Saturday, 28 November 2009

Sunday Salon: What I am Grateful For: Books

The Sunday

The What I am Grateful For: Books Meme. The meme is from Charlotte at Charlotte's Web, who got it from litlove. I love this little meme, short and all about books and reading!! Please feel free to do it yourself and let us know.

What reasons do you have to be grateful for books?
Books keep me sane! Books inform me, guide me, allow me to understand so many other existences that otherwise I would not have the possibility to glimpse. Most of all, books are filled with uncounted, unlimited treasure that is available any time I open them. I can go anywhere the human imagination can go, through a book. Books also inspire me. There is so much to be grateful for, in the existence of books. I have always been delighted and thrilled and felt it was the most wonderful thing, to love books so much.

Is there any author for whose existence you are especially grateful?
Gee, there is no easy answer to this! It would have to be the writers who have helped me through rough times in my life - that would principally be Lucy Maud Montgomery and Anne Frank, when I was growing up. As an adult, the poet Mary Oliver, whom I discovered last year, has become my inspiration and my joy. Her poems reach into me and move me in indescribable joy, and outwardly reveal the natural world as I know it to be.

I also give thanks to every writer, for making the creative effort to write their books. Even if I don't like a book, I appreciate the attempt to write one. This doesn't apply to those who write formula books to make money; that easy work doesn't take something of the soul that real creative effort does.

What positive impact does reading have on your day?
It gives me breathing space, a private time that is my own. It is hard to describe how reading calms me down, how my brain can be running around like an animal out of control, until I begin reading and only when I come out of my reading time, do I realize I am refreshed and able to think better. In some ways, reading is like meditation for me, it has much of the same physical results on me: all of me is centered on the reading, and I am not here, I am there, in the book. Reading is my guidepost to being centered in my life; if I can read, everything is fine. If I can't, then something is wrong.

I also can't really imagine going very long without picking up a book. If my life is really busy and a couple of days pass without reading something, I get a little anxious feeling. I suppose if I were to be diagnosed with an obsessive-compulsive disorder, it would be this. I can't go long without reading! So it has an extremely powerful positive impact on my day!!

Reading is like going for daily walks, and eating properly, and getting enough sleep - it's part of my routine for health!

What good things has reading taught you?
Oh where to begin? Almost everything I know I have learned from books. I wish they would do a poster of that one!!

Is there any particular book that’s special to you?
Depends what category....I have favourite books in spirituality, mystery, science fiction, YA, horror, fantasy, poetry, astrology, biography......A special book, one that I treasure? Not any that stand out, mostly because I really like all the books that I own. I don't have any special editions of books except the hardcover of The Hobbit with the artwork by Tolkien. Some day I might look for older editions, or special editions of books I love, but so far I haven't had the money to spend; I'm not a book collector (of rare editions), I'm a book lover.

What are you most happy to have read recently?
Surprisingly, graphic novels. Every one I've read so far, I've been delighted in. I've gone looking for Alison Bechdel - I had her Home out from the library, but couldn't finish it, and I really enjoyed what I did read. Plus the Buffy graphic novels I read really impressed me (and made me miss Buffy on tv all over again). I haven't done a review of any yet, as I plan to do a post on all of them as part of my year-end review of books this month. And it all started with Castle Waiting, earlier this year. Who knew? Those, and the classics I've read this year - Jane Eyre, Middlemarch, Persuasion - I'm always happy when I include some classics in my reading in a year.

So, have you done this meme? Let me know, and I'll link to you.

Advent Virtual Tour round-up

Dec 5

Michelle at GalleySmith wrote about her childhood with advent calendars. My mother just made one each for Holly-Anne and Graham, and they rush out of bed every morning to see what toy or treat thay have for the day!! I really like them, and will try to post a picture shortly of what they each look like. Michelle's post has brought a lot of memories for other bloggers who also grew up with advent calendars. I didn't, so this is a new tradition for us!

Becky at Becky's Book Reviews posted a lovely list of Christmas-themed books for children. I don't recall any of these titles from when I was a child!! Did you have a book you liked reading for Christmas when you were growing up? Please let Becky know, she will be glad to add another title to her list. There is a wide mix of titles here, and I think I will be picking up a few for my children this year. Thanks, Becky! For some reason I keep forgetting about The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. And I know my children would enjoy it!

***This reminds me that Nymeth has a question on her blog today: Do you have any books you read at Christmas time? Any books for the solstice, anything that is a mix of family and slightly scary and magical too? She is looking for something similar to The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, which she thinks perfectly captures this time of year for her. Please let her know if you know of any books like The Dark is Rising, and me too!

Back to the tour:

Kerry at Saving My Sanity has given a very moving post about her family traditions at Christmas. The first part of her post is hilarious, as she describes the long trip from the North Island of New Zealand to the South Island. I didn't know that New Zealand celebrates their Christmas in the summer!!! I should know this, I just never made the connection before. She used to have a full English meal in the heat of summer!! The emotional part is because they almost lost a family member earlier this year, and while her relative is in recovery, she is grateful that she is here still with them. This is a lovely post about what this time year is all about.

