Sunday, January 29, 2017

BW5: Festive February

Amethyst by Alphonse Mucha


This week we wave bye bye to January and hello to Festive February.  We have lots to celebrate this month from Groundhog's Day, the Superbowl, Daytona 500, Valentine's Day, and Lincoln and Washington's birthday's to national monthly celebrations including Black History, Women Inventors, Haiku Writing, American Heart, Library Lovers and Bird Feeding.  And let's not forget Grapefruit or Barley month, Spunky Old Broads month or Adopt a Rescued Rabbit month.  As well as international celebrations of Candelmas, Fat Tuesday, New Zealand's Waitangi day and Japan's National Founding Day.



The Birthstone of the month is AmethystYou may choose to spell out the word, reading one book per letter or read a book with the name or the colors of the stone in the title.  Or perhaps find an author whose name is Amethyst.  You may decide to find a book set in the time period where the birthstone was discovered or surrounding the myth and lore or set in countries where the birthstone is currently found. 


Historically, the Amethyst has both spiritual as well as mythological symbolism.  Derived from the Ancient Greek term Amethystos,  meaning not intoxicated, it was considered an antidote to intoxication.  It is associated with the wine God BacchusIn Hebrew, the stone's name is Aclamah and has religious significance as the 9th stone on the high priest's breastplate representing the 12 tribes of Israel.    Saint Valentine is said to have worn a ring with an Amethyst stone carved in the shape of cupid.   In the medieval period, soldiers believed the stone had healing properties, and Astrologers in the 1500's thought the stone helped with intelligence.  

The stone is primarily mined in Brazil and neighboring states, but may also be found in South Korea, Russia, India, Africa and the United States. Plus, the Amethyst is the official state gemstone for South Carolina. 

As you can see there are many rabbit trails to follow from celebrations, both cultural and historical, spanning from the ancient times to the present.  The possibilities are limitless.




Image result for Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer Monument


Since our armchair travels have taken us to Brazil, you have a variety of authors to choose from rather than a singular author flavor of the month.  Check out Goodreads Popular Brazilian Author Books  or Culture Trips 10 Best Brazilian Writers.   Spread out across the continent and check out 22 Classic and Contemporary Female Latin American Authors or 
6 Nobel Prize Winning authors from Latin America.  



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Please link to your specific  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, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading.   Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week.  No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.



Sunday, January 22, 2017

BW4: The Shape of Culture - Past, Present, and Future





Does when and where you are born really matter or is it who you are born to that shapes you?  How much does the culture of family, your community, your town play into your thoughts, ideas and speech? The south is ingrained in my soul.  I’ve lived in California now for more than half my life but I’ll always be a southerner at heart.  I’m a bundle of contradictions, my speech riddled with hey and howdy and y’all along with like and awesome and dude.

When I was in the fifth grade, we moved to California.  Culture shock.  I’d left behind friendly voices,  the refrain of “Y’all come back now, ya hear”  and chit chat at the check-out counter, exchanging it for bored clerks who ignored me while they chatted among themselves.   The kids all looked at me funny and asked why I talked so weird, their speech peppered with you guys and you know’s and here you go. “What guys and no, I don’t know and where am I going?”

I didn’t know I had an accent and that I talked with a twang, dropping my g’s both comin’ and goin’.  About a year after we moved, one of my sister’s friends called.  On my gosh, is that what I sounded like? Just imagine Hee Haw and you’ll get it because it just doesn’t translate to paper.  I was so happy when we moved south to Georgia,  back to the land of y’all and hey and friendly smiles.  No one was a stranger,  the ever present gnats at dusk making everyone think you were waving at them.

Football and bowling, stealing the other school’s mascot, cruising through Sonic and playing video games at the arcade.  Pigging out on Krystal’s mini burgers and Church’s fried chicken. All sounds a little like American Graffiti.  Carefree high school days.

I’ve been in California over 30 years now and the minute I hear anyone talking with a southern drawl, I slip right back into it seamlessly. There are times I have to concentrate, speaking precisely, reminding myself not to forget those g’s at the end of ing and that not everyone likes to be called hon or sugar.

And Lord a mercy, when I’m plumb tuckered out and I still have to fix supper; when I’d ruther rest my feet and sit a spell, and have my son fetch me a drink, I sit back and wonder why the gal at the café annoyed me so much when she called me hon. 


What does this have to do with books, you ask?  This week your mission is to learn more about local and/or popular culture.  You can even let a friend choose a book for you. Either of which would satisfy a couple spots on the bingo card.  There are a wide variety of books to choose from. Check out Goodreads list of Popular Culture Books or Ideas.Ted.com Guide to Reading the World or watch Ann Morgan's My Year Reading Books from Every Country.    


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Please link to your specific  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, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading.   Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week.  No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

BW3: Author Oulipo Mashup



And now for something completely different.  Have you ever heard of an Oulipo?  I was introduced to the form during one of my writing classes and found it quite intriguing.   Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle or OULIPO was founded by French Mathematician Francois de Lionnais and writer Raymond Queneau in 1960.   Basically it is introducing a constraint while writing a poem, creating a short story, or a lipogram.  

My first experiment with creating an OULIPO using Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken took an interesting turn.   I tried the N + 7 route which is using the dictionary,  replace the major nouns with another noun which is the 7th one below it.  However the first line ending up being Two robbers diverged in a women.  Hmmm! Once I quit laughing, I got the bright idea to take book titles and transform them into a story, but got as far as a weird poem.  

