Friday, December 31, 2010

Book Reports, Fourth Quarter 2010

October

A Literary Education by Catherine Levinson is a list of books Ms. Levinson found particularly appropriate for a Charlotte Mason education. I loved how she provided a paragraph of description for each book as well as suggested read aloud and independent reading levels. A great many of these were ones I had already read and many of the ones new to me are out of print, but some of them were intriguing enough I will try to seek them out to read myself.

The Borrowers by Mary Norton was recommended as a real-aloud for first grade on the Mater Amabilis website. I picked up some of the later books at a library book sale, but hadn't read them or this one before. It's a delightful story of "borrowers" who live beneath the kitchen of an English home and what happens when they are "seen." I'm not sure First Son is quite ready for it and think I'll save it until First Daughter is more likely to listen as well. I enjoyed it quite a lot!

The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death, and America's Dilemma by Alex Kotlowitz is the story of the death of a young man (16 year old Eric) and two towns across a river from each other: one where he lived, the other where he was last seen. It's mainly about race and race relations in America. I think it's important to remind myself how far we have to go in terms of race in this country (having a black sister and a sister-in-law from El Salvador), but this particular book seemed a little repetitive after awhile.

Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell is the story of a Navaho girl kidnapped and sold into slavery who escapes in time to be forced with her family and community on The Long Walk. I think it could be a useful addition to a history unit for older children.

A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla is a nice little story of Amanda, Jemmy and Meg, who travel from London to the New World in 1609 to join their father. It is full of hardship, uncertainty, and quite a bit of excitement as they are shipwrecked along the way. First Son will definitely be reading this aloud later this year. Clyde Robert Bulla is now officially one of my favorite authors of books for children. Like the ones I mentioned in the last book report post, this one seems to be around the second or maybe third grade level. I believe First Son could read it easily at this point.

How Do You Tuck in a Superhero? by Rachel Balducci

The Power of the Sacraments (a review for The Catholic Company) by Sr. Briege McKenna, O.S.C.

The Ghost of Windy Hill by Clyde Robert Bulla, a preview for First Son, has much more of friendship than ghosts in it.

November

A Bedside Book of Saints by Fr. Aloysius Roche

The Year and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland

My Journey to the Land of More (a review for The Catholic Company) by Leona Choy

The First Christians (a review for Sophia Institute Press) by Marigold Hunt

Ring of Bright Water (Penguin Nature Classics Series) by Gavin Maxwell was on my list of potential books for First Son when he is older. At first, I couldn't figure out how it ended it up on the list. Then I reached Part II "Living with Otters." Maxwell's descriptions of procuring, traveling with, and living with his otters are informative and entertaining. I think boys a little older than First Son might enjoy listening to excerpts while a couple more years would give enough reading experience to read it themselves. Parents may want to research Maxwell's life before allowing children to do so on their own.


How to Raise a Healthy Child...in Spite of Your Doctor by Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D.

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce. I wanted to write a whole blog post about this book, but didn't have time to write something detailed enough before it had to go back to inter-library loan. I struggled with this book at first because much of what she says of the women in the Quiverfull families fits what I often strive to accomplish in our family life (managing the household tasks so Kansas Dad can focus on other things, preparing many foods from scratch to save money or improve our health, serving others as a way to serve Christ...I could go on). I was also quite disturbed that there are no footnotes or endnotes. It's a serious flaw in the book (though one I've read should be blamed on the publisher rather than the author). The later chapters in the book seemed to better describe the characteristics of Quiverfull families that set them apart from families that may be conservative but not so focused on patriarchy. I found those chapters much more interesting. I could write at length on ways I disagree with the author and ways I disagree with the Patriarchy movement (at least as she describes it), but I did think the book was interesting.

December

The Trial by Franz Kafka was confusing and disturbing. At least, as Kansas Dad pointed out, now I will better understand when someone describes something as Kafkaesque.

Our First Pony by Marguerite Henry is one I picked up at a used book sale. I love Henry's horse stories growing up, though this is one I had not seen before. It's a cute story and one I think I'll read to the kids later this school year.