Mentoring Moments for Christian Women has post about Christmas cookie trees! They provide the recipe (a basic sugar cookie recipe) and it's very easy. So easy that I can myself trying my hand at it. Of course, my gingerbread houses fall down all the time (one year I declared it a national disaster zone as each house fell and could not be rebuilt!!), so there's no telling how my anti-crafting nature will strike the trees. The pictures on the blog look lovely, true tree creations.

Dec 6 - today!!

Melissa at Booknut has given her Top 10 Reasons She Loves Christmas. Except for the shopping and for the Nutcracker (I've never seen it live), I can relate to everything she writes about. This is a wonderful post to remind me of why I love this time of year!

Chris at Stuff As Dreams Are Made Of also wrote about books, as Becky did yesterday. His post is about the Christmas-themed books he'd chose for different booklovers on his list.
He has a wide range of books on offer, many of which I haven't read. *hangs head in shame* why haven't I read A Christmas Carol yet? I love the different movies! I'm very happy to see the tour including so many posts about books to read through or for the holidays. Ana, Becky, Chris, three of the most popular book bloggers have given us many Christmas themed books to read about over the holidays. I think I will be buying a few to start a little Christmas collection of our own! Thanks, Chris, and Becky and Ana once again.....

Stephanie at Stephanie's Confessions of a Bookaholic has written about her children growing up and that there is only one left who believes in Santa Claus. I can still remember when my eldest son declared he didn't believe any more. He was about nine, and I think a little piece of my heart broke. Even though I'm pagan, and he is raised in both traditions (Christian and pagan). Go figure, the human heart has it's own reasons. Maybe it's the belief in something a little magical, and it is a loss when our children realize Santa is imaginary. I might be pagan, but a part of me still firmly believes there is a Santa. Thankfully I have two years left with our two before I have to go through what Stephanie is going through this year. At the same time, Stephanie writes about her thoughts in the past wishing she didn't have to be up at 2 am stuffing stockings on Christmas Eve and could be in bed at a decent hour. I laughed! At last, after 20 years of wrapping gifts at the same hour, I find out I'm not the only one!!! Thank you, Stephanie!! I don't have the heart to tell her that children, until they have left home, expect the stockings to be magically filled anyway on Christmas morning, no putting them out early already stuffed....

Lilly at Reading Extravaganza has written about how Christmas was celebrated in Poland when she was a child. It's a fascinating piece on how different it is, especially in the solemnity leading up to Dec 25th. I didn't know Dec 6th was celebrated in Poland; I know it is in other European countries, as the day St Nicholas visits and leaves presents - under the pillow or in shoes by the bed are some ways. I know a little bit, but not much, because my grandfather was Polish. Sadly he didn't pass on any of the language to my mother, nor many of the customs from Poland, so reading this post meant a lot personally to me. Then imagine my surprise when she mentions there are pagan elements in Polish Catholicism, which is my heritage!

I hope you have enjoyed the tour so far, I certainly have. I am definitely getting into the Christmas/solstice spirit now. Our tree is decorated, the gingerbread houses are about to go up, and our Christmas dishes are down to use throughout the season. I'm participating in the Secret Santa exchange this year, so off I go to finish wrapping the parcel up. I do love this time of year, it is exciting as the year draws to an end.

May you have some reading time today!


Chris said...

Oh I just loved this post Susan :) And I'm glad to see you're so grateful for GNs!! Are you going to do the GN challenge in 2010?? Sorry I haven't been around much lately. I've been reading, just haven't been commenting much :( Just wanted to pop in and give you a virtual hug :)

Kailana said...

Great post! Thank you for continuing to highlight the Virtual Advent. :)

Susan said...

Chris: Thanks so much, I'm delighted you loved it :-) Are you going to do the meme? I know, I haven't been that good at getting around either. Thank you for the virtual hug, I needed one! Here's a hug right back, you and I are both having tough years. And as for the GN challenge, I guess now I can consider doing it! That will make Rhinoa happy, though I haven't read any manga yet. I did hold one in my hand on Friday! lol

Kailana: thank you! and I'm having so much fun with the advent tour. So much is being covered and all the varied memories make it a real extravaganza. thanks to you and Marg for hosting it!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful Christmassy post! Thank you for all the links.

Susan said...

StephanieD: You're welcome! I hope you enjoy the tour. It's so much fun!

Bybee said...

I agreed with you totally about how reading refreshes your mind. I feel crabby and life has these unpleasantly sharp angles and corners to it if I can't have a few moments to read at least once a day. I really liked this meme, and your advent reports have me all choked up and homesick, longing to be home this time of year.

Susan said...

Bybee: book-twin! You don't really miss the snowstorms and slogging through the snow and buses that are late and the madness that is venturing out to any store before Christmas, do you? There, see? There are some things most of us would gladly miss! I know what you mean though, you're having Christmas in an unfamiliar land, and you need something familiar around you. Here's a virtual *hug* and a wish that you find something there that reminds you of home and comforts you!