry Wine

Courtyard of Dreams

After Hamelin

As well as having thumbed through a couple of fun books:

Amazing Cows

Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure

William Shakespeare: Scenes from the Life of the World’s Greatest Writer

Dante’s Divine Comedy: a graphic novel

How is your summer reading going?

Road Trip Reflections


It’s been about a week since I’ve been back from my Road Trip. Along the way I jotted notes and here’s what I came up with:


Reader Board: “without ice cream all would be darkness and chaos”

Rest stop bathroom poster: “no one should force you to work”–immigrant worker rights poster

Parking lot: one legged-seagull and a choir of grackles.

Dairy Queen: girl to grandpa–“how do they get the swirl on top of cone?”

Wireless Connect Option:
Drunkengiantgrogshop; dishonestdon–what neighborhood have I stopped in?

Window Shopping: seen on bib–“these fools have turned my super cape backwards.”

Coffee Shoppe: eclectic chairs and tables, tall ceilings, bookcase of children’s books, windowed playroom with dress up clothes, chalkboard walls, train set, kitchenette hutch. A brood of children frolicking while moms and dads read, deviced, paperworked. Lovely chocolate chip cookies too.


At the park: full out barbeques and families on a Saturday night

Dessert

Any guesses what this deliciousness might be? Oooh, yummers. Dark chocolate wrapped around cheesecake with raspberry crème garnish sauce. Note the in-house signature chocolates decorating the sides. Caloric penance.


At the restaurant: a dessert so beautiful I actually took a photo


In the parking lot: grated fern, a statement of deeper naturalism versus industrialism that Keats, Byron, or any of the Romanticist poets would have found poignant.

Trapped Fern

This can be viewed as either a poignant expression of nature being trapped by encroaching society or how nature finds a way to bloom amidst the trappings of industrialization. Or–isn’t that weirdly cool?


On the highway: no way, amazing, sleek as a Woolworth counter grilled cheese sandwich on a pastel Bakelite plate, a blast from the past–an actual Greyhound bus sporting a “hundred years” sticker to boot.

image: greyhound.com What are your memories of Greyhound?



In the motel room: white noise box with ocean waves, complete with seagulls scree; forest dawn, crickets and birds quite charming,; rain pattering, too close to home; fan, buzzy hum. A novelty never before encountered and even available for purchase. Tried it on first night and grandkiddo, the one who needs a minimum of two-three books, some conversation, and a bit of snuggling was out within two minutes of being lulled by waves.


Return home: a road trip is not complete without road construction delay. At one section the two lane highway is down to one lane and nobody is moving. Not no way. Not no how. Behind a little red car which is behind a huge white truck, yet from strained sneak peeks the road looks clear ahead. The MEPA is quietly muttering for  the car ahead to edge around truck. Finally it does, and like a cork popping from a bottle, traffic started flowing again. The problem? The exit ramp so full it flowed onto road. No flagger directing traffic, construction crew absolutely  clueless to havoc below on highway.

Dinner stop: connection with youngest progeny for dinner. Roadside grazing produces guilt to eat lightly–salad bar. Yet when it’s $12.00 though all one can eat, I strive to get my  monetary satisfaction. It is possible to overdose on greenery, especially when artichoke hearts and curried chicken salad are involved.

Rolling in late to home some 6 hours later than the Google Maps prediction: truly there is no place like home

 

The Twelve Days of Christmas Break


English: Second verse of "The Twelve Days...

Saturday the 21st I woke up realizing break had finally happened. Endless days stretched ahead of me, at least two weeks (plus) worth of no lesson plans, or grading papers, or slogging out of bed when it’s dark to teach teens who would rather not be taught, only to return home in the dark. The gift of vacation. And then that old standby of The First Day of Christmas zipped into my head and I decided to make my own song: On Each Day of Christmas Break I Gave a Gift to Me (okay, the rhyme scheme is off, but it’s the thought that counts, right?)
A snub at the alarm
Staying up way too late
Last minute shopping
Visits with the family
Thoroughly cleaning house
Reading and napping
Working on my novel
Lunching with my sweetie
Walking in the winterwonderland
Reading cards and letters
Getting a new haircut
Eating most indulgently
Joining the gym
A joyful little getaway
Celebrating the New Year
Post Holiday shopping
And returning to the classroom completely renewed, refreshed, and ready for 2014!

The Guilt-Free Read


One of the first items of my “I’m-finally-on-summer-vacation” list is to trot down to the local library and leisurely select a few novels to enjoy without guilt. During the year I am either guilty of sneaking my reading in between grading essays or I feel guilt because I am not reading.  With no papers in sight for the next couple of months I shall enjoy reading at all hours of the day guilt free.

I tend to mix up my reading,  and although I don’t like to make lists, here are a few goals I plan on to accomplish while lounging in the hammock this summer:

1. Room with a View (a reread, the first time I read it too fast determining if I would teach it for AP–the verdict? A resounding “Yes!” The subtle humor and digs at Brits and their habits are delightful–the film caught the spirit well, also.)

2. A really good mystery series–I haven’t found one since I finished my Inspector Evans series by Rhys Bowens.  I’m picky though–no bedding, no swearing, no gratuitous violence–limiting, isn’t it?  Take it up as a challenge 🙂

3. Classics yet to read:  The Sound and the Fury; Middlemarch; Faust (really, I never have); some Dickens, more Shakespeare, and perhaps a Hemingway, and of course a revisit with Austen.

4. Look up current YA–I discovered Hunger Games before the masses did, and hope to find a new trend-setter.

5. Kid Lit: what’s going on in picture books these days, and it never hurts to look up old friends for an afternoon of revisiting.

