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Friday, December 12, 2008

War and Peace - Ostensibly Volume 1 Discussion

Overall I felt this was a lot of detail building up characters and setting a tone for the novel. Some of the accounts of the men's reaction to war was almost comical, but I thought a rather rare peak into the real emotions. So many novels I've read, are riddled with heroism and courage. Which I'm sure happens. But in the face of death, how many people crumble inside? I know I would.

The character of Andrei I found enticing in so many ways. He tries so hard to be valiant, to make some mark on the war. In his mind he pictures all his heroic deeds. I can relate to this. Dreamers. His realization that all he loved was power. That he would even trade his son and wife for that power made me feel disgust with him. But I was still interested in what would happen to him. Now that he's had some sort of spiritual experience from being wounded I'm curious to see where he will take it and if power will remain such a desirable thing for him. It certainly diminished his lofty view of Napoleon. I also thought that his fall, being wounded so early into his attempt at glory, points to the reality of life and how easily we can be pulled from our mental pedestals.

Political wrangling over the estate of the Count seemed to be treated like a side story in comparison to the war chapters but I found it very interesting. Boris' marriage though foreshadows something negative in my mind. It just seems he was too easily thrown into it without his own will. He has a weakness for giving in to others without asserting himself or even thinking situations through enough to have assertions. I think it will be fun to return to this story line and find what happens to him.

I like Tolstoy's characterization of women so far too. Not completely powerless. But varied. I like that they are not all the same. Either valiantly bold, powerfully cunning, or simpering and weak. Some authors have a tendency to slot women like that and give no attention to the reality that women are as different as men. (Dickens for example)

As for the writing itself, I am enjoying the book. It looks daunting, but as soon as I pick it up I'm completely engaged. So much detail and people to track, and yet each story so far has held my interest.

And what are your thoughts on the novel so far?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Questions, Proceeding

I commented this but no one noticed. (boo hoo right?) Anyhow, I decided I should just post it up and get your attention.

Ok I obviously have a different translation and in light of that, I may be mistaken in assuming it was Tolstoy who divided the book that way. Hmmm. I would suppose the chapters are the same though mine are numbered by the volume (i.e. Volume 1 Part 1 etc). So, would you mind checking page 294 or thereabouts? Is that the end of a chapter for you? If it is, is it also the point at which Prince Andrei is wounded and Napoleon is sending him to his doctor for care? This would be the end of volume one for me. If that is any kind of logical breaking point in your books, maybe we'll be able to figure out a system.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

This Book Club Accepts No Failures!

Well folks. I've thought this over for the last few days and here is the conclusion I've come to:

We are a book club (albeit strange), we read the books we planned to. That means, gosh darnit we're reading this one. Ever onward Russian students!

But, I really liked Patches idea in her comment of the last post. So I want to break the book into the four volumes Tolstoy did and then discuss each volume. This will give us a more manageable goal and render the book a little less daunting I think. Also, it will facilitate easier discussion. If we wait till the end we're either going to forget a lot, or have volumes to say. So. Can you guys make it to the end of volume one by this coming Friday? Are you already there? I will tentatively set the discussion for volume one to Friday, but if you all are already there or past, we'll move back to Tuesday.

I'm glad to be back in this space. Thanks for hanging with me.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Apologies and Engines Revving

Shall we start again?

Let me first apologize. What kind of book group leader leaves and doesn't even write a note? Like 'out to lunch be back in three weeks'. I've been mired in home responsibilities and celebrations. 'Tis the season after all.

And, like the others reading this book, War and Peace is kicking my butt up and down the street. Not only is it a huge book, but I'm reading it slower than ever. I mean s----l----o----w slow. It requires so much attention and keeping track and following of minute details that I need to read it more cautiously, or I will miss something. So yeah, butt, up and down the street.

So I'm here, humbly asking what you guys think. Should we take a week to get hold of the new book (see below) and then start reading the new book and keep plugging at War and Peace in the meantime? Or should we be diligent Russian students and muck through what is truly a wonderful book, just difficult reading?

Give me an idea where you stand, where you're at in the book if you're reading it, and we'll just get this train moving again.

The next book, unceremoniously opened is:

Truck: A Love Story by Michael Perry. ISBN: 978-0060571184

Ta Da!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Book Opening, Date Changes AGAIN

Ok so I have been naively ambitious about the discussion of War and Peace. I have been reading it daily and I'm still only on page 168. Out of 1200 pages, that ain't much. How about you guys? Is anyone reading it with me? Are you still trying to get the book in your grubby, but lovely hands?

I changed the discussion date to the 25th. That might be too close to the holiday though. Let me know what you think. We could push the date even futher, say after the holiday around the first of December? Let me know. Even if you don't have the book yet, or especially if you don't have the book yet - you need the time to read the big sucker.


