It’s rather an open secret that Dolly Parton is a champion of children’s literacy. Her “Imagination Library“, which started in 1995 with only her home county in Tennessee in mind has grown to spread across the United States and abroad to Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia. Partnering with local organizations, the Imagination Library has managed to give millions of children books.
I was so happy when I learned that the Imagination Library was going to partner with a local nonprofit in my county here in the PNW because I finally had kids of my own who could benefit from the program. I’ve been so pleased with the books my two littles receive every month. There has been a wide variety of topics and features a diverse cast of protagonists with authors of all kinds of backgrounds. The stories range from The Little Engine that Could to Hair Love to This Beach is Loud! to A Father’s Love. Again, so pleased with the variety and diversity, especially because I work to ensure my kids read widely and not just about children who look like them and have their same experiences.
Have you ever been a recipient of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library? What do you think of it? What other ways do you know of to get books to children? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
One of the best books that I read last year was Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson. It’s an unconventional story about a modern-day hacker in the Middle East who stumbles across a magical tome and finds himself caught between a totalitarian government and a world of supernatural beings who belong in myths more than reality. The premise alone was enough to get me to read the book, but I found some wonderful gems along the way that kept me thinking long after I finished reading. One of those quotes came from an imam in the novel who was imprisoned for his connection to the hacker protagonist. It follows:
“I have had much experience with the unclean and uncivilized in the recent past. Shall I tell you what I discovered? I am not the state of my feet. I am not the dirt on my hands or the hygiene of my private parts. If I were these things, I would not have been at liberty to pray at any time since my arrest. But I did pray, because I am not these things. In the end, I am not even myself. I am a string of bones speaking the word God.”
And a quote that made me chuckle:
“You’ve got Internet in the Empty Quarter?” he asked in an awed voice. Cousin, said the shadow, we’ve got WiFi.
I recognize that it’s almost February of 2016, but I never returned to my 2015 reading challenge to explain which books I finished or how I did. I didn’t actually read all of the books that I had hoped to read, which was a disappointment, but I ended up juggling a lot* of other things by the end of the year and reading for pleasure took a bit of a back burner. Still, I enjoyed a lot of the books I did read and discovered that free books on Kindle really are a hit or miss situation.
Here are the rest of the books that I read last year:
The Lake by AnnaLisa Grant (meh)
Jumper by Stephen Gould (read as surprisingly modern)
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (didn’t quite finish this in 2015…it was long!)
The God Engines by John Scalzi
Ash by Jason Brant
The Truth of the Matter: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction by Dinty Moore (no, not the stew)
Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present by Lex Williford
The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present by Phillip Lopate
Darkangel by Christine Pope
Twin Souls by K.A. Poe
The Girl by Lola St.Vil (I don’t understand why YA heroines must have oddly colored eyes, be socially awkward/unconventionally attractive, and yet MUST attract the attention of a brooding love interest who is “so clearly far above them.” Why do these tropes continue to exist?!)
Rest for the Wicked by Cate Dean
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (SO GOOD!!)
Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia A. McKillip (a reread from several years ago but still as good as I remembered)
Drowning Mermaids by Nadia Scrieva
Wolves by C. Gockel (This was one of the few free Kindle books that I thought was both unique and entertaining.)
This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley (highly recommend)
Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern (highly recommend)
As you can see, there is a mish mash of many different genres and a bunch of textbooks that I read for my program. A lot of these books were free on Kindle and most of those free ones weren’t really worth my time, but I feel ok not having paid to read them.
I’ve challenged myself on Goodreads again this year, but I’m cutting back the amount of books by five to see if I can actually achieve this goal. So far, I’ve finished a couple of books and am in the process of reading several others at the same time. If you have any ideas of what I ought to read this year, feel free to leave suggestions in the comments! I am especially interested in expanding my reading list to include more writers of color.
*By “a lot” I mean the following: thesis courses, ongoing illness, pregnancy, full teaching workload plus extra tasks, language lessons, and daily living.
The following short video includes some of Neil Gaiman’s thoughts on writing, especially on the importance of writing in order to become a writer. He also touches on reading, first drafts, and more. The audio is from a Nerdist podcast, but the video was put together by YouTuber Brandon Farley.
On a whim, I decided to undertake a reading challenge for 2015. It only makes sense to do it because sometimes I get caught up in other narratives (ah, Netflix, my sweetest downfall…I loved you first. I loved you first…) and honestly forget how much I enjoy reading. There’s something magical about the written word, and it’s quite a different experience to watching a story visually unfold.
This is what I’m aiming for this year…
Just as I had a really good reason to tune out the world in favor of Doctor Who (reboot) marathons, I also had a really good reason to pick up this reading challenge. Writers need to read: it’s as simple as that. Need. Not should, ought to, probably would be better off if they did, but need to read. So when I stumbled across a reading challenge, I decided, “Why not?” and committed to reading 50 books in a year. For someone who reads slowly, this is no small commitment, so I’m trying to balance my more serious reading with lighter fare.
I’m trying to plan my reading according to my “to read” list on Goodreads to see if I can hack away at it a bit–a Sisyphean task since I only keep adding new ones to the list. Ah well. Currently, I’m one book ahead of my reading schedule, although I was several books up earlier this year. Then life caught up and Doctor Who became my companion. (Heh.)
Without further ado, the list of books I’ve read so far this year:
Description and Setting by Ron Rozelle
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Arcanum 101 by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill
Unenchanted by Chanda Hahn
Fairest by Chanda Hahn
Fable by Chanda Hahn
Reign by Chanda Hahn (These four were a YA series that I ate up.)
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (SO good!)
The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (breathtaking)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (highly recommend)
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Allegiant by Veronica Roth (This was a fun romp, but not as much substance as I’d hoped for in the end.)
Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith
What was Lost: a Christian Journey through Miscarriage by Elise Erikson Barrett*
The Taming of the Chew by Denise Lamothe (ok)
Everblue by Brenda Pandos (like a mermaid version of Twilight…DO NOT recommend)
So this is where I’m at so far in the challenge. I’ve read a decent chunk of YA lit, but I’ve also read several good nonfiction books and dabbled in the classics. I only regret a few books on this list, so that’s not so bad, eh?
Until next time!
*If you or someone you know has suffered a miscarriage or other pregnancy loss, I highly recommend this book.
I have been an avid reader since early childhood and read everything I could get my hands on from my mother’s college mythology textbook when I was seven years old to Mange-moi, s’il te plaitas an adult. In college, my reading dwindled because my brain could only handle so much, but I have begun to read more since I graduated. Depending on the engagement in my current course load, I still read for pleasure where I may. (Bus commuting is prime reading/writing time.) Continue reading →
I have posts in the works, but the first couple of weeks of December ran me over a few times, so the blog fell by the wayside. On top of coming down with a cold on the first of December that only went away a day or two ago, I had to wrap up this school term, which included writing a final essay on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw using narratology for my theoretical lens. Crunch time for said final paper included pulling an all nighter, which really did not help with that nasty cold, but it’s all over now. I got my final grade for literary theory, and I am happy to say that I did much better on this round than I did when I studied the subject in undergrad. Continue reading →
What? Writing about writing on a writer’s blog? Who’d have thought this post would ever come to pass… From writing retreats to the supposedly greatest books of all time, I am hooking you up today! All of the writerly links are after the jump. Continue reading →