Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Using Kindle as a Tool for Learning Another Language

I have struggled with learning Spanish, mostly on my own, for a number of years. I know there is no substitute for immersion for really learning to speak another language fluently, but lacking the time and money to do so, I have tried a number of things.

I started with a set of cassettes from a Diplomatic course that wasn't particularly helpful except for learning pronunciation by mimicry. Then I tried a wonderful course by The in-house and personal lessons by phone were too expensive, though, so I purchased the first 3 levels of the Spanish Power self-study CDs and lesson books. Their system of learning is excellent for attaining a basic vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar, and verb conjugation. I quickly learned that I needed to work on my verbal skills, so I signed up for some reasonably priced night classes at a local language academy. It was a big help and a lot of fun, but unfortunately the academy went out of business. So now I am back on my own, although I occasionally find a Spanish Meetup group that is helpful in practicing conversional skills.

Self-study of Spanish grammar and other learning books got very boring and not very motivating. I bought a few dual language books where you have Spanish on one side of a page and English on the other. Such books are hard to find and are usually geared toward grade school learners. I bought a few young adult books in Spanish as well, however, looking up unknown vocabulary was time consuming and tedious.

Then I purchased a Kindle, mainly because of its ability to do on-the-spot word translations. This has kept me interested for sure. I can now find books in Spanish that I enjoy and are at the adult reading level. My latest Kindle is the Paperwhite 3G which goes a step further. You can translate a word or a phrase. Often you will find that a single translated word does not seem to fit the context of the sentence. In such cases, you can highlight and translate the whole sentence surrounding the word and get a better understanding. With the help of people who are multilingual that contribute to the Google Translate engine, the translations are getting better and better. Reading Spanish books on the Kindle has definitely proved invaluable in increasing and fermenting my vocabulary.

I still hope one day that I can travel to a country where I can immerse myself and speak Spanish every day, but until then, reading in Spanish every day on my Kindle is enough for me.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Book Sculptures

Recently I came across a web site with wonderful book art; very original. Jodi Harvey-Brown definitely has a talent for bringing a story to life, literally out of the pages of a book. To quote Jodi from her web site (
"I have always loved art, and I have always loved to read.  Books pull you into a new world, while art lets you see it.  It made sense to me that these two mediums should come together.  The books that we love to read should be made to come to life.  Characters, that we care so much for, should come out of the pages to show us their stories.  What we see in our imaginations as we read should be there for the world to see.  My book sculptures are my way of making stories come alive. "
Check out her gallery of book sculptures.  Here are some of my favorites - of course the Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn creation tops my list:

Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn

Little Red Riding Hood

Pandora's Box

Treasure Island

Jodi sells her creations on Esty.  She will create a drawing or sculpture from your personal experience of a book as well. The best of luck to you Jodi.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hardcover versus Paperback versus Audio Book versus eBook

There are some who say that audio books and eBooks will eventually replace hardcover and paperback books. It is true that in 2011, eBooks outsold, for the first time, all other formats in the categories of adult fiction and children’s/young adult titles according to the Association of American Publishers. Audio books have gained momentum as well. But in 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

A New Book Club Reading - Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

We are starting a new book club on the Regarding Books facebook page.  Look under "Events" for the latest book reading. We are currently reading Janisse Ray's "Ecology of a Cracker Childhood".

For those of you who grew up in the rural south Georgia, I think you will find that Janisse's style of writing will evoke wonderful memories of an easy-going and simpler way of life. Her unusual upbringing in a junkyard might be a reason her stories often take on an unordered relating, jumping back and forth between memories and local ecology. But then again, that is part of what makes the telling an enjoyable ride. Her descriptions of what can be seen, felt, heard and smelled are wonderful.

Join us in the reading and let us know what you think.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Juvenile Blue Bird

We found this bird under a tree on its back and unable to move. Setting it upright resulted in it falling over initially. After I worked its legs manually, it was able to move the right leg on its own. I moved him away from potential predators and continued monitoring it throughout the day. It wouldn't take water or crushed strawberries, but it got stronger and stronger on its own. First it was able to perch, then later hop a little. During the last perch session, it sang for me. I moved it out into the open and it flew away to the closest tree, yea!  Bye, Bye Blue Bird. I hope it makes it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mark Twain's Quick Thinking Saved Old Man Hankinson

This is an old, clipped newspaper article (newspaper unknown and date unknown) titled and sub-titled:
    Humorist, Tired of Listening to Series of Remarkable Stories, Rose to the Occasion.