Stories of the Child Jesus from Many Lands by A. Fowler Lutz is a book I was considering for our Christmas reading but have decided to set it aside until my children are a little older. Most of the stories involve people, mainly children, who do dangerous deeds for others (like going out in a snow storm to deliver Christmas gifts to the needy in the middle of the night without parents or rowing out into a stormy sea to rescue people from a shipwreck). While I want my children to be willing to sacrifice for others, I wasn't sure I was ready for them to see someone sneaking out without a parent's permission to do their good deeds. One story in particular gave me concern when two children are kidnapped and told they will be beheaded and their heads sent to their parents on Christmas Day. They escape and their captor dies a gruesome death, but I didn't want First Daughter in particular to start thinking someone might actually try to do something like that to them. These are moral tales, not true tales (as far as I know, though they are all possible for God), and some of them are quite good. We'll read them, just not for a while.

Celebrating Saints and Seasons: Hundreds of Activities for Catholic Children by Jeanne Hunt (a review for The Catholic Company)

The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America's Largest Families--How they Do It  by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar was an interesting look at the lives of the Duggars. I'd never seen the show, so everything was new to me. They write of wide-ranching topics like child-rearing, organizing, and building their house.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a wonderful little book. It's a shame I waited so long to read it. I think it's still a little too dense for my children to enjoy. I don't want to ruin it for myself (or them later on) so we won't read it together anytime soon, but I do highly recommend it.

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan is a tale of schoolchildren who save Norway's gold after the Nazis invade. It's based on a true story and is well-written. This is definitely on my list for First Son.

Once again, I encountered an error from Blogger with my labels. Here are the additional ones I would have included if I had more than 200 characters: Advent and Christmas, American, Colonial, race, natural sciences, society, guardian angels, archangels, feast day, World War II, Lent. I think next year I'll try to write summaries every month or every other month to try to avoid this problem.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Second Son is Five Months Old

I'm a little late posting these pictures, but I did take them when Second Son was exactly five months old on December 23rd.



He's starting to sit on his own a little, which is very exciting for me. I'm hoping he'll be a little more content when he's not in mama's arms if he can be sitting up and seeing a bit more of the world.



He's playing more, too. He'll grab his toys and pull them right up to his mouth. Everything goes up to his mouth! The kids love to watch him try to eat newspaper, wrapping paper, my necklaces...almost anything. First Daughter doesn't like it so much when he gets a chunk of her hair.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

As Long as I'm Sharing Videos

Here's one a friend shared on Facebook this week because her family knows the priest who made it.



My kids love this video! They've turned a large box into a Guineamobile and have been acting out this two minute action sequence for days.

The Religious Life

There's a lovely article at NPR about young nuns. (HT: Creative Minority Report)

It reminds me of this video of some Dominican brothers.



First Son and I have debated whether St. Francis of Assisi had snowball fights with his brothers. What do you think?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Being a Part of Hope for a Family

Recently, our sponsored friend in Nigeria left the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging program . We had been sponsoring him for about five years and wish him well.

We wanted to continuing sponsoring a child and I thought we'd switch to a girl about First Daughter's age in Central America. We received her sponsorship materials this week and she's a darling! She lives in Nicaragua and is just a few weeks older than First Daughter. She lives in a one-room building with a dirt floor. No electricity. No running water (though they do have access to a good well). These are facts First Son and First Daughter can barely comprehend, but "meeting" our new friend and conversing with her through cards and letters will help them see how we are all made in the image of God. She is our friend, even though she lives in a different country, speaks a different language and does not have electricity.

During this holiday season, we are constantly reminded of our material blessings. Some of you may be using some time at the end of the year or early in the next to consider your budget. Please take a moment to consider joining us as sponsors giving Hope to a Family with the Christian Foundation for Children or Aging or seeking out one of the many other worthwhile organizations matching sponsors with children around the world. (Read more about charitable giving at Charity Navigator.)

Providing consistent support to a single organization is one way to be a wise steward of God's gifts to us. Working with CFCA or a similar organization additionally gives us a way to see real benefits, to share the love of Christ and feel his love in return from one young child and her family. We don't just drop money in a basket; we are contributing to an organization that is helping our friend and her family build a community. They support each other. And us. What a blessing it is to know that someone there is praying for us! We are all on a journey to the same place and, no matter our position here on earth, we can be a support and a help to each other.

So I don't miss any of the important details, I've copied the suggested text from their website as well:

We sponsor a child through Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, an organization that creates relationships between sponsors in the United States and children, youth and aging persons in 23 developing countries. Through its Hope for a Family program, our contributions provide life-changing benefits such as education, nutrition, clothing and medical care for our sponsored friend. Through letter writing we are able to learn about our sponsored friend's life and offer our encouragement and prayers.

