Late to the party, again.

The question of the week over at The Broke and The Bookish is: What are the top 10 sites you visit that AREN’T about books?

In the spirit of wasting time, here’s my list:

1. Facebook.- duh. I love being able to talk to friends & family, lurk and know what’s going on, etc. We all know the game. I DON’T play any of the games though…just not my thing. I also ignore all game requests.

2. Assorted knitting blogs:,, and Brooklyn Tweed are my current favorites.

3. Knitty & Ravelry are also great knitting time-sucks inspiration.

4. my wordpress reader (when it’s working. ahem.) I follow the knitting, cooking, weaving, and travel sections among others. fun times.

5. The Pioneer Woman &

6. CNN, USAToday, & I love the news.

7. The Charlotte Observer & the Knoxville News Sentinel.

8. Google. Anytime I need to know, I start there. Call me a lemming.


Vacation Reads…(kind of)

As Summer begins, I thought I’d use vacation season to recognize some State-based book awards. In memory of some family vacations I’ll not bore you by describing, we’ll start with FLORIDA. (Yes, there’s more there than beaches & mouse ears).

1. The Florida Book Awards

Its sixth annual competitions now complete, Florida Book Awards announces winners for books published in 2011 in seven categories of competition. “The Florida Book Awards exists to identify and profile the Sunshine State’s best books and their authors,” notes FBA Director Wayne A. Wiegand. “These FBA winners clearly demonstrate the quality and depth of Florida’s increasingly rich literary culture.”

Submissions were read by eight juries of three members each nominated from across the state by cosponsoring organizations. Jurors are authorized to select up to three medalists (including one Gold Winner, one Silver Runner-up, and one Bronze Medalist) in each of the eight categories; jurors are also authorized to make no selections in a given year.

Click on the link for a list of winners. You know how I feel about awards with discretion enough NOT to award just for the sake of awarding. 🙂

2. President’s Book Awards–  Sadly, the .org website for the Fl Publisher’s association was down, but the link will take you to an EXCELLENT blog entry about this year’s winners. I will try to update this when I can get the .org site to pull up.

3. Children’s Book Award

The Florida Reading Association invites Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade students to participate in voting for the Florida Children’s Book Award. Nominations for books to be considered for the school year are due by December 15. The books nominated must have been copyrighted within the last five years and be currently in print. A nomination form can be found under the Recommend a Book link.

Once students have read or heard the nominated books, their votes can be tallied and submitted to the Children’s Book Award Chairman though the online form. Ballots must be received no later than April 15. Results will be announced on the FRA web site and in the FRA newsletter. The winning book will be honored at the FRA Conference in October.

Yay! Kids voting. 🙂

4. Florida Historical Society Awards– This well-respected society gives out 18 awards for everything from academic papers to book-length explorations of FL history. One of my favorite professors was a recipient of one of these. (Yay Dr. Revels!) If you’d like to learn more about the incredibly complex part of the world that is Florida, these would be good places to start. Nominations are mailed in, read by a jury and voted on.

Entries are evaluated by independent panels of judges appointed by the Society. Judges will carefully consider each entry based on factors including (but not limited to) quality of scholarship, factual accuracy, clarity of expression, original thinking, significance of topic and overall contribution to knowledge of Florida history. The judges’ decisions are final.


Send all entries to the Florida Historical Society, 435 Brevard Avenue, Cocoa, FL 32922. Entry deadlines for some awards are on Jan. 10, while other awards have a March 1 deadline. Entrants are advised to adhere strictly to deadlines for each award category. The term “submit by…” means entries (or nominations) must be RECEIVED at the Florida Historical Society office by 5 p.m. on the date specified. Entries received later will not be considered. Entries must be clearly marked as to award category.


