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Whatever comes, I will read my way through it; Laytonwoman3rd's Thread 1 for 2018

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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Edited: Apr 2, 5:58pm Top

Hi! I'm Linda, a retired paralegal living in Northeastern Pennsylvania with my husband flamingrabbit (a retired broadcast engineer), and our sweet kitty, Molly O'Del, who we rescued from The Barn. Our daughter, lycomayflower, hangs around this group as well. In my first year of retirement (2016), I read 112 books, which is, as it should be, more than I read in any of the previous 10 years in which I was keeping track here on LT. In 2017 I logged 100, and I'm fairly satisfied with that, as I got in a couple chunksters. My goal is always to read more of the books I already own, and to acquire fewer books than I remove from the house. As you will see from subsequent posts where I keep track of that kind of thing, I'm rubbish at it. I just like browsing and buying books. Besides, in June of 2016 I became a board member of the Scranton Public Library, so now I'm duty bound to attend ALL their book sales and bring stuff home, eh? They also have a nifty little independent bookstore/library branch which gets the best donations of used books, like art books, Folio editions, and such.

I've been keeping track of my reading here on LT since 2007.
Here is a link to my last thread for 2017.

And this takes you to my last thread for 2016. If you want to explore my reading backwards from there, take a look at my profile page, where I have linked to all my earlier threads.

For toppers this year, I decided to feature photos of places that are important to me. As my profile says, I love running water. What you see above are two views of the Delaware looking upriver from my hometown of Equinunk, PA (or near it), and a shot of a splashing hole in the South Branch of Equinunk Creek. I lived within walking distance of that spot in the creek until I was about 12 years old. We went "swimming" there, although it wasn't big enough for actual swimming. Wore out many a bathing suit using the big "slide" on the left to scoot into the pool. We also had picnics on those table rocks. The river has been part of my life forever. Our family homestead is just across a 40 acre meadow from one of the prettiest stretches of it and when I was a kid my grandmother lived there. Now it's my brother's home. Fishing, swimming and canoeing on the Delaware---it doesn't get much better than that.

I will keep track of my reading numbers in subsequent threads. As my anti-virus has taken a hard dislike to the tickerfactory.com site, I won't be using the pretty little tickers anymore. I miss them.

Edited: Apr 5, 4:11pm Top

In this post I'll keep monthly lists of my completed reads. I use some shorthand to help me keep track of my reading trends: ROOT identifies a book that I have owned for at least a year at the time I read it. CULL means I put the book in my donation box for the library book sale after finishing it. DNF means I didn't finish the book, for one reason or another, usually explained in the related post. ER means I received the book from LT's Early Reviewer program. GN refers to a graphic novel (don't expect to see a lot of that one!) An *asterisk indicates a library book; LOA means I read a Library of America edition; SF means the book was a Slightly Foxed edition, (NOT science fiction, which I so rarely read); FOLIO, of course, indicates a Folio Society edition. AUDIO and e-Book are self-explanatory, and probably won't appear very often. AAC, BAC and IAC refer to the American, British and Irish Author Challenges. (See more on those below) NF indicates a non-fiction read.
Clicking on titles in this post will take you to the message in which I reviewed or commented on that book.


1. Period Piece by Gwen Raverat FOLIO
2. A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
3. First Time Ever by Peggy Seeger ER
4. Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart
*5. South Toward Home by Margaret Eby
6. She Walks These Hills by Sharyn McCrumb ROOT
7. Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault, Ill. by Fred Marcellino


8. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline ROOT, CULL
*9. Kinsey and Me by Sue Grafton
*10. B is For Burglar by Sue Grafton
*11. Blood Flies Upward by E. X. (Elizabeth) Ferrars
12. The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge BAC, CULL
13. 14. and 15. I, Crocodile by Fred Marcellino, The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward and The Story of Little Babaji by Helen Bannerman and Fred Marcellino.
16. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey ROOT
17. No Time to Spare by Ursula LeGuin
18. and 19. My Friend Mac by May McNeer, Illustrated by Lynd Ward and The Silver Pony by Lynd Ward
20. Hedgie's Surprise by Jan Brett
21. A Bit on the Side by William Trevor IAC
22. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead AAC


23. Old School by Tobias Wolff. AAC, ROOT
24. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by Simon Armitage
25. The Romanovs and Mr. Gibbs by Frances Welch ROOT, CULL
26. Last Will and Testament by Elizabeth Ferrars CULL
27. The Dragon Man by Gary Disher
*28. Camino Island by John Grisham
29. Hank and Jim by Scott Eyman
*30. Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley
31. A Dark Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine ROOT, BAC

Edited: Apr 2, 6:34pm Top


This year, I'm going to follow 3 challenges, without committing to participation in any but the American Authors Challenge. I enjoy meeting new authors, and often have picked up a book I'd been meaning to read for ages because the author was one of the Challenge selections at a given time. But I don't like to plan my reading too strictly. It just doesn't work well for me.

AMERICAN AUTHOR CHALLENGE hosted by msf59. This is my heart's darlin', and these are this year's selections:

January- Joan Didion read 3 essays "Goodbye to all That", "In Bed" and "Black Panther"

February- Colson Whitehead Finished The Underground Railroad
March- Tobias Wolff Finished Old School
April- Alice Walker
May-Peter Hamill
June- Walter Mosley
July- Amy Tan
August- Louis L'Amour
September- Pat Conroy
October- Stephen King
November- Narrative Nonfiction
December- F. Scott Fitzgerald

IRISH AUTHOR CHALLENGE hosted by PaulCranswick

January : EDNA O'BRIEN Gave O'Brien's The Country Girls a try; not taken with it
February : WILLIAM TREVOR Finished A Bit on the Side
March : DEIRDRE MADDEN will skip her, as I read One By One in the Darkness last year, and have nothing else on the shelf.
April : Samuel Beckett Gotta say he tempts me about as much as James Joyce does, or maybe less...I think I will skip him.
September : RODDY DOYLE

BRITISH AUTHOR CHALLENGE Also hosted by Paul. This challenge will be themed this year, with 10 authors suggested in each month, and that will either make it easier or harder to fill!

JANUARY - DEBUT NOVELS - Having already read 3 of these, and having
none of the others on my shelves, I passed.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes
The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester
The Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills
Ghostwritten by David Mitchell
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

FEBRUARY - THE 1970s - Not books about the '70's, but books
published in the '70's. I've read 3 of them already, and don't have any of the others at home. Finished The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge, which I believe fits the category.

1970 I'm the King of the Castle by Susan Hill
1971 Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor
1972 To Serve Them All My Days by RF Delderfield
1973 The Siege of Krishnapur by JG Farrell
1974 The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge
1975 High Rise by JG Ballard
1976 Falstaff by Robert Nye
1977 The Road to Lichfield by Penelope Lively
1978 The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
1979 Pig Earth by John Berger

MARCH - CLASSIC THRILLERS - http://www.librarything.com/topic/276329#6266669
Not much for spy thrillers, which seems to be the preponderance in this category, but psychological thrillers...now that's something else again. Finished Barbara Vine's A Dark Adapted Eye.

APRIL - FOLKLORE, FABLES AND LEGENDS - https://www.librarything.com/topic/276329#6264065
Finished Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Simon Armitage

MAY - QUEENS OF CRIME - https://www.librarything.com/topic/275745#6260378
JUNE - TRAVEL WRITING - http://www.librarything.com/topic/276329#6266685
JULY - THE ANGRY YOUNG MEN - http://www.librarything.com/topic/276329#6266706
AUGUST - BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION - http://www.librarything.com/topic/276329#6265570
SEPTEMBER - HISTORICAL FICTION - http://www.librarything.com/topic/276329#6266539
OCTOBER - COMEDIC NOVELS - https://www.librarything.com/topic/276329#6266707
NOVEMBER - WORLD WAR ONE - https://www.librarything.com/topic/275745#6258461
DECEMBER - BRITISH SERIES - https://www.librarything.com/topic/276796#6268684

WILDCARD - THE ROMANTICS - https://www.librarything.com/topic/276796#6271176

Not so much a challenge as an intention, but I hope to read some from this list of books by women of color in 2018 as well.

Edited: Apr 2, 6:16pm Top

I'm calling this post .

This is where I will keep a running tally of the books that come into the house in 2018.

January Yikes. Lookit, already.

1. Reconstruction: Voices from America's First Great Struggle for Racial Equality (Library of America)
2. Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart
3. The Fleet Street Murders by Charles Finch
4. The Great Leader by Jim Harrison
5. Absalom's Daughters by Suzanne Feldman
6. Fools Crow by James Welch
7. Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam
8. Darktown by Thomas Mullen
9. Under the Bamboozle Bush by Walt Kelly
10. Breath by Tim Winton
11. Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault, illustrated by Fred Marcellino


1. Hank and Jim by Scott Eyman
2. The Story of Little Babaji by Helen Bannerman, illustrated by Fred Marcellino
3. The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward
4. Last Will and Testament by Elizabeth Ferrars
5. Frog in the Throat by E. X. Ferrars
6. Something Wicked by E. X. Ferrars


1. The General's Wife by Ishbel Ross

Edited: Apr 2, 6:30pm Top

The ongoing struggle to purge books I'll never read, or never read again...


1. The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O'Brien
2. Night by Edna O'Brien
3. We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg

4. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
5. The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge
6. The Lion in the Living Room by Abigail Tucker

7. Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig
8. A is for Alibi Grafton duplicate
9. B is for Burglar Grafton duplicate
10. Last Will and Testament by Elizabeth Ferrar
11. The Romanovs and Mr. Gibbes by Frances Welch
12. The Anatomy of Violence by Adrian Raine
13. Eternal Darkness by Robert Ballard
14. "C" by Sir Stewart Menzies
15. The Mind of Adolf Hitler by Walter Langer
16. and 17. Two more JCK books whose titles I failed to note down
17. The Diary of a Catholic Bishop by Edward Carden
18. This is My God by Herman Wouk (duplicate copy)
19. Incidents in the Life of John H. Race
20. The Oxford Pocket Dictionary
21. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

Edited: Jan 15, 6:05pm Top

I'm bringing this list along from my last thread. I find it interesting to visit it from time to time, in case I need to add to it.

This is my list of favorite books published in each of the years since I was born. Some years were tough, others yielded two or three titles I just couldn't leave off, and of course, William Faulkner published most of his best stuff before I was born. But anyway...

