The Friends of my local library had our annual book sale a couple weekends ago. It is amazing how many books get weeded from the library or from other people's bookshelves.
Kay and Diane squeezing as many books onto the table as possible.
The library is popular with teens. They were happy to help -- and they got early admittance to the sale.
Last day of the sale -- fill a bag! The books were flying out of the library.
Sadly, we didn't make as much money as in prior years, but we did get books into people's hands. Large print and romance novels, which sold well last year, were not as popular this year; the remains were divvied up and distributed to the five nursing homes in the county. Unwanted paperbacks had their covers torn off and were recycled.
Like many of us, I am a devoted reader. Mysteries and thrillers are my favorite, but I dabble in almost anything. Nonfiction is generally consumed via audiobooks. Biographies are my favorite nonfiction, although I just realized I haven't read nor listened to any of those for several years. I liked science fiction in my teens and early twenties and have read several in that genre this year. Since the early 2000s I have kept a list of the books I read and the books I didn't finish; that last list gets longer every year -- so many books, so little time.
My Ten Favorite Books of 2014 in Reverse Chronological Order.
Blackout and All Clear / Connie Willis. Sci-fi/alternative history. The author started out to write one book, but it got so long the publisher divided it into two (which clocked in at 491 and 641 pages, respectively; good decision, publisher). Willis has several other books based on this same premise: in 2060-ish Oxford, post-grad historians are required to time travel back to their particular period of specialization. These two books feature historians going back to the London Blitz, 1940. Lots of good characterization and action and history. I don't generally care for historical fiction, who knows why, nor conventional sci-fi, too much effort involved in understanding the world the author has created, but I enjoyed these two tremendously.
Still Alice / Lisa Genova. My pick for book club. A novel written by a neuroscientist about a woman, a 50-yo Harvard professor, with early-onset Alzheimer's. The book was uncanny in the way it put the reader inside the head of the title character; every time I had to put it down -- to visit the bathroom, to make dinner, to check my email -- I felt for the first few seconds as though I had Alzheimer's. This author has a couple other novels dealing with brain disfunction that I want to read.
Sparrow / Mary Doria Russell. Huh, another sort-of sci-fi, sort-of time travel book. As I said, I have been dipping back into this genre in 2014. This one is a little heavy on the spiritual for me -- several of the main characters are priests -- but still it was a gripping story.
Wave / Sonali Deraniyagala. Nonfiction. The author, a economist, and her family -- husband (also an economist), two children, parents -- were vacationing on the southern beaches of Sri Lanka at Christmas, 2004, when the tsunami hit. She lost everyone she loved. The book follows her through the aftermath of grieving -- shock, age, shame, depression, and eventual resolution. The book is short but powerful.
The Children Act/ Ian McEwan. McEwan is one of the few authors that I will read everything they write. (Jane Smiley, John Sandford, Tana French, and Kate Atkinson are the others.) A female London judge must rule on a case where a 17-yo boy, backed by his family, refuse a life-saving blood transfusion for religious reasons. Rich characters, disturbing choices.
Lock In / John Scalzi. Oh, jeeze, another sci-fi? Yep, I really did get into that genre in 2014. The audiobook was narrated by Wil Wheaton. Note: I follow Scalzi and Wheaton on Twitter; they are both intelligent and funny and self-deprecating and entertaining.
Flash Boys : A Wall Street Revolt / Michael Lewis. Nonfiction. Lewis is another author I like. He writes mostly about the disgusting things that go on on Wall Street and in the financial community at large. Because of my background in brokerage and tax accounting, I find this wildly interesting. YMMV.
Until Tuesday : A Wounded Warrior and the Dog Who Saved Him / Luis Montalban. Nonfiction; memoir. I originally read this book because it was about a dog, but it turned out to be at least as much about dealing with the VA and the aftermath of war injuries, both mental and physical. I gave Smokey my library copy to read because I knew both subjects would be of great interest to him, but eventually I had to return it unread. I found a used copy online, and he took it with him to the hospital to read during his stay. But circumstances intervened and he didn't read it until recently. He was enjoying it so much that I went on Amazon and found a second book by that author about his and his dog's adventures, intending to give it to Smokey for Christmas. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I opened the Amazon box and found that it was a children's book. "Age: 4 - 8; Grade level: Kindergarten - 3." Still, I gave it to him and we had a chuckle over my tendency not to read the fine print. (He still enjoyed the book.)
