Hearing History

I live within minutes of my “home” office, but I drive around five hours a week to consult with my other two facilities.

This gives me plenty of time to listen–

and since I decided to be ambitious and include audio works that are an independent work of art in my “read every book” goal, it gives me a chance to breeze through Eiseley’s compact disc collection.

I’m almost done with the Christian music section–and I’ve made decent headway in classical and jazz. With trepidation, I’ve checked out a few rock and roll CDs.

But when I was trolling the library during my last visit, I happened upon a set of discs that fascinated me greatly.

The Words and Music of World War II.

“Cool.” I thought, and threw it in my basket.

If only I’d known.

As it was, I didn’t open the case or bother to look at it further until several weeks later when I’d just finished my current CD and was ready for another for my commute.

I happened upon this title and popped it in to hear something spectacular.

An air raid siren sounds.

A crackling radio voice informs me that Pearl Harbor has been attacked.

Music fills my car, forties swing reminding me to remember Pearl Harbor.

President Roosevelt begins his iconic address “a date which will live in infamy…suddenly and deliberately attacked…”

Forties swing takes me away again.

Back and forth it goes, a narrator describing the events of the war–then a song from that era. A radio reporter tells of flying over Germany with a group of bombers–then music. Announcers tell British parents exactly what items their children should carry in the hand luggage they take to school the day they will be evacuated to the country to escape the air raids. Another song fills the airwaves.

Two full discs, a drive to and fro. Music and memories, sad and sweet, crazy and comical.

It was a much different look at the war than the picture I’d been reading from inside Germany. This was the home front. America. Great Britain.

This started much later, only after Germany had invaded Poland and Great Britain declared war, making it an official “World” War.

But it was a necessary look. A reminder of how others’ lives, so far away, were affected or not affected by what was occurring in Europe and the Pacific.

And it was fun–swinging, rollicking tunes. Sad, sentimental songs. Hilarious bits like “Atom and Evil”.

Hearing History, almost like living history–a tiny piece of what life was like then.

Epic Project: 4.5 Years

I’m a sucker for epic projects.

And I’m not exaggerating.

of unusually great size or extent
Trying to read every book in her local library is a project of epic proportions

Yes, I definitely go for epic projects.

I’m four-and-a-half years into this one–and probably not even one tenth of one percent done. (Purely a guess, I have no idea how massive this project is. I don’t know how big my library’s collection is–and I don’t know how fast it’s growing either.)

But I am moving towards my goal, reading with unabashed abandon.

Library Item Use in Past 4.5 Years

Per Year Per Month Per Week Per Day
Total items 550 45.8 10.6 1.5
Total books 468.7 39.1 9.0 1.3
Books (excluding children’s picture books) 200.7 16.7 3.9 .6

Notes on Each Category of Books

Items over 4.5 years Items in last 6 months Notes:
Juvenile Picture Books 756 160 Authors “Babcock” through “Bartoletti”. Reviews found under the category Reading My Library
Juvenile First Readers 49 0 I have not read a juvenile first reader since September 9, 2009
Juvenile Chapter Books 79 0 I have not read a juvenile chapter book since October 22, 2009
Juvenile Fiction 243 5
Juvenile Nonfiction 76 8 I’ve read more juvenile nonfiction in the past 6 months than I did in the year prior.
Adult Fiction 323 26
Adult Nonfiction 523 20 I’m reading nonfiction at less than half the rate of last year. Then again, last year was my year for “exercising my mind towards the things of God”
Videos/DVDs 137 12 About two per month, not bad for someone who really doesn’t DO movies.
Cassette Tapes/Compact Discs 227 70 More than I listened to in the entire year prior-It’s amazing what a commute can do for your listening practices.
Periodicals 57 0 Although I’m going to add another in the next 6 months, since I found the quilt I’ll be making for my little nephew in a quilting periodical!

So there you have it–4.5 years into an epic project (and still going strong!)

What’s up with my nightstand?

