If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need (Cicero)……

I first read the book To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee almost 32 years ago and have re-read it several times since.  Recently I thought about the time I learnt to read as a very, very young girl and this gift is one of the things I am most grateful for in my life.  I now cannot imagine a time when I will not read and of course I still love the warm feeling of a book in my hand rather than the coldness of a device.  Please give me a book anytime!

I wrote a blog post last year about the book group I joined here in the US so naturally it soon came time for me to host………and I knew the perfect book!  I chose To Kill A Mockingbird.

I really do love this beautifully written novel and as we all spoke during the evening about the book, I was surprised to learn that some people had never read it.  Happily now though, they also love it so I guess it really is one of those alluring classics.

The novel, first published in 1960 and set in the early 1930’s, is a book that I think almost everyone has or will read at some stage in their lifetime.  It is the sort of book which leaves a profound and lasting impact on its reader.  I also chose the book (not only because is it a favorite of mine – right up there alongside The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay) but because is was also set in the South (which is where I live) and it tackled the important issues of its time.  Issues which in fact are still just as relevant today.

Host duties for book club are quite painless and undemanding.  You simply open the front door to your home and you welcome people in.

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I made a wreath for the front door but please don’t be alarmed book purists.  I recycled a book which was about to be ‘binned’ because it had no front cover and there were some pages missing…..

It turned out to be a great night of good food, good company, robust discussion and lively fun…..which could well have been fueled by the ‘Tequila Mockingbird Cocktails’ I served.

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I really do enjoy being a member of this book group.  Each month we read a different book, head to a different hosts’ home, enjoy different food and discuss a book. For my ‘hosting night’ I also compiled a quiz (which was very well received) of twenty questions.  The questions ranged from Where did the title of the book come from (which line by Atticus) to Who was Rose Aylmer? and I also made book marks for each person in the group with memorable lines from the book printed on them.

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Book marks and ‘mockingbird eggs’…..

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Talking about books with like minded people will always lift ones spirits and when I do eventually return to Australia I will certainly be seeking out a book group to join.

And onto my garden.  It is the season of spring currently here in Georgia and it really is a wonderful season.  Everything is coming into bloom and my resident Mockingbird is nesting.  My little world of my garden, its inhabitants and my books are bliss xx

Oh, and for those tortured by the question Who was Rose Aylmer?……..she was Uncle Jack’s Cat.

Book Group…..

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Sometimes its the little things that do the most good.  Like the simple pleasure of a book.  Books engage and confront. They afford solace and inspired moments.  They allow you the spirit to explore that which is not attainable and provide an expansion of knowledge.  At times too it seems, they can offer you the greatest of comfort.

William Morris, the creative English novelist, poet and social activist once wrote – have nothing in your home you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful!  The beauty and usefulness in my home I know comes from books.

I love books and something quite wonderful happened to me when I moved to America.  I was invited into and joined a book group.  This is the first book group I have ever been involved with and my Navman was of particular use on the first evening I went.  I drove to a small tree lined sub division some 20 minutes from my home.  I had only been living in America for about 7 weeks at that stage and driving was a whole new experience….especially at night in icy conditions.  I walked up the path to the front steps of a house I had never been to before.  It was bitterly cold out but inside the home was a group of warm, welcoming women I then knew very little about. Some were lovers of books and the written word and some just there for some much deserved social stimulation – tip number one: you don’t need to be a book worm to join.

One of the things I enjoy most about this group is that it has allowed me to entwine my life with a group of people I might never have gotten to know.  Once a month on a Tuesday evening the doors of a house are opened to welcome and you don’t, as I have discovered, need the requirement of good taste in literature to pass over the threshold.  Tip number two: lower your expectations when joining a book group as literary tastes certainly vary.  Again a joy of this group is that I have read some books I would not normally have touched with a ten foot pole.

We all bring a dish to share and eat supper together then with glasses of wine or cups of coffee in hand we make ourselves comfortable and ready for discussion.  Some books have polarized opinions and the conversations and discussions have been heated yet stimulating.  And of course everyone has a differing opinion on what makes that particular months chosen book great or a dud.  Often we veer off the intended subject but we always manage to come back again.  The hours pass quickly and soon it is late in the evening.  We eventually leave but those few hours linked by the unity of a book has  reminded us of the small things that are often amiss such as the essence of sharing and companionship……..both of which I am very thankful for.

The days here in Georgia are becoming shorter and cooler and winter will soon be upon us once again (which I find is the perfect reading weather).  I am still working my way through the formidable ‘must-do-reading-list’ I set for myself.  Down another four classics with only thirty to go now.  Currently though, it is ‘fall’.  A beautiful season of color and change and Halloween and thanksgiving.  I cannot help but wonder what other people give thanks for however I know for me, that I am most thankful to have the gift of reading.  Reading and my love of books has offered me the privilege of freedom.  Something I will be forever grateful for xx

Author, Author….

One of my most pleasurable things to do is to curl up with a good book.  I love books.  That tactile act of holding the book in my hands to the simple pleasure of just turning the page.  When we moved to America I was unable to bring my book ‘collection’ with me.  Those books are currently in storage and I do miss seeing them sitting on their shelves in our little old cottage back in South Australia.  Since moving to Georgia I have managed to pick up a couple of books therein starting a new collection here.  Most of my best book finds have been from ‘Friends of Library Book Sales’, the odd second hand shop and the occasional yard (garage) sale thrown in just for good measure.

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And as much as I love a wondrous book, I also love a library.  As soon as we decided on the area we were going to move to in Georgia I googled then joined my local library.  Joining my local library has allowed me to indulge my rather ambitious goal of beginning my ‘must-do-reading-list’.  This is a list of books I have complied that I want to read – generally American classics – while residing in America.  So far I have worked my way through:  ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’, ‘The Colour Purple’, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and ‘Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café’.  And I only have thirty four classics to go, so it is fortunate that I will be here in the US for another two years and seven months.  Together with my ‘must-do’ list, I usually manage to read four to six books a week.  When the night is dark and most of the worlds inhabitants are in quiet slumber I read.   Its the perfect solution for my habitual sleeplessness (or it could well be the cause of it).

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My local library – the Houston County Library

Recently I also acquired a couple of cook books.  I always gauge the goodness of a cook book by this – I read a recipe then want to rush to the kitchen and cook it!   One book is particularly beautiful.  It is a book dedicated completely to southern recipes (which was the reason I purchased it).

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A recipe for ‘grilled frog legs’  however I particularly love the dress the cook is wearing.

I picked the following little gem of a book up at a ‘Friends of the Library Old Book Sale’.  It was printed in 1965 and is chock full of some of the best recipes I have ever seen and read.  There are chapters on almost everything.  The near bordering lost art of preserving and pickling, how to light a coal stove, breads, cakes, candies…the list just goes on and on and on.  I really do love this little book and I have cooked several recipes from it although I am yet to tackle the ‘sweet and sour calf’s brains’, ‘broiled sweetbreads’, ‘mock turtle soup’ or ‘how to pasteurize’ my own milk.

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This dear little book has had a big life and the previous owner used a torn in half cheque (check) as a book mark.  Just priceless!

I will always find that quiet moment to read a book no matter what chaos surrounds me.  Its one of life’s real pleasures for me and I hope you find the same contentment in something that you do  x

P.S.   Easter greeting everyone xx