Tuesday 30 December 2014

Another Great Idea (In A Book) for 2015

I came across this book in my local Indie book store in Hobart.  I am always amazed when I read the various blogs how they have all of their stats at the end of the year.  I guess I have never been that organised but it would be nice to have a look back over the year and see how many books I read, what kind of books they were and the names and authors.


I didn't want to just keep a notebook though.  I tend to misplace notebooks.  Well kind of.  Then I found this little gem.

Not only is it a notebook but it is full of pages where you can keep track of the books you read and sort them into categories.

There are a lot of categories so I could see myself using the notebook over several years.  I will need to remember to date the lists though.

Check this out. I think it is self explanatory as you look at the photos. I'll post them here and we'll have a little chat.

On the left of the page is the illustration. There is an illustration to go with every category and they are gorgeous on their own.  The right hand page is for writing down the book you have just finished on the lines provided.

If one could fill up every page of lines throughout this book you would be a pretty well rounded reader.  I will explain no more.....have a look.

The only page they left out is a page for Penguin books. I need a category that says "Vintage Penguin books I have read." But then I have noticed there are three pages of lines at the end that simply say,
"Books I Want to Read Before I Die."  I don't like that category. It sounds like a negative way to approach books.  I think you just read them and don't think about if you want to read them before you pass on.  So I think I will change these three pages to read "Vintage Penguins I Have Read."  Yes , I do like this idea.

2015 looks like it is going to be going great gangbusters. Bring it on!

Sunday 28 December 2014

I Have Had a Brainstorm

Yes, it doesn't happen a lot but when it does I get quite excited.  I have been reading quite a bit of translated fiction and simply books that take place in other countries.

I also have been reading a couple of crime books that took place in the United States.  When I turned 50 I decided I would read a book that took place in every country in the world and that I would be finished with it when I turn 75.

I read quite a few books in various countries but that was before I began blogging and I kept track of the books in a notebook.

Here is the brainstorm, nothing too strenuous but fun. I bought an inexpensive student atlas. It is fairly thin and is in paperback but it does have good maps of all of the countries in the world. And they are all up to date.

I have only read three books since I began this but I decided to keep this atlas just for my book locations. The main location in the book will be the place I mark it.

I have read the book The Free by Willy Blautin that takes place in Washington State. The Burning Room by Michael Connelly took place in Los Angeles, California.  Then Only in New York by Lily Brett took place in (yeah, you guessed it) New York City.

I simply wrote down the name of the book and the author near the state it took place.  You can see it in the photo.

I am really keen though now to fill up this little atlas with all kinds of names of books and authors. Plaster the world in books.  This will tie in with my TBR program nicely.  I can see where all of my books take pl
ace and it will be fun to fill up the atlas.  I can also see if I'm reading too many books that take place in California I had better get the lead out and read some in other countries.

I'll review it at the end of 2015 and see how many countries I have covered.  Isn't the new year fun?

After all I need to put the word "Travellin' " in Travellin' Penguin.

Saturday 27 December 2014

What a Wonderful Secret Santa Who Visited Me

The Broke and the Bookish blog was kind enough to host a Secret Santa.  I didn't know if anyone in Australia would be participating as most of these things seem to be in the U.K. but I thought I would sign up and see what happened.

I have to say I was a bit sceptical but then I have watched book bloggers around the world for the past 3 years and I must say they are the most generous bunch.
Don't you just love this cover?

I sent off my name and filled out the little questionnaire and sure enough I was assigned someone in Australia to send something to.  I thought this was a lot of fun.  I also had someone assigned to me and I thought, "Woo hoo- bookish presents."  My friends and family don't always realise how much I love books and all things related to books but it is beginning to sink in. This year I was lucky enough to score several gifts in the bookish line and what a wonderful Christmas that made.