I have had camera difficulties in the past couple of days and was not able to record the opening of book seven. I am in high hopes that today I will have those issues worked out and get the opening up by tomorrow. That way you can start getting the next book lined up which will facilitate a more widely read book I hope! It is also going to be considerable shorter than the current one (what wouldn't be?) and that will make for faster reading.


I may complain about the length of War and Peace but I can confirm that in just 168 pages, I'm enjoying it. The first attempt I made at reading this book I was in my early twenties and my mind was more pleasantly occupied with partying and boys. I therefore found it difficult to keep track of the characters and gave up. This time around, I'm having no difficulty with the complexities and am finding it fun to read. How about you guys? Did you read this before? What were your original impressions? Are they any different now?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Books on the Nightstand offering Book Gifting Suggestions

So just like Sew Mama Sew (as mentioned at Mind Moss) has a handmade for the holidays November, Books on the Nightstand, one of my favorite book review blogs and podcast, has decided to offer up book gifting ideas starting November 16 for twelve days. Get it? Twelve days of Christmas? Heh. Anyways, I thought this was a fabulous idea to share. If you would like some great suggestions for books to give to the people you love, head on over and check out their suggestions. Like they quote one person (I've paraphrased here), 'a person never mentions the toy, electronics etc that changed their life, but they will tell you about the one book that changed their life'. What better gift? And bonus, books are affordable gifts!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Neil Gaiman: upcoming non-fiction

Neil Gaiman to release three non-fiction books - for all you Neil Gaiman fans, it was announced that he will be writing his first non-fiction works since his companion to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Look for the first book titled Monkey and Me: China and the Journey to the West by fall of 2009. The only information given about the other two books are that they will cover subjects Neil has written about on his blog.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Upcoming Book Release

Promised Land by Jay Parini - a book to come out on the 11th of this month. It chronicles 13 books that the author believes were critical in shaping the America we know. The thirteen books he presents are:

  • Of Plymouth Plantation

  • The Federalist Papers

  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

  • The Journals of Lewis and Clark

  • Walden

  • Uncle Tom's Cabin

  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

  • The Souls of Black Folk

  • The Promised Land

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People

  • The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care

  • On the Road

  • The Feminine Mystique

"Promised Land offers a reading of the American psyche, allowing us to reflect on what our past means for who we are now. It is a rich and immensely readable work of cultural history that will appeal to all book lovers and students of the American character alike." - Amazon Product Description

For anyone interested in the history, folklore and emerging mythology of the U.S., this book sounds like a great gift.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dear American Airlines Discussion

Dear American Airlines by Jonathon Miles turns out not to be one of my favorites so far. I perhaps built my anticipation for this book too high. Though the plot and concept I understood correctly, the tone I hadn't counted on. It wasn't until the very last chapter, even the last two pages that I found this character redeemable and engaging. This made it highly difficult to get through the book to that point. I did persevere, but found the experience unenlightening and laborious. The anger and vehemence that set the tone was difficult to stand for so long. Albeit the language was wry, intelligent and captivating, that was hardly enough to hold up the novel for its entirety. I won't say that I wholly didn't enjoy this book. I found it an easy page turner and I did love the constant literary allusions, the translation excerpts, and the ironic tone that came through. And honestly who of us doesn't harbor some level of contempt for the airlines and all they put us through in the last eight years? Still, I guess I was hoping for more.

What were your impressions?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Century of Vanity Fair - Book espousing a century of Vanity Fair portraits. Great photographers, iconic faces. Beautiful. And sometimes, when things seem bleak, we need a little beauty, however frivolous, to brighten our future.

Covers - here's a site I got lost in for quite a time, just having fun perusing. They review book jackets - not the book content, just the jacket and how it translates to marketable. I like the angle. Check it out, beware, you might get a little lost too.

Don't forget, discussion of Dear American Airlines to be posted here later in the day. Don't worry if you're not finished. Finish it as you can and join in when you do. The more thoughts and comments the better! Check back.

What Show?

Me: Man I've been remiss lately. Poor little book blog.

Voice in my head: yeah but you've had a lot of things going on.

Me: Sure, sick kids, Halloween, starting Christmas sewing. But still.

Voice in my head: never give in to guilt.

Me: right, well then, let's get this show going!

Voice in my head: What show?


OK guys, I'm going to try to reinfuse some life into this here place. Let's start with things coming up.

We've opened book six, which as you know, is a doozy. So we should try to wrap up Dear AA by the end of the week and get ourselves rolling on War and Peace. I will start the AA discussion tomorrow. Calendar will be updated to reflect our newfound determination to get in gear.

Since War and Peace is a biggie, I won't hold off opening the next book, but won't schedule to start reading it till much later - say two weeks? That will give you lots and lots of time to get hold of book seven whatever it is.


And now, a question. What is your dirty little secret stash? What kind of book do you read for pure pleasure that you might not admit to the average person you meet.

For me, I have this thing for cheap mystery books. When I'm in a reading slump, I grab one of those and let myself race through one. It gets momentum rolling again. Tell me yours.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Book Six Opening

Finally back around here and ready for this one. Are you guys ready? Because Here weeeeeee gooooooooooooo.

