Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Asian Nachos

I missed the meeting where these were served but I've had them several times and they are awesome!!  Thanks, Suzie!

Asian Nachos

1 pkg. wonton wrappers (found by the produce section of the grocery store)
2 cups cooked rice
1/2 can black beans
1/2 can corn
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
Mozarella cheese
Shredded carrots
Cilantro (optional)
Peanut Sauce (recipe below)

Broil wonton wrappers until golden brown and toasted.  Mix cooked rice, black beans, and corn.  Place crisp wonton wrappers on plate.  Layer with desired amounts of rice mixture, chicken, cheese and peanut sauce.  Microwave or bake until cheese is melted.  Add shredded carrots and cilantro.

Peanut Sauce

1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. peanut butter
3 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp minced garlic or 1 clove

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan.  Heat until combined, stirring constantly, let it just come to a boil.  Remove from heat and let stand to thicken.

Oatmeal Cake

A special thanks to Maren's mother-in-law for passing down this delightful dessert.  I have yet to meet a mouth that didn't put aside all New Year resolutions to taste such goodness.  It's simply irresistible!

Oatmeal Cake

1 1/2 c. rolled oats
1 1/2 c. boiling water
1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Pour boiling water over oatmeal and let stand for five minutes.  Add butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla and mix thoroughly.  Sift dry ingredients together, add to the wet ingredients and combine.  Put in a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Coconut Frosting

Make your frosting as soon as your cake comes out of the oven and spread it on the cake while still warm.  That way the sauce of the frosting sort of seeps into the cake, adding to its fabulous deliciousness.

2/3 c. evaporated milk
2/3 c. brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 c. butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 c. coconut
1/2 c. chopped pecans (optional)

Wisk milk, brown sugar, and egg yolks together in a saucepan.  Add butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and coconut (and pecans if wanted).  Spread over warm cake, let cool then refrigerate until you eat.  Store in refrigerator.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

April Book

The book for April is The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.

A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-fi rst birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, "Nell" sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.

Summary straight from

Thursday, January 5, 2012

February Book

In February we'll be discussing A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Francie Nolan, avid reader, penny-candy connoisseur, and adroit observer of human nature, has much to ponder in colorful, turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. She grows up with a sweet, tragic father, a severely realistic mother, and an aunt who gives her love too freely--to men, and to a brother who will always be the favored child. Francie learns early the meaning of hunger and the value of a penny. She is her father's child--romantic and hungry for beauty. But she is her mother's child, too--deeply practical and in constant need of truth. Like the Tree of Heaven that grows out of cement or through cellar gratings, resourceful Francie struggles against all odds to survive and thrive. Betty Smith's poignant, honest novel created a big stir when it was first published over 50 years ago. Her frank writing about life's squalor was alarming to some of the more genteel society, but the book's humor and pathos ensured its place in the realm of classics--and in the hearts of readers, young and old. (Ages 10 and older) --Emilie Coulter

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Janurary Book

The January book is Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel—an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home.

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics—their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him—nearly destroying him—Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.

An unforgettable journey into one man’s remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.

Summary provided by Amazon 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Shout out to our Dropouts dropouts

Hey there Jenn and Brooke and Melissa and everyone we haven't seen in a while. Oh and hey to Keri in NZ.

Just cause we haven't seen you in a while or may not see you in a while doesn't mean we wouldn't love to hear title suggestions from you.

Anything you want to read? I need more suggestions. 'Cause my "to read" list isn't long enough.

Coming Up:

February's book will be The Genius in the Design.

I believe the county only has one copy, so whichever of you has it reserved before me, read it quick. And Jess get it from the city. And Emma get it from the other county south of here.

We'll meet at my house because Brent has a board meeting dinner to attend that night. Boo board meetings. Yay bookclub.

Hopefully I'll have both my children in bed before y'all show up.

See you on the 1st!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December's Soiree and Title Suggestions

Thanks to those who came this week.

We had a nice time talking about book recommendations for next year. We ate junk food. And I got to hold two adorable babies. It was pretty much a perfect evening.

Here's the list of titles discussed. Some of them were just general recommendations, some were recommendations for Shelley's teenage daughter. Eventually the conversation digressed into a discussion of teaching your children uncomfortable and difficult subject matter. This was spurred on by Jessica's relating her experience reading Romeo and Juliet with her seven year old son, Jonah. Read about her experience here. And if you haven't already subscribed to Jessica's blog or don't check it regularly, you really should. She's brilliant and everything she writes is beautiful and touching. No pressure, Jess, but it's true. So write more. Please?