The House of God : The Classic Novel of Life and Death in an American Hospital/ Samuel Shem. Elder Son was reading this when he came home for Christmas last year, his last year of medical school. Apparently, this is a book that every med student and intern and resident reads at some time because it is an irreverent and largely authentic novel about residency and the lunacy that [we can hope that only] sometimes prevails. He thought I would find it appalling; in fact, I loved it.
The Man in the Window / Jon Cohen. This novel was recommended by none less than Nancy Pearl, the legendary Seattle librarian. Simultaneously tongue-in-cheek and warmly humorous, it was a completely enjoyable read.
You know I am a voracious reader. This post is right up my street.
Ten Eleven Books That Have Stayed With Me Long After I Read Them.
A Wrinkle in Time / Madeline l'Engle. I read this when I was about 12 when it was new, and I always remembered it with affection. Reread it in about 1990 when Elder Son was at an age when I thought he might enjoy it; it didn't age quite as well as I had hoped but was still good.
Winterdance: The Fine Magic of Running the Iditarod / Gary Paulsen. One of my favorite books ever, maybe because I have a weakness for north-woods-wilderness-type stories. (Especially if they involve dogs or other animals.) This is a nonfiction account of Paulsen's training for and running two Iditarod races. It is hilarious and profane and spiritual and totally enjoyable.
The Exception / Christian Jungersen. A suspenseful psychological semi-thriller set at a Danish NGO that researches genocides. I use the term "suspenseful" here to denote "could barely breathe and lay awake at night after reading."
Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead / Ayn Rand. I was, like many people, a devotee of Ayn Rand when I was about 17. Happily, I outgrew her. But the books were powerful and still linger in my memory, not necessarily in a good way.
The Stand / Stephen King. My favorite Stephen King book. I reread it every few years.
Prodigal Summer / Barbara Kingsolver. The image of the mountain breathing (exhaling at morning, inhaling at evening) is still with me. And how the protagonist solved the problem of how to make her land sufficiently profitable without growing tobacco.
Never Cry Wolf / Farley Mowat. This one is a classic of animal behavior. As a young naturalist, Mowat lived for a time in the remote woods and tundra of northern Canada to study wolves. I read it in high school; perhaps it was the basis of my love of such stories.
War for the Oaks / Emma Bell. The book is modern urban fantasy. The reasons I loved it were 1, it was set in Minneapolis, and b, it took me back to my early 20s in that city, hanging out on weekend nights with my friends, skinny dipping at Hidden Beach at 2am and eating breakfast at 4am at the Embers at 26th and Hennepin. (Neither of those two things occur in the book, but it had the same feeling I remembered.)
We Wish To Inform You That We Will Be Killed Tomorrow With Our Families / Philip Gourevitch. Nonfiction about the 1995 genocide in Rwanda. As much as humanity said, "Never again!" after the Holocaust, genocide continues.
Mountains Beyond Mountains / Tracy Kidder. Nonfiction about Paul Farmer's health campaigns in Haiti. Farmer is a Harvard-trained doctor and anthropologist who founded Partners in Health and invented effective and low-cost ways of delivering good health care in desperately poor countries. His approach made me consider other NGOs in a different light.
Nickel and Dimed : On (Not) Getting By in America / Barbara Ehrenreich. Author is an investigative reporter; this is her account of her -- ultimately unsuccessful -- attempt to live on the minimum wage in several different cities in America. Eye-opening.
I read another excellent book: Until Tuesday : a Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalván. I think I probably requested it because it was about a dog, but it turned out to be about so much more. Nonfiction, it is about the author's Army tours in Iraq, his multiple injuries, his treatment by the VA hospital system during the Bush administration, his PTSD, and how his service dog saved him. Montalván's worldview and personality is so totally different from mine, but his eloquence and sincerity helped me understand how someone can be proud to be a soldier.
And, of course, there is the dog. Tuesday is the beautiful golden retriever who daily saved Montalván from the effects of his PTSD.
