Out of the fog…

I love foggy walks in the mornings where I slowly blink the sleep out of my eyes and the world comes into focus.  And where my mind latches onto one idea and then another and I make up ways to remember these all the way home.  (I know–I should carry a notebook, but sometimes it seems that I free my mind by not having anything available to write in.)

Today I walked down the hill to the bridge.  The banks of the redefined brook still surprise me, and the first line of a poem popped into my head.  I try to write a poem every morning, but I didn’t want the line so soon.  I would have to remember it for the rest of my walk and I know how one thought leads to another and another and the first thought is gone like the wisps of fog.  I told myself I’d only have that line, I wouldn’t work on any more, and I continued walking, reciting the line over and over so I could remember it. 

Of course, the part of the brain that doesn’t take any orders popped out the rest of the poem to the rhythm of my footsteps.  I climbed the hill, now reciting three lines. 

Halfway through my walk, headed down the other side of the hill, trying to come up with ways to remember the poem, I realized the scene I muddled around with yesterday has to be entirely rewritten.  But now I knew how.

All I had to do was remember the rest of the way home.

 

Current book:  Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Setting Goals

I set goals a lot. I set them for exercise, for writing, for reading, for cleaning the house–really, for anything I can. The trick I’ve found with goals is that they need to be enough to mount up, but not too much to discourage the goal-setter. If I feel successful, I’m more likely to continue with whatever the goal is.

In December, when I was discouraged with how long it was taking me to read through my current pile of books, I set a goal of reading 50 pages a day. More on that in a minute.

When I was teaching, we had a Readathon every year between Thanksgiving break and Christmas break. For those three or four weeks, every class (or most classes at least) began with ten minutes of silent reading. When we started the activity, the principal was impressed with how much it calmed down the entire school. But way bigger than that was the fact that students were reading for an extra hour a day. I had my students keep track. They wrote down the page number they started on in the morning and at checkpoints during the day.

Reading 30 or 40 or 50 pages during the day was a new experience for many students. They were completing large chunks of books in a day. Students who had never read books at home were now invested in what they were reading and read at home as well. They began to finish books. And they began to enjoy them.

It’s been three years since I’ve been at that school, but I was happy to see they are still having the readathon. I know how valuable it is.

The same thing happened to me when I made my December goal. Because I was reading more, I wanted to read even more. In the 31 days of December, I read every day. There were only 4 days in the month that I didn’t make my goal of 50 pages. The total # of pages I read was 2596 with an average of 84/day. The highest # of pages was 239 one day followed the very next day by the lowest # of pages: 3. (There might be a message in that.)

And I wonder whether other people keep track of pages read or books read or anything to do with reading.

I’ve continued to keep track in January–and continued to read more. It’s a very good thing. With the ALA awards announced this morning, I have a lot more books to read!

Too Many Books

I can’t find enough time to read.

I read before bed every night. I read on the treadmill every morning. I read while I’m waiting for appointments or on the school playground waiting to pick up my nephew. I always have a book with me.

But I still can’t find enough time to read. There’s writing to be done, my job to do, dinner to cook, friends to talk to.

Sometimes I think I read more while I was teaching. At least then, I read with each class–usually at least an hour a day, plus before bed and at meals (when no one else was around. I’m not that rude. Usually.)

Here’s the pile of books that I want to read (note, this does not count the bookshelf next to my computer that is loaded with books I have wanted to read at one time or another. Or the pile on the bedside table. Or the shelf of adult books people have given me. This is the pile of books I want to read right now.):
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Most of these I have from the ALAN workshop in November where participants receive a huge box of books when they arrive. Some I bought in the exhibit hall. A few I bought at my local independent bookstore and at an indie near a friend. And I go to the library at least once a week.

Here’s the pile of books I read since the conference (all books I highly recommend!), missing six that I’ve already given to other people (The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, Counting by 7’s, Master of Deceit, Boxers, Almost Home, Impossible Knife of Memory):
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I have a small notebook filled with lists of books I want to read. SLJ’s Battle of the Books titles, upcoming titles by favorite authors, titles that have shown up on Mock Newbery lists in the last couple months.