But I digress. Okay, here is the list of the titles we discussed on Tuesday.
We'll probably see about half of them as selections for our 2011 list. Click on each title for more information.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Schaffer
Full of fun and quirky characters, a glimpse into the post-war community on the Isle of Guernsey during its German occupation. This will be our January selection. I've already read it (and LOVED it) but am looking forward to re-reading it in preparation. As a heavy library user, this is one book that I actually will buy.

Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy
Our classic selection for next year.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: a Flavia de Luce mystery
by Alan Bradley
A delightful murder mystery starring an 11-year old mischievous English girl whose specializes in chemistry and the torturing of her older sisters. Despite its youthful heroine, this is not a children's book. Although I think children could like it as well.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
by Helen Simonson
A New York Times best seller that was featured on the Diane Rehm Show, I'm really looking forward to this one. It's about a retired British man and his unexpected romance with a Pakistani woman, sending ripples of disapproval throughout their provincial town.

Ender's Game
by Orson Scott Card
I can't believe I've never read this one. I've always wanted to. Jessica recommended this for Shelley's daughter. Jessica really just recommends pretty much everything by Orson Scott Card, and says that the second book in Ender's Saga is her favorite. Maybe we'll do it for the Dropouts. Maybe we won't. But I'm going to FINALLY read this one next year.

Anything by Agatha Christie, particularly And Then There Were None
Again, how is it that I have been a lover of reading for so long and have never read any Agatha Christie? I suppose it's because I've never gotten into mystery as a genre. But that will soon be rectified.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner and subsequent books The Queen of AttoliaThe King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings
A YA series with plot twists in each book that's fun for ages 16-17 and up. I've read the first three books and I never saw the end coming, but though the twists are unexpected, they flow perfectly and don't at all feel disjointed. The author is truly a master of surprise endings, making them work in a way that any other author would probably fail at. This probably won't be a Dropouts selection, since it's mostly just mindless entertainment that doesn't really warrant serious discussion, but I still recommend it. Reading it is a good time.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
by Mark Haddon
This novel is from the POV of a teenage boy with Autism. He discovers the neighbor's dog murdered in the front yard and sets out to solve the mystery of who killed it. His sleuthing efforts make him confront some of his social fears and you ache for him as fails to understand the clues to a secret about his own life.

The Art of Humane Education
by Donald Phillip Verene
The author argues that the ideals that should guide education have been lost in the university setting in this country and offers suggestions on how classes should be taught, great texts that should be taught and how they should be interpreted.

A full edition of The New Yorker magazine
At Jessica's suggestion, we're going to broaden our experiences and expand into a genre most of us ignore. Perhaps we'll read the fiction issue. Perhaps will pick a random week. Not sure when we'll do this, but it will add some great variety to our reading this year.

Out of the Silent Planet as part of C.S. Lewis' lesser known science fiction Space Trilogy
Who knew C.S. Lewis wrote a science fiction trilogy? Well, not me. Since I love everything else by him, this will be fun.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith
After being so disappointed with Joy in the Morning, although Emma enjoyed it, she insists we give Betty Smith another chance. So we're going to read the celebrated novel for which she is most well-known. I guess this also can go under our "classics" heading for the year.

The Genius in the Design
by J.P. Morrissey
The story of the two Italian 17th century architects and their bitter rivalry that inspired much of the best architecture in Rome.

Any other suggestions?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November's Meeting

We had a great meeting this month! We were joined by a new member. My sister Annie has decided to join in once in a while when she can. She's a busy student at the BYU and is adjusting to the first year of married life. Hopefully she can join us again in the future. We missed all of you who didn't make it. And let me tell you, you missed some great cookies. Emma made the best cookies I've ever had.

The discussion was great. I won't get into details, but let's just say that if you were a little bit confused at the end of Mockingjay with the subject of Katniss' assassination and her decision to have another final Hunger Games, we think we figured that one out. We talked about a bit about all three books, just to get the third one into perspective, and I think that this is one series that might actually inspire my husband to read for-pleasure. Perhaps I'll get him hooked on it just so I can have the pleasure of discussing it again.

At the end of our meeting we decided that some of us just want to go ahead and read another book for December. So for those of you who are interested, we are going to read Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary Schmidt.

Lizzie Bright is one of those books that just wrapped itself around my heart. I absolutely loved it in a way I haven't loved a book in a long time. As soon as I finished it I decided that first, I must buy my own copy, and secondly, I had to share it with all of you. It's a really quick read, so hopefully you all can squeeze it into this busy time of year.