5. SSYRA Awards– In the world of school & reading, there are some programs out there that push kids to read books at/above their reading level, irregardless of their interest level, and then take a quiz, earn some points and move on. Read HERE for why this leaves me conflicted (her thoughts are more coherent).  Anyway, this is thankfully, not one of those programs:

The Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award Program is a statewide reading motivation program for students in grades 3-8. The program, cosponsored by the School Library Media Services Office of the Department of Education and the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME), began in 1983. The purpose of the SSYRA Program is to encourage students to read independently for personal satisfaction, based on interest rather than reading level.

Sunshine State books are selected for their wide appeal, literary value, varied genres, curriculum connections, and/or multicultural representation. Students are encouraged to read books that are above, on, and below their tested reading level in order to improve their reading fluency

Once the kids have read 3 books off the list, they can then vote for their favorite. 🙂

6. Florida Teens Read– This is a more grown-up version of #5.

Teens in Florida read and Florida media specialists know it! Florida Teens Read is a list of 15 titles that have been chosen by a committee of thirteen media specialists specifically to engage high school students (grades 9 through 12) and reflect their interests as well as represent a variety of genres, formats, reading levels, viewpoints, and ethnic and cultural perspectives.Teens are encouraged to read at least three of the titles on the current list. From April 1 to April 30 each year a link will be available on the FAME web page for students to vote for their favorite book.

Coolness. We have a similar program here, and I always like to see what the kids who actually read 3 books for FUN vote for. 🙂

Value book shopping….

One aspect of book awards is that it’s immediately eye-catching to see that shiny gold sticker, or “award-winning….” plastered across the front. I admit, I have been suckered into picking up a book with those accolades, only to wonder after reading it, “Why?”  IMHO, this makes the book less than a true “value.” (take that with a grain of salt, as I have rarely met a book I didn’t like (Billy Budd, I’m talking to you)). I’ve been pleased to find though, that most of the awards I’ve talked about have been earnest attempts to applaud merit and only a COUPLE have been blatant marketing schemes. 🙂

That said, I was recently stalking the iBook store while at work, and given my non-existent budget, was pondering which purchase to make: the next installment of a series, a “new” book/author, a beloved favorite I don’t actually own, one of the “$3.99 or less” books, a free book….the options were endless. 🙂 I love book shopping.

And then, I found myself narrowing things down by doing quick math to see how much the book was per “page” on the theory that if I can only buy ONE,  by golly it needs to last a while.  (I love long books, especially when I’m at work and can’t raid the bookshelf as soon as I finish.) When I caught myself doing this I laughed. Book purchasing on par with examining the supersize price vs. two smaller packages at the grocery, squinting at the price per item/oz label fine print?!?!?!

So that leads me to my next questions for you:


Discuss at will. I’m off book shopping.

In the Spirit of Omissions…

(no, I haven’t died or disappeared)

When I started my massive list of book awards, to be honest it bemused and frustrated me. For me, all books have merit: they have been painstakingly written, edited, and published. They are worth SOMEONE’S time and effort to read and be appreciated. I had to shake my head at our society’s need to further add value by putting a gold-sticker on the front and declaring thsi book or author somehow even BETTER than the rest. I wondered if the plethora took value away from non-winning books/authors; or if it merely de-valued the winning of an award?

So, recently, I had to applaud the efforts of the Pulitzer committee. They chose not to give an award this year for a novel. Not because there weren’t worthy nominees: the committee (presumably) read over 300 nominations, and narrowed it down to 3. But because there wasn’t a clear “winner,” they reserved their right not to award anything.

Go them. I’m pretty sure all the nominated books are FABULOUS, and I don’t want to even hint otherwise, but call me silly, an award should MEAN something.

Stay tuned for more ramblings. I’m back. 🙂

An ode to diagramming….

I just had to post a link to this one. A whole blog entry (and even a book) about the history of diagramming sentences. (my inner geek is doing cartwheels, something my corporeal self cannot do, alas). Anyway, whether you love to diagram or hated it or (gasp!) have no idea what I’m talking about, you should click the linkie:

and read all about it!

