Tag Archives: six degrees of separation

Six Degrees March 2023—From Passages to Berani

It’s been a while since I’ve done #6Degrees, hosted by Katie of booksaremyfavouriteandbest, but I am intrigued by the first book and was hoping participating in this month’s challenge would give me a push to read it for the challenge. Alas, it is not in my library, and so far I have come up empty handed in thrift shops. So onto my TBR list it goes. The book is called “Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life” by Gail Sheehy.

From Goodreads:

“At last, this is your story. You’ll recognize yourself, your friends, and your loves. You’ll see how to use each life crisis as an opportunity for creative change — to grow to your full potential. Gail Sheehy’s brilliant road map of adult life shows the inevitable personality and sexual changes we go through in our 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond.”

“The Slow Moon Climbs: The Science, History, and Meaning of Menopause” by Susan P. Mattern
Reading the blurb about “Passages” reminded me that I have this book on my TBR list.
I and many of my friends are experiencing menopause or perimenopause, an important passage in life, so I am looking for some insight.

From Goodreads:

“For most of human history, people had no word for menopause and did not view it as a medical condition. Rather, in traditional foraging and agrarian societies, it was a transition to another important life stage. This book, then, introduces new ways of understanding life beyond fertility. Mattern examines the fascinating Grandmother Hypothesis–which argues for the importance of elders in the rearing of future generations–as well as other evolutionary theories that have generated surprising insights about menopause and the place of older people in society.”

“Bina: a novel in warnings” by Ankara Schofield
Though the main character of this novel—Bina (prounounced Bye-na)—is not a grandmother, she does have a “sorta son” called Eddie. Bina is in her 70s, and she tells her story in a series of jottings on the back of utility bills and used envelopes, and so the story is disjointed, sometimes hard to follow, yet it did keep me reading. So many questions to answer. How did Eddie become her “sorta son”? Who is the Tall Man? What did her best friend Phil ask her to do? Most importantly, what has Bina done to get her into so much trouble?

“Ducks” by Kate Beaton
On the other end of the age spectrum is Katie, who is only 22 and has left Cape Breton to work in Alberta’s Oil Sands where the men far outnumber the women. The story explores the gendered violence, mental health consequences, and indigenous land claims related to the Oil Sands work camps, a place, which is “…a uniquely capsuled-off society, a liminal space…” This graphic novel memoir is at times difficult to read—although there are sparks of joy—but it is eye opening, and it does not surprise me that it is one of the finalists of “Canada Reads 2023”.

“Fowl Language: Welcome to Parenting” by Brian Gordon
In this graphic novel, the main characters are actually ducks. Gordon had me laughing out loud as I recognized my parental self about ten years ago in many of the drawings. Too bad I didn’t read this book back then.

Cat’s Café by Matt Tarpley
There is a duck in Cat’s Café, but the duck is only one of a large cast of characters. Cat’s Café is a place where the local animals come to unwind. Other characters include an anxious rabbit, a coffee loving penguin, and an energetic kiwi, and there are lots of opportunities for a chuckle and/or an “Awwww, cute”. I found the graphic novel to be simply charming and it had me smiling throughout the whole book. Tarpley explores mental health issues very sensitively. Here’s another example drawing called “Waves of Life”.

“Berani” by Michelle Kadarusman
Admittedly there are no orangutans in the previous book, but an orangutan is an animal, so I am going to make that (maybe rather loose) connection here. Kadarusman is a Governor General’s award finalist, and this is the second book of hers that I have read that I have really enjoyed. Yes, the main characters are two seventh graders and an orangutan, but I learned a lot about Indonesia. Kadarusman lived for many years in her father’s homeland of Indonesia, and the story is based on an incident that happened to her brother. The surprise ending had me bawling!

There were a lot of twists and turns in this passage, and I don’t see much of a connection between the first and last book, but I had a blast creating it, and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Maybe you’ll find something that piques your interest too.

Next month the starting book will be “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2023 Linda Schueler


Six Degrees: From “The End of the Affair to Five Little Indians”

It’s time again for Six Degrees. So I did take out this month’s starting book, “The End of the Affair” by Graham Greene, from the library, intending to read it, but my good intentions fell flat.