Next Monday, I’ll tune in to the awards ceremony. I’ll add titles and titles of books that win awards and honors: Newbery, Printz, Sibert, Morris, etc. I’ll read the next issue of VOYA and add titles to my little notebook. There’s no end to what I want to read.

If I stopped reading reviews and blogs about books, stopped talking to anyone about titles, stopped visiting the bookstore and library so often, I’d have enough reading material to keep me reading for a long, long time.

I’m not going to do that.

I’ll have to find more time.

Books Read 2013

Plus 6 manuscripts that will be books to bring my total to 72 for the year. Of these, 3 were non-fiction, 5 were adult, and 5 were graphic novels. Also, I read 12 Newbery winners in order this year 1971-1982.

66) MASTER OF DECEIT by Marc Aronson
65) ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell
64) REALITY BOY by A. S. King
63) THE GREAT GREENE HEIST by Varian Johnson
62) ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME by Julie Berry
61) THE CATS OF TANGLEWOOD FOREST by Charles de Lint
60) BOXERS by Gene Luen Yang
59) ALMOST HOME by Joan Bauer
58) THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY by Laurie Halse Anderson
57) UNITED WE SPY by Ally Carter
56) THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER by Kevin Henkes
55) A VISIT TO WILLIAM BLAKE’S INN by Nancy Willard
54) THE WAKING DARK by Robin Wasserman
53) JACOB HAVE I LOVED by Katherine Paterson
52) SUBWAY LOVE by Nora Raleigh Baskin
51) THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE by Neil Gaiman
50) THE LUCY VARIATIONS by Sara Zarr
49) THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson
48) A GATHERING OF DAYS by Joan W. Blos
47) TRANSATLANTIC by Collum McCann
46) THE WESTING GAME by Ellen Raskins
45) ELLEN FOSTER by Kaye Gibbons
44) BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA by Katherine Paterson
43) ABOVE WORLD by Jenn Reese
42) THE WHOLE STUPID WAY WE ARE by Nicole Griffin
41) THE INCORRIGIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE by Maryrose Wood
40) CHANTRESS by Amy Butler Greenfield
39) PERFECT SCOUNDRELS by Ally Carter
38) ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY by Mildred Taylor
37) LINCOLN’S GRAVE ROBBERS by Steve Sheinkin
36) UNWHOLLY by Neal Shusterman
35) DOLL BONES by Holly Black
34) BABYMOUSE BEACH BABE by Jennifer Holm
33) THE LEMONADE TRICK by Scott Corbett
32) UNWIND by Neal Shusterman
31) TEMPLE GRANDIN by Sy Montgomery
30) WILL SPARROW’S ROAD by Karen Cushman
29) SUMMER OF THE GYPSY MOTHS by Sara Pennypacker
28) DRAGONSLAYERS ACADEMY #1 by Kate McMullan
27) THE GREY KING by Susan Cooper
26) LITTLE DOG, LOST by Marion Dane Bauer
25) THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer A. Nielsen
24) FOURMILE by Watt Key
23) THREE TIMES LUCKY by Sheila Turnage
22) ONE FOR THE MURPHYS by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
21) UNGIFTED by Gordon Korman
20) AFTER ELI by Rebecca Rupp
19) M.C. HIGGINS THE GREAT by Virginia Hamilton
18) THE GOOD NEIGHBORS by Holly Black
17) ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes
16) GHOULISH SONG by William Alexander
15) GHETTO COWBOY by Greg Neri
14) THE LUCY VARIATIONS by Sara Zarr
13) THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING by Linda Urban
12) SLAVE DANCER by Paula Fox
11) TELL THE WOLVES I’M HOME by Carol Rifka Brunt
10) JULIE OF THE WOLVES by Elizabeth George Speare
9) HOKEY POKEY by Jerry Spinelli
8) CORALINE by Neil Gaiman (graphic novel)
7) MRS. FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
6) SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS by Laura Amy Schlitz
5) MOXIE AND THE ART OF RULE BREAKING by Erin Dionne
4) MERCURY by Hope Larson
3) THE SUMMER OF THE SWANS by Betsy Byars
2) P.S. BE ELEVEN by Rita Williams-Garcia
1) THE UNDERDOG by Marcus Zusack