August 29, 2015 at 3:27 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

I wrote this review for work months agoUnknown, and it was posted on our website for a time, I think.  I suppose it’s about time I share it with my own audience.

Title: Wild

Author: Cheryl Strayed

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed.  It is what it sounds like: a memoir about an out of control woman who strays.  It could very easily be placed in the same category of Eat, Pray, Love, by my Christian counterparts especially, but somehow I can’t lump the two together.  As a writer, Cheryl has more Bill Bryson (author of A Walk in the Woods) qualities than Elizabeth Gilbert ones.

Cheryl is lost, inappropriate, cheats on her wonderful husband, divorces, does heroine, has almost a complete disregard for herself while simultaneously worshipping her own wants.  It should not make for a good read.  But somehow it does.

Cheryl doesn’t relish in these moments.  She doesn’t glorify them or justify them, she just tells her life how it was, and how she discovered that being comfortable in your own skin, alone, in the wilderness, can be just the provision a lost soul needs.  She doesn’t abandon a marriage for a grand tour and love affair with an air of flippant disregard- instead she tells a story of how when you have a huge hole in your heart you drown yourself and everyone around you.

Though the Pacific Crest Trail is long and grueling, Cheryl’s book about her trek is not.  She is down to earth, shockingly honest, clever and witty about her past ignorances, and leaves you feeling a sense of hope for not just yourself, but for everyone who struggle.

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The Mother of all Bryson Books

October 19, 2014 at 4:12 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

P1000485Title: The Mother Tongue

Author: Bill Bryson

Genre: Linguistics

Length: 245 pages

How many times am I going to spend entire reviews singing the praises of Bill Bryson, bowing down to his mage-like powers as a wordsmith?  Not often enough.

The Half Price Books Humble Book Club read Simon Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman for our September discussion.  GREAT book, but I had already read it.  That being the case, I plucked another linguistics title by an author I adore: Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue.

As with any typical Bryson piece, the book was well researched, enjoyable to read, and all the information was cleverly shared.  Bryson is witty, almost snarky even – but far less snarky in this book than, let’s say, A Walk in the Woods. I take great delight in clever snark.  And yes, I just chose to use snarky as a noun…

Although by describing Bryson’s work as snarky makes him sound much more irritable than he truly is.  On the contrary, Bryson always seems a bit jovial to me.  Sarcastic wit written with a broad smile, and possibly rosy cheeks.

If you love languages, English, history, factoids, dictionaries, evolution of words, or all of the above – The Mother Tongue will keep you fascinated.  If you enjoy witticisms, sarcastic commentary, clever jokes, good conversations, intelligent thought, and possibly your college English professor – Bill Bryson is the guy you want telling you all there is to know about “English and How It Got That Way.”

He’ll talk about Latin and Gaelic, the French and German.  He will discuss Shakespeare, Chaucer, and the Oxford English Dictionary.  There’s a whole chapter dedicated to swearing and the origins of some of our favorite – and not so favorite – expletives.  He’ll recite palindromes and tell you all about London Times Crossword Puzzles (which I desperately would like to get my hands on)… Also, if you ever felt bad about your spelling, this book will give you a full history on how it’s not you, it’s English.

I turned the last page and as it always is on the last page of a Bryson book, I’m already scouring the shelves for another Bryson title.  Can the others live up to the awesomeness I just read? I’m not so sure.

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Books, books, books, more books, and oh! – some books.

October 15, 2014 at 1:50 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , )

I went back to work full time, temporarily, but I’m working 40 hours a week again.  I’m still freelance writing.  I’m still acting as a marketing consultant.  I’m still homeschooling my daughter.  I’m still working on my novels.

I’m also still reading.

I’m a busy sort of gal – I’ll never stop reading.

So on the docket this last week was Stolen by Kelley Armstrong, Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (gee, you’d think I was a romance reader, which is funny, I never thought I’d join that crowd), and Lies That Make You Pay (a title I reviewed for Money-fax.com).

