The Blog Has Moved

It just dawned on me. Those of you following this blog might want to continue doing something similar–like, say, following my new blog. Because this place will be a ghost town, soon.

My new website (yes, yes, the one I mentioned before) ALSO has a blog. You can subscribe to it even if you don’t feel like being a part of my newsletter.

commuter commuting late lost

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

[The newsletter will prob only go out once a month. I’ll post more often on the blog.]

If, indeed, a blog is what you’re interested in, head on over , click on the “posts” page and subscribe.

I’ll be writing about, oh, everything. Everything in the world.

Extra, Extra! Read All About It.

I’m opening a long-closed blog door, peaking inside, breathing in dust. I’m calling out to see if anyone answers. If they don’t, it’s because they’ve moved on, as people often do in long abandoned rooms.

Annnnnnyway. I have a new website and I wanted to let my friends know about it.

Full disclosure: I’m almost finished with a novel I love, and it will enter the world before too long. It’s got all the things I’m interested in woven into its fabric, i.e. sisters, sons and daughters, jealousy, violence, school shootings, God.

The website is a more “professional” Internet home, though, Lord knows, I’m not the professional type. The website itself in its baby stage, but there’s a way for people to stay connected to my work by signing up for my newsletter on there. If you do, I’ll send you a short story I wrote. It won a prize I’m pretty proud of.

So, but this is the kind of thing I hate to do–mention my writing in a “join my email list” kind of way. But this is how it is, now, folks.

This is how it is.

If you’re still reading, and you feel like it, head on over to hannahvanderpoolbooks.com and sign up for my newsletter to stay in touch. You’ll be the first to know when my book baby takes its first wobbly breath. I’ll also be sending out free stuff (fiction) once-in-a-while. Oh, and news.

It may be that I’ve written all of this for the sake of that little mouse over there in the corner. If so, I hope mice like to read.

Love,

Hannah

Quick Lit

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It’s that time again when I participate in Quick Lit, a down-and-dirty review of the books I’m reading, for better or worse.  I’m on a binge these days, which is how my reading life seems to go half the time.  During the other half I realize I’m reading nothing longer than an article or, heaven help me, a blog post.  Happily, I have a list going just in time for the link-up.  On my nightstand are

Beyond the First Draft, John Casey.  This is a writing craft book but it reads like a memoir and, well, I loved it.  Some craft books are so technical I feel like I’m inside a Swiss clock when I’m reading them.  Others are so woo-woo I might as well be watching Oprah.  This book is a collection of essays and it’s both beautifully written and informative.  Yes, please.

Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin.  This book is helpful for deciding on and implementing useful daily habits.  Padded out with research and plenty of anecdotes, it’s both a practical and breezy read.  Rubin posits that habits make us who we are and that we can and should develop ones that propel us toward living according to our values.  While the author comes across a little heavy-handed at times, her writing style allows the reader to clearly “hear” her voice.  A good thing.

Woe is I, Patricia O’Conner.  OK, it’s a funny book on brushing up on grammar that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.  But I’m a writer and I have to remind myself how to use the tools of the trade.  Did I mention it’s funny?

The Last Battle, C. S. Lewis.  This one’s for my kids and it’s the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia, a beloved series I started reading to them at the end of last school year.  Fast-paced and layered with meaning, it may be my favorite of all the books in the series and seems especially apropos in dark times such as these.

That’s all for now.  Well, not really.  I’m skimming Decoding Your Dog and already feeling guilty about making my dogs kiss me when they’d (apparently, according to the authors) rather not.  But, you know, I’m trying to get better.  And that’s my list for now.  What’s on yours?

 

 

 

Helpful

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Thanks to my nerd friend, Nikki, for this helpful classics synopsis chart.  I have about 75 more titles I’d like to see reviewed…  If you can think of a funny, super short synopsis for a classic, feel free to leave it in the comments. 🙂

Advice from Creatives on How to Live Life

I love reading new thoughts, especially if they pertain to the creative arts.  My favorite websites are those that cause me to think about books–and ideas in books–in deeper ways, and, by extension, to think about life.

That’s probably why I rarely finish reading Maria Popova’s famed Brain Pickings without having received some serious inspiration.  Popova’s a literary ideas curator, you might say, and while that sounds highfalutin, it really isn’t.  It just means she combs the Internet for important things so I don’t have to.  Mmmm, yes, please.

In celebration of nine years of Brain Pickings (a very long time, indeed, in Internet Land), she offers 9 Learnings from 9 Years of Brain Pickings.  Several pieces of advice in this short read are spot on.  A couple of them I need to take to heart right this minute.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

The Library

The thing is, in the stacks, when you are alone

and the florescent lights are so insistent in the coughing quiet,

and you have nowhere you need to be,

and the world is seven inches from your face (as you shift your weight from one sandal to the other),

and you are small, and there is so much hope,

and so much everything

and the buzzing of those stupid energy-saving lights is a mantra,

so that you feel a miniature sob slip up your lungs

because you are so happy,

you remember things.

“Boring” Rituals That Make Us Better

I’m over at be, mama. be today.  We’re talking about the value of rituals–the mundane, seemingly insignificant ones–and how they help to give shape and meaning to our days.

“…If I’m honest, I have to admit that I don’t always want to break up our day with such slow, luxurious forays into the imaginary, not when I think of all the things we could be doing, things like bed-making and worksheet-filling.”

Read the rest here.

