Friday, January 16, 2009

TGIF: Weekly Meme Fun

This week's Musings Monday post is about assigned reading . . .
How did you react to assigned reading when you were in school/university/college/etc? How do you think on these books now? What book were you 'forced' to read when you where in school that you've since reread and loved?
I was one of those rare students who lived for assigned reading lists. More often than not, I dived into whatever book was assigned with enthusiasm, finishing it way ahead of time. There were exceptions. William Shakespeare being one. And I never did make it all the way through Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (although that is one I would like to try again someday).

I do not often reread books. I have bookshelves full of unread books (and boxes, bags and stacks as well), and I am more likely to turn to them when considering what to read next. Jane Eyre, however, and Pride and Prejudice are two that I did manage to reread. Both I had read initially because they were assigned reading for classes. I loved Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre from the first moment I opened its pages. I loved it even more the second time around. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen was a slightly different story. I did not care for it the first go around, but I now consider it one of my all time favorite books--it was that second reading that changed my mind.

There are plenty of assigned reading selections I would love to return to someday. I think with each reading, our impressions and thoughts are subject to change each time. Hopefully we come away feeling more satisfied than before, but I imagine that isn't always the case.

I have a bit of catching up to do with this week's Mailbox Monday. To catch up, I thought I would list the books that have made their way into my house so far this month.

For Review*:
The Brightest Moon of the Century by Christopher Meeks
Strangers in the Land of Egypt by Stephen March
Starfinder: A Skylords Novel by John Marco
The Jewel Trader of Pegu by Jeffrey Hantover
Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom

Just Because:
A Test of Wills by Charles Todd
The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood
Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby

*I have made it a rule not to accept just any book offered to me for review. Sometimes a book is offered or comes along that I just cannot resist. I make a point to research a little about the book being offered and the author before agreeing to review that book. I would rather spend my time reading books I want to read, after all.

A little Teaser from what I've been reading lately:
There, in the middle of the broad, bright high-road - there, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth or dropped from the heaven - stood the figure of a solitary Woman, dressed from head to foot in white garments; her face bent in grave inquiry on mine, her hand pointing to the dark cloud over London, as I faced her. I was far too seriously startled by the suddenness with which this extraordinary apparition stood before me, in the dead of night and in that lonely place, to ask what she wanted. [pg 24, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins]

If you’re anything like me, there are songs that you love because of their lyrics; writers you admire because their songs have depth, meaning, or just a sheer playfulness that has nothing to do with the tunes.

So, today’s question?

  • What songs … either specific songs, or songs in general by a specific group or writer … have words that you love?
  • Why?
  • And … do the tunes that go with the fantastic lyrics live up to them?
Music is as much a part of my life as the written word. I love the sound of a guitar serenading me to sleep or a strong beat that gets my toe tapping. The poetry of lyrics can bring me to tears or have me laughing out loud. There is power in a song. It can be invigorating, sooth away my pain, or calm my nerves. The songs that work the best for me are the ones that have the entire package: great music and great lyrics.

Not to mention that I love to sing. I may not be very good at singing, but I can carry a tune. I was entertaining my friend yesterday with that old geography song I learned way back when. You know the one (and I am sure you can guess why I like it):

Maine is an island in Asia, France is a river in Spain,
Coconuts grow on a mountain of snow,
Deserts are covered with rain;
China is bordered by Norway, Texas is south of Peru,
Persia's a sea, and Vermont is a tree,
I adore knowledge, don't you?

I love ge-og-ra-phy, og-ra-phy, og-ra-phy
I love ge-og-ra-phy, with rapture the pages I turn.
I love ge-og-ra-phy, og-ra-phy, og-ra-phy
I love ge-og-ra-phy, because it's so easy to learn.

Crocodiles come from Chicago, rivers flow backward up-hill
Grass is quite rare, the equator is square,
Utah is east of Brazil.
Kansas is full of volcanoes, Switzerland's right on the coast.
Knowledge, you see, simply fascinates me,
I love ge-og-ra-phy most.
Naming a favorite song is like trying to name just one favorite book or author. There are so many I love, all for very different reasons. And the same goes for song writers. There is no one name that stands out above the others.