From the book:
"The defining state of PTSD is not fear. That's a complete misunderstanding. The defingin state of PTSD is hypervigilance. Psychologists describe it as the flight-or-fight syndrome because PTSD is essentially the superarounsed state normal people enter when thay are suddenly in danger, the one whre the blood rushes to your head, your muscles coil, and your breathing slows. You are in survival mode, ready to fight or flee for your lifte. For ordinary people it only lasts a few seconds, but for combat-scarred veterans like me, hyperarounsal was a near-permanent state.
"...I felt exactly the same way. Most people walked down the street oblivious to the world around them. I could see it in their eyes, and I was both jealous of the mindless sense of security and appalled by the carelessness. I analyzed everybody I passed, watching the expression on their faces, their body language, the way they held their hands. I took note of the way they dressed and the places they looked. If a person glanced at me twice, I locked onto them as a potential threat, and I remembered that not just for a the five minutes but for days and weeks as well...
"...Most veterans like me don't suddenly think we're in combat or have visual flashbacks like movie scenes. I experienced the feeling of being there: the adrenaline the hyperarousal, the awareness of imminent danger. My mind jumped at every movement in an upstairs window, calculating the probabilities, while my eyes scanned doorways, parked cars, and garbage bins. Especially garbage bins. They were always overflowing with bottles and wrappers, the perfect place for an improvised bomb."
I highly recommend this book.
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Younger Son was here this weekend. He and Smokey worked on Da Yeep on Saturday; it is possible that we may be able to plow the driveway. ::cheers!::
On Sunday Smokey and Kiera The Teenage Helper worked on sorting and packing model trains, so YS didn't have much to do. All on his own he decided to straight the mess that is the entryway.
After! Percy approves, and so do I!
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We like to give the dogs bones to chew on. One bone each, and they are good for hours days. On Friday Smokey decided to pick up the bones that were scattered around the living and dining rooms.
Find :: and go seek. Yeah, I know that's dumb, but it's what my mind came up with.
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I am not currently reading the two books I want to talk about today. I finished one on Thursday night and the other Saturday afternoon. But they both stuck with me, so I want to talk about them briefly. I have been having rather a dull run with books lately, so it was nice to read two back-to-back that grabbed me.
This one, The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, is probably going to get some mixed reviews, and I can see the flaws in it, but I still found it fascinating. It is a bildungsroman, but unlike most coming-of-age novels, this one follows the characters until they have college-age children of their own. If you read the reviews on Amazon, you can get an idea of the plot and the themes. The one that struck me was the jealousy, the feeling of never having as good a life as your friend(s), and wishing you were in their family. I remember that as a child, although now of course I know that no family is as wonderful as I imagined others to be when I was 10. The author examines the some of the characters' feelings in depth, which rang true to me.
The other book, the one I finished yesterday, is The Dinnerby Herman Koch. Once again, the Amazon reviews can tell you a lot about the novel. I found it fascinating -- started it at 9:30 Friday night and forced myself to put it down at 12:30 because I needed to go to sleep, however unwilling I was not to keep reading. It is dark, satirical, disturbing, a bit mysterious as snippets of information about the characters are slowly revealed. Set in the Netherlands and originally written in Dutch, it was translated to English in 2012.
As always, I have no idea where I got the recommendation to read these -- I request books from the library whenever someone mentions them favorably -- but if it was one of you, thanks!
Remember those fingerless gloves I was knitting from llama yarn for a friend?
I finished them Friday evening, including weaving in the ends. When I tried them on, I was horrified to discover that the second one was at least an inch shorter than the first. Apparently I cannot remember what I did two hours ago.
What you see above are the remnants of the second half of the second glove. Tragically, those remnants are all less than a couple feet long because I wove in the ends so thoroughly that they were impossible to unpick. Happily, there was plenty of yarn to reknit.
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Need a book to entice a very young knitter? Look no further.
I may have mentioned that John Sandford's Prey series of police procedurals are my favorite over all other mystery/suspense/procedurals because his characters are so darned intelligent yet understated. Yesterday I picked up the latest one, Silken Prey, at the library. I am on page 94 of this 400+ page potential bestseller and have found three --three! -- errors that should have been caught in the editing.
1. "Rose Marie's husband opened the door; he was holding the Times in one hand and a piece of jelly toast in the other."
What, he has three hands? How did he open the door with stuff in each hand? If he put something down to answer the door, why are both hands still occupied?