And now our video. (Could I be any more dorky?)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sharp Teeth Discussion

Ok so this time I'd like to do something different. I'd like to get your comments before I say anything. I will join in the comment section to post my thoughts after we get several from you guys. That way you guys get first say this time!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Slow Down

Hey Guys,

Sorry for the non-communication. Let me get you all up to date on where we're headed.

Things have slowed down a bit. This is good. We can get everyone up to speed. So, tomorrow I will start the Sharp Teeth discussion, join in whenever you wish. And we'll be putting off any book openings till early next week. That way, you can get through Sharp Teeth if you're still working on that, get a hold of Dear American Airlines, and get that on a reading roll before we contemplate another book. I will update the calendar later in the day today, so pretty much ignore the coming dates till I get them straightened out.

Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Technical difficulties - Book Opening

I owed you a book opening on Monday. There have been technical difficulties with the video we took. Then there were technical difficulties getting near the computer - mostly with my schedule and brain. I am here now and I'm going to do this one rather unceremoniously.

Virtual Drum Roll please...............................................
(can you hear it? Turn up the volume)

rustle rustle, rip tear, rustle, squeaky book cover, smell of new paper and ink, (you with me?)


Here it is!

Lynnea speaks, "Ohhhhhhhhhh so cool!"

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Discussion: Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh

Ok, not sure how many of you read this one. I mostly have some overall comments.

First, I enjoyed the book for the peek into a world we rarely hear about. And I found myself considering the situation of these people on a more personal level, understanding the fix they seem to be in. Which I appreciate. Most news stories, reports and so forth about people living in projects offer surface information at best. It is easy to judge and think, "they could change if they wanted to. Or why don't they call the police?" But it is a lot more complicated than that and seeing the way they seemed to be stuck between a rock and a hard place was enlightening. Even the gang members seemed stuck to some degree. Though I did not feel that way about J.T. at all. I felt he wanted to be some kind of super gang godfather and pursued that as far as he could. Finding out the police were complicit in illegal actions and atrocious behavior towards tenants and women did shock me a bit. Not completely but the extent of their involvement really felt like such a betrayal for these people.

As for the author, I thought he was rather naive throughout. I could not believe that after having spent years around these people, he still didn't get it. He betrayed trusts without thinking, he constantly questioned why people didn't call the police but most importantly, he didn't report a lot of what he witnessed and that seemed wrong to me. I understand his predicament, but it was a little over the line to have been 'in on' discussions of drive by shooting tactics. I thought at the very least he should have known to walk away from a planning meeting like that. Finding out things in the abstract is one thing, but sitting through meetings where people are beaten for insubordinancies and attacks on other gangs are planned was a bit much for me. Maybe I'm the one being naive though.

In the end I think this is a valuable book for giving an understanding to a part of life that maybe most of us are insulated from too much.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

And the winner is.....


Congratulations. Please email me at tembilina_at_hotmail_dot_com or brownbooksblog_at_gmail_dottie_com

I've got a little package I'd like to send your way!

Other announcements:

We start reading Sharp Teeth officially Saturday, the 11th. We'll be opening the next book on Monday, the 13th. And don't forget that the discussion of Sudhir Venkatesh's book is scheduled for tomorrow! See you there!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Book Opening, Book Four - Geek Theater Installment One

As I'm sure you're aware - I'm woefully behind for the book opening of book four. Shame on me. I'm sorry. So without further ado, I'm giving you today:

Book Geeks in Nature

Don't forget to leave me a comment and put your name in for the next drawing. I'll announce the winner on Wednesday! Do it!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

On Chesil Beach Discussion

Ok, De is champing at the bit and going to ruin her teeth if I don't do something right away. Hee hee. I was going to try to get to this by afternoon but I'm going to get this going right now so I can hear what you guys have to say.

I don't have prepared questions. I'm going to share my thoughts, I encourage you to do the same and I'd like to get a good dialog going on those lines. Men, any of you who read this please chime in. There are several of us women anticipating getting the male point of view on this one.

Overall I loved this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the language and skill of this author. I found myself believing things about his characters and then as more information was revealed, my views changed. For a small novella taking place in the course of one night and about a year's worth of memories, this was gripping and sad and lovely all at the same time.

It was interesting that for different reasons, the main issue between these two young people was a reluctance to speak about their problems or to allow themselves to be angry, until it is too late. Given the era they lived in, from what I know, speaking about sex even in the context of marriage was not done. Even daughters and mothers talking about things before an impending marriage often only spoke the night before the wedding and the information was sketchy at best. At least for the generations of women in my family that is the case.

