TSS ~ Oh, the Book Gluttony!

The Sunday Salon.com

This weekend, my local library held their first book sale since before Thanksgiving, which meant I had gone TWO WHOLE MONTHS without being able to peruse, pet, and purchase previously loved (some more lightly than others) books.  I LOVE the library sales!  If I could, I’d just pack them all up and take them home.  As it is, I have to limit myself for two reasons:  1)  We always walk to the library, and it’s about 6 or so blocks, so I have to carry home everything I buy.  2)  I would go broke if I didn’t watch myself.  So I went in with a self-imposed $10 cap on my total, and I left having forked over $9.50 for two sturdy bagfuls of lovely books. 

Library Book Sale Loot

One of the things I love about the book sales is that I can get books that I might not otherwise ever know about, and they often turn out to be quite a treasure.  This weekend’s loot has introduced me to Angela Thirkell, who has quite a pedigree and a life well-worth reading her biography (and I hate biography books!).  As I was looking through the titles on the tables, my attention was caught by Wild Strawberries

A witty romp through English Country-house life at its most delightfully absurd. At Rushwater House in West Barsetshire, Lady Emily Leslie and her family are entertaining an assortment of house guests, hangers-on, and French monarchists. Amid a perfect welter of rapturous embraces and moonlight madness, a marriage is finally arranged. A glittering summer party provides a hilarious climax to the various intrigues. -from product description at Amazon.com

As soon as I picked it up, I noticed there were three more by the same author, so they all jumped in my bag.  I also found some wonderful treasures I had previously heard of like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, and the box set of James Herriot’s All Things first four books.  I also picked up a couple books that I’ve read before and loved, but no longer own like The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Salinger’s Franny and Zooey.

A couple of books I picked up just to put on BookMooch and PaperBackSwap.  Obsession and Intimidation by Wanda Dyson are the second and third, respectively, in Dyson’s Shefford-Johnson Case series.  The library didn’t have the first book in the series, Abduction, but the books looked nice and new and I thought someone some where would appreciate them.

Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Goldman GelmanA couple books I picked up I did so after reviewing Islands Apart and making the statement that there were no women authored Waldens out there.  Care of Care’s Online Book Club commented that Eat, Pray, Love (one of her favorite books in 2007) was one such book, so when I saw it sitting in one of the boxes, I snatched it up.  Then, as if by fate, the title Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman caught my eye.

I am a modern-day nomad. I have no permanent address,  no possessions except the ones I carry, and I rarely know where I’ll be six months from now. I move through the world without a plan, guided by instinct, connecting through trust, and constantly watching for serendipitous opportunities.  -from the author’s site.

After separating from her husband, 48-year-old Gelman looked around at her well-to-do life and her soul cried out for change.  She took off to explore the world and hasn’t had a permanent address since 1986.  As you would expect, she initially got flak from her friends and family for running away.  Of course, her kids were in their early twenties when she began her new life as a nomad, which still leaves me saying that if it were a mother instead of a father who took off to explore the world like McAlpine did, she would get hate mail from readers, society would label her a bad mother, and she’d likely lose her children.  And YES! I am still jealous that they can jaunt all over and see the world ;-)

I had to do the book-victory dance when I found a book that I have wanted for a LONG time, and was the basis for one of my all-time favorite movies:  The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.  I was initially “forced” to watch the movie when Turner Classic Movies first showed up on our cable box and my dad never changed the channel again.  Ingrid Bergman is one the greatest and most beautiful actresses of all time, so it didn’t take too much coaxing.  When I found out it was based on a book, I made my way to the library, only to discover they didn’t have a copy.  Years have passed, and I’ve never forgotten I wanted to read the book, but never found it in the bookstores or library.  So seeing it in the book sale was quite a surprise.  Where have they been hiding it all this time?

POC Reading ChallengeA couple of the other books I picked up in response to the Persons of Color discussions and The POC Reading Challenge that will be, I’m sure, the last challenge I sign up for this year, as I’m getting to where I can’t remember which books are for which challenges and what challenges I’m doing.  The books for this challenge are to be either by authors of color or are about persons of color.  The levels are:

Level 1: Read 1-3 POC books
Level 2. Read 4-6 POC books
Level 3. Read 7-9 POC books
Level 4. Read 10-15 POC books
Level 5. Read 16-25 POC books

I’ve committed at the 3rd level, though I’ll probably read more than 9.  I’ve never really sat and specifically thought consciously about the race of the author or characters, though I’ve generally leaned toward POC books anyway.  So, now that it’s something that I’m more aware of, I snatched up the following books:

Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah

Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah.

