Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Welcome to the 2014 Read 52 Books in 52 Week Challenge


Also the home of  Well Educated Mind, Nobel Prize Winners, Around the World  and various mini challenges.  
The rules are very simple and the goal is to read one book (at least) a week for 52 weeks.

  1. The challenge will run from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014. 
  2. Our book weeks will begin on Sunday  
  3. Participants may join at any time.
  4. All books are acceptable except children books.**
  5. All forms of books are acceptable including e-books, audio books, etc.
  6. Re-reads are acceptable as long as they are read after January 1, 2014.
  7. Books may overlap other challenges.
  8. Create an entry post linking to this blog. 
  9. Come back and sign up with Mr. Linky in the "I'm participating post" below this post.
  10. You don't have a blog to participate.  Post your weekly book in the comments section of each weekly post.  
  11. Mr. Linky will be added to the bottom of the weekly post for you to link to reviews of your most current reads. 
All the mini challenges are optional. Mix it up anyway you like. The goal is to read 52 books. How you get there is up to you. 

**in reference to children books. If it is a child whose reading it and involved in the challenge, then that's okay.  If an adult is doing read aloud with kids, the book should be geared for the 9 - 12 age group and above and over 100 pages. If adult reading for own enjoyment, then a good rule of thumb to go by "is there some complexity to the story or is it too simple?"  If it's too simple, then doesn't count.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

BW17: Pick a random book

Fabric Book covers

Happy Easter!  With the end of lent, my book buying ban for the year is officially over.  Unofficially, the ban didn't work very well, nor did my books cooperate as they reproduced like rabbits.   I have a tendency to shop when I'm depressingly stressed because it makes me feel soooo much better.   After finishing the taxes and writing a humongous check to the IRS last week, I had the need to meander through the Barnes and Noble shelves without any certain book destination in mind.  It's an interesting exercise because you'll never quite know what book is going to call your name.  This one by Mike Shevdon, a new to me author,  jumped out at me and after reading the first page, had to get it.





Synopsis:  After a heart attack, Niall Petersen is revived on the London Underground by an old lady who tells him he’s not entirely human. The old lady turns out to be much older than she appears, and explains that he has inherited the bloodlines of the Feyre, creatures of myth and folklore.

Now one of those creatures is hunting him and he must find a way for him and his daughter to survive. To succeed he must discover the secret of the two knives, one blunt, one sharp, the six horse-shoes, and why there are Sixty-One Nails.

I also tried out an interesting experiment in the science fiction/fantasy section by counting over 3 sections and down 2 shelves to the 15th book in the section.  There I found Anne Bishop's Written in Red and was instantly captivated.  




Synopsis:  As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others. 

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow. 


So, my challenge to you this week is go to the library or book store and pick a book based on its cover or its position on the shelf.  To choose a book based on its position on the shelf, decide in advance -  the genre, two numbers between 1 and 5,  and then a 3rd number between 1 and 30. Using those numbers, count over that certain number of sections in the aisle, go down that number of shelves and count to the 3rd number and that's the book you'll get.  Have fun!


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Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you have multiple reviews, then type in (multi) after your name and link to your general blog url.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

BW16: Book News

Efteling in Netherlands

I'm elbow deep in tax land this weekend and would much rather be having fun at Efteling in the Netherlands.  I just discovered the park during my armchair travels and have added it to my list of dreams places to go.  Another dream place on my list is Ireland since many of my great great's originated from there.  I think we still have cousins long removed in Cork County somewhere.  I don't know why it is, but when I think of Ireland, poetry comes to mind.  Which brings me to Seamus Heaney, 1995 Nobel Prize winner and Irish poet who passed away last year, and would have been 75 years old today. 

He shares his birthday with Irish playwright Samuel Beckett as well as Thomas Jefferson and Eudora Welty.

From my meanderings around the blogosphere:

Poetry that Moves Men to Tears ~ 100 poems including one from Heaney as well.

Future Legends of Russian Literature at the London Book Fair.

During the Los Angeles Festival of Books this weekend, the 2013 Innovator's Award went to John Green and the 2013 Book Prize Winner in fiction is Ruth Ozeki for A Tale for the Time Being.