One of my first thoughts when it became apparent that I would be moving from Lincoln to Columbus was to ask about the Columbus public library system.

What I discovered was less than exciting. Columbus’s library is approximately the size of the branch library I used as a pre-teen—the library that I abandoned for the main library once my bookish appetite outgrew endless re-readings of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Furthermore, the Columbus library has a lending limit of 15 titles, a far cry from the 150 I’ve acclimated myself to at the Lincoln Public Libraries.

Taking into account these variables, and considering the goal I’ve been working on for four years (of reading every book in my Lincoln branch library), I decided to investigate the costs of purchasing an out-of-county subscription to the Lincoln Public Libraries.

I’d previously calculated the “worth” of my local (Lincoln) library at more than $5000 per year (using the cost of purchasing my average annual usage rather than borrowing it from the library). Compare to that, the $60 cost of purchasing an annual subscription is chump change.

With an annual subscription in hand, I will drive into Lincoln once every six weeks to load up on the library’s limit of 150 items. Each of these items will be checked out for three weeks and then renewed electronically for an additional three weeks.

This is unlikely to change my standard library usage by much, as my average is slightly higher than 150 items per 6 weeks. However, it will alter my library usage PATTERNS significantly.

While living in Lincoln, I was used to visiting the library once or twice a week, checking out ten to twenty items per visit. I returned items as soon as I had read them, meaning that I rarely had more than fifty items checked out at a time (except during that one summer when I intentionally kept books around in order to max out my card at 167—with 17 in the drop box). I had no system for what books I checked out when. I merely checked out what looked interesting at the moment—and if my reading mood changed, I could always take a ten-minute run to the library to check out something new.

Now, with the library an hour and a half away—and limiting myself to one visit per six weeks—I need a system to ensure that I have enough variety to keep me interested for the entire six weeks.

So, in true Type A fashion, I’ve developed a library-visit rubric for myself.

During each library visit, I will check out:

  • 75 children’s picture books
  • 6 juvenile fiction books (includes both Middle grade and YA fiction titles)
  • 15 juvenile fiction books (12 of which will be exploring six of the fifty states, as I intend to take a brief book tour of the 50 states through juvenile titles in 2011)
    14 adult fiction titles (6 Christian, 6 secular, and 2 which classify as “literature”)
  • 15 adult nonfiction titles (at least 2 in each of the following categories: theology/Christian living, biography, craft/project, and cookbooks)
  • 15 compact discs
  • 5 DVDs

That takes me to 145 titles. I imagine that the majority of these will be predetermined—picked before I even walk into the library, possibly even placed on hold so all I have to do is check them out. The final five are my wildcard picks, to be picked at the library simply based on what I feel like.

In less than 600 words, that’s what’s up with my nightstand.

Tune in tomorrow to see what’s ON my nightstand after my first visit following the above rubric.

WiW: Not Stalled Forever

The Week in Words

I started reading Janette Oke when I was in elementary school. I loved the pioneer stuff, the romances, all that. I didn’t really notice all the deep stuff.

In my late high school years I looked on Janette Oke with a jaded eye. “How many years of my life did I waste with that pablum?” I thought, as I gloried in the intellectual fare I was now enjoying.

Now I’m a young professional, re-reading Janette Oke as part of my “read every book in Eiseley library” goal. And I’m astonished at how much stuff there really is.

No, it’s not intellectual, debate-the-meaning-of-this-with-your-friends material. But it’s solid, Biblically and experientially-based stuff. Yes, it tends to “tell” through conversations between characters rather than simply “showing” these big principles. But it’s still good stuff.

Re-reading these books has been like listening in as an older, wiser woman helps a younger, less experienced woman with the everyday details of her life.

In fact, that’s usually what it is–a conversation between Ma Graham and Marty in the first books of the “Love Comes Softly” series, conversations between Marty and her developing daughters later.

Or like the conversation that struck me just a few days ago–Marty’s advice to her grown granddaughter Virginia after the death of Virginia’s grandmother-in-law, who had lived with Virginia and her husband for quite a while.