1951 My Cousin Rachel
1952 Charlotte's Web
1953 Go Tell it on the Mountain
1954 The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers
The Dollmaker
1955 The Return of the King
1956 Giovanni's Room
1957 Anatomy of Criticism
1958 The Civil War: A Narrative Vol. 1
1959 The Mansion (not ALL of Faulkner's books were published before I was born!)
1960 To Kill a Mockingbird
1961 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
1962 The Reivers (His last)
1963 The Yoknapatawpha Country by Cleanth Brooks
1964 Sometimes a Great Notion
1965 Up the Down Staircase (read when I still wanted to be a schoolteacher)
1966 The Magus
1967 The Chosen
1968 A Kestrel for a Knave
1969 The Godfather
1970 84, Charing Cross Road
1971 The Other
1972 Watership Down
1973 The Godwulf Manuscript Not the best of Robert B. Parker's novels, but this is where
it all began
1974 Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
1975 Ragtime
1976 Roots and
A River Runs Through It
1977 The Thornbirds
1978 On Moral Fiction by John Gardner
1979 Sophie's Choice
1980 The Clan of the Cave Bear and
1981 Early Autumn which may BE the best of Robert B. Parker's novels
and The Mismeasure of Man
1982 The Color Purple
1983 A Gathering of Old Men
1984 Love Medicine
1985 The Cider House Rules and
Lonesome Dove
1986 Prince of Tides
1987 Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
1988 The Bean Trees
1989 The Temple of My Familiar
1990 The Things They Carried
1991 Bully For Brontosaurus
1993 Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha
1994 Death of a River Guide
1995 A Fine Balance
1996 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
1997 Cold Mountain
1998 The Poisonwood Bible
1999 Plainsong
2001 At Swim, Two Boys and
Dirt Music
2002 Middlesex and
If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
2003 Eats, Shoots and Leaves
2004 Gilead
2005 The Book Thief
2006 The View From Castle Rock
2007 Finn
2008 Home
2009 Homer and Langley
2010 Ru
2011 The Tiger's Wife
Salvage the Bones
2012 A Land More Kind Than Home and
2013 Sweet Thunder
2014 H is for Hawk
2015 Between the World and Me
2016 Vinegar Girl
2017 The Stranger in the Woods

There are a couple years in there for which I haven't found a favorite. I'll update if something comes to me.

LT is timing out trying to populate this post with the touchstones. Probably the site is extremely busy today. I'll try later to restore them.

Jan 1, 6:01pm Top

Happy Reading in 2018, Linda. Love those toppers!

Edited: Jan 1, 6:06pm Top

Happy New Year, Linda! Love the photos up top - they make me homesick for Pennsylvania!

Jan 1, 6:07pm Top

Beautiful photos, Linda. Happy New Reading Year!

Jan 1, 6:55pm Top

>7 msf59: Thank you, sir!
>8 alcottacre: How lovely to see you here, Stasia. And if only you could visit PA...
>9 tiffin: Thanks, Tui.

Jan 1, 7:06pm Top


Jan 1, 7:18pm Top

Hi Linda!

Jan 1, 7:49pm Top

Happy 2018, Linda!

Jan 1, 8:01pm Top

>10 laytonwoman3rd: I would happily visit PA any time, Linda!

Jan 1, 8:13pm Top

How very special it would be if you and Stasia could come visit our small group of those who live not so far away and found each other to go to local book sales, to sit over tea and lunch and chat away....about books!

Happy New Year Linda. May it be filled with all goodness.

Jan 1, 8:56pm Top

Welcome back!

Jan 1, 9:14pm Top

All the usual suspects are turning up, I see! Welcome to everyone, and thanks for visiting.

Jan 1, 9:17pm Top

Cool! I'm a suspect! 😁

Edited: Jan 1, 9:51pm Top

This meme went the rounds for a few years, but I don't think I've done it in a while. Let's see how it shapes up for my 2017 reads.

Describe yourself: Slightly Foxed But Still Desirable

Describe how you feel: Likely to Die

Describe where you currently live: The Night Country

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Maine

Your favorite form of transportation: The Blackwater Lightship

Your best friend is: The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter

You and your friends are: The Moon-Spinners

What's the weather like: A Christmas in Slovakia

You fear: The Devil Wins

What's the best advice you have to give?: Make Way for Ducklings!

Thought for the day: What Color is My World?

How I would like to die: In the Heat of the Night

My soul's present condition: Slow Burn

Jan 1, 9:35pm Top

>18 drneutron: A very shady character, indeed, Jim.

Jan 1, 9:39pm Top

>19 laytonwoman3rd: - Oooh, you had great titles for this! I will do mine tomorrow - it's one of my favorite end of year/new year traditions.

Jan 2, 12:16am Top

>19 laytonwoman3rd: Love your meme answers, especially the advice!

Hope your 2018 is filled with lots of good reads!

Jan 2, 12:52am Top

Happy New Year
Happy New Group here
This place is full of friends
I hope it never ends
It brew of erudition and good cheer.

Jan 2, 4:08am Top

Happy reading in 2018, Linda!

Jan 2, 8:55am Top

>21 katiekrug:, >22 thornton37814: Thanks, ladies. It's such fun to do. Don't know why I let it slip off my radar last year.

>23 PaulCranswick: It looks iffy in the picture, but apparently we have successfully made the leap! Thanks, Paul.

>24 FAMeulstee: Welcome, Anita! I've been happily reading already this morning.

Jan 2, 10:13am Top

Happy New Year! I wish you to read many good books in 2018.

Jan 2, 10:35am Top

>26 The_Hibernator: Impossible to resist! I will comply with your wishes. Good to have you stop in, Rachel. Don't be a stranger in 2018.

Jan 3, 12:15am Top

Hi Linda. I’ve starred your thread. I’m always interested to see where your reading takes you.

Jan 3, 2:12pm Top

Happy New Year, Linda. Good luck with the purging and reading from your shelves. I love the photos at the top. What a lovely setting.

Jan 3, 4:20pm Top

Linda, I’m so glad you posted the 2017 Reading meme. I am still celebrating Christmas and forgot all a lit it as we’ve been making the rounds of the grandchildren. Happy 2018 Reading to you!

Jan 4, 2:01am Top

>18 drneutron: See, if you show up late enough you don't make the suspect list.

I'm looking forward to following your reading in 2018, Linda, and good luck with >5 laytonwoman3rd: "The ongoing struggle to purge books." I have an issue with that myownself.

Jan 4, 7:08am Top

>31 Familyhistorian: Is there a reader alive who does not struggle to purge books? I know I do! lol

Jan 5, 8:55am Top

Hi Linda and very belated happy new thread!

>1 laytonwoman3rd: My goal is always to read more of the books I already own, and to acquire fewer books than I remove from the house. As you will see from subsequent posts where I keep track of that kind of thing, I'm rubbish at it. I'm not very good at it either, but I am at least conscious of how brilliantly I fail each year!

>19 laytonwoman3rd: I'm going to attempt the meme sometime today or tomorrow - sounds fun.

Jan 5, 4:22pm Top

Hi, Linda. Dropping a star.

You should be able to exclude the site tickerfactory.com from your antivirus software so you can use them again. You should do a google search for excluding sites from your particular antivirus software and follow the instructions. I would hate for you to not be able to use those pretty tickers!!

Edited: Jan 5, 4:50pm Top

>34 rretzler: Hi, Robin. Thanks...I know I can do that with the antivirus...I'm just not sure whether I should. The warning I get when I try to go to the site is so alarming!

>33 karenmarie: Hi, Karen! Thanks for stopping by. Is it ridiculously cold in North Carolina too?

>32 alcottacre:, >31 Familyhistorian: Sure...it's part of the life we have chosen to live!

>30 Donna828: Have you don the meme, Donna? I must find your thread.

>29 BLBera: Hi, Beth! Thanks for visiting. I do so love my corner of the world, especially when it's all GREEN like that, not white and howling like today!

>28 NanaCC: Good to see you Colleen. We do share some favorites, don't we?

Jan 8, 4:36pm Top

Hi Linda!

It's been ridiculously cold in NC and is only today getting above 32F for any significant amount of time. I still have snow on my driveway and slipped on ice a couple of times on my errands today.

Jan 8, 10:11pm Top

>36 karenmarie: Yes, it's been treacherous outside. We had a bit of sleet today, but tomorrow we're supposed to be well above freezing. Which is good, because cabin fever is starting to set in.

Edited: Jan 9, 9:27am Top

Finished my first book of the year!

1. Period Piece: A Cambridge Childhood by Gwen Raverat. A delightful, slightly irreverent memoir by a granddaughter of Charles Darwin.

Jan 10, 5:32pm Top

Belated Happy New Year! I love your answers for the book meme.

Jan 10, 8:54pm Top

>38 laytonwoman3rd: I've always been a big fan of Darwin, so I think I might like this book!

Jan 10, 9:33pm Top

>39 foggidawn: Thanks, and welcome!

>40 rretzler: It's very good, quite funny at times. But Darwin himself never appears---he died before Gwen was born.

Jan 11, 3:03am Top

>38 laytonwoman3rd: Adding that one to the BlackHole! Thanks for the recommendation, Linda.

Jan 11, 11:39am Top

>38 laytonwoman3rd: I have that book around here somewhere...I need to get to it. I'm going to do a memoir month on my blog soon. Thanks for the elbow-jogging review.

Jan 13, 2:56pm Top

>43 richardderus: A memoir month is a good idea. I'll be watching for that. I have a whole shelf of Slightly Foxed editions of memoirs that I need to get to; I've only read about a third of the ones I own.

Jan 13, 2:57pm Top

>44 laytonwoman3rd: I'll come tell you when the month begins...bet we have only a small overlap in the memoir field. My taste is weird.

Edited: Jan 13, 3:13pm Top

2. A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton My pre-LT notebooks tell me I read this first in 1997. In light of Grafton's death, and this excellent appreciation of her work by Maureen Corrigan, I decided it was time to go back to A and start over. It's truly excellent stuff, right from the beginning. I'll let Corrigan tell you why. If you've missed Kinsey Millhone's adventures up til now, you should get to know her. You'll have a good time.

Jan 13, 4:29pm Top

>46 laytonwoman3rd: I’ve thought about doing a re-read of the Grafton books. It has been years since I’ve read any, and I think I should start again at the beginning.

Jan 13, 8:57pm Top

Hi Linda. I hope 2018 is a stellar year for you.

