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August 21, 2017

Comfort Reads: Mac & Cheese for the Soul

Filed under: best books,Favorite Books,Jane Austen,Reading life — rmlblog @ 8:26 pm

These days I’ve found that I’m having trouble reading books that get my “fight or flight” system going, even though the book may be well-written (Try Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais; I’ll read it when things have calmed down.) I think I am just overloaded with the events in the news. However, I never stop reading; I just turn to my comfort reads.

Comfort reads are very personal. No one can really recommend to you what you would consider comforting. Many times it has to do with something in your childhood. In my case, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is on my list because my father brought it to me when I was sick.

Others include:

  • Agatha Christie
  • Jane Austen
  • Harry Potter
  • PG Wodehouse
  • Louise Penny
  • Many of my fantasy authors (Hobb, Sanderson, Kay)
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Patrick O’Brien

I’ve been collecting many of these authors in audio so when my eyes go I can still listen.

There is an blog from Australia about the site’s staffs’ comfort reads: https://www.readings.com.au/news/our-best-comfort-reads

What are yours?

 

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April 27, 2016

Women’s Lives and Relationships — Just for Women?

Filed under: Favorite Books,Reading life — rmlblog @ 8:24 pm

I am in a Reader’s Advisory Group that is looking at the category of “Women’s Fiction” or as we rather call it “Women’s Lives and Relationships.” We are getting ideas to help people who like this kind of novel find other authors they might like.

But we are having trouble deciding what fits in the category. It’s easy to say that the books have to be contemporary and about contemporary times. No historical fiction. The focus has to be on the emotional life of the people. Thrillers don’t count — they have their own audience. The plot is what drives thrillers. Psychological thrillers may be character driven, but they don’t fit either.

Many books are about women who help each other through life: think of Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons by Lorna Landvik,Wednesday Sisters by Meg Clayton wednesdayor Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan. The subject term for this in the catalog is Female Friendship. But what if there are some men in the group? Ann Hood’s The Knitting Circle or The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister both have men who help the group deal with their problems. Then the subject heading is Friendship Fiction.

Mother and Daughters- or Sisters- Fiction is another category for which most books would be Women’s Fiction. However, Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper has a completely different feel than Liane Moriarty’s Three three wishesWishes, but both are about sisters. And not all writers have the same tone for all their books.

To complicate the subject, women’s lives are different when they are teens, twenties, young mother, empty-nester, part of the sandwich generation, and retired. Someone who likes Sophie Kinsella might not want to read Ann Leary’s The Good House or Jeanne Ray’s Eat Cake.

The articles all say that Women’s Fiction books must be about women and by women authors. Is this true? Do only women read books about women? What about The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion? This is categorized as romance and humor, but it is not a Romance novel.

So if you like books about Women’s Lives and Relationships, which authors would you read? I’ll make a book list of what we discover.

December 28, 2015

Winter’s Coming: Read Aloud for Family Fun

Filed under: Children's books,Favorite Books,Reading life,Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 11:43 pm
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When I was a teacher, one of my favorite times was after recess when we would gather the kids around and read longer chapter books to them. One former student still remembers The Book of Three as the book that turned him on to reading. When I was in grade school, I remember the librarian reading long books to us — Johnny Tremain, comes to mind — and how much we looked forward to it each week.

This fun doesn’t have to be limited to teachers or librarians. Reading aloud  is a wonderful experience. And there are some great books out there that adults and older children would enjoy. Just imagine sometime this winter, turning off the television, sipping hot cocoa or cider, and listening to an adventure that takes you away from the cold, the wars, the terrorism and off to another world. Books can do that, you know.

Here’s a list of books that Eunice recommends for reading aloud:

Good Read Alouds

April 24, 2015

Ready for an Adrenaline Rush?

Filed under: best books,Favorite Books,Psychological — rmlblog @ 2:32 am

Thrillers are the biggest sellers in the publishing industry. for thriller blogThe latest “hot” title is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; a few years ago it was Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Not all thrillers are equally thrilling, however. I’ve found that thrillers that are parts of a series — think most of James Patterson, Harlan Coben, Michael Connolly, Lee Child — lack that “anything can happen” feel because you know the main character at least will survive.

