Monthly Archives: February 2012

Have I got a hobby for you!

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I LOVED “Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World” by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. I am SO ready to become a collector of rare books. Used I already have. Did you know that J.P. Morgan has the original manuscript of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens housed in the Morgan Library? Every Christmas the book is displayed to the public and shown opened to a different page.  W0w! It is remarkable how these books have been kept and preserved in mint condition.

This is just one of the many tidbits found in this delightful book. It was written fifteen years ago but you would never know it. This couple decides to stop out-doing each other with birthday gifts and limit themselves to a well thought out gift for less than twenty dollars. So the journey begins. Nancy decides to buy her husband (both are authors) a quality used copy of War and Peace. Little does she know she is in for a crash course on the used book world which ultimately lead the couple to rare book collecting on a shoe string budget.

This is chock full of uthors that I’ve never heard of and many that remind me of how many books I still haven’t gotten to. So many times I’ve read books that have led me to other authors and this is one of those. It is chock full of book titles and done  humorously with tongue- in- cheek references about the snobbery found in book shops (I’d love to ask them if they take layaway) that sell rarities that go upwards of tens of thousands of dollars! I found myself fantasizing about running my fingers down the old leather spines and seeing the classic illustrations. You would think this would be a subject that is dry as dust but they made it seem like you were on the adventure with them.

In a world that is currently enamored with the newest e-readers it was comforting to know that bound books will always have a market and be around for a long, long time. I’m ready to start my collection!

Finally finished “Home Town” by Tracy Kidder. Excellent non-fiction book but a little too long. Tracy rides around Northampton, Mass. with a highly respected policeman named Tom O’Connor, a local boy born and raised there. He shows the reader the seamier side of a town known for it’s rich and famous clientele. But there was also a quaintness and small town feeling that comes through as well. You follow Tom and his boyhood friend Rick, a troubled fellow policeman through the maze of small town politics. Tom marries a local girl named Jean who keeps Tom’s big personality somewhat anchored. Characters such as Frankie, Alan and Laura make for an interesting profile on how people shape where we live. Find out what happens to Tom and Rick at the end of “Home Town”.

Then I was on to “Abide With Me” by Elizabeth Strout. This novel follows a young minister in a small New England town who is grieving the loss of his wife.  He has a young daughter that is confused and angry and at the mercy of small town gossips. In fact this is about gossip and it’s ugly aftermath. This also about people in a congregation that love and respect their pastor but are angry that he is unavailable. Communication is difficult.

The minister admires Dietrich Bonhoffer and uses him as a role model, but he finds that heroes are meant to fall from pedestals when we expect perfection.  All gets worked out in the end in surprising ways.  Stay warm and dry.

Percival Oliphant?

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Why don’t we see names like Percival Oliphant or Headborough Brownrigg anymore? In “Death Comes to Pemberley” by P. D. James, we are transported back to names such as these and to Pemberly where the Darcy’s are enjoying parenthood and a happy marriage of six years. Elizabeth’s beloved sister Jane, along with her husband and children, live close by. They are preparing for a ball when Lydia, the hussy- sister (you know, she ran away with the scapegrace Wickham) hysterically shows up on the Darcy’s doorstep saying Wickham has been murdered.

So begins a wonderful mystery that unfolds among the gracious grandeur of Pemberly. This story is as close to Jane Austen in style as you can get and still be able to read it quickly. Words you just don’t hear around the water cooler anymore… like vulgar, benison,vouchsafed. Or how about rapprochement, sacrosanct and diatribe? It had me reaching for my dictionary at times. I love when I get exposed to new words.

Alas to my chagrin, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam take a backseat to many other colorful characters as Ms. James delves in to the lives of servants and the stuffy constabulary. I am a sucker for romance and found this portrayal of the Darcy’s to be a tad boring and too staid compared to the passions of “Pride and Prejudice”.  I’m sure Ms. James didn’t want them stealing the show in this one. I enjoyed this book immensely none the less.

It has been a busy weekend. My last book club met and I have begun to shut down my old life here. I took off the library logo on my blog and am playing around with what to put in it’s place. It’s hard to find the right balance. I want something quirky. I give off a serious persona I’m told, but I am anything but. Who wants pompous, stuffy or a site that takes its self too seriously? It is evolving like I am so stay tuned or send me any ideas you have.

I watched the second season of Downton Abbey (yeah-yeah more British stuff) over the weekend and loved every minute of it. It is outstanding and well worth the time so check it out at the library. Maggie Smith steals every scene she’s in. I also had Janet Evanovich’s newest Stephanie Plum novel come in for me. When you have something on hold you have to move it up in your reading queue. Gosh I’m starting to sound British aren’t I? Lovely. Anyway…I am officially retiring the Plum series because I cannot bear to read one more story of hers that ends the same way with the same characters. Eighteen is more than enough, well 17 1/2, I didn’t even find it interesting enough to finish. And what’s with this new trend of having big name authors share the cover with someone unknown? I read Janet’s and Dorien Kelly’s “Love in a Nutshell”.  Not impressed. It’s like wanting to see Elvis but getting an impersonator instead.  The search for more money maybe?