2. (sorry, don't remember what this one was so I cannot look for it}
3. "I've got a cabin on the Wisconsin side of the St Croix [river], north of St. Croix falls."
It's St. Croix Falls, dumbass. The falls are there, but the name of the village is St. Croix Falls.
The Prey series is still my favorite, editorial nit-picking aside. I'll let you know if that changes.
Edited to add: On the very next page there was another one. After correctly detailing the protagonist's highway route from St. Paul to St. Croix Falls via I-35 and US Hwy 8 through Chisago City, Lindstrom, and Center City, the author mislabels the highway leading north from SCF, calling it Hwy 82 instead of Hwy 87. There is only one highway leading north that the character could have taken, so why bother to disguise it? I think it is another goof. (Elder Son was a fact-checker at the NYU student newspaper during his undergrad days. Now we all know where he got his nitpicking ways. When I read the sentence in #1, above, to him he asked if the character had a foot-operated door. Yep, the acorn does not fall, etc.)
(Knit.) Read and re-read and studied and analyzed the Snicket Sockspattern until I finally figured out how the leg pattern works. It's not all that hard, but I had put the pattern on my iPad instead of printing it out and that meant I could not compare the written instructions side by side with the chart -- had to keep flipping back and forth. When I bit the bullet and attempted to print out the chart, my husband's computer (the only one with a functioning printer at the moment) locked up. So I went back to flipping back and forth between screens and eventually it all clicked.
Attended our lake association annual meeting, gave my report on doings in county government. (I am the county board rep on our lake association board.)
Knit. Started a simple ribbed hat with the skein of Knit Picks Swish Bulky that was left over from my hat and scarf. This turned out to be the perfect thing to knit while watching the above movies because I didn't need to keep my eyes on my knitting, thereby freeing them to read the subtitles.
Made a dandy dinner that took less than 10 minutes of actual prep time. Stir-fried chicken with jalfrezi sauce over brown rice with steamed asparagus. One more thing out of the pantry, one more thing out of the freezer.
Began cleaning my office. My first goal is to clear a path wide enough to use a walker easily, in preparation for my recovery from the hip replacement. Once that is accomplished -- probably today -- I will begin dealing with the clutter around the edges.
Played many rounds of Word Seek with Smokey. He worked this weekend (nights as always) so he tended to fall asleep after two or three games.
Did NOT knit on the deck. Not quite warm enough. Yet.
I celebrated my own Mother's Day yesterday -- spent pretty much the entire day in my recliner reading, watching Netflix, drinking coffee/soda/wine (as the day progressed), and knitting. This is Smokey's weekend to work (always with the night shifts) so when he is home he is tucked up in his bed with two dogs and a cat and a box fan for white noise. Today I might be productive. Hard to say, really.
Reading: A few weeks ago I read a piece in The Nation by Deborah Kopaken Kagan about her experiences as a woman author and how she was demeaned by the publishing industry. I was so inspired/enraged by her experience I clicked over to bn.com and bought all four of her books to read on my iPad. (I also clicked over to her website and sent her an email telling her what I did; she emailed back that it made her cry.) Anyhow, I want to recommend her books. She came from an ordinary middle-class background, graduated from Harvard, moved to Paris, worked as a photojournalist covering a lot of gritty stuff (ex., she went into Afghanistan alone during the Soviet-Afghan war), eventually married, had three kids, started to write. The woman has lived more in her 40-odd years than a dozen other other people put together. I highly recommend her books, especially Shutterbabe (memoir) and The Red Book (fiction). Her collection of essays, Hell Is Other Parents, is pretty damned good, too.
Yesterday's book was Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich. I had read the first 60+ pages in fits and starts and was not particularly engaged by it, but yesterday I decided to give it a chance to pull me in. Which it did, in spades. Protagonist is a quant who specializes in the odds of disasters; the 3-person consulting firm he works for makes him rich. Then a real mega-disaster hits New York City -- essentially Hurricane Sandy plus Katrina -- and his life changes. Some of the scenes were lifted straight out of the news stories of Katrina. Good book, four out of five stars.
Knitting: I am enjoying having several projects to hand at all times. A hat, a pair of socks, the top-down set-in sleeve sweater, a scarf of the same yarn as the hat. They are strewn about my chair in various stages of doneness. When I sit down there is the delicious feeling of What shall I pick up this time? Project monogamy, begone!