Sure enough about 10 days before Christmas a package arrived in the mail from a blogger named Bec.  She was in New South Wales and I didn't know who she was. I didn't know the blogger I was assigned to either. But lo and behold we all got a Secret Santa surprise gift.  I think the whole idea is wonderful. Here are perfectly good strangers going out, thinking about a gift, shopping, wrapping it up and sending it to someone completely unknown to them.

How cute.
With all of the horrific news in the media this is just what I needed. (BY the way in 2015 I am not going to follow so much news. It gets me nowhere, there is nothing I can do about it and it only makes me feel really, really bad.)  I have decided I might take myself into the Penguin room and read between 6:00 and 7:00. An hour a day of reading would get me through a fair few books.   But I digress.
I opened the package and inside was a chocolate Penguin, he's too cute to eat but one night I will probably feel really choc-niverous and swallow him whole,  I got a little cute Penguin bookmark and a wonderful copy of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.  It is a beautiful Harper Collins edition.

He survives
It was quite serendipitous as I had been in the local indie only that day looking at a copy of it thinking "I really need to read this book." Weird, isn't it.  So I can't thank Bec of New South Wales enough and if anyone knows what blog she is linked to I wish they would let me know because she didn't tell me, being the modest person she must be.  I did have her mailing address though.

If someone asks me next year to become involved in a Secret Santa will I join up? You bet your sweet patootie I will. Thank you Bec and thank you Broke and Bookish for organising it all.

Friday 26 December 2014

Day 25, Last Day of Penguin Book-a-Day Challenge

Today marks the 25th and last day of the Penguin Books Book-a-Day Challenge.  The topic today is "Under The Tree".

I got two really nice book vouchers under the tree. One from Mr. Penguin and one from Brother Penguin and his wife.

As one voucher is from the United States on Amazon I ordered some Bill Bryson books I have wanted for some time. I purchased One Summer America 1927; A Short History of Nearly Everything and finally Neither Here Nor There, Travels in Europe.

With the local book voucher I got Volumes I and II of the complete Mapp and Lucia books by E. F. Benson.  I have read so many reviews about these books I thought I would have a closer look.

I still have more to spend on the book vouchers but that is going to have to wait. Beginning the 1st of January I will only be reading those books I own.  I might buy some more books but I won't be reading them until at least April 1st according to the Double Dog Dare TBR challenge. The only exception to that will be the March book club book which I do not have yet.

I might get that in a kindle or audio book as it is a classic. It will probably fit in with the Back to Classics challenge I have decided to do next year.

This has all been very fun and I hope you enjoy the photos of the books.  Christmas is over now and I don't know about you, but I am definitely looking forward to 2015.


Thursday 25 December 2014

Challenges and Goals for 2015

A Challenge for 2015

I continue to think about books and goals for 2015. I want to set up some structure but not too much. If I have too much I won't do it. It will be stressful. In reading many blogs from my blogroll I have come across this challenge and I really like it. It only involves 6 books minimum for the year, it would apply to my Century of Books as well and I can use my TBR books I own.

The main priority for 2015 is the TBR dare. I am going to really get stuck into books on my shelves. This could fit in nicely as I have a pile of Penguins Classics and Penguin Modern Classics. 

So I think now what is setting up to be pretty firm reading goals for 2015 is:  TBR books, Continuing with my Century of Books and this Back To The Classics Challenge. 

I am looking forward to the new year and reading all these beautiful books I own.  

Are any of you doing any challenges for 2015?

These books must come from my TBR pile I already own.

The Goal - to read a minimum of six classics between 1 Jan - 31 Dec 1015 .

The Categories

1. A 19th Century Classic — any book published between 1800 and 1899.

2.  A 20th Century Classic – any book published between 1900 and 1965.  
     Just like last year, all books must have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify 
     as a classic.

3.  A Classic by a Woman Author.

4.  A Classic in Translation.

5.  A Very Long Classic Novel — a single work of 500 pages or longer.

6.  A Classic Novella — any work shorter than 250 pages.

7.  A Classic with a Person’s Name in the Title.  

8.  A Humorous or Satirical Classic.

9.  A Forgotten Classic.  This could be a lesser-known work by a famous author, or a classic
      that nobody reads any more.