“It takes time. Time and God…I was told that years ago when I lost someone. At the time, it wasn’t a’tall what I wanted to hear. But it happened–just that way. Oh, not that ya ever forget. Not ever. But life has a way of movin’ on. New things happen. New people come into our lives. God does not leave us stalled forever. He just nudges us forward. Pushes us on out. Urges us to look for new meanin’ in life. An’ it is there. It’s always there. Somethin’ new to live for. Somethin’ to give life zest again.”

~Marty Davis, in Janette Oke’s A Quiet Strength

As I read this, I thought of Marty’s losses (of a husband in the very first book in the series, of friends and neighbors later on, of children moving far away, of medical situations causing huge changes). I thought of Virginia’s loss. I thought of my own losses.

And with tears in my eyes, I thanked God for that one sentence of Marty’s:

“God does not leave us stalled forever.”

Sometimes in the midst of loss, it feels like we’re stalled on the side of the road, broken, going nowhere. Sure that the engine is fried, we might be tempted to give up, to abandon even life itself. Other people might be moving along the road, but we can’t be.

But God does not leave us stalled forever.

At some point, even if we can’t identify a specific moment, the hurt begins to fade, the missing becomes a little less all-encompassing. And something new rises to give meaning and purpose for continuing.

Deeply ambivalent, desiring a different life, you move to a new town, begin a new job. You choose to seek out new friendships, new opportunities to serve. And then someday you find that you’re no longer forcing enthusiasm for a life you didn’t want–you’re rejoicing in the opportunity that God has given you in this life you once didn’t want.

Not that you forget. No, it’s like Marty said. You don’t forget. But somehow, by the grace of God, you move on.

I am so thankful that God chooses to work in such a way–and that somehow, over the course of this past year, He has worked that beautiful miracle of healing in me.

Collect more quotes from throughout the week with Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words”.

Flashback: Bookworm Reminisces

I’m a reader and I’ve always been, which makes Linda’s book-related Flashback prompt this week kinda fun for me!

Flashback Friday buttonPrompt: Did you like to read when you were a child? What were your favorite genres, books or series? Did you read books because of the author or because of the title/plot? Did you own many books?…

I learned to read at my mama’s knee, and once I had completed the final reader in the “Little Patriots Read” series (I think it was the purple covered Sounds of Joy), I was allowed to get a library card. From then on, I was an avid reader and library patron.

I’m a binge reader–always have been.

The Little House books, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess were some of my earliest favorites. (I own several copies of each of these today.)

Then I had times of serial mystery binges: Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and the rare Trixie Belden I could find at a garage sale or used store. (A couple years ago, I finished re-reading all the Nancy Drew mysteries–now I’m working on both the Boxcar Children and the Hardy Boys from my local library.)

By my pre-teen years, I was avidly reading Christian romances: Janette Oke, Lori Wick, Gilbert Morris, Michael Phillips. (Lori Wick was one of the first authors I “closed out” on my “read every book” goal–and I’m currently working my way through Oke.)

In fifth or sixth grade, I became addicted to popular pablum. My sister and I collected way too many Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley Twins and Friends books. (We threw them all away under conviction in our seventh?, ninth?–sometime during Junior High or High School.)

Then I started reading Harlequins. First, the “Love Inspired” Christian twaddle–and then clean Regency romances that my mom had pre-screened. Then I moved to the not-so-clean Regencies. While I still love certain aspects of the genre, I deeply regret the thoughts and images I allowed into my mind during this period.

In ninth grade, we started a co-op literature class taught by my aunt–and my reading grew up a bit. I started reading Hawthorne and Austen and Beowulf and Hemingway.

I’d read non-fiction throughout my life, but I became a real fan in my late teenage years. Educational theory, medical innovation, grammar, history, memoirs… I loved it.

And most recently, I’ve been binging on…theology.

With regular snacks of all my old favorites, that is!

Visit Linda and follow the links to read some more stories about books!