To be fair, I was pleased that book two in the Otherworld series was far more action oriented than it’s first book Bitten.  The romance and sex scenes took a back burner to the story which made for a much better book.  Having read Stolen, however, I began to be a little irritated Alone from the Girl in the Box series.  Stolen was published first (June 2010) and Alone (December 2013) seems like a bit of a rip off of Kelley Armstrong’s work.  This may be a complete coincidence, but I’ll have to read more of each series to find out.

I’m still enjoying Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue and I just started reading Edward Rutherford’s Sarum.  I’ll be sure to post reviews when I’m finished, but sneak peek review for Bryson: he’s marvelous and I adore this book.  I’m taking my time and savoring every glorious word.

I’ve currently completed reading 75 books this year.  I know that not everyone reads that much.  I also know plenty of people who read a lot more than that.  So I nearly choked on a laugh when a lady told me today that she had read too many books to keep track, like 75 books too many.  Ever.  Not this year, not in the last two or three years, but ever.  If you’ve made it to your mid-forties and have only read 75 books ever, I want to know what school you went to and how this travesty happened.  To be honest, however, I think she has read quite a bit more than that, I think people who don’t work in bookstores don’t really have realistic views on book quantities and what that looks like.  75 sounds like a lot to people, until you look at 50,000 – 100,000 every day.

What have you been reading?

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Eden’s Outcasts – A Review

March 10, 2013 at 9:18 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

January 2013 079Title: Eden’s Outcasts

Author: John Matteson

Genre: Biography/ History

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company

Length: 497 pages

I knew I wanted to read this book the first time I saw it at Jill’s Books in The Woodlands a few years ago.  I have loved Louisa May Alcott all my life and in the last few years I’ve really started to enjoy the art of the biography.  My best friend bought it for me on the spot because she is one of those beautiful people who doesn’t think people should be denied their bookish desires.  It wasn’t until March (a novelization of the younger years of Marmee and Mr. March) was chosen for the HPB Humble Book Club that I actually committed to sitting down with it in an attempt to understand Brooks’ portrayal of the patriarch.

*Notes about A Family in Debt*

So my review of the biography begins with Bronson Alcott’s astonishing ability to over zealously botch everything he touches.  This trait of Bronson is made overwhelmingly clear around page 181.  By this time in the biography, his utopian commune Fruitlands has failed, he has lost all his manuscripts, the house the family is living in was purchased with his wife’s inheritance, and he has completely disappointed me.  At this point in his life Bronson refused to be employed and takes up an architectural endeavor on Emerson’s land, a building that would be nicknamed “Tumbledown Hall” and “The Ruin.”  For a man portrayed as one so taken with education, he tackled projects with a whole lot of zeal and not nearly enough research.  When he did research, others’ ideas were usually disregarded in order to implement his own innovative plans.  To me, most his plans pretty much always sucked.

On the other hand, Louisa, his daughter, was exceptionally prudent.  She had an intense crush on Ralph Waldo Emerson when she was young, which I find adorable, but never shared the love letters she wrote to him.  Instead, when the crush was over, she burned them, but continued to look up to Emerson as a teacher.  Emerson would be a part of Louisa May Alcott’s life from her birth until his death.

Bronson may have failed in many things during the first half of his life, but his efforts as a father are later a solid testament to home schooling.  Matteson shares on page 182 that

“During her teen years, Louisa received essentially no formal schooling outside the home.  However, reading Dickens with her family, poring over Goethe in Emerson’s library, and scrambling through the woods with Thoreau comprised a unique education in themselves.”

Bronson Alcott, I believe, had some serious issues.  Matteson has the grace to allow you to come to this conclusion on your own before he shares the fact that mental illness did indeed run in the family and that it is likely that both Bronson and Louisa May were manic depressive or bipolar, but that there is no way to know for sure.