Jan 14, 12:08am Top

Hi Linda. This slug (me) is starting slowly this year. I did (finally) get through two books and have started a third. And The Nickster is glaring at me from the bottom of my bedside TBR.

Jan 14, 11:29am Top

>47 NanaCC: I recommend you DO IT, Colleen.

>48 Whisper1: Thanks, Linda!

>49 weird_O: Yes, I'm going a bit slowly too, Bill. My excuse is my daughter is home for a while, and we're spending time doing things other than reading. Like shopping for books.

Jan 15, 3:34pm Top

>50 laytonwoman3rd: Like shopping for books. LOL!

Jan 15, 6:35pm Top

>51 jnwelch: Glad I can amuse....take a look at >4 laytonwoman3rd: above for the haul. MY haul. Hers requires two large boxes being shipped home, as she flew in. (The LOA volume, and the Pogo were things I had ordered before...not the product of our bookstore crawls.)

Jan 17, 11:16pm Top

>50 laytonwoman3rd: Hope you are enjoying the visit, Linda. Enjoy the book shopping, not that you really need any encouragement.

Jan 18, 12:05am Top

Yes, yes. Enjoy that book shopping.

I'm going to miss the Bethlehem library's bi-monthly book sale for the first time in more than a year. I see the doc Friday, and even if I am liberated from The Boot, I won't be able to negotiate the steps, the walking, the book tote. Boo.

Jan 18, 2:51pm Top

Hi, Linda! Your thread title is so long with your name at the very end that I have trouble picking you out of the madding crowd. But Happy New Year, anyway. :-)

Edited: Jan 18, 7:04pm Top

>55 rosalita: Good point, there, Julia. I'm not doing a very good job of marketing my thread! Glad you found it anyway.

>54 weird_O: Glad the healing seems to be going well, Bill. There's always another book sale...good one coming up here at the end of February, I think.

>53 Familyhistorian: The visit actually got extended a bit...my daughter's flight out this morning was cancelled, so she won't leave now 'til Saturday morning.

Jan 18, 11:42pm Top

>56 laytonwoman3rd: Keep me posted on that maybe-sale in Feb, Linda. Please. I've got cabin fever somethin' awful.

Jan 19, 11:10am Top

>57 weird_O: I will definitely do that, Bill.

Jan 20, 3:48pm Top

Here's the schedule for the Friends of the Scranton Public Library book sales in 2018:

These take place in the public area of the Marketplace at Steamtown, just across the concourse from our combination branch library and indie bookstore, Library Express, which always offers a wonderful selection gently used and new books for sale. Visitors would be well advised to include a trip to the Albright Memorial Library, our main building, while in town, to view the amazing 19th century interior, now in the last stages of some well-deserved refurbishing in anticipation of our 125th anniversary celebration which will kick off on Friday of Memorial Day weekend.

Jan 23, 5:53am Top

Hi Linda!

>46 laytonwoman3rd: I'm going to be doing a re-read of her books this year. I just read, for the first time, Kinsey and Me, a collection of Kinsey Millhone and Kit Blue short stories. An excellent book if you can find a copy.

Jan 23, 1:39pm Top

>60 karenmarie: Oh...thank you for that, Karen. I will check my library resources. I think I'm going to enjoy re-reading the whole alphabet myself. It's been so long since I read the first few that they will probably all feel new, except that now I will know the recurring characters well.

Jan 24, 2:22am Top

>56 laytonwoman3rd: I am sure that you appreciated the extra time together, Linda. I hear that weather has been making travel difficult where you are. Time to stay inside with a good book, I'd say.

Jan 26, 2:57pm Top

>62 Familyhistorian: NOW we're having decent winter weather, Meg. After Laura went back to Virginia we had a warm-up, some heavy rain, then a bit of wind and a cool down, and now it's settled in to clear skies and cold temps, which I can live with. We did have some flooding in the area, due to ice jams in a couple rivers, but it subsided without doing too much damage. We don't live close enough to any streams to be affected, but it did hamper ground travel in a few communities.

Jan 26, 3:02pm Top

3. First Time Ever by Peggy Seeger

Gloriosky, I've finished another book! This one was an ER selection, and it was a good one. It will take me some time to formulate a proper review, though.

Edited: Jan 29, 11:16am Top

4. Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart Well, this was on my wishlists forEVER, and nobody was buying it for me. So when I saw it on one of my recent unfettered book-buying expeditions, I grabbed it. (Paid for it and everything.) It's a delightful compendium of general knowledge about "botanical atrocities" including poisonous, intoxicating, irritating, invasive and illegal plants, some of which we routinely eat, smoke or sip. Did you know cashew shells have the same irritant oil as poison ivy, and that the nuts are only safe to eat if they've been steamed open? (I did, and I thank Andrew Zimmern for that one.) Or that raw elderberries contain cyanide but are quite safe to eat cooked into jam and pies, or that in the late 19th century you could buy candy made from marijuana in Manhattan? That citrus peel contains a lot of phototoxic compounds which can cause rashes when the oil gets on the skin and the skin is exposed to sunlight? That suburban lawns are often planted with Kentucky bluegrass, which is one of the most common causes of wretched seasonal allergies? The illustrations are just fabulous.

Rosary Pea


Deadly nightshade

Jan 28, 4:59pm Top

5. South Toward Home by Margaret Eby Southern fiction is full of images, places and icons that our minds associate strongly with specific authors or novels. Think of the courthouse in To Kill a Mockingbird, William Faulkner's glass of whisky, Flannery O'Connor's peacocks. Margaret Eby made pilgrimages to Monroeville, Alabama; Oxford and Jackson, Mississippi; Milledgeville and Bacon County, Georgia; and New Orleans, Louisiana, to visit the stomping grounds and geographical inspirations of ten of her own personal favorite authors, chronicling each stop in a fascinating essay that is part homage, part literary criticism, part exploration of the question "What is it about this place {the SOUTH}, exactly" that has led to the creation of the concept of "Southern fiction".

Jan 28, 5:04pm Top

I did miss the Bethlehem book sale last week, but I AM ambulatory now. I can walk so long as I have The Boot on. And I can drive too, though I didn't clear that with the doctor (hee hee hee). I have that Scranton sale on the calendar, though I don't know if I'll really get there.

I may even finish Nicholas Nickleby before the month is out.

Jan 28, 5:05pm Top

>65 laytonwoman3rd: I have this one on my kindle. I really should get to it. A couple of years ago, the Heritage Museum & Gardens in Cape Cod (Sandwich) used this book as the basis for their special exhibit that summer. It was interactive, with fun games for the kids. Very interesting, and I’ve been meaning to read the book ever since.

Jan 28, 5:32pm Top

>67 weird_O: Well, I haven't made it to one of the Bethlehem sales yet, in spite of my best intentions. Complicating matters for the first Scranton sale of 2018, there's a mini-meet-up in Phila that weekend that I might try to go to, and there is often a family gathering around the beginning of March to celebrate/commemorate several birthdays and deaths. But do let me know if you want to try to make it up here...it does go on from Tuesday through Sunday (and earlier is better, naturally).

Jan 28, 5:33pm Top

>69 laytonwoman3rd: "Interactive", eh? That would give me pause. You survived without blisters, blindness or massive organ failure, I trust!

Jan 28, 9:58pm Top

>70 laytonwoman3rd: :) Quite. More like matching up symptoms with plants, or figuring out which plants were ok to eat if cooked thoroughly.... no deaths involved. Their displays were quite good. And the gardens there are absolutely lovely to explore.

Jan 29, 9:46am Top

>65 laytonwoman3rd: Sounds fascinating!

Jan 29, 12:23pm Top

>64 laytonwoman3rd: Peggy Seeger! Wowza. She was the first to sing "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" which was actually written for her. There endeth the entirety of my knowledge of Peggy Seeger, except to be astonished she's still alive. Assuming she is. Alive, I mean.

Jan 29, 4:55pm Top

She is alive, Richard. 82, alive and still kickin', as my Grandmother would say. She's Pete Seeger's half sister, and has had an amazing life. I hope I can do justice to her memoir.

Edited: Jan 30, 3:55pm Top

6. She Walks These Hills by Sharyn McCrumb Another of McCrumb's "ballad" series, featuring Sheriff Spencer Arrowood and his deputies Joe LeDonne (ex-Vietnam vet with lots of PSTD residuals) and Martha Ayers (who means to change the way things are done in the Hamelin, TN, sheriff's department). In this one, a 63-year-old convicted murderer with a mental disorder that affects his short-term memory, escapes after serving 25+ years of a virtual life sentence. Speculation runs high as to what his intentions are, as he wanders unfound through the Appalachian wilderness headed for "home" and the wife and baby daughter he thinks are still waiting for him in the holler where he left them. Lots of good stuff in here about hillbillies vs. town folk, Yankees vs. Southerners, men vs. women, the physical world vs. the spirit world, book-learning vs. common sense--all gently ensconced in a heck of a good story. And let's not leave out Nora Bonesteel, another of McCrumb's recurring characters. Nora knows things, because she sees things, and it's always best to listen to her. She isn't in this story much, but she's essential to it, and I really want to believe she's still living in that lovely house in the cove, waiting for the next person who needs her knowledge, compassion and Sight to come along.

Jan 30, 4:21pm Top

That review reminds me, Linda, that you had put the first in that series on my radar last year, and I picked up a copy cheap! Must. Get. To. It.

PS - Rumor has it you might be at the Philly meet-up in March... I hope so - would love to meet you!

Jan 30, 4:49pm Top

>74 laytonwoman3rd: That's astounding...though, when I think on it a minute, Pete was 94 when he died, her dad was 92...maybe it's not a surprise after all.

>75 laytonwoman3rd: My BiblioKevlar worked! I am unbulleted!!

Jan 30, 5:07pm Top

>76 katiekrug: I am keeping the possibility of attending the Philly meet-up open, Katie. Other things may preclude it, but I ain't sayin' NO just yet!

>77 richardderus: Yes, but cancer stalks the women in her family...

Jan 30, 5:14pm Top

>78 laytonwoman3rd: She's EIGHTY-TWO. Whatever finally takes her away, she's lived a longer (and fuller) life than most.

Jan 31, 11:00am Top

>79 richardderus: True. And she's already survived a couple encounters with C.