Stuff: Remember the humungous external hard drive? I have moved most of my data files over to it and gone into my most-often used programs to direct them to that drive for files. Two programs have me stumped, though: Excel and iPhoto. I can deal with the former, but iPhoto is being a bugger. I have searched through all its menus and preferences and cannot find a place to tell it where to store its files. My internal 160GB hard drive has 76GB of photos. It would be nice to get them all moved and backed up. All suggestions welcome. (I started to email Younger Son yesterday to ask him but got distracted, had to reboot, lost the email, yada yada. So I'm asking y'all.)
No photos popped into my head to illustrate today's post. Here, in honor of Mother's Day, is a gratuitous one from 1984 of me being a mom to Elder Son.
I got to thinking about John Sandford and his Virgil Flowers novels because I noticed a new one had come out, Mad River. Love John Sandford, love Virgil Flowers. Maybe not quite as much as I love Lucas Davenport of the Prey series, but close. Couldn't remember which of the books I had already read so I requested all of them (five plus the newest one) from the library. Have been reading them one after the other, kinda like 350-page potato chips. Just started #4 AND got the email that the newest one is waiting for me at my local library.
Edited to add: the reason I like Sandford's novels and characters so much is that they are the most intelligent but down-to-earth ones I have read, amen.
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Speaking of books.
I sit on the board of trustees of the regional library system, which is currently embarking on its [latest] long-range planning process. Members of the board were tasked with visiting all the libraries in their respective counties and chatting with the directors about the services they get from the regional system. On Friday the other board member from our county and I visited four municipal libraries and had four wildly varying discussions. Wildly varying in a good way, mind you -- their experience in the library system ranged from 1 to 29 years and their education/library size/community demographic varied almost as much.
It was an interesting and informative and fun way to spend a day. Which is good because next Wednesday we are going to do it again with four different libraries.
Sorry, I should have taken a photo to show how terrible it looked. If you scan the projects in Ravelry you may notice that on some, the non-stockinette portion of the hat sort of... sticks out. Mine looked like the one in the link but much, much worse.
In hindsight, I think the problem was that the pattern was written for Cascade 220, which is a light worsted, and I knitted it from a plump worsted. Perhaps if I had gone up a needle size all would have been well.
But we shall never know because I am NOT knitting that pattern again.
Not that I am bitter or anything...
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(something I commented on another blog that seemed so revolutionary and astoundingly awesome that I had to include it here)
The possible long-term effects of global warming have been endlessly reported upon, but the day-to-day effects have been downplayed. I have concluded what the latter means for us in the northern latitudes is that our weather will change more quickly than we are used to. The past few weeks, with fronts blowing through seemingly every other day, are what have convinced me of this. Makes sense meteorologically, too -- globala warming is basically just more energy in the atmosphere = more volatile weather.
Kinda fun, actually. Every morning is a new surprise. Can I go into town minus hat/scarf/boots or will I need long underwear and three pairs of socks?
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Have any of you been watching House of Cards on Netflix? I started last night, got annoyed in the first 30 seconds*, so annoyed in the next three minutes* that I stopped watching. I eventually went back and am now ready to start episode 2.
But it is not nearly as good as the British original with Ian Richardson, imnsho. I blogged about that oncetwice before. When Kevin Spacey delivered that line -- You might very well think that. I could not possibly comment -- I actually groaned. He is a great actor, don't get me wrong, but this whole thing seems kinda flat compared to the original.
I will continue to suffer through it, though ;-)
* They broke a primary law of good writing/movie-making: show me, don't tell me. When FU kills the dog, that is showing; when he expounds to the camera to give every bit of background information we may need, that's telling.
My Ten Many, Many Favorite Mysteries. What can I say? Mysteries have been my preferred reading since discovered #1, below.
Agatha Christie. We had many of these in paperback when I was growing up.
I started reading them when I was about 12. Have read them all, many more than once.
Dorothy Sayers. Lord Peter Wimsey was awesome, but Harriet Vane ROCKED! Have read them all multiple times.
P.D. James. Another classic. Have read them all. Twice.
Arthur Conan Doyle. Ditto, but more than twice.