“Becoming Mrs. Lewis” by Patti Callahan
This is the first book—one that I just finished reading—that popped into my head when I learned what the starting book was in this month’s chain, mainly because Mrs. Lewis aka Joy Davidman’s first husband had a string of affairs during their toxic marriage. But while I was reading the book, I discovered another connection: one of Davidman’s doctors was Graham Greene’s brother, and she tells the story about how she had just finished reading “The End of the Affair” when he examined her, and how she discussed the literary London world with Dr. Greene. “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” is a slow burn romance with a lot of philosophy and theology thrown in. One of my favourite recent reads!

“Once Upon a Wardrobe” by Patti Callahan
I am looking forward to reading this book written by the same author. I sat in on a webinar last Thursday during which Callahan talked about the book and about how the main theme is “Where do stories come from?” The story centres around sibling relationships including the main character siblings Megs and George, and real life siblings C.S. (or Jack) and his brother Warnie. Of course, this leads into the four siblings who also star in the next book.

This is what my book cover looks like.

“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis
Those siblings are Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. This book is one of my favourite childhood reads, which is why I love reading about C.S. Lewis’ life so much.

The next book is quite the departure from the C.S. Lewis writings and that book is:

“Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch” by Rivka Galchen
In the previous book in the chain the fictional White Witch is the character from the title, but in this book the witch is actually a historical figure, Katharina Kepler, mother of Imperial Mathematician Johannes Kepler. I’ve long wanted to read this story, and it was actually long listed for Canada Reads, but alas it did not make the short list.

“We Two Alone” by Jack Wang
Also long listed but not short listed for Canada Reads, it’s another book on my TBR list. I was fortunate to attend a webinar hosted by The Fold a few weeks ago during which Wang taught about holding attention in a short story, and it was an amazing lecture. Wang is talented! Set on five continents, the book is about the Chinese immigrant experience and spans a century.

“Five Little Indians” by Michelle Good
This is a book that did make the Canada Reads short list. Will it win? It stands a good chance, as the book about five residential school survivors coming to terms with their past has already won awards including the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction, and it will be adapted into a series, but we won’t know the winner until the end of the month.

In the first half of the chain I concentrated on C.S. Lewis and his life and writings, and in the second half I wrote about long listed Canada Reads contenders. That’s the fun of this challenge: you never know where it will take you.

Hope to see you next month again when we start with “Our Wives Under the Sea” by Julia Armfield.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

Six Degrees: From “No One Is Talking About This” to “tiny beautiful things”

It’s been quite a few months since I last participated in the Six Degrees challenge. Although I love making the connections, some life obstacles got in the way of my participation. I’m glad to be back.

This month we start with a book I have not read called “No One Is Talking About This” by Patricia Lockwood.
From Goodreads:
“As this urgent, genre-defying book opens, a woman who has recently been elevated to prominence for her social media posts travels around the world to meet her adoring fans. She is overwhelmed by navigating the new language and etiquette of what she terms “the portal,” where she grapples with an unshakable conviction that a vast chorus of voices is now dictating her thoughts.
Fragmentary and omniscient, incisive and sincere, No One Is Talking About This is at once a love letter to the endless scroll and a profound, modern meditation on love, language, and human connection from a singular voice in American literature.”

“How to Break Up with your Phone” by Catherine Price
I thought of this nonfiction book—and its focus on the “endless scroll”—after I read the synopsis of Lockwood’s book. I am not sure I am so addicted to my phone that I need to read it.

“The Power of Fun” by Catherine Price
Written by the same author as the previous book, I wanted to read this nonfiction book, because I am enjoying reading the next book on this list so much.
From Goodreads:
“In this follow-up to her hit book, How to Break Up with Your Phone, Price makes the case that True Fun–which she defines as the magical confluence of playfulness, connection, and flow–will give us the fulfillment we so desperately seek.”

“Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness” by Ingrid Fetell Lee
I am right in the middle of the chapter on play in this book. From the get go, the nonfiction book grabbed me with a story about how simply putting a layer of vibrant orange paint on a historic old building in Tirana, Albania, started the journey to completely revitalizing a city! Several times I have paused in the book to do some further research on people like landscape designer Piet Oudolf, or places like the Integratron in California and the Reversible Destiny Lofts in Tokyo.

“Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes
A memoir in which Rhimes decides to say yes to a whole bunch of things that she said no to in the past, transforming and revitalizing her life. My favourite chapters are the one on motherhood and the one on marriage. Consider this quote: “You know what’s a bigger taboo than being fat? Not wanting to get married.” Agree, disagree?

“Becoming” by Michelle Obama
In this memoir, Obama writes about her time from childhood to after her husband’s presidency. I found Obama to be totally relatable. She grew up with lots of doubts and challenges, yet she continually questioned her assumptions and improved her approach to tackling life obstacles.

“tiny beautiful things” by Cheryl Strayed
Not memoir, but Sugar aka Cheryl Strayed uses a lot of her own personal stories (a bundle on a friend’s head, kittens trapped in a wall) to answer questions in this collection of letters addressed to “Dear Sugar” of the Rumpus. Sugar never sugarcoats her answers, but if she is criticizing in one sentence, she is encouraging in the next. I found myself learning a lot about how other people live, but I also found myself not feeling so alone when my own life was reflected in other letters.

All the books on this list except the first one are nonfiction, perhaps reflecting my reading style more than anything. But do the first and last books connect? It’s hard to compare, because I haven’t read the first book, but I can tell you that Strayed often writes about things that no one is talking about.

So those who participated this month: where did your journey take you? And those who didn’t participate, where would your journey take you? It’s so much fun to contemplate!

Next month we’ll start with “The End of the Affair” by Graham Greene. I hope to see you again.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

Six Degrees Challenge, June 2021: From “The Bass Rock” to “Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows”

It’s time once again for the “Six Degrees” Challenge, one of my favourite challenges. Every month a book is selected as a starting point, and linked to six other books to form a chain. I love both selecting the books each month, as well as reading what others have selected. 

This month we are starting with “The Bass Rock” by Evie Wyld.

Once again I was unable to secure a copy of the first book in the chain, but it does sound intriguing.

From Goodreads:

“Surging out of the sea, the Bass Rock has for centuries watched over the lives that pass under its shadow on the Scottish mainland. And across the centuries the fates of three women are linked: to this place, to each other.”

Another book where the lives of women are interwoven—in this case two friends, Elena and Lila—is the Elena Ferrante book “My Brilliant Friend”. This book was a gift from my aunt who is usually spot on in her book gifts, but I admit that I didn’t really like it. I know that Ferrante has a lot of fans, but also that many are not a fan of this first book in the Neapolitan series.

Another gift from my aunt was the book called “Life after Life” by Kate Atkinson, and this one I loved. “What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?” A fascinating look at the many lives lived by Ursula Todd.

I’m not sure how many lives actually were lived by Ursula Todd, but I do know in one of the current books that I am reading “Bluets” by Maggie Nelson that there are 240 “propositions” (prose poems) that revolve around the colour blue.

Another current book I am reading is “Kitchens of the Great Midwest” by J. Ryan Stradal. All the stories are interconnected, and the character that binds them is star chef Eva. This book was recommended to me, but I am not sure I am going to finish it, as it is not at all what I thought it would be and I’m not enjoying it too much.

Another book that was recommended to me and that is on my TBR list is “Before We Visit the Goddess” by Chitra Divakaruni. This book is partially set in India and is about 3 generations of mothers and daughters.

Speaking of stories about Indian women, one of my absolute favourites is “Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows” by Bali Kaur Jaswal. “Every woman has a secret life . . .” Yes, indeed, and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time reading about these ones.

So what’s the link between the first and last books? Both deal with the interweaving of women’s lives. In fact, all the stories have some sort of interweaving going on. What do you think? Have I made a nice tapestry out of this month’s selections? 

Do you want to join the fun? Click here to read host Kate’s selections, as well as to find the link to read other lists. Or maybe you’ll even join us next month, when the starting selection is “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves” by Lynne Truss.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

Six Degrees of Separation: From “Beezus and Ramona” to “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”

I missed last month’s Six Degrees, because I was so busy. This time I’m even busier, but somehow in the midst of all the craziness I sat down and cobbled together a list. I found it so soothing—like making a puzzle to take your mind off things. I persevered despite having to finish up my final assignment yesterday for my first horticultural therapy course—almost 50 pages—and having to do my pre course assignments for my next course this afternoon. 