Grounded in the Gospel call to serve the poor, CFCA works with people of all faith traditions. CFCA receives the highest ratings from Charity Navigator and the American Institute of Philanthropy.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Catholic Company Review: Celebrating Saints and Seasons

Celebrating Saints and Seasons: Hundreds of Activities for Catholic Children by Jeanne Hunt

I was so excited to review this book for The Catholic Company!

For each month of the year (with Lent in March and Advent in December), Ms. Hunt provides a list of feast days and holidays with suggestions for ways to make the day meaningful for children of various ages. Activities are marked for either school or home, though a great many of them are appropriate for both.

Ms. Hunt begins each month with descriptions and ideas of the major holidays (like Lent, Advent, Thanksgiving). Then she has a section for "Saints and Heroes" which includes feast days for particular saints or angels and also notable historical figures (mainly American). Finally, the month ends with a section for prayers or prayer services.

I started with December and Advent and found quite a few good ideas I hadn't seen in quite the same way. I especially liked the suggestions for family activities to help slow the season down and spend time with each other or helping our neighbors. Most of these were activities that would involve a significant portion of the day and would be better with older children, but I think we'll try to incorporate something like this in our Advent plans for next year.

I found some new ideas in every month, especially for holidays that aren't feast days like Kwanzaa and the Festival of Tachiu. I'm not interested in celebrating these holidays in big ways, but I think it's would be nice to talk about them with the kids.

I also liked the chapter at the end on special occasions which included some ideas for family vacations. I think it would have been nice to include a celebration for the anniversary of baptisms there. It's something new our family has started this school year and I think it's a wonderful.

This book probably wouldn't work as a complete resource. For many saints' feast days, for example, Ms. Hunt writes a sentence or two about the saint and then suggests an activity (many of which are good ideas), but if you really want to share the story of the saint with children, you'd want more information. With a good library and a decent search engine, it's not really a problem. A detailed history for each saint would bog the book down considerably.

I think it's odd that the prayers for each month come at the end of the chapter. I felt like they should appear with the appropriate holiday or feast day. Also, some of the prayers were for feast days not mentioned earlier so it wasn't really clear why celebrating the feast was worthwhile. Frankly, I found many of the prayers a bit hokey. I can't imagine saying most of them with my children, let alone Kansas Dad or a teacher in a classroom. (Just to be clear, some of the activities are also a little hokey, though in my experience sometimes children enjoy those the most;  you just have to know your family or your classroom.)

Overall, I think this is a good addition to our liturgical year library. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as the only book in a liturgical library, but I could never have just one myself anyway.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. I did not receive any compensation for this review other than a copy of the book. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Celebrating Saints and Seasons . They are also a great source for first communion gifts and baptism gifts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Product Review: CrinkledNose.com Photo Magnetic Holiday Cards

Every once in a while I receive an email from a company or organization asking me to post about one of their products or services. Most of the time I ignore them, but this week I received an email from CrinkledNose.com with an offer of some free photo cards for an honest review. I was intrigued because I love Christmas cards. We haven't sent them in years because it's one less thing on the list (and saves a tremendous amount in postage), but I love them so I decided to give them a try.

Here's the picture Kansas Dad and I took early one morning when Second Son is usually at his happiest.


Actually, I think this is one of the sixteen pictures we took that morning, and certainly the best. Second Son doesn't look very happy, but the other three are all smiling. You take what you can get with four kids!

CrinkledNose.com has absolutely beautiful holiday cards. I perused a few other digital-picture-turned-holiday-card sites for comparison (as I haven't purchased any in a few years) and think you may find fewer options here, but of much higher design quality. This one, called Christmas Squares, was my favorite:


I tried it with our picture, but it didn't work at all. With the Christmas quilt behind the kids, I had to choose one of the simplest designs, Red Linen. I like how all the different options for the cards (folded or flat, horizontal or vertical, and the sizes) appear on the roll-over.

Some cards allow you to add a longer personalized message (like the Silly Holiday card), in addition to the signature. (The signature, by the way, is generous. I was able to include all of our names and the ages of all four kids.) Some of the cards without room for a personalized message still have the option to choose from a list of available greetings. As you can see, many of these cards would be entirely appropriate for a business.

Once a design is selected, it's very easy to upload a picture, personalize the greeting and the signature and preview the card before ordering it. My only problem was that I had too much trouble choosing my card. I think I uploaded my picture three times to see how it would look on three different cards. It would be nice to be able to upload the picture just once and still change the design.