I’m open to suggestions. Got a good read to recommend? My schedule is wide open until end of August.

image from guardian.co.uk

Billy Collins captures the guilt-free read so very well in his poem “Reading in a Hammock”. An excerpt:

Around the edges of the book
is the larger sky,
dotted with clouds,
and some overhanging branches
that appear to be slowly swaying
back and forth,
as if I were the one lying motionless…

Inspiration:


Inspiration.  It’s a noun that can mean:

  1. Stimulation to do creative work.
  2. Somebody or something that inspires
  3. Creativeness
  4. Good idea
  5. Divine influence
  6. Breathing in

As a synonym you’ll find:

  • Motivation
  • Stimulation
  • Encouragement
  • Muse

There is also:

  • Idea
  • Brainwave
  • Insight
  • Flash
  • Revelation

Therefore, to receive nomination for Very Inspiring Blogger causes me to pause and reflect–Do I?  Inspiration is one of those words I take seriously, which means I shall endeavor to make sure my posting are up to snuff.   Letizia passed on this nomination to me and I am quite appreciative.  Letizia is an active reader, meaning she reads whenever she can.  She is working on reading and walking at the same time–something I’m hoping to do.  Kind of like Keira Knightley in the opening of Pride and Prejudice.  Walking and reading a book combines two great loves: the outdoors and absorbing words via written page. Delicious. When I finish reading a good book, especially a wonderful book, I want to get up and run off all the stored up energy from absorbing words, ideas, and the connection of writer to reader.  So, if I could walk and read at the same time–my, that would be just about perfect.

Now, on to award requirements.  I must nominate seven blogs which inspire and then list seven things about myself:

Seven blogs: (envelope please)

1.  https://valerierlawson.wordpress.com/about/ : A YA writer, she doesn’t mind sharing her passion about writing via hot tips about the publishing scene.  I like her enthusiasm and stamina when it comes to writing.

2. http://readncook.wordpress.com/: As a teacher her honesty about the profession inspires me because she reminds me that each student is an individual person, and as a teacher I will impact that student.

3.  http://newsofthetimes.org/ :  Taking on topics of all kinds, she makes me think about issues.

4.  http://literarytiger.wordpress.com/ : She freely admits judging a book by its cover.  We’ve had fun keeping up on our reading lists.

5.  http://eagleeyededitor.wordpress.com/ : Another reader of merit.  She mixes it up topic-wise and I always enjoy her witty comments and replies.

6. http://pastorjeffcma.wordpress.com/author/pastorjeffcma/ : Pastor Jeff is willing to freely discuss his faith and issues in an open and engaging manner.

7.  http://shelovesreading.wordpress.com/author/lauralovesreading/ : A self-professed bookworm, she reminds me that rereading old treasures is a pursuit of happiness.

As for seven things about me:

1.  Adore snoozing in my backyard hammock on a middling to warm day with a bit of breeze wisping about

2.  Love old Hollywood: the Hepburns, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck…

3. I read picture books when no one is looking.

4.  Eating raspberries as I pick them fresh off the vine on a summer morning is the best way to start a day, in my opinion

5.  Playing badminton is THE way to spend a summer evening

6.  Do not put cucumbers in my salad, thank you very much

7. Blogging has become a tempered addiction for me

#8: TBRs Awaiting In The Wings


I have three books by the nightstand, I just finished two audio novels, and two books are patiently tucked wating their turn in my library bag.  As the saying goes:

image: Highsmith.com

I can’t imagine not having a book ready and waiting for me.  And as the clock suggests, I feel time is fleeting in terms of getting around to all my TBR books.  I have had to stop writing down book suggestions from other bloggers since my list has grown longer than my left leg.  Contending with my prior list of must-get-tos is causing me to wonder what would happen if I stopped everything that wasn’t absolutely pertinent and simply read.  Rod Serling asked the same question back in 1959.

Witness Mr. Henry Bemis, a charter member in the fraternity of dreamers. A bookish little man whose passion is the printed page, but who is conspired against by a bank president and a wife and a world full of tongue-cluckers and the unrelenting hands of a clock. But in just a moment, Mr. Bemis will enter a world without bank presidents or wives or clocks or anything else. He’ll have a world all to himself…without anyone.

“Time Enough at Last” is  episode that deals with Henry Bemis who would much prefer reading to working as a bank teller or spending time with his wife. He gets his wish, only with a dark twist.  The episode has been much parodied over the years and it makes me ever so glad that I am near-sighted after all.

As for my TBR list, it’s daunting; I’ve divided it up into categories to help sort it out.  Maybe if I take one read from each category and move through the list I can get to the top of the list by the year’s end.  Sounds like I’m either trying to make a resolution or a concession.  Maybe I should get back to my reading.  Any of these on your TBR list?  How many are awaiting in the wings for you?

Classical Works:
The Iliad, Tartuffe, The Misanthrope

Realistic Works:
Crime and Punishment, Anna Karenian, A Doll’s House

Romanatic Works:
Don Quixote, Les Miserables, Faust

Impressionistic Works:
Heart of Darkness, The Awakening

Naturalistic Works:
Metamorphosis, Dubliners

This list comes courtesy from one of my AP resource books.  Looking it over I have decided I am fairly illiterate and must get busy.  To make myself feel a bit better I have read many of the suggested work, but I am still way behind.

Getting to these TBRs doesn’t give me too much opportunity to read the likes of a Hunger Game when it comes about.  Those count too, right?

Fortunately, I am not derided for being a “reader” as was Henry Bemis.  And I hope I won’t get my wish for more time in the manner of Henry.  Until then there is summer vacation, my hammock, and my understanding family.

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