This month we are starting with “Beezus and Ramona” by Beverly Clearly. 

From Goodreads:

“Nine-year-old Beezus Quimby has her hands full with her little sister, Ramona. Sure, other people have little sisters that bother them sometimes, but is there anyone in the world like Ramona? Whether she’s taking one bite out of every apple in a box or secretly inviting 15 other 4-year-olds to the house for a party, Ramona is always making trouble–and getting all the attention. Every big sister can relate to the trials and tribulations Beezus must endure. Old enough to be expected to take responsibility for her little sister, yet young enough to be mortified by every embarrassing plight the precocious preschooler gets them into, Beezus is constantly struggling with her mixed-up feelings about the exasperating Ramona.”

I almost reread the book, as it’s been so long since I read “Beezus and Ramona”, but instead I decided to go in a different direction.

“A Girl from Yamhill” by Beverly Clearly

Instead I started to read this book, the first of Clearly’s two memoirs. I can see where some of her Ramona stories come from. I didn’t know that you can even trip chickens, but that was one of Clearly’s adventures as a young girl. I was also surprised to read that she struggled in school. 

“My Own Two Feet” by Beverly Clearly

After I am finished reading the first memoir, I plan on reading this book, the second of Clearly’s two memoirs, which deals with her life from her college years to publication of her first book, which was “Henry Huggins”.

“Before They Were Authors: Famous Writers as Kids” by Elizabeth Haidle

This graphic novel tells the stories of authors such as Maya Angelou, Gene Luen Yang, and C.S. Lewis when they were kids. It’s an interesting read for both kids and adults.

“A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis

Speaking of C.S. Lewis, this is the book that he wrote after his wife died. It’s one that comforted me after my mother’s death.

“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis

This though is my favourite of all of Lewis’ books, and it is the book that started my love affair with reading. I still remember sitting in my grade 3 classroom on the carpet in the back corner, enthralled as my favourite teacher read us the book in chunks. It rivals my other childhood favourite “Anne of Green Gables”, which I have put on more than one previous Six Degrees list, for number of times I’ve read a book.

“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” by C.S. Lewis

If I were to be asked my top three in the Narnia series, I would have to say that the first and last books round out my list. So why then this choice? Well this is another case of a character annoying the other characters in the book—cousin Eustace Scrubb who plagues Lucy and Edmund. Also Reepicheep, one of my favourite minor characters, plays a bigger role in this book. I even like saying the name!

So there you have it, my journey through this month’s books ending on a voyage. I hope that you have enjoyed it, and I hope that you will read some of the other posts of this fun challenge.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

Six Degrees: From Phosphorescence to The Nature Fix

It’s time once again for one of my favourite challenges! You can read the rules here for the Six Degrees Challenge as hosted by Kate from Books are my favourite and best.

This month we start with a book that I have not yet read, but I’ve had my eye on for a while: “Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark” by Julia Baird. Alas, it won’t be released until July, but it’s another thing to look forward to this summer.

From Goodreads:

“…when our world goes dark, when we’re overwhelmed by illness or heartbreak, loss or pain, how do we survive, stay alive or even bloom? In the muck and grit of a daily existence full of disappointments and a disturbing lack of control over many of the things that matter most – finite relationships, fragile health, fraying economies, a planet in peril – how do we find, nurture and carry our own inner, living light – a light to ward off the darkness?”

It seems a particularly appropriate book to read during these pandemic times.

“Book of Delights” by Ross Gay

From awe and wonder to delight.

I love this book! And even though not everything Gay writes about is delightful, it is still a delight to read the entries. Gay set out to write about a delight every day for a year, and although he didn’t manage to do it every day, he discovered a lot, including that the practice of doing so gave him “a kind of delight radar”. So the more he studied delight, the more delight there was to study. He also discovered that his delight grew the more he shared it.

“Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process” edited by Joe Fassler

From delight to life changing.

Do you remember a passage of literature that changed your life? The book is based on Fassler’s series “By Heart”, in which he asked artists to choose a favourite passage from literature and explain its personal impact and why it matters. As Fassler writes in the preface, “…each contributor tells some version of the same story: I read something, and I wasn’t the same afterward.”

“Vesper Flights” by Helen Macdonald

From life changing to wonder of nature.