Other authors whose books I used to seek out: Dick Francis (horse racing & murder), Lilian Jackson Braun (cozies; "The Cat Who..." series; Koko and Yum Yum and Qulleran), Donald Westlake (murder/crime mixed with humor; not a series, just a book a year... forever), Elmore Leonard (best writer of dialogue EVAH), Emma Lathen (murder mysteries about banking and finance -- how could I not read them all?), Sue Grafton (A is for [etc.]; the R book was so boring I gave up on her), J.A. Jance, but not any more. I have Moved On.
Patricia Cornwell. She deserves an entry all to herself. Her first five or ten books were excellent, but eventually those morose and self-destructive characters got boring. And depressing.
What I read now:
John Sandford. Lucas Davenport Prey series is my hands-down favorite of all time. Also the Virgil Flowers ("That damn Flowers.") series and the Kidd series; excellent. Then Sandford wrote an espionage novel (don't remember the name). It was so awful I couldn't believe it was the same guy writing. He needs to stick to crime. But a new Prey or Flowers or Kidd book is always cause for rejoicing.
Jeffrey Deaver. The author who can pack the most plot twists into the last fifty pages of a book.
Tana French. Go read one of her books and you will be hooked.
Kate Atkinson. Ditto.
Steig Larsson. Of course.
Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell. Books written under the first pseudonym = excellent. Books written under the second = excellent but so unnerving I can only read one every five years or so.
P.J. Tracy. Techie mysteries set in Minneapolis.
Carl Hiaasen. Humor, satire, and murder in south Florida. There is a lot to satirize in that locale, and he does it masterfully.
Jonathan Kellerman and Fay Kellerman. I have read all the Alex Delaware books, but I like her Peter Decker/Rina Lazurus series better.
Susan Wittig Albert. Herb-themed cozies set in the Texas Hill County.
Others where I read one book and liked it enough to seek out others by the same author: Markus Sakey, Chelsea Cain, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Dennis Lehane, Tess Gerritsen, Harlen Coben, Alex Kava, Nelson DeMille, Greg Iles, Terri Persons (set in MN).
Others I read, but this is the B-list: good enough to invest the time to read but not stunning. William Kent Kruger (all set in northern MN), Janet Evanovich (Ranger or Morelli -- you choose), Lee Child (Jack Reacher is every man's fantasy alter ego, imnsho).
Others I prefer to consume in audiobook format: Michael Connelly, Stephen Cannell, Jim Butcher's Dresden Files.
I could go on (and on and on) but I won't. ::collective sigh of relief::
I am currently listening to book 3, Blameless, in the Parasol Protectorate series. Light, frothy, amusing paranormal suspense/romance set in Victoria England. Perfect fare when life is a little... heavy.
There is a character in these books called Lord Akildama. (Since I am listening to the audiobook, that spelling is my guess and may bear no resemblance to its actual spelling in the book.) In books 1 and 2, Soulless and Changeless, this is pronounced Lord Ah-kill-DAH-mah. But in book 3 -- same narrator, mind you -- it becomes Lord Ah-KEEL-dah-mah. Annoying, but oh, well.
Imagine my astonishment when suddenly in the middle of book 3 the name become Lord Ah-kill-DAH-mah once more. WTF? How will it be pronounced in book 4, Lord Ab-ber-CROHM-bee?
And that is what has set my teeth on edge today. I knew y'all wanted to know.
You may not be familiar with MichaelPerry. He is a local author from New Auburn, Wisconsin (population 485) now living on a farm in the Chippewas Valley near Eau Claire, Wisconsin. His first book was Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time, which came out in 2002 when I was working part-time at our local library. That book was never on the shelf; it was always being requested by someone somewhere in n.w Wisconsin. Eventually I decided I needed to read it and found, much to my happy surprise, that Mr. Perry is a thoughtful writer. I recommend all his books. Read 'em in order and follow his life.
During tax season I didn't read much, but I did listen to several audio books.
Before I went back to work I read a couple mystery novels by Kate Atkinson, One Good Turn and When Will There Be Good News? They are in the Jackson Brodies series and set in Scotland. The weird thing is that as I read that last one, I knew I had seen it on PBSMasterpiece Mystery. And I had, just didn't remember that the main character was Brodie. Atkinson is an excellent writer; the first book of hers that I read was Case Histories and was recommended on someone's blog. (Whoever you are -- Kym? CarrieK? -- thanks!)