Edited: Jan 31, 12:12pm Top

7ish. Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault

A 16th century Italian fairy tale, translated here from a late 17th century French version, this is a rather distasteful story of greed, deceit and trickery that I would not read to a child for fun (and I don't think children need to be protected from much in literature). This Puss has no sword to brandish, just his conniving little mind, as he sets out to make a fortune for his master, based on lies, lies, lies. (Mmmhmmm....I did notice the color of his hair.) Yes, he's tricking the people with ALL the money. But there's no hint that his master will be a better steward once he's in charge of some of it. But oh, the illustrations--a Caldecott honor book for good reason. I'll seek out some other work of Fred Marcellino.

Jan 31, 7:56pm Top

>81 laytonwoman3rd: What beautiful artwork! And a distasteful tale indeed.

Feb 1, 7:51am Top

Hi Linda!

>61 laytonwoman3rd: I just finished re-reading A is for Alibi. I last re-read it in December of 2010 and didn’t remember a single thing about it!

>65 laytonwoman3rd: That book sounds fascinating, and the illustrations you shared are gorgeous. There’s a tie-in with A is for Alibi - don’t know if you remember or not, but it’s not a big secret.

Feb 1, 7:57am Top

>82 richardderus: Somebody might want to send 45 a nice pair of boots...

>83 karenmarie: In fact, that element of A is for Alibi is what made me decide to read Wicked Plants just now, Karen!

Feb 1, 8:09am Top

>84 laytonwoman3rd: Well, well, well. That's way cool.

Feb 1, 8:19am Top

>85 karenmarie: I just went back to read your review of The Country Girls, because I tried it, and couldn't carry on. I found the two girls so unlikeable, and their relationship so unhealthy that I wanted no more of it.

Feb 1, 11:07am Top

I liked Wicked Plants when I read it back in Deep Time.

Edited: Feb 5, 12:30pm Top

8. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline A friend gave me this novel a few years ago, having loved it herself. I knew from experience that she often liked books that I would not have chosen for myself and that I usually wasn't wrong about them (Sarah's Key being another such instance). It's not that this is a bad book. The writing is decent, not stellar. The subject matter has lots of potential, but is treated without enough depth here. The structure is too apparent, the characters barely rise from the first dimension most of the time. Its grim moments always telegraph "better times are coming", and the happy ending is just too pat. Now that it seems I've trashed it, let me say again that it is not bad, it just isn't Good. You know? It is the story of two women, a 91-year-old widow and a 17-year-old Goth girl who deserves better than the endless round of foster homes where nobody really wants her or tries to get to know her. Their paths cross by chance, and the reader learns, sooner than they do, that their lives have taken very similar courses, in two centuries, and that they have a lot more in common than appearances and present circumstances suggest. Bringing these two women together in 2011 feels like a gimmick, and a lot of their joint story is predictable. There are also some extremely unlikely coincidences that not only were difficult for me to accept, but that really didn't feel at all necessary.

Molly Ayer has been in foster care since her father died and her mother descended into mental illness and drug addiction. She has developed a surface toughness and a Goth persona as an emotional shield. Underneath is a child-woman with a surprising amount of self-esteem; a vegetarian and a self-professed neat-freak with a real talent for organization. You want to root for her to "make it", not just by surviving the system, but by building a life she can embrace with enthusiasm.

Vivian Daly came to the US from Ireland with her family as a child. They struggled, but survived, until a fire in their tenement killed everyone except Vivian, whose name was Niamh ( say Neev) then. This fire is a tossed-off plot element that made me twitch. It's never explained WHY Niamh survived unharmed when the rest of her family perished, or how a deadly fire in a NYC tenement apparently spared the apartment next door and its occupants. Eventually Niamh comes under the authority of a Children's Aid Society which puts her on an "orphan train" to the mid-west, where families are willing to take orphaned children in (by the thousands between 1854 and 1929). Often these placements were nothing more than indentured servitude, but sometimes the outcomes were more felicitous. Learning about this episode in American history was a benefit of reading this book, which has a "real history" section in the back complete with photos. Reading the story of how Niamh became Dorothy and then became Vivian as she passed through several placement situations could have been one of those immersive experiences that are a big part of WHY I read...it would have made a terrific novel on its own, in the hands of an author who wanted to flesh it out, not just get it on paper. Here, it all gets told, not shown, and the result is a somewhat flat narrative.

Feb 3, 10:55am Top

Hi Linda!

>86 laytonwoman3rd: I just went back and re-read my review. I'm surprised that I gave it 3.5 stars - "Very Good" when I was clearly unhappy with it, but I don't change ratings after the fact. You're right - both were unlikeable. I kept reading it because I'd 'signed up' for the challenge and haven't abandoned an official challenge in recent years. I did abandon the informal challenge of Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson last year. I joined in because Mark and Joe were reading it but I just couldn't continue. I'm trying to be careful with challenges.

>88 laytonwoman3rd: I think I'll pass.

Feb 3, 6:13pm Top

>88 laytonwoman3rd: Oh. Ah. Mm.

So not really well executed = no thank you most kindly, especially since there are good-sounding non-fiction treatments of the topic.

Feb 5, 12:22pm Top

>89 karenmarie:, >90 richardderus: It's a "book club book", I think. Not ALWAYS the kiss of death for me, but in this instance, that's mostly what's wrong with it.

Edited: Feb 6, 11:07am Top

9. Kinsey and Me by Sue Grafton This is a collection of short fiction featuring Kinsey Millhone; an essay Grafton wrote titled "An Eye for an I: Justice, Morality and the Nature of the Hard-boiled Private Investigator, and All That Existential Stuff"; and a section of very dark and painful short stories written by Grafton following her mother's death. The Millhone stories are just plain fun---pure detection with very little embellishment. Pretty easy to figure out, if you just focus on what the author isn't focusing on. The essay alone would be worth the price of the book (had I purchased it, which I didn't). The final selections are brilliantly written, somewhat repetitive as to subject matter (a mother's alcoholic life and dreadful death), courageously autobiographical, and I hope redemptive for the author. I admire what she did, and forced myself to read to the end, for there is a glimmer of light there, but I really could have done without that part. It did, however, make me believe that Sue Grafton made peace with her mother's ghose and the utter dysfunction of her early family life, and I'm glad of it.

Feb 6, 6:32pm Top

Hi Linda! I love the photos of the river near your home at the top of your thread. I, too, love water - oceans, lakes, rivers, even pools. :-)

>88 laytonwoman3rd: Well, hmm, your review gives me pause (I know, it's not a bad book, but still, not good either....). I recently read A Piece of the World which I quite liked. I think my enjoyment was enhanced by the fact that I went to an extensive Andrew Wyeth exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum right in the middle of the reading ~~ the two went together so well! Anyway, I had been skeptical of Orphan Train when it was getting lots of love around here, but I decided to purchase a copy since I so enjoyed her other novel.

Well, anyway, I don't know when I'll get to it.

>81 laytonwoman3rd: "...but oh, the illustrations---" Hmm, yes, that is easy to see. They are exquisite.

Feb 7, 11:32am Top

Feb 7, 11:51am Top

>93 EBT1002:, >94 The_Hibernator: I had a lovely e-mail exchange with Fred Marcellino's wife (he died in 2001), as I sent a request through his website for a photo to use on his author page here. His work definitely bears more exploration. He did a lot of book cover art.

Feb 7, 1:33pm Top

>81 laytonwoman3rd: I think this must be the edition we have - I remember absolutely loving many of the illustrations. I haven't gotten there yet this year but I've been wanting to revisit some of these books that I read as a child or that I shared with my children when they were young. I managed to get to a few last year.

Feb 7, 5:34pm Top

>81 laytonwoman3rd: Gorgeous illustrations!

Edited: Feb 9, 12:12pm Top

>96 RBeffa: Gorgeous children's books are a treat, no matter what your age. Of course, sharing them with the rompers they are intended for is the most fun.

>97 rretzler: Right? As soon as our library re-opens (heating issues this week) I'm going to go see what else I can find illustrated by Marcellino. There's one called I, Crocodile that I'm especially interested to see.

Edited: Feb 16, 2:05pm Top

10. B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton Breezed through No. 2 in the Kinsey Millhone series, in my intended re-read of the entire opus. A couple "clues" shouted out at me in this one, which isn't always the case, but my conclusions weren't 100% right, despite having read it before. It's just fun to spend time with Kinsey, and I'm looking forward to the ones where her landlord, the lovely Henry, becomes a more prominent character.

Feb 10, 5:34am Top

Hi Linda!

>99 laytonwoman3rd: I'm up to E is for Evidence. I had planned on spreading The Alphabet Series over the entire year, but at least for now I'm perfectly happy to keep reading them. Henry is quite special, indeed.

Feb 13, 2:33am Top

>65 laytonwoman3rd: Wicked Plants looks very interesting, Linda. I love the illustrations for that and for Puss in Boots. Too bad the story on that book didn't live up to the pictures.

Feb 14, 7:01pm Top

Happy Valentine's Day, Linda.

Feb 14, 8:06pm Top

Hi, Linda. Just checking in. I hope all is well in your world. I see you are reading the Grafton series. I read a bunch of those in the 80s and 90s. I am not reading as much series crime fiction these days but I sure loved it back then.

Have you tried any of the AAC authors, yet? I recently finished my Colson Whitehead.

Feb 15, 2:47pm Top

>100 karenmarie:, >101 Familyhistorian:, >102 rretzler:, >103 msf59: Hi, visitors! Sorry to be scarce the last few days. I've been quite occupied with family matters, but it's lovely to see you all. Yes, Mark, I read a few Didion essays in January, and the Whitehead is on the floor next to my reading chair, where I hope to pick it up and get started soonish.

Feb 15, 5:31pm Top

>99 laytonwoman3rd: If I had not already given my heart to Archie Goodwin, Henry Pitts would be my literary boyfriend.

Feb 15, 8:36pm Top

I may have to give the Sue Grafton books another shot. I only read the first one and did not care for it overmuch.

Feb 15, 9:42pm Top

>105 rosalita: LOL! I had such a "thing" for Archie when I was a teenager, and then when Timothy Hutton played him on TV, I fell for him all over again! But my heart will always belong to Jesse Stone.

>106 alcottacre: I think they get more interesting as they go on, Stasia.

