The LM's | International Women's Day | Three women I want to be when I grow up

International Women's Day was yesterday, and while my norm on this blog is to rave over fiction heroes, I thought I'd bring three of my real-life heroes to the table. Literally - these women are the top three of the 10 famous people I'd invite to dinner. 
Meet Louisa May Alcott, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Madeleine L'Engle. They've lurked in the background of this blog for many a year, as I've written about Little Women, or Anne, or Madeleine's philosophy of art. They are the triumvirate (or triumfeminate - since this *is* a women's day post) of my girlhood literary experience, and my adult creative-female inspirations. They are the cornerstones of my literary pilgrimages project. They are everything I want to be when I grow up. Let me tell you why. 

Lousia May Alcott 

Fun Fact about me: The first report I remember writing for Abeka Language arts (all my homies put your hands up!) was on Louisa May Alcott

I had the supreme joy to visit Orchard House this past summer on my first literary pilgrimage, and I pretty much wept through out the entire tour - when I wasn't grinning ear from ear that is. It was serendipitous that her stomping grounds were the first destination for my series of pilgrimages because her independent spirit has influenced the philosophy of how my trips will roll out going forward. At one point in the tour, we were stopped in the dining room, and the guide was pointing out paintings by May (the Amy sister of the Alcotts) that were done on a tour that May, Louisa and another bachelor-girl friend had made of Europe - completely unchaperoned, and free to their whims of what they wanted to see and where they wanted to go. I got giddy as I stood there where Louisa had walked, a girl of 26, alone, with nothing but a creative vision, and a backpack, finding a mirror of myself in her. I told the guide my thoughts after the tour, and she remarked "we have our own Louisa here!" - which of course, made my day. 

Aside from this of course, there are many other things I admire in Lousia May - her work ethic and how she strove to provide for her family after her father's many misadventures (I love all the Alcott women, but Bronson was not a good provider), - her writing endeavors as a women in the 19th century - her work towards racial equality, women's sufferage, and helping the poor of Concord and Boston.  She - and her literary creation, my dear Jo - are the low-key feminists I want to be. 

Lucy Maud Montgomery 

Anne has been my fictional hero and constant friend since the age of ten - even longer than I've known Jo March - but I'm going chronologically by era of author here.
I don't know the person of Maud as well as I do Lousia May at this point (though with a possible PEI trip this summer, I expect that to change) but this I do know - Anne's love of the beauties of the Island is Maud's love.  Emily's perseverance in climbing the "Alpine Path" of being a writer is Maud's perseverance. Her life wasn't the happiest, but she fulfilled a dream as spoken through Anne, of adding some beauty to the world... that never would have existed had she never been born (paraphrase from Anne's House of Dreams) With some 20 books published, she reached the world with beauty and joy.

Madeleine L'Engle

This librarian, anglican, and author I feel I've known the most intimately of the three here, as her published journals and non-fiction work are what I've read most frequently of her whole bibliography, but had I only read her fiction,  I feel I would still know the person of Madeleine L'Engle well. Her fiction is honest. I've never found her to say something in fiction that she wouldn't whole heartedly believe in her journals. She understands Truth.
In reading her Crosswicks accounts in college, I found a strong-minded, creative woman who *knew* who she was, and *knew* her duty to her craft. She never gave up, she was faithful to write even when dry, when rejection slip after rejection slip turned up (for Wrinkle). She was faithful to a gift that she felt was hers by God's hand, and *still* managed to be faithful to what was also her God-given desire and drive for family. She never gave up one for the other (as you can often find with creatives) but learned balance. I want to be that.  She published 20+ books. They are all amazing.

Here's to these three literary matriarchs. May I grow up to be like them someday.

the quotes that have made me | A Top Ten Tuesday Post

Today in Top Ten Tuesday Land we take a look at ten (yes! actually 10 today!) quotes that have stuck with me over the years and have each made me a little bit more the (lovely, charming, insert-adjective here) person who I am.