First, I finished listening to all five books (so far) of A Song of Ice and Fire. Started that endeavor in September, finished in February. What a trip!
After that series, anything else was a bit of a let-down but I soldiered on. Cuz I am brave like that.
First came The Amulet of Samarkand, the first book in the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. Fun book, dry humor, magic and demons abounding. I didn't realize until after I finished, but it is a YA book; I think that speaks to the fact that it is an intelligent YA book ;-) I have the second book of the trilogy, The Golem's Eye, from the library but I'm having trouble ripping it to my iTunes -- disc 13 of 14 keeps locking up my computer. DRM? Perhaps...
(Which reminds me, I need to delete Amulet from iTunes. I don't *steal* audiobook contents, I *time-shift* it to when I want to listen.)
Next was Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian. I probably won't continue with the series. It was a good story but I know I missed a good three-quarters of it because at least that much was in 1800-ish nautical terminology. Learned a couple new words: there were specific sails called "royals" and "lateens". I have since used that second word in Boggle. Someone who is more conversant with maritime jargon than I would love this series.
I started The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett (#2 in his Discworld series) but somehow didn't get hooked into the story, so I put it aside and listened instead to Good Omens by him and Neil Gaiman. That one was a lot of fun.
I listened to Pavane by Keith Roberts, an alternate history set in late 20th-century Britain where the Roman Catholic church rules the world and has done so since Queen Elizabeth I was assassinated in 1588. There is no electricity, only steam power, and long distance communication is accomplished through a network of human-powered signal towers. Interesting concept, well-written.
Real history came back in Eric Roberts's In the Garden of the Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin, an account of the Dodd family, whose father was appointed ambassador to Berlin in 1933, only a few months after Hitler came to power. The intimate and detailed descriptions of Goehring and Goebbels are fascinating, as was the entire audiobook.
After tax season was over I continued to listen to audiobooks. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett was... awesome, the best book I have read/listened to in a long time. If you haven't read it, do so. My book group is going to read it in September, and I will read the analog version then.
Right now I am listening to A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century by Barbara Tuchman. I have wanted to read it since I saw her interviewed on the Dick Cavett show when the book came out in 1978, but I also knew that I probably would get bogged down and lose interest. Audiobook is the way to go in such a situation! I must confess I do not listen to every word, just drift along with the reader. I don't care about the specifics of which count married his daughter to which king's nephew, but I love getting a mental picture of what life was like then, both for the nobles and for the commoners.
Last week I downloaded the Kindle edition of Ann Shayne's book, Bowling Avenue to my iPad. When I started reading I thought it might be a little too much chick-lit style for my taste, but then I got hooked. Next thing I knew it was 2am and I was halfway through the book, loving the characters and the story and the setting. I can recommend that one unreservedly.
Handknitter's Handbook / Montse Stanley (note: my copy is probably 20 years old, bought used on eBay; it lacks a dust cover but is in very good condition otherwise except for slight yellowing of the pages). $10 + media rate postage.
While Andrew was home for Christmas we watched Season 1 on his laptop. Excellent.
I had clued him in on these books a couple years ago, and he had found somewhere on the web where he could download a pdf of the text. He put them on his iPod Touch and read whenever he had a minute or two to waste -- waiting for an elevator, in the bathroom, wherever.
Last year when A Dance with Dragons, Book 5 of the series, came out I emailed him to let him know. He replied that he already had an autographed copy*, acquired when he went to hear George R.R. Martin speak. Rotten kid, taking advantage of all NYC has to offer.
* "[He'd] already got one, you know." Name that reference.
Ensure that every child in America has access to an effective school library program. Every child in America deserves access to an effective school library program. We ask that the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provide dedicated funding to help support effective school library programs. Such action will ensure more students have access to the resources and tools that constitute a 21st century learning environment. Reductions in school library programs are creating an ‘access gap’ between schools in wealthier communities versus those where there are high levels of poverty. All students should have an equal opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to learn, to participate, and to compete in today’s world.
The librarians need 5,0835,074 5,073* more signatures on this petition…
* The first number was how many more signatures were needed when I first went to the website. Between then and when I went back after verifying my account via email, 9 more people had signed. Then I did.