Because it’s never too early to be a reader….

If you have a little one in your life, or just like kids books, you know that all those delightful little books can be JUST AS PRICEY as the books for big kids (aka Adults). Public libraries are AWESOME, but sometimes you just need to OWN a book or you can’t get to the library, you don’t have a library card, or the library is (gasp) scary for some folks. Here are some websites and programs that promote kids’ reading on the cheap:– this is a fairly large website with ebooks/stories for young, middle, and YA readers, quizzes, phonics activities, etc. If you have a little one  in your life who has a phobia for a paper book, they might get fooled by the itunes apps and read aloud stories.– PDF’s of children’s picture books, downloadable for free.– this is a massive list of 124 sites that provide free ebooks for children. ALSO links for free audio & non-children’s books.– providing free books to kids, training to caregivers (daycare/preschool), and literacy classes for parents so they can take an active role in their child’s reading.– Started by Dolly Parton in her home state of TN, this program mails a free book EVERY MONTH to every child registered, regardless of income, from birth to age 5. (my son is in this one and WE LOVE IT). The program has expanded to 3 countries and over 1600 locally supported programs. Any community can start a branch, they just have to have local support. I’m not sure on the details there, but as always on the internet, there’s a link.– Barnes & Noble knows what’s good for them: creating a customer base. For every 8 books, a kid gets a free one. Score.– this is another ebook site, but it’s AWESOME. This one is international and has books in all kinds of languages. Even if I can’t read the words, the illustrations are beautiful on some of these. For multi-linguistic families, this is a great resource.– this one mails free books to Jewish families to enhance cultural involvement AND literacy.– A free audio story published every week since 2005. Being read to can improve literacy as much as reading independently.– In the UK, instead of Box tops for education (the US program), box tops on Nestle products are redeemed for books.


Books I wish I could find…

Deep within the special hell that is unpacking into a smaller space, and trying to function/live/work/cook/do laundry at the same time, I keep thinking that there are some books I want to re-read, that I KNOW I own and wouldn’t have gotten rid of, but have no IDEA where they are (3rd move in 3 years). The options are: In a box at my house, in a box at my grandmother’s house, or in a box in storage. (insert your favorite grumbling noise here).

So, in no particular order, I would appreciate it if the Universe would conspire to make these books return to me:

  • Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton- this one could be in my file cabinet from the dorm room, that used to be in the extra bedroom, and is in storage now.
  • The Once and Future King, TH White- ditto. Although both of these were purchased in Spain, so they MAY have been shipped back to my grandmother’s house….
  • Gangs of New York, Asbury- pretty sure this one is at least in the same state as I am. WAY better than the movie.
  • A collection of children’s stories my Mom gave me. It’s red and large. Storage. I hope.
  • Hero and the Crown/Blue Sword, Robin McKinley I think these are in a box IN THE HOUSE, so they might appear this week.
  • Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice, Plotkin- ditto the file cabinet, except not purchased in Spain, so there’s no chance of it being at my grandmother’s.
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Adams- no idea.
  • A random book about the deMedici family…can’t remember the title, the cover had a portrait of Lorenzo on it.- With the Gangs of NY book b/c they lived on the same shelf.
  • The Scarlett Letter, Hawthorne, (my annotated copy from 11th grade English that I used again in college). File cabinet?
  • Any of the books from Sharyn McCrumb’s Ballad Series. They’re all together somewhere. I remember putting them in a box together.
  • The 3 or 4 books I kept from the seminar history class I took about Witchcraft/the Salem Trials. Excellent class. I think they too are in the file cabinet.
  • Mere Christianity & The Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis. No idea. Last seen in my childhood bedroom that was packed up 4 years ago.

Anything you regret getting rid of? Anything you’d like to find again for a re-read?

And, as we have gotten REALLY off topic recently, I’ll try to do an awards post soon.