On the Importance of Reading Fairy Tales
"Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." - G.K. Chesterton (paraphrased by Neil Gaiman for Coraline epigraph, which is where I first encountered it)

On Living Beautifully
"I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily. "I don't exactly want to make people KNOW more... though I know that IS the noblest ambition... but I'd love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me... to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn't been born." - L. M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams 

On Dignity and Character
"Whatever comes," she said, "cannot alter one thing.  If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside.  It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it." - Frances Hodgeson Burnett, A Little Princess 

On Being a Librarian
"She sounds like someone who spends a lot of time in libraries, which are the best sorts of people." -Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

On Home Life
"The humblest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them." - Lousia May Alcott, Little Women 

On Reading (and Writing)
"We don't want to feel less when we have finished a book; we want to feel that new possibilities of being have been opened to us. We don't want to close a book with a sense that life is totally unfair and that there is no light in the darkness; we want to feel that we have been given illumination." - Madeleine L'Engle, Walking On Water 

On Feeling
"Crying is part of the adventure." - Gail Carson Levine, The Two Princesses of Bamarre

On Joy
"I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed." - Mary Oliver

On Reading (and Memory)
"Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times?" Mo had said..."As if something were left between the pages every time you read it.  Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells...and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower...both strange and familiar." - Cornelia Funke, Inkspell

Annddd.... for kicks and giggles.

On Disturbing  Not the Beast Before She Has Had Coffee
“I'd rather take coffee than compliments just now.” ― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

So You Liked... | Anne of Green Gables

So you liked Anne of Green Gables – Now what do you read?
What did you like about it?

I love the time period! Turn of the Century is where it’s at!
Then check out:
All-of-a-Kind Family – Sydney Taylor (Jewish sisters in NYC, with plenty of hijinks and shenanigans)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith (Francie is every bit as imaginative and dreamy as Anne.)
The Betsy-Tacy Series – Maud Hart Lovelace (little girl bffs grow up together over the course of 10 books)

I kind of wanted to dig more into the orphan/adoption side of things
Try these:
Mandy – Julie Andrews Edwards (yes, THAT Julie Andrews.)
Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter, and Me - Lorilee Craker (memoir, author’s personal experience with adopting and *being* adopted)
The Language of Flowers – Vanessa Diffenbaugh (in case you missed book club in April 2017)

This is really weird, but I just want to read books by other authors born in the last week of November with the letters L and M in their names (Maud’s birthday was November 30th)
That’s weirdly specific, but you’re in luck:
Little Women et al. - Louisa May Alcott (November 29th )
The Time Quintet or the Austin Family books - Madeline L’Engle (also November 29th)
(NB: I swear this is a real, magical thing. These authors were bound by the stars for literary greatness.) 

I’m not ready to be done with Anne, I just want MORE!
Guess what! There’s SEVEN more books about Anne and Gilbert! If you just want to know if they end up together, then hit the high points with these two:
Anne of Avonlea & Anne of the Island
If you’re in a working/I’m-going-to-a-wedding-every-six-months stage of life and have gossip-y coworkers to overcome read:
Anne of Windy Poplars
If you’re a newlywed read:
Anne’s House of Dreams
Have a passel of kids you can barely keep up with?
Anne of Ingleside
Still have a passel of kids but you’ve kind of given up keeping up with them and you just wonder what they’re up to?
Rainbow Valley
Love reading about the Great War (WW1)/want to bawl your eyes out?
Rilla of Ingleside

At the Bottom of my TBR | a top ten tuesday post

Today for Top Ten Tuesday (which is was totally missed and is being posted on a wednesday) with That Artsy Reader Girl, we're looking at those books that have been languishing at the bottom of my TBR for WAY too long, and what the heck, why haven't I read them yet? It's not for the wanting to read that I haven't read them.
Cloud Atlas  This Matryoshka  Doll of a book (story in a story sixfold) has been on my list since senior year of college when my film major roommate and I watched the movie and were very confused. We both wanted to be confused more/enlightened so we made a pact to one day read the book. To the best of my knowledge she hasn't yet, I sure haven't. Maybe this is the year? 

Neverwhere - I've been meaning to read more of Gaiman's adult books for forever. Like since Junior year of college? All time is marked by years of college and years since college. This is a 20-something's life. 

March - It's a Pulitzer winner... I've done several challenges that have that as a requirement, and each time I think, Oh, this is the year I read March! and then I don't. I'm a sucker for all things Lousia May Alcott, in case you didn't know. I should probably read this. Soon. 

Paris  You know when you buy a book just because it's on sale? yeahhh.... This was one of those. The concept was also interesting to me, so I thought maybe I'll read that soon. I didn't. It languishes on my bookshelf. Someone tell me something awesome about this book that will give me a kick in the pants to go forth and read! 