Mah revisits the territory she covered in her adult bestseller, Falling Leaves, for this painful and poignant memoir aimed at younger readers. Blamed for the loss of her mother, who died shortly after giving birth to her, Mah is an outcast in her own family. When her father remarries and moves the family to Shanghai to evade the Japanese during WWII, Mah and her siblings are relegated to second-class status by their stepmother. They are given attic rooms in their big Shanghai home, they have nothing to wear but school uniforms, and they subsist on a bare-bones diet while their stepmother’s children dine sumptuously. Mah finds escape from this emotionally barren landscape at school, but the academic awards she wins only enrage her jealous siblings and stepmother, and she is eventually torn from her aunt, her one champion, and shipped off to boarding school. That Mah eventually soars above her circumstances is proof of her strength of character. The author recreates moments of cruelty and victory so convincingly that readers will feel almost as if they’re in the room with her. She never veers from a child’s sensibility; the child in these pages rarely judges the actions of those around her, she’s simply bent on surviving. Mah easily weaves details of her family’s life alongside the traditions of China (e.g., her grandmother’s bound feet) and the changes throughout the war years and subsequent Communist takeover. This memoir is hard to put down. -from Amazon.com

 

Journal of Emperor BaburBabur Nama -The Journal of Emperor Babur abridged, edited, and introduced by Dilip Hiro and translated from the original Turkish by Annette Susannah Beveridge.

The “Babur Nama”, a journal kept by Zahir Uddin Muhammad Babur (1483-1530), the founder of the Mughal Empire, is the earliest example of autobiographical writing in world literature, and one of the finest. Against the turbulent backdrop of medieval history, it paints a precise and vivid picture of life in Central Asia and Afghanistan – where Babur ruled in Samarkand and Kabul – and in the Indian subcontinent, where his dazzling military career culminated in the founding of a dynasty that lasted three centuries.

Babur was far more than a skilled, often ruthless, warrior and master strategist… [This is] a unique historical document that is at once objective and intensely personal – for, in Babur’s words, ‘the truth should be reached in every matter’. -From the back of the book

This sounds like it might go good with The Art of Warfare.

Maya Angelou's Heart of a WomanThe Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou -  I love Maya Angelou!  She’s a fabulous woman and writer, and I always have to chuckle when I think about Nikki Giovanni.  When I was in college at IUK, Nikki was a guest professor, though I never had the privilege of being a student in her classes.  I had never heard of her as an author, so when she donated her time as a tutor in the math and language lab, I just chatted with her like you would with any normal person.  One day, we were all talking about her upcoming trip to a writing conference for African-American women (I still hadn’t realized Nikki was, herself, an author) and she asked me if there was anyone’s autograph I’d like.  “Maya Angelou” was quickly off my tongue, as I’d recently read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and was, to be honest, the only black author I’d known of at the time other than Alex Haley (I read Malcolm X a couple years before, and who hasn’t heard of Roots?).  I spent the whole school year never realizing the secret treasure that was in my friend, and didn’t know until the school held a book signing at the end of the year.

Nikki is one of the people God had put in my life at a perfect time period in my life who helped combat the racism I had grown up with.  The names of some of the others I’ve forgotten now, not realizing at the time how important they were to me.  Phyllis and Manny, good friends when I desperately needed some.  Nikita, who patiently answered every stupid question I had ever wanted to ask and my mother forbade me ask (“Why are your palms white?  Are there other spots that are like that?  Can you sunburn?” among others).  Kisha, who opened my eyes to the fact Jesus was NOT white with blonde hair and blue eyes, and who told me flat out, “God didn’t put me on this earth to answer your questions about being black.”  Scotti, who was a friend and fellow mom, who was there for me when I was stressed out beyond belief.  And the Professor Emeritus, whose name I’ve long-since forgot, who challenged my thinking that I’d inherited and made me see the world in a different way.  I am eternally grateful to all them :-)

Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Helen OxenburyOne last look around before leaving yielded the last 50 cents spent.  A beautiful copy of Alice in Wonderland (I now have 3 different copies of this book) by Lewis Carroll and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.  It’s an updated version of this classic, and I thought Maggie would love it.

