Strangled Charity

I have a decidedly dumb dilemma. Books. Too many of them. Well, more accurately I have too many uncorrected proofs. Nearly 70 different titles. In the beginning…we’re talking 2006..I was asked to join LibraryThing’s Early Review program. Here’s how it works: ever month LT posts a list of new books to be published and you request one to be reviewed before publication. I have been honored to “win” nearly 70 early publications and I have reviewed them all. Well, let me clarify. I have faithfully reviewed every title I have received. I’m still waiting for two…

In the beginning it was a pride thing. I was so thrilled to be asked to join this program that I saved every single book I was asked to review. I wanted to keep an entire collection of “librarythings” to mark the accomplishment. But now they are taking over! Ironically, the two favorites I wanted to keep I loaned away and never saw again (The Translator and Losing Clementine). But, back to the books I can’t keep. I argue with myself and moi about what to do all the time.

Here’s how it goes:
Me: We donate them to a charity?
Myself: It’s uncorrected proof. No one wants to read an unfinished product.
Me: We could donate them to a library?
Moi: You wrote tags, notes and stuff all through them. You underlined and dog eared pages. (Shame on you, librarian!)
Me: We could give them to friends?
Myself: And how would you decide who gets what? Think of that Orgasmic Pregnancy one! Who would get that?
Me: We could offer them up free to anyone interested near and far? FaceBook? They would just pay my shipping costs?
Myself: And what if people don’t send you $$ to mail them? You are trying to renovate your kitchen, remember?
Me: We could throw them out?
Moi: You would hate yourself and chase after the recycling truck to bring them back.
Me: We could just keep them?
Myself: Out of the question. You don’t hold onto books unless you love them. You are running out of room with things you don’t love.
Me: I do hate clutter.
Moi: See?

So. What to do? Maybe when the weather gets warmer I’ll set up an alfresco book store with a big ole “Free” sign and see what happens. It could be a study in sociology. Do people like uncorrected proofs? Would they mind my in-page musings? Do people like free no matter what? And who will take that Orgasmic Pregnancy book?


To Heaven and Back

Neal, Mary C. To Heaven and Back: a Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again.Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2011.

I was supposed to deliver this book to my mother. My aunt bought a copy for all of her sisters and it was my charge to make sure my mother got hers. Of course I had to read it before passing it along. I read it twice.
I am not a religious person. I lost my faith when my father passed away. Unfortunately there is very little anyone can do to make me believe in Heaven, Hell, or even God at this moment. I do believe in spirits and angels and a reason for everything. I think my father is still with me in weird ways, but I do not believe in the Bible.
Having said all that, I had a deep appreciation for Dr. Neal’s story. While it is centered around a religious faith there were moments that resonated with me; passages that moved me to tears. Dr. Neal was kayaking in Chile when she had a terrible accident and technically drowned. she was pinned under water way longer than a person should/could survive. While she was dead she experienced heaven and Jesus holding her. She believed she was spared because her purpose in life on Earth wasn’t finished. Throughout the rest of To Heaven and Back Dr. Neal recounts different moments where her presence saved the life of someone else or God’s presence had a hand in guiding her to make the right decision. Even after her son is tragically killed she found a spiritual way to push through the pain. It is an uplifting story of inspiration.


May ’12 is…

Hawaii. Hawaii. Hawaii. This is going to sound sick but I am trying to get psyched for an upcoming trip to the islands. Not The Island that I know and love. The Sandwich Islands. Hawaii. Or, more specifically Oahu and Maui. My first time to either. Here are the books that are helping me learn about Hawaiian culture and history:

  1. Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen , Lilioukalani
  2. West of Then by Tara Bray Smith
  3. Six Months in the Sandwich Islands by Isabella Bird
  4. Volcano by Garrett Hongo
  5. Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl (don’t you just love his name?)

In addition to that (completely unplanned) list I am trying to stick to the reading schedule. That would include

  1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott in honor of May being Eeyore’s birth month (in other words, something sad)
  2. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan in honor of May being Asian American Heritage month,
  3. and last but not least, Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks in honor of May being sex month.

It’s a bit of reading but I think West of Then and Kon-Tiki are going to be really quick reads. Volcano might also be quick…not sure yet.
Oh! Two last books! For the Early Review Program (LibraryThing) – I almost forgot! I have the United States Coast Guard and National Guard by Thomas Ostrom and Letters to Kurt by Eric Erlandson. Both arrived this month. The Coast Guard book is a January book and I think Letters is a February book. So, a little late, but I’ll get to them! Letters to Kurt I’m sure I’ll read in a weekend or less. Hello coffee in bed!
What else to tell you? In less than two weeks I will be walking 60 miles for Just ‘Cause. In less than four weeks I will be saying goodbye to my cousin. What can I say? I can’t wait for June.


