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Big Book Push Gone Bust

Did I say that?  Well, it’s true.  My end-of-the-year brain child, the Big Book Push, was a bust.  The only book I read this month that was actually on my TBR list for this year is the Jamie Langston Turner selection Winter Birds (my thoughts here).  Oh, and I’ve also finished Turner‘s beautiful novel Some Wildflower in My Heart, but I haven’t written it up yet.  I’ve just been savoring it.  My two big failures are A Tale of Two Cities and my plan to read something, anything by Wendell Berry.  I just stalled out in the middle of Two Cities.  I haven’t given up on it entirely, but there’s no way I’m going to finish it before November’s out.  😉  I like the idea of trying to finish it in audiobook, if only I can motivate my lazy tired self to go to the library to check it out.  I actually had decided on Nathan Coulter as my next selection by Berry, but for some reason, my order got hung up at Amazon.  I think it was the Thanksgiving book I was trying to order.  Although the Thanksgiving book was purportedly “in stock,”  it became more and more obvious that we weren’t going to get it by Thanksgiving.  I attempted to cancel the order, but it ended up that I could only cancel certain books (Nathan Coulter being one of them).  I ended up with a set of easy phonics readers for Lulu, but no Wendell Berry.  Bah. Oh well.  It’s just as well.  I probably would’ve gotten sidetracked by other, easier reads, anyway.  (Reviews forthcoming, I promise!)

Someone remind me not to undertake a big project of any kind when I’m dealing with the first trimester of pregnancy!  🙂

Have any of you succeeded in whittling down your TBR list lately?  Do share!


Winter Birds by Jamie Langston Turner

Winter Birds by Jamie Langston Turner is one of those books that I had a couple of false starts on before I actually read it through to the end.  (I find myself doing that fairly often, actually.)  I picked it up again since it is on my TBR list for the year, so it one of my Big Book Push books for the month.  I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by her so far (reviews here and here), so I was confident this book wouldn’t disappoint.  Well, it didn’t, not in the least.  However, it took me a long, long while to “get over” the fact that this book is written from the point of view of a very melancholy and negative old woman.  Although I’m not an old woman, I am rather melancholy and have to fight (really hard!) sometimes to not see the world as glass-half-empty, so it was hard for me to add insult to injury (at least in my mind) by reading her very dismal take on life. 

This book is similar to the other two of Turner’s that I have read in that it is about a marriage that has fallen apart, at least in the ways that matter most.  Unlike the others, though, this one is about a marriage that is physically dead; that is, one-half of the marriage has physically died, so there is no hope for reconciliation.  Much about this situation would not do for me to mention here, especially if the curiosity of anyone reading this is piqued enough to cause him or her to read it, so I am going to borrow the summary from the back of the book and copy it word-for-word here:

Plain and dutiful, Sophia Hess has lived most of her life without ever knowing genuine love.  Her professor husband had married her for the convenience of having a typist for his scholarly papers.  The discovery of a dark secret opens her eyes to the truth about her marriage and her husband.

Eventually nephew Patrick and his wife, Rachel, take Sophia into their home, and she observes from a careful distance their earnest faith and the simple gifts of kindness they generously bestow upon her and others–this is spite of unthinkable tragedy they’ve suffered.  Dare she unlock the door behind which she stalwartly conceals her broken heart?

Also like all of Turner’s other books that I’ve read, Winter Birds is rife with literary references and allusions.  Sophia’s husband was a Shakespearean scholar and professor, and as his typist, Sophia became quite well-versed in the works of the Bard herself.   Reading a book by Turner is very much like getting into the mind of someone who loves literature, so I would venture to guess that anyone who loves literature would also like her books.

Sophia Hess is a keen observer (and critic) of life.  Every single thing she experiences is held up and examined, almost to the point of absurdity at times.  As I mentioned before, I found this a little maddening, but familiar.   This is Sophia’s take on her current place in life:

When one is eighty years old, as I am, the handling of time is her greatest challenge.  There is no place to rest comfortably.  The present is an empty waiting room.  The past is a narrow corridor, along which doors open into examining rooms too brightly lit, full of frightening instruments to inflict pain.  The future is a black closet at the end of the corridor.  No one knows what is inside this dark cubicle.  The possibility of nothingness is a terror.  If present, past, and future seem out of order in this analogy, it is no wonder.  There is no tidy sequence of time when one is eighty and waiting to die.  (96)

Uplifting, huh?  🙂  Sophia does undergo a change by the end of the story, and although it is by no means dramatic, it is, well, hopeful.  I suppose that’s the bottom line in Turner’s books–hope.  There is always hope.

