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Melissa M

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Melissa M last won the day on November 19 2012

Melissa M had the most liked content!

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About Melissa M

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    Bookish and Odd

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    Chicagoland
  • Interests
    Books, bardolatry, backyard birding

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  1. Hello, BaWers! Were your ears ringing? This weekly gathering was the subject of all my best compliments in a recent conversation about books and book clubs. In the month since my last post, I finished nine books, bringing my year-to-date total to seventy-three. ■ An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic (Daniel Mendelsohn; 2017. Non-fiction.) RFS ■ The Odyssey (Gareth Hinds; 2010. Graphic fiction.) ATY ■ Women Talking (Miriam Toews; 2019. Fiction.) ATY ■ The Wicked and the Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act (Kieron Gellen; 2014. Graphic fiction.) LIB ■ The Mighty Franks (Michael Frank; 2017. Non-fiction.) RFS ■ My Sister, The Serial Killer (Oyinkan Braithwaite; 2018. Fiction.) ATY ■ The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein; 2008. Fiction.) RFS ■ The Walking Dead, Vol. 32: Rest In Peace (Robert Kirkman; 2019. Graphic fiction.) OTH ■ The Cruelest Month (Louise Penny; 2008. Fiction.) ATY ——————- ATY Acquired this year LIB Borrowed from library OTH Other RFS Read from shelves
  2. Ayup. Most people didn’t want to hear my advice sixteen years ago, when I first maintained that college would not happen at the expense of my well-being and retirement. They probably don’t want to hear it now that my daughters have graduated. Heh, heh, heh. In an unrelated discussion, a poster pointed out that, on a plane in an emergency, you must put on your oxygen mask before you can fruitfully help others. Yet a frightening number of parents fail to don their financial oxygen masks. Worse, un(der)prepared for retirement and already living at (or above) their means, some help their children choose colleges based on a fatal combination of flawed advice from guidance counselors and admissions representatives and what will fly in their social circles. They maintain that it’s worth the cost for their kid to “follow his dream,” and they sign on to pay and pay and pay. The results will be disastrous.
  3. Hello, BaWers! It seems impossible, but to the best that I can determine, I last contributed to the discussion during Mother’s Day weekend. !! Things did get a bit hectic, for me: I am the move coordinator for my daughters’ relocation to the East Coast. I finally have a bit of time to breathe — that is, read — again, though. I should finish Daniel Mendlsohn’s memoir An Odyssey tonight. At this moment, I am at sixty-four books. Here are the titles I’ve read since I last checked in: ■ Where Reasons End (Yiyun Li; 2019. Fiction.) LIB ■ The Farm (Joanne Ramos; 2019. Fiction.) ATY ■ The Last Stone (Mark Bowden; 2019. Non-fiction.) ATY ■ A Fatal Grace (Louise Penny; 2007. Fiction.) ATY ■ Oblivion Song, Vol. 2 (Robert Kirkman; 2019. Graphic fiction.) ATY ■ The Suspect (L.R. Wright; 1985. Fiction.) RFS ■ True West (Sam Shepard; 1980. Drama.) RFS ■ Beowulf (Trans. Seamus Heaney; 2000. Poetry.) RFS ■ The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged (Sam Friedman and Daniel Laurison; 2019. Non-fiction.) LIB ■ The Rise of Life on Earth (Joyce Carol Oates; 1991. Fiction.) RFS ■ Recursion (Blake Crouch; 2019. Fiction.) ATY ■ American Spy (Lauren Wilkinson; 2019. Fiction.) ATY ——————- ATY Acquired this yearLIB Borrowed from libraryOTH OtherRFS Read from shelves
  4. What led you to homeschool? Briefly, we knew we could provide a better education than the schools available to us. How was your child homeschooled in the high school years? (Did you use WTM as a guide? Did your child take out of the home, online classes, or college classes?) The WTM informed our studies through the middle school years; less so during high school. Both the oldest and the youngest entered the local college as dual enrolled students for their senior year of high school. What did your child do after graduating? What is your child doing now? My oldest became a Marine after earning his Associate of Science (AS) with high honors. As many WTMers know, he died nearly nine years ago. My daughters transferred to the state flagship after earning their AS degrees, also with high honors. Both were in the University honors program, which, as it turns out, is not common for transfer students because of the difficulty one faces in meeting the program challenges in a compressed time frame. Both succeeded. The older daughter graduated last year with a BS in psychology and several academic honors in addition to the honors program designation. She has worked as a public school paraprofessional educator for the last year. This summer, she is working in the school’s extended year program. The younger daughter graduated this May with a BS in physics, several academic honors (including highest distinction departmental honors) in addition to the honors program designation, several offers of admission to PhD programs (all fully funded), and an invitation to return to the national laboratory at which she interned last summer (an invitation she happily accepted). The PhD program she chose has set my daughters, who are best friends, on a path to the East Coast, where the older daughter will work for one more year before beginning her Masters in Teaching and the younger will begin her PhD in physics.