Here is the content of the article:

A naval officer said at a banquet in New York:
“Some of the war stories that I hear remind me of Mark Twain.  Mark, you know, once sat in the smoking room of a steamer and listened for an hour or two to some remarkable lies.  Then he drawled:"

'"Boys, these feats of yours that you’ve been telling about recall an adventure of my own in Hannibal.  There was a fire in Hannibal one night, and old man Hankinson got caught in the fourth story of the burning house.   It looked as if he was a goner.  None of the ladders was long enough to reach him.  The crowd stared at one another with awed eyes.  Nobody could think of anything to do.  Then all of a sudden, boys, an idea occurred to me.  “Fetch me a rope!” I yelled.  Somebody fetched a rope, and with great presence of mind I flung the end of it up to the old man.  “Tie her round your waist!” I yelled.  Old man Hankinson did so and I pulled him down.’”

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Terry Kay, A Great Southern Writer

The first book I read by Terry Kay was "To Dance with the White Dog" (1990). 

I am just in awe at the author's telling of this story. I felt the emotions when Sam Peck lost his wife of 50 years. I understood the worry of Sam's children for their father and what a difficult struggle he was likely to have losing his love and life companion, Cora. I felt their concern when Sam begins to see a mysterious white dog that is never around when they are there. A great author like Terry Kay really puts you there... in the story.

I finished "To Dance with the White Dog" on a plane sitting next to my husband on our way to a ski vacation.  As I finished the last few pages, I could not hold back the tears. After I closed the back cover,

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mark Twain Quiz

This is a 10 question quiz to test your knowledge of Mark Twain characters.  Please post a comment to let us know if you would like to see more tests like this. We'd love to hear your suggestions.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Real Huck Finn??

For as long as I can recall, it has been my understanding that the real inspiration for Mark Twain’s character, Huckleberry Finn, was a childhood companion by the name of Tom Blankenship.  Yes, I have read that in an 1885 interview Twain stated that Huck Finn was not based on any one person, but was a composite of several.  However, in Mark Twain’s Autobiography Twain said, “In Huckleberry Finn I have drawn Tom Blankenship exactly as he was.  He was ignorant, unwashed, insufficiently fed; but he had as good a heart as ever any boy had.”  Tom Blankenship has long been stored in my mind as the real Huck Finn.
Recently I obtained a stack of old papers related to Mark Twain – a couple of advertising pamphlets, some clipped magazine ads, and some clipped newspaper articles.  One of the articles was titled “Huckleberry” Finn is Oregon Fisherman Now.  I read the article and was somewhat confounded.  According to this the real Huckleberry Finn was a man named

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tips on Determining the Value of Your Books - From John Dunning

The following is a reprint from the Bookscout's Corner on with permission from John Dunning.
  1. Desirability: Judging value of a book starts with the subject matter. If the book does not have anything of value to say, then no one will want it. For example many people still have in their attics old novels from

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Booked to Die - My First Collectible Book Purchase

I didn’t read books unless I had to for school assignments, until I met Steve.  Not long after we started dating, Steve encouraged me to read a few books that he enjoyed and opened me up to a whole new world. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

George MacDonald Fraser and the Incomparable Flashman

Pictured here is my well worn copy of the first Flashman novel I ever read.  It has since been around the block a few times.  Passed around and read by quite a few others, somehow it has always found its way back home.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Town of Books, Hay-on-Wye

Anyone who loves looking at collectible books or out-of-print books would also love a trip to the town of books, Hay-on-Wye in Wales. Actually, most of the town is in Wales, but eastern parts of it do reach over into England.

Books are a year-round feature throughout the town, but once a year for 10 days starting at the end of May, Hay-on-Wye hosts the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts. Hundreds of events take place around the tented festival village highlighting writers, poets, comedians, philosophers, musicians and much more.