Kurt Vonnegut died 7 years ago and Brainpickings highlights a 1974 interview on limitations of the brain and why the universe exists.   Plus they found a 1926 recording of Dorothy Parker reading Inscriptions for the Ceiling of the Bedroom.

Happy reading! 


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Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post. 


Sunday, April 6, 2014

BW15: Armchair traveling through 15th Century England



Are you ready to dive into the 15th Century (1401-1500) with me and Sir Thomas Malory.  I was perusing my shelves the other day and ran across an old copy of Le Morte D'Arthur inherited from my late mother-in-law.  I love the front cover which states it is  'the Heroic and Lusty epic of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table.'  The pages are quite yellow and the print is very small, so much so that I think I'll let it continue to languish in its glory on the shelves and download a version to read on my ipad.   I also found a wonderful site  ~ Arthurian Legends ~ with fine art drawings created in the 40's by belgian artist Francoise Taylor, plus links to many informative arthurian websites.

Since I'm also armchair traveling over to England this month, I've discovered a wealth of historical fiction at historicalnovels.info and the always informative Goodreads list of 15th Century popular literature.   

And my backpack is overflowing with a wide variety of books set in England from Elizabeth Chadwick's historical The Greatest Knight to Margaret Frazer's 15th century first book in her Dame Frevisse's series - The Novice's Tale to Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway,  Jacqueline Winspeare's A Lesson in Secrets and Suzanna Clark's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel.  I may just end up settling down in a cozy cottage on the heath for a month or two or three.  *grin*   We'll see. 

Join me in reading a book set in the 15th Century and/or England.

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Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post.  


Sunday, March 30, 2014

BW14: National Poetry Month



In 1996, April was established as National Poetry Month by the Academy of American Poets for the purpose of introducing more people to the pleasures of reading poetry and to appreciate the achievements of american poets.   This year, the Academy is sponsoring the Poet to Poet Project in which students write poems in response to the poetry of the poets who sit on the chancellery board.  Also, on the website you'll find 30 ways to celebrate poetry which includes read a poetry book, attend a poetry reading, write a letter to a poet, start your own commonplace book, and poem in your pocket.

Poem in your pocket day is officially April 24th and my go to poet is Robert Frost.


The Road Not Taken




Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.




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Also, join me in a readalong of Susan Wise Bauer's  History of the Ancient World. I'll most likely be reading one to two chapters a week and allowing time for following rabbit trails as they appear.  And if I'm feeling really ambitious, may just attempt to use the Study and Teaching Guide from Peace Hill Press. 



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Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

BW13: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad



The 17th novel in Susan Wise Bauer's list of fiction reads from her book The Well-Educated Mind is Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.  The story was originally published in a three part serial in Blackwood's Magazine in 1899.


One  - 

The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest. The flood had made, the wind was nearly calm, and being bound down the river, the only thing for it was to come to and wait for the turn of the tide.

The sea-reach of the Thames stretched before us like the beginning of an interminable waterway. In the offing the sea and the sky were welded together without a joint, and in the luminous space the tanned sails of the barges drifting up with the tide seemed to stand still in red clusters of canvas sharply peaked, with gleams of varnished sprits. A haze rested on the low shores that ran out to sea in vanishing flatness. The air was dark above Gravesend, and farther back still seemed condensed into a mournful gloom, brooding motionless over the biggest, and the greatest, town on earth.

The Director of Companies was our captain and our host. We four affectionately watched his back as he stood in the bows looking to seaward. On the whole river there was nothing that looked half so nautical. He resembled a pilot, which to a seaman is trustworthiness personified. It was difficult to realize his work was not out there in the luminous estuary, but behind him, within the brooding gloom.

Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns--and even convictions. The Lawyer--the best of old fellows--had, because of his many years and many virtues, the only cushion on deck, and was lying on the only rug. The Accountant had brought out already a box of dominoes, and was toying architecturally with the bones. Marlow sat cross-legged right aft, leaning against the mizzen-mast. He had sunken cheeks, a yellow complexion, a straight back, an ascetic aspect, and, with his arms dropped, the palms of hands outwards, resembled an idol. 