I ordered the cards on Tuesday and they arrived today (Friday) so the service was very quick. CrinkledNose.com kindly offered the magnetic version and they're very slick. They are thin and lightweight enough to mail with standard postage and stay in place very well. I've had ours on the fridge since they arrived. (I hate it when magnets fall off the fridge.) If you don't order the magnetic backing, cards are printed on high quality paper rather than photo paper.

I can't show you the actual cards, of course, because they have our names on them, but they're perfect: no marks, uneven printing or odd colors.


I feel I can honestly recommend CrinkledNose.com and they have been generous enough to offer a discount code for orders by any Range readers. Enter the code Kansasblog for 25% off your order. If it's too late for the Christmas cards, they have a variety of other products like birth announcements, invitations, save-the-date cards, note cards and moving cards. I'll have to check with them on when the code expires. (I forgot to ask; no one's ever offered a discount on my blog before!)

Now I have to figure out how to whittle our old list of 180 recipients down to 24 (because of course I'm keeping one!).

Please note: I do not receive anything from CrinkledNose.com for any purchase made using the discount code. This is my honest opinion provided without compensation other than the free order of 25 cards I received to review. They provided the discount code before reading any portion of this review.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First Son Is Seven

First Son turned seven over the weekend. We started the day with the obligatory pancake-bigger-than-your-head for the birthday boy, chocolate chip per his request. It took two meals for him to eat the whole thing.


This year, we had a dinosaur party. (Translation: dinosaur cookies, a few dinosaur treats I ordered online and dinosaur balloons taped to the walls as decorations. As I've said, I'm not very talented in the birthday party department. First Son did make one poster. It says "Humans Beware! Dinosaurs in the area!" He taped it to the door so everyone would see it as they were leaving.) First Son wanted to roast marshmallows in a bonfire, but it was bitter cold and freakishly windy (even for Kansas) so we lit a fire in the fireplace for the first time and roasted them there. We avoided smearing any melted marshmallow into the carpet (success!) and Second Daughter only ate a quarter of her weight in chocolate and marshmallows (success?). They played Duck Duck Goose with improvised dinosaur variations. When they started a game of hide-and-seek, I convinced them to hide some toy dinosaurs instead. Our living room isn't that big. Everyone brought dinosaur presents and one dear friend brought a dinosaur card he and his mom had printed out months ago and saved for First Son's birthday.

First Son has two permanent teeth on the bottom and has recently lost the two baby teeth on top. He doesn't noticeably lisp. It's clear the teeth are growing in crooked. Sigh.


Earlier this week, he wrote up a list: First Son's List of Things He Likes (It's all in capital letters, but that's a little annoying when typed)
Legos
Dinos
Pharoahs
Pyramids
Mummys
Dogs
The Solar System
Cucumbers
He spelled most of it himself and only looked up a few words in books. He told me later he didn't write "homeschool" because it's not fun. (In fact, he likes his lessons. He just doesn't like to be told to stop doing whatever he thinks he should be doing so we can start lessons.)

His favorite lessons are piano and Latin. His least favorite are handwriting and the math facts worksheets.

When First Son knows the answer to a question or thinks of something remarkable (in his mind, at least), he stops in his tracks, points to the ceiling and says "Ding!" Then he proceeds to share his revelation. 


One of his favorite restaurants is a local buffet where he can reliably find squid, crab legs and cocktail shrimp. They totally lose money on him (and Second Daughter who can eat a surprising amount for a two year old, when she's in the mood). He also likes McDonald's if there's a slide, Taco Bell, and Chipotle.

His favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip, but only if it's green.

Since he could walk, he has run back and forth in whatever room is the largest and he still does so. He's always tripping on toys scattered around the living room floor. When we go outside, he often sits in one place and sometimes reads a book.

He likes to ask math questions of me and Kansas Dad. Luckily, they're still easy: 100 + 100, 160 + 160, 5000 + 1000. He also likes to ask things like "How many nickels are in $1000?" I keep hoping our quick answers will show him how useful it will be to perfect his math facts, but no luck so far.

He's always drawing. I think he must draw every day: LarryBoy, dinosaurs, Rudolph, the mouse king from the Nutcracker, whatever has recently struck his fancy.

