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Newsletter – Bookshelf Adventures January 12, 2024

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Hello Book Bums families!

This week in the newsletter we are thinking about bookshelves and reading lists and what our books say about us. Imagine if our books could really talk about us when we're not around (like a book version of Toy Story)! Would your books praise you for taking them on adventures to the beach or wish you visited more often to open their covers?

Word of the Week

vast (vast) adjective/describing word - very great in size or amount, immense

A vast library full of reading material is a book-lover's dream.

Just fo Fun

Bookshelf meme

I have become a bookshelf person. If there’s a bookshelf in a room, I find myself making my way toward it so I can take a peek. We all know we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, but can we judge people by their bookshelves? What could people learn about you when examining your bookshelf?

I had never considered myself one who “judges” folks by their books, and yet I do believe I’ve made some inferences.

We do that, don’t we? While on a cruise, we notice a neighboring sunbather and lean over just . . . a . . . bit . . . more so we can check out the title of the book they’re reading. At the dentist office, we notice which magazine our fellow patient has chosen to quell her anxiety. When visiting the bookstore, we feel a sort of kinship with those who are in “our section.” At the gym, we must battle the urge to learn what our fellow treadmill walker is reading—because we know what can happen to people who lose their step on those things.

I may not be judging the person, per se, but I am judging whether that person and I have something in common—whether we might be long lost friends or something.

If I see you at Costco and you’re holding a book to your heart (which I’ve done), I’m looking at the title to see if I love that book too. If you’re reading a (dare I say) steamy book at the pool, I might give you a knowing wink. If you’re reading about how to be a good parent to adult kids, I’m whispering a prayer for you because I know how hard that can be. In other words, if you’re reading on the train, you can count on me to be rubber neckin’. I want to see how we’re connected—if we’re book friends.

And yet, those who judge are also judged.

I was judged (wrongly!) by a book club who, as a group, vehemently hated a book I’d recommended. In my defense, I had explicitly stated that the book – The Midnight Library – was just okay. I had shared, however, that the conversation the book inspires made the book worthy of the read. The group did not agree.

If you’ve read The Midnight Library, you’re probably judging the book club or you’re judging me. We do that. Someone’s right (because they’re like us) or someone’s wrong. Not really, but . . .

At our first Book Bums location, we had a customer (who became a dear friend) come into the store, peruse the main bookshelf, and proclaim, “You need some Buddha books.” He was “judging” us and telling us so! I think that’s what we liked so much about him.

Long ago, when my aunt and uncle came to my house, I noticed they were hanging out by our bookshelves. (This was before I fully understood bookshelf judging.) They had their backs to the people in the room and were quietly scrutinizing the books our family had purchased, read, and placed on display. That’s what bookshelves are, right? Displays. Had I placed the books there to reflect who we are, what we believe in, and where our sights were set? What were my aunt and uncle gleaning about my family from our book collection?

When I visited the Morgan Library and Museum in NYC (highly recommend), I was first captivated by the beauty and vast expanse of tangible history. Then, I began judging the books the curator had chosen.

Bookshelf picture

I discovered three copies of the Gutenberg Bible, the first printed in the West using movable type. Over and over again, I discovered copies of the same books in multiple languages. Though museum visitors are impressed by the strong collection of classics from authors such as Dickens, Poe, and Twain, I was especially thrilled to find the classic early children’s books.

Classic books

The Personal Librarian is a work of historical fiction about Belle da Costa Greene, who was hired by J. P. Morgan and is responsible for the incredible collection of books and art in the Morgan Library and Museum. I believe Belle and I might have been friends—judging from those bookshelves, anyway.

Personal Librarian

At Book Bums, we often teach kids about reading comprehension and what is involved as we strive to understand what we’re reading. One of the components of the lessons deals with inferring. Inferring is merging our background knowledge (what we know about the world around us) with evidence (from a book—or a bookshelf) and arriving at an evidence-based guess.

I mean, essentially, we are equipping kids to “judge” others by the books on their shelves.

So, what’s on your bookshelf?

Tips for Families

Bookshelf coloring

Readers enjoy a sense of pride as they reflect on the books they’ve read, but it’s more than that. Recording the books we read helps us to remember the impact those books may have had on our lives. Whether it’s a tool for personal growth, an escape from a tough time, an eye-opening ah ha, or an inspiration for change, books have so much to offer.

To learn other ways to track your reading, you may want to check out the article, “How to Enhance Your Reading Experience by Keeping Track of What You Read” by Marelisa. She suggests we:

1. Keep a book log.
2. Add a rating system.
3. Add additional tidbits.
4. Write a book summary.
5. Write an Amazon review.
6. Keep a book quotes journal.
7. Track your books on Goodreads.
8. Try your hand at literary criticism.
9. Get a book journal.
10. Research the author.
11. Start a blog.
12. Keep a Books-to-Read list.

For those of you who enjoy artistic endeavors, click here to learn how your kids can create a cool bookshelf. What a fun way for kids or adults to track their reading for 2024!

photo of taping
Bookshelf drawing

Some people track the titles of books they read. Others simply tally the number of books. I’ve heard of folks tracking the number of pages read, too. And I just saw someone who was trying to read so many books that he could stack them up to match or exceed his height. I especially love this idea for kids, but it’d mean you’d have to own the books or keep track of the books’ thicknesses and add them up. It could be a great motivator.

In truth, I have never tracked my reading. I’m thinking about starting this year. How about you?

Practical Grammar

While reading last week, I came across the word borne and, for the first time, I wondered about the one with the e, borne, and the one without, born.

born - to come into existence through birth
Judah Alexander Williams was born on January 9th.

borne- past participle of bear
She had borne the burden with grace.
transmitted by
The helicopter was air borne in a matter of minutes.

From our Bookshelves

Someday book

Someday, by Eileen Spinelli, is a story juxtaposing what a little girl dreams may happen someday and what’s happening in her life today. It’s a beautiful book teeming with hopes, imagination, and humor.

Tips for Raising Readers and Writers

vowel sounds

I love a little irony, don’t you?

Have you ever wondered about those lines above vowels that indicate which vowel sound is being represented?

The smile-shaped line is called a breve (pronounced /brev/) and it indicates a short vowel sound is at play.

The straight line is called a macron (pronounced /may-cron/) and it indicates a long vowel sound.

I find it ironic that breve looks like it’d say /breev/ (long vowel sound) but it is unexpectedly pronounced with a short vowel sound, and it represents the short vowel sound.

And macron looks like it’d say /mack-ron/ (short vowel sound), but it is unexpectedly pronounced with a long vowel sound, and it represents the long vowel sound.

Wordology Workshop

  • The Latin root juxta means beside or near.
  • You can find it in the word juxtapose which means putting two things, especially dissimilar things, next to each other for comparison.
  • We used juxtapose in the newsletter this week. Did you see it?
  • It also shows up in several medical words such as juxtaspinal or juxtaintestinal which indicate something near the spine or intestines.

Things to Do

Did you know that there is a weekly winter hike in the Greater Cincinnati area? Check out for more information and to register.

If you’re looking for something to do while the kids are out of school this Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, there is also a Community Clean Up project in the area.

If you know someone who would benefit from our newsletter or tutoring at Book Bums, please share this email with them! Thank you.

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