Monthly Archives: December 2009

2009 Books

The 100 books I read in 2009 have been moved here.

1. Lafcadio the Lion by Shel Silverstein {x} *****

2. Houston we have a problema by Gwendolyn Zepeda {x} *****

3. Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck {x} *****

4. Know it All by Susan Aldridge, Elizabeth King Humphrey and Julie Whitaker {x} *****

5. The Border: Exploring the U.S. – Mexican Divide by David J. Danelo {x} ***

6. The Tree is Older Than You Are by Naomi Shihab Nye {x} ****

7. I Love Dirt: 52 Activities to help you and your kids discover the wonders of nature by Jennifer Ward {x} ***

8. Tao te Ching by Lao Tse {x} ***

9. The Recently Deflowered Girl by Hyacinthe Phyppe {x} *

10. Hungry Woman in Paris by Josefina Lopez {x} ***

11. The Makedown by Gitty Daneshvari {x} *****

12. Undress me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman {x} *****

13. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi {x} *****

14. Letters From The Earth by Mark Twain {x} *****

15. Dear Exile by Hilary Liftin and Kate Montgomery {x} *****

16. Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros {x} *****

17. Love Marriage by V.V. Ganeshananthan {x} **

18. Tomorrow They Will Kiss by Eduardo Santiago {x} *****

19. New Penguin Parallel Text: Short Stories in Spanish – Edited by John R. King {x} **

20. Unpublished Manuscript by A.S. {x} *****

21. The Killing Tree by Rachel Keener{x} *****

22. The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle {x} ***

23. Orange County by Gustavo Arellano {x} ****

24. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald {x} ****

25. Handbook for boys (a novel) by Walter Dean Myers {x} *****

26. Shadow of the Red Moon by Walter Dean Myers {x} ***

27. Flight by Sherman Alexie {x} *****

28. Art Against the Odds by Susan Goldman Rubin {x} ***

29. La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon {x} *****

30. B as in Beauty by Alberto Ferreras {x} *****

31. The Ginger Tree by Oswald Wynd {x} *****

32. Swift as Desire by Laura Esquivel{ x} ****

33. Under the Texas Sun by Conrado Espinoza {x} ****

34. Chewing Gum in Holy Water by Mario Valentini and Cheryl Hardacre {x} *****

35. The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz {x} ****

36. On Writing by Stephen King {x} *****

37. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein {x} *****

38. Teenagers Suck by Joanne Kimes and R.J. Colleary {x} **

39. The Islamist by Ed Husain {x} ***

40. Get Off Your “But” by Sean Stephenson{x} ****

41. When you Lie About your Age, The Terrorists Win by Carol Leifer {x} ***

42. The Shack by William P. Young {x} ***

43. Obama’s Blackberry by Kasper Hauser {x} *****

44. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale {x} *****

45. Londonstani by Gautam Malkani {x} *****

46. Translation Nation by Hector Tobar {x} ****

47. The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle {x} *****

48. Life of Pi by Yann Martel {x} *****

49. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney {x} *****

50. The Lie by Fredrica Wagman {x} ***

51. America Libre by Raul Ramos y Sanchez {x} *****

52. Amigoland by Oscar Casares {x} ****

53. Damas, Dramas, and Anna Ruiz by Belinda Acosta {x} *****

54. Italian for Beginners by Kristin Harmel {x} ***

55. Mexican High by Liza Monroy {x} ****

56. I Used to Know That: Stuff you forgot from school by Caroline Taggart {x} ****

57. The Divorce Party by Laura Dave {x} ***

58. My Grammar and I… Or Should That Be Me? by Caroline Taggart, J.A. Wines {x} ****

59. Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea {x} *****

60. Spanish Summer by Jana Hege {x} ***

61. The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis {x} *****

62. The Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee {x} ****

63. The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer { x} ****

64. For Grace Received by Valeria Parrella { x} ****

65. Shelf Discovery by Lizzie Skurnick {x} **

66. The Writer’s Digest Guide to Manuscript Formats by Dian Dincin Buchman and Seli Groves {x} *

67. A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve {x} ***

68. The Jumping Tree by René Saldaña, Jr. {x} *****

69. The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos by Margaret Mascarenhas {x} ***

70. Lime Tree Can’t Bear Orange by Amanda Smyth {x} *****

71. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell {x} ****

72. ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley {x} ***

73. Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary {x} *****

74. Zumba by Beto Perez {x} ***

75. Love That Dog by Sharon Creech {x} ***

76. The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine {x} *****

77. Dear Professor Einstein by Alice Calaprice {x} ***

78. Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante {x} ****

79. Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich{x} ***

80. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie {x} *****

81. Ramona and her Mother by Beverly Cleary {x} ****

82. Across the Endless River by Thad Carhart {x} ****

83. The Complete Titanic by Stephen J. Spignesi {x} ***

84. Children of Dust by Ali Eteraz {x} ****

85. Abel’s Island by William Steig{x} ****

86. Tell Me Something True by Leila Cobo{x} ****

87. Look at the Birdie by Kurt Vonnegut {x} ***

88. Silent Wing by Jose Raul Bernardo {x} ****

89. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer {x} ****

90. Wayside Stories from Wayside School {x} ****

91. Hombres y machos: masculinity and Latino culture by Alfredo Mirandé{x} ****

92. The Latino male: a radical redefinition by David T. Abalos{x} ****

93. Passing for Thin by Frances Kuffel {x} ****

94. Junie B. Jones and the Yucky Blucky Fruitcake by Barbara Park {x} ****

95. Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park {x} *****

96. Reaching Out by Francisco Jiménez{x} *****

97. Stealing Buddha’s Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen{x} ****

98. The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini{x} **

99. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney{x} ***

100. There is an Urgency by Gregrhi Love{x} *****



Filed under 100 book challenge, books

Eating Animals

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer is a thoughtful examination of where food, (meat and meat products specifically), come from. Most Americans are quite divorced from the fact that the “meat” in their sandwich, was once an animal. Most of the meat we eat doesn’t even resemble or remind us of its origins. Cold cuts, nuggets, hot dogs, individually frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts. It’s easy to eat it and forget, but when what we eat affects our health, the environment, other living creatures, and probably grossly contradicts our beliefs, shouldn’t we take the time to remember?

I have been a meat eater all my life, but I still remember the reluctance I felt as a child, seeing the red juices of a medium rare steak on my plate. “Is it blood?” I asked my mother.
“It’s a steak. It’s meat – just eat it,” she answered, waving a hand in the air.
“But, what animal does it come from?”
My mother’s fork and knife clink loudly against her plate. “We don’t need to discuss THAT at the table. Just eat!”

I’m sure many children have similar memories of the first time they realized that “meat” meant “animal”, and feeling revulsion. But like me, most children are told, “just eat”, and we do.

After reading this book, I don’t think I can “just eat” anymore. If the animals we call food were raised and slaughtered humanely, I think my love of meat would win at the end of the day — but in today’s world of “factory farming” and “agribusiness”, animals are raised not as living creatures, but as a commodity. Little thought is given to the miserable lives and deaths they face. Not to mention how the unnatural hormones and antibiotics the animals are pumped full of, end up in our bodies, adversely affecting our health.

Despite my strong feelings after reading it, Eating Animals is not an outright case for vegetarianism. The author takes pains to represent and research every imaginable aspect of the topic, and fairly so. This book is without a doubt, one of the most important books of the year, and a necessary read for all consumers.

I can’t tell you if a week from now I will conveniently “forget” what I have read, if I will file it away in a quiet part of my mind where I can ignore it so I can enjoy the food I love without guilt – but at this moment in time, I see the book as life changing and it’s hard for me to imagine anyone being able to read the book and continue eating mindlessly, with no thought as to where their food came from, and wrestling with that knowledge.


Filed under books, change, food, health, opinion

The New York Times: 10 Notable Books of 2009

If you’re looking for something good to read, The New York Times has posted their list of 10 Notable Books of 2009.

Here are some more lists that might help you:

The New York Times Best Sellers 2009 (all categories)

The New York Times Notable Children’s Books – 2009

Good Reads – Best Books of 2009 – Best of 2009

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Filed under books, fun links

100 books in 2009 progress, etc.

Life has been insanely busy. I have barely had time to read because when I’m not busy writing, (meaning I have somehow been convinced or pulled by force away from the laptop), I am attending to household/family/life duties.

I did not “win” Nanowrimo this year, but that’s okay. I’ve got a good start on another novel so I’m content.

I don’t know if I’ll make it to 100 books this year. I am on book #86 right now, I believe. This is still the most books I’ve read in one year and it has been such a rewarding experience that I intend to do it again in 2010. I’ve already got quite a list going, (my 2009 list of books to read extends far beyond 100). Did you read any this year that you recommend to me for 2010? If you also took on this challenge, how are you doing?

Who is going to join me in challenging themselves to read more next year? It doesn’t have to be 100 books – it could be 75, 50, 25, or even 1 book a month. Whatever you like! Leave a comment if you’ll be joining me and if there’s enough interest, maybe I’ll do something special like create a cute graphic to post on your blog.

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Filed under 100 book challenge, About me, books, writing

12 Days and 12 Facts for This Holiday Season

I have been authorized to reproduce the following. Enjoy!

12 Days and 12 Facts for This Holiday Season

By Caroline Taggart,
Author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School

Ever catch yourself saying I Used to Know That?

