Rmlblog's Weblog

April 25, 2018

Mothers and Fathers

Filed under: Favorite Books,Reading life — rmlblog @ 10:33 pm

I am listening to the book, The Sun Does Shine, by Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent 28 years on death row for crimes he did not commit. He was finally released after the Supreme Court overturned his conviction. His devotion to his mother and hers to him is a powerful part of the book and so different from another good book I read, Educated, by Tara Westover, who had absolutely awful parents.

In honor of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, here are some books to read about good and bad parents. Do you have some suggestions for the list?

  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
  • Liar’s Club by Mary Karr
  • Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  • Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
  • Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
  • Ordinary People by Judith Guest
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (some people like Mr. Bennet, but, really, can you be a terrible husband, but a good father?)
  • Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  • About a Boy by Nick Hornby
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • Fortune’s Daughter by Alice Hoffman
  • Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming
  • Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
  • Census by Jesse Ball
  • Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
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December 27, 2017

Mary Higgins Clark Turned 90 in December!

Filed under: Favorite Books,mysteries,Reading life — rmlblog @ 9:38 am

Mary Higgins Clark is a role model for any aspiring author. She started as a copy editor before she was married, then sold her short stories to add to the family’s income while raising five children. She started a writing workshop in NYC with other writers to improve each other’s work. When her young husband died in 1964 after 15 years of marriage, she supported her family by writing radio scripts. After one failed novel, she switched to suspense fiction with Where Are The Children? Since then she has written more than 50 books, including her memoir Kitchen Privileges.

Here’s an interview with her when she was 89. 

If you like Clark’s brand of suspense, you might like Lisa Gardner, Iris Johansen, and Joy Fielding.

Here is a list of Clark’s books as of spring 2018: 

Aspire to the Heavens (Mount Vernon Love Story) (1960)
Where Are the Children? (1975)
A Stranger Is Watching (1978)
The Cradle Will Fall (1980)
A Cry in the Night (1982)
Stillwatch (1984)
While My Pretty One Sleeps (1989)
Loves Music, Loves to Dance (1991)
All Around the Town (1992)
I’ll Be Seeing You (1993)
Remember Me (1994)
Pretend You Don’t See Her (1995)
Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1995)
Silent Night (1995)
Moonlight Becomes You (1996)
You Belong to Me (1998)
We’ll Meet Again (1998)
Before I Say Good-Bye (2000)
Deck the Halls (2000) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
On the Street Where You Live (2001)
He Sees You When You’re Sleeping (2001) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
Daddy’s Little Girl (2002)
Kitchen Privileges — memoir (2002)
The Second Time Around (2003)
Nighttime Is My Time (2004)
No Place Like Home (2005)
Two Little Girls in Blue (2006)
The Christmas Collection (2006) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
Santa Cruise (2006) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
I Heard That Song Before (2007)
Where Are You Now? (2008)
Dashing Through the Snow (2008) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
Just Take My Heart (2009)
The Shadow of Your Smile (2010)
Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (2013)
Inherit the Dead (2013) (with C J Box, Lee Child, John Connolly, Charlaine Harris, Jonathan Santlofer and Lisa Unger)
I’ve Got You Under My Skin (2014)
The Cinderella Murder (2014) (with Alafair Burke)
The Melody Lingers on (2015)
All Dressed in White (2015) (with Alafair Burke)
The Sleeping Beauty Killer (2016) (with Alafair Burke)
Every Breath you Take (2017) (with Alafair Burke)
I’ve Got My Eyes on You (2018)

October 25, 2017

November is Literacy Month

Filed under: Children's books,Reading life,Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 7:49 pm

This month’s blog is brought to you by Miss Eunice. We are celebrating Literacy Month in November (and, really, every month.) The library will have packets for you to take home with suggestions for sharing books, stories, history and memories as a family. We will also be hosting a discussion of some wonderful historical fiction picture books on Wednesday evening, Nov. 15, at 7 pm. Please check out our titles and share your thoughts during this community event.

Here are just a few suggestions of “sophisticated picture books” to share in families having members five years old and older.  These are great discussion starters, showing ways to:

  1. learn little bits of history that make us realize that “history” is not merely some thank you palaccioremote timeline to be learned, but rather the story of real people just like us
  2. see and hear that art and language can help us explore and expand what we thought we knew
  3. share our own stories with those we know because we each count!

Some of these books are sad, serious and seem far beyond the interests of the “picture book” crowd. This is true. However, all of these titles provide informative, insightful, hopeful, uplifting places from which to begin exploring the world together with your family.

 

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?

 

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.

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