Thursday, June 27, 2013

Peek Inside NYC

My inner voyeur took great delight in this book!

I loved peeking into these homes and the lives of their occupants. At first, I was disappointed that there weren't more photos included. (And also that the photos which began each chapter were in black and white.) About a third of the way into it, however, I decided I was glad there weren't photos as I'm convinced the imagination of my mind's eye probably composed more vivid scenes than the limitations imposed by the lens of a camera. (I believe this to be especially true in regards to Chapter 11, A Man and His Miscellany. What a terrific read!)

Somehow my very lengthy and well-worded first draft of this review was lost. I quoted from the chapter on the Austen House on Staten Island (another favorite for me) and mentioned that it was details such as the period architectural details of the house and the floorboards made from the hulls of whaling ships that had piqued that old flame within of the young person who dreamed of going off to the Big Apple to go for it all with gusto and verve!

The colorful details and imagery used throughout the various essays on the living spaces is wonderful. I found the New York sensability of naming people (referring to the married women in the essays by their maiden names) evocative of a place and social class system very different from that in which I live. (I must admit it felt a bit "superior" to me!) I always find it rewarding to be exposed to cultural phenomena that help to expand a person's world-view.

This book now tops my list of non-fiction recommendations for book clubs. I think it would also be a tremendous source for students going into journalism or other writing careers.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Adventures In Yarn Farming: Four Seasons on a New England Fiber Farm

As a longtime knitter and enthusiastic fiber fanatic, I was thrilled to read Adventures In Yarn Farming: Four Seasons on a New England Fiber Farm by Barbara Parry.

The book, as the subtitle suggests, is divided into four main sections based on the seasons of the year. As I had hoped, each season contains several chapters which describe in wonderful detail the main tasks a shepherd faces with his or her flock throughout the year. I found the descriptions colorful and engaging without ever becoming too technical or tedious. As a city girl, I was delighted to read about what must be mundane tasks on the farm. From the decisions that go into which breed of sheep to acquire, to lambing season, how to properly tend and manage grazing pastures, and shearing, cleaning and spinning the wool, I found myself absorbed in each new season and experience!

What surprised and especially delighted me about Parry’s book was the inclusion of patterns for knitted items and recipes featuring the produce grown in the farm’s kitchen garden. What rich bonuses! There are also wonderful photographs of the farm, the flock and those who work with the land and animals. Because the farm is located in a part of the country I have never visited (New England), the photos and descriptions of the setting felt like a travelogue which allowed me to escape to a new place.

Another interesting insight for me included an explanation of a local phenomenon I had been curious about. There are sheep at a farm outside the city I live in. In the field with the sheep are two resident llamas. After reading Adventures In Yarn Farming, I now know why this is. [Spoiler Alert: the llamas serve as protectors to the flock while in the field, help watch over lambs in the barn and serve as doulas to the ewes during the birth process.]

If you are interested in what goes into making the yarn or fiber you work with, are simply curious about life on a New England sheep farm, or want to see some wonderful photography of said setting, I highly recommend Barbara Parry’s book!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bigger On the Inside!

Welcome to Book Tardis! Books are like Dr. Who's TARDIS to me; open a book and discover a world that is bigger on the inside than it appears from the outside. Books can open a whole new world to readers. They will take you places you've never been or perhaps even dared to dream.

I have had the good fortune of being a reader all my life. My parents instilled a love of reading from an early age by taking me to the library, ordering books from the book orders that came home from school and encouraging participation in summer reading programs. When I became a parent I did the same with my own children. My youngest graduated from high school last year and listed "reading" as one of his top three favorite pasttimes!

I've also enjoyed working with elementary school aged children as part of the local school district's literacy program. Reading is the most imporant skill we can teach and the most basic thing we need to learn to succeed in life. Now I work in the local community college's library and have the chance to spend my work hours immersed in the world of books!

I belong to two book clubs and am in the process of getting a Little Free Library up and running in my community. (Actually, there will be three little free libraries in town thanks to the wonderful committee of people I'm working with.)

This blog will be a place for me to post book reviews. In addition to the already published books I read with my book clubs each month, I have been the receipient of several advance reader copies of books soon to be released. I'm very open to discussion over any and all books! So please feel free to leave comments or questions. Let me know what books you've been reading.

Let's dive into books and discover that a book opens into a world that truly is "bigger on the inside!"