Four Year Reading Update

Sunday marked a special day for me–the four year anniversary of the beginning of my project to read every book in Eiseley library (except the ones I don’t read).

In that four years, I have consumed 2174 library items, 1890 of which were books, 857 of which were “full length” (not picture books or children’s easy readers).

Library Item Use in Past 4 Years

Per Year Per Month Per Week Per Day
Total items 543.5 45.3 10.5 1.5
Total books 472.5 39.4 9.1 1.3
Books (excluding children’s picture books) 214.3 17.9 4.1 .6

Notes on Each Category of Books

Items over 4 years Items in last year Notes:
Juvenile Picture Books 596 472!! Author last names beginning in “A” closed
Juvenile First Readers 49 0 3 authors closed
Juvenile Chapter Books 79 2 6 authors closed
Juvenile Fiction 238 53! 20 authors closed
Juvenile Nonfiction 68 6 Favorite category? Biographies
Adult Fiction 297 49 43 authors closed
Adult Nonfiction 503 94!! See my little challenge below
Videos/DVDs 125 33 These seem to be coming in too fast for me to watch them–I’m not much of a movie person
Cassette Tapes/Compact Discs 159 60 The more I travel, the more I listen to. I’ve been traveling a bit this year.
Periodicals 57 16 I haven’t figured out how to do these, since the collection expands so rapidly!

I don’t have much of a “system” for reading–I pretty much read what I want to when I want to. But I do have a special tab in my planner set apart for books.

First, I have the categories from the Dewey Decimal system all typed out (to the ones place, meaning I have 000-Compute science, information & general works, 001-Knowledge, 002-The book, etc. up to 999-Extraterrestrial worlds). “Closed” categories are highlighted.

Second, I have a list of closed and open authors for each category (picture books, first readers, chapter books, juvenile fiction, juvenile nonfiction, DVDs, and adult fiction). One side of the list contains closed authors written in pen. The other side houses penciled in “open” authors–that is, those authors that I have started to read but whose works I have not finished. These serve as a reminder for me to grab books from open categories (and to avoid reading new acquisitions from categories I’ve already closed–unless I really feel like it.)

Finally, I have my TBR lists. These are divided into sections of the library, and contain penciled titles plus the appropriate call number. When I’m not sure what I’m in the mood for at the library, I run about and collect titles that are on these lists.

When counting up my nonfiction reads, I discovered that over half of my reading came from two large Dewey decimal categorizations (hundred’s place). I was wondering if any of my readers could hazard a guess as to which categories are my favorites. Here are your options:

000-Information (Computer Science, Library Science, Encyclopedias, etc.)
100-Philosophy (Psychology, Logic, Ethics, etc.)
200-Religion (Bible, Theology, Comparative religions, etc.)
300-Social Sciences (Politics, Economics, Law, Education, Traditions, etc.)
400-Language (Linguistics, Grammar, Foreign Languages, etc.)
500-Mathematics/Science (Math, Astronomy, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Life Sciences, etc.)
600-Technology (Medicine, Engineering, Agriculture, Home ec. Management, Buildings, etc.)
700-Art (Landscape art, Architecture, Decorative arts, Photography, Music, Performing arts, etc.)
800-Literature (Poetry, Drama, Essays, Speeches, Letters, Satire, and Literary criticism)
900-Geography and History (Travel, History)
Biographies-Self explanatory!

So, what do you think? What two categories are my favorites?

B3,RD: THE Nutrition Professionals

Three years ago, when I started my venture to read every book in Eiseley library, I used Pearl Buck’s rules to give myself an out. If, after reading 50 pages of a book, I was not interested in continuing on, I had permission to stop.

After three years and over 1400 books, I am using that rule for the very first time. Because I absolutely cannot stand Oz Garcia’s The Healthy High-Tech Body.

The Healthy High-Tech Body

Garcia’s biography in the back of the book states that he is “one of the best-known nutritionists and health authorities in America.” Problem is, he’s an absolute quack. Sure, he can throw around chemical names like no other and give incomprehensible explanations for why we should follow his recommendations–but the real science behind his recommendations is tenuous at best.

