Category Archives: Book Report

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!

Fall is in the air! We are just on the cusp of this wonderful season, but I wanted to share one of my favorite fallish poems today.

Turns out: I shared it five years ago. So, let’s just turn back the clock and enjoy that post (and some vintage Zoe photos) again, shall we?

Never Done It That Way Before

Today, let’s let Edna St. Vincent Millay (Vincent, to her friends) do the talking.  Zoe, of course, will do the rest.
O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
   Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
   Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour!   That gaunt crag
To crush!   To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
Long have I known a glory in it all,
         But never knew I this;
         Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.
–Edna St. Vincent Millay, “God’s World”
What do you want to hold close this fall?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books for Back to School

db1d1-toptentuesdayIt’s Top Ten Tuesday Time! This week’s theme is pretty open: Back to School. My list: Top Ten Books Read in School. I went for the first ten that I could think of, since they’re ones that have stuck with me through the years. Enjoy my list, click on over to The Broke and the Bookish to see what everybody else is reading, and share your favorite (or least favorite) back to school books in the comments.

1. Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg. My third grade teacher Ms. Boland read this to us without showing us the pictures and had us guess what was happening / what the story was about. I’ve been reading it with Zoe in the last six months or so and trying to figure out how she did that. It was captivating and magical and fun.

2. The BFG by Roald Dahl. My fourth grade teacher Mr. Lownsberry read this out loud to us. He was probably 22 or so, and he laughed even harder at the fart jokes than we did. His enjoyment of the book made it even more wonderful for us.

Photograph of Lady Bird Johnson Visiting a Classroom for Project Head Start, 03/19/1966

3. The Wishgiver by Bill BrittainWe read this in fifth grade and I loved it. The magic and mystery drew me in to the stories of three young people who buy wishes from a mysterious man at the fair. The results are unexpected (and, for fifth grade me, super stressful). I could not put it down.

4. The Tripod Trilogy  by John Christopher. Probably the first science fiction I read (sixth grade). The story was so exciting (and again, stressful). I’ve reread the series several times and I still love it, even though it’s a little dated and there’s not enough for the female characters to do.

5. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. My wonderful English teacher Mr. Harris introduced me to this book in tenth grade. It was different than anything I’d ever read. This is the book that really showed me the power of figurative language. A bee to a blossom, people. Continue reading

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Read. Watch. Listen.

It’s Friday! That might not mean much to you. Maybe you’re working this weekend. Maybe you work every weekend. Maybe you’re retired. Maybe you have too much on your To Do List, or maybe your weekend stretches all too empty before you.

Whatever the weekend holds for you, here are a few things I’m loving lately. If you have a few minutes or hours to spare this weekend, check them out: Continue reading

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Home Away from Home

train time

Train ride! 

We had a wonderful road trip to Illinois this weekend. The fun included: a visit to the La Crosse children’s museum; an old-fashioned ice cream parlor; a KOA cabin with bunkbeds, a jumping pad, and a pool; a commuter train ride, lunch, and library exploration with family; a dinner date with friends one night; a sprinkler and pool play date the next morning; and sweet Phip’s first birthday party. Truly, it was a wonderful getaway.

It was just as wonderful to arrive home last night. “We’re finally in the right town!” Zoe said as we pulled into Saint James. “Go to Daddy!” Leo said. And we were, and we did, and it was very good.

I always like to hear what the stand out moments are for my kids after a trip. Here is Zoe’s: Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday: Travel by Book

db1d1-toptentuesdayBuckle up, friends. Top Ten Tuesday is back!

This week is a TTT Rewind: a chance to explore a topic you missed the first time around or revisit a favorite. I’m rewinding to a July topic I meant to write on: Top Ten Books Set Outside the United States.

Read my list–which includes other countries and, um, beyond–and then click on over to The Broke and the Bookish to see what everybody else is up to! Continue reading

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Big Words

Check out the books Zoe chose for bedtime last night:


First, let’s take a moment to appreciate the variety:

1. A wonderfully weird William Steig. In which a pig meets a talking bone. Why? I don’t know. As the bone says, “I didn’t make the world.”

2. A beautiful and interactive book about mixing colors. From the author of Press Here. Just delightful.

3. A lovely biography of Martin Luther King, Junior. Truly, the pictures are gorgeous and the text is, too. A great introduction to the Civil Rights movement for young readers.  Continue reading

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Rainy Day Verse

Ave A + E. 7 st.

Thunder and lightning! Hail and rain! It’s a dark and stormy morning in Saint James, dear people.

It’s the kind of weather that makes me think of this early 16th century poem, “The Lover in Winter Plaineth for Spring”. My English Lit I professor recited it for us on the first day of class, calling it a perfect poem, and I think he was right:

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Top Ten Tuesday: Portrait of a Reader

It’s that time again, dear people: Top Ten Tuesday time! This week’s topic is Ten Facts About Me. (Pro Tip: I did not come up with this topic myself, I swear.) Also, since I am a Midwestern Lutheran, I only came up with five facts about myself.

So, take a peek at these facts about me as a reader, and then click on over to The Broke and the Bookish to see what other fun facts you can learn. Happy reading!

1. I’m a serial monogamist. When I’m reading a book, I am reading a book. None of this three books at a time business for me: I’d rather immerse myself in one world and one world only. The term in college that I took three literature classes–one in Spanish–was not my best idea ever.

2. When I’m in, I’m all in. I cannot skim. I cannot skip words I don’t know. This is why I have never read Moby Dick and why I could not read Don Quijote in Spanish. Continue reading


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On Toilet Paper, Poetry, and Peaches

Before Mike and I got married, we worried about money. (Pro Tip: Now that Mike and I are married, we still worry about money sometimes.)

I wasn’t too far removed from my Lutheran Volunteer Corps year, so I had some experience living on a small budget. “We can do waffles or pancakes and canned peaches for dinner!” I declared, recalling an easy, frugal meal from LVC.

Image from page 954 of "The Ladies' home journal" (1889)

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Filed under All in the Family, Book Report, Taste and See

Top Ten Top Tens!

It’s Freebie Week on Top Ten Tuesday! I decided, since I recently restarted my blog, that I’d do a list of my top ten Top Ten Tuesday posts from the first iteration of Never Done It That Way Before. (Pro Tip: This is not self-serving at all. Or lazy.)

So read my list, click on through to the Top Ten Tuesdays that catch your eye, and then click on over to The Broke and the Bookish to see what everybody else came up with this week. Happy reading!

1. Books to Save from the Fire. A sentimental journey through my bookshelves. Which ones would I run back into the house to save?

2. Top Ten Favorite Characters of All Time Right Now. From childhood loves to grown up joys, here are ten of my literary favorites.

3. Characters to Drive You Crazy. The flip side: which characters do you (love to) hate?

4. Bookish Confessions. Ten things I have done or failed to do for the love of reading.

Image from page 1478 of "The Ladies' home journal" (1889)

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