For his birthday, he asked for (among other things) a dinosaur book that included drawings of their skeletons. His favorite birthday present is LEGO Pirates Brickmaster. He's been wanting to buy it with his own money and we delayed for a while before we finally said he couldn't buy anything until after Christmas. We knew Grammy had already picked it out for him. When he opened it, he was so excited he was speechless. (My favorite of his gifts is the Tyrannosaurus Rex Puppet, also courtesy of Grammy and Paw Paw. He was a little startled by it in the bag and I thought that was adorable.)

He's currently reading The A to Z Mysteries on his own. We're reading Ribsy together. We're listening to some of the other Ribsy stories and are up to Little Town on the Prairie in the Little House series. He loves hearing the Laura stories.

He loves Lego games (or perhaps I should say he loves the idea of Lego games). He also loves playing Duck Duck Goose and Freeze Tag. We enjoy Simon Says and Red Light Green Light as well, but the following of the rules for those games is still questionable.


He still loves VeggieTales, 3-2-1 Penguins, and LarryBoy. I love that he still loves them. The Playmobil pirates (aka "people pirates") are also big favorites.

Almost all of his pants are too short. (He really needs more in size 8.) He has put holes in the right knee of nearly every pair of pants he's worn in the past year.

He still sleeps with Mr.Giraffe, which we received at our Kansas baby shower before he was born. (I hope he's not too embarrassed I included this fact. He took Mr. Giraffe to show-and-tell at story hour earlier this month. The other almost-seven-year-old boy also brought his stuffed animal.)


Want to see some old pictures? Check out First Son's first five birthdays (counting his Birth Day). I just noticed he wore stripes each year. It would have been fun to keep that up, though of course he had to wear a dinosaur shirt this year in honor of his party theme.

I peeked in his room in the middle of the night on his birthday and had a sudden memory of snuggling him as a newborn in the hospital bed when he was just a few hours old (when he already knew he didn't want to have anything to do with a bassinet). We had no idea what we were doing, but he seems to be turning out alright just the same. What a wonder it is to see him grow!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Gift of Peaceful Cleaning

First Son turned seven today and it was a wonderful day! I have his birthday post started but it's missing some pictures and I want to flesh it out a little. I hope he won't mind (someday, if he ever reads these things) if I delay it a bit. Second Son is starting to fuss and I'm going to have to go tend to him. (Ah, the sacrifices of a big brother!)

I did want to say, though, what a wonderful gift I had this morning. Kansas Dad had commencement this morning and a baccalaureate mass last night so I was alone with the kids and trying to prepare for our little party this afternoon. (I really must start scheduling birthday parties better.) Anyway, I was feeling very stressed about getting the house what I thought was properly clean, baking the cake and making cookies (because First Son kept changing his mind about what he wanted, we had both). A few days ago I called a wonderful family from our parish and asked if two of their girls would help me out and they agreed. I was able to relax a little more last night knowing someone would be here to lend a hand (four of them) this morning.

They arrived bright and early. The younger one had a whole bag packed with activities, games, crafts, a book and a movie! How fantastic! The older one pretty much held Second Son the entire three hours they were here while I cleaned the kitchen and bathroom, ran laundry, mopped (kitchen and bathroom) and even cleaned the cupboards a little. Really, my house hasn't been this clean in months. We haven't devoted that kind of energy to it because Second Son cries when he's not being held in the afternoon or evening. There's only so much we can do after bedtime. (He's content in his swing or on the floor or the car seat pretty much from 8 am to 10 am or so and not at any other time. I'm not exaggerating. Ask Kansas Dad.) Today, I cleaned and no one cried. (Well, Second Daughter cried once when she fell down, but one of the girls comforted her and she was fine.)

While I cleaned, I thought to myself, not only are cooked meals a wonderful gift for a new mom, little certificates to be redeemed for baby holding at a later date would be invaluable. Priceless, really.

And now my time is up. Sleep well!

Oh, I love my clean floors!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Book Meme

I really didn't mean to sit down and write a long post like this, but Monica did this meme and flattered me by mentioning my name so my pride got the best of me. 

It was fun, but now First Son's birthday post hasn't been written and his birthday is tomorrow...

1. Favorite childhood book?
You know I can't list just one. I don't remember my picture books very well. Hard to imagine now because I love so many of them!

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None, really, because Kansas Dad went to the library for me today. (I had requested  Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans from inter-library loan, but they can't get it for me.)

4. Bad book habit?
If it's a really good read, I have the tendency to ignore other things so I can continue reading. (This is Monica's answer, but mine is the same. Kansas Dad will sometimes have to repeat himself several times to get my attention. First Son is the same way, so I'm learning how my mother felt when I was a child.)