Winter's Tale - Oh look, another one that's been on my list since college days! One of my roommate's professors recommended this in college... and so she bought it and let me borrow it, then bought a second copy and let me keep the first. We were supposed to buddy read it together, and I think I got like, 5% of the way in... but its SLOW GOING. The text is dense, (but pretty af!) the concept interesting, and the magic enthralling. I WILL finish it someday. 

Little Dorrit - This one has by far been the longest on my TBR. Storytime. So in 8th grade, my dad started making reading lists for me to challenge my reading (so I wouldn't read as much Janette Oke. hahaha!) He curated his lists from both his personal reading and this homeschool resource that I cannot  for the life of me remember the title of that I will pull off my shelf and insert here when I get home today. That list included  - Out of the Silent Planet (read) Hinds Feet on High Places (read) David Copperfield (read) A Wrinkle in Time (Read, and THANK you dad for putting L'Engle on my radar) and Little Dorrit. (a big shameful unread) I'll admit I avoided this one for the longest time. I remember standing at the catalog computer in Leon County Public Library, Tallahassee, Florida, searching for it at my dad's request, then feeling relieved when it wasn't in the catalog and then going to find a new Redwall I hadn't read yet. 
Here's the thing with Dickens. Sometimes its only ever possible to read him after you've seen a really good BBC miniseries adaptation (that's how I read David Copperfield). It's a thousand times easier to keep track of the hundreds of characters if you can picture, say Claire Foy and Matthew Mcfadyen as Amy and Arthur. (also <3 <3 <3 Claire Foy) Since watching the EXCELLENT BBC miniseries, I've started this one, but like Winter's Tale am only 5% in. I will, I will finish my 8th grade reading list one of these days, I swear! 

Now let's hear from you! What have you had languishing on your TBR list for ages? have you had anything on there as long as my Little Dorrit? Have you read any of these and want to tell me which one I should get started on reading first?  let me know in the comments! 

What's Saving My Life Right Now | 2018 Edition

Joining up with Anne Bogel in a yearly celebration of those good things that are getting you through the winter, I'm back with some things that are keeping me going through the bleak midwinter of Jan/Feb 2018. It's currently 27 degrees again, after a fairly nice week. It snowed again in Nashville last night. It might *still* snow here again by next weekend (whaaat?) But, I've got these things to keep me warm, and my brain occupied. Though, recently I learned about Reverse SAD and now I'm convinced that's why I have job anxiety and restlessness and try to move to Maine every July. In the winter I'm as content as a clam (that's not a thing, I know) - though I do get cold - and I have to pretend that I'm as miserable as the rest of the general population, when really every grey overcast day has me reveling in the close comfort of sunless skies. But that's neither here nor there. On to the list of things that has made January great.
  • Bookout  - App
    • Every January, I try to get a jump on my reading goals for the year, and since I'm attempting 90 books this year, I really needed to power through some books this January. Enter Bookout. This tidy little app provides the motivation I need to power on by ever so slightly gamifying the reading process. You track how many pages you read over time with a timer, and you can set goals for the month (in time) and the year (in books). It keeps track of streaks, and gives you a chart, and infographics based on each book finished, and even awards achievement badges. The lite version is free, but the pro is well worth the five dollar upgrade. 
    • I can't find a link to them now, but I got this pair of Danskin Joggers/Sweats that are super cozy and have deep pockets and cool stitching
  • My children's librarian Cohorts
    • I had an AWESOME inservice training this past week with a master of storytime - Jinx Watson (check out this article and this video, if you're into kids and books) and part of the awesome was due to the time I got to hang out and talk shop with my fellow kids librarians in my region. Sometimes we swap storytime/summer reading ideas, but most of the time we trade book recs, follow each other on goodreads, and kvetch about the small woes of librarianship (they exist... believe me). It's edifying and heartening, and I love those time. AND I get to see them all again in just a few weeks for Summer Reading Conference! 
  • Pilgrimage Planning 
    • I started my vacation/literary pilgrimage planning this past week. I'll probably be working on that till late spring when Its time to lock in flights. Last year's trip to Boston (which I still haven't written about! my bad!) was AMAZING, and I'm looking forward to the rich literary/nerdy travels I've got in store for me this year. It's always good to have sometime you're looking forward to. 
What about you? what's keeping you going in these cold, cold months? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to check out Modern Mrs. Darcy for Anne's list and many others!