10.  A Nonfiction Classic.  A memoir, biography, essays, travel, this can be any nonfiction
 work that’s considered a classic, or a nonfiction work by a classic author.

11.  A Classic Children’s Book.

12.  A Classic Play. 

For more info check out the link above.


Wednesday 24 December 2014

Day 24- Penguin Challenge (Almost Done)

Day 24 of the Penguin Challenge has us asking what will we leave for Father Christmas?  Well he's a very busy man this time of year. I think he has enough milk and cookies. Though my mother tells me that once when we were children we wanted to leave him a martini with a couple of olives in it.  I always thought that was weird in a funny sort of way.  Or funny in a weird sort of way.

I think I am going to leave Father Christmas a small book.  It will have a plain cover that reads simply "Father Christmas". He will open it and find one page in this book. Then there will be a very plain back cover. White maybe. The book will be a book of illustrations or I should say illustration. It will remind Father Christmas what he can expect on Boxing Day when his work is done.

I think all of us can appreciate this particular illustration.  Enjoy Christmas. I hope the day after Christmas brings you rest, relaxation, a good book and even better leftovers.

Source: The Book Club's Facebook page. 

Tuesday 23 December 2014

It's Penguin Challenge Day 23

This month is moving along fast. Too fast. The Penguin discussion today is around the Best Present.
I think this is a hard one.

Giving presents to others is a lot of fun. Donating to our favourite wildlife sanctuary is also probably the best thing we can do. Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is raising money to build a wildlife hospital. It will be staffed with a specialist wildlife veterinarian.  I am an FOC at Bonorong. That stands for Friends of Carers.  Whenever anyone finds injured and sick wildlife they ring Bonorong.

Tawny Frogmouths (a nightjar bird)
Bonorong staff then send out text messages to people who have been trained by them to collect the animals and transport them either to carers (for joeys and birds for example) or veterinarians who volunteer to take care of the animals. Usually road injuries.  So far they have trained over 1000 rescue volunteers.

They expect to make over 6000 call outs this calendar year. That is an amazing number. The numbers will remain high because people don't care enough to slow down at night to watch out for our nocturnal native animals.

A Tasmanian Devil j

Also when wallabies are on the run at night it is
impossible to stop in time when driving. They
are very fast. The same goes for possums. There are environmental issues that affect animals. Like toxoplasmosis in our wildlife population, a neurological disease caused by feral cats. The birds are also subject to disease in the wild.

Meet Fred. He just had his 100th birthday.
He had a party and got a letter from the Queen.

Today I was called out to collect a green rosella that had flown into a window and concussed itself and to pick up a young cockatoo that had a beak and feather disease it had picked up.  Neither animal survived but at least they did not suffer a
painful death in the wild.

I think donating money to Bonorong instead of buying a lot of presents nobody needs is a wonderful and satisfying thing to do.

As for receiving a great present we received today a wonderful gift certificate from Amazon from my brother's family. We can buy books with it. Enough books to load up the kindle or get that reference book that is calling.  I love presents like this.  What will we use it for? I guess you'll have to wait and see as we go through the year and yet another must have book will surface into our realm of awareness.

A wombat joey who was orphaned.

What is something that you have given or received for Christmas that makes you happy?

Monday 22 December 2014

Day 22- Almost Christmas & The Double Dare Looms

The Penguin Book challenge wants me to think of my favourite festive scene in a book. Well I have wracked my brain and I know I've read about Christmas scenes but I just can't think of any except the Christmas day that Scrooge has when he stops being Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. by Charles Dickens.  I love that story.

So instead I am going to veer onto something happening at the beginning of 2015.

That is another session of the Double Dog dare. This is a dare to read only the books you own until the 1st of April.  Well I don't do a lot of challenges but I am going to do this.