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Let's see:

6. Do you have an e-reader?
No. But I want one, especially the Kindle because it reminds me of a Star Trek data padd. I have no use for one and probably prefer a real book to hold. I still want one.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once?
I'm going with several.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Yes, I think so, especially this year when I started writing book reports on all the books I read, not just the ones I officially review for the blog. Reviewing books and writing a few sentences about them help me to concentrate more as I'm reading and think about how I'd "narrate" the books for others. I pretty sure I'm a better reader because of the blog.

9. Least favorite book you read this year?
The Trial by Franz Kafka

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
This is a really hard question to answer, but I'm going to go with Parenting with Grace which I received from The Catholic Company for their reviewer program.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
A few times a year.
12. What is your reading comfort zone?
I read a lot of different kinds of books, but real theology intimidates me (I'd rather just ask Kansas Dad). I try to limit my fiction because I get enthralled and ignore things like dishes and homeschool preparation.

13. Can you read on the bus?
Not really. Not at all in cars. I'm fine most of the time on planes and read extensively on the NYC subway when I had an hour's commute, one-way. (And you think I read a lot now!)
14. Favorite place to read?
Anywhere I can sit down. But I'll read standing up if I have to.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I don't lend often, but when I do I only lend books I can live without (or am willing to purchase again).

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
No. I use big pieces of paper as bookmarks and tear off little bits to mark pages I want to remember.
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
Sometimes, if it's an "educational" book I own. I use pencil, though.

18. Not even with text books?
I'm so glad to be done with textbooks! I always wrote notes, highlighted and underlined my textbooks.
19. What is your favorite language to read in?
English. I can only read Dora level books in Spanish anymore. They're not so enjoyable, though it does give the kids a kick to hear me read them.

20. What makes you love a book?
Interesting ideas, good plots, and amazing writing. (I love to read a good novel by Tolstoy and the like. I don't always understand them, but they give my heart a lift.)

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
If it delights me (or the children) or is thought-provoking.

22. Favorite genre?
History of science, popular, history, homeschooling, science fiction.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
Classical fiction.

24. Favorite biography?
I don't read a lot of biographies. My favorite memoir is Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I also liked The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Yes.The Anxiety Cure: An Eight-Step Program for Getting Well by Robert L. DuPont (and others). It changed my life and I highly recommend it.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or nonfiction)?
I read it last year, but A Mother's Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul is still at the top of my list.
 
28. Favorite reading snack?
tea

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
I can't think of one.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I never read what critics have to say. Should I?

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I usually don't review books I don't like. (I do have to review books from my review programs, but because I choose the books myself there's a good chance I'll like them.)

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?
Russian. I'd love to read Tolstoy.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology Of The Body by John Paul II

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Ulysses by James Joyce. I'm never going to read it.

35. Favorite poets?
Emily Dickinson and John Keats

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
At least 50, usually something between 70 and 100. It's a family library card, though, so those aren't just my books.

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?
once or twice a year

38. Favorite fictional character?
Thursday Next

39. Favorite fictional villain?
Scariest? Sauron from The Lord of the Rings.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Whatever I'm reading at the moment. I used to only take science fiction but now that we have kids, vacations are really just a typical day in a different place, usually my parent's house, so it doesn't seem to matter as much.
 
41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
How long do I sleep?
42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
I think there are only two books I've started and not finished: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
A baby crying, but perhaps not easily enough.
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
The Lord of the Rings trilogy

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
I can't think of any at the moment, but I know there are some adaptations that were so "adapted" they made me angry.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
I'm not sure, but it must be in the hundreds (back in my college days). Nowadays I order in small amounts, usually just over $25...

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Almost never.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
Swearing. I have a hard time getting past it. Also, extreme boredom. And it has to be really boring to get me to stop reading.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
In theory, but the kids have a way of rearranging them.
50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
I keep them, though I don't actually buy most of the books I read anymore. (I do, however, buy a lot of books for the kids.)

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
Our history curriculum strongly suggests reading excerpts from Catechism of the Catholic Church for each of our units. We're almost done with unit 3 and I haven't even finished the excerpts from unit 1.

52. Name a book that made you angry.
Most recently, Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry (Monica, I didn't like The Lovely Bones: A Novel, either.)
 
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading? 
Science fiction and fantasy like Harry Potter, though most of it isn't as good.