Often times my mood dictates what type of music or song speaks to me at any given moment. If I am feeling particularly down, I may listen to sad love songs or perhaps something more playful to try and cheer myself up. When I am having an especially bad day, songs like Rodney Atkin's If You're Going Through Hell (written by Sam Tate, Annie Tate & Dave Berg), Up! by Shania Twain (& Robert Lange), Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway (written by Avril Lavigne, Bridget Benenate & Matthew Gerrard), or Bitch by Meredith Brooks (& Shelly Peiken) have a way of perking me up. I also go through phases. I am sure my husband is glad that my country music phase has faded into the background to make way for a more alternative adult/rock one. Regardless, I enjoy a wide variety of music--much like my rather eclectic taste in books.

Just a very small few of the songs whose lyrics and music never fail to pull me in:

Whiskey Lullaby performed by Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss, written by Bill Anderson and Jon Randall
Fast Car performed and written by Tracy Chapman
Bring Me to Life performed by Evanescence, written by Ben Moody, Amy Lee, David Hodges
Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning) performed by Rodney Atkins, written by Matthew Scannell
Desert Rose performed by Sting, written by Sting and Kipper
Dark Lady performed by Cher, written by Johnny Durrell (this is just a fun dark song)

I could go on and on, but you want to do something else today besides read my blog post, I bet.

1. Enough with the work for this week. Let's get on with the weekend.

2. My job sometimes causes me to be conflicted.

3. I've been craving cheesecake lately.

4. The kitten's attempts to play with the dog make me laugh.

5. I wish I could go to the World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto next week. It's actually not the biggest anymore, but it's a eye catching name, isn't it? Unfortunately, I have to work next week, and so I will be stuck in Southern California instead. At least it's warm here.

6. Where exactly I put the two new tubes of face cleanser has been on my mind lately.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a quiet evening with my husband and animals; tomorrow and Sunday my plans include entertaining the in-laws.

Thank you to all who provided feedback regarding the new look here at Musings of a Bookish Kitty. I was in the mood for a change and thought I would give this template a try.

I realized just last night that my blog roll is missing. I could kick myself for not making sure it was there before I got rid of the old template. I am slowly going to be rebuilding that up, so please be patient with me. Obviously today there is no blog roll, and so you won't find your name there, but if you are a frequent visitor and want to be listed on my blog roll, please let me know. You can either e-mail me directly or leave a comment here.


  1. Oh, I LOVE your new template, what a cute kitty!!!

  2. Thank you for stopping by the 'mailbox' this week. I, too, love your new template. The kitty is adorable. Enjoy your books!

  3. I haven't been over to your blog in a while (although I DO read you on Google Reader every day) and I LOVE the new look. It's very cool and relaxing. Great job!

  4. I had to give BTT its own post this week (which isn't done yet, BTW) - a great topic! Like you, I have a hard time singling out songs and songwriters, and yet I've had a LOT to say about this one :-). I love "Fast Car" too, by the way, but I didn't know the geography song - now THAT'S funny. that you mention it, that would be very nice. And I'm no stranger to being conflicted over work myself.

    I'm not sure I was on your old blogroll, but I hope you'll put me on the new one!

    Enjoy your weekend, Wendy!

  5. I think your new look is great, but then I liked the old one, too. And I wanna go to the World's Biggest Bookstore, too! Even if it isn't really the biggest anymore - any bookstore is OK with me!

  6. Oh, assigned reading. I did much better in grade school & high school than college. I even used to take my history textbooks home and read them cover to cover. (I know - real geek.)

    But, I absolutely hated Silas Marner when I read it in high school. The same teacher assigned The Hobbit, and I read it, and then the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. Flunked the test though, because I'd already read all four books, and couldn't remember all the details from The Hobbit.

    I can't tell you the number of books I didn't read my freshman year in college, and still haven't read - Madame Bovary and Proust stand out.

    But, I still go back and read The Hobbit.

  7. oh, I'm glad you mentioned the look was updated, I normally read from google reader so hadn't noticed. I really like the look! I love how I get a little pawprint when I put my curser over comments and the labels..too cute!

  8. I did horribly w/assigned reading. Once I was "supposed" to read something, I lost all interest. Luckily I'd read most of the assigned work already.

    I used to love to reread books - the second time around is sometimes better than the first reading, but it seems as if there is just a DELUGE of books lately.

    Your "Monday Musing" at the beginning actually made me question the day of the week! L-o-n-g week. TGIF.

  9. I enjoyed assigned readings too. There are a few books I re-read from time to time - Little Women and The Diary of Anne Frank just to name two.

