Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Big Read

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.

Each community event lasts approximately one month and includes a kick-off event to launch the program locally, ideally attended by the mayor and other local luminaries; major events devoted specifically to the book (panel discussions, author reading, and the like); events using the book as a point of departure (film screenings, theatrical readings, and so forth); and book discussions in diverse locations and aimed at a wide range of audiences.

The NEA inaugurated The Big Read as a pilot project in 2006 with ten communities featuring four books. The Big Read continues to expand to include more communities and additional books. By 2009, approximately 400 communities in the U.S. will have hosted a Big Read since the program's 2007 national launch.

I found this great idea on Beneath The Rowan Tree. The Big Read says that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed.

Well let's see. Here's how it works.
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE, and strikeout the books you read but didn't like.
4) Reprint this list so we can try and track down these people who've read only 6 or less and
make them read.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. The Harry Potter Series JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh .
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen .
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan .
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert (I'm still working on Dune, dammit.)
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville -
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry .
87. Charlotte's Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I must say, I do NOT agree with the current top 100. Narnia would be above Harry Potter on my personal list, and I'm NOT AT ALL a fan of Dickens. A Handmaid's Tale is my favorite book. Ever. And why only fiction? Anyway, check the list. Be a proud reader! And encourage reading. My kids are already readers, and we (el Jefe and I) read A LOT. Sometimes out at sea when the whole world as you know it (583'x23'7") is a yucky soul eating mess, books are the only things that keep me from screaming.

And check out Beneath The Rowan Tree at Etsy. I was headed there today anyway, because she sells lovely kid safe, natural toys. We have some wonderful playsilks and Anna just loves them! Thanks!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Etsy wonderfulness!

Okay, it's a little long in coming, but I thought I'd blog about a few wonderful Etsy sellers and their wonderful things! I have received a few items lately that have made me very happy, and I want to share my joy (and a few stories.)

First, the very first artist whose original work I had in my collection. If you have never owned an original piece of artwork before I urge you to do so. Buy the painting. Find a place for the sculpture! I agree, that beautiful stained glass will look awesome in your kitchen. Diana Crites is an artist with a tendency towards the dark side of life. No sugar coat for her. Since I stumbled upon her shop, I had my eye on a particular work, a pen and ink of a little girl. But not just any little curly haired girl. Noooo! This one was on fire.

Funny story (now.) When I was 4, I was in my Aunt and Uncle's wedding. I LOVED being a flower girl. Auntie Karen (and yes, I still call her Auntie) made my dress, with it's wonderful yellow sash/ribbon/belt and eyelet lace. I got to carry flowers and be pretty. Then my other Uncle got married. Total letdown. No pretty handmade dress, no basket of flowers, no front table away from mom and dad where I could eat all the veggie dip. And matches at the table! My very own little new box of matches! Ha! Revenge. Until I got burned on the finger, and dropped the match. Needless to say, Diana's pen and ink brought back memories in a flash.

The talent that oozes from this piece is astounding. Seriously, I had no idea it would be this amazing. In her shop paynesgrey, Diana offers several more original ink drawings, and some amazing prints and original paintings. Please, check her out, and seriously consider buying your own original. You won't regret it, especially if you buy from Diana.

I have one of those jobs where I sign a lot of papers all day, and require others to sign them too. If you have a job like this, you know that it is hazardous. I can easily go through five pens in a day if I don't pay attention. Problem is, I love great pens. I love how they feel, how they write, the very weight in your pocket. I used to buy the semi-good Zebras, but I lost them too much to opportunist memo signers. I don't like carrying the cheap ones, even if only to lend out. (Those are in a cup on my desk.) I decided one day that I needed a nice pen. A refillable pen. One that would make me proud, feel nice in my pocket, and most importantly - be memorable. Folks don't steal pens they ask about before they use them. Trust me. So browsing Etsy, I found these.

They are made by an artist named Thom Taylor. I have the Spalted Maple Slimline (The bottom photo) and couldn't be happier. It has never been stolen, feels wonderful, has a wonderful waxed finish and writes like a dream, since it has Cross guts. If you use a writing instrument often, and like the feel of good pens and wonderful artistry, please visit Thom's shop. He goes by the moniker Pilot1022, and has plenty of beautiful offerings.

Whew, okay. I have so many wonderful things to blog about, I think I'll break it up . . . back soon!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Eleven years has FLOWN by.

El Jefe and I have been married for 11 years today. (OK, so our families found out about 10 years ago - but who's counting?) Here's a blast from the past ('02, since that was the beginning of the digital age for us!)

And here's a NOW picture. Whew. What a long (and short) strange (and wonderful) trip it's been.

Suggested Aniversary gifts? Steel and jewelry. Hell yeah. I'm all over that. TimothyAdamDesigns has it covered! Or OMG, this RING!!! No way, I love this watch!!!

Happy anniversary to me!!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I'm alive and quite well.

There's quite a lot going on here at Casa de Jenny, so I apologize for my absence. I promise, next week (Saturday, probably) I'll be back to my usual blogging. But for now, feast your eyes. (Click to see it in a bigger size. Totally worth it!)

I got this today (on the heels of another wonderful piece which I will blog at a later date). It rocks. I can't explain the feeling of seeing yourself on canvas if you haven't experienced it. It's amazing. It's in honor of our 11th anniversary, on Tuesday the 10th. Eleven years. Craziness. So I felt it needed commemoration. Anne knocked it out of the park. This is US. In all of our dorky, self assured glory.

It was done by AnneE on Etsy, and was a custom commission from Alchemy. She does awesome work for sale in her shop, and is SUPER cool and easy to work with. Thanks, Anne!!