But a more subtle interesting problem I think was the conflict Florence felt between her love and her inability to feel comfortable with intimacy. Which proves just the opposite problem for Edward, whose impatience for intimacy seems intertwined with love and he simply cannot understand that Florence does love him in spite of her lack of desire. I was wondering (here is where you men can help me out specifically) if this is typical thinking for young men. That love and love-making are two inseparable things. If a woman loves a man, she would show it with intimacy. I thought this was interesting since many women equate love and sex in completely the opposite way - if he has had sex with me, he must love me.

In the end, I suppose that immaturity got in either newlyweds way, otherwise they might have tried harder to resolve the problem. Of course, for each of them, with ideals about marriage in that time-period, perhaps the problems seemed completely insurmountable.

Your turn.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Economy's Effect on Books and a Little Rescheduling

Ok not a lot of input which leads me to believe I've got a lot of busy people out there. I went with my gut and decided to move the book discussion for On Chesil Beach just one day forward to Thursday. We won't open book four until Friday. This will give us a little more breathing room on Gang Leader and getting caught up.

By the way, for those of you who haven't started Gang Leader yet, I've read in about 3 chapters and so far, it is not a disappointment. I'm enjoying the candor and the look at a part of society that rarely gets noticed or told. Pretty fascinating stuff.


I've been pondering the questions of books and their marketable sustenance lately. For years now, articles have been written about the demise of the book, how and when it will happen. Most people in the industry disregard this as alarmist and extreme. I think they are probably right. And, given the current financial climate, I'm wondering now if there could be a boon in the near future for books as entertainment.

Think about this: the average family already cannot afford tickets to sporting events and movies. Given that those used to be the 'great American' past-times, what do we have left? Now take an economy wherein many families with children are right now pulling the budgets in tight to cover gas and food. But, when the country is in financial distress, they look to entertainment to bring their spirits up. So you tell me, do you think these ingredients could add up to a surge book sales and reading? I'm wondering if it might. Books remain an inexpensive entertainment, which any family can do together.

Financial information on the book industry would tell me otherwise. And of course, if you're going to use books as entertainment, there is the library. There you have the arguments (quite strong ones too) against my idea. Still, if we headed down a road of deep financial strife, I wonder if people would consider books as an inexpensive entertainment.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hey, How's it Going?

Don't forget, reading commencement for Sudhir Vankatesh's book Gang Leader for a Day starts today. Those still reading On Chesil Beach, will you be ready to discuss by Wednesday or Thursday?

Thank you for all the suggestions of books to not bother with! That was fun.

We're slated for a book opening tomorrow but I'm thinking that maybe I should back off a couple days on that one - say till Friday? What do you think?

For those into On Chesil Beach, any preliminary thoughts? Enjoying it? Don't give away all your feelings now, save some for the discussion. I for one will say I came away with a very positive feeling on this one. Which is nice considering all of our luke-warm to cold reactions to the first book.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Irrelephant come on down! You are our winning contestant on the Book is Right!

Congratulations Mr. Irrelephant. Please email me at either tembilina-at-g-mail-dot-com or brown-booksblog-at-gmail-dot-com. Do your eyes hurt yet? I'll be needing your physical address sir.

Coming Up and Fun Weekend Discussion

Ok guys coming up next week we've got three big things on the calendar. First off, on Monday we're slated to start reading Gang Leader for a Day. If you haven't finished On Chesil Beach, just focus on that one for now because I'm planning the discussion for that one to start next week. On Tuesday I'll open the fourth book so you can all get started hunting that one down too. Wednesday is the day I put in the calendar for the discussion of On Chesil Beach. Don't forget to poke around in the Google calendar at the bottom of the page. If you click on the Google button in the bottom right corner, you can pull up a full version of it to look over.

So those dates again are:

Monday, September 29th, we start reading Gang Leader for a Day
Tuesday, September 30th, we open book four
Wednesday, October 1st, we start discussing On Chesil Beach

I also wanted to mention that in the sidebar where it says Hitchpost, links to the book discussions will be permanently left there. So if you wanted to continue jumping into the Lewis Black book discussion, the link is there. And all subsequent book discussions will land there as well.

And don't forget to check back later today for the announcement of the winner of this week's drawing!

Now for the fun stuff!

I loved Meno's suggestion that I ask you guys for your lists of books that just shouldn't be bothered with. So lay it on me. What books would you un-recommend? Maybe books often found on lists of 'must read' books. Tell me the books you've read and loathed, or felt just weren't worth the bother.

I'll give you a couple of mine:

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger - I read this in high school and no, it was not the book for this young. I hated it. I felt like the people in it were shallow and ridiculous and the point of it all got lost in that fact.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood - I so wanted to like this book but absolutely hated it. I was frustrated that I had the 'twist' ending figured out not even halfway into the book, the jumps into the 'fictional' story being told throughout were boring and just useless for me. I thought the idea could have been pursued so well but I was sorely disappointed in this book.

And you?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Discussion: Me of Little Faith by Lewis Black

Ok, today is the day! Our first book discussion. Hurrah!

I'm going to throw out my overall thoughts, then a few questions to ponder and my thoughts on those, and lastly a few quotes I really enjoyed.