I know this because I’ve devoted the last six years of my life to learning the science of food, nutrition, and health behavior change. But what’s the average consumer to think? If you can’t trust “one of the best-known nutritionists and health authorities in America”, who can you trust?

That’s where the Registered Dietitian comes in. You see, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist–even someone with marginal education and no credentials (for instance, Oz Garcia.)

The designation Registered Dietitian (RD), on the other hand, carries distinct educational and professional requirements. RDs are required to complete a core curriculum in nutrition, food science, and health behavior change from an accredited university. RDs are required to undergo at least 900 hours of supervised practice. RDs are required to pass a Registration Exam and complete at least 75 hours of continuing professional education every five years in order to attain and maintain their credentials. Additionally, RDs are bound by a Professional Code, which, among other things, insists that they provide evidence-based nutrition services.

You wouldn’t go to your next door neighbor–or even Oprah–to get your broken arm set. Your next door neighbor is nice enough–and Oprah is popular enough–but neither have the credentials to set your broken arm. You’ll go to someone who does have the credentials: an MD (Medical Doctor), a PA (Physician Assistant), or a NP (Nurse Practitioner).

Likewise, no matter how nice or how popular a “nutritionist” might be–they don’t have the credentials unless they’ve got an RD behind their name.

So next time you’re looking at an article or a book, or evaluating something someone is saying on the television or online, look for the RD behind the name. Because RDs are THE food and nutrition professionals.

Today’s B3,RD challenge is to think critically about the nutrition information you see and hear today. Ask yourself whether the speaker has the credentials–an RD behind their name.

A search for Garcia’s education and credentials produced only the most tenuous results.

Mr. Garcia is occasionally ascribed a Ph.D, but I have been unable to find any explanation for this designation. He has certainly never listed where he attained his doctorate or what his doctorate is in.

My Inner Geek

Because I clearly do not have enough to do at work, and because I spend much too little time in front of the computer, and because today is almost a landmark for my read every book project, I have spent several hours today analyzing my reading data.

Below, you can see the results of my analysis.

Line Graph of Reading over time

In the above chart you can see my cumulative and non-cumulative daily statistics. The dark green line indicates the cumulative items completed per day. The lime green line indicates the the items completed per day over the reporting period (based on my irregularly scheduled self-reports). The dark blue and light blue lines exclude DVDs, videos, CDs, and tapes from the report–thus reporting only cumulative books per day and books per day over the reporting period. The red and pink lines further exclude all childrens and young adult materials from the report and only report adult fiction and nonfiction.

I can see some interesting trends in my results. While my cumulative total items has remained relatively stable around 1.3, my individual total items has bounced up and down–getting as high as 3.8 items per day and as low as .72 items per day. However, the total books per day and total adult books per day have remained much more steady–both cummulatively and from reporting period to reporting period. This indicates to me that much of the variance in my library consumption from reporting period to reporting period is related to variance in multimedia consumption. (Of course, this inference is not foolproof, as I do not have individual breakdowns by media at each reporting period through the second year–thus it is equally likely that I just had up and down reading periods on a regular basis throughout year 2.)

Pie Chart of Library Consumption by Type

The above pie chart breaks down my library consumption a little more clearly. As you can see, in the past 1050 days, about 76% of my library consumption has been of print media. 61% of total consumption is composed of books of decent size. (I am considering the following categories to include books of “decent size” adult fiction and non-fiction, young adult fiction, and juvenile fiction. Since most of the youth non-fiction, chapter books, first readers, and picture books fall under 40 pages, I am not considering them to be “decently sized” books.)

I did a quick calculation and came up with 868 books of decent size read since September 5, 2006–which comes out to about .83 per day. So my standard statement (that I read 1.25 books per day) is not technically true. Since September 5, 2006, I have consumed 1.25 library items per day. However, it would be most accurate for me to state that I read around .8 books per day–which is still nothing to sneeze at.