First off I have deleted all the Candy Crush, Scrabble and Match 3 games off my Samsung tablet. Instead of reading the books on the Kindle app I kept getting distracted.  Those games are gone because they are infuriating, time wasting, addictive pursuits I don't need.  That part of my life is gone.

2015 will have me reading the books I have on my shelves and anyone who reads this blog knows that is quite a few.  I am looking forward to seeing what is there and writing about those books. There will be two books that are exceptions. Those are the Feb. and March book club books.They need to be read by the first of the month for discussion.

The Feb. book is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami.  I have not looked up the March book yet.  I have started the Murakami book and so far so good.

If you're interested in the Double Dog Dare and only reading your own books (except book clubs or other commitments) head over to James Reads Books (here) and sign up. It only lasts until 1 April but you can choose to just do a month or two if you like.

I'm ready for 2015 to begin.

Sunday 21 December 2014

Day 21 of the Penguin Discussions

Books to be Read

I really have a big choice when it comes to this. I have shelves and shelves of books I have not read and next year is the year I get stuck into them. I am really going to have a TBR year.

First I have a couple of thousand (yes, thousand) vintage Penguin books. I hope to read some of them.
As for the non Penguin books I have several that have been playing on my mind.

One English Lit, one Travel book that I have always heard is a must read and one motorbike travel book. Not just any motorbike travel book but the holy grail of all motorbike books.

Okay- the first one is Pride and Prejudice. Yes, I admit-- I have seen the films, the TV series but I have never read the book.   I  MUST  READ  THIS. I know that.

Next is Jupiter's Travels. One Man, 80,000 plus miles and four years around the world on a motorbike.

Then there is the Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen who I understand died of leukaemia in April of this year. I have always heard this is a very spiritual, very lovely book and no one should live life without reading it at least once.

These books are one of many to be read. I am looking forward to it.  What is a book that has stuck in your mind for a very long time that you are yet to read?

Saturday 20 December 2014

Penguin Challenge Days 19 and 20

This week is a bit of a mish mash miscellaneous.  I thought I would share a couple of things here for Christmas fun.

But first things first. Day 19 are books that take you home.  I still consider home the state of Michigan in the USA but I have not lived there since my early 20's.  I think any book that I read that transports myself back to that time would be books by Bill Bryson.  Bill Bryson didn't come from Michigan. He came from Iowa but when he writes of that state it reminds me very much of my own.

So  I must say these two books in particular.

I am sure there are books that take place in Michigan but I'll be stumped if I can think of them. If you know of any I would love to know what they are.  Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck reminds me of home also as it took place in the 1960's America.

Day 20 of the challenge is about books that take place where I live now.  I can think of several books that take place in Tasmania.

Two that come immediately to mind that I really enjoyed were these three: I especially loved Christopher Koch's book. The others were also quite good too.


In finishing I wanted to share something entirely different with you. I was in Sydney a couple of weeks ago and in the middle of the city, in the Pitt St. mall they had a large Christmas tree and Santa Claus display. It was completely made of Lego.  In the spirit of Christmas I thought I would share it with you.  Merry Christmas everyone. Not long to go now.

Thursday 18 December 2014

A Massive Tome and a Very Funny Book

The daily Penguin challenge is heading along nicely. Two days closer to Christmas.
Days 17 and 18 are coming up now.

Day 17:  Funny book- When I think about it I don't read a lot of funny books. Maybe I should what with the recent news of the world being so depressing. We need something to take ourselves out of daily life in the world.

I have two books that recently made me laugh out loud. The first was Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. I didn't think I would enjoy it but I certainly did.  The characters were quirky, I cared about them and I always wondered what was going to happen next. It was a laugh out loud at times funny book.