This week we have several literary author birthdays making it really hard to choose just one. So my Oulipo is a mashup of titles from their books, which once again makes either a a strange story or weird poem. I'll leave that up to you to decide.  Also, without googling, see if you can identify the authors from the titles. Then add one or more of them to your want list to read this year.



A descent into the Maelstrom
Behind the Lines
Cry of the Owl
Deep Water

Facts of the case of M. Valdemar
Gold Bug
Hop Frog
Imp of the Perverse

Lady with the Little Dog
Mr. Pim
Nothing that Meets the Eye
Portraits and Speculation

Red House Mystery
Six Weeks in Russia
Talented Mr. Ripley
The Way We Live Now

Three Sisters
We Didn’t Mean to See
When We Were Very Young
Two People

A Letter to America
A Table Near the Band
Lovers in London
Purloined Letter

Agnes Grey
Benefactor
Cask of Amontillado
Secret Water

Once Upon a Time
Peter Duck 
Carol 
Four Day’s Wonder

Things in our Garden
Black Cat
Seagulls
Masque of Red Death 

House at Pooh Corner
Pit and the Pendulum
Where the Stress Falls
Premature Burial 



Why don't you give it a try with books from your own shelves and see what happens!  

Happy reading! 


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Please link to your specific  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, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading.   Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week.  No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.





Sunday, January 8, 2017

BW2: Happy 68th Birthday Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami January 12, 1949 

Jubilant January wouldn't be the same without Haruki Murakami.  He's a fan favorite with 52 Books and has become our traditional first readalong of the year.   I was introduced to his writing with 1Q84 and as Murakami said, it is a mind bending ode to George Orwell's 1984.  




Synopsis: Japan's most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II.    In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat.  Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo.  As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.

Murakami's imaginative writing sucks you into his stories and won't let you go until the end.    After delving in The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, then Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, I admit his stories can be a bit strange. However he gives readers plenty to think about regarding the the conscious and the unconscious mind. 

This year we'll be diving into Norwegian Wood, the book that propelled Murakami into the international spotlight. 








Synopsis:  Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.  A poignant story of one college student’s romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love.

And should you decide Norwegian Wood isn't right for you, dive into another one of his fiction novels, explore his short stories or his non fiction essays.  A new book is being released in February in Japan, however the title and story synopsis hasn't been released yet. 

Want to find out more about Murakami -  Check out his website, follow him on facebook, peak into his interviews in Japan Times on music, jazz and the brain, and danish award


Happy Birthday, Haruki Murakami!!!!



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Please link to your specific  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, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading.   Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week.  No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.




Sunday, January 1, 2017

BW1: Welcome to an Adventurous Prime Reading New Year

Jonathan Wolstenholme The Complete Journey


Happy new year and welcome to Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks. Greetings to all who are joining me for another round or jumping in for the first time for a bookish adventure.

Are you ready to go spelunking around the world?   We are going to search for hidden book gems as we excavate for new as well as old reads. Have fun and delve into one book at a time or scoop up multiple books, burrow in with a classic, dig into a chunky read or shine up one of those dusty books from your shelves.   

The rules are quite simple. Read 52 Books. That's it. How you get there is up to you. To aid us in our reading adventures, we have several optional challenges which are listed in the link bar above:  Dusty and/or Chunky,  another round of 52 Books Bingo, our perpetual Well Educated Mind challenge as well as a new year long challenge, the Birthstone Bookology Reading Adventure.   The birthstones  and authors of the month are listed above in the Monthly Themes and Readalongs. Plus I'll introduce various mini challenges throughout the year to tickle your reading taste buds. As always, you may choose to travel along with me or follow your own path.  

In February, we will begin a year long read of Susan Wise Bauer's The Story of Western Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory.   One of those books which will most certainly lead to many rabbit trails.  

Our Birthstone Bookology Reading Adventure begins in the times of the ancients.  Here's your chance to read a book set in Ancients through 100AD and check off one bingo square. :)  According to historians, the gemstones represented the twelve tribes of Israel up until the writings of Flavius Josephus in 1AD  and St Jerome in 5AD connected the 12 stones with the 12 signs of the zodiac.  It wasn't until the 18th Century in Poland when people began to wear the stone linked to their birth month. The National Association of Jewelers defined the modern list we are all familiar with in 1912.  

The birthstone of the month is Garnet.  You may choose to spell out the word, reading one book per letter or read a book with the name or the colors of the stone in the title.  Or perhaps find an author whose name is Garnet.  You may decide to find a book set in the time period where the birthstone was discovered or surrounding the myth and lore or set in countries where the birthstone is currently found.  Follow rabbit trails of thought and see where they take you.  The possibilities are limitless.

I plan to start the new year with Ben Kane's historical  Spartacus: The Gladiator.  Besides having a G in the title, it is also set in Roman times during 1st century BC.  I highly recommend his Forgotten Legion Trilogy which is excellent. 

Our author of the month is Haruki Murakami, a fan favorite whom we have started out with each year.   I'll talk more about him next week since his birthday is January 12th. Join in on a readalong of Norwegian Wood or choose one of his other books if you've already read it.

Cheers to a wonderful, adventurous, reading new year! 



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For the first week, link to your I'm participating post, reading plans or to your most current review. Please link to your specific  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, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading.   Every week I will put up  Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week.  No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.