In Which I Pretend There’s No Such Thing As School

It’s summer.  Oh, how I’ve wanted it.  We’ve only just declared ourselves done with school because we were sort-of waiting for Daddy to get done (he’s a teacher).  Now he is and we’re finished with our school year.  We’re so, so finished.

The kids swim every, single day even though it’s been unseasonably cool for June around here.  I sit by the pool and write or read and the kids splash, dipping into the ice water and emerging with the shakes.  Pure happiness.

I’ll be popping in here about once a week or so throughout the next two months.  I can’t promise when, exactly.  If you want to keep up with new posts and haven’t already you can follow this blog via email (see the sidebar).  Or not.  Whatevs.

Part of the reason I won’t be blogging a ton in the months of June and July is that I’m editing my book, taking it through its painful second draft.  This is sucking the life out of me but also proving to be highly educational.  (I am stretching, people, and if you could just see my mental stretch marks you’d think the ones on my stomach were nothing at all).  In September the book goes out of my hands and into those of an editor.  This is terrifying.

So, there’s that.  And there’s the fact that I write a lot about motherhood and home education here and, the truth is, right now I’m trying not to think about school much at all.  I mean, I’m a nerd at heart, ok?  But I just got done sitting through part of a home educator’s conference and my friends were there and there was coffee.  Everything about it was supposed to be ‘just my thing.’  But I fidgeted like a toddler during a sermon, and my brain was so far away from anything that was actually happening that I knew.  I knew.

It’s summer.

This One Book

Summer is just around the corner (notice how I keep saying that?  Somebody’s, uh, ready).  If you’ve been thinking “educational thoughts” lately or have had questions about schooling options for your kids, summer is a good time to read relevant books, ask questions, do a little research, etc.  If your mind is made up about the fall and you’re comfortable with the path your kids are on, cheers!  That is a good place to be.  But, let’s say you’re not quite at ease with the way things are going at your kids’ brick-and-mortar school and you’ve creaked the door of your mind open to the possibility of teaching your kids at home.  In that case, I have a book recommendation for you.  I tell everyone who’s in your shoes to read it.  In fact, I read it myself when I need to be reminded of why I landed on this side of the educational fence.  There are other important books you might read on this topic, of course, along with poorly written and weakly argued ones.  There are Christian worldview books about home education (a worldview I share), secular tomes, how-to’s, manifestos…All of them have their place, I’m sure.  But this book is the one to start with, in my humble opinion.  It’s the first step down the rabbit hole of Doing Things Differently.  You could even read it with sand between your toes, if you’re lucky enough to have sand between your toes this summer.  In any case, if you’re asking questions about why the trend of teaching children at home is exploding across the nation and abroad this book will shed some light on the subject.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll discover that homeschooling is right for your family, too.

Making the Most of Your Public Library

We love trips to our local public library.  When we lived in India I used to fantasize about the smallish one in our home town with the faded ‘Just Read!’ decals in the kids’ section.  Recalling the musty stacks and the placid expressions of the ladies behind the front counter filled me the warmest of feelings.  When we returned to America one of the first things we did (after two weeks of sleeping and staring into the middle distance) was to try out my old library card.  The kids and I walked through the front doors and oh! one of them was automatic now.  The air inside was artificially cool and still, heavy with the ghosts of words.

We left with a sack full of books that day, and for many days after that.  I let the kids select whatever titles caught their attention, reveling in their sheer numbers, and gave little thought to the books’ quality.  I figured that they came from the kids’ section at the library and that, overall, they must be good. images-1

After the glow of mountains of free books had largely faded in our minds, however, we grew to see a somewhat disturbing reality at our library.  We noticed that its selection of kids’ books had seemed to grow rather silly since we’d been overseas (or maybe it had been happening for a while?)  By silly I mean that many of the books the kids brought home were plain stupid and/or appealed to the young reader’s basest nature.  Large numbers of them were poorly written with predictable, boring plots and little-to-no redeeming qualities. It was more than disappointing, and it felt like we’d sat down to a potluck dinner only to discover that every dish was a bowl of Cheetos.

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Oh, there were still Little Golden Books like Poky Little Puppy in the young kids’ section.  And we could still find the odd classic like Little Women tucked between vampire romances.  We even discovered some newer titles we thought we’d keep on our short list of favorites.  But we soon came to see that visiting the library would require us to use our brains as much as did combing the aisles of Wal-Mart for quality food items.

In other words, we might find treasures or we might not.      

Over time, we found that the easiest way to achieve borrowed-book success at the library is to go in like one does to the grocery–with a list.  Knowing in advance the book titles you’d like for your children to read, or ones they’ve requested to read, means that you don’t have to spend your time playing hit-or-miss among the stacks.

Sometimes, though, it’s hard to come up with a list of good books for kids off the top of your head (sort-of like trying to think of a movie to rent on date night when it’s your turn to decide).  Thankfully there are many solid, ready-made lists floating around on the internet to get you started.images

A few:

Books for boys and young men

Or this perspective

Picks from librarians

Scholastic’s take on things

One of my favorites (a monster, mother-of-a-list)

A family list from the folks at Common Sense Media

Books for girls

Sonlight.

Lists like these can help you make the most of your child’s trips to the library.  They can help you to decide which books you’d like to check out before you set foot in the door, as well as save you time, clarify your focus, and reduce your options so that you and your child don’t experience “book overwhelm.”  No list is perfect.  There may be books that you or your child find on a list that you still don’t like.  That’s OK.  The point is that you “shop smarter” and reduce disappointment, not that you bat a thousand.

Enjoy your public library (it is such a blessing).  Just don’t check your brain at the door.