So, having done this analysis, I can rest easy tonight. I did not induce Dr. K to lie about how much I read at our internship graduation. I still qualify for groundhog status (digga, digga, digga). ;-)

Are you goin’ to Narnia?

One small disadvantage to my “read every book in Eiseley Library” goal is that I find myself neglecting my old favorites in the press to read more and more and more NEW books. It’s liberating, in one sense, to finish an author and breathe a sigh of relief–I’ve closed that author and I won’t have to read that author ever again unless I CHOOSE to. It’s challenging, in another sense, to be constantly forcing myself outside of my reading “comfort zone.” And in another sense, it’s outright frustrating.

I’ve probably read each book in the Chronicles of Narnia through 20 times. But still, every so often, I get the hankering to curl up with C.S. Lewis and go to Narnia. Most recently, I’ve wanted to read through the series, not just for enjoyment but for meaning. I want to tease out the the allegory, the symbolism, the intended and unintended truths to be found in the Chronicles. Problem is, I’ve already read The Chronicles of Narnia.

I have a file on my computer entitled “A Catalogue of all I’ve read since September 5, 2006”. It contains, well, a log of all that I’ve read since September 5, 2006. And, as you can see from the following screenshot


I’ve already read the Chronicles of Narnia since I started my “read every book” goal. What’s more, the books are in the pink font–indicating that I have read every juvenile fiction book by C.S. Lewis that Eiseley library owns. C.S. Lewis’s juvenile fiction works are officially “closed” to me.

Which is where Carrie’s challenge comes in handy. It just so happens that Carrie at Reading to Know is hosting a
Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge
Which offers me a perfect excuse to get some reading in. Thanks Carrie!

If you’d like to join in on the fun, go to Reading to Know and get linked up. Then read something Narnia related and blog about. Easy-peasy.

Non-bloggers are welcome to join in too–I’d love to talk with you or have you post comments on my blog related to Narnia. Or you could post your thoughts as Facebook notes. Or you could write a quick e-mail and send it to your friends (don’t forget to include me in your e-mail). Even if you don’t want to write about the experience, I encourage you to read the Chronicles of Narnia–they’re absolutely fantastic.

Two Year Anniversary: The Stats

I have a file named “A Catalogue of all I’ve read since September 5, 2006” on my hard-drive. In it, I have listed every book that I’ve read since, well, September 5, 2006. Two years ago. I don’t remember the precise events surrounding the formation of my goal, but for whatever reason, I decided to attempt to read every book in my local library (Eiseley Branch). In order to track my progress, I created that file.

Periodically, I tabulate the number of books I’ve read and record them at the bottom of the file–just so I can see what I’ve read, where I’ve been. I’ve written about it before, so I won’t bore you with the details. Instead, without further ado, my 2 year numbers:

TOTALS as of 9-5-2008 (729 days-2 YEARS)
Juvenile Picture 86
Juvenile, First Read 24
Juvenile, Chapter 71
Juvenile Fiction 126
Juvenile Nonfiction 49
Young Adult 10
Juvenile CD 4
Juvenile DVD 15
Juvenile Video 1
Fiction 175
Nonfiction 325
Audio Cassette 2
Audio CD 34
DVD 24
Periodicals 30
Total 976books
1.34 books per day

I’m pretty proud of my progress–although bummed that my average has dropped (by almost a tenth of a book per day) and that I fell short of 1000 in my first two years. I mean, seriously, I was 24 books short. I could have easily exceeded that had I finished all the books I started but took back to the library before finishing when I left for Mexico. If I didn’t have the “do one project” rule for craft books, I could have exceeded it on quilting books alone. (And we’re talking read. As in, every word of text. Not just looking at pictures. I have another file that tells which craft books I’ve read and has pictures of potential projects to do out of them.)

When was the last time you checked up on a goal? Take a little time to assess your progress. Celebrate how far you’ve come. And grab another book (or pick up your quilt or take a walk or whatever that goal might be) and keep going!