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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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July 27, 2017

Book Related Birthday Trip

Filed under: audiobooks,best books,Reading life — rmlblog @ 9:43 pm

I was listening to a podcast (http://modernmrsdarcy.com/what-should-i-read-next/) that makes book recommendations based on 3 books the guest likes and 1 the guest doesn’t. One guest was planning a trip for her 50th birthday. She lives in San Francisco and was going to go to 10 bookstores in 10 towns as she made her way to San Diego. Her plan was to buy 5 books at each store so that she’d have 50 books by the end.

This got me thinking. 1) I don’t need 50 more books in my house and 2) which of my books do I count as the ones I want to reread as I get older.

I love fantasy and reread several of my authors: Stephen Donaldson, Robin Hobb, Brandon Sanderson, Guy Gavriel Kay, JK Rowling, Robin McKinley and Tolkien. I don’t think I’ll be rereading Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series mainly because I haven’t finished the last two books in his 4th trilogy. I don’t think I’ll reread Sanderson’s 10 volume set that he’s working on now, but I might reread some of his others. I reread Kay and Rowling regularly either in book or audio. I love Tolkien in audio and will probably relisten.

I also love mysteries and Agatha Christie and Louise Penny are on my reread lists. I’ve been slowly accumulating Christie’s novels.

I relisten to Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey and Maturin series often as well.

What would you collect if you were going to make a 50th Birthday trip? It could really be anything! 50 skeins of yarn and visit yarn shops. 50 bottles of wine and visit vineyards. 50 vinyl records.

June 29, 2017

Parallel Narratives: Which are your Favorites?

Filed under: best books,Reading life — rmlblog @ 2:21 am

Parallel Narratives is a description of those fiction books which tell two (or more) stories that end up intersecting. Usually this involves something that happened in the past that the characters in the present are trying to decipher. Secrets abound! Many current popular novels are using this format. The books are almost always interesting because of the history involved.

Here are some suggestions:

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana Rosnay
The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
The Muralist by Barbara Shapiro
Legacy by Katherine Webb
The Muse by Jessie Burton
The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
Orphan Train by Christina Baker
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Girl in the Blue Beret by Bobbie Ann Mason
God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
The Hundred Year House by Rebecca Makkai
The 47th Samurai by Stephen Hunter
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Sound of Glass by Karen White
Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty
The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley
All the light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Lost Constitution by William Martin
The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

June 1, 2017

What is Creative Nonfiction?

Filed under: History,Reading life — rmlblog @ 9:28 pm

While the term, Creative Nonfiction, is not new, I recently heard about it from a writer in my swimming group and thought it was a wonderful description of some of the best nonfiction I’ve read recently.

Lee Gutkind of the Creative Nonfiction magazine describes it this way: “The word ‘creative’ refers to the use of literary craft, the techniques fiction writers, playwrights, and poets employ to present nonfiction — factually accurate prose about real people and events — in a compelling, vivid, dramatic manner. The goal is to make nonfiction stories read like fiction so that your readers are as enthralled by fact as they are by fantasy. Scenes are stories are the building blocks of creative nonfiction. Writing in scenes represents the difference between showing and telling. The lazy, uninspired writer will tell the reader about a subject, place or personality, but the creative nonfiction writer will show that subject, place or personality, vividly, memorably — and in action. In scenes.”

Some people include memoirs in this form, but I don’t. I would hope that people writing memoirs would be able to capture the personality and scenes of their lives.

Here are so wonderful examples of this type of writing. Even if you don’t usually like nonfiction, you may find yourself captivated by these stories.

  • Bill Bryson: One Summer
  • Jonathan Harr: A Civil Action
  • Caroline Alexander: The Endurance
  • Jon Krakauer: Into Thin Air
  • Laura Hillenbrand: Unbroken; Seabisquit
  • Robert Kurson: Shadow Divers
  • Candice Millard: Destiny of the Republic
  • Dave Eggers: Zeitoun
  • Michael Pollan: Botany of Desire
  • Rebecca Skloot: Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  • Margot Lee Shetterley: Hidden Figures
  • Erik Larson: Devil in the White City; Dead Wake; In the Garden of the Beasts
  • John Berendt: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
  • Truman Capote: In Cold Blood
  • Michael Lewis: Moneyball

October 24, 2016

Fear of Books: Book Burning May 1933

Filed under: History,Reading life — rmlblog @ 12:57 pm

My husband and I went to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum on our recent vacation to Washington, DC. One of the events that I did not know anything about was the May 1933 book burning by the National Socialist German Students’ Association. From the USHMM website:

In a symbolic act of ominous significance, on May 10, 1933, university students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books, presaging an era of state censorship and control of culture. On the evening of May 10, in most university towns, right-wing students marched in torchlight parades “against the un-German spirit.” The scripted rituals called for high Nazi officials, professors, university rectors, and university student leaders to address the participants and spectators. At the meeting places, students threw the pillaged and “unwanted” books onto bonfires with great ceremony, band-playing, and so-called “fire oaths.” In Berlin, some 40,000 persons gathered in the Opernplatz to hear Joseph Goebbels deliver a fiery address: “No to decadence and moral corruption!” Goebbels enjoined the crowd. “Yes to decency and morality in family and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Gläser, Erich Kästner. 1

book-burning-may-332

The lists of some of the authors whose books were burned is interesting: Albert Einstein, Bertolt Brecht, John Dos Passos, Sigmund Freud, André Gide, Ernest Hemingway, Franz Kafka, Jack London, Karl Marx, André Malraux, Thomas Mann, Marcel Proust, H. G. Wells, B. Traven, and Erich Maria Remarque.

While all of these authors are old (several where on my parents’ bookshelves), many are still read today. What was so scary to the Nazi regime that they felt the need to destroy the words and ideas of this writers? It might be interesting to read some of them with an idea to trying to understand what would have made them degenerate, decadent and indecent. In September we have Banned Books week. Maybe we should also have a Burned Books week.

It made me think more about the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech. There isn’t a corresponding Freedom of Thought, but that is probably because it would be hard to enforce the negative. In this age of highly charged political conversation, we are pressed even more on the need for freedom of speech, even speech we disagree with. The German people were denied this freedom because the government wanted to control all of their lives. I hope the United States sticks to the Constitution and allows us our diversity.

1 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Book Burning.” Holocaust Encyclopedia. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005852 Accessed on October 19, 2016.

2 Books and writings deemed “un-German” are burned at the Opernplatz. Berlin, Germany, May 10, 1933. — National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.

July 26, 2016

Get Reading Suggestions Sent to Your Email

Filed under: Reading life — rmlblog @ 11:19 pm

Do you know that if you get the Library newsletter emailed to you, you are signed up in the LibraryAware database? LibraryAware provides specialized recommended booklists covering a wide range of topics. There really is a list for every reading interest.

newsletters list

We use their software to create the monthly newsletter and several home-grown lists such as Summer Reading, Best Books of the Year, and Debut Fiction.

The LibraryAware lists consist of one part new books in the subject and another part older titles that you may have missed.

To sign up for the different lists go to RMLonline and click on Book Newsletter.

newsletter link

 

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.

February 23, 2016

Goodreads Groups and the Library

Filed under: audiobooks,best books,Reading life — rmlblog @ 12:58 am

Many library patrons have signed up for Goodreads.com which is a book-sharing, book recommendation, and book list storing site. Members can search for book suggestions based on what they have read previously, or search by genre or author. There are also Goodreads Groups. I have just joined one for Terry Pratchett readers. There is a book suggestion each month and a place to comment about it.

I wonder if anyone out there would be interesting in starting a couple of Goodreads groups for the library. We could have a group that shares good audiobook titles and voice talent. Another could be for good OverDrive books. Let me know if you would be interested and I’ll set it up.

–Maggie

January 27, 2016

Blind Date with A Book

Filed under: best books,Reading life — rmlblog @ 10:46 pm

blind date with a book2Last February I was over at Rehoboth’s Blanding Free Public Library and noticed an interesting display. There were a number of books wrapped in brown paper with writing on the outside giving a sort of teasing description of the book inside the wrapping. The display was titled “Blind Date with a Book.” It turned out to be a nationwide library display, usually for the month of February. So why not us, I thought.

As we were shifting the fiction this summer, I found that there were quite a few books that had received A’s on the blue rating slip in the back, several of them books I hadn’t read. It dawned on me that this would be a great source of books for the Blind Dates. With the help of the staff I have been collecting a list of books that received A’s and chose around 50 of them for the display. Then I checked on Goodreads.com to make sure the books seemed okay with their readers as well. For the nonfiction books, I picked books that were popular with our book discussion groups over the past 16 years or were popular with staff members.

Here’s how the Blind Date works.

  1. In February the main display near the elevator will be filled with books covered in brown paper.
  2. On each book is a short teaser description to let you know what you might be in for if you take this book home.
  3. You check the book out as usual. There is a duplicate barcode on each cover.
  4. Your job is to wait to unwrap the book until you get home and to give it a chance. It might not be something you normally read, but you might still like it.
  5. If you don’t care for the book after about 50 pages, don’t feel you have to finish it. After all, not all blind dates work out. Just bring it back.
  6. Each book has a pink review slip in it. Please fill it out and put it in the Review box at the display (or give it to a staff member.) Put your name and phone number on it for a chance to win a prize at the end of the month.

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
Tags:

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

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