Monday, September 17, 2012

smashy poptarts. and biscuit's bookclub.

Listening To: The Carpenter by The Avett Brothers. The whole thing. It's on repeat today. 
Lyric Obsession: 

Kiss of the wind in the hills
The clearness of morning, the late evening thrill
Blurry and gray like the roar
The wheels on the highway, above them I soar

- from A Father's First Spring by The Avett Brothers: 

*uses Sloth voice* Hey you guh--uuuys!

I hope your Monday is rolling along quite happily.

For some reason, I woke up this morning remembering a random day in college. (That's a semi-lie: My first waking thought was about how I needed to go to the bathroom ... but I was really comfortable and didn't want to move. Then I remembered the college thing.)  Rain was pouring (much like it is today) and my umbrella was all broken and flappy on one side. My umbrella looked like one of those plastic bats you buy at Big Lots around Halloween; the kind that flippity-flops a lot. In the wise words of Tim Gunn, I had to make it work.

As I was walking to class, I realized the broken-bat-flappy side was also ... weirdly heavy. So I looked and - no joke - there was a full-size pop-tart smashed against my umbrella.

And it was like Christmas morning. Just when I thought I wouldn't have time for breakfast! 

Inspirational Word for you: Be on the lookout for small miracles today; especially if they're of the jam-filled, processed variety.

... Why did I tell that story? I don't remember.

Because I would rather talk about Ellen Potter. 

Ellen Potter is no relation to James, Lilly, or Harry. I don't think. (But maybe?!)

Ellen Potter is, however, officially one of my new favorite authors. A few weeks ago, I adventured to the library in search of her novel, The Kneebone Boy, which I've heard from reliable sources is an absolute gem. My library didn't have that. But they did have Potter's newest book, The Humming Room. And when I saw that The Humming Room was inspired by The Secret Garden (a novel I believe to be one of the most perfect stories ever written), I did a happy dance in the library aisle. Like so:

I didn't have a chance to read The Humming Room before I set my wagon for the Wild Wild West, so I passed if off to Mom and said, "You might like this." And as soon as I got home, Mom was raving about how much she loved it. So I read it. This is what I wrote about it on my Pinterest:

I picked this book because it's based on THE SECRET GARDEN, a story I adore. But from the second this book's spine crackled open underneath my fingers, I knew I'd adore this story in a wholly different way. The Humming Room is a dark and gorgeous read about a little girl finding enough courage to bloom again. The garden metaphor is never heavy-handed. The island setting is spooky-delightful. The characters are wonderful, especially Roo! Ellen Potter is an AMAZING writer. This book captivated me.

The prose. The setting. The characters. This book is a delight. (It is better than finding a smashed pop-tart on your umbrella!) The main character, Roo, will absolutely break your heart and then put it back together. And the ending ... gah! Let me try to describe the ending without giving anything away:

The ending of The Humming Room is the same way you feel when winter has lasted forever ... and then you push open a window and smell spring for the first time. 

It's a book about being brave enough to bloom again, which may seem obvious because of the garden context. But this ain't your traditional garden. The garden's not even the scene stealer. I know I mentioned this already, but one of my favorite things is that Ellen (I'm totally going to use her first name like we're BFF's) didn't lean too heavily on the garden metaphor. She could have spent pages describing plants and flowers but she did not do that. As I said, this is not the kind of garden I was expecting. It's not the kind of setting I was expecting either. The Humming Room takes place on a rainy, fog-covered island called Cough Rock, in a very old hospital that's been moderately updated for people to live in.

It is a very creepy place.

It's a glorious book.

And I've pretty much become it's PR person this week as I hock it to my people. Ellen Potter's writing sparkles. If you're looking for a book to sink into this week, try that one. I'm off to buy The Kneebone Boy next. Minor tangent: I'm always a little bit surprised when writers, in particular, say they only shop at used book stores or use the library. I utilize both of those places a bunch as well, and I adore them, but I love to support books and authors and bookstores too. It just makes sense to me to invest in new books when I can; I think of it as my way of telling a publisher, "I LOVE HER WORK AND WANT HER TO WRITE A MILLION MORE BOOKS!!!". Also, I think books are the most affordable collectable art.

As always, if you get a chance to read The Humming Room, drop back by and let me know what you think!

I'm hoping to mention more books on here that I love, one at a time, instead of slamming you with like fifteen at once. I thought about calling this segment Biscuit's Book Club ... because that's kind of adorable and Biscuit approves of bookish shenanigans. (She's a book sniffer!) We'll see how it goes. Of course, we will have weeks when I don't post anything; I tend to binge-read. But there are some fabulous titles I've come across lately that I would love to discuss. I already know what I'm going to pick next time and it's a doozey; a little Southern charmer with one of the best heroines I've ever discovered in a novel. Ever. Prepare your heart for Mo Lebeau. She will rock it. (In fact, if anybody gets a chance to read Sheila Turnage's Three Times Lucky, mark your favorite quotes. That's the Mo book for next time!)

Eventually, we'll discuss grown-up books too, btw. Like I said, I'm a binge-reader (even when it comes to genre).

I'm off to search for caffeine. Inspiration usually follows that endeavor. This is a good thing, as a couple of very bulky deadlines are flirting with me from the not-too-distant future.

How was your weekend? 


  1. The Humming Room sounds really interesting! I adore The Secret Garden...I grew up knowing the story and watching the movie, but I only actually read the book for the first time last year, I think?

    I love it when you write about books! I just finished reading When You Reach Me last was amazing. Now I've started rereading one of my favorites: Tuck Everlasting.

    P.S. I'm obsessed with The Carpenter. It's the only music I've listened to since I got it on Thursday. I'm at the point now where I constantly have one of the lyrics or tunes running through my head. I feel like I should give it a rest and listen to something else, but I can't. Because I love it. :) My favorite songs are the first two (perfection), February Seven, and A Father's First Spring.


  2. I loved that story.Today was my first rainy day at college. It was cold and yucky. I have read the Kneebone Boy. Seriously, the narration is second only to the Book Thief. But then again that's my favorite, I'm partial. ;) But really the Kneebone Boy is fun. I really want to read the Humming Room. Sounds fantastic. But alas, I hardly have any time for reading. I am almost half way through East though, love it!

  3. I'm reading a good one right now. Daughter of Smoke and Fire by Natssha's for my YA fiction class. At first I wasn't sure, but my teacher talked me into it and it's absolutely beautiful and creepy and it takes place in Prague :)

  4. Actually it's by Laini Taylor. I made that mistake in class today, too :p

  5. My weekend was long and restful and I cuddled babies all day on Sunday. It was refreshing and sweet. This next weekend, I am going to the fair, to eat fried oreos, and watch a family run circus that has been performing for generations. So excited!

    The Humming Room is so good. I recommended it to half of my fifth graders at my Before and After school care site, and let one read my copy from the library. I am now reading The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter, and A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (Flavia De Luce is one of my new favorite book characters. She is sassy and smart and the funniest sleuth.) I love that he uses an eleven year old as his main character who solves crimes and is obsessed with science.
    Have you read any of his books?

  6. Don't be mad...I still haven't listened to The Carpenter yet. I am downloading it now!

    My weekend was good. I thought about Thai food a lot but didn't get any.

  7. Also, for the record, I thought the title said "Book Biscuit Club" and I have ALWAYS been interested in biscuit clubs.

  8. I always love the books you recommend! I just finished The Humming Room tonight. Loved it. Am excited to read more of Ellen Potter's books. Please keep recommending titles!