Bronson’s worldview was both passionate and skewed.  He established his house at Hillside (a few years before the well-known Orchard House) as an underground railroad station and fought viciously for equal political rights for African Americans.  Then in contradiction to his own actions stated that blond hair, blue eyed people were closer to God and that black men should not be allowed to reproduce.  How these beliefs reside in one human being baffles me.  It reminds me of an observation Bill Bryson made in his book The Lost Continent, where when traveling the United States he identifies a curious contradiction in American culture and race relations.  In the north, Yankees are known for their belief in equality and pretend to make no distinction between black and white in personal treatment and political issues, yet they live very segregated lives and rarely share the same neighborhood.  However, in the deep south, there is a general assumption of hatred between the two groups, but they live side by side as neighbors.

Why such dichotomy?  I find it all rather ridiculous.  In Bronson’s case, he refused to use products made by slaves and destroyed his career on the principle that even black students had a place in his school.  Kudos! But then he thinks something so crass as an idea that black men should be denied their God given right to have children.  Absurd!

I find Bronson entirely too duplicitous.  He insisted on a family commune but almost left his family to a more philosophic way of life.  He was passionate about fatherhood, but made it very difficult for his children to feel worthy of his praise.  He desired a Utopia, but in every action tore what could have been to the ground.  His ease in living off hand outs from the labor of his friends while simultaneously declining anything done honestly through the labor of animals is confusing.  It is no wonder to me that the father figure in Little Women is both absent and idolized.  The fact that Bronson went to such great lengths to have a perfect transcendental family and then refused to accept work when it was offered because he had as “yet no clear call to any work beyond [him]self,” is irritating.  The Alcotts were flooded with debt and Bronson had the means to fix it, but was too busy living in his head.

The greatest contradiction of all is that in the second half of his life he would rectify my horrible opinion of him…

*Notes about An Authoress*

The thing I love most about biographies is the same thing I love about “bookish” books – they provide lists, a more diverse reading experience.  While reading Eden’s Outcasts, the biographer periodically offered reviews and insightful critiques to Alcott’s little known works.  So while reading her biography, I was also led to read specific stories out of A Whisper in the Dark, like Love and Self-Love.  It also led me to desire to seek out a piece called Hospital Sketches.

Matteson continues to offer literary criticism on many of Alcott’s publications and goes into a lengthy discussion of An Old Fashioned Girl.  It is during this portion of the biography that Bronson has redeemed himself as a father in my eyes.  At this point he was quietly living at Orchard House in between traveling and making his money.  His ideals were far less irritating later in life than when he had a poor young family to support, because at this point Louisa’s fame had made the entire Alcott family debt free.  This success and income is also what finally made Bronson a more supportive father who spent many of Louisa’s later years doting on her and praising her success.

This age old story of the parent-child relationship reminds me of a Bill Cosby sketch where he laments his parents as grandparents.

“I’ve never seen such a turn around in all my life […] That’s not the same woman I grew up with; you’re looking at an old person who’s trying to get into heaven now.” (watch the whole sketch here)

In the story An Old Fashioned Girl, Alcott actually praises her father by inferring that,

“Shaw’s offspring would need less reforming if he had given them more of his time and less of an allowance.”

Matteson continues to say,

“Louisa goes to far as to suggest that a well-provided childhood is a hindrance to happiness and achievement.”

This is a much different sentiment than that during the aftermath of Bronson’s failed Fruitlands.  Mostly proud father, but partly opportunist, Bronson wrote, “I am introduced as the father of Little Women, and I am riding in the chariot of glory wherever I go.”  Bronson may have begun to be capable of providing for his wife and family, but only because Louisa made it possible with her fame.

As Matteson picks apart Alcott’s life and novels, he states:

“As is more than once the case with Alcott, the fiction teasingly invites speculation that the surviving facts can neither confirm nor dispel.” – pg. 382

Of her own fame, Alcott said: “I asked for bread and got a stone, – in the shape of a pedestal.”

*What it all Means to Me…*

All in all Matteson’s biography of Louisa May Alcott and her father is the most well-written and thorough biography I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.  I hung on every word.