Edited: Mar 11, 11:21am Top

11. Blood Flies Upward by E. X. Ferrars Ferrars is a prolific mystery author whose work I have never sampled before. This title is listed as No. 5 in the Inspector Ditteridge series, but the Inspector is not what you'd call a major character in the story...he doesn't appear until very near the end, and he doesn't do much at all. So not having read the other 4 first was no problem at all. The story involves a woman who applies for a job in the country household of a couple who previously employed her sister in the same position. It involves very little actual work; the owners are only there on weekends, and they are not the entertaining sort. Her real mission is to find out what happened to her sister, who mysteriously left the job and the house in the middle of the night several months before; she makes no mention of her sister, and assumes no one will connect her with the missing girl. The husband and wife are obviously not happy together, and they're mean about it; the gardener is peculiar, anti-social, possibly dangerously mad; there is a pair of totally whacko old ladies next door who have no sense of time and may show up on the doorstep at any hour of the day or night needing to borrow some treacle, or ask for help re-hanging an old mirror that's fallen down. Plenty of reasons for a sensible young woman to pack her bags and move on. But why did she never contact her family again, and why haven't the police taken a bigger interest in her disappearance? Alison is determined to know, even if the answers are unpleasant. I really liked this mystery--Ferrars skirted around number of cliches, and avoided them niftily. Just as one instance, Alison isn't just blithely taking on this potentially risky investigation all on her own. Her brother and sister-in-law are quite well aware of where she is and she stays in touch with them; she soon takes her sister's bewildered boyfriend into her confidence as well. I hate stupidly intrepid heroines who needlessly put themselves in harm's way, and then get magically rescued. Nothing like that happens here. My library is well-stocked with Elizabeth Ferrars' work, and I'm definitely going to read a good bit more of it.

EDIT: I had called Ferrars a "golden age" author originally, but it seems I was wrong about that. She wrote somewhat in that style, but the time period isn't right.

Feb 16, 2:23pm Top

>108 laytonwoman3rd: Uh oh. You seem to have done it again. This sounds intriguing.

Feb 19, 11:59am Top

12. The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge I picked this up at a booksale not too long ago, feeling I had not quite done with Beryl Bainbridge when I sampled her work for the British Authors Challenge a couple years ago. I read it now since Bainbridge was suggested for the "Novels Published in the 1970's" category of the same challenge this year. The Dressmaker was published in 1973. And now I am comfortable saying I'm done with this author. I didn't actively dislike the novel, but I would have given it up after 40 pages or so, if it hadn't fit the challenge and been relatively short.

Set in Liverpool in the late days of WWII, the novel is more psychological than active, and possibly its subject matter had not been so widely explored when it was first published, but most of it felt a bit shabby from use to me, much like its characters. Poor Rita, raised by two repressed and frustrated aunts (one technically not "maiden" as she had been briefly married to a soldier who died in the First War) with occasional assistance from her father, their brother, whom she calls "Uncle Jack". Naive as she is, when she is invited to a neighbor's party and meets an American GI, Rita seizes what she sees as an opportunity to experience some other sort of life, although her fantasies are somewhat cloudy. She tries to hide her trysts from the family, thereby increasing their significance in her mind. Naturally it is clear to the reader that this will not end well, but the actual ending (reminiscent of something written by Susan Hill or Shirley Jackson) came as a surprise to me. None of the characters, although well-drawn for stereotypes, struck up any sympathy in me despite their misery and dysfunction; I neither liked them nor found them particularly interesting. And I found the author's inability to settle on one name for Auntie Margo (or was she Marge?) maddening. Characters and narrator interchange the two names randomly, or at least without any rhyme or reason I could discern. I thought at first that might be a glitch in the edition I have, but I checked Amazon's "look inside" feature for a much earlier paperback edition, and it occurs there as well. That alone took my rating down to 2 1/2 stars (I tend to work up or down from 3); the ending inched it back up to neutral.

Edited: Mar 1, 9:37am Top

Had a little binge on children's books the other day.

13. I, Crocodile by Fred Marcellino Marcelliino wrote and illustrated this one. The story is OK, and bloodthirsty little young'uns will probably laugh at the ending. The style of the art is rather different than Marcellino's work in Puss in Boots above-- less lush and intense, but appealing.

14. The Story of Little Babaji by Helen Bannerman, illustrated by Fred Marcellino Those of us of a certain age knew this tale as Little Black Sambo, and of course it was fairly problematic in that form. For some reason Bannerman, who lived many years in India and clearly set this story in its jungle, populated the tale with black characters who did not belong there, and who were usually represented in offensively stereotypical fashion. This version replaces Sambo with Babaji, and lets the inherent charm of the story shine through. Marcellino's illustrations in this one are lovely, and more like those in Puss.

15. The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward This is my favorite of the three. A young boy goes off on a bear hunt, determined to bring home a hide to hang on the side of the barn, but ends up rescuing an orphaned cub instead. As the bear grows larger, so do the problems it causes, until a hard decision must be made. The illustrations are very realistic, somewhat reminiscent of Robert McCloskey's work, but Ward never comes as close to cuteness as McCloskey does. Lynd Ward is sort of the father of the graphic novel, having produced six wordless novels comprised solely of woodcuts, in the 1930's, as well as a "story in pictures" - The Silver Pony - for children in the 4-7 year age range. He also illustrated many juvenile books including the first edition of Johnny Tremain.

EDIT: Having now "read" The Silver Pony, I think it might work better for children older than 7. Although younger kids could probably make a good enough story out of the pictures, they might get bogged down by the end.

Feb 19, 2:53pm Top

You are making me want to dig out our boxes of kids books! I know we have the I Crocodile one.

Edited: Feb 20, 4:51am Top

I'm really not sure how I missed your thread Linda, caught up and starred.

Feb 20, 8:50am Top

>109 NanaCC: I have another Ferrars on the pile from the library, and 3 on order from Amazon, Colleen. I hope she holds up well!

>112 RBeffa: Do it, Ron. My "justification" is that I have two bright and adorable grand-nieces and I need a library on hand for them when they visit. Really? It's just so much fun to dip into these wonderful bits of art and whimsy.

>113 Caroline_McElwee: Welcome, Caroline! Hope you'll stop in regularly now.

Feb 20, 10:18pm Top

Looks like you are having fun with all the old children's books!

Feb 21, 10:12am Top

>115 thornton37814: It's good to keep a grip on that part of ourselves, don't you think, Lori?

Feb 21, 4:31pm Top

>116 laytonwoman3rd: I confess I read 13 today. That's how many remained in the stash I am sending to my great nephew. If they are too young for him or if they are too girly, his mom can give to other moms.

Feb 22, 12:30pm Top

>117 thornton37814: "Soft diet" extended to your reading, Lori?

Feb 22, 12:35pm Top

16. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey Just as delightful as all the reviewers and fans of Josephine Tey suggest it is, to follow Alan Grant's bed-bound investigation of the historical sources and what they fail to prove about Richard III's supposed murder of his young nephews, "the Princes in the Tower". I loved it. And I admire the way Tey used the "frame" of Grant being frustrated by inactivity, latching on to a portrait of Richard, bouncing from that to research aided by more-than-willing young American student who needs a thing of his own to pursue. Usually that kind of set-up dooms a book for me, or at least distracts immensely from the central mystery. But I actually enjoyed it in this case. My only quibble is that the American sounds rather British a lot of the time!

Feb 22, 2:04pm Top

>119 laytonwoman3rd: it's years since I read this Linda. My sister and I used to run the 'Richard is innocent' club. Well it wasn't really a club, but the title was good. I need to read a recent biography to see what current thinking is. You probably know they found his bones under a car park. He's now been suitably re interred in Leicester Cathedral.



Edited: Feb 24, 12:37pm Top

17. No Time to Spare by Ursula LeGuin I don't read much sci-fi or fantasy, so LeGuin has never been on my favorites list. But this collection of essays on various subjects (from the author's blog) really hit a lot of my sweet spots. What a mind...I'll bet she was usually the smartest person in the room, but never flaunted it. She covers things like the truth about getting old (don't say "it's not for sissies" and stop telling people they're only as young as they feel); the uselessness of swear words that appear five times in one sentence; the inanity of surveys, even those conjured up at Harvard; the narrative gift; and best of all--"The Annals of Pard". Once in a while I found myself disagreeing with her, but she was smarter than I am, so I'm OK with that. I don't mean I grant that she's probably right and I'm wrong, just that I'm fine with an intelligent person holding an opinion I don't share. Once or twice I found I couldn't quite follow her reasoning, and because she was smarter than I am, I think she may have left out a logical step or two that was obvious to her, but not to me. Wish I could sit down and talk to her about those bits.

Feb 22, 2:44pm Top

>120 Caroline_McElwee: Yes, Caroline, I think you're probably one of the people around here who put me on to this book in the first place. I know I picked it up at a book sale long ago because of something I heard about it on LT. There is a relatively new biography of Richard out, isn't there? Apparently there remain two camps on the subject of his guilt or innocence in the death of the boys.

Feb 22, 3:01pm Top

>121 laytonwoman3rd: Yay! Glad you enjoyed it.

Feb 22, 3:02pm Top

>123 lycomayflower: So when it makes it back to you, note where I put the page point, and let's talk about it.

Feb 22, 3:11pm Top

>124 laytonwoman3rd: Ooookay. Why do I feel skeered now?

Feb 22, 5:03pm Top

>121 laytonwoman3rd: this is due to land on my mat in March, glad you enjoyed it Linda.

Feb 22, 5:30pm Top

I love the picture books! I imagine Scout would like the crocodile and bear ones. Off to check to see if they are available in the library.

Hmm. Ferrars sounds interesting. Have to check her out.

I love The Daughter of Time; it's a mystery I can reread every couple of years.

Feb 22, 5:32pm Top

>119 laytonwoman3rd: So glad to read your review of The Daughter of Time, Linda. I have had this one hanging out on my e-reader for ages, and now that I'm really trying hard to read my own books this year (I mean it this time, really!) this will hopefully give me some incentive to pull it out.

Feb 23, 10:32am Top

>119 laytonwoman3rd: Another book for my wishlist. The Daughter of Time sounds like one that I’d enjoy.

Feb 25, 5:13pm Top

>127 BLBera: Stand by for more picture books, Beth. (Hint: Another one by Lynd Ward is coming soon.)

>128 rosalita: It's a quick read, Julia. You can pat yourself on the back in no time!

>129 NanaCC: Mmm....I'm pretty sure you'd enjoy it Colleen.

Feb 25, 7:24pm Top

>119 laytonwoman3rd: An all-time favo(u)rite read of mine. Love the frustrated Grant irritably waving off the Ward Sister!

>122 laytonwoman3rd: I adored reading Le Guin's blog and was more than ready to love the book. I did. I sent it on to an elderly friend whose one eye is developing a cataract; the shortness of the pieces and the erudition of the voice make the book perfect for her. She's warbled to me about how much she's enjoying the experience.

