A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: The Summer Stack Became a Competition

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17 June 2016

The Summer Stack Became a Competition

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You might remember my summer stack (Gardens of Awe... and THM are still my favs of that bunch!) that I hoped to get through by the end of summer. Well. That stack has multiplied about 6 times and shows no signs of slowing down.

You see, while in Puerto Rico, we had no access to library services. In downtown Humacao, there was a very small library of Spanish texts.  The parking downtown was abysmal and we did not speak or read Spanish well enough to utilize the books there. The kid's school library did not check out books the way a typical school does here in the states.  Thus, we brought books from home and spent a good chunk of change buying books off Amazon for our year in Puerto Rico. We sorely missed the library. Sadly, our 6 year old did not even remember how a "real" library worked. When we explained to him that he was able to pick out whichever books he wanted (FOR FREE!), check them out and then return them for MORE books, his eyes got wide, asked several questions for clarification, then went around the library like a kid in a candy shop.  All that said, I am SO thankful for the library system and think it is one of the absolute best uses of taxpayer dollars.

Not only is the library an invaluable resource, but they have upped the ante for summer with reading competitions.  The boys were sucked into it first, then our 2 year old, and then I even got the bug. There are raffles and gift baskets to win, Bingo for the adults for reading various types of books (mysteries!  book by women! books written by an author with YOUR name!) and various prizes for reading certain amounts of minutes for the kids. It is an outstanding program. We are reading more than we ever have and I actually have to make the kids stop reading and get outside to play. What a fun new stage of life THIS is!

Here is my growing summer stack:

Some of these are Amazon buys, some are library checkouts and some are preview copies from publishers for review.  Let's start at the bottom of the stack and move up, shall we?  The book on the very bottom is The Night Gardener and it is a picture book to read to the kids. I won't lie. I bought this book for myself. The illustrations are insanely beautiful and I prefer to read picture books that engage me AND the kids. This one fits the bill and is one of the most beautiful children's books I have seen recently published.

Next up is a library find that you will LOVE if you are a gardener or literature junkie. If you are not, you will probably think this book is boring as sin. One Writer's Garden is the story of Eudora Welty's life and garden (along with much of her mother Chestina's life and garden planning) and I ate it up.  I think I read this book over 3-4 days and loved every second.

All the Light We Cannot See is a novel by Anthony Doerr that won the Pulitzer in 2015 and I came to it via Doerr's more recent memoir, Four Seasons in Rome. Four Seasons describes Doerr's life with his wife and twins in Rome as he was writing All the Light. I finished Four Seasons, liked it and thus All the Light is now on my MUST READ for summer. I haven't cracked the cover yet, but am excited to do so!

The light blue book that comes next in the stack is Around the House and Garden, another Amazon buy that I instantly knew I would like. You know how there are book "types" that you will always like?  Maybe your "type" is a diary in an attic with a secret story to tell of generations past or perhaps you will always love an apocolyptic tale of survival no matter how well written it is or is not (those are types of my husband and I...bet you can't guess which is which...) or maybe your "type" is a good whodunit mystery. One of MY "types" is a good old fashioned story of someone's garden intertwined with their life and learning. It is not the type of everyone, but I think it just might by YOUR type if you are a fan of A Nest for All Seasons. Around the House and Garden is the story of Dominique's healing via the garden and it is a keeper -- already headed to my permanent bookshelves.

Those next two books sandwiched in there are two more picture books titled 1 is One and A is for Annabelle. They predictably teach children about their numbers and letters, but they fit through my filter of I NEED TO FIND THEM BEAUTIFUL while I read them over and over and over again. Both are illustrated by Tasha Tudor and I have been investing in my collection of Tudor books every few months. I hope to eventually collect hardcovers of all of her work. It is beautiful, sentimental and perfectly girly.

Next on the list is Gardening When It Counts, a text I found recommended on a prepping forum over and over again. It is written by Steve Soloman, former owner of Territorial Seed Company. The book is VERY detailed and written from deep knowledge of old gardening wisdom and current techniques in the seed, farming and garden industry. It is definitely a dry read, but I am very pleased to have this book in my reference library. IF something terrible should happen and there was no longer access to the internet, this book would be an incredible, invaluable resource for the home gardener growing their own food.

You might laugh at the next two choices, but let me explain. One of my boys is VERY into the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and another is VERY into Captain Underpants. While neither is traditionally great literature, they are FLYING through these books at the rate of 3-4 a week. Their eyes fly across the page and for the reading practice alone they are great. However, I do want to have some idea of what they are reading, so I like to throw a few YA books into my own stack to keep up with them.

I also previewed Firestormers and Be Light Like a Bird for the boys (both available in mid-late 2016). Firestormers would be perfect for kids interested in the fire/police/rescue fields or for children whose parents work in those fields. Be Light Like a Bird is a beautiful book and tackles the difficult subject of a parent's death from a child's point of view. This particular story follows Wren as her mother reels with anger after the death of Wren's father and they move from place to place afterwards. My son did not get into it at 10 years old, so perhaps save this book for 12-13 year olds or perhaps a child going through similar circumstances would find comfort in this book.

The next book is just for me :)  Origami Chic is a new book by Sok Song that releases later this year. (It is currently available for pre-order HERE). It is marketed towards young adults, but I am enjoying it as an adult. I am not a papercrafter, so I am a beginner when it comes to difficult folding techniques. The book gives a slight introduction to basic folding techniques, then detailed step-by-steps for each project with photos. I have been able to follow along with no problem (and I have been known to get quite frustrated with origami instructions!)

There are two things that really made this book stand out for me. 
First, the included papers for folding at the end of the book are so appealing and pretty.

Secondly, the subject matter is fashion -- clothing, accessories, etc. and is not the typical origami cranes and such. 
I adore the little outfits and enjoy thinking up new ways to "play" with them. 

For example, this cute little tote bag fold on a larger scale would make
 a darling container for little tussy mussies or May Day flower baskets for neighbors!

The last book of the stack is 365 Days of Nature of Discovery, an impulse buy I made on Amazon because it was one of those used books that has many, many used copies for 1 cent (and $4 shipping) and it was a nature book with illustrations -- I cannot resist.  I am glad I didn't either because it is quickly becoming one of my favorite little nature books. To begin with it IS little.  It is fat, but small and perfect for kid hands or throwing in a backpack. 

The book is organized into "days" like "Hummingbird Day", "Owl Day", "Hog Day" -- you get the picture!
 It is super fun and for under $5, it is a worthwhile investment for summer fun.

While not technically a book, at the very tippy top of my stack of books are two CDs that are great for the background while reading, making supper or just whenever. (yes, I still enjoy a good CD) These were a Mother's Day present I requested and they are on repeat between the Max Richter Pandora station and the Norah Jones Pandora station.

If you haven't heard of Joey and Rory and you like country and/or gospel music, then you are missing out. Joey recently passed away at a young age after a battle with cancer, but wanted to record the Hymns album before she passed. It is heartfelt and stirring -- you should look them up! 

So I told you the stack keeps growing...I have just a couple more for you!

I haven't read To Kill a Mockingbird since high school (when my English teacher noted that my report looked like Boo Radley wrote it :/ ).  Well, I thought it was time I re-visited this classic and then I noticed that The Mockingbird Next Door was a librarian recommended book this week (that is one of my BINGO squares for the reading competition) so I grabbed it as well and am reading "Next Door" first. The librarian recommended I read them in that order and after reading Anthony Doerr's works that way, I rather enjoy reading the memoir and THEN the work, so here's to Harper Lee backwards!

Happy Reading and Happy Summer to you!

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