Macdonald hopes that this book of essays will work “a little like a Wunderkammer. It is full of strange things and it is concerned with the quality of wonder.” She already had me in the first essay when she writes about her experience of clucking to a falcon chick still in its egg and the chick calling back.

“Two Trees Make a Forest” by Jessica J. Lee

From the wonder of nature to a journey to the forest and flatlands of Taiwan.

Having lived in China for a few years, I know a little bit about Taiwanese history as it relates to China, but this book introduced me to so much more. Written by an environmental historian, the memoir shows how “geographical forces are interlaced with our family stories.” Winner of the 2020 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction and a current contender in Canada Reads.

“The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature” by Sue Stuart-Smith

From a journey to the forest and flatlands of Taiwan to a journey to gardening and its benefits.

I’ve not read this one, but I am hoping that my book club picks it to read one month, as it would be fascinating to discuss this with like minded people. 

From Goodreads:

“A distinguished psychiatrist and avid gardener offers an inspiring and consoling work about the healing effects of gardening and its ability to decrease stress and foster mental well-being in our everyday lives.”

“The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative” by Florence Williams

From gardening and its benefits to connection to nature and its benefits.

I’ve started reading this, but again I am really hoping that the book will be one of my book club’s picks. The introduction already presents many startling facts. For example, “Mappiness” in a study discovered that it isn’t who you are with or what you are doing that is one of the biggest variables that makes you happy, but instead where you are. Being outdoors in all green or natural environments made study participants happier than being in urban environments.

So what’s the connection between the first and last books? Both deal with ways to weather the storms of life. In fact most of these books deal with that same subject.

I hope that you have enjoyed my journey this month. Next month we will start with 2020 Booker Prize Winner “Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart.

I wish you many happy reading days.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

Six Degrees-From “Redhead” to “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse”

It’s time for this month’s Six Degrees Challenge post.

This time we start with “Redhead by the Side of the Road” by Anne Tyler

I actually took this book out and wanted to read it, but several things came up including a very painful back injury and a week’s concentration on writing a historical fiction story for the NYC Midnight Fiction Contest. So despite my best intentions, I did not read it.

Here’s the book’s summary from Goodreads:

“Micah Mortimer is a creature of habit. A self-employed tech expert, superintendent of his Baltimore apartment building seems content leading a steady, circumscribed life. But one day his routines are blown apart when his woman friend tells him she’s facing eviction, and a teenager shows up at Micah’s door claiming to be his son. 

These surprises, and the ways they throw Micah’s meticulously organized life off-kilter, risk changing him forever.”

I decided to take a different route—one I have seen other people do. See if you can figure it out.

“The Happiness of Pursuit” by Chris Guillebeau

Have you ever considered undertaking a quest? Well if so, this book will help you all the way from planning to inspiration to letdown.

I’m going to repost one of my favourite quotes, because I find it so meaningful:

“In quests of old, the hero had to travel across distant lands in search of reclaiming a grail or key. These days, we often have to recover something more intangible but no less important. Many of us undertake an adventure to rediscover our sense of self.”

“Wonderstruck” by Brian Selznick

I loved Selznick’s “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”. “Wonderstruck” is presented in a similar format, both in words and pictures. One story is set in pictures and the other in words, and at the end of the book the stories converge. It’s a bit heavy on explanation at the end but still very enjoyable. A bonus for me was revisiting the diorama in New York City, which I was fortunate to see when I was there in 2002.

“In-Between Days” by Teva Harrison

At age 37, after being diagnosed with incurable metastatic breast cancer, Harrison turned to drawing out her memories and nightmares. This memoir is the result: comic strips interwoven with narrative.

My mom died of breast cancer at age 50. I was far too young to understand what was really happening to her, so I often turn to memoirs to help me figure out what she was going through. 

The book isn’t a downer. Harrison often turns to humour to get through her experiences.

“Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder” by Julia Zarankin

Love, love, love this memoir! Recently I have also become enamoured with birds—although I do  not yet consider myself a birdwatcher—and this book spoke to me in so many ways. Click here to see a book trailer.

I also blogged about it in last week’s blog post.

“Don’t Overthink it” by Anne Bogel

Yes, I am an over thinker. Maybe you are one too? If so, consider reading this practical book with exercises that you can apply to your own life.