All the detailed family relationships, the well thought out literary critiques, and little factoids like the fact that Louisa was the first Concord woman to register to vote, made the whole book a joy to read.

Above all, I am pleased that Matteson has finally put into words a truth that has been part of my own beliefs since childhood when I first read most of Alcott’s work.  Without reading Matteson’s biography I may have never come to understand a piece of myself and where aspects of my own worldview were initially formed.  It seems that my ideas regarding feminism may be largely attributed to what Louisa imparted to me through her novels, as our views are nearly identical.

Louisa’s ideas call for

“each person, male and female to cultivate his or her talents without regard to sex, so that each may optimally serve the community.”

Matteson also says that

“Louisa remained true to the ideals of her mentor Emerson, who, as William James observed, believed that ‘no position is insignificant, if the life that fills it out be only genuine.’  Louisa was hostile to any limitation on women’s opportunities.  Nevertheless, she would have been mystified by any feminist credo that implicitly valued traditionally masculine pursuits above the conventionally feminine.” – pg. 419

Whether you want to be a doctor or stay home and bake pies, male or female – just do it well.

I could not agree more.

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HPB Humble October Meeting Prep

September 30, 2012 at 12:42 am (Events) (, , , , , , , , )

Bill Bryson’s bestselling books include A Walk in the Woods, Notes from a Small Island, In a Sunburned Country, Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words, A Short History of Nearly Everything, which earned him the 2004 Aventis Prize, and The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. Bryson lives in England with his wife and children. – from The Official Bill Bryson Website, http://www.randomhouse.com/features/billbryson/about.html

Discussion Topics for October 1st:

  1. “It must be very frustrating to have a truly unique experience.” – pg. 159 What unique experiences have you had lately?
  2. There is a Veblen reference on page 151, “conspicuous consumption.” How do you feel about this assessment of America?
  3. What did you think of Bryson’s description of the south?
  4. Have you ever stopped to read historical landmarks?  Do you know about the historical landmarks here in Humble?
  5. What was your favorite part of the book? What was your least favorite part of the book?

Below I have included historical landmarks of Humble, TX, taken from the Humble area website: http://www.humblearea.com/history/

Humble, Texas   Historical Markers

Humble Cemetery – Humble (227)

This cemetery is believed to be the town of Humble’s oldest. The   earliest documented burial is that of Joseph Dunman (1867-1879). Also   believed to be buried here in an unmarked grave is Jane Elizabeth Humble,   wife of the community’s founder, Pleasant Humble. The first legal record of   the cemetery appears in a deed transferring the cemetery property from Jonas   Altmont to trustees in 1914. Civil War veteran Houston Young and several   World War I veterans are also interred here. This cemetery serves as a   reflection of Humble’s pioneer heritage.

Humble Lodge No. 979, A.F. & A.M. – Humble (164)

Near the turn of the century, the town of Humble was home to   many Masons who were members of lodges located in nearby towns. With the help   of local Justice of the Peace F. K. Wise, Humble area Masons organized their   own lodge in 1908. Humble State Bank president and future Texas Governor Ross   Sterling (1875-1949) provided meeting facilities in the bank building which   formerly stood at this site. After the bank burned in 1912, the Masons bought   the property and built a new lodge hall. The Masons have been active in civic   programs over the years.

Humble, City of – Humble (164)

A pioneer oil boom town. Originated as crossroads community   named for settler Pleasant Smith Humble (1835?-1912), who lived here before   1889, hewing his timber into railroad ties, mining gravel from his land,   keeping store, and serving as justice of the peace. Neighbors included the   Bender, Durdin, Isaacks, Lee, Slaughter, and Williams families. Economic   bases were farms and sawmills. The post office opened 1902. In 1904 C. E.   Barrett (1866-1926) drilled for oil in this area, securing small production   on Moonshine Hill. On Jan. 7, 1905, he brought in the No. 2 Beaty Well which   yielded 8,500 barrels a day, opening the great boom. From a village of 700,   Humble grew at once into a town of 20,000. Field production– the largest in   Texas for the year 1905– was 15,594,923 barrels of oil. The field was named   for the town. A group of its operators, including Ross S. Sterling, later   (1931-33) governor of Texas, in 1911 incorporated a new oil company named for   the field, thus spreading into the annals of world commerce the town’s name.   Production from several strata here exceeded the total for fabulous   Spindletop by 1946. Known as the greatest salt dome field, Humble still   produces and the town for which it was named continued to thrive.