See you all soon!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Heart the Library

Logan and I spend a lot of our day reading right now.  He's so into books.  If we aren't reading them he's studying the illustrations intensely.  So, in an effort to cure my boredom with our at-home library I decided it was time to utilize our county library.  Every month we pick up a new pile of books to read.  I do the picking and grab what looks attractive and not too long.  I definitely don't read them before I check them out so sometimes I'm a bit disappointed with our pile.

Well, today was library day and I just finished reading the entire pile to Logan before his nap.  I have to say, I picked some really good books this time around.  I thought I'd share my thoughts on a few.

Red is Best by Kathy Stinson.  I know you shouldn't judge a book by the cover but I so did with this one.  The cover and illustrations are just charming.  It tickled me so I picked it up.  The dialogue is simple yet insightful.  I love the play of mother-daughter logic over what items of clothing are acceptable and which are just plain loved.  My favorite exchange is over barrettes.
"I like my red barrettes the best. 
 My mom says, 'You wear pink barrettes with a pink dress.' 

 But my red barrettes make my hair laugh.

I like my red barrettes best."

So, so cute!  I don't know if Logan liked it as much as I did but time will tell.  He tends to carry his favorites around with him.

Next pick that just leaves me giggling is 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey.  I really like the poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  I enjoy the sing-song rhythym of the poem.  I picked up this book based on my bias towards the original poem.  This book is hilarious.  It's clever and witty. It's easy to read because of the familiar rhythym and the plot is just fun.

It's about a class field trip to a turkey farm the day before Thanksgiving.  They meet and mingle with the turkeys and the farmer.  One child finds an ax and asks the farmer what it is.  The farmer explains that he will use the ax to kill the turkeys for Thanksgiving.  The children burst into tears and create a plan of escape.  I won't give it all away.  I'll just say from beginning to end this author is funny.  I would love to read more from him.

When Dinosaurs Came With Everything by Elise Broach Another witty book.  Logan LOVED this one and I really did not mind reading it to him.  It was so entertaining.  A lot of fun and clever dialogue to give voice to.  I love to do voices when I read.  The ending was slightly disappointing but everything else more than filled my expectations.

When the little boy is forced into yet another boring day of errands with his mom he is pleasantly surprised to get a free dinosaur with each purchase.  After gathering a few life-sized dinosaurs his mom desides to cut errand day short and attempts to adjust to life with pet dinosaurs (which she quickly puts to work).  I tripped up a bit on the formal names of the dinosaurs but Logan didn't seem to mind.  The characters are very expressive and interesting to look at. 

And, finally, I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll.  This one was on the library's favorite book list so I put it on hold.  It was slightly too long for Logan but I really enjoyed it.  And the illustrations didn't seem to keep Logan interested.  They are more dramatic, detailed, and movie-like.  The story is so smart and the characters are interesting.  Again, a fun dialouge to put voices to.

The story is a about a boy who gets a note from his monster-under-the-bed, Gabe, saying that he has gone fishing.  The boy is worried that he won't sleep without Gabe and all his familiar monster noises.  He then interviews several substitute monsters that just don't make the cut.  My favorite interview is with Herbert:
When I heard some creaking under my bed, I knew that the substitute monster had arrived.
"Good evening," said a low, breathy voice.  "My name is Herbert and I will be your monster for the evening." 
          "Herbert?  What kind of name is that for a monster?!  you don't sounds scary at all.  Have you
          ever scared a kid before?"

          "Well, no, but I have read all the best books on the topic."

          "Do you have long teeth and scratchy claws?" I asked.

          "No, but I have an overbite.  And I'm a mouth breather.  Listen.  Hih-huh, hih-huh, hih-huh..."

          Herbert's panting was kind of scary, but it wasn't enough for me.

As the interviews go on the monsters are starting to accuse the boy of being too picky.  Then his monster comes back and is properly scared and soon fast asleep.

Well, that's my pile of really great books from the library.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Bad Fit

My sister-in-law, who is wonderful in every way, recommended a book after an emotional discussion about the joys/hardships of choosing to stay home and be a mother full time.  I took the book home excited to continue the spirit of our discussion. 

Oh, it was not to be...

The book is called It Takes a Mother to Raise a Village by Colleen Down.  I made it about half way through before deciding it wasn't worth finishing since I kept poking my eye in frustration. 

The book begins with her explanation of the title.  Right off the bat I could tell by her almost venomous interpretation of the original quote, "It takes a village to raise a child" that we would not be seeing eye to eye.  I felt she missed the true message of the quote which illustrated the need for a community while raising children.  Down bring up the point that it does not take a village, rather a mother back in the home making decisions and following motherly instincts rather than depending on "professionals" on parenting.  She has polarized the issue which I feel is counterproductive.