  5. Happy Mother’s Day, BaWers! With my reread of Hamlet today, I reached fifty-two books. And Robin, I finished the Gamache challenge by reading Still Life; it was terrific. Here’s what I’ve read since my last post: ■ Crow Lake (Mary Lawson; 2002. Fiction.) RFS ■ Grass Kings, Vol. 3 (Matt Kindt; 2018. Graphic fiction.) LIB ■ Charmed Particles (Chrissy Kolaya; 2015. Fiction.) RFS ■ How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals (Sy Montgomery; 2018. Non-fiction.) LIB ■ Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home (Nora Krug; 2018. Graphic non-fiction.) LIB ■ Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality (Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton; 2013. Non-fiction.) LIB ■ To Walk the Night (William Sloane; 1937. Fiction.) RFS ■ The Awakening (Kate Chopin; 1899. Fiction.) RFS ■ The Pigman (Paul Zindel; 1968. Fiction.) ATY ■ Gideon Falls, Vol. 2: Original Sins (Jeff Lemire; 2019. Graphic fiction.) OTH ■ The Test (Sylvain Neuvel ; 2018. Fiction.) ATY ■ Nobody’s Fool: The Life and Times of Schlitzie the Pinhead (Bill Griffith; 2019. Graphic non-fiction.) LIB ■ Hey, Kiddo (Jarrett J. Krosoczka; 2018. Graphic non-fiction.) RFS ■ Still Life (Louise Penny; 2005. Fiction.) ATY ■ The Uses of Enchantment (Heidi Julavits; 2006. Fiction.) RFS ■ Hamlet (William Shakespeare; 1602. Drama.) RFS ————————————— ATY Acquired this year LIB Borrowed from library OTH Other RFS Read from shelves
  6. Robin, cyan... the color of technology but as old as nature itself. Wait, what? 🤣 Oh, and postscript... A few weeks back, you were doing a challenge that included an option to read the first book of a series. I chose Louise Penny's Still Life to be read sometime this year. Which challenge is that?
  7. Hello, BaWers! It's been a long time since I have been able to stop by, but I do so appreciate this space. As always, thank you, Robin, for bringing us together in this comfortable corner of the virtual living room. (1) Elsewhere, I participated in a discussion about an article by Simon Fraser University professor Hannah Macgregor, “Liking Books Is Not a Personality.” The piece is thought-provoking, and the conversation it inspired was terrific, too. My acquisition process has become more stringent with each passing year, and my weeding is rigorous, too. The shelf space is finite, so the volumes in the permanent collection either “spark joy” or serve the antilibrary definition ascribed to Umberto Eco early in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?” and the others — a very small minority — who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary. (Have you seen this clip of Eco walking through his vast collection? I first saw it via the wonderful Brain Pickings.) (2) My "Read from the shelves" challenge is going... sort of meh. I've read thirty-five books so far this year, and seventeen of those were already in my collection at the conclusion of 2018. Here's my list: January ■ The People in the Trees (Hanya Yanagihara; 2013. Fiction.) RFS ■ A Sorrow Beyond Dreams (Peter Handke; 1972. Fiction.) RFS ■ Upgrade Soul (Ezra Claytan Daniels; 2016. Graphic fiction.) LIB ■ Fieldwork (Mischa Berlinski; 2007. Fiction.) RFS ■ Becoming (Michelle Obama; 2018. Non-fiction.) RFS ■ The Widower’s Notebook (Jonathan Santlofer; 2018. Non-fiction.) RFS ■ Reasons to Stay Alive (Matt Haig; 2015. Non-fiction.) RFS ■ Paper Girls, Vol. 5 (Brian K. Vaughan; 2018. Graphic fiction.) LIB ■ Fear: Trump in the White House (Bob Woodward; 2018. Non-fiction.) RFS ■ The Shakespeare Requirement (Julie Schumacher; 2018. Fiction.) RFS February ■ Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning (Gary Marcus; 2012. Fiction.) RFS ■ Ghost Wall (Sarah Moss; 2018. Fiction.) LIB ■ A Loss for Words: The Story of Deafness in a Family (Lou Ann Walker; 1986. Non-fiction.) ATY ■ Gone for Good (Harlan Coben; 2002. Fiction.) RFS ■ The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty (Simon