Feb 25, 9:38pm Top

>131 richardderus: And did you notice the Sisters never seemed to do a thing for (or TO) their patient other than open the curtains and bring in meals? Not my experience of hospitals.

Feb 25, 9:46pm Top

Happy Sunday, Linda. I hope you are doing well and getting plenty of reading in. Glad you enjoyed No Time to Spare. I want to read this collection too.

Feb 26, 11:34am Top

>133 msf59: Hi, Mark! I DID read a lot yesterday. Finished The Underground Railroad, read 2 selections from William Trevor's A Bit on the Side, and a nice chunk of Simon Armitage's translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. And many thanks to Armitage for making it OK to say GAWun OR GaWAIN, as you see fit. He notes that he alternates between the two, depending on the rhythm and alliterative needs of the text. Marvelous!

Feb 28, 8:45am Top

>130 laytonwoman3rd: Can't wait, Linda.

Feb 28, 1:28pm Top

Hi Linda. Your binge of children's books looks kind of fun. I am not familiar with The Biggest Bear but it looks appealing (and sad?).

I see that you are doing a reread of the Kinsey Milhone series. I have been thinking about doing the same. I never made it through the whole series (I think I stopped at M or N) but I loved the early ones.

I've read The Man in the Queue and The Franchise Affair but not yet Daughter of Time. It looks like a good one.

Feb 28, 9:49pm Top

>135 BLBera: Next post!

>136 EBT1002: The Biggest Bear is sad, Ellen, even though the ending is meant to be happy. Instead of shooting the bear, which has become much too familiar with humans and therefore troublesome, the boy gets an opportunity to turn it over to a "show" where he can visit from time to time. We are to understand that the bear is well cared for, and happy, but....well....y'know.

Feb 28, 10:22pm Top

18. My Friend Mac by May McNeer, illustrated by Lynd Ward Another realistically illustrated story about a little boy and a wild animal. This time it's Little Baptiste, a Canadian child who lives so far out in the wilderness that he has no friends. He is very lonely, and adopts a stray moose calf. They have fun together for a while, but naturally it can't last forever. As the moose grows larger it becomes unmanageable, and eventually turns to the wild and others of its kind. But Little Baptiste's father has a surprise for his son, and human friends turn out to be in his future after all. A "truer" ending to this one. Ward's illustrations are, again, just wonderful.

19. The Silver Pony by Lynd Ward This one may be Ward's masterpiece. No words, just his amazing drawings. A young farm boy, resting from his chores, sees (or dreams?) a silvery white winged pony.

His father doesn't buy his story, and doesn't approve of daydreaming (or tall tales?).

The boy eventually rides the marvelous winged creature around the world, doing good deeds.

The ending has a twist, and once again Father has a surprise for his Son.

Open to a lot of interpretation, this book would be a great discussion topic for bright imaginative children.

Edited: Feb 28, 10:36pm Top

20. Hedgie's Surprise by Jan Brett I've given my grand-nieces a few of Jan Brett's books in the past, but this one will stay here for when they visit. A delightful story of how Henny and her friend Hedgie outwit the Tomten (a Scandinavian sort of troll) who keeps stealing her eggs before she can hatch them. Brett's illustrations are colorful, detailed and lots of fun. Each page is set in a unique needlepoint-like border.

Feb 28, 10:38pm Top

I have actually been reading some grown-up things as well!

21. A Bit on the Side by William Trevor For the Irish Authors Challenge in February, I read this collection of Trevor's short fiction. All of them quite good, but sad in that ineffable fatalistic Irish fashion.

Feb 28, 11:02pm Top

22. Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead Oh boy was this good. At the beginning I was wondering what all the fuss was about, because although the writing is exquisite, the story seemed to offer nothing I haven't read multiple times before...the grim brutality of slave life on Southern plantations; the tiny little comforts people managed to grasp for themselves; the ever-present terrifying hope of escaping to freedom and the utter futility of most actual attempts. But then Whitehead applied his imagination to the multitude of slave narratives he had studied, and created something quite remarkable. First of all, he made the metaphorical underground railroad real. Fragmented, without a true schedule, and requiring it passengers to take a real leap of faith at every station, but dark and physical. As the protagonist, Cora, moves through the system, she finds a different world waiting for her at every stop. And each time she has learned to cope with the circumstances of one situation, there's a change-up and she must move on to a new place where her hard-earned knowledge may be of little use. Throughout the novel, we are reminded that Cora's mother, Mabel, left her behind when she escaped from their Georgia plantation--the only slave ever to have run away from there without being caught. In one of the final sections of the book, we learn the story of Mabel's flight to freedom, a story her daughter never gets to know. This one really lives up to its reputation. It will wreck you, but it's worth it.

Feb 28, 11:40pm Top

Good report on Underground Railroad. I thought it was great when I read it last year. I finished Whitehead's Apex Hides the Hurt a few days ago. Liked it equally well.

Mar 1, 7:04am Top

>138 laytonwoman3rd: great illustrations Linda.

>141 laytonwoman3rd: glad you enjoyed this. It seems to have got mixed feelings on the AAC group, but I thought it a fine novel.

Mar 1, 7:50am Top

>138 laytonwoman3rd: I humbly suggest Oliver Jeffers' This Moose Belongs to Me as a companion to the McNeer book. Charlie and I LOVE it (and all of Jeffers' stuff, of course).

Mar 1, 9:43am Top

>142 weird_O: Good to have your recommendation for Apex Hides the Hurt, Bill. I certainly intend to read more of Whitehead's work.

>143 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline. I went in skeptical, of course, because of all the hype, and the unhistorical concept of an actual secret railroad operating underground. I expected to compare this novel unfavorably to Homegoing, but that thought went away fairly quickly.

>144 scaifea: OK...Jeffers' name has been duly noted for exploration! Thanks, Amber.

Mar 1, 5:49pm Top

>22 thornton37814: Nice review!

Mar 1, 7:21pm Top

>146 drneutron: Thanks, Jim! (I assume you meant my book No. 22, at >141 laytonwoman3rd:, not message 22!)

Mar 1, 7:28pm Top

Ooops, yeah, book 22. I Really liked it last year when I read it. His Zone One is a very literate take on a zombie apocalypse, if that's your sort of thing.

Mar 2, 10:31pm Top

Hi Linda3rd! *smooch*

Mar 4, 12:51pm Top

>149 richardderus: *waves* Hope you're warm and electrified after the storm, Richard.

Edited: Mar 4, 1:57pm Top

23. Old School by Tobias Wolff A beautiful short novel set in an American prep school where the biggest event of the academic year, at least for the unnamed first-person narrator and many of his friends, is not a sporting event; not a mixer with the girls' school down the road, but a writing competition. A competition that gives the winner a one-on-one meeting with whichever visiting writer of renown the school has successfully invited to talk to the students this year. Frost, Ayn Rand, Hemingway---the boys' minds boggle at being judged worthy of standing in such light. Our narrator dreams of being a writer. "I knew that Maupassant...had been taken up when young by Flaubert and Turgenev; Faulkner by Sherwood Anderson; Hemingway by Fitzgerald and Pound and Gertrude Stein. All these writers were welcomed by other writers. It seemed to follow that you needed such a welcome...My aspirations were mystical. I wanted to receive the laying on of hands...I wanted to be anointed." For three years, Toby (I'm going to call him Toby, because let's face it: this has to be heavily autobiographical stuff. It reads much more like memoir than fiction.) strives to be the chosen one. The process becomes the core of his education--not just in literature, or in creativity, but in life, as he confronts again and again the difficulty of knowing the purpose of Truth when Honor may seem to be better served by deception.

Mar 5, 12:10am Top

>108 laytonwoman3rd: I'm a sucker for anything golden age and I don't recall ever reading anything by Ferrars, so this one is going on my list!

>119 laytonwoman3rd: Count me in as a big fan of The Daughter of Time too. I'm very slowly reading the Alan Grant series.

Mar 5, 7:19am Top

It's some years since I read Wollf Linda, I do remember enjoying that one. I think I still have one I haven't read from years ago.

Mar 5, 7:47am Top

>151 laytonwoman3rd: That one sounds amazing. Onto the list it goes.

Edited: Mar 5, 10:04am Top

>152 rretzler: I don't know how I missed Ferrars either, Robin. Back in my yout', I read a lot of golden age stuff. It was my introduction to a genre that I continue to love. She must remain popular, because there are many of her books on our library shelves.

>153 Caroline_McElwee: I read This Boy's Life last year, Caroline. I thought it was very good, but I enjoyed this novel more.

>154 scaifea: Yup...you definitely should read this one, I think.

Mar 5, 11:20am Top

24. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by Simon Armitage I've always liked the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but I never enjoyed reading it before. I first encountered this tale in a survey course of British Literature early in my college career (first semester--Beowulf to Sheridan; second semester--Blake to the Present Day...I still have the texts), in which we were exhorted to remember that the knight's name was pronounced GOWan. With apologies to the late Mr. Graham (who I believe preferred the 18th century to the 14th), I'm all in favor of Armitage's approach---let the rhythm and the alliterative requirements of the text dictate which consonant or syllable gets the stress. This version is so read-out-loudable that I feel it banishes any objection that might be raised to liberties Armitage took with literalness. (I'm not much of a purist that way when it comes to translating poetry anyway. I mean...it needs to remain poetic, above all.) I later had some exposure to the medieval language of the poem in a more advanced course; I may even have been expected to claw some of it into modern English myself, an effort best lost to time. This edition places the ancient version side-by-side with the new translation. It's interesting to compare, and to try to remember the sounds of the good old Anglo-Saxon, a clankier language by far. I counted four different spellings of our valiant knight's name in that text--Gawan, Gawayne, Gawen and Gauan. Surely that isn't just sloppiness or inconsistency, but suggestive of varying pronunciation in the original? In any case, if you're inclined to visit this classic tale, I commend you to Armitage's translation. It's just plain fun.

Mar 6, 7:50am Top

>156 laytonwoman3rd: Oh, I do love Gawain. I'll have to keep an eye out for this translation.