The scariest thrillers are the stand-alone titles. You have no idea who will survive until the end (Girl on the Train) or who is the bad guy and who just appears to be (Before I Go to Sleep.) John Grisham is good at this. I recently listened to The Firm for a legal thriller discussion; I had no idea who would survive.

I’ve created a book list of some of the recent Stand-Alone Thrillers and the May book display at the library will be thrillers.

Let us know which ones gave you the chills!

March 27, 2014

Connect to Books!

Filed under: best books,Favorite Books,History,Narrators,Reading life — rmlblog @ 12:45 am

I have been noticing interesting connections with some of the books I’ve been reading lately. It made me think of a hyperlinking in websites that would take you to somewhere else for more information. Here are some of my recent connections:

boys in the boat

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown is the story of the 1938 USA Olympic 8-man crew that won in Berlin. The story is actually exciting, even though you know how it will end. (In fact, it led me to try the rowing machine at the Y.) In the early sections when the book tells about the boys’ earlier lives, it reminded me of Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America 1927. The main character Joe in Brown’s book lives part of the time in Squim, Washington, which was a destination in The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook which we read for book discussion. The descriptions of what was happening in Berlin leading up to the Olympics reminded me of the book Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. At one point, Joe works on the Grand Cooley Dam. One of my favorite authors, Ivan Doig, has some books set at Montana’s Fort Peck Dam.  The information I had learned from each of these other books gave The Boys in the Boat an extra depth.

perfume collector

Another book I really enjoyed was The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro. This book jumps around in time as we learn more about a mysterious woman who leaves a legacy to Grace Munroe. Some of the book is set in New York in 1927 (see Bryson book above!) and deals with life in a hotel in New York. That reminded me of The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, a suspenseful book about a couple of typists in New York during Prohibition. (The narrator in that book is definitely unreliable.) Grace, however, is a newlywed in London just after WWII — shades of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer When she travels to Paris to get her legacy, she discovers how the Nazis are involved with the perfume collector. This part reminded me of Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.

All in all, I encourage everyone to sample both nonfiction and fiction books that intersect with each other. The result is richer in all ways.

What books have you found that intersect well with each other?

April 22, 2013

Reading Aloud for Adults

Filed under: Favorite Books,Narrators,programs,Reading life — rmlblog @ 8:45 pm

A recent blog discussed what used to be — before television and probably radio — a common practice of having a Reading Party. People would read stories and poetry to each other. Some people are wonderful storytellers — and not just children’s librarians. My mother read aloud to us a lot when we were young and I still hear her voice reading tales such as The Wind in the Willows and Just So Stories in my head.

I enjoy reading aloud, but rarely get to do it nowadays. Sometimes I’ll read a particularly interesting part of a book to my husband. I have trouble with the funny authors such as Dave Barry or P.G. Wodehouse because I can’t stop laughing.

Would it be fun to read aloud favorite parts of books at our Book Pot Luck? Which authors work best for read aloud? Dickens was certainly read aloud in parlors all around the country and even the world when he was published. Jane Austen is fun to read aloud, though I’m not sure my husband is an enthusiastic listener. The new Woody Guthrie book (reviewed in the Prov. Journal on April 21, 2013) sounds like it would be good read aloud.

Let me know what you think.

July 26, 2012

Mouth-Watering Reads

Filed under: Cooking,Favorite Books,mysteries,Mystery,Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 6:46 pm

In a July 16, 2012 NY Times article on Food and Mysteries, Otto Penzler, owner of Mysterious Bookstore in Manhattan, said, “in a grim story, food gives readers comfort.” Some of my favorite mystery writers do seem to include a lot of food in their books. If I were a chef, I would be tempted to make some of these foods that sound so good.

From Martin Walker‘s Bruno, Chief of Police: …” …Bruno served the perfect omelette, the earthy scent of the truffle just beginning to percolate.”
Walker has a website http://www.brunochiefofpolice.com with recipes.

Louise Penny is always having her characters eating at the bistro in Three Pines. In Bury Your Dead, Jean-Guy Beauvoir has filet mignon with cognac blue cheese sauce for dinner as he consults Clara about a murder.

Robert Parker‘s detective Spenser is famous for his cooking: boneless leg of lamb, risotto, grated beets and, of course, wine, calm Spenser and Susan down in Small Vices.