I'm hoping that you will offer your overall thoughts, any thoughts you have on my questions, and any questions or quotes you have to add.

I love Lewis Black's comedy. I especially enjoy watching him go into rage, which is his style after all and what has built him quite a following. While I did hear this coming through the pages, it wasn't as loud or comedic in written form. Delivery is definitely a must with his kind of humor. I confess I did find myself laughing at certain passages, but not near as often as I had anticipated. As far as the overall message of the book, I felt like he made his points clear but had me befuddled as to what he truly believes by the end of the book.

Some questions to ponder:

1) Did anything he said resonate with you?

In the chapter "Knock Knock. Who's there?" I recalled my experience of God as a child. He spoke of being too afraid to pray. I was raised in a rather strict but oddball Christian religion wherein I always had a mental picture of God as a brick wall. I felt like when I prayed I was trying to scale that wall. I never made it.

2) Did his unexplainable experiences lessen your opinion of him? Have you had similar experiences?

I think that all of us encounter unexplainable things which we feel compelled to figure out. Whether we choose to shrug them off, believe science will one day answer them, or interpret them as a faith or spiritual experience is our own way individually to enrich our lives with those experiences. So no, it didn't exactly lessen my opinion of him. It just surprised me quite a bit. I have experienced many things which ultimately have ended up in all different categories for me.

3) Did you detect an overall message beyond religion needing a funny bone?

What I took away beyond the obvious message of 'lighten up guys' was that he was and is consistently open-minded about all approaches. I have not decided whether this level of open-mindedness is good. It's not that I don't promote open-mindedness. Absolutely necessary quality if we are going to grow and learn in life. However, I wonder if being more critical of the things we've seen or experienced can be healthier.

I thought an interesting side note that the people who staunchly believed one thing but were offended by other people's beliefs were making themselves seem more shaky in their professed faith than those that were content to believe their own and leave others to theirs.

Some quotes I enjoyed:

"'a cultural Jew'. That just sounds like a weird kind of yogurt." -p33

"We are all just shitty little snowflakes dancing in the universe." -p35
(incidentally, Blogher could use this more effectively than the whole flower thing)

when speaking of converts: "just one more moron to throw on the pyre of enlightenment." -p83

"How many times outside of a high-security prison are you somebody's present?" -p117

"We seem to find a shared comfort in our fear of those who don't share our beliefs." -p180

"In a land that should take great joy in the differences of its people - and in the knowledge that those differences are what make us strong - we generally choose to fear diversity while wallowing in our own stupidity." -p180

Monday, September 22, 2008

Book Three Opening


I love this article: 10 Books Not To Read Before You Die, mainly for its extreme wryness. Tell me if you agree with the article. About which books and why?

Next week is Banned Books Week! Check your local library and area for events surrounding this all important time. Check here for local events in every state:

Don't forget to comment and put your name in for the drawing. I will announce the winner this Friday.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Announcements: Book Opening and Start Reading

Don't forget yesterday was the kick off of reading Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach. Don't worry though if you haven't gotten it yet or are still finishing up Me of Little Faith. There is plenty of time to get to this book before we discuss it.

New book opening happening tomorrow! Come by and put your name in for the drawing. Those of you who have won something already, please don't hesitate to make comments too! I'm excited to open the next one. It's a little thicker and a little taller than the others. Hmmm, I wonder what it could be? Maybe Gang Leader for a Day? In Defense of Food? The Story of Edgar Sawtelle? I've heard great things about so many of the books left on the list. I can't wait to see what we read coming up!

Also, I'm still toying with the idea of moving the discussion for Me of Little Faith up to this Wednesday. I'd like more weigh in. Especially those of you still working on that one since it took a bit to get a hold of. Discussions can go on indefinitely but I don't want to make anyone feel left behind or frustrate anyone's efforts here. This is about sharing and having fun and most of all reading reading reading!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Checking in Again

Ok guys, I want to get a feel for what's going on with you and the books so far.

Have you read Lewis Black yet? If not, how far do you have to go? If you haven't acquired it yet, let me know. Maybe we can butt our heads together and figure something out.

Next up: On Chesil Beach. We're slated to start reading that one on Saturday. How are you doing with getting it into your hands? I gotta say this one looks like a quick read also. Though I've heard it is wonderful. But I believe once you do have it in hand, time permitting, it will go quickly. I wanted to do another book opening on Monday, so that once Ian McEwan is read we'll be headed for the next book without interruption. What do you think? Getting too far ahead here?

Also to note: first book discussion is penciled in at September 30th. That's about a week and a half away. How do you feel about this? Shall we leave it there? Move it up? Push it back? Ok, give me some feedback and we'll see how to get this rock rolling. I think as the next few books go by, we'll have a better idea of how this is going to proceed and soon there will be a recognizable system in place. Which would be cool huh?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Winner Announcement and Reading with my Kids

Meno you are our lucky winner for the book two goodie bag! Hurrah!

