Books…and more books

I am forever taking too many books home and forever trying to read them before their due dates.

Last night, I crossed 5 books off my list, and today, I finished one more.

Art made from Books: altered, sculpted, carved, transformed, compiled by Laura Heyenga. In another life, I would be a craftswoman. I am forever taking home books about sewing, stamping, and always, paper crafts. This book goes beyond craft into Art. I just sat on my bed and read through this book in one sitting, looking at the unbelievable ways that artists have altered books. Usually when I put aside a craft book, I think, oh, someday, I could do that. Not this time. If nothing else, this book humbled me with its beauty. Shoes, earrings, sculptures, full scale installations, all made from books. Each artist explains their process and why they use books. I have one more word: WOW.

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England, by Ian Mortimer. This is a follow up to Mortimer’s book on the Middle Ages, and I had a feeling I should have started there. But this was the book in my hand, due to a review I’d read in Kirkus. I learned a few things I didn’t know, including the fact that Queen Elizabeth I ruled for 45 years. And I found a reference to a manners book which might be related to the manners books I studied while at the University of Florida. In the end, though, I decided that I have other books I would rather read. I would recommend this book to the right person, as Mortimer does an excellent job of describing life in Elizabethan times. And I will definitely try to hunt down a copy of the first Time Traveler’s Guide.

Sartoris, by William Faulkner. This is the first book of this lot that I will admit I am not even going to try to read. I can’t remember why I put it on hold, except that I think I should try Faulkner again, he is such an influential writer. (I did not understand As I lay dying when I read it for high school English.) For another time.

if you want to see a whale, by Julie Fogliano, pictures by Erin E. Stead, and then it’s spring (same author/illustrator team). Somewhere on the internet this week, someone recommended if you want to see a whale. So I pulled it and the spring book off the shelf and tucked them into the Trader Joe’s bag I use to cart books to and from work. I sat on my bed and chuckled through both these books, admiring the detail in the illustrations and the whimsy in the words. Each book features a boy and a dog, though both the boy and the dog are different in each book. And both are discovery books, waiting books, meandering books. I loved this passage from if you want to see a whale, “if you want to see a whale/you’ll have to ignore the roses/and all their pink/and all their sweet/and all their wild and waving/because roses don’t want you watching whales…” Everything in the book seems to conspire against the boy and his dog finally seeing a whale, until they do see one, on the very last page. There is an emphasis on waiting that reminds me of Ruth Krauss’ short book, The Carrot Seed. But instead of parents telling the boy that his seeds won’t come up, it is the entire book, pages and roses and possible pirates all conspiring against the whale sighting. I bring up The Carrot Seed because it is what I thought of immediately after finishing and then it’s spring. Again, we have only a boy and his dog, this time not waiting for a whale, but waiting for spring the only way they know how: waiting for seeds they have planted to come up from the brown brown ground. Again, everything seems to conspire against the boy and the dog and the seeds. Time itself, maybe birds, maybe bears. I love the sign that is mentioned in the text but also illustrated: “please do not stomp here–there are seeds and they are trying.” The worry which is real is expressed in both words and illustrations, as the boy and the dog wait through another week, and press their ears to the ground, maybe they can hear the seeds growing? The book ends with the boy swinging in a tire swing, wearing short sleeves and no shoes. The text reads, “all around/you have/green.”

At lunch today, I finished Rebecca Stead’s book, Liar & Spy. How could I even describe this book? Is it about two boys in a spy club? Is it about a boy who has moved from a house to an apartment? Is it about bullies and being different? Or is it about tasting? I’ll tell you this: it is wonderful.

And as soon as I finished Liar and Spy, I started two boys kissing by David Levithan. I can’t even begin to describe this book yet, so I won’t try. But it’s good.

Can you feel my palpable exhaustion as I finish these reviews? Up late, reading too many books, I guess. Until next time!