A quick look through shows a more modern Alice, colorful illustrations, and larger print than my other two copies.  I have loved this classic since I myself was a little girl, and remember my mom reading it to me.  So I thought Mags would be able to enjoy this book as much as I had, and maybe we could enjoy it together :-)  AND it’s worth 12 AR points ;-)  which made her smile.

The only book I haven’t mentioned is The Stolen White Elephant and Other Detective Stories which is a collection of Mark Twain’s detective stories, including Tom Sawyer, Detective.  I adore Twain, and have since I first discovered Tom and Huck.  I actually had a book crush on Huck for about 3 or 4 years as a kid :-)

So are you a book glutton, too?  Do you go to your library’s book sales?  Do you like used books? or do you preffer all new ones?

Interview with Adrienne Ehlert Bashista

Adrienne Ehlert Bashista

Adrienne Ehlert Bashista

The Kool-Aid Mom

The Kool-Aid Mom

Q & A with Adrienne Ehlert Bashista, author of Mishka: An Adoption Tale

 

 

 

 

 

An Adoption Tale

Mishka: An Adoption Tale

Hi, Adrienne! I’d like to thank you for taking time to do an interview with me. First off, I must tell you I found Mishka to be a very touching story, and was a bit weepy by the end. The illustrations are beautifully detailed and the simplicity of the writing makes it perfectly understandable and understandably perfect for both children and parents.

Thank you so much! I’ll take the fact that it made you “weepy” as a compliment ;)

Q My first question is, what is the back story for Mishka?

My husband and I adopted our son Jamie from Russia in 2003. When we adopted him there were no books for children adopted from Russia or EE available, and so I decided to write one with a great deal of encouragement from my family, particularly my mother! My first book, When I Met You: A Story of Russian Adoption, came out in 2005. When I Met Yougot a great reception and I am really happy with it, but When I Met You is also more of a concept book – it doesn’t tell the actual story of adoption. So I felt like there still needed to be a story about the actual process of adoption from Russia or EE. That’s why I wrote Mishka. It took me a long time to figure out the character of Mo, actually, but I’m so glad I did! At first I had the story from the point of view of the parents, but in my (not so humble) opinion, books written about parents are actually written for the parents, not the children. Then I had it from the little boy’s perspective, but there wasn’t a story there. So once I invented Mo I had a character who could go through the whole process with both the parents and the child.

Q. In your dedication, you wrote your son Jamie is your “Yuri”, and I read in your bio you have an older son Jacob. What made you decide to adopt, and why did you choose to go to Russia for a child?

Jacob

Jacob

After we had Jacob I had a series of miscarriages, and the last one was at 22 weeks. I was pretty exhausted from the whole thing and after that last, late miscarriage I finally convinced my husband that we should look into adoption. Up until then he hadn’t been very interested, but the miscarriages (and fertility treatments, which did nothing in my case – I got pregnant the months I wasn’t taking the drugs) wore us both out. We went to an agency that did domestic adoptions and they suggested we go international – specifically Russia – because of the stress we’d been under from the miscarriages. Russian adoption has changed a lot in recent years, but when we were in the process things were very cut-and-dry: you filled out all the paperwork, applied to the various governments, paid the fees, and then bam – you got your child, quickly. That’s how it worked for us. From start to finish Jamie’s adoption took 7 months. We’d been told that any other adoption – domestic or international – would take a lot longer. So that’s the main reason we chose Russia. Now, I understand, it takes a lot longer and there have been some uncertainties in recent years. We adopted him during an easier time. If we were to adopt again, which I’d love to do, I’m not sure which way we’d go. Part of me is drawn towards Russia, but we have lots of friends who’ve done foster-to-adopt and it worked out well for them, and in the past several years I’ve also learned a lot about open adoption, which I think really benefits the child.

Q. Here in Logansport, there is a large group of families who have adopted from China and they all get together once a month to celebrate their children’s heritage and holidays. Do you have that where you live in North Carolina?