  10. I was one of those weirdos who generally enjoyed assigned reading, too. With a few exceptions (Babbitt being chief among them). Brave New World was actually one of my favorite assigned readings in high school...sadly I remember so little of it. I ought to do a bit of rereading too, I suppose.

  11. I usually enjoyed assigned readings, but apparently my school didn't assign many classics. I feel very behind on them sometimes.

  12. I also love the new look. It's very nice. I also liked assigned reading and plan to write a post on that soon. :)

  13. Seemed like every literature class in college, we were assigned Virginia Woolf, and I hated it. Last year I re-read Mrs. Dalloway and just loved it. Maybe a 19 year old just can't digest Woolf properly. Now I intend to go back and read Heart of Darkness, which I also despised in college.

  14. I loved assigned reading too but the only thing I've ever disliked that was assigned was Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare lol. It was like pulling teeth trying to read it!

    Not sure if I said anything or not but the new look is great! I've been craving cheesecake too. I know a little place where they use cinnamon in the "crust". Mmmm!

  15. Janet - Thank you!

    Marcia - Thanks! I do plan to enjoy my new books. :-) I love your Mailbox on Monday event.

    Heather J - Thank you! I thought it had a more calming effect too--at least on me. :-)

    Florinda - I am looking forward to reading your BTT post. I knew you'd have a lot of to say on the subject. I almost didn't bother with it because I couldn't think of what to say. Isn't that geography song great? I sang it in choir when I was in elementary school.

    After the in-laws leave, I'm making hubby take me to the cheesecake factory. LOL

    You'll definitely be on my blogroll, Florinda. Even if you hadn't mentioned it. :-)

    I hope you have a great weekend too!

    Joy - Thank you! Yes, any bookstore would do. :-)

    Lesa - Haha! I was pretty geeky myself. Probably still am. :-)

    I didn't have to read Silas Marner in school. I read The Hobbit on my own about the time the first Lord of the Rings movie came out. Loved it! I definitely want to reread all those books again.

    I never had to read Proust, but I did read Madame Bovary in high school. I liked it, but that's about all I remember of it. LOL

    Kris - Thank you! I almost wasn't able to add the paw print back in with this new template, but my husband was able to work his magic, thank goodness.

    Carrie K - It was a rather long week, wasn't it? Next week is going to be a long one for me too, unfortunately.

    Reading the assigned reading wasn't a problem for me, but writing papers on what I'd read took an extra dose of motivation.

    Kathy - I never think of The Diary of Anne Frank when I count my re-reads. I don't know why. It wouldn't count for this topic though since that was a book I read on my own, both times. I still haven't read Little Women. It wasn't ever assigned reading for me.

    Debi - I never had to read Babbitt in school. I actually think I might've liked Brave New World if the timing had been different. One of the reasons I would like to give it another go.

    Melissa - There are so many classics I am still learning about today that I'd never heard of when I was in school--it makes me wonder if I'd been living under a rock. So, I know what you mean. :-)

    Amy - Thank you! I look forward to reading your post about assigned reading. :-)

    Verbatim - I think I read a short story by Virginia Woolf in a women's literature course, but I never had to read any of her books. I'd like to read one of her novels someday.

    I actually liked Heart of Darkness when I read it in school. I was weird that way.

    Jen - I remember having to read Romeo and Juliet. The movies aren't so bad, but I never liked reading the plays.

    Thank you! A cinnamon crusted cheesecake sounds so yummy!

  16. I definitely didn't live for the assigned books. I tended to dislike most of them. But I read them like I should, at least all the way through the lower grades. When in the higher grades and later in gymnasium (which are 3 years from your 15/16th year) I definitely was slacking off big time. Hated most of the books, failed to read a lot of them and bluffed my way around it. LOL. I always loved to read though and have re-read some of the books I hated back then. And have discovered I liked them!

    Anyway, the latest book I have reviewed is actually one of the few books I liked from one of the assigned reading lists. And I still like it ;o)

  17. Bogsider - It's sometimes amazing how differently we think of books from the first to second reading.

  18. I lost my blog roll when I redid my format last time, too! I ended up having to get it from my feeder files... And, well, it is really outdated again already, but that is nothing new!

    Have a good weekend!

  19. I've always had mixed feelings about assigned reading. On the one had I didn't like the time pressure (then why do I do reading challenges, you ask? I ask myself that too :P), but on the other hand it lead me to discover some very good books.