Each holiday season brings another round of cocktail parties, family get-togethers, and corporate gatherings — and invariably, lots of small talk. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when discussing politics, literature, and other intellectual “stuff,” especially when what is thought to be general knowledge is often long-forgotten. Enter I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School. From English and Literature to Math and Science, from History and Geography to Religion and Other-Worldly Topics, this book leaves you equipped to handle any topic of conversation.

Here we’ve cherry-picked twelve fun facts for the holiday season — one for every day of Christmas (or whatever holiday you prefer!) Quiz yourself to see how much “stuff” you need to brush up on before hobnobbing with the boss or office crush.

1. On building sentences: Just what is a “clause”? (Not to be confused with Santa Claus.)

Answer: A clause contains a subject and a verb and may stand alone as a sentence or as part of a sentence (when it is often called a subordinate clause): Santa Claus loves cookies but can’t eat them without milk.

2. How many bones is the spine made up of?

Answer: 26 small bones called vertebrae (Be careful lifting all those heavy holiday boxes.)

3. Acclaimed author Charles Dickens (1812-70) wrote which Christmas classic?

Answer: A Christmas Carol. The miserly Ebenezer Scrooge tries to ignore Christmas and is haunted by the ghost of his former partner, Marley, and by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come, who show him the error of his ways.

4. The fist chapter of this famous book opens with “Call me Ishmael.” Name the book and author. (Hint: it makes a whale of a gift!)

Answer: Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Melville is also the author of Pierre and the unfinished Billy Budd.

5. There’s a name for the process of watering your Christmas tree? Who knew?

Answer: Grab the kids and give them this science factoid as they nurture the family tree: Osmosis is a form of diffusion that is specific to the movement of water. Water moves through a selectively permeable membrane (that is, one that lets some types of molecules through but not others) from a place where there is a higher concentration of water to one where it is lower.

6. Can you name all 6 wives of Henry VIII, father of the Church of England?

Answer: (Listed in order) Catherine, Anne, Jane, Anne, Catherine, Catherine. They are often remembered as divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. Sure makes you think twice when complaining about bad relatives.

7. Who was the 16th President of the United States?

Answer: Abraham Lincoln (R, 1861-65) and yes — he really was born in a log cabin on a winter’s day. Notably famous for many reasons including his Gettysburg Address: “Four Score and Seven Years ago our fathers brought fourth upon this continent a new nation conceived in Liberty . . . ”

8. ‘Tis the season to be jolly giving! Don’t forget to tip well this season — etiquette coaches will tell you that means no less than 18%. So just how much should you tip on a bill of $50?

Answer: Percent means by a hundred, so anything expressed as a percentage is a fraction (or part, if you prefer) of 100. So 18% is 18 parts of 100, or 18/100 or .18. If your bill is $50, multiply 50 by .18 to get your tip total of $9. If you’re feeling generous, a 20% tip would require you to multiply 50 by .20, for a total of $10.00

50.00 x .18 = 9.00

50.00 x .20 = 10.00

Percentages can also be holiday-relevant when it comes to figuring out in-store sales. In this case, you want to multiply by the inverse of the percentage listed. So if you have a $50 sweater that’s on sale for 25% off, multiply 50 by .75 for your total of $37.50. That same $50 sweater on sale for 40% off would equate to $30, or $50 multiplied by .60.

50.00 x .75 = 37.50

50.00 x .60 = 30.00

9. Brr, it’s cold outside. But just how cold does it have to be to get some snow around here?

Answer: Did you know that the freezing point of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit? Keep an eye on the temperature and watch your footing for ice on the ground. (See previous fact about those treasured vertebrae!)

10. Everyone knows Santa and his elves live in the North Pole. But what about the South Pole (aka Antarctica)?

Answer: The South Pole was discovered by Roald Amundsen (1872-1928, Norwegian), who was also the first to sail though the Northwest passage, the sea route from Pacific to Atlantic along the north coast of North America. Antarctica is the only continent that contains no countries — instead, it is a stateless territory protected from exploitation by an international treaty. A good place for the elves to protest low wages?

11. Which Ocean is bigger: the Pacific or the Atlantic?

Answer: The Pacific Ocean is larger at 69,374 square miles — that’s almost double the Atlantic, which comes in at 35,665 square miles. Making it evenmore astonishing that St. Nick can cross the globe in just one night.

12. Remember the reason for the Season! Can you name a few things that both Judaism and Christianity have in common?

Answer: Both are monotheistic religions that share the first five books of the Christian Old Testament. Both religions view Jerusalem as a sacred site, the former for the Wailing Wall (contains the remains of the temple that was thought to be the place where God resides on earth) and the latter for Christ’s burial and resurrection site.

Happy Holidays to all!

©2009 Caroline Taggart, author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School

Author Bio
Caroline Taggart, author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School, has been an editor of non-fiction books for nearly 30 years and has covered nearly every subject from natural history and business to gardening and astronomy. She has written several books and was the editor of Writer’s Market UK 2009.

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Filed under books, education, helpful hints, history, holiday, kids