Jamie & Adrienne

Jamie & Adrienne

We belong to a group called FRUA – Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption (and other countries) – which gets together occasionally, and we also have a playgroup we attend that is made up of children adopted from Russia and EE, but we haven’t been in a while. Jamie loves it when we can get together with these kids, but we don’t have a super active group like many other places. I would love to do more of this.

Q. Do you do anything to encourage Jamie to remain connected with his heritage?

Jamie

Primarily, I answer any question Jamie has about anything to do with his adoption as openly and frankly as I think he can handle. But that doesn’t really answer the question about “heritage” – more about adoption. As for that – we have lots and lots of books about Russia and we talk about it a lot. He is very interested in the non-fiction books we have and he is quick to pick up on any time Russia is mentioned. We also attend the playgroups, as mentioned, and we’ve gone to events like the Russian Festival in Amherst, Massachusetts (we live in NC but grandma and grandpa live in western Mass). As he gets older we’ll do more of this. He’s just turned 6 now and has just started to show interest in the subject.

Q. In Mishka, Yuri is an young child, as opposed to an infant, during the adoption. Was this the same for Jamie, and was this something you chose?

Jamie was a baby when he was adopted, but not an infant. He was 15 months old. You cannot adopt infants from Russia as they’re on a national orphan database for 6-8 months after they’re placed in the orphanages. Many children are “older” when adopted from Russia or EE, however, as they enter the orphanages as older children or they just aren’t adopted when they’re babies. There are 600,000 – 700,000 children in orphanages in Russia at any given time and the past couple of years only about 3-4000 have been adopted into the U.S. each year and even fewer are adopted within Russia by Russian people. So there are kids of all different ages available for adoption. If my husband and I adopt again and if we go to Russia we would adopt a slightly older child about the same age as the little boy in the book (except we’d want a girl!). Yuri, by the way, is Jamie’s middle name now – it was his given name at birth: Yuri Yurievich.

Q. You also run DRT Press, which is your own micropress, which is expanding to include other authors as well as releasing your first activity book. How are you balancing your time as writer/publisher/mother/wife?

hubby

hubby

Well, this is a pretty funny question to me because while I was typing this my husband came in and started talking to me about something random…then Jamie came in and started telling me what he wanted for breakfast(even though his dad was in the kitchen and I was in the office) …as if I was doing nothing sitting here at the computer. I find it really hard to work out of my house, actually, although it helps when the kids are at camp. I also work full-time as a school librarian during the school year, which I started doing a year and a half ago. Before that I worked part-time. I am really hoping that after this year I’ll be able to stop (although I love my job and the kids at my school) or at least go part-time, because I am trying to do way too much. My ideal situation would be to have an out-of-the-house office where I did my work. When I came home, I’d be home. But that’s at least a year off. I know some people love working out of their house, but I am not one of them. But I’m stuck with it for the time being. I don’t make enough to quit my job and I certainly don’t make enough to justify renting another space. But I’m trying really hard to get to that point.

Back to your question – how do I balance? I don’t think I do. It’s more like a see-saw. One day it’s all wife/mother stuff, the next it’s all work. Once school starts I’m going to have to give up television (not a bad thing to do, but one of my pleasures in life is sacking out on the couch with my husband, watching whatever we’d Tivo’d for the night). One of the great things about my life is that I have family around – my mom moved here right before we had Jacob (my older son) and she’s been a great help. My husband is also very hands-on with the kids and he has a pretty flexible work schedule, which is also crucial. If we were both 9-5ers working 12 months/year there’d be no way for me to have this little business on the side. Next year the kids are coming to school with me, too, which will help with our commute (last year we were at 3 different places which was a pain – where I live is fairly rural so my daily commute was a good 45 minutes in the morning and an hour and a half in the afternoon with all the pick-ups at various places).

Q. One thing that especially touched me was the very last page of Mishka. Five percent of DRT Press’s profits is donated to various charities that are close to your heart. Why have you made this choice, and to which charities does the money go? Why these particular charities?

I don’t think anyone who’s visited a Russian orphanage can come away from it without feeling very strongly about the plight of the children left behind. I wrote this earlier, but between 600,000 and 700,000 children are in the orphanages over there at any given time, and most of them will live their entire childhoods in an institution. I don’t want to sensationalize what it’s like in the orphanages, nor do I want to condemn what the orphanage workers do over there, but in the majority of the children’s homes the conditions are substandard. I’m talking 17 babies to 2 caretakers, no diapers (too expensive), no hugs or kisses or stimulation. I am not saying they don’t try or they don’t value things that we value in Russia – not at all. But if you were in charge of feeding, changing, and keeping 10 toddler safe and relatively clean that is all you would have time to do. You wouldn’t have time to teach them to talk or to walk or any of the things that children are taught in a family. It’s all about crowd control. Add to that the fact that the longer children spend in institutions the more developmentally delayed they will become and the harder they will be to take care of – it’s an awful picture. Then they turn 16 and if they’re lucky, the government helps them a little and finds them a place to stay and a job or some training, but if they’re not (which is what I understand happens to the majority), out they go onto the streets.
It wasn’t a hard decision at all for me to commit a tiny portion of what little profits I make to helping the kids!

As for how I choose the charities, it’s fairly random! I hate to say it, but it’s true. Some of the organizations, like EEAC, are specifically for people who are adopting from Russia, but most of them help children directly. Two of my favorites are Ascent Russian Orphan Aid Foundation and ArkAngels for Russian adoption. They are both relatively small organizations that have very specific missions.

self-sustained orphanage

self-sustained farming orphanage

My family also has a yearly party/potluck/fundraiser called “Family Day,” around the anniversary of Jamie’s adoption, where we ask all our guests to contribute to whatever organization we’re interested in. One year we asked people to bring a pair of new shoes, which we donated to Buckner’s Shoes for Orphan Souls project – I think we had 35 pairs of shoes we sent, and another year we “bought” some sheep for a self-sustaining farming orphanage in Siberia through Ascent Russian Orphan Aid Foundation. This year I’ll let my kids pick where they want to give.

Q. Finally, my favorite question for everyone: I’m a big fan of the shortlist. What books are on yours?

This is a HARD question! I am a children’s librarian as well as a book lover so it’s really tough. For kids books, I have TONs that I love. How about adoption books? The Sea Chest, by Toni Buzzeo, is a picture book I think is just perfect. Another is The Family Book, by Todd Parr. A Mother for Choco, by Keiko Kaska, is another, simple adoption book that any kid could enjoy.

As for other books for kids, someone I work with told me I’m actually a boy because I love lots of books that my 3rd grade boys love, like Captain Underpants or the Septimus Heap series, by Angie Sage, or the Hiccup Horrendous Haddock books by Cressida Cowell, and at school I can talk those books up much better than I can the princess or pony books. But I think it’s because I read a lot with Jacob, who’s 9, and I also like a story that’s funny and fast-paced. I am not against princess or pony books, they’re just not what I’m picking up in my spare moments!

Books for grown-ups? Ha! Who has time? When I do get a chance to read for pleasure I like to read mysteries by Elizabeth George and Ruth Rendell and P.D. James, and I also admire Alice Munro quite a bit. I just read Eat, Pray, Love, too, by Elizabeth Gilbert, and loved it – but who didn’t, really?

Maggie has a question I never thought of: Was there a “Mishka” in the true story with you and Jamie?

Please let Maggie know that we gave Jamie some toys in between trips, but he didn’t have a mishka of

Mo the Bear

Mo the Bear

his own. He was actually too little to keep track of toys and in his orphanage they didn’t let kids sleep with stuffed animals like they did in Yuri’s. In the book, Yuri is probably about 4 or 5, but Jamie was a baby (14 months) when we first met him and he was only a month older when he came home with us. I know that many children *do* get to keep the toys their new parent(s) bring them, because people have written to tell me so, but Jamie didn’t.

Also, in the review Maggie said she wished their was a plushie to go with the book – lots of people say that! I think Miranda, the illustrator, did a great job creating Mo. He would make a perfect stuffed animal.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you, Adrienne, for taking time out for this interview.  I’m grateful for the wonderful book both for Maggie and me AND for the one lucky reader to win!

I am giving one SIGNED copy of Adrienne’s book, Mishka: An Adoption Tale her at Mt. TBR. Along with you entry on the giveaway post, comment here and at Mishka‘s review, as well as post the link on your own blog, and you’ll get a total of seven entries!

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