I also had my last vintage movie night and 16 showed up to watch “The African Queen” and it was even better than I remembered. What chemistry Bogie and Hepburn had! Well I’m plum out of bonmots, so drag out the dictionary and get some cult-cha, and think about reviving the name Percival?

Fried Frog Legs Taste Like Chicken…

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That is what popped into my head while reading Tracy Kidder’s “Home Town”. I’ve heard this analogy many times (tastes like chicken) when served an atypical mystery meat.  As a child I was served fried- frog- legs one horrifying visit to my grandmother’s house. The little kid in me couldn’t resist the lure of telling my friends about this goulish experience, so of course I tasted it ( who are we kidding here-I HAD to taste it ) and was amazed to find it tasted just like chicken!

So what does this have to do with the book I’m reading?  Tracy rides around Northampton, Mass. with a life long resident who happens to be the police chief. It is a slice of Americana that you don’t recall when envisioning Northampton. Like the juxtaposition of any exotic meat being compared to chicken -so did I find this fascinating story of two worlds colliding. That of the rich and famous, who have made real estate beyond the reach of an average wage in Northampton compared to the generations who have been raised, struggled and prospered in it’s boundaries. I’m not done with this  but am loving the characters of this fascinating book. I’m a big fan of Mr. Kidder to be sure.

I also started Elizabeth Strout’s newest novel, ironically about the New England area, and like it as well.  Like a nitwit I read a biography about Brenda Warner. Yep, Kurt Warner’s bride.  Dare I say this out loud? I don’t like football and I think what athletes get paid is absurd.  What hooked me was the subtitle “Answering Life’s Challenges with Unshakable Faith”. I found Ms. Warner’s version of her life’s journey self-serving at times and the title sounds like bragging. What is one person’s “unshakable” is another’s humility. They have funded a foundation, which is admirable, but I didn’t find her story that inspiring.

I am home today, unexpectedly, so I’m getting caught up on much needed reading and blogging.  I was relieved to see a post from our library director about a book neither of us could finish. Because I admire the gift and discipline it takes to be a writer I don’t take reading lightly but I think that knowing someone couldn’t finish a book must be painful. It would be like hearing someone say “your baby is ugly” without seeing how they will turn out. It is nice to see all the good reviews this book received despite my experience. It’s all about choices isn’t it? Speaking of which, for those of you who don’t know, I will be leaving Sioux Center towards the end of March and moving to Portland, Oregon. My last day at the Sioux Center Library is March 6.  So many mixed feelings. I have met the most delightful people and the best patrons ever here and will miss them all terribly. I will continue to blog here about books and my adventures in the big city but I will remove the Sioux Center Library logo.  I don’t want to lose touch with you so feel free to post whenever you want…And don’t be afraid to taste frog legs!

“Remembering You” by Tricia Goyer

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A young woman travels with her frail grandfather to Europe where he re-visits old battlefields he fought in during WWll. There is also an old flame that shows up and a mystery is solved around a young woman the grandfather is looking for. This was recommended by a patron that reads a lot but it didn’t do much for me. After all I can’t like everything!

My Heart Just Got a Big Fat Hug!

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Hold on to your bloomers! “The Misunderstood God: the lies religion tells about God”, knocked my socks off. First I cried like a baby because someone was telling me what I desperately needed to hear at the time I needed to hear it. Then I had to take notes, but after five pages of writing I decided to tell you… “Read the book”.

Darin’s spiritual road took a hairpin turn when he connected with the revelations revealed in the Bible passage 1Corinthians 13. We have all heard it at least once but never has it been revealed to me like it was in this book. He is very adamant about knowing what is wrong with “Religion” as it concerns Christianity. I wouldn’t do that because I can only share what my experience is and what messages I am hearing personally. We are so unique. Personal relationships with God must be as diverse and different as our fingerprints. We live in a world that is made more complicated every day and what this book reminded me of is that my relationship with God is simple, it comes down to love.I don’t choose to interpret my faith in the almighty for anyone but myself. And I don’t speak for anyone but myself. That is a big enough challenge, thank you very much!

Darin goes through each line of the Bible passage and relates it to his experience as a pastor, father, husband and son. It was funny at times and very moving. This could be one of those books that I just needed at this particular time, but I don’t think so. A lot of things I find distasteful about religion, based on observations and my own experience, he addresses here. It was very validating for me to read this book. The messages I got here healed some very painful wounds and gave me a new understanding of myself. Why did this book cross my hands when it did and why did I feel compelled to check it out? Well that one is a no brainer, I feel compelled to check out a lot but I didn’t think this one had anything to do with me.

I believe religion is undergoing a huge overhaul. It may not be felt as much here but it is happening none the less. I could reference all sorts of  his paragraphs but the reality is that you may get something entirely different from some other paragraph. Who am I to choose for you? One of things I did like that he said (paraphrase)is that often we start out in our faith painting by the numbers, dot to dot, coloring within the lines and then we have to head into the wilderness to find the promise land. That seems to be happening a lot to me lately, I’m starting to feel like I am in a Conostoga wagon.I had to buy this book because I have to read it again. There are so many personal messages to me, I don’t want to miss one.