Thursday, 30 May 2013

Book Club

Books are my passion.
To read the day away is my form of escapism.
To be part of a book club is my dream.

There has been a proliferation of book clubs (of course in the US and other modern countries, but sadly not in my homeland) in recent years and I for one, yearned to be part of them. But it remains and shall remain a pipe dream. Nevertheless, being able to run a book club for kids could, at least soothe my soul. 

Of course, adult book clubs are usually attended by those who love reading. This doesn't necessarily have to be the case with children. They are still at an age where they can be enthused by reading, provided the book club is fun and well organised.

A good friend of mine noticed that her eleven year-old daughter could read well and loved listening to stories but was less keen on reading to herself. So, with support from some enthusiastic parents, we set up an evening book club for ten capable but reluctant readers. We have our book club at 8.00p.m. on alternate Sundays every month. Undeniably, our book club is the brainchild of Ms Lam, the principal of a reputable kindergarten in my little town. 

Before the first session, we gave each child a short message to explain about the book club. We chose a book, and The Summer of the Swans was our first book club book. We assigned them a few chapters, which were to be read before the meeting. We asked them to think about their favourite characters and some prominent incidences that took place in the story. These were the starting point for discussion in the first session. 

To date, I have led six book club meetings, which lasted for one and a half hour each session. The details of activities in each meeting would be shared in the upcoming post. You have my word for that.

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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Lotus Feet

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Thanks to the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale in Penang recently. I bought this book for a mere RM8.00. Yes! You heard me right! This paperback is priced at $24.98 on Amazon. So, the Wolf did destroy the high book prices in the North!

Lisa See's novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan takes us into remote 19th-century China, where girls had their feet bound; meaning crushed to the size of lily flowers, in a ritual of beauty that started at the tender age of six and took two full years to complete. From foot-binding onward, girls and women lived secluded in a second-story chamber of their household.

At 80, the narrator, Lily, is the senior woman of a wealthy household, powerful enough that she can speak her mind about her life's treasures and errors. Born in 1823 in the Hunan province, Lily started off as "a second worthless girl" in a poor farming family. Because her feet were high in the arch and potentially breathtaking, she had the potential to marry well and elevate the status of her family. She could also enter a second formal match, to another woman, a lifetime best friend called a sworn sister or 'laotong'.

"A 'laotong' match is as significant as a good marriage," Lily's aunt explained. "A 'laotong' relationship is made by choice for the purpose of emotional companionship and eternal fidelity. A marriage is not made by choice and has only one purpose, to have sons." "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" is the story of such a friendship.

Snow Flower becomes Lily's sworn sister, or "old same," meaning perfect match. Snow Flower is from a high family in a prestigious neighboring town, her grandfather an imperial scholar. She can teach Lily the social rituals of important families. Lily can teach her the humble arts of cooking and cleaning.

Rural, 19th-century China was a culture in which education and scholarship was limited to the male elite. Secluded from age seven until death, "married out" into a husband's family, where they remained abject in stature and subservient to their husband's mother unless they had sons, women were isolated from anyone who cared about them personally. What they said and how they communicated was rigidly formalized, learning the calligraphy of men was prohibited, so they developed a secret writing called 'nu shu' (女书). Only in 'nu shu' (女书) and only to each other could they write or speak from the heart.

The first communication between Snow Flower and Lily was inscribed on a fan in the code of 'nu shu'      (女书). The secret fan became the journal of their lives.

That fan guides Lily as she records her memoirs. Because she is old and times have changed, she filters her memories through the late-life awareness of what mattered and what didn't. Woven through all this is the friendship between Lily and Snow Flower, which is compromised when Lily misinterprets a letter from her friend, cutting herself off from the one person she loves most. Years later, when Lily begins to understand her own failings and the depth of Snow Flower's affection for her, it is too late. She must find other ways to seek forgiveness and make amends.

I enjoyed every minute of reading this story and I highly recommend it. I think it would make an excellent selection for book clubs, given the vast number of elements to spark topics of conversation: Chinese culture--past and present; Mother-daughter relationships; Foot-binding; Arranged marriage; Female relationships;  etc.

Overall, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a sad beautiful book.
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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Daybook 2

Good morning people!
This is my second daybook entry.

For today :: May 28, 2013  

Outside my window. . .  apartments and apartments painted in white and blue (the official colour of the men in blue)...with wooded hills background.

I am thinking . . .  about all my blessings.

From the kitchen. . .  NesLo and 'nasi lemak'...I know...I know it's harmful, but I'm for "everything in moderation".

I am wearing. . . T-shirt and 3-quarter pants. . . as usual I would go for comfy and easy to wear stuff.

I am creating . . .  a clutter free home...still.

I am remembering. . .  my family and friends. . . all the time.

I am reading. . .  'Confessions by A Shopaholic', by Sophie Kinsella (only once my housework is done - otherwise I would read the day away!)

I am hoping . . .  to start the write-up today.

I am hearing. . .  gunshots and more gunshots ... I'm not living in the war zone but just a stone's throw away from a training base.

Around the house. . .  still pretty quiet ... my teen and tween are still in a deep's common during school holidays.

I am going. . .  to sweep and dust the floors, whip up fish curry for lunch and...I'm counting it as some of my 'exercises' for the day.

One of my favourite things. . .  sprucing and updating virtual home 'Sophyta's Casita. 

A favourite quote for today. . . We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves!

From my picture journal . . .

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Monday, 27 May 2013

My Daybook

Good day all! 

It has been weeks since I last updated my blog, and today I am starting something I have seen on other blogs. I enjoyed reading them, so I'm going to have one.

It's called 'My Daybook' and I will post My Daybook entry as frequent as I could. I love the idea. After all that's what blogging is really all about, right? A web-log of the events in our lives. . . our days. 

Daybook 1

for today  ::  May 27, 2013

outside my window. . .are the wooded green hills and lots of sunshine!

I am thinking. . . of starting my proposal write-up

from the kitchen. . . lunch. . . I've just whipped up my son's favourite ABC Chicken Soup

I am wearing. . . my tights and baggy T-shirt. . . they're my all-time favourite

I am creating. . . clutter- free home

I am remembering. . . my Mom, Dad, siblings's holidays now and for sure they want me to be home

I am going. . . to my daughter's hairdresser...she's in need of a haircut and hair straightening

I am reading. . . Confessions of a Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella

I am hoping. . . that I will not catch the 'lazy bug' this afternoon, like I did yesterday

I am hearing. . . the annoying buzzing sound of my old PC

around the house. . . my son is having lunch, my girl is reading, and my washing machine is spinning hard

one of my favorite things. . . getting to read my favourite book at home.

a few plans for the rest of the week. . . making muffins, baking bread, and taking old newspapers to TzuChi.

from my picture journal. . .

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