Welcome friends! I have started this entry in the global technosphere because I have been in love with books since the age of 2. Among the busy business of being a new teacher, this is my outlet for sharing thoughts on a love of reading a wide variety of books. My inspiration can be summed up with a yearbook quote from a teacher written when I was 8: "To the only girl at recess I see reading a book. Good for you!"
My blog title is quoted from a classmate who asked me this once. Believe it or not, I've also heard it as a teacher :D

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Xmas Book Loot! Woot!

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday & spent quality time with your loved ones, devouring food & maybe a book or two :) 

First, here's what my holiday was like:
I spent Christmas Eve mostly helping my mom get food prepared for the big day.  She does most of the cooking during the week prior to Xmas:  shortbread, fondant cream balls (which I've been making for the past couple of years), potatoes, yams, stuffing with sausage meat & cranberries (the best ever!), pie, and the almighty turkey, done during Xmas Eve day, which is a fine art, allowing the cook to relax & socialize versus being bunkered down in the kitchen making the turkey all day.  The turkey gets sliced & covered with large lettuce leaves to soak in added moisture and is refrigerated, then reheated the next day.  M...m...m!

Christmas Day was spent at our house with my parents, grandmother, mom's cousin (my godmother), and later on joined by my aunt & uncle.  A fun, though exhausting day!  Boxing Day is a day of rest & recovery in my family.  A couple of gatherings are spread out over the remainder of the week, then I'm back to work on Monday.

Now for the Xmas loot!  This is certainly a sign that I am back and raring to kick off a new year of reading.  I both gifted & received books this year.

I gave these as gifts:

Earth: The Book by Jon Stewart & the Daily Show
This was for my dad, a fan of the Daily Show.  It's quite comprehensive, written as a guidebook for any visiting/invading aliens who wish to learn about our planet's history & culture.  Every entry in the book has a hilarious take on topics ranging from customs, entertainment, religion, science, and environment, all poking fun at humans' (very) biased perception of ourselves as the biggest, most intelligent species in the universe.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
This was for my mom, who always claims this as her favourite book but whose only copy was somehow lost or maybe discarded because it was falling apart.  If it wasn't for book blogging, I probably would never have thought about giving this to her.  The intention of giving this book as a gift is that she will re-read it and then pass it on to me to read for the first time *wink, wink* :)

Cake Boss: Stories & Recipes from Mia Famiglia by Buddy Valastro
This was a great surprise for my mom, and I had no intention of getting it until I spotted it by the checkout.  It was the best impulsive purchase I've ever made :D  My mom is a big fan of the TLC show about an Italian family-run bakery in NJ, headed by the only son, Buddy, and all the antics of smoothly (at least in the end) creating jaw-dropping works of edible art.  The book includes delicious recipes & drool-worthy photos of some creations.  I am sure that my mom will try recreating some of Buddy's goodies & I can't wait to sample some :D

Atonement by Ian McEwan
No, I didn't regift my own copy (especially since I haven't read it yet) :D My mom asked me for a title suggestion to give my grandma & I thought of Atonement, being such a powerful movie and set during WWII, my grandma's generation. She was pleasantly surprised to receive it and hopefully, given her usual taste of romance novels, will enjoy it.

Now for my Xmas loot, which I must say I am incredibly grateful & lucky to have received.  Every year is a wonderful time for my family make each other smile & sometimes get surprised.  I got 9 books (!), plus the 6 I bought myself earlier in December, so technically that's 15 books (woo hoo!).  I think my lovely gift-givers were not only visiting my blog but had a peek at my challenge books, because out of these books, I intend to read 7 of them for challenges.

Now for the books...!  First, my dad, as an Xmas tradition, bought me a few titles:

84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
I'm tempted to start this next.  It's a short read to wedge between now & January when my challenges begin.  The movie was lovely & I've seen this on so many bloggers' favourite book lists.

This Time Together by Carol Burnett
I've skimmed it a little and it looks like a lovely, breezy read with anecdotal chapters.  This will be for my What's in a Name 4 Challenge.

Last Words by George Carlin
I finished this in 3 days.  Absolutely hilarious & insightful autobiography!  I'll write a review soon.