The second was a Bill Bryson memoir The Lost Continent-Travels in Small Time America. Some of his memories were pure hilarity. He was remembering visiting his grandparents in Iowa when he was young. He and his older brother explored a house they believed to be haunted across the street. His brother often set him up and this was no exception. He talks about creeping up the stairs of this old, decrepit house and his brother is at the top of the stairs. Suddenly his brother yells out "Here he comes!" and begins running back the way he came.....down the stairs. Bill Bryson said as a 4 year old he ran sprinting down the stairs as fast as he could go, squirting urine at every step.  I read this about two o'clock in the morning and started laughing so hard I couldn't stop.  The image in my mind was incredibly visual and it struck me as very funny.

Day 18: Massive tome- Well there are two of these that come to mind. One I have read and one is on my TBR pile.  The one I read was Middlemarch by George Elliot that I really loved. I would like to read this again.

The one I have not read and has been on my TBR  pile for my entire life is Andersonville by McKinlay Kantor. It is the story of the American civil war and the Andersonville prison in Georgia.  I have visited this site and found thoughts of it to be quite disconcerting.  I have always wanted to read this book but did not have a copy of it. Then one day I was foraging around in the tip shop for old Penguin books when I found a battered old hardcover copy. I picked it up to see what the name of it was and found I was holding an old copy of Andersonville. Of course I brought it home. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1956. Maybe 2015 is the year it gets read.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Only in New York by Lily Brett

I have decided that I really enjoy the writing of Lily Brett. She is an Australian who grew up in Melbourne.  Her parents were Jewish and they both lost most of their family in the death camps of World War II.  She has written extensively of how that influenced her own upbringing  in several of her books.

She has lived in New York city now for quite some time, over 25 years. I enjoyed her last book Lola Bensky, a fictional account of her experiences as a journalist in 1960's Britain.

This book, Only in New York is a book of vignettes of her time in New York city.  Lily loves to walk and spends a great deal of time walking to various places in New York. She writes of daily life in New York. Her trips to the hairdresser, to a large cemetery in Queens, her thoughts of daily life.  She has an extensively great sense of humour and this humour comes through in almost everything she does.

She talks about being Jewish and some of the quirkiness she feels is the result of this.  I laughed out loud at some of her experiences. When I finished this book I wished it was another 100 pages longer.

She mentions many places in New York that she visits. The deli she goes to, her favourite cafe, visits with her father who is still alive and her relationship with him.  Interwoven throughout the whole book is the experiences of what it is like having been a child of death camp survivors and the personalities that she children inherit as a result of such trauma of the parents.

She includes a visit to Melbourne and discusses her visit to her old neighbourhood and going through her home again.

I loved this book.  I loved being in New York with her. I think it was one of the most realistic books of life in the big city I have ever read.  You could visit the city, read this book and tick off the places she talks about.  It is almost like a travel guide without being a travel guide.  It gave me a real feeling for how it is to live in this wonderful, diverse city.  I can certainly recommend this book.
Lily Brett

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Penguin Challenge Day 16- For Someone I Love

This is a tricky topic because I'm not quite sure what they mean. Mr. Penguin and I read quite different books. Except for popular crime. We both enjoy some of those.

So who do I love next to Mr. Penguin. My dogs.  Do I read dog books? Not many because they are always so sad. They are usually about great heroes or family pets who die, get stolen, get lost. Do they return to their loving homes? Sometimes. So I will use this post to briefly talk about the old dog adventure books I collect.

I have a good collection of these books. They are dated from the late 1800's to 1950.  I don't collect any dog adventure stories after 1950. I don't always collect them for the stories either. I collect them for the illustrations. I love the illustrations of dogs during the 1930's and 1940's in particular.

The illustrator I most love is Cecil Aldin. He was an Englishman who did countless illustrations of dogs, horses, usually fox hunting and English country scenes. I have several books with his illustrations and I never get tired of the drawings.  He captured the expressions so well of dogs being happy, being sad, getting into trouble. They really are beautiful and often quite comical.

I hope you enjoy these.