The director, satisfied the anchor had good hold, made his way aft and sat down amongst us. We exchanged a few words lazily. Afterwards there was silence on board the yacht. For some reason or other we did not begin that game of dominoes. We felt meditative, and fit for nothing but placid staring. The day was ending in a serenity of still and exquisite brilliance. The water shone pacifically; the sky, without a speck, was a benign immensity of unstained light; the very mist on the Essex marsh was like a gauzy and radiant fabric, hung from the wooded rises inland, and draping the low shores in diaphanous folds. Only the gloom to the west, brooding over the upper reaches, became more sombre every minute, as if angered by the approach of the sun.

And at last, in its curved and imperceptible fall, the sun sank low, and from glowing white changed to a dull red without rays and without heat, as if about to go out suddenly, stricken to death by the touch of that gloom brooding over a crowd of men.

Forthwith a change came over the waters, and the serenity became less brilliant but more profound. The old river in its broad reach rested unruffled at the decline of day, after ages of good service done to the race that peopled its banks, spread out in the tranquil dignity of a waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth. We looked at the venerable stream not in the vivid flush of a short day that comes and departs for ever, but in the august light of abiding memories. And indeed nothing is easier for a man who has, as the phrase goes, "followed the sea" with reverence and affection, that to evoke the great spirit of the past upon the lower reaches of the Thames. The tidal current runs to and fro in its unceasing service, crowded with memories of men and ships it had borne to the rest of home or to the battles of the sea. It had known and served all the men of whom the nation is proud, from Sir Francis Drake to Sir John Franklin, knights all, titled and untitled--the great knights-errant of the sea. 

It had borne all the ships whose names are like jewels flashing in the night of time, from the Golden Hind returning with her rotund flanks full of treasure, to be visited by the Queen's Highness and thus pass out of the gigantic tale, to the Erebus and Terror, bound on other conquests-- and that never returned. It had known the ships and the men. They had sailed from Deptford, from Greenwich, from Erith-- the adventurers and the settlers; kings' ships and the ships of men on 'Change; captains, admirals, the dark "interlopers" of the Eastern trade, and the commissioned "generals" of East India fleets. Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire. What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that river into the mystery of an unknown earth! . . . The dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths, the germs of empires.

The sun set; the dusk fell on the stream, and lights began to appear along the shore. The Chapman light-house, a three-legged thing erect on a mud-flat, shone strongly. Lights of ships moved in the fairway--a great stir of lights going up and going down. And farther west on the upper reaches the place of the monstrous town was still marked ominously on the sky, a brooding gloom in sunshine, a lurid glare under the stars.

"And this also," said Marlow suddenly, "has been one of the dark places of the earth....

Read the rest online here or here or here.




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Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post.   


Sunday, March 16, 2014

BW12: Spring Beckons



Spring officially arrives on March 20th and with it comes the feeling of rejuvenation.  The feel of the sun,  flowers and trees blossoming, birds singing, squirrels chattering  and mornings sitting out on my patio enjoying nature.  The desire to begin spring cleaning and throw out all the old stuff to make room for the new.  Plus the urge to clean up our garden, explore the nursery, go crazy buying too many flats of plants and get busy digging my fingers into the soil.  And for some unknown reason,  I'm always reminded of Robert Frost and his poem Spring Pools.

These pools that, though in forests, still reflect
The total sky almost without defect,
And like the flowers beside them, chill and shiver,
Will like the flowers beside them soon be gone,
And yet not out by any brook or river,
But up by roots to bring dark foliage on.
The trees that have it in their pent-up buds
To darken nature and be summer woods---
Let them think twice before they use their powers
To blot out and drink up and sweep away
These flowery waters and these watery flowers
From snow that melted only yesterday.


Tell me what you think of when you hear the word Spring.  Words that immediately come to mind for me are rebirth, flowers, buds, seeds, sunshine, bees, birds, sing, bright, pink, new.     Goodreads came up with an interesting lists related to Spring or Flowers or sunshine

Decided to get creative and use some of the words from Frost's Poem to find a spring book to read.   Not as easy as you think or else I'm just getting really picky.   Unlike Winter, in which my stacks were full of wintery reads, I don't seem to have nary a one relating to Spring.  Unless I want to count The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder. *grin*

Join me in reading books with spring or spring related words in the title for the season of Spring.  

