From Dingle Peninsula.
I’m so sad to say goodbye to the Weekly Photo Challenges. I’ve been doing them since March 2014, and it’s been such a wonderful way to share my trips to the Galápagos Islands and Ireland. I had never thought about sharing my photography, or even really calling it “photography” as opposed to just some photos I took on vacation.
Until I saw some of the bloggers I follow posting weekly photos based on a theme, and I realized that I could do that, too. And do it in a nerdy way.
The Weekly Photo Challenge has helped me learn a lot about photography, and I’ve enjoyed doing research so I could explain a little about the photos. It also has given me an easy, regular source of popular blog posts. I always get a huge bump in views on days I post those photos. So, it’s been good for my blog, and it’s been good for me, too.
From Santa Cruz.
I’m sure I’ll still post some photos, maybe even weekly, but it won’t quite be the same. I’ve found so many cool blogs through the challenges, and I love seeing all the different takes on the theme.
For our final outing, I’m saying goodbye with two of my favorite photos I’ve posted over the years, one from the Galápagos and one from Ireland. The first photo was from the April 2016 challenge Landscape. The second is from the December 2014 challenge Gone, But Not Forgotten.
Welcome back to our Star Wars coloring book club, where Kiri at Star Wars Anonymous and I color the same image every month to compare and contrast.
Ok, so somehow this ended up being one of my favorites in a while! I usually do the character pictures fairly realistically, and I was staring at Jar Jar thinking how boring it was going to be to color him all in various shades of brown when I decided that because Jar Jar is a ridiculous character, I was also going to color him in a ridiculous way.
I don’t hate Jar Jar, and I certainly don’t hate The Phantom Menace (it has its moments), but I would be hard pressed to say the Gungan is a well-written, well-developed, or even particularly interesting character.
So I decided I was going to color him pink. Varying shades of pink, to be precise. Then I went with aqua with blue accents for the border to contrast the pink.
Here is it in progress:
There is actually another picture in the book that looks almost exactly like this, just with Jar Jar facing front. Same border and everything. Weird.
Check out Kiri’s version here, which is is basically the mature and realistic version of mine haha. We were on the same wavelength this time for sure, and both of our turned out great.
Next month we’re going more abstract with this mandala:
Even the little details in Dublin feel distinctly Irish: the lampposts have little shamrocks embedded in the swirls. The shamrock has been a national symbol of Ireland for centuries; it comes from the legend of St. Patrick using the plant with three leaves to explain the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity (three persons, one God).
I particularly like this image of the lamppost because its curves contrast well with all the straight lines in the Georgian building behind it.
How would you choose America’s best-loved novel? PBS has teamed up with the American Library Association, First Book, and the American Booksellers Association on a project that aims to do just that: The Great American Read. They recently surveyed Americans to select the top 100 books on our shelves and in our hearts and will be spending the summer celebrating these books before narrowing the list to just one.
PBS kicked off the Great American Read on Tuesday night with a two-hour special featuring these top 100 books. You can watch the episode, hosted by Meredith Vieira, here; you can also catch it repeated on PBS over the next few days. It was a very entertaining look at many of my favorite books and the ways in which they’ve impacted Americans. I have personally read 32 of the 100 books; you can check out the full list here and take a quiz to see how many you’ve read here.
The episode featured many authors, actors, other celebrities, and even just regular Americans talking about their favorite book on the list and why you should vote for it as America’s best-loved novel. The books on the list span many time periods, countries, and genres; to be included they must be fiction and published in English, plus each author is limited to one book on the list (so series count as one). All of the books on the list got a shout-out in the episode, but a few got a slightly more in-depth look.
Some felt comfortably familiar: George R.R. Martin (whose Game of Thrones is on the list) talked about the Lord of the Rings trilogy and how it impacted him; when Gandalf died partway through the book, it was a lightning bolt moment where he felt like “anyone could die.” John Green (whose Looking for Alaska is on the list) discussed Catcher in the Rye, and now the world makes sense to me because even as a teenager I never “got” that book, and despite how much I love John Green’s writing, I don’t really get his books either. I’ve even mentioned that previously on my blog!
Some were more surprising but no less enthusiastic: Allison Williams discussing why Frankenstein was such a big deal, and Sarah Jessica Parker gushing about Things Fall Apart (she even dog-ears her pages!).
One of my favorites was a woman named Eliyannah from Chicago talking about Harry Potter. She related to Hermione and the themes of bigotry in the books so much that she’s gone on to help create a web series called Hermione Granger and the Quarter Life Crisis.
Of course, I could never pick just one of these books. Pride and Prejudice is the one I’ve read the most, but I can’t discount The Giver, or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, etc. etc. But luckily, I don’t have to! For the Great American Read you really can “Vote Early, Vote Often.” You can vote for as many books as you like once every day.
PBS with be continuing its series with themed episodes leading up to the finale in October, when all the votes will be tallied and the winner revealed.
The GAR is more than just a TV show, though. It is meant to be an interactive experience for readers. You can discuss the show and the books on social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can even participate in a virtual book club dedicated to some of these 100 books; the first “meeting” is today and will discuss Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
You can also check out your local library or bookstore for GAR events. Here is a list of the libraries that got grants from the ALA to do official events, but many others have displays, events, or book clubs.
Are you planning to participate in the Great American Read? What book(s) are you voting for?