The twins are becoming more aware of the fact that books have words on the page and they relate to what I am saying. My daughter, W, has repeatedly requested that I read Too Many Dogs by Lori Haskins.

I dearly love this book. It helped my eldest son, B, learn to read. I remember the day he took it to school to read it to his class. His teacher was impressed with his improvement and he was beaming with pride.

This is a simple beginning reader book with short sentences, rhymes and gorgeously funny illustrations. W has started repeating the words as I read them. I caught on quick to this and made sure my finger was pointing out each word as she listened and then repeated. Learning to read can never happen too early. The more the connection between words and the story being told sinks in, the closer we'll get.

I recently finished reading The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. If any of you have seen his lecture on you know how engaging a speaker he can be. His book is no different. The book, basically a continuation of the lecture itself, explains his philosophy about life and achieving dreams. I decided that it so inpired and promoted deep thought for me, that I would read it aloud to my son B.

We've read two chapters so far. After each chapter I ask him questions about what Mr. Pausch has said. We have so far had very nice 20 to 30 minute discussions after reading each chapter in which B has made some very thoughtful observations that I am more and more excited to read the rest of the book to him. So I would advocate that this book is not only fascinating for adults, but a great discussion promoter between parents and young adults.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Book Opening, Book Two!

Welcome to book two opening of the first Brown Book Project. Without much ado, I will just present you this little animation for the reveal.

Remember, leave a comment here and put your name in for the drawing for a gift goodie bag. We'll begin reading this book next Saturday, September 20th. Not to worry if you cannot get the book in your hands that fast, we will not be discussing the book until October 2nd. We're on a roll now!

**Update: forgot to mention I will announce the winner of the goodie bag on Wednesday, September 17th. So you have till the 16th to get a comment up here!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Apologies - Reschedule Book Two Opening

I am sorry. I need to reschedule the book opening for book two to tomorrow. I spent most of last night at an emergency room for a health problem. Luckily it turned out to be minor and easily treatable, but you can imagine that threw my schedule a bit. I promise that tomorrow morning we'll get this train a-movin'!

See you soon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Announcements: Book Opening and New Calendar

First I'd like to say that I've been pondering what to do about the problem of getting the books. I think we should go ahead and try to stick to the one week interim for most of the books. But, I think we should set dates to discuss the books further in advance than expected. For instance, we opened Lewis Black's book last week, started reading this week, but many didn't get the book till late this week, some are still waiting for it and some have opted out. All understandable.

So that we can keep the ball rolling I'm thinking we should say we'll discuss Lewis Black's book at the very end of the month. In the meantime, we go ahead and open another book and try to keep momentum going. Here's the deal, I've added a calendar at the bottom of the blog (it's the only place it would fit so that everything could be read properly). There are events there: book openings, book discussions. As we go along, you'll be able to see what's been opened, what's coming up and of course I'll be posting reminders often too.

Plus, if you look at the sidebar where you see "Lynnea's Brown Book Project Montage", that area will grow to show all of the Brown Books that have been opened - giving you a quick glance at where we're at and which books to pick up. Then of course the place where it says Book One will change with each book opened to show the current one we've opened. Will that be ok with you guys?


My second announcement: I'd like to go ahead and open book two tomorrow and have another drawing! We'll get to unveil another beauty and since I know most of you will finish up reading Me of Little Faith within a day or two, by end of next week we should be good to dig in to book two!

Ok, so here we go again!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Please tell me if you guys started reading, how far have you gotten? This is a rather fast read and I am about 2/3 the way through and I swear I just started yesterday. That means by tonight I should be done. I want to know how long you guys want before we start discussing the book. I'm thinking I might do another opening tomorrow so that by the time we start the next book (in a week's time) we will have finished this book and gotten some lively discussion started. If that's too fast, let me know. I don't necessarily want to rush this but I also don't want to bore you guys to tears if you've finished and are ready to move along.

I am usually a pretty slow reader unless I come across a book like this one that is easy and moves quickly. Anyways, please let me know how it's going.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ready, Set, Read!

Ok guys, today is the day we start book one.

Get to reading. We'll be doing another book opening sometime near the end of reading Lewis Black. We'll start discussions on Me of Little Faith during the week we are getting our next books in hand.

This is gonna be a wiiiiiild ride. I'm so thrilled to have you guys along.

Also: I would like to put out there that if any of you have suggestions for change or for any reason whatsoever, please don't hesitate to offer them. You can email me at brownbooksblog-at-gmail-dot-com, or just leave a comment on a current post and we can discuss it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


And the winner of the First Brown Book Project Book Opening of the First Book Goodie Bag isssssss........

Please email me at brownbooksblog-at-gmail-dot-com and give me your mailing address. I will get your prize out to asap!

Thank you all for participating. Don't forget that we start reading Mr. Black's book on Monday the 8th. Happy reading.

