Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, June 10, 2011

This pair of reading celebrations reveal the family ties that bind such books together in your heart

For readers,books about books are complete and utter catnip but the best ones offer more than just a handy list of reading recommendations. They talk about what drives the author to take up a book,the personal connection that person has to one set of titles over the other and that special someone in their life who encouraged to enjoy the delights of literature in the first place.

There are currently two new books on this subject that blend family memories into the love of reading. First up is The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma,which chronicles a lengthy bonding experience with her father over books. Part of their daily routine was "The Streak",a challenge to see how long Alice's father could read to her every night before bedtime.

Her older sister started this tradition but called it off as the pre-teen years approached. Alice and her father,a public school librarian,kept it going until her first day at college. This constant pattern helped to keep their relationship flourishing through good times and bad,not to mention the particular challenges that faced a single father raising a daughter.

The book is a mix of memoir and literary love,as Alice talks about her childhood and the growing awareness that her father is just as vulnerable and in need of nurturing at times as she is. Whether they were mourning the death of a loved one or trying to find the perfect prom dress,the differences in their methods to deal with each dilemma refused to be permanent dividing points between father and daughter.

Her precocious nature may remind you of many a sassy young heroine such as Anne of Green Gables,Pippi Longstocking or Judy Moody but Alice is a very real and engaging person,who turned out that way in part due to her dad's quirky but encouraging love and guidance.

Alice was even confident enough to chose her two middle names as her true moniker,another tribute to her dad and their shared pleasure in the Oz series and going through the literary looking glass together:

While The Reading Promise is an ideal Father's Day gift,this is a book that can be read and enjoyed at any time. Inspired by her dad's example of keeping the joy of reading aloud alive,Alice is out spreading the good word about doing so in your own life. Even if you don't have kids,The Reading Promise is worth undertaking and worthy reading:

The other title on display here is a bit more somber,as author Nina Sankovitch decides to pursue a goal of reading one book a day for a year in Tolstoy and the Purple Chair.

Her motivation for doing this is as a means of consolation-her beloved older sister Anne-Marie died from a horrible bout of cancer and one of the many joys they shared was reading.

Nina made a small set of rules regarding her book project;no rereads,no reading more than one book of any chosen author and she had to review every one at her website called Read All Day.

Nina worked her goal in and around her daily schedule and family responsibilities,with the help and support of her nearest and dearest as well. She also went over some family history regarding her parents,survivors of war and oppression who came to America to find a better life.

While there are strong moments of sadness in this book,there are plenty of passages that celebrate the joy of living such as the reminiscences of Christmas family traditions,both old and new,and the delight in discovering engaging books by either new authors or older titles from favorites past.

The range of books selected by Sankovitch went from The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain by Charles Dickens to Chris Cleave's Little Bee and a real emotional touchstone,The Elegance of the Hedgehog:

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair does offer some personal insights of the author upon many of her reads while allowing the reader to see if this book or that might hold a different yet identifiable meaning for themselves. Both as a memorial to her dearly loved sister and a renewal of herself,Nina Sankovitch lets her love of reading open the door to healing her heart and invites you warmly in:

If you check out either or both of these wonderful titles,I hope that they help you to appreciate your family ties as well as the pleasures of reading. Of course,you don't have to have a blood bond with someone in order to like the same books but it can feel as if you made a long lost familial connection when you encounter a fellow bibliophile,even if they're a world away:

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