“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy

The book is sparse on words, but the words all carry such heavy weight. It’s one of the most uplifting books I have read in a long time, and I plan on giving it as gifts to people.

One of my favourite quotes:

“When the big things feel out of control

…focus on what you love right under your nose.”

This is something well worth remembering during these pandemic times.

So did you figure it out? I highlighted the letters to spell out:







A(nne)Tyler is the author of the book I started this month’s chain with. I used her name to spotlight some of my favourite books that I have read recently.

Next month we are starting with a book I am really looking forward to reading (although it looks like I won’t be able to until July when it is released in North America), a part memoir part essay collection called Phosphoresence by Julia Bard. I hope you join me again.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

Six Degrees: from “Hamnet” to “off script: Living Out Loud”

It’s the first “Six Degrees” challenge of the year, and I am super excited to see where our book journeys will lead us this year.

For the first chain of 2021, we are going to start with “Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell. Alas, I am still waiting for the book from the library, so I’ll have to construct my chain based on the synopsis.

From Goodreads:

“Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child. 

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.”

Let’s dive right in.

“Running on the Cracks” by Julia Donaldson

I also haven’t read this book, but I read recently that Donaldson, more know for children’s books such as “The Gruffalo”, also lost a son. His name was Hamish, and it is in this YA book that he is most present. I have put the book on my TBR list.

“You Won’t Always Be This Sad” by Sheree Fitch

Another children’s book writer—“Mabel Murple” is her most famous book, and it’s a book that is delightful on the tongue—Fitch also lost a son. In this memoir in verse, Fitch writes movingly of the loss and of her reconstructed world. 

“Still: a Memoir of Loss, Love, and Motherhood” by Emma Hansen

On my list for my Mount TBR challenge, this book I acquired from one of the local little libraries is a memoir of one woman’s experience of something little talked about in our society: stillbirth.

“How to Pronounce Knife” by Souvankham Thammavongsa

This 2020 Giller award winning book of short stories pivots around the theme of loss of culture and values. All the main characters are from Laos, a country I’m not too familiar with, but I’m always interested to learn more about other countries and cultures. Favourite quote: “We lose each other, or the way we know each other gets lost”.

“How to Fly: In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons” by Barbara Kingsolver

Though the poems in this book, Kingsolver’s second book of poetry, have many themes, there are many that are threaded with a palpable sense of loss, especially in her section on ancestors. Kingsolver ends her poem about the death of her mother, with whom she had a challenging relationship, with “Here begins my life as no one’s bad daughter.”

“off script: Living Out Loud” by Marci Ien 

Rounding out the list is this book that I mentioned in last week’s blog post. Ien writes about the ups and downs of her career and her personal life, including several significant losses. 

I hope the theme of loss hasn’t gotten you down. As we look back on 2020, we have all experienced some sort of loss, and sometimes reading about others’ loss in some form or another helps us to cope. I hope that you find something to read from this list, and I hope you join us next month where we’ll start with “Redhead by the Side of the Road” by Anne Tyler.

That wraps up my first blog post in 2021! Happy New Year! Here’s to better times in 2021.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

Six Degrees: From “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” to “Dearly”

It’s time again for the monthly “Six Degrees” challenge hosted by Kate from Books are My Favourite and Best. This month we are starting with “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” Did you know it is the 50th anniversary of the book? Wow! The book is one of my favourite childhood books. Have you read it? It is considered controversial—and has even been banned—for its talk of periods. 

This is what my beloved copy looked like.

For those of you who have never read the story, here is part of the introduction from Goodreads:

“Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She’s just moved from New York City to Farbook, New Jersey, and is anxious to fit in with her new friends—Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie. When they form a secret club to talk about private subjects like boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret is happy to belong.”

My first link is “What the Dog Saw” by Malcolm Gladwell. What? you might be thinking. How would that link? Specifically, I am talking about the essay called “John Rock’s Error (What the inventor of the birth control pill didn’t know about women’s health)”, which I think that all those who are having periods—and all those who love them—should read. Gladwell has other essays in the book that I also found fascinating, such as “True Colors (Hair dye and the hidden history of postwar America)”.

From there I am making the connection to “The Slow Moon Climbs” by Susan P. Mattern.