She then takes on the Little Red Hen story twisting it a bit to fit her point that nobody wants to help us raise our children unless it fits their political agenda.  And the political oh, I don't know, anger,... frustration,... continues on.  Is motherhood sometimes a hard and lonely job?  Absolutely.  Does it feel like you do everything?  Yes.  I felt at times this book was therapy for this mother of seven.

Down's voice throughout the book attempted humor that fell flat for me.  It  is somewhat harsh towards herself and other women.  While I'm sure some would find it funny I found her incredibly insensitive and at times simply annoying.  Again, just a bad fit.

She continues to give lots and lots of advice on why mother knows best, how to raise boys, and why women get depressed.  Hot topics for sure, but unless you love her personality and perception don't bother. 

I did, however, get something out of this book.  And, funny enough, she had learned this from someone else.  Everyday women should do the "five finger rule." 
"...We need to do something spiritual, something creative, something educational, something social and something physical."  
 I like this.  It is simple, important and easy to remember.  I just ignored her insight into each "finger" as it was nothing new. 

Again, for some this book may be the best read ever!  For me, it was not a good fit.

I did start the book, I am a Mother by Jane Clayson Johnson and already it is like breathing new air! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Spaz with a Gift Card

Right now I have in my possession the most wonderful thing...A gift card to Barnes and Noble.  A gift from my dearest of dear friends in a land far away has made it's way into my grasp via post.  And it's a noble sum, not a trite gesture.  Oh, blessed birthday, you do bring me all sorts of indulgences.  It's been years since I have bought a book without having to save first.  What this dear friend has bought me is an invitation to indulge.  Could a stay-and-home mother ask for more?

So, I ask, what book(s) shall I purchase?  What great lit shall adorn my humble shelf?

I have no idea! 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

November Book

Emily will be hosting on November 2nd.  We'll be discussing Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.  This is the concluding book in the riveting Hunger Games series.

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost. 

summary by Goodreads

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Discussing The Graveyard Book and Author Neil Gaiman

I distinctly remember the moment when I decided that Tim Burton was a creative genius and that I would be a devote follower of his work.  And, no, the moment did not involve Edward or his scissored hands.  It was Corpse Bride, actually, and his unique attitude toward the relationship between life and death.  Burton's movie describes a underworld full of characters and color, much more lively than the living residents above.  Burton challenges the traditional beliefs and fears about the dead and decaying that reside below us.

Similarly, but with a flare and voice all his own, Neil Gaiman tackles the theme of life and death in his book, The Graveyard Book.

Now, I'm really not the best at reviewing books.  To be honest, it is a new art form for me.  So, I will not call this or any other post I do a book review.  Rather my reactions to the discussion.  So often, tonight included, I feel I am sitting at the feet at some truly remarkable women in our group.  Their passion for books leaves me in awe and thier understanding of books makes me want to learn more.

Having read the book over a year ago, the details I remember are vague at best, but listening to the group gush over small, delightful details reminded me of why this book brought me so much joy.  The characters were completely believable.  And Emily led us through a rather exciting discovery about Silas that left us all slightly dumbfounded.

I'm starting to realize that I need to learn how to read.  I know that sounds silly, but there is so much more to these stories!  It's completely exciting to me.
When I read Coraline a few months ago, I came across this quote by G.K. Chesterton
"Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." 
 As I read this I could not help feel this was a glimpse into Neil Gaiman and other creative minds that thrive on slightly macabre themes.  Is that what draws me to them?  The idea of facing fears instead of shrinking away.  Are these creative minds showing me a new perspective on fear that I tend to overlook?

The Graveyard Book is charming despite the dark overtone.  Bod works through many new experience with the help of his adopted family.  Once again, the dead are portrayed as warm, friendly, and protective of little Bod.  Authors like Gaiman and Directors like Tim Burton challenge our views and get us to accept and, in some cases, love those things we previously feared. 

Thank you Neil and Tim...Carry on!

The discussion was great and the food was good.  All in all, it was a good time. We missed all those who couldn't come!  Hope we see you next time!

Monday, October 4, 2010

October Book

We'll be discussing The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman on Tuesday, October 5th at 8pm.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy.

He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead.

There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy - an ancient Indigo Man beneath the hill, a gateway to a desert leading to an abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer.

But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family. . . .

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

Winner of the 2009 Newbery Medal and the 2009 Hugo Award.

