Starting New Focus

I recently saw an article about the best YA (Young Adult) books for young feminists. I’m reading them to see if they measure up to the hype. Some are actually for younger children and in picture book form. The first one is panning out quite well.

Where does this take me? Well, what I’m trying to discover is if these books are being marketed to all children rather than just young girls with feminist leanings and/or to young girls who may be outcast by nature of their outward being. What about boys who are being raised with sound feminist principles? How do we add characters to their books that compile them to look at the female protagonist or character differently? What about girls who are feminists, but also love fashion and everything “pink”? Seriously this is something that needs to be addressed.

Here is the resource (of this list I am reading Luz Sees the Light, The Year of Shadows, and Brown Girl Dreaming)


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Whoa…it’s been a long time

I’ve been so busy in the past year that this site has gone silent. I’ve read and reread a lot of books in the meantime. I’ve found that I just recently started hyper-reading again after a hiatus of sticking to one book, one subject for a while.

Right now I’m finishing up The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker. This is one of the most important books I’ve ever held in my hands. I had it out from the library, but have since decided to buy it and to recommend it to everyone who has ever been fearful or will ever be fearful. IN short, everyone should read this book.

Gavin De Becker is an expert on violent behaviors. He is called upon in big court cases (think O.J. and Judas Priest). He consults when violent acts occur. He is trained to spot violence and this book provides good, practical evidence and suggestions on how the rest of us can predict by relying on our intuition.

Where is it taking me? To revisit books like The Murder Room and The Poisoner’s Bible. It also just may be something that can finally help me to put my own pen to paper and being writing a short story with all of this in mind.

Mr. De Becker emphasized what I’ve always known. Listen to your inner-voice…your intuition. Make decisions based on that voice that help you stay safe. Report what you see. The good news is that he does it without an ounce of paranoiac rhetoric. Just facts. Just evidence. Just thoughtful insight.

Read this book. It’s important.

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Monarch Butterflies and Barbara Kingsolver

Monarch Butterflies and Barbara Kingsolver

I just finished the audio version of Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. It never ceases to amaze me how she is able to weave fiction and non-fiction together to come up with the perfect novel for me. While I love her writing, I often find myself adrift for the first chapters of her books. Fortunately, after years of reading her, I do not give up because inevitably I do not want the books to end, I don’t want to let go of the characters, and I NEED more information about the subject behind the characters in each book. With Flight Behavior, it is the plight of the monarch butterfly and the floods of Angangueo, Mexico.

A particular passage that has my web spinning is how to really to talk to people about the environment (or any topic) given what their circumstances are in life. Dellarobia Tumbrow lives in a small town with people who seemingly have small minds and small lives. However, that assumption twists and turns (as often it does in a Kingsolver novel) up to and including a point where Dellarobia has a conversation with an environmentalist from the city. He wants her to sign a pledge to become more environmentally conscious and volunteers to read the pledge to her (assuming of course she won’t understand it). While Dellarobia clearly does understand, it becomes apparent that he doesn’t understand WHY the neighboring people do not care about computers (they don’t have them), saving electricity (they don’t use much because of their poverty), not buying bottled waters (they drink tap water), and other things we take for granted every day. It made me stop and ponder how exactly DO we help people understand the nature of environmental loss when their experiences are so far from ours/mine…except that they aren’t. I understand because I was there once. Something to chew on for me.

And the butterflies? Why do I not know about the butterflies (King Billies) and how the floods of Angangueo, Mexico impacted them and the citizens of that region.

Off to the library to get answers!! See you around the book web.

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2014/03/17 · 10:19 pm

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My mother, Gluten, Sugar, Bacteria and Michael Pollan’s book Cooked

So I’ve been listening to the audio book Cooked by Michael Pollan and thinking, in light of the current war on gluten, ongoing war on sugar, and my wanting to be healthier in general, about my mother, and her cooking, life habits, etc. Pollan’s book reviews several things including the baking of bread. He writes about the role of gluten in the baking process. At the same time I was listening to a chapter, I visited my mother and started thinking about her health and what does this new information on the aforementioned items mean.

Mind you (before you read), I’m not advocating we don’t think about the ramifications of gluten, sugar, lard, and hand washing on our daily health, but, I remain skeptical about the nature of our disease ridden American daily life and how much we are doing in the name of healthy habits that could truly be hurting us.