Baron-Cohen; 2011. Non-fiction.) ATY ■ First, Learn to Practice (Tom Heany; 2012. Non-fiction.) ATY ■ The Current (Tom Johnston; 2019. Fiction.) LIB ■ How to Love Your Flute (Mark Shepard; 1979. Non-fiction.) LIB ■ The Sirens of Titan (Kurt Vonnegut; 1959. Fiction.) RFS ■ Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (Carlo Rovelli; 2014. Non-fiction.) RFS March ■ Man-eaters, Vol. 1 (Chelsea Cain; 2019. (Graphic fiction.) OTH ■ Paddle Your Own Canoe (Nick Offerman; 2013. Non-fiction.) LIB ■ Why Art? (Eleanor Davis; 2018. Graphic non-fiction.) LIB ■ The Silent Patient (Alex Michaelides; 2019. Fiction.) ATY ■ The Walking Dead, Vol. 31 (Robert Kirkman; 2019. Graphic fiction.) OTH ■ All Systems Red (Martha Wells; 2017. Fiction.) LIB ■ Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? (Frans de Waal; 2016. Non-fiction.) RFS ■ Grass Kings, Vol. 2 (Matt Kindt; 2018. Graphic fiction.) LIB ■ The Wall (John Lanchester; 2019. Fiction.) ATY ■ D’Aulaires Book of Norse Myths (Ingri Mortenson and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire; 1967. Fiction.) RFS ■ Sweat (Lynn Nottage; 2015. Drama.) LIB ■ Norse Mythology (Neil Gaiman; 2017. Fiction.) RFS ■ The Orchid Thief (Susan Orlean; 1998. Non-fiction.) RFS April ■ The Stoy of Arthur Truluv (Elizabeth Berg; 2017. Fiction.) ATY ■ Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America (Beth Macy; 2018. Non-fiction.) RFS ————————————— ATY Acquired this year LIB Borrowed from library OTH Other RFS Read from shelves (3) Here's what I'm reading right now: ● Ulysses (James Joyce; 1922) When I learned that Bloomsday would be part of Remy Bumppo’s 2018/19 season, I resolved to reread Ulysses. James A.W. Heffernan’s lectures (The Great Courses) will supplement my reading. ● Alliance, Illinois (David Etter; 1983) My National Poetry Month selection. ● To Walk the Night (William Sloane; 1937) My youngest and I are reading this. ● Charmed Particles (Chrissy Kolaya; 2015) Fermilab! How could I not read it? ● The Pigman (Paul Zindel; 1968) To complement the surprisingly delightful novel The Story of Arthur Truluv (Elizabeth Berg). ● Providence of a Sparrow: Lessons from a Life Gone to the Birds (Chris Chester; 2002) My bird of the year is, once again, a house sparrow, so I remain optimistic about this. ● The Awakening (Kate Chopin; 1899) Selected as both my nod to The Great American Read and my 2018 Banned Book Week selection, this one, for no good reason, keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the pile. (4) Finally, here are some passages that made their way into my commonplace book since my last BaW post. From Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (Carlo Rovelli; 2014): p. 33 This is the world is described by quantum mechanics and particle theory. We have arrived very far from the mechanical world of Newton, where minute, cold stones eternally wandered on long, precise trajectories in geometrically immutable space. Quantum mechanics and experiments with particles have taught us that the world is a continuous, restless swarming of things, a continuous coming to light and disappearance of ephemeral entities. A set of vibrations, as in the switched-on hippie world of the 1960s. A world of happenings, not of things. p. 37 Physics is not only a history of successes. p. 63 Time sits at the center of the tangle of problems raised by the intersection of gravity, quantum mechanics, and thermodynamics. A tangle of problems where we are still in the dark. If there is something that we are perhaps beginning to understand about quantum gravity that combines two of the three pieces of the puzzle, we do not yet have a theory capable of trying to gather all three pieces of our fundamental knowledge of the world. From The Story of Arthur Truluv (Elizabeth Berg; 2017): p. 14 Mr. Lyons’s first name is Royal. Maddy thinks that’s hysterical. She wishes she could ask him what’s up with that. Royal. He’s got white hair and he’s a