Moonshine Hill – Humble (105)

Early reports of natural gas seepages in this area were not   uncommon in the late 19th century. James Slaughter noticed such natural   occurrences near the San Jacinto River in 1887. Several years later, with S.   A. Hart, he set up a drilling operation in the area, but it proved   unsuccessful. Charles Barrett, a former Huston merchant, also drilled wells   here, but found the results limited. In 1904, the Higgins Oil Company brought   in a major gas well and the following year, the first successful oil well was   drilled. This area, known as the Moonshine Hill section of the great Humble   oil field, became the site of a boom town. Within months of the 1905   discovery, the population of the Moonshine Hill settlement increased to   10,000. Early operations associated with the site included the Moonshine Oil   Company of Walter Sharp, Ed Prather, and Howard R. Hughes. Although tents   comprised most of the early structures, Moonshine Hill eventually included a   church, school, postal station, stores, hotels, and saloons. Despite three   separate boom eras, the last occurring in 1929, Moonshine Hill declined as a   community. Its brief existence, however, had a dramatic impact on the   economic development of Humble and Houston. Texas Sesquicentennial 1836 –   1986

First United Methodist Church of Humble – Humble (86)

Founded in 1886, Humble was an oil boom town in 1907 when the   Rev. J. T. Browning of Houston began conducting Methodist worship services   for residents of the area. The services were first held in a building that   had housed a bottle factory. In 1908, this church was organized with 37   charter members. The following year, the congregation constructed their first   building, a small frame structure later destroyed by fire. Subsequent church   facilities have reflected the continued growth of the congregation and   community. Texas Sesquicentennial 1836 – 1986

Lambrecht’s Artesian Well – Humble (50)

An oil well drilled at this site in 1912 yielded not oil, but   free-flowing artesian water. The following year, German native Nick   Lambrecht (1855-1920) purchased the property. Lambrecht served as justice   of the peace and mayor during Humble’s oil boom days in the early 20th   century and in 1904 had installed a water system to meet the needs of the   many oil field workers who came to town. Lambrecht’s artesian well was used   to supply water to bathhouses and was also piped to nearby homes. In earlier   years, water had been hauled to town in barrels on horse-drawn wagons. Texas   Sesquicentennial 1836-1986

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Bill Bryson, I adore You

September 29, 2012 at 3:27 am (Reviews, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Title: The Lost Continent

Author: Bill Bryson

Publisher:Harper Perennial

Length: 299 pages

I read A Walk in the Woods a year or two ago and I remember thinking, “What a witty, sarcastic, jack-ass – I love him!” The same holds true for one of Bryson’s earlier works, The Lost Continent.

This book is a great travel memoir of a road trip in America, back when it was still glaringly clear that we were The United States of America, each part of our country a very unique place, in the midst of the late 80’s and early 90’s when the lines were getting blurred and we as a nation fell more and more into a federal ‘group-think’ existence.

Being from the south, there are many times when I feel I should be greatly offended by the things Bryson has to stay about my neck of the woods.  Three things must be said about my not getting offended 1. We southerners don’t offend easily, we just pat your hand and say ‘Bless Your Heart’ for not understanding us and 2. Bryson is funny and intelligent, and despite a lot of generalizations and false conclusions, many parts of his descriptions are familiar and full of truth. But finally, 3. “The South” and “Texas” don’t always mean the same thing, we are a brand all our own, and mighty proud of it.