First, my mother is 85. She is thin, relatively active (she tries to mow her own grass and lives in the country where she carries things to throw them over a hill), and has only a few aches and pains. She cares for my 87 year-old father everyday which sometimes means lifting him.  Her habits? She still uses white sugar, white flour, and, uses simple soap and water to clean. She eats few vegetables and still prefers white bread. The best thing about coming home on Friday’s as a child was being hit in the nose with the wonderful aroma of plain white bread baking in the oven and on which we would later slather real butter when the bread was still warm and the butter would melt onto our fingers. Side note: my parents still put butter on every sandwich they make.

Second, Michael Pollan, presents several what could be unpopular sentiments in this book. One is his rich description of the role of gluten in the bread making process. Given the bread that my mother makes, I started salivating as he talked about bread making. I didn’t wince once when he described what gluten is and how it works in bread making. Instead, I thought of those heavenly rolls I ate in my mother’s kitchen and marveled at how no other bread has ever tasted quite like it.  I don’t think I ever will.

In another chapter, Pollan writes about bacteria and how this generation  has to ADD bacteria back into the digestive system because we have exorcised bacteria from our daily lives. He contends that we’ve taken bacteria out of our lives so much that we may indeed be making ourselves sick.  I’ve had food poisoning so I know the seriousness of these issues yet I still find myself skeptical about over protecting ourselves from bacteria. My mother uses soap and water (okay sometimes she uses Mr. Clean) and her house is not one in which you could eat off the floor. Yet I rarely remember getting sick when I was a child and I still don’t get flu and colds (I do not and will not use hand-santizer). So what, I wondered, does all of this mean?

Well, for me it means continuing to be mindful about what I put in or what I do not put into my body. It means watching signs for what bothers MY system and not depending on what bothers someone else’s system. It means not blindly following the crowd proudly displaying signs of gluten-free, sugar free, spice free, wheat free, bacteria free, etc., but not dismissing them either. In short…

all of these things make me wonder.

Now I want some bread.


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Well hello there…

And again I have dropped off of the blogging world!  What with a house on the selling market and a couple of weeks on the road to Vermont, I’ve not even thought about visiting any of my writing spaces. But that doesn’t mean I’m not reading away!

For seasonal reading I chose to read the short stories of gothic horror writer, Joseph Sheridan LeFanu. The Best Ghost Stories of J.S. LeFanu and In a Glass Darkly include some of the best horror writing I’ve ever read. Carmilla and Schalken the Painter are my favorites right now, but I may change my mind once I’ve completed the books. More in November on this subject!

The audio version of Paris: The Novel by Edward Rutherford occupied my imagination (and ears) on the journey to and from Vermont. Rutherford is such a fascinating historical fiction writer. His characters are rich and the story is detailed covering 16th century through the 1968 student revolt in Paris, France. He stipples the fictional lives of several families with real historical characters and events. Although I was hooked on each story line from the beginning, I found myself sometimes lost in the details as the book does hop from one time period to the next quite quickly. Still, I learned so much about wartime Paris that I am now ready to give up my aversion to World War II history and try to learn a little by focusing on WWII Paris. I think I might try London: The Novel for my next long driving trip!

In regard to audio as well as literary non-fiction goes, I am now listening to Cooked by noted food author, Michael Pollan. I’m only a few chapters in, but I am ready to fire up the stove and start chopping onions for a healthy dish for myself and my family.

That’s all for now. Wish me luck on the house…

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No Apologies, Moving On!

I can’t apologies for my neglect of my blogs during these first months of retirement. I’m finding may way and busy.

So, I’ll work backward as much as I can to fill you in on what I’ve been reading.

Most recently I “ear” read Oliver Sacks Hallucinations and was totally fascinated by it! I learned more than I ever thought I would know about the science behind the hallucinatory brain and how it impacts those who hallucinate.  It’s prompted me to reconsider several things about my own reality, people who talk to themselves, people who insist they see things that I can tell aren’t really there, and the essence of the literary non-fiction genre.

Oliver Sacks penned several books dedicated to the brain. Awakenings is likely the book-turned-movie that everyone would know and relate to. I decided I knew enough about it to not check it out so I turned to another Sacks book titled Musicophilia. So far, so good.

I’m also getting read to dive in to a juvenille fiction novel The One and Only Ivan.

I tried reading Casual Vacancies, but, it didn’t work for me. After the first few chapters I had to abandon it. I hope to pick it up again someday, but, the storyline just didn’t hold my interest.

I hereby commit to one post a week here in my book web.

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