Linda Fairstein‘s team doesn’t cook very much, but they go to all the best restaurants in New York City and Martha’s Vineyard.

Other people have blogged about food and books. Check out readingupsidedown.com/book-chat/food-and-books

Which authors make you drool as you read or listen to their works?

May 24, 2012

Nonfiction that Reads Like Fiction

Filed under: best books,Favorite Books,History — rmlblog @ 7:29 pm

We just had a book discussion of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, a true story of a man’s and his comrades’ experience in the Pacific during WWII and afterwards. All of us were struck by how the book was a page-turner. Hillenbrand’s writing is descriptive without being flowery, her characterization and pacing keep you wondering what was going to happen next. And the plot was definitely an example of truth being stranger than fiction.

While not quite in the same category, books such as Shadow Divers, Flyboys, The Professor and the Madman, Galileo’s Daughter and Blind Side are also nonfiction books that pull you into the lives of the people involved.

Overbooked listed these nonfiction titles for their Nonfiction that Reads Like Fiction 2011 page:

Oath: The Remarkable Story of Surgeon’s Lfe Under in Chechnya by Khassan Baiev

Blue Blood by Edward Conlon

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Leblanc

Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Name All the Animals: A Memoir by Alison Smith

Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants by Robert Sullivan

Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir by Neely Tucker

Blood Done Sign My Name: A Memoir by Timothy Tyson

March 26, 2012

Reading in a Series

Filed under: eCatalog,Favorite Books,Reading life — rmlblog @ 7:25 pm

Like many other people, I enjoy reading books in a series with continuing characters. But, it is often hard to remember which books I’ve already read and what the order of the books are. Some authors also have spin-offs that don’t need to be read in the same order.

The new e-Catalog has some new tools that help us keep track of what books we want next and what books are part of a series. The first tool is called My Lists. When you’ve logged into the e-Catalog with your library card, you can go to Home/Search and then click on My Lists (on the green bar.) Create a new list in the New List box, add the list and then make it active. I named my list Series.

The next tool is the added information from LibraryThing. It includes a list of titles in a series. On the Home/Search page put in the author’s name or the title of any of the books. Then click on the blue title of the book. This brings you to the details page. In the right column will be the word Series, followed by the name of the series (Elm Creek Quilts, Sister Fidelma…) If you click on the name of the series, another window comes up with the titles of the books in order.

Click on the name of the first books you haven’t read and you will go to a details page again. Now Click in the box next to the words “+ to my active list.” To get back to the series list you have to click on the series name again (this part is a little clumsy.) You have to keep repeating these steps for as many books as you want.

To see your list, click on My Lists again. Your list of books will show up. To place a hold on one now, just click Details and then click on the blue Place Hold button. Your list will stay as part of your account so you only have to make it once. When you’ve already read the book, you can remove the title from your list.

You can also use My Lists to create lists of books you are thinking of reading — say you saw a good review, or someone told you about a good book. Make a new list called Recommended and add titles to it.

Hope this becomes easier than keeping all those lists in my purse!

December 29, 2011

Best Books of the Year Lists

Filed under: best books,Favorite Books,Reading life — rmlblog @ 1:23 am

I am compiling the Best Books of 2011 list from various sources — mostly by using LargeheartedBoy.com’s links to lists. At least 30 of the books are on at least 3 different lists, but I’ve only read 4 of them.

I looked back at the award lists — Man Booker, Orange Prize, National Book Award, Pulitzer and more — and I haven’t read very many of those either. Does that say more about me or about the award judges?

Maybe for this year’s challenge I’ll try to read more on some of these award lists. The Orange Prize — UK’s award for women writers — had Bel Canto and Poisonwood Bible as winners, so I might like some of theirs. Two of my favorite books, Empire Falls and Middlesex, won Pulitzers so that is another place to start.

Our book pot luck will be held on February 4 this year, so send in your suggestions by January 20 so I order copies of the books.

I will have read 108 books by the end of the year. 7 of them were nonfiction, so I still need to boost that category. The classic book I read was Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. I am sure I read it in high school, but that was quite a while ago. It is really well written. My favorite book was probably The Power of One (our February evening book discussion book.)

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