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

BW11: 14th Century







This month I'm jumping into the 14th century which ran from 1301 to 1400. It was the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy and later spread throughout Europe after 1450. We begin to see the rise of the alliterative verse as seen in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, along with Pearl, Purity and Patience.  Plus allegorical literature in which symbols were used to describe characters or events, such as William Langland's Piers Plowman or Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales as well as Dante's Divine Comedy.   

If you've finished reading Inferno, are you ready to tackle Purgatorio?  Me neither. I spent a good amount of time, reading through the analysis on Sparknotes and looking people up.It was educational, a bit scary, and at times made me feel woefully ignorant when it came to history. But that's not such a bad thing as I can see where it will lead me on plenty of rabbit trails. Not sure if or when I'll go on to Purgatorio. Need to clean my brain with bleach and feed my soul with something positive first.

However, if you are interested, Rod Dreher from American Conservative blog is doing a Lenten readalong of Purgatorio, so head over and check out his detailed commentary.  Very enlightening. 

Check out Goodreads list of Popular 14th Century literature which includes all the ones I mentioned above as well as Umberto Eco, Anya Seton, Bernard Cornwall and Suzanna Gregory to name a few.  If you are feeling adventuresome, delve into the historical chronicles of Froissart and Joinville. 

Join me in reading a book set in the 14th Century.

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Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post.  





Sunday, March 2, 2014

BW10: Armchair Traveling through France



Welcome to March which is beginning to look like a full month with Lent beginning on the 5th, daylight savings time beginning on the 9th,  St Patrick's day on the 17th and the first day of Spring on the 20th.  Plus the very first Nobel Prize winner in Literature in 1901 went to Frenchman Sully Prudhomme whose birthday is March 16, 1839.  In fact, other Nobel Prize literature winners from France include:

Frederic Mistral 1904
Count Maurice Maeterlinck 1911 - Born in Belguim, lived and died in France 
Romain Rolland 1915 
Anatole France  1921
Henri Bergson 1927
Roger Martin Du Gard 1937
Andre Gide 1947
Francois Mauriac 1952
Albert Camus - 1957
Jean-Paul Sartre 1964
Samuel Becket 1969 - born in Ireland but moved and died in France
Claude Simon 1985
Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio 2008

So while we are armchair traveling through France this month, consider reading a book or poetry written by one of the Nobel Prize Winners.   

I do seem to have one foot stuck in Italy and the other foot in France and have both Italian and French authors in my backpack.  And since I've delving into the 14th century this month,  Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose, fits the bill perfectly. As well as his Foucault's Pendulum which actually is set in Paris.  Another author I've been meaning to try is Marcel Proust and discovered Swann's Way available for free on Kindle.  For fun I have 3 of Cara Black's books in her Aimee Leduc investigation mystery series as well.

For those who prefer a culinary approach to France, Nancy Pearl from Book Lust to Go recommends checking out Julia Child's My Life in France or Kathleen Flinn's The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry.  Take a food tour through France with Balzac's Omelette by Anka Muhlstein or Ann Mah's Mastering the Art of French Eating. 

For more ideas, check out Goodreads popular French Literature list with includes Camus, Voltaire, Dumas, Balzac, Verne and Sartre to name a few. 

Join me in reading all things French, with a little bit of Italian thrown in on the side.


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Sunday, February 23, 2014

BW9: Follow the Rabbit Trail

Thinking - Davide Restivo

For some reason I have two words stuck in my brain - Twelve and Road.  Maybe it is because I just finished Justin Cronin's The Twelve and the characters spent a lot of time on the road. Who knows.  What do you think of when you hear the word twelve or see the number 12.  What comes to my mind are a jury, apostles, dozen eggs, months, 12 lords a leaping, knights, and time.   Road, well? A journey, travel, trails, highways, a straight line and exploring. 

Decided to check out my stacks and see what popped. In my stacks are two very dusty books,  The Road to Rome which I've just started and The Road to Jerusalem by Jan Guillou.  Obvious choices. Then, A Blind Alley, Moonlight Mile, Don't Turn Around and Invisible Bridge. Number wise, I have Tenth Stone, Twelfth Iman, 13th Tribe by Robert Liparulo.  