Mar 6, 11:30am Top

>156 laytonwoman3rd: Back at the dawn of time when I was in college I was coaxed by a friend into taking a medieval english literature course for an upper division credit. My friend was an english major and I was a science major but that didn't seem to stop me altho I recall repeatedly wondering if it could possibly work out. As it turned out, even though the course was a lot of work, I really really liked it. Of course it started with beowulf which I had disliked in high school but enjoyed in this class. We read many epic poems including some version of Gawain. I have not revisited the genre since college but your review lets me know that I would probably still enjoy it. One of our assignments gave us the option to write our own epic poem which I found to be way too much fun. I may still have it buried in a box.

Edited: Mar 7, 10:07am Top

>157 scaifea: Yes, do!

>158 RBeffa: Ha! There's a whole underground of medieval lit lovers out there! Have you read Seamus Heaney's Beowulf?

Mar 7, 7:41am Top

>159 laytonwoman3rd: I have and it's gorgeous. I have distinct memories of the reading of it, too, because it was when Charlie was tiny and fussy in the afternoons. I would put him in his stroller and push him round and round our kitchen island, Beowulf on the little shelf between the handles, reading and strolling.

Mar 7, 11:25am Top

>159 laytonwoman3rd: >160 scaifea: No I have not read the Seamus Heaney version but reading about it I think I must now.

Mar 7, 12:05pm Top

>156 laytonwoman3rd:: I have always loved the Tolkien translation the best. I must keep an eye open for this one. I had to translate it in a course in days of yore. And yes, I've read Heaney's Beowulf, and loved it.

Mar 7, 1:17pm Top

>162 tiffin: One of these days I will sample Tolkien's Beowulf and his Gawain.

>161 RBeffa: It's good. You've got three well-educated discerning women's word for it! Hie thee.

Mar 7, 1:48pm Top

>163 laytonwoman3rd: I checked the library catalog and there are no less than 10 copies of the Heaney version of beowulf available, PLUS there are several newer (2008) copies of an illustrated version with the Heaney translation. I will have no excuse other than Mt TBR to not read it this year.

Mar 7, 2:12pm Top

Ooohh...illustrated. I may have to see if my library has that.

Edited: Mar 7, 2:28pm Top

as described by the library: "Seamus Heaney's best-selling Beowulf is now wedded to more than one hundred glorious images."
Beowulf : an illustrated edition ; translated by Seamus Heaney ; illustrations edited by John D. Niles.
1st ed.
New York : W. W. Norton & Co., c2008.
xxvii, 260 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 24 cm.

The library even has a BBC production set of CD's with Beowulf read by Heaney. I may have to indulge ...

Mar 7, 3:12pm Top

>166 RBeffa: You're killin' me! I just rummaged around and found a volume of Middle English Literature (not translated) in my daughter's closet. It came from the collection of a professor at our mutual alma mater, the woman who taught me Middle English, and who retired during my daughter's time there. She de-accessioned a lot of her professional library, and lycomayflower was smart enough to snag quite a few. I don't really mind that she hasn't yet (15 years hence!) moved them out.

Mar 7, 9:57pm Top

>167 laytonwoman3rd:

deet deeet deeeet --- Incoming Message --- Stand by for incoming message --- deet deeet deeeet

Please be advised there was an error in your most recent post. Error found in final sentence of your post. "15 years" cannot be accurate. Please evaluate and correct.

--- End Message --- End Message --- deet deeet deeeet

Mar 7, 10:17pm Top

>168 lycomayflower: Recomputing. Nope. 2018 minus 2003 still comes to 15. Sorry. Perhaps your system needs calibrating.

Mar 7, 10:38pm Top

>169 laytonwoman3rd:

braaaak braaaak braaaaak

Alert! Alert! Noncompliance detected! Truthtelling in progress! All units prepare for emergency containment measures! Alert! Alert!

braaaak braaaak braaaaak

Mar 7, 11:55pm Top

Breaking! Breaking!

Always happens in the late evening, not? I guess it's just background noise, huh?

I see you read Old School by Tobias Wolff. Your review is needling me. I just finished This Boy's Life during the Dark Time we experienced between nor'easters. I'm somewhat reluctant to accept Wolff's account of his application (with recommendations he himself counterfeited) to The Hill School. The school counts him as an alum, even though he apparently was expelled before graduation.

Edited: Mar 8, 7:37am Top

"The school counts him as an alum, even though he apparently was expelled before graduation." Yeah, I think they decided to embrace his success.

Mar 8, 8:06am Top

>171 weird_O: and >172 laytonwoman3rd: - My school claims RFK Jr. as an alum even though he was kicked out (drugs and trying to set fire to the chapel)... *eye roll*

Edited: Mar 8, 9:00am Top

>173 katiekrug: It was all his mother's fault, you know. :>/

Mar 8, 9:45am Top

It's *always* the mother's fault...

Mar 8, 10:01am Top

That's what my daughter tells me... But I guess Ethel really was a wretched mother.

Mar 8, 11:12am Top

Oh, I hadn't heard that about the brood mare Ethel!

Mar 8, 11:45am Top

There's a book or two, Katie, if you'd like to read all the dirt details. Can't vouch for them myself. RFK, JR. and The Other Mrs. Kennedy.

Mar 8, 12:51pm Top

25. The Romanovs & Mr. Gibbes by Frances Welch Meh. It's hard to imagine, but this short book (sub-titled "The story of the Englishman who taught the children of the last Tsar") is mostly dull as dishwater. Sydney Gibbes was apparently a very strange dude; he studied theology at Cambridge, but didn't feel he had a true calling to the Church, and didn't know what else to do, so off he went to Russia in 1901 to tutor children. Things did not go well with the first two families that employed him; both mothers found reason to dismiss him, but nothing is made very clear about the nature of their complaints. His later explanation of both instances was that the mother were over-indulgent and would not let him impose his stricter standards on their precious boys. He shuttled back and forth between Russia and Yorkshire for several years, with only part-time employment, until 1908, when he was somehow hired by the Tsarina (who had not met him, nor checked his references too closely, apparently) to teach the Imperial children. This should have been fascinating stuff, and it seems the author had a fair amount of primary source material to consult, including contemporary correspondence and later accounts by the man himself (he lived to be 85, and eventually became a rather quirky priest in the Russian Orthodox Church). Yet his story never really catches fire here. I'm glad to have read it, just the same.

Mar 8, 1:32pm Top

>178 laytonwoman3rd: - Oh, thanks. I doubt I'll read up on her - I am not much interested in the Kennedys, really.

Mar 8, 2:18pm Top

>179 laytonwoman3rd: Too bad about the book about the Romanovs - I haven't read much about them, but I've always been fascinated by them.

Mar 8, 4:27pm Top

>180 katiekrug: Un-American! *snerk*

>181 rretzler: There's much better stuff out there if you want to read about them, Robin.

Mar 10, 10:16pm Top

>141 laytonwoman3rd: Great review of Underground Railroad, Linda. I just finished that one for last month as well. You got me with your review of the E.X Ferrar book as well. I had never heard of her before. My library doesn't have Blood Flies Upward but has other books by her which I will have to check out.

I hope your weather is warming up.

Mar 11, 11:01am Top

>183 Familyhistorian: Apparently I'm wrong in putting Ferrars into the "Golden Age" category. She didn't start publishing until the mid-'40's, a bit late for that styling. And she continued writing well into the '90's. I've just finished another of her books, Last Will and Testament, which is the first of a short series featuring Virginia Freer and her sometime husband, Felix. Not quite as good asBlood Flies Upward, but I'm going to try the next in that series, because there's potential in their entertaining relationship.

Our weather is not being congenial at all. Another storm possible tomorrow.

Mar 11, 11:18am Top

Thanks for the pictures, Linda! The Ward books are beautiful!. Scout is a fan of Jan Brett, Honey, Honey, Lion! is a favorite; she even calls other books by Brett the "Honey, Honey, Lion" books. I'll have to add this one to her library.

Glad you loved The Underground Railroad.

Mar 11, 11:24am Top

>185 BLBera: I picked up that particular Jan Brett book because my grand-nieces are very fond of chickens (they have chickens, goats, horses and dogs at home). I do love her illustrations. I'll have to see about Honey, Honey, Lion!.

Mar 11, 12:48pm Top

26. Last Will and Testament by Elizabeth Ferrars Ferrars wrote a short series featuring Virginia Freer and her erstwhile husband, Felix. This is the first. An old friend of Virginia's dies, and it looks as though she left a rather pointed message behind for her heirs in a recent will. Her death is natural, but murder inevitably follows. Felix is a charmer, whose stories simply cannot be taken at face value, a point which Virginia belabors in every conversation they have throughout the book. That got a bit tedious, and I hope she settles in to letting the reader just accept that as a given in the subsequent books. I was rather pleased to see Felix take the fore when it came to sorting out who did what (and nobody's really innocent here).

Mar 11, 3:10pm Top

I thought I was the only one who hadn’t read The Underground Railroad. I had taken it out of the library when everyone was clamoring for it, and never had a chance to read it before I had to let it go. Maybe now is the time to take it out again.

Mar 11, 9:16pm Top

>187 laytonwoman3rd: I’ve just recommended Ferrars to my dad, who is the real mystery buff in the family. We’ll see if he goes for it.

Mar 13, 1:06pm Top

>188 NanaCC: I hope you find it worthwhile when you get back to it, Colleen.

>189 foggidawn: Please report if he reads some of her work!

Edited: Mar 13, 1:20pm Top

27. The Dragon Man by Garry Disher This is the first "Hal Challis Investigation" in a series that now contains 7 novels featuring Australian Detective Inspector Hal Challis, and Sergeant Ellen Destry. The dragon of the title is a vintage airplane Challis rebuilds in his spare time. I enjoyed this police procedural very much. In story-telling style, it is similar to Tana French's novels, with multiple viewpoints, good guys and baddies, moving the action forward at a good pace, and with the personal lives of the main characters intertwined with the story.

Mar 15, 7:14pm Top

Sad about the Russian book debacle, Ethel Skakel Kennedy was a rotten person, Ferrars makes me sneeze, and the Disher sounds tempting.

That is all.

Mar 16, 7:22pm Top

>192 richardderus: You should give in to the Disher temptation, RD. It was a page-turner.

Mar 16, 7:26pm Top

28. Camino Island by John Grisham Another crunchy treat from Grisham's goody-factory. This time he drops us into the world of rare books and the people who collect (and sometimes steal) them. Entertaining and satisfying.

Mar 17, 8:32am Top

Hi Linda!

>119 laytonwoman3rd: One of my favorites.

Mar 17, 9:51am Top

>191 laytonwoman3rd: adding to wishlist. Although LT isn’t picking it up right now.