Bryson’s version of tourism is wonderful.  It has both the comprehension of American ways and not quite being an outsider, as well as the fresh eyes of someone who has been away for so long.  His adventures around national landmarks, travels through run of the mill towns, and his uncanny ability to not be duped in one instance and be completely suckered in another is fantastic.  He finds himself in both the best and the worst of places.  From the smallest hotel room in NY to the cleanest hotel room in New England, Bryson experiences it all, and shares every scurrilous detail.

If you’ve ever stepped foot in any of these places, you can’t help but enjoy his descriptions.  If you haven’t yet been there, you find yourself intrigued.  If you’ve ever read Conspicuous Consumption, you can’t help but notice how Bryson spells out the concepts Veblen’s concepts with severe imagery.  If you’ve never read anything at all, you can at least appreciate his comedic nature and how much his books will make you laugh.

Scentsy pairing: Clean Breeze or Route 66

As usual, I’m enjoying Bryson’s work quite a bit and am so excited to get a chance to discuss this book with other people at the Half Price Books Humble Book Club meeting on October 1st.  There’s still a few days to find a copy, read it, and pipe in at the meeting.

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Coming This Fall…

August 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

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Celebrating Earth Day, April 22nd

April 18, 2012 at 2:41 am (Events, Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

While gathering up promotional items for Half Price Books Earth Day Celebration Goodie Bags (Humble Location), one of the participating business owners described me as “earthy” to one of his associates.  I’ve worked for a company I hear people refer to as “hippie” in nature for five years now, but I never thought of myself as being a hippie myself… I always just thought of myself as bookish.  But I suppose working with people so dedicated to reusing and recycling, some of it had to sink into my being in an observable way.

Since I’m so “earthy,” I thought I’d share a little bit about what I do as part of my daily routine.  I’m not out to save the world, just out to minimize my footprint when its convenient to do so.

1. Recycle cans.  Its as easy as dropping your can items into a separate trash container.  Sometimes loading them up and dropping them off at a recycling center is a hassle, that’s where nieces and nephews come in handy.  Most kids will jump at the chance to earn some spare change (I know I LOVED collecting and selling crushed cans as a kid), so even if you don’t haul them off yourself, its probably pretty easy to find someone willing (and eager) to do it for you.

2. Reusable shopping bags.  I don’t have a recycle pick up in my neighborhood.  So rather than acquire a mountainous number of plastic bags I am too lazy to deliver to a recycling dispenser, I just use reusable ones instead.  It saves me a lot of grief and guilt, and is surprisingly simple once you get in the habit of keeping a stash of them in your car.  My favorites are Pat’s Bags at Half Price Books.  They are $1.98, made of recycled water bottles, and have cute art designed by one of the store’s founders Pat Anderson.

3. Dump coffee grounds and egg shells in the garden.  Instead of dumping my coffee grounds and egg shells in the trash, I make sure to mix it into my garden soil.  Coffee grounds help keep nutrients in the soil, fight off diseases your plants can get, and keeps the garden soil looking dark and fresh.  More specific information about coffee grounds can be found on this blog: http://groundtoground.org/2011/08/28/coffee-grounds-for-your-garden/. Egg shells are more specifically good for your vegetable garden, so I crush those up and put them with my tomatoes.  More specific information on eggs shells in your garden can be found here:  http://www.allotments.ie/?p=515.

4. All natural cleaning products. This habit benefits me two fold: I am allergic to everything, and its better for the environment. I am a huge fan of homemade mixes (using baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils), Seventh Generation, and J.R. Watson.  As for my personal hygene, I love soap from Connie’s Bath Shack in Old Town Spring – http://conniesbathshack.com/.

5. Reuseable water bottles. I have reuseable water bottles galore from all the Earth Day Celebrations of Half Price Past. I don’t buy plastic water bottles in packs at the store, I diligently refill my Half Price Books bottles.  Water bottles are a simple, yet awesome thing of genius, and you can get them anywhere, I think even Starbucks sells them.

As you can see, that’s not a lot, but I think it makes a big difference.

But, this is a book blog, so I’ll get to the bookish parts.