From period matters to lack of period matters. There tend to be a lack of good menopause books. This one comes highly recommended, and I had intended to read it this year, but it’s one for my 2021 Mount TBR challenge. The book is a comprehensive look at menopause from prehistory to today. Historian Mattern takes us on a journey in which she discusses how the way we look at menopause today is incorrect.

Now I will connect to “The Dangerous Old Woman” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. This is a book that I’ve been listening to a bit at a time. The gifted storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Estés is more famous for another book, but I am choosing this book, because it is six stories and commentaries about the “old wise woman” archetype, in which the author writes about a different way to look at aging.

Speaking of storytelling, this is one of the spiritual endeavours that Anne Boksma experiences in her book “My Year of Living Spiritually”, which she wrote about her year long quest at age 55 to become more spiritual. I wrote about the book in last week’s blog post.

Another gifted storyteller, poet Rupi Kaur’s latest book is “home body”. Kaur is never afraid to talk about blood or women’s blood. In fact, click here if you wish to see her period picture that went viral. In this book, my favourite section is “rest” although my favourite poem is from the “awake” section. It begins:

“give me laugh lines and wrinkles

i want proof of the jokes we shared”

My final link is to “Dearly” by Margaret Atwood, who was a poet before she was a writer. “Dearly” is Atwood’s latest collection of poems, and the collection contains poems about a wide variety of topics including aging. Click here if you want to hear her reading the title poem “Dearly” as well as hear the background behind it. I’ve not read the book, but I’ve listened to a webinar in which Atwood has talked about the book and read some of her poems, and I am really looking forward to reading “Dearly”.

So what’s the connection here? Both Blume and Atwood (most famous for “A Handmaid’s Tale”) are authors who are not afraid to tackle controversial subjects including menstruation. They like to tell it like it is, and we are the better for it.

Be sure to check out some of the other chains where you’re sure to discover some book that piques your interest. I’m in the middle of reading one of the books I discovered last month.

Maybe you’ll join us next month? Click here to read the guidelines.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

Six Degrees: From “Anne of Green Gables” to “Moon of the Crusted Snow”

It’s time again for the monthly “Six Degrees” challenge hosted by Kate from Books are My Favourite and Best. This month is wild card month! So what does that mean? It means you can start with any book you ended a previous chain with.

I’m going to start with the book I ended with last month, which was “Anne of Green Gables” by L.M. Montgomery.

“Five Giraffes” by Anne Innis Dagg

I’m linking again using the first name of Anne to Canadian zoologist and writer Anne Innis Dagg, which is what I did last month, but this time I am highlighting a different book that she wrote. This award winning book is part of the “five animals” series and details the lives of five giraffes in both the wild and captivity.

“The Bedside Books of Birds: An Avian Miscellany” by Graeme Gibson

From giraffes to birds. A collection of short stories, poems, and pictures of birds from various authors and illustrators interspersed with Gibson’s personal experiences with birds.

The Book of Marvels: A Compendium of Everyday Things” by Lorna Crozier

Also a collection book, but these are about objects (and parts of the body). The collection skips through the alphabet starting at air and ending at zipper.

“Frying Plantain” by Zalika Reid-Benta

A collection of short stories. This award winning book contains linked short stories of a girl who is caught between being Jamaican and Canadian.

“Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies” by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Linking through the structure of the book.

From Goodreads:

Noopiming is Anishinaabemowin for “in the bush,” and the title is a response to English Canadian settler and author Susanna Moodie’s 1852 memoir Roughing It in the Bush. To read Simpson’s work is an act of decolonization, degentrification, and willful resistance to the perpetuation and dissemination of centuries-old colonial myth-making.”

“Moon of the Crusted Snow” by Waubgeshig Rice

From one indigenous writer to the next. This book was this year’s “One Book One Community” choice in my region. The book is a post-apocalyptic novel about a group of Anishinaabe whose community suddenly goes dark.

So what’s the connection between the first and last books? The connection I’ve made is the theme for my books this month. It’s a celebration of books written by Canadians. Yay!

Be sure to check out some of the other chains. I always find a book (or ten) I want to read.

And if you want to join—maybe for next month when we’ll start with “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” by Judy Blume—then click here to read the rules.

Happy reading!

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler