Friday, May 22, 2015

The bookshelf tag.

I love seeing other people's bookshelves. I'm not a particularly nosy person, but bookshelves grab my attention. I love seeing what books people own, how they organize them, etc. So when I saw Hayden do the bookshelf tag a while back, I knew I wanted to do it, too. I like the idea of talking about books that I don't normally get the chance to talk about (though looking through this post, I'm sure I've written about a lot of these already).
I really want to do a little video of my bookshelves sometime this year (I've been meaning to do that for a couple years now), but here's something until then. I love to talk about books, and I realize this post might make me sound like a complete nutcase...but I think some of you bookworms will understand. :) 

Describe your bookshelf and where you got it from. I have four bookcases at the moment (and sadly, no room for more in my bedroom). They're all those cheap bookcases that you "build" yourself, and it's starting to show...some of my shelves are getting sagged in the middle. My first one came from Walmart, one came from Office Depot, and the other two are from Target. My parents gave me the first one for my birthday about six or seven years ago (upper right above), and a family friend gave me the second one because she worked at Office Depot and got it discounted when they were going out of business (bottom left corner above). Then I bought the third and fourth ones from Target. I actually put the one in the bottom right corner above together myself, which I was really proud of. (I'm the girl who couldn't even build one of those little benches in middle school shop class...I put the screws in crooked and the teacher had to fix it for me.)

Also, I didn't take a picture of it, but my desk has two little shelves that hold about thirty's all Christian nonfiction. Like devotionals, my bind-up of some C.S. Lewis, and a couple of memoirs/autobiographies.

Do you have any special or different way of organizing your books? I've always organized my books in a specific way. Otherwise I don't think I'd be able to find anything and it would drive me crazy. :) First of all, my fiction and nonfiction are separate. The first three bookcases you see above are fiction (actually, the third one is currently only about half full...I'm using the bottom shelf to store some vintage books and old family photos and things). The fourth one is nonfiction.

Within the fiction bookcases, my books are organized in alphabetical order by the author's name. When there's more than one book by an author, they're usually in order of publication if they're stand-alone books or obviously in the correct order if it's a series.

Within the nonfiction, I have them sort-of divided into categories and then loosely in alphabetical order. All of my books about old Hollywood stars are together, then the other biographies and memoirs (roughly the Jane Austen-ish ones, the C.S. Lewis ones, bookish ones), and then all of my travel books are together.

Lately I've been slightly less obsessive about the organization...but only slightly. :) Basically, my goal is to fit as many books as possible onto my shelves (since I don't have room for more bookcases), so sometimes I have to put books in where they'll fit, but they don't stray too far from where they should be. They might be slightly out of order on a shelf, but they're still on the correct shelf. :)

What's the thickest (most amount of pages) book on your shelf? The thickest book I own is the third volume of The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis. It's about 1600 pages. I have all three volumes of his letters (this is the biggest, but the other two are also huge), and they're on my "someday" reading list. I do want to read them eventually, but will probably take me years. The thickest novel I have is Bleak House, which is the only Dickens that I've read so far. My copy is nearly 1000 pages long.

What's the thinnest (least amount of pages) book on your shelf? Jane, the Fox, and Me is only 101 pages, but it's a graphic novel so maybe that shouldn't count. My thinnest novel is John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, which is only 104 pages.

Is there a book you received as a birthday gift? Lots, since I usually ask for books for my birthday. :) Here are three that I picked out for my parents to give me last year: Londoners by Craig Taylor, Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver, and a vintage copy of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (you can read my thoughts on that story here). {Edit: I originally wrote this post back at the beginning of April, before my birthday, which is why these are books from last year. One of the books that I received this birthday that I'm really, really excited about is Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent.}

What's the smallest (height and width wise) book on your shelf? Again, Of Mice and Men. It's such a tiny book!

What's the biggest (height and width wise) book on your shelf? Besides coffee table style books (like this one), it's probably The Name Above the Title, by Frank Capra. It's larger than a normal hardback book, and it's pretty thick, too. I don't even know what is happening with that cover, and it's a bit beat-up (I got it at a library sale). Basically, it's one big, ugly book. But I love Frank Capra's films so I have high hopes for this one. :)

Is there a book from a friend on your shelf? I picked a couple of classics (that I haven't read yet) for this one. My friend Carolynn has given me quite a few books, including The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I hear good things about. Also, Natalie once sent me this copy of The Scarlet Letter (it's one of those creepily pretty Penguin editions with the covers illustrated by Ruben Toledo).

Most expensive book? It used to be The Casual Vacancy, which I paid about $23 for and which happened to be one of the most disappointing books I've ever read. Finally I just got rid of it because I knew I was never going to read it again and it made me sick to keep seeing it on my shelf. So I'm not really sure now...I rarely buy new release hardcovers, and when I do, I never pay more than about $15. I'm going to guess that my most expensive book is probably the last Harry Potter book. I bought it the day it released and it probably cost about $20.

The last book you read on your shelf? Of Mice and Men. (I'll write more in my May "What I Read" post, but wow. So good, but so depressing and tragic.)

Of all the books on your shelf, which was the first you read? Probably Sarah, Plain and Tall. I know we had to read it several times in elementary school, and the first time was probably around 1st grade. I still love this book. It's so simply written but beautiful.

Do you have more than one copy of a book? Yes! I've actually done a post about this before. For now I'll just show you my three copies of Jane Eyre, which happens to be one of my favorite books. I used to have another copy but I donated it. So now I have two vintage copies from the 40s (the one on the bottom is my favorite) and a Penguin clothbound edition.

Do you have the complete series of any book series? The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch, the three Al Capone books by Gennifer Choldenko, The Hunger Games trilogy, The Montmaray Journals by Michelle Cooper, the Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale, The Charmed Life trilogy by Jenny B. Jones, the Chronicles of Narnia, The Giver quartet by Lois Lowry, the Sarah Plain and Tall series, the Wildwood trilogy by Colin Meloy, the Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis, the Harry Potter series, A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Wings of Glory series by Sarah Sundin, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the Little House on the Prairie books. Whew. I didn't include series that I know aren't complete yet...I have about three of those.

What's the newest addition to your shelf? In an attempt to shrink my TBR, I've only bought about four or five books this year so far. I'm not counting birthday gifts or review books, so my most recent purchase was A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes story. I have every intention of reading some Sherlock stories this year. :)

What book has been on your shelf forever? Ella Enchanted. It's one of my favorite childhood books, and I would still consider it a favorite. :) I've owned this copy for probably 13 or 14 years...I got it at a book fair in elementary school.

What's the most recently published book on your shelf? A Love Like Ours, by Becky Wade. I received a copy to review, but it was just released on May 5th.

What's the oldest book on your shelf (as in the actual copy is old)? Most of my old books are from the 40s, but I think this copy of Under the Lilacs is from 1919.

A book you won? I won Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund in a Goodreads giveaway.

A book you'd hate to let out of your sight (as in, a book you'd never let someone borrow)? I'm sure you saw this one coming. :) It would definitely be my Narnia boxed set. These are my favorite books, and even though these editions are worn and ugly, I am so attached to them. I know I'll have to get a new set at some point, but I'll never get rid of these. Also, they're in the proper order (publication order, not chronological order! The books are so much more magical this way), and all of the new sets are renumbered, which is annoying.

Most beat up book? This particular copy of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a bit shabby (and missing part of its cover).

Most pristine book? Um...any of my unread ones, and there are quite a few of those. I'll go with this lovely edition of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. (I've read the book, but not this copy.)
A book from your childhood? Again, Ella Enchanted. Or maybe Charlotte's Web. I remember my third grade teacher reading us that story.

A book that's not actually your book? These are the only two books on my shelves that aren't mine. My dad bought them when we were on vacation in the Florida Keys several years ago. I grabbed them when I was reorganizing the shelf in the living room (maybe I do have a problem...) because I intend on reading them at some point. :)

A book with a special or different cover? The only ones I can think of are these Penguin English Library editions. They're not really special, but I love them. :) They're like paperback versions of those really pretty clothbound Penguin classics. Honestly, I love the durability of hardcovers and the way they look, but I enjoy reading paperbacks more. Plus, those clothbound classics are expensive. These editions have lovely covers and striped spines. But they're not available in the US, so you have to order them through Book Depository. (They're really reasonable, and they have free worldwide shipping.)

A book that is your favorite color? I say that my favorite color is yellow. So here are three covers with yellow, though I don't particularly like the shade of yellow on any of them. :) I also love blue: especially turquoise or teal, like the cover of The Wilder Life...that's just a very pretty cover in general, I think.

Book that's been on your shelf the longest that you still haven't read? The Golden Prince, by Rebecca Dean. I bought it at Goodwill about four years ago, but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. By now I don't even remember what it's about...

Any signed books? I have three. The only special one is A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd, because it's personalized and I love that book. The other two just happened to be signed when I purchased them.

If any of you guys want to do this tag, feel free! And be sure to link to your post in the comments, because as I've said, I love seeing other people's bookshelves. :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Yarn Along

Reading: A Year of Biblical Womanhood, by Rachel Held Evans. This book probably isn't what you're expecting from the the subtitle. :) I picked it up on a whim from Goodwill about a year ago, because it sounded interesting. The author decided to do a year-long experiment to follow the Bible's instructions for women as closely as possible. (Some of those rules are ones that are common among Christian conservative groups, like only wearing skirts and not cutting her hair, but she also follows the stricter rules like covering her head when she prays and remaining silent in church.) I'm really enjoying it! Besides describing her personal experiment, the author also includes short interviews with a variety of women (polygamists, Amish/Mennonite women, etc.) and each chapter ends with a focus on a certain woman from the Bible. A lot of the book is funny, so of course I appreciate that. But one of my favorite things so far is that the author doesn't shy away from discussing some of the harsh Old Testament rules for women and the darker stories of the more obscure women of the Bible. I've never really seen anyone talk about those things before.

Knitting: A sweet little striped baby hat. This is another one to sell....I haven't really done any personal knitting in the past week. I'm using some of my handspun for this one. I accidentally ended up with an odd amount of leftover fiber that I was spinning to sell in my Etsy shop (which I'm planning to open in the middle of June!), and I managed to spin it into just enough yardage for a baby hat. :)

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sock Scrap Blanket {Month 2}

My scrap yarn blanket is officially too large to photograph the entire thing on the canvas I use for a white background. :) I'm a little late with this update, but it doesn't matter because obviously this project isn't very time-sensitive. I went several weeks in April without working on it any, but then I got obsessed again and added most of the new squares over a period of a couple days.

-14 squares added (36 total squares now).
-6 squares from my own scraps.
-4 squares from mini-skeins from Andi.
-3 squares from GnomeAcres mini-skeins purchased last month.
-1 square from a newly purchased mini-skein.

I'm starting to add in repeats of squares. I know that a lot of people who are making these blankets don't want two of the same square, but I actually like it. If I love a yarn and the project that it reminds me of, I want as much of it as possible in my blanket! And with striping yarns, squares from the same yarn can look completely different. Example: the pink square and the green corner square in the bottom two photos are from the same yarn.

I added three new yarns this month. The first two were leftovers from the socks I knitted in April: my first handspun socks and the Make Believe socks. Also, when we were in Tennessee, I purchased two "Seedlings" from The Fiber Seed. (The yarn is US wool, which is awesome!) Each mini-skein is 60 yards, hopefully enough for 5-6 squares each. One is purple and one is that beautiful golden yellow in the second photo. I like that now some of the squares in my blanket will remind me of our weekend in Tennessee. :)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Favorites: mysteries and detectives.

As I mentioned, I've been in an Agatha Christie phase lately. That got me thinking about all of the mysteries and detective stories that I love.

I was surprised to realize a couple of years ago that I really enjoy mysteries. It wasn't exactly a genre I ever expected to like! It all started with the BBC Sherlock. I guess what I like falls into the category of either detective stories or "cozy mysteries." Basically: most of them are British, they feature unusual sorts of crime-solvers, and they have a good dose of humor mixed in. I'm not at all interested in anything gory or graphic, or real life crime stories (I hate to think of such things happening to real people...I'd much rather stick with the made-up ones).

I'll start with the books, since there aren't as many of those.

Agatha Christie. I'm currently reading A Murder Is Announced, and I've read three of her other books previously: The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Murder on the Orient Express, and The Body in the Library. I really enjoyed all of those...Murder on the Orient Express was probably my favorite so far. (There's something really great about a murder mystery on a train, right?) She wrote so many novels that it would take you quite a while to get through them all. I know that some of her stories are more beloved than others, but honestly I don't think you can go wrong with Agatha Christie.

The Flavia de Luce series, by Alan Bradley. This series is now seven books long, and I've only read the first three. (I'm behind because I'm reading them from the library, and I haven't been to the library in forever.) But they are so good! They're about an eleven year old girl named Flavia who lives in an old English house with her family and who is obsessed with chemistry and solving murders. She's such a great narrator...she's obviously really intelligent and at times doesn't sound anything like her age (unless she's bickering with her sisters). Even though the main character is young, these books are adult, not middle grade, so don't be put off if you're not into children's books. I love the English country setting and the fact that the mysteries usually include strange, quirky aspects. I really want to catch up with this series sometime this year!

And now onto the TV shows and films...

Monk. This is definitely in my top 5 list of favorite TV shows. It's so funny, with great supporting characters, and of course there's Monk. He's brilliant, annoying, obsessive, and immature, but so likable at the same time. :) I always compare it with Psych, but I think I still like Monk better. I like that it's a bit more serious at times and that there's the overlying story arc of Mr. Monk and Trudy. I wrote a little about the show here, but I'm also planning a post about my favorite episodes once I finish rewatching the series (I'm currently on season five).

Psych. This show took a season or so to grow on me (because it just couldn't quite live up to Monk!), but I ended up loving it. Shawn and Gus have one of my favorite fictional friendships...their interactions crack me up. :) Sometimes I'm in the mood for something a bit more goofy and fun than Monk, and Psych definitely fits. I picked my favorite episodes here.

BBC's Sherlock. You guys know how much I love BBC, anyway, but Sherlock is one of the absolute best. It's even higher on my list than Monk. I can't believe I waited so long to start watching this show! There are only nine episodes so far, but each one is almost film-length. This show is incredible. It's a perfect mix of humor, drama, suspense, memorable mysteries, and interesting characters. I don't know how in the world they do it, but each season gets better and better, and they're setting impossibly high standards for any other show to live up to. :) I'm a period drama fan, so before I started watching, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the modernization, but they've done it perfectly.

80s-90s Granada Sherlock. If you want a more traditional Sherlock Holmes, this is the series for you. I haven't seen all of these. We were borrowing them from a friend and I think I've seen most of them, but I plan on finishing it out at some point.

Pushing Daisies. This show sadly only lasted two seasons before it got canceled. It's about a pie-maker named Ned who helps a detective solve crimes because he has a special gift (curse?): he can touch something dead and bring it back to life (so he can ask how they were murdered, thus solving the crime). The problem is that he only has one minute...after that, he has to touch them so they're dead again or someone else in the vicinity will die instead. (And once he touches them a second time, they're dead for good.) Sounds quirky, right? That's the perfect way to describe this show. It's strange and bizarre and over the top, full of colorful characters. The whole thing is colorful, actually: the costumes and set design are visually gorgeous. The only thing keeping it from becoming one of my absolute favorites is that it does have a bit too much language and innuendo for my taste.

Marple. I've only seen the first season of this series so far, but I'm already hooked. Apparently this series is known for taking liberties with the books (adding romances, changing motives, etc.) and adding Miss Marple into non-Marple stories. But I'm still liking it. Also, the guest stars are awesome. One thing I love about British TV is being able to pick out so many familiar faces from other shows I love, and it seems like each episode of Marple has several guest stars that I recognize.

60s Miss Marple films. These four films aren't faithful to the books at all (except for possibly one?), but they're still awesome. This Miss Marple is like a sock knitting, sword fighting, bicycle riding, murder solving superhero. :) I wrote more about the films here.

The Thin Man films. This is a series of six films made from 1934 to 1947. They star William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, one of the kookiest and most wonderful fictional couples ever. These are the perfect 1930s detective stories, and they're glamorous and hilarious. I reviewed the films here.

So those are my favorites! There are more that I want to try: I've heard good things about Foyle's War and The Bletchley Circle, so I want to watch those sometime. I also want to watch more of Poirot, but hopefully after I read the books (since I'm failing at doing that with Marple). I've only seen one or two of them before...I know I've seen Murder on the Orient Express. Also, I'm planning on starting the Sherlock Holmes stories. I have A Study in Scarlet sitting on my desk, waiting to be read!

Do you have any mystery/detective recommendations? Any authors I should try or shows I should watch?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Yarn Along

Reading: A Murder Is Announced, by Agatha Christie. (This sad little copy came from either Goodwill or a library book sale.) I've become a bit obsessed with Agatha Christie lately. I've only read about four of her books so far, but I'm always collecting more. Over the past couple of weeks, I've got hooked on the ITV Marple series. I'm sort of doing things backwards because I'm watching the shows before I read the books. That can be a problem with mystery novels! But it can't be helped...the show is too good to stop watching and there's no way I can read each Marple book before I watch the corresponding episode. Oh, well! I watched the adaptation of this book about a week ago and I'm still really enjoying the book itself. :) Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions of your favorite Agatha Christie novels. I'm keeping a list of ones I want to read, but soon I think it will just be all of them. :)

Knitting: Next month I'm going to have an opportunity to sell some handknits, so I'm trying to get a few baby and children's hats knitted before then. (Though honestly, I'm not sure people are going to be looking to buy wool hats in June.) This is just a simple children's beanie knit with leftovers from my Lady Marple cardigan. And I just realized how ironic and appropriate that is, given the book that I'm reading!

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}