I love this very green ad from hpb.com!

Half Price Books loves to celebrate Earth Day, and in working there for five years, I can proudly say it was my favorite time of the year in the four and half years I worked in the store.  The displays are full of my favorite color (green), the nature and gardening sections become a little more prominent, people seem more interested in buying books to read outside under trees in parks… I love that.  Smack dab in the middle of Spring, people just seem cheerier in general, and with Mother’s Day around the corner, and lawn projects in the works, I always felt like I had a better chance to help people out.  One year, I even got to participate in a tree planting for Trees for Houston.  Half Price Books sent a group of volunteers to the planting, as part of my working hours, to plant trees! That was an all out blast.

Visit your local Half Price Books on Earth Day, they just might be doing something cool that day.  But even if there’s not too much out of the ordinary happening, its good to get your books reused!  One of my favorite HPB purchases is actually featured in that ad to the left, Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods.  I wrote a short review for it two years ago, after reading it on Earth Day 2010:

A Walk in the Woods makes me desperately want to go hiking. This was my first Bryson, I find the author surprisingly witty and fun, although perhaps a bit truthfully cruel in the beginning. I have to admit, prior to reading this I knew very little about the Appalachian Trail – it was a trail I had heard of but didn’t really have a clue about its length (Georgia to Maine, 2200 miles), its fame, or its history. This is the perfect blend of traveling memoir and a true survival/ adventure story, and I was completely captured by the weather conditions, the terrain, the fellow hikers, and the long nights in cold shelters. Its definitely an adventure I’d like to take, even if it means I only finish 39% of the trail like Bryson himself.

Another little favorite of mine is Don’t Throw It Out: Recycle, Renew, And Reuse to Make Things Last by Lori Baird and the Editors of Yankee Magazine.  I picked this one up at Half Price Books too… yes, I’m a bit of a Half Price nut, I shop other places too, but HPB is my main hang out.  Don’t Throw It Out is great because its half useful and half hilarious.  There are some really handy tips, and some things I find ridiculous that I would never do.  It makes for both an awesome reference book, and a conversation starter for your coffee table.  Its got “more than a thousand ways to maximize the value of everything you own – from furniture and fishing reels, to cell phones and ceiling fans, to iPods and earrings.

Also, one of my most recent purchases, is Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt by Megan Nicolay.  Its all in the title, take your old t-shirts that you would normally donate to Goodwill in order to go buy new clothes, and make new clothes out of them.  Now this, you may not immediately think of as earth friendly, but any time you are reusing something you already have to make it something you’ll use more, you’re being earth friendly.  (Its what I was raised to call being a “good steward of your resources.”)

So whether you pop into a used bookstore and pick up some new resources, ride your bicycle that day, take a gander in the public park or local arboretum, or start a new earth friendly habit… be a good steward of your resources and respect your world, take a moment, sniff the roses, and celebrate Earth Day!

*Disclaimer: Although I am currently an extremely part-time, work from home, employee for Half Price Books (about 20-30 hours a month to organize events like booksignings, raffles, and other fun stuff), this blog is purely my own.  What I say here is always of my own volition, and is not backed or on behalf of the company.  This is my personal blog of all my personal interests.  Those personal interests just often include everything HPB as its a huge part of my world.

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A Walk in the Woods with Bill Bryson

April 22, 2010 at 4:44 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

A Walk in the Woods makes me desperately want to go hiking. This was my first Bryson, I find the author surprisingly witty and fun, although perhaps a bit truthfully cruel in the beginning. I have to admit, prior to reading this I knew very little about the Appalachian Trail – it was a trail I had heard of but didn’t really have a clue about its length (Georgia to Maine, 2200 miles), its fame, or its history. This is the perfect blend of traveling memoir and a true survival/ adventure story, and I was completely captured by the weather conditions, the terrain, the fellow hikers, and the long nights in cold shelters. It’s definitely an adventure I’d like to take, even if it means I only finish 39% of the trail like Bryson himself.

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