In other book news:

All you Neil Gaiman fans might want to know that he is once again offering one of his books online or downloadable for free this month only. This time around we're being treated with Neverwhere. Go to his blog to get the links and information.

Man wins prize for worst opening line in a novel - and believe me, he deserves the prize.

Palin tried to ban books as Mayor.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Book Opening, Book One - Paaaaaaaaaarty!

Welcome to the First Ever Brown Book Project Book Opening! Officially this is Book One of the First Ever Brown Book Project Book Opening. Say that ten times fast. Practice now because I'll be making you say it after having visited the open bar.

That's right I did say open bar! Come on in and grab your favorite drink, it's all virtual and it's all free. Know what that means? Oh yeah, that means no need for a designated driver! Oh, the hors d'oeuvres will be around soon. We have pate, caviar, little wieners on sticks, cheese balls with crackers and fruit cups. Finger food away, while we discuss the first book to be read.

Speaking of which, shall we unveil? Below is a short (of length and stature) story accompanied by illustrations in which the first book makes its debut!

The Gnome Queen and Her Scepter of Cleanliness

Once upon a time, in a far-away kingdom, lived a land of gnomes. They were a peace loving sort who most enjoyed eating chocolate chip cookies, making sand castles and riding bicycles.

But unfortunately, they had a grumpy, grumbly queen who made them work at chores all day long. She never smiled and she always had more work for her subjects to do.

Then one day, one of the gnomes had a splendid idea. They would all pitch in their meager allowances and buy the queen a gift. Maybe the gift would make her happy and keep her busy so that she would smile and let them play more. So the gnomes all got together and bought the queen a book. They knew that she loved reading but had not had any new books for a long time. When they gave her the book she was surprised to get a gift from her subjects whom she knew she had been so grumpy with.

She opened the gift and was the happiest she had ever been. She thanked them ever so much, promising to be a more happy queen. All of the gnomes in the kingdom jumped for joy.

(Note the 'jazz hands')

Then she did the most astonishing thing. She pronounced that every year hereafter would be a national holiday for celebrating books and that no gnome would ever work on this day of the year ever again.

And a quick little video of the actual opening:

Two notes of reminder:

1. Make a comment on this post anytime this week and on Friday I will be pulling one name to win a surprise goodie bag!

2. We will plan to start reading Me of Little Faith next Monday the 8th of September. Get your funny bone out and Lewis Black's book and let's get to reading.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Don't Forget!

Come back tomorrow for the first book opening party! Wear a costume, leave a comment and put yourself in for the goodie bag drawing.

There will be plenty of hors d'oeuvres, wine and cocktails. It's open bar so just join right in and grab a drink.

For tomorrow's opening, I'm excited to share that there will be an original short story. (Short short short). Even the characters are short. Well most of them. See you there!

Friday, August 29, 2008

He Read the Whole Damn Thing

Sesquicentennial - isn't that a delicious word? It means 150th.

Here are some others I'm enjoying lately:

Soliloquy - not an especially uncommon word, but I love the way it curls around your tongue and rolls off in a wave of soft vowel sounds.

Floccinaucinihilipilification - the longest real word in the OED. There are other long ones there but they are purported to have been made up to be the longest word in the dictionary.

Factitious - this means produced artificially or a sham

Ah I do love words. Which also brings me to this book:

Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages

In a task dubbed the "word-lover's Mount Everest", Ammon Shea not only read the OED in a year, he then wrote a book about it and, as heard in an interview, remembers many odd and wonderful words he read on that wild journey.

For all people who adore words, worship dictionaries and are sickly prone to reading lexicography (which would include myself), this book should prove a treasure in your library. I have not read it but I'm willing to bet that I'm right judging from the interview I heard of him. Check that out here: On Point: Reading the OED, if you want to hear it, click the "Listen to this Show" button. I highly recommend it.

Another book on the 'to read' list!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Big Read

“The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.”

1) Bold: I have read.
2) Underline: Books I love. (I didn't bother with this one - too lazy)
3) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve read 6 and force books upon them

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling (shouldn't that be Sorcerer's Stone?)
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

Well I counted 25 for me. Shameful isn't it? The worst part is, about half of those were imposed on me by school teachers. Thank the mighty meatball for required reading. How did you do?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kid's Corner - Our Current Books

I recently purchased Moosetache by Margie Palatini and illustrated by Henry Cole, for reading to the kids. Mooseltoe, shown below, I had bought a couple of years ago from a Scholastic Reader order form. I have always loved the story and cadence which rolls right off the tongue. When I saw that, in fact, Moosetache came first, I decided to get it too. It shares that same rhythm that I find so fun to read aloud. I have always loved reading aloud to my kids. I use different voices for different characters and often find myself so into the reading that I gesture wildly and even stand and act out the stories. When a book has a great rhythm, that just moves me more. These two books are a delight to read and the children ask me for them repeatedly.