Rabbit, Run by John Updike
This will be for my 1st in a Series challenge this year.  I'm excited to try Updike for the first time!

My godmother gave me these two:

 Teacher Man by Frank McCourt
I was intrigued by the title & hope to learn more about his teaching experiences.

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
I love the movie with Michael Douglas (whose performance is brilliant & overlooked) & really want to read the book it was adapted from.  I have high expectations but if it's as zany as the movie was, I'm good :D

 Then there were the 2 books I got an early preview of:

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
I am psyched to read this, his latest collection of short stories, the most anticipated book of the year for me, and also as part of the Stephen King challenge.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
(Signet Classics Centennial Edition, translated by David Magarshack)--the cover is different than pictured.
A book I've always been embarrassed to admit that I've never read, for the Back to the Classics Challenge.

 The "surprise" book I alluded to in the above linked post turned out to be:

The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene
This was recommended to me during a PD session and had loads of positive reviews online.  It is meant to be a strategic approach to dealing with behaviours of young children for parents & teachers.

...And then there are the books I bought for myself earlier in the month:

The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History by John Ortved
The Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Besides books, I also received:

*Donkey Kong Country Returns for my Nintendo Wii--watch the trailer for the game here & try telling me that doesn't look like fun...go on, I dare you :D It's a barrel (he he) of laughs & has been competing with my reading time, sometimes winning, sometimes on hold (my sense of restraint surprises even me sometimes). It's very nostalgic for me, given that I played older versions Donkey Kong & still do on occasion. It was the most awesome gift!

*Toy Story 3 on DVD--cute cast of characters, terrific story, exciting animation, bright colours & a tearjerker ending...what a fantastic way to polish off a movie series as loveable as Toy Story.

*iTunes card--I bought mostly Beatles songs (finally available!), a few oldies, and two new(er) tunes by Bruno Mars & Flo Rida. I have eclectic taste in books, music & movies, if you didn't know :D

*Stocking stuffers included a new pencil case to replace the one I lost on the job (it's probably in the hands of some young'un I've taught...), a Simpsons 2011 calendar, Tim Hortons card & lots of chocolate!

Whew!  As I said on Xmas Day when looking at everyone's gift hauls, boy did we hit the motherload or what?!

Besides finishing Last Words, I am nearly finished The Poisonwood Bible and intend to start 84 Charing Cross Road next before I start Full Dark, No Stars, and want to dip into My Life by Bill Clinton for some nonfiction.

It's been great catching up on many of your blog posts & seeing what you read during the holidays, and your great bookie gifts!  Here's to a happy, healthy & bookie New Year :)

I will be back to regular (at least by my standards :) reviews & memes by Monday.


  1. Hello - just stumbled upon your blog *waves*

    It looks like you gave and received some fantastic books this Christmas! I also got Full Dark, No Stars, and am waiting to find a moment when I can suspend time and fall into Stephen King's world. I love the range of books you have here to read - will be interested to hear your thoughts on them!

  2. Glad you had a good Christmas! And a good haul of books too :)

  3. It sounds like you had a great Christmas! Look at all those books!

    I had a quiet Christmas with my husband and our three animals. It was perfect. :-)

    Have a Happy New Year!

  4. What fun! It looks like a bunch of lovely Christmas loot. I see so many books here I've loved (84 Charing Cross, Heart-Shaped Box) and lots of stuff I want to read as well.

    Happy New Year!

  5. You got some incredible books and you gave some good ones as well! I really want that Cake Boss book. I love watching that show although I always end up craving sweets afterwards which doesn't help my resolution to stop eating so badly! :P

  6. Thanks for all of your comments :)

    Jayne~ Welcome! Thanks for joining. Yes, I had a wonderful Xmas book haul :D I'm almost finished Full Dark, No Stars & it's eerily good.

    Sam & Literary Feline~ Thanks! I sure had a bookish holiday :)

    Andi~ I read 84 CCR in one sitting, it was so delicious. I'm anticipating frights with Heart-Shaped Box (can't wait!).

    Jamie~ Thanks! My mom was positively stoked by the Cake Boss book & has finished it already. Now if only she will try cooking something from it :D