Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle (finished)
Always Inventing: A Photobiography of Alexander Graham Bell by Tom L. Mathews (finished)
Feng-Shui for the Classroom: 101 Easy-to-Use Ideas by Renee Heiss (finished): This was a book I picked up and read at the library while waiting for Triss. Our schoolroom is in a constant state of disarray (except for the five minutes after we tidy it each day) and I thought I might gain some inspiration from learning a little about feng-shui. I learned how to pronounce it, which was helpful in a nobody-likes-to-look-dumb sort of way. I tend to use the "Hmm... this looks nice here" method of decorating, which is adequate, if a little random. Using colors and themes a la feng shui would give more structure to my decorating decisions. However, the idea of something called chi whooshing around the house pausing to look at things, and the seriousness that a number of people impose on it, was a little hard to focus on.
Shaking Hands with Shakespeare by Allison Shumacher (finished): lots of information on the Bard's plays.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (a reread-- finished)
Teach Yourself Visually: Piano by Mary Sue Taylor (finished): I thought this was a nice resource for finding out what you can do with a piano. She gives the basics of several techniques, talks a lot about chords, explains how to decipher a lead sheet, and gives examples of different musical styles. It would take a lot of dedication and experimentation to actually become proficient at the piano using only this book, but it is a good reference tool for a student.
The Mirror Crack'd by Agatha Christie (finished-- a reread): I do love Miss Marple and her uncanny way of analyzing human nature.
The Tale of Despereaux: Being a Story of a Mouse, A Princess, Some Soup, And a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo (finished): How's that for a long, windy title? This is an excellent tale, written at about a 4th to 6th grade level, of an unlikely hero. Rather dark, you know, but good fairy tales have darkness in order to better contrast the light. (She even defines the word, "chiaroscuro", it being the name of a rat in the tale.) This story is supposed to be released as a major motion picture this Christmas. (From the trailer, it looks like the movie will be different from the book, including some of the character development, which aggravates me to no end. I can understand changing some of the nonessentials, but could we please leave the characters alone? Despereaux in the trailer is shown as much more confident than he is in the book. Erg. Part of the charm of the story is that he is an *unlikely* hero. He isn't studying to be a hero! He is drawn to it like a moth to flame. But I digress.)
Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang (in progress): I gave this an inspectional reading a year or two ago, but now I am studying through it. A lot of good information. His 'counterintuitive' style of practice is the style I fell into guiltily in my teens, a latchkey kid without a lot of friends, who played piano for a couple of hours every day before mom got home. No one was there to tell me to practice, or what to practice, so I played through things my own way, occasionally getting into trouble from my teacher for not practicing what I was *supposed* to practice (Hanon, etc.). I developed a habit of learning my practice pieces fast so I could get back to my classics or musical theater books. However, I did not discover all the practice methods he writes about in this book-- far from it! I am learning a lot.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory by Michael Miller (in progress): Informative book, unfortunate name. When I brought it home, Triss cried, "Mommy! You're not an idiot!" LOL! I had to explain to the kids that reading books for "Dummies" and "Idiots" does not mean that we are dummies or idiots. These books explain things in simple terms that a person without a lot of experience in the subject area would understand-- they break open the lingo and dispel a bit of mystery. I laughingly told Triss that these books are also for those of us (me) who already know the subject matter, but lack the simple explanations that would open it up to those who don't.
The New World by Winston Churchill (in progress)
From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun (in progress-- I've made it through page 59.)
CM's Volume 3 (in progress)
Writing to Learn by Thomas Zinsser (in progress)
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (in progress): I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy this book, but I am really into it now. It is the true story of a man who attempted to climb K2, and on his way back down got lost and stumbled into a tiny Pakistani village. The villagers lovingly cared for him for several weeks while he regained his strength, which was sapped almost to death by his exertions. As he recovered and got to know the people, he was seized with an immense desire to provide the village with a school for the children. Greg Mortenson, called Dr. Greg by the villagers because of his medical skill (he is a nurse), went back to northern California and began the difficult task of finding money to build the school. After finally being given money for the construction supplies and saving up enough of his own money for a return trip to Pakistan-- rigorous enough challenges-- he underwent cultural, political and geographical difficulties getting back to the village. And then found out that he could not get the supplies to the village because the bridge was inadequate. He went home, raised more money, and came back. And he and the villagers built the bridge. That's where I am in the book. Dr. Greg appears to be an ordinary man with an extraordinary spirit.