  20. Love the new look! That's one cute kitty. And Edmund Wilson is a wise man.

    Assigned reading: I enjoyed it since it made me read books or stories I might not have been aware of before.

    Tunes work magic for me as well. I was so happy to finally get an mp3 player and load 'er up.

    Re-reading is too short to re-read books or read bad books. I do, however, have some favorites on my keeper shelf...I guess just in case.

    A TEST OF WILLS - Charles Todd was an amazing book and I am not sure I'd have found it had it not been for the A-Z Challenge last year.

  21. What a great post!! So much going on. I hear ya about not remembering what you did with something and you just had it in your hands a few hours ago!! Love your song choices. I really liked Whiskey Lullaby. Allison Krauss has a beautiful voice. I loved that Tuesday Teaser, makes me want to check out that book you're reading!!

    I love the quote you have on your is so true!!

    Hope you're having fun with the in-laws!! Have a great weekend!

  22. Oooh, love your new look!!!

    I am a rare thing, I think, having never had much of anything in the way of assigned reading. It's interesting to read about what people *had* to read that I skipped right past.

  23. I was a fan of assigned reading in theory, but when it came to the reality I often struggled to make myself read the assigned books. I think I resented being told what to read, in some sense, especially during the summer when I was in high school - that should have been my own reading time! That said, even though I read a bunch of assigned duds, a few of my favorite books are books I had to read for classes. Though I never could manage to get into Shakespeare, either.

    I'd love to be on your blog roll when you rebuild it! =)

  24. I keep eyeing C.J. Sansom's books but have yet to get any. Looking forward to your thoughts on Winter in Madrid when you get to it.
    Shakespeare Wrote for Money will definitely be included in my next book order!
    And that geography song is great!
    Hope you're having a good weekend with the in-laws. :)

  25. It may be a long post but it was definitely worth the read! Your writing style is excellent; everything flows along so easily!

    I always enjoy my visit!

  26. Kelly (Kailana) - I could kick myself for losing that. This will give me a chance to update the blog roll at least, right? I hope you have a good weekend too.

    Nymeth - Time pressures could be a little stressful, I agree. I think the idea of being introduced to new authors and other books as what appealed to me the most about assigned reading. And since I had enough good experience with the books I was assigned to read, I wasn't quite so fearful of trying something new that was assigned.

    Vickie - Thank you! I was looking around for a new quote, and the one by Edmund Wilson stood out for me. It's so true, isn't it?

    I am still hoping someday I will have my own iPod . . . I keep watching the sales, hoping.

    I am glad to hear you liked A Test of Wills. I hadn't heard of Charles Todd until last year and decided it might be good to try out his first series book.

    Staci - Thanks! I still haven't found those tubes. Ugh. At least it's not my car keys this time. I agree, Allison Krauss has a very beautiful voice. And Whiskey Lullaby is such a sad and beautiful song.

    I hope you are having a good weekend too!

    Nancy - Thank you! It seems to be a curse for some and a pleasure for others--those assigned reading lists. You mgiht have got off lucky. :-)

    Megan - My favorite kind of assigned reading was when I would be given a list and could choose one or two titles from the list. I often would go back on my own time and read some of the other titles.

    I'll definitely be adding your to my blog roll. :-)

    Nat - I've been wanting to try one of C.J. Sansom's books for awhile now and was so glad when the opportunity to review one of his books came along.

    I can't believe I still remember that geography song. LOL It's stuck with me.

    I hope you enjoyed your weekend too!

    Linda - Thank you! That is so nice of you to say!

  27. I love your new template, Wendy! It's very refreshing! :)

  28. I know I've said it already tonight, but that header kitty is too cute. Anyway, I did awful with assigned reading. Even as a grad student I somehow found myself occasionally picking up a "fun" read instead of slugging through my assigned reads. I have read some of the ones I skipped--mostly the high school books--and I'm slowly getting to the half-read books that I didn't quite finish as an undergrad. I must be the WORST English major ever! :P

  29. Melody - Thank you! I like it too. :-)

    Trish - Thank you! Isn't that kitten the cutest?

    LOL I might have ended up being the same had I majored in English--but since I didn't I craved those literature courses--it was the only fiction reading I managed to fit in during my college years (other than during summer and winter breaks).


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