Visit the author’s website here or Semicolon’s review of Winter Birds here.


This is the first book I’ve finished for my Big Book Push, but there’s still plenty of time for you to join me!  Read all about it here.

Big Book Push–What I’m Reading


I guess it’s about time I declare my intentions for the Big Book Push.  I hope someone out there in bookish blogdom is looking as forward to this as I am–knocking off a few long-ignored TBR titles.  I actually finished the first title off today–look for a review in the next week or so. 

So what do I plan to read next?  Well, I haven’t read anything at all by Wendell Berry this year, so I have that to look forward to.  I’ve read Jayber Crow (my thoughts here) and Hannah Coulter (my thoughts here).  I’m thinking about picking up Nathan Coulter next, ‘though That Distant Land is tempting because I think it might give a real “overview” of Port William.  Then again, I’m not a huge fan of short stories.  We’ll see.

I also have A Tale of Two Cities on my TBR list, and I’m determined to get to it this month.  It’s one of many titles that I’m almost embarrassed I’ve never read.  It has been a great, great while since I’ve read any Dickens, so I’m looking forward to it.

That’s it.  As busy as life is right now, I’ll be doing well to tackle these. 

Anyone else with me on the Big Book Push?


Big Book Push

****This is a sticky post and will be “at the top” through Friday, November 6.  Scroll down to see what’s new at Hope Is the Word.*****


Did you have any reading goals for this year?  Have you met them? 

Or maybe you’re like some people I know–you eschew reading plans and like to read whatever strikes your fancy at the moment.  Still, though, there’s that one back in the back of your mind that you’ve been meaning to get to for a while. 

If either of these scenarios describes you, then the Big Book Push is for you. Over the course of the month of November, I will be revisiting my TBR list for 2009, and I am inviting you to join me.  Here’s what you do:

  1. Think about what you haven’t read this year so far, whether it’s from a formal TBR list, a bestseller list somewhere, or just a title tucked away in some recesses of your mind that you haven’t forgotten.
  2. Write up a blog post about what you intend to read before the month’s out and come back and link it up at the bottom of this post.  Don’t forget to use the Big Book Push button(s)!
  3. Read your book(s)!
  4. Write your review(s) sometime during the month of November.
  5. Come back here on Monday, November 30, and we’ll all link up our reviews and take stock of what we accomplished.

How does that sound?  Let the reading, reviewing, and blogging begin!  🙂

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(Many thanks to those of you who have commented on the cute Big Book Push buttons.  I wish I could take credit for designing it, but I have no skills.  😦  Abigail at Source of Joy Graphic Design, however, does!  Her rates are very reasonable and she is just the nicest person you could ever hope to meet!)

What’s on My Nightstand

nightstandI’m late in getting  my post up this morning, so I’m not going to say much about my reading over the past month.  Instead, I’ll just make a tidy little list with links to my reviews:

I’ve also finished a couple of chapter book read-alouds with my girls:

I’m in the middle of several good books now, both in my personal reading and with the girls.  I’m looking forward to sharing those books here.

As for the upcoming month, this is what I’ve been waiting to share with you all!  🙂  As this year comes to a close, I have realized that there are several books I truly meant to read this year and just haven’t.  The lure of so many fun challenges and the fun of browsing the library shelves makes me think sometimes that a true yearly TBR list is pointless for me.  Still, I think there’s value in setting goals, especially when there are perceived holes in your reading experience, as there are in mine.  So I’m declaring November as the month of the Big Book Push here at Hope Is the Word, and I’m inviting you to play along.  Come back some time between this Friday, October 30, and next Friday, November 6, to link up your own Big Book Push post in which you announce which book(s) you’ve neglected thus far but hope to read in the month of November.  (I’ll try to keep this post up for this week as a sticky if I can figure out how.)  Read and review the book(s) on your blog some time in November, and then come back on Monday, November 30, to link you reviews here.

You know there’s a button for it!  🙂


And for your sidebar:



The html for these buttons will be available in the Buttons tab above.

The Big Book Push is on!  🙂

(Read more Nightstand posts here.)

It’s Coming. . .


Come back on Tuesday to find out more!  🙂

Have a great weekend!