Remember, reading to your kids is the beginning of a love for reading. And it counts as reading for you and them!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Some Structural Clarification

I'm wanting your opinion. After a book opening, how many days lead would you like to have to get a hold of the book? Most of these are fairly simple to come by as they are pretty current. But some might be a little more cumbersome. Do you think that five to seven days is enough? Tell me what you want.

I'm a fairly slow reader so you guys will probably finish books before me. However, I will do check-in posts to see where people are during the readings. That way we can gauge when to start diving into our thoughts on the book. It's always more fun with the most people available and when everyone is on the same page - in this case, hopefully the one that says The End.

That's all for now. Carry on.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Brown Book List #1

Below you will find the list of 24 books I purchased for the first edition of the Brown Book Project. While I do know the books I bought, of course, I do not know the order they are now arranged in. If you'd prefer to be completely surprised, please skip this post!

I've included the ISBN numbers so that you can easily ask for the books at your local shop. Next Tuesday will be the first book opening party, make sure you attend and leave comments for the give-away. Happy reading my fellow bookworms!

1. Naked - David Sedaris -- short stories ISBN 978-0316777735

2. Portrait of a Lady - Henry James -- classic ISBN 978-0140622492

3. In Defense of Food - Michael Pollen -- non-fiction ISBN 978-1594201455

4. What Happened - Scott McClellan -- political non-fiction ISBN 978-1586485566

5. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblowski -- fiction ISBN 978-0385664783

6. Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortensen -- non-fiction ISBN 978-0143038252

7. On Chesil Beach - Ian McKewan -- fiction ISBN 978-0676978827

8. Panic in Level 4 - Richard Preston -- science non-fiction ISBN 978-1400064908

9. Me of Little Faith - Lewis Black -- comedy ISBN 978-1594489945

10. Gang Leader for a Day - Sudhir Venkatesh -- non-fiction ISBN 978-1594201509

11. Zookeeper's Wife - Diane Ackerman -- non-fiction ISBN 978-0393061727

12. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy -- classic ISBN 978-0307266934

13. I am America So Can You - Stephen Colbert -- comedy ISBN 978-0446580502

14. World Without Us - Alan Weisman -- science fiction ISBN 978-1554682263

15. Sharp Teeth - Toby Barlow -- epic poem ISBN 978-0061430220

16. Mudbound - Hillary Jordan -- fiction ISBN 978-1554681921

17. Wicked - Gregory Maguire -- fantasy ISBN 978-0060987107

18. The Traveler - John Twelve Hawks -- science fiction ISBN 978-0770429720

19. Coraline - Neil Gaiman -- fantasy ISBN 978-0380807345

20. Dirty Wow Wow - Cheryl Katz -- short stories ISBN 978-1580088329

21. Truck: A Love Story - Michael Perry -- fiction ISBN 978-0060571184

22. Dear American Airlines - Jonathon Miles -- fiction ISBN 978-0547054018

23. The Savage Detectives - Robert Bolano -- fiction ISBN 978-0312427481

24. The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde -- science fiction ISBN 978-0142001806

Some book news to peruse:

CIA Unhappy about Suskind's Way of the World

Avon Books Unveils New Site - for lovers of Romance novels and books written for women this new site includes current books, new releases and upcoming releases by Avon Books

Crafter's Alert: Cute Stuff by Aranzi Aranzo - have you seen this book? Apparently all the rage from Japan. Described as "Hello Kitty with attitude".

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Three of You

And the three lucky winners of the book bag and goodies are:

(dddrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr - that's a drumroll can't you tell?)




Please email me at brownbooksblog-at-gmail-dot-com and give me your physical address so I can ship these out to you next week! Hurrah!

For the rest of you I'm sending out great big kisses.


Don't forget that each time I open a new book, there will be a party and another give-away. So come back often.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What the Heck is This Blog???

Welcome to the Brown Book Project.

I'm Lynnea. Or more widely known as Maggie over at Mind Moss.

I've decided to out myself for this project. Why? Because I love books and reading. I've become aware through a family member's struggle with reading just how big a problem it is getting young people, and often times people in general to read.
Life is busy and full of media inundation. Who has time for reading when there are jobs to do, shows to watch, music sets to create, text messages to send and blogs to write (ahem)? But books are the glory of the world. In my humble opinion. So here and in real life, I am putting myself out there, making it my goal to encourage reading, to find a way to promote it in any way I can.

The project itself is this: I have bought 24 books. I wrapped them in plain brown paper and mixed them all up. I'm going to open them one at a time and read them cover to cover. Then we'll talk about the book. We'll tear it down or build it up. We'll delve into it's strengths and weaknesses, we'll find our individual likes and dislikes. And then we'll move on to the next. Here you will find book opening parties with give-aways, reviews, discussions of book news and just about anything that has to do with reading. I might even get in on some author interviews for blog book tours. I am going to be joining a reading marathon for charity at some point this year. I need your support for all of this. I need you coming here, commenting and getting involved. We're going to get our read on!

--Tune in next Monday for the list of books all wrapped up.