May 2011 is…

THE LIST:

  • To Sir with Love by Edward Ricardo Braithwaite ~ in honor of National Teacher Day (May 3rd)
  • Out of Control by Suzanne Brockmann ~ in honor of Brockmann’s birth month
  • A Child’s Life and Other Stories by Phoebe Gloeckner ~ in honor of graphic novel month
  • Antigone the play by Sophocles ~ in honor of May being the best time to visit Greece.
  • Fifth Chinese Daughter by Jade Snow Wong ~ in honor Asian-American Heritage month
  • Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham ~ in honor of Memorial Day
  • Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery ~ in honor of Eeyore’s birth month (I’ll explain that connection within the review). I’m listening to this as a training book.
  • House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre ~ in honor of May 5th being Cinco de Mayo
  • City of Light ~ by Lauren Belfer ~ in honor of May being History Month

Lastly, for the Early Review program for LibraryThing – Art and Madness by Anne Roiphe.

I put so many books on my list because a) a few of them are really, really short so I know I can read I can read them in 1-2 days time and b) I don’t have plans to travel anywhere until May 20th so I should have more time to curl up with several good books, and c) AFTER the walk I have ten days of NOTHING to do. I am picturing myself on the back deck, a glass of wine in one hand and a good book in another.

Confession – Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham looked so good I started reading it on April 28th. Sue me.
May is also (finally) the Just ‘Cause walk. I am not confident I did everything to train (but then again, there is only so much walking one can do), and I know I didn’t fund raise as hard as I should/could have. I am $100 off from the amount I raised last year. I am guessing not asking aunts, uncles, cousins, (mother), grandparents….anyone from my mother’s side to donate played a big part. C’est la vie. Or, to quote mom, “whatever.”


February ’10 is…

Off the top of my head, I’m not sure what to call February besides another cold, cold month. I could get all giddy and self-absorbed in the fact that it’s my birth month (so maybe I should be reading something by me – ha), but that doesn’t seem to be all that productive. Besides, my published work would take all of two minutes to read! February is a visit with Mr. Richard Marx II (formally known as Mr. Bubblegum). We have a date in three weeks. February is more time with Dr. Ruth. No offense, but after this month I would like to think I’m on the road to recovery and will not need so much attention in that area in the future. I have started training for Just ‘Cause and have moved my feet over 50 miles so far.

I should point out the obvious. This is late. February has also started out as my month to be overextended in a big way. Not sure if that’s a good thing.

For books it has been and will be:

  • Company of Three by Varley O’Connor ~ in honor of February being National Theater Month. Okay, so if you can’t get there, read about it!
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin ~ in honor of Black History Month
  • Warriors Don’t Cry: a Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High by Melba Patillo Beals ~ in honor of Civil Rights month
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder ~ in honor of medical workers in Haiti right now.
  • Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences by Edward Tenner ~in honor of National Science month.

There is a rumor of another LibraryThing Early Review book. The publisher was nice enough to send me a thank you for reviewing the book, but until I actually have it in my hand I won’t be mentioning it here.


May (2009) is…

May is huge. Absolutely huge and positively late. So out of control! A 60 mile walk for Just ‘Cause has had me busy. The end of the school semester has had me frustrated. May also means time with my mom – which I simply cannot wait for. A retirement party for people I barely know. The pool opening. A birthday party with sushi and laughter. My kind of gig.

For books it is:

  • Off Keck Road By Mona Simpson ~ in honor of becoming a Wisconsin becoming a state.
  • Bordeauxby Soledad Puerolas ~ in honor of Cinco de Mayo
  • Rise of David Levinsky by Abraham Cahan ~ in honor of American Jewish heritage month
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson ~┬áin honor of teen pregnancy month. Note: this book is not actually about a teen pregnancy but the book is recommended for teens. I’m stretching this one a little, I know!
  • The Victorians by A.N. Wilson ~ in honor of Queen Victoria
  • Where the Pavement Ends: One Woman’s Bicycle Trip Through Mongolia, China and Vietnam by Erika Warmbrunn ~ in honor of National Bicycle Month
  • Quarter Safe Out Here by George MacDonald Fraser~ in honor of Memorial Day.

There is also a LibraryThing Early Review book. Forgive me if I can’t plug the name right now.


Writing While Walking

I set up a blog page just for my donors. I guess I’m saying this here so I don’t have to explain my time there. Aside from the cd release party for Sean (already written but Sean just sent me the set list), I won’t be over here that much – except maybe for book reviews. I think it will be good for me to get away because this walk for Just ‘Cause has brought me to a better place.