Summary by BookBrowse

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Joy in the Morning

Maren's pick for September is Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith.

Book club will meet at Maren's house on Wednesday, September 22nd at 8pm. (note the change in date!!)

In Brooklyn, New York, in 1927, Carl Brown and Annie McGairy meet and fall in love.Though only eighteen, Annie travels alone to the Midwestern university where Carl is studying law to marry him. Little did they know how difficult their first year of marriage would be, in a faraway place with little money and few friends. But Carl and Annie come to realize that the struggles and uncertainty of poverty and hardship can be overcome by the strength of a loving, loyal relationship. An unsentimental yet uplifting story, Joy in the Morning is a timeless and radiant novel of marriage and young love.

Summary provided by

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Help

The August pick is such a hot book right now and from what I hear, rightly so.
 Melissa has chosen The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step. Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger.

Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women — mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends — view one another.

A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

summary by Goodreads 

Dropouts meeting for August will be Tuesday, August 3rd at Melissa's house.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Precious Bane

The book for July is Precious Bane by Mary Webb.  
Set in the remote hill country of Shropshire at the time of the Napoleonic wars, Mary Webb's classic novel tells a story of superstition and hatred, of destructive ambition, and, most of all, of the strength of love.  Precious Bane was a best-seller of the 1920s.

Precious Bane is the story told by Prudence Sarn.  Afflicted with a "hare-shotten lip," feared and scorned as a witch, Prue Sarn nonetheless possesses a passionate heart and a clarity of sight.  She loves and sees the remote countryside that is her home with a descerning, mystical vision; and she also, hopelessly it seems, loves Kester Woodseaves, the weaver.

Yet Prue is bound to her brother, Gideon Sarn, the sin-eater.  A distraught and driven man, Gideon is cut off from human contact and from the beauty of the natural world by his love of profit, by his hunger to make his farm produce.  And he has made Prue promise to work with him toward an end she does not want-an end that may destroy them both.

Thus Prue is torn between loyalty to her brother and love for the weaver.  In turn, Kester Woodseaves' steady love for all created things leads him to resist people's destructive cruelty toward nature and each other; and his love for Prue Sarn enables him to discern, beneath her blighted appearance, the natural loveliness of his "dear acquaintance."  

Precious Bane tells the story of these several loves, of their conflict-and consummation.

Summary taken from1980 publication of Precious Bane.

I wasn't sure who had what publication but mine had a really insightful introduction by author Erika Duncan.  If you don't have it in your book, I've taken the liberty (hopefully not too much liberty) to scan in my introduction.  I had no idea how many treasure this story.  After reading it I was really excited to dive into Precious Bane.  

See you all next month!

(Click pages to enlarge)

Monday, June 7, 2010

June's Meeting

Thanks to Shelley for hosting June's gathering. We had a good turnout and the cheese and cookies were yummy.

Here's a few of my thoughts regarding the book.

While nonfiction, it read like a story. It was compelling. It was sad. It was gross (you who have read it know what I'm talking about).

Dr. Minor (the madman who contributed so incredibly to the dictionary) suffered acutely for many years in confinement. His nights were filled with the torture of hallucinations, paranoia, and fear. Treatment for his mental illness was largely absent, and so his work on the dictionary became his therapy.

In the words of the author:
One must feel a sense of gratitude, then, that his treatment was never good enough to divert him from his work. The agonies that he must have suffered in those terrible asylum nights have granted us all a benefit, for all time. He  was mad, and for that, we have reason to be glad. A truly savage irony, on which it is discomfiting to dwell.
While I loved learning about the backgrounds of the two men the book is about, and how their lives prepared them to work on the writing of the OED, my favorite part of the book was the third character: the OED itself.

It's no secret that I love books. And with that love of books and reading has come a love of words. I love to learn new words and use proper (though often uncommon) pronunciation. I like the subtleties of meaning and how words evolve over time. This book helped me understand that language is almost an organic entity. It lives, changes, grows, and some parts of it even die. 

I found the process by which the OED was written to be fascinating. How the language's most comprehensive dictionary could have been compiled in a time before computers. The sheer magnitude of the task is boggling. The men who made it happen are geniuses, and we are indebted to them whether we realize it or not. 

Winchester sums it up thus:
It was the heroic creation of a legion of interested and enthusiastic men and women of wide general knowledge and interest; and it lives on today, just as lives the language of which it rightly claims to be a portrait.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Review on Darwin

See Jessica's wonderful review on our last book here.

(I hope Jessica doesn't mind my posting a link to her blog without permission. She is so wonderful that you all ought to know her and read her blog.)