When I look up the road on Amazon, the first hits are The Road by Cormac McCarthy,  The Road by Jack London and On the Road by Jack Kerouac.  Of course, twelfth brings up the obvious, Shakespeare.  Wouldn't you know it. Books I wish I had in my stacks. 


Are you ready to follow some rabbit trails?  Your primary mission is to read  a book already in your stacks with a number or the word road in the title.  Your secondary mission is to see if you can find a book with both the number and a reference to a road or synonyms related to road in the title. 

Happy trails! 

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Link to your reviews:    Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

BW8: 13th Century



This month I am delving into the 13th Century which ran from 1201 to 1300.   Since we have been armchair traveling in Italy this month,  let's concentrate on Italian literature for the moment.  In the 13th Century,  the sonnet became the most popular form of poetry and spread from King Frederick's Sicilian court out through Europe.  Up until the 1260's, the sonnets were all about romance and chivalry.  Guido Guinizelli introduced the mystical and philosophical style which Dante used for his La Vita Nuova.  Folk, doctrinal and religious poetry all came into play during the time period as well. 

If you look at Goodread's lists of The Best Books of the 13th Century and  Popular 13th Century literature, besides Sharon Kay Penman and Elizabeth Chadwick, whom I mentioned before, you'll also find Dante's La Vita Nuova, Umberto Eco's Baudolini, Edith Pargetter's Brothers of Gwynedd as well as Dante's Divine Comedy, St. Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theology and Sufi mystic Rumi's Love Poetry.  Quite an assortment to choose from.

For more information on 13th Century literature check out Factbites for interesting tidbits of information that I'm sure will send you on all kinds of rabbit trails.   And for sacred poetry around the world by century, check out Poetry Chaikhana. 

Join me in reading a book set in the 13th Century.


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Link to your reviews:    Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post.  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

BW7: Armchair traveling through Italy



Have you started reading Dante's Inferno yet?  Yeah, me neither.  There are 34 cantos, so as of today I plan on reading two a day which should have me finishing it by the end of February.  While the rest of the world's eye is on Sochi in Russia, my eyes are on Italy. We are going to do some armchair traveling through Italy reading books set in or written by Italian authors.  So many places to choose from -  Venice, Verona, Rome.  Plus so much history to explore both fictional and non fictional wise.  All roads seem to start with Rome so we'll start there.  I found some interesting links including Italian Legacy which discusses Italian literature of ancient Rome, the middle ages, troubadours, scholars and poets, the beginnings of authentic Italian literature, the renaissance and more.  Definitely well worth checking out.

According to Book Lust to Go, the best place to start is with the history of Rome.  Nancy recommends for a historical fiction tour of Rome; Colleen McCullough's Master of Rome series or Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Roma Series.

I've currently have in my backpack The Road to Rome by Ben Kane which is the 3rd book in his Forgotten Legion Trilogy based in 48BC.    I read The Forgotten Legion a couple years back which totally blew me away, then The Silver Eagle when it came out.  They aren't the easiest books to read.



 
 

Here's what I said back in 2010 when I first read Forgotten Legion:  

"The Forgotten Legion" is an excellent book, very well written, grabs your attention from the very beginning and doesn't let it go.  I'm usually don't read historical fiction because I find them dull, flat, and boring most of the time.     Ben Kane's epic novel surrounding  the lives of Romulus, Fabiola, Tarquinius and Brennus in ancient Rome changed my mind.    Do you think I like it just a little. :)  I normally don't get effusive over a book, but I really, really enjoyed this one.   Yes, what happens to the characters and following it from their perspective could make you cringe at times.  It was a brutal era.  Plus the  lives of the slaves were just as full of political strife and politics and backstabbing as the upper class.

I think what made the story so enjoyable is I just finished taking a course in Art from the Ancients up the 14th century.  Learning all about the art and architecture of the Roman era, then reading as the characters and their activities took place in the roman forum to pompey to the silk highway to the coliseum where the gladiator fights were held was just fascinating to me.   Made reading the story a much richer experience. 

Also in my backpack are:  Open Mind, Faithful Heart by Pope Francis which are reflections he wrote before becoming pope.   Plus Emberto Uco's The Name of the Rose, and art history mysteries - Daniel Silva's Fallen Angel and Iain Pears Giotti's Hand.

Join me in reading all things Italian this month.

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Link to your reviews:    Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post.