Mar 17, 2:17pm Top

Ethel Kennedy, ha. Photographer Sally Mann, in her memoir Hold Still, had an anecdote about sitting behind Ethel Kennedy at a prep school graduation and eliciting the silent but palpable disapproval from Sally's family maid, a black woman. I can't recall the exact details, but I think it had to do with what she (Ethel) was wearing. I'd look it up, but the book is in the 32" tall book stack behind the 26" tall book stack (stuff I read last year).

Mar 19, 10:41pm Top

>195 karenmarie: You and several other people, I think!

>196 NanaCC: I hope LT got sorted, and put the Disher on our wishlist, Colleen. It's a page-turner.

>197 weird_O: A bit of a terror, was our Ethel, apparently.

Mar 19, 10:56pm Top

OK, this being LIBRARYTHING, what better than a few pictures of the inside of a library. Some of you may have read my introductory post, and therefore might remember that I am on the Board of Trustees of the Scranton Public Library. Our main building, the Albright Memorial Library, has been closed since Thanksgiving for major inside renovations, restoring woodwork, painting, re-carpeting, bathroom overhauls, etc. Today was re-opening day, and we're all very excited about it. Last Thursday, at our monthly board meeting, a reporter and photographer from the Scranton Times-Tribune visited and were given a tour of the re-done areas. The result of was lovely spread in this morning's paper, front page, above and below the fold.

This is the main room on the first floor, showing the woodwork and the new, custom-built circulation desk. Entry to the stacks is just out of sight around the corner on the left side of this picture. Unfortunately it does not show off the lovely stained glass windows at the far end. They take your breath away when you walk in now. Previously, there were so many metal display racks in the middle of this room that those windows were virtually hidden.

This is our director, Jack, standing at the top of the staircase on the second floor. He has his back to the doors into the lecture hall you will see in the next photo. You can see examples of the stained glass in this one. The portrait is of John J. Albright, the man who built this library, mostly with his own money.

Finally, the lecture hall (formerly the reference room) which we hope to be able to rent out as event space. That's my white head on the left side of the table, second from the far end.

I was there this morning, as we are putting together a search committee to find Jack's replacement. He will be retiring (he hopes by September 1st) after 55 years of working in this library system. He has been the SPL director since 1986. And he plays a mean electric bass as well.

Mar 20, 7:52am Top

Wow! It's gorgeous!! So exciting to have a newly refurbished library, I bet; we've been so happy with our brand-new-from-scratch library here.

Edited: Mar 20, 12:14pm Top

We have a couple brand new facilities in our county-wide system, Amber, and those are absolutely gorgeous too, in their very different way. One of the great things about this reno is that the staff is absolutely delighted with it, particularly the new circ desk (which is in a more central location than the old one, and is a marvel to work at, because it's designed for the 21st century, whereas the other one had been modified and re-modified to accommodate technology, etc., and was really uncomfortable and inefficient). I hung around incognito for a while yesterday, and listened to staff and patrons interacting. It was pretty gratifying, actually.

Some video from our local TV station, in case you just can't get enough!

Mar 20, 12:33pm Top

>199 laytonwoman3rd: That looks great, Linda!
And even better when the staff is happy with their new workplaces.

Mar 20, 3:27pm Top

>199 laytonwoman3rd: Lucky you. Our main library was essentially ruined in a renovation some years back - it needed renovation and budget matters were part of the problem but they really failed at it.

Mar 20, 9:05pm Top

>199 laytonwoman3rd: What a gorgeous library interior. Best wishes on your "replacement" search.

Edited: Mar 21, 10:16am Top

>202 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita.
>203 RBeffa: Some of the work done in this project was to remove "improvements" from prior projects, Ron. Thankfully, no big bad damage had ever been done. Some 19th century architectural features had been covered up or blocked off, but they were all still there and restore-able. We are also fortunate to have a decent endowment for the building itself, which made this project possible. Now we need to mount a capital campaign to replace the money we used, to help assure the future.
>204 thornton37814: Thanks, Lori. It's sort of a sad job. Jack has been such a fixture at Albright in all the time I've been going there, and having gotten to know him in the last couple years since I've been on the Board, I can tell it will be hard to fill his shoes. Nice for him, though, that he can go out on the high note of this successful renovation.

Mar 22, 5:07pm Top

Linda, your library renovation looks smashing! How wonderful that you had such gorgeous original woodwork to work with and that they chose to restore it instead of just painting it or something dreadful. It's a wonderful space and your patrons must be as delighted as the staff. Well done!

Mar 22, 7:50pm Top

What a legacy to leave after 55 years in the system, that gorgeous renovated space. Our library is so pedestrian in comparison.

Mar 23, 3:02pm Top

>206 rosalita: We were lucky in that very little of the woodwork had been painted or damaged over the last 125 years. The varnish had crackled badly in many places, and a few curlicues and furbelows had been covered over with "add-ons", but it was all fairly easy to remedy.

>207 richardderus: "Our library is so pedestrian in comparison." As long as it has books, Richard. They are the necessity, whereas a gorgeous well-preserved 19th century building is something of a luxury. We're very lucky to have a community that will support this kind of thing; who knows what the younger generations will think of it. Hopefully what we've done here will last a long long time.

Edited: Mar 25, 11:04am Top

29. Hank and Jim by Scott Eyman I'm not much for celebrity biographies as a general rule. But Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart could make me break almost any rule. And this is no "everything you didn't know about..." kind of book, although I certainly learned things I didn't know. The subtitle, "the Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart" is fairly descriptive, but even it doesn't quite do justice to the contents. The exploration of Hank and Jim's long-standing friendship is fascinating stuff; imagine two tall, elegant young fellows scrounging for acting roles early in their careers, sharing apartments, hobo steaks and beers, and a love of flying. Their politics didn't jibe, but they just didn't talk about that when they were together; one remained devout all his life and the other thought religion was a crock; they both loved the same woman and apparently neither of them ever got her out of his system, but one of them married and divorced her while the other never got close and none of that seemed to matter to their friendship; one married five times before getting it "right" and the other hit the jackpot the first time; both made movies, but one loved the studio system and the other lived for stage work; neither was ever happy with his own performances, but each considered the other's talent bordered on genius; both had a hard time dealing with personal feelings, but could render the subtlest of emotional scenes in such a way that audiences took them to their hearts. It's worth picking up a copy of this book from the library just to read the section on "The War". Stewart joined the Army Air Corps, trained bomber pilots, flew 19 missions himself, and eventually retired (under protest) from the Air Force Reserve as a Brigadier General in 1968; Fonda joined the Navy, serving as an intelligence officer in the South Pacific, and at one point dived to the wreckage of a kamikaze plane that had been shot down, retrieving valuable charts and flight plans which helped locate the base island from which the Japanese were launching their attacks. These men were not servicemen in name only, nor strictly for PR. They both contributed to the winning of the war, and like so many other veterans, they simply did not talk about their experiences to friends and family afterward. A solidly good read. I recommend it.

Mar 23, 3:50pm Top

Hi, Linda. Your main library building renovation does look smashing. Everyone involved should feel proud of the result. Beautiful woodwork and stained glass.

Mar 24, 9:39am Top

>210 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe. We are quite proud. We will be kicking off a capital campaign and a 125th Anniversary celebration this summer, so we hope the Scranton community will be pleased with what we've done.

Mar 24, 10:17am Top

30. Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley Well, I've never said this about a Mosley book before, but....meh. This one introduces a new character, a former NYPD cop who was framed for rape, then inexplicably released with all charges dropped but his career as a police officer finished. Over a decade later he is a PI, still haunted by the period of time he spent in solitary confinement at Riker's, and trying to make sense of his life. When he is drawn into an attempt to free another black man who was set up by people in the NYPD, he decides he must take whatever chances are necessary to solve both that man's case and his own. I must confess I had a very hard time following what was going on; too much seemed to be happening in Joe King Oliver's head that wasn't shared with the reader. And it starts to feel as though Mosley is recycling characters and plot elements. I really like Easy Rawlins, and I find Leonid McGill quite interesting, but I can't quite get a bead on Oliver. I have read one of Mosley's Socrates Fortlow series, and at least two stand alones; I know I admire, and usually enjoy his work. I'm not sure why he needed to create a new character who so far doesn't seem to be all that new. I won't hurry to pick up any more books featuring King Oliver if they come along, especially since I still have a goodly number of Rawlins and McGill adventures to read.

Mar 25, 10:54am Top

>209 laytonwoman3rd: that sounds very interesting Linda. I'm quite partial to books about good friendships.

Mar 28, 7:28am Top

>209 laytonwoman3rd: I remember hearing a piece on NPR quite a while ago and it didn't really catch my attention. But your review has changed that entirely — now I really want to read it. Thanks for that!

Mar 28, 8:44am Top

>213 Caroline_McElwee:, >214 rosalita: Glad to spread the word, ladies. And gee...I'm better at promoting a book than NPR? Maybe I should get a cut!

Mar 29, 3:45pm Top

31. A Dark Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell) This was very good, though not a fast read for me. Dense, packed with detail about a very dysfunctional family and the many tangled webs woven by its members, but with essential facts about the central mystery parceled out in a sometimes maddeningly piecemeal fashion. We begin by learning that the narrator's sister, Vera, has been hanged for murder, a startling enough fact by itself. Then the family history begins to be revealed, with characters mentioned by name as though in conversation with someone who knows them all and understands their relationships to one another. The reader, however, not being in the know, must make multiple deductions as the story unfolds, not the least of which is the identity of Vera's murder victim. I began to enjoy the book about one-third of the way in, once I got the hang of how the story was being told and immersed myself in it. It is deceptively "short"-looking in that thin hardcover format so many mystery book club books were once published in. If I hadn't drawn the wrong conclusion from that, expecting to whip through it in a sitting or two, I'd have enjoyed it more right from the start. Intelligent, crafty, and not quite predictable.

Mar 29, 4:54pm Top

>216 laytonwoman3rd: One of her twistiest reads indeed. Great fun, but really requires the attention of a mammotho wrist-spraining kittensquisher. Glad that it worked for you!

Mar 31, 2:46pm Top

Your library photos are lovely!
Hank and Jim sounds interesting. I know we have it at the library.

Apr 2, 6:29pm Top

>217 richardderus: "mammotho wrist-spraining kittensquisher" I hope I don't qualify for whatever that is. *befuddled expression*

>218 tymfos: I was pleasantly surprised, Terri. I expected to skim a lot of it, and I didn't want to after all.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

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