little fat. Maddy likes people who are a little fat; it seems to her that they are approachable. He’s a little fat and he’s got awfully pale skin and the links of his wristwatch are twisted like bad teeth. He doesn’t care about such things. He cares about words. He taught her one of her favorite words: hiraeth, a Welsh word that means homesickness for a home you cannot return to, or that maybe never was; it means nostalgia and yearning and grief for lost places. He used the word in a story that he read aloud to the class, and when he looked up, his eyes were full of tears. Nobody made fun of him after class, which was a miracle. Nobody said anything to her, anyway. Not that they would. She’s the girl who sits alone in the lunchroom, acting like her sandwich is fascinating. Or did. She skips lunch now. She doesn’t know exactly why kids don’t like her. She’s good-looking enough. She has a sense of humor. She’s not dumb. She guesses it’s because they can sense how much she needs them. They are like kids in a circle holding sticks, picking on the weak thing. It is in people to be entertained by cruelty. p. 18 Arthur thinks that, above all, aging means the abandonment of criticism and the taking on of compassionate acceptance. He sees that as a good trade. And anyway, Lucille makes those snickerdoodles, and she always packs some up for him to take home, and he eats them in bed, which is another thing he can do now, oh, sorrowful gifts. From The Wall (John Lanchester; 2019): p. 139 I suddenly got it. Hifa’s mother was one of those people who like life to be all about them. With the Change, that is a harder belief to sustain; it takes much more effort to think that life is about you when the whole of human life has turned upside down, when everything has been irrevocably changed for everyone. You can do it, of course you can, because people can do anything with their minds and their sense of themselves, but it takes work and only certain kinds of unusually self-centered people can do it. They want to be the focus of all the drama and pity and all the stories. I could tell that she didn’t like it that younger people are universally agreed to have had a worse deal than her generation. From Dopesick (Beth Macy; 2018): p. 125 Those of us living highly curated and time-strapped lives in cities across America — predominantly mixing virtually and physically with people whose views echoed our own — had no idea how politically and economically splintered our nation had become. And also how much poorer and sicker and work-starved they already struggling parts of the nation truly were — because we didn’t follow that story. We may feel more connected by our cellphones and computers, but in reality we are more divided that ever before.
  8. Hello, BaWers! Are you all doing well? For “something new,” I will read Tim Johnston’s latest novel, The Current. Here’s my list to date. I’m doing so-so with my “Read from the shelves” plan. ■ The People in the Trees (Hanya Yanagihara; 2013. Fiction.) RFS ■ A Sorrow Beyond Dreams (Peter Handke; 1972. Fiction.) RFS ■ Upgrade Soul (Ezra Claytan Daniels; 2016. Graphic fiction.) LIB ■ Fieldwork (Mischa Berlinski; 2007. Fiction.) RFS ■ Becoming (Michelle Obama; 2018. Non-fiction.) RFS ■ The Widower’s Notebook (Jonathan Santlofer; 2018. Non-fiction.) RFS ■ Reasons to Stay Alive (Matt Haig; 2015. Non-fiction.) RFS ■ Paper Girls (Brian K. Vaughan; 2018. Graphic fiction.) LIB ■ Fear: Trump in the White House (Bob Woodward; 2018. Non-fiction.) RFS ■ The Shakespeare Requirement (Julie Schumacher; 2018. Fiction.) RFS ■ Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning (Gary Marcus; 2012. Fiction.) RFS ■ Ghost Wall (Sarah Moss; 2018. Fiction.) LIB ■ A Loss for Words: The Story of Deafness in a Family (Sarah Moss; 1986. Fiction.) ATY ■ Gone for Good (Harlan Coben; 2002. Fiction.) RFS ————————————— ATY Acquired this year LIB Borrowed from library OTH Other RFS Read from shelves
  9. Read minds. Carpet. Alone. A cabin in the woods steps from the beach. Think Maine.
  10. Hello, BaWers! Over the winter break, my younger daughter borrowed my copy of the Halperin translation of Michael Bernanos’ wonderfully creepy and unforgettable The Other Side of the Mountain. * Mischa Berlinski’s Fieldwork caught my eye when I refiled it. What a perfect “Read from the shelves” selection: I received the review copy nearly twelve years ago! The book was good as Stephen King’s EW editorial promised, and it fits neatly onto the mental shelf where I recently placed two other novels about anthropology: Euphoria by Lily King (one of the best books I read last year) and The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara (disturbing content but excellently written). Since my last post, I also finished Upgrade Soul (Ezra Claytan Daniels; 2016), which I borrowed from the library. For those of you who are still resisting graphic works, especially those who enjoy speculative, dystopian, and/or science fiction, this would be a fabulous introduction to the graphic work form: deceptively simple art enriches a compelling and original story. Bonus: The protagonists are a vibrant, intelligent couple who have been married forty-five years. It has been a slow reading month, but many of my bookmarks are in the last quarter of their books, so I hope to add a few more to my list before month’s end. Sure, it would be easy to blame my discovery of Parks and Recreation on Prime Video for the paucity of books read, but I have also been walking more; and my winter break concluded a few days after my last post, so I have returned to work and to music lessons and practice. ASL studies and snow removal have also nibbled on my reading time. Okay, okay. Yeah. I’ve been gleefully enjoying Parks and Recreation episodes — not binge-ing but definitely choosing the series over a book. If you’re a fan, you probably understand. Color me chagrined. * I recently learned about another translation by Gio Clairval and have added it to my “Want to read” list.
  11. Thank you, Negin. We have always lived in a library, but in the “forever home” it really became all that I had ever envisioned. During our homeschooling years, the collection swelled to nearly 11,000, but a cull before the move eight years ago and another three years later when we finished homeschooling brought it to what I think is a workable number. We lined the living room, the former piano room (where my desk now is), the hall, and the family room in floor to ceiling bookcases. These plus the shelves in the bedrooms can hold up to 10,000 volumes; the collection is currently about 7,200. With this many books, the rest of the house must be visually simple, so I had it painted the same color throughout. Anyway, here’s a pic of the view into the living room.
  12. I did Shakespeare in a Year in 2017 and loved it! Your feelings about TA were shared by several in the FB group that hosted the 2017 challenge, by the way. I appreciated TA much more than I had thought I would, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy read. Even if one accepts the idea that the plot is willfully over-the-top, it’s still horrifying, and given the graphic sound effects in the Arkangel recording, I had unhappily anticipated close-ups of violence and bloodletting once I saw play. The film featuring Anthony Hopkins in the title role was, however, rather restrained, for which I was most grateful. Not all of the production choices appealed to me (frankly, I just didn’t understand a few), but overall, it earned a thumbs-up for both acting and restraint. Postscript: It’s neat to chat about TA right now because the Shakespeare Project is giving a reading next weekend.
  13. Fourteen or so years ago, Haupt’s Rare Encounters introduced me to the “bird of the year” game. This year, I awoke to the sound of house sparrows in the bushes beneath my bedroom window. The window-hanging was slightly raised, so, to avoid seeing them, I squeezed my eyes shut, rolled to the other side of the bed, and went back to sleep. I admit: Yes, I’d like a crow or a blue jay. Is that too much to ask? Later, when I finally walked out into the living room, three cardinals, a house finch, and several dark-eyed juncos were at the feeding station, but what did I see first? House sparrows.
  14. Happy New Year! On the nightstand: ● The Sirens of Titan (Kurt Vonnegut; 1959) ● Reasons to Stay Alive (Matt Haig; 2001) ● The People in the Trees (Hanya Yanagihara; 2013) ● The Awakening (Kate Chopin; 1899) ● Becoming (Michelle Obama; 2018) ● Fear (Bob Woodward; 2018) ● Dopesick (Beth Macy; 2018) And, as I shared in the previous thread, here’s my goal: In 2019, I will read one hundred books from my shelves (i.e., the books must have been in my collection before the end of 2018), including at least twenty-four non-fiction titles and at least one book from each of the following “special collections”: Shakespeare, poetry, NYRB, Vonnegut, Joyce Carol Oates, philosophy, art, and children’s / YA. Since I’ve been finishing between 120 and 150 books annually for the last few years, this goal leaves me a little room for impulsivity. And for folks who like this sort of thing, here’s a recent image of part of my library:
  15. You are in my thoughts. I am so sorry for your losses.
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