Rmlblog's Weblog

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

April 24, 2017

Maggie’s Favorite Audiobooks (at least right now)

Filed under: audiobooks — rmlblog @ 11:55 pm

I listen to audiobooks on my drive to work every day and I have lots of favorites. Here is a list of some of them.

  1. Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy series. Gerard Doyle reads them with a wonderful Irish accent. The series takes place in the 1980s in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. They are exciting, informative, funny, and I keep wanting to get back in my car. The first one is Cold, Cold Ground.
  2. Spencer Quinn’s Bernie and Chet series. Chet is the narrator. He is a dog. Bernie Little, his owner, is a private eye in Arizona with a lot of personal problems. Chet often misses some key moments when he gets distracted. Did you say squirrel? The reader Jim Frangione really does a great job with Chet’s internal voice. Start with Dog Gone It.
  3. Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency) series. These books take place in Botswana and the reader, Lisette Lecat, brings it alive. I always want to visit after listening to one of these books.
  4. Louise Penny’s Three Pine series. The reader of the first ten books was Ralph Cosham (he has since died) and that is how I remember Armand Gamache’s voice. The new reader, Robert Bathurst, takes some getting used to. But the stories are still wonderful. Again, a place I want to visit. Start with Still Life.
  5. The Good House by Ann Leary. Hildy Good, a realtor, a townie and an alcoholic is the narrator of this story that follows several secrets in this small North Shore town. The reader, Mary Beth Hurt, really catches Hildy’s voice. You feel like you know her. This is being made into a movie with Meryl Streep as Hildy.
  6. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I particularly enjoyed the Tiffany Aching set (which starts with The Wee Free Men), read by Stephen Briggs.
  7. Ivan Doig’s Montana series make wonderful audiobooks. His descriptions are lyrical. Try Work Song with reader Jonathan Hogan.
  8. One series I collect at home is Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey and Maturin books. This naval historical set takes place during the Napoleonic period. One of the book covers the great naval battles of the War of 1812 between the US and Britain. The reader, Patrick Tull, brings the characters to life. You understand the humor more in the audio than you do reading them yourself. Start with Master and Commander. There are several readers for this series and your favorite is apt to be the one you start with.
  9. Michael Connelly’s books have several readers. I’ve enjoyed all of them. He writes clearly enough that you can follow the plot as you drive.
  10. And, of course, the Harry Potter series. I like the Jim Dale versions, but others really like Stephen Fry, the British reader, but those aren’t available in our system.

Answers to last month’s quiz:

  1. Morse by Colin Dexter
  2. DCI Alan Banks by Peter Robinson
  3.  Tess Monaghan by Laura Lippman
  4. Armand Gamache by Louise Penny
  5. Hamish Macbeth by MC Beaton
  6. Dismas Hardy by John Lescroart
  7. Alex Cooper and Mike Chapman by Linda Fairstein
  8. Walt Longmire by Craig Johnson
  9. Bernie Little by Spencer Quinn

March 29, 2017

What Would Your Idiosyncrasy Be?

Filed under: Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 6:16 pm

I’ve been reading a lot of mysteries lately and the main characters all seem to have something special about them that is mentioned in every book. Think Columbo and his cigar, raincoat, car and dog. On detective liked dark chocolate Kit Kats — that’s my kind of guy!

What would my idiosyncrasy be if I were the main character in a mystery? It would have to be a cozy mystery — probably involving a library or a bookstore. I read (a lot), knit, sing in a church choir, have cats, collect Clue games, and do Sudoku. I think my character would need to get a little more specific. Maybe I’d only be Miss Scarlet when I played Clue. Or sang tenor. Or had a strange cat (but that’s been done before.)

What would your idiosyncrasy be?

Can you recognize these characters by their idiosyncrasies?

  1. Always doing crosswords and listening to opera
  2. Drinks Laphroaig and listens to opera and folk music
  3. Rows to clear her head
  4. Smells of Roses and Sandalwood
  5. Has a strange dog and a wild cat as pets
  6. Always uses an iron skillet and tells us how to season it.
  7. This pair watches Final Jeopardy every case.
  8. Won’t get a cellphone.
  9.  Always talks about the local water problem.

Answers in the next post.

February 21, 2017

Town-Wide Read: Animals Make Us Human

Filed under: Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 8:52 pm

animals-make-us-humanThe Town-Wide Read is back. This year the book is Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin. North Attleboro loves its animals as we can tell from the popular Strut Your Pet events. We also have been inundated with wildlife throughout the years — remember the bear that came through the area?

Some copies of the book will be available at the library starting in February for check-out, but they can also be ordered through the SAILS system.

For a complete list of the programs we’ve planned check out our website, http://www.rmlonline.org/town-wide-read-animals-make-us-human-temple-grandin

We would like reservations for programs so we can put out enough chairs, but you can drop in.

Here are the highlights:

  • Book Discussions for adults and children (who will read The One and Only by Katherine Applegate.)
  • Caleigh Brown talks about her training to be part of a Therapy Dog team with her dog, March 9, at 4 pm. For children and young adults.
  • Movie showing of Temple Grandin movie on March 9, at 6 pm
  • Kristina O’Keefe of the NA Animal Shelter will give a talk “All about Pet Adoptions” on March 11, at 11 am.
  • Rob Adamski of the NE Wildlife Center will talk about NE Wildlife on March 15, at 7 pm
  • Leah Snow will demonstrate Clicker Training on March 18, at 11 am
  • Cathy Symons will discuss Visually Impaired Dogs on March 20, at 7 pm.

Don’t expect to know how animals make us human by the time you finish Temple Grandin’s book. More to the point of her work is that humans are animals with many of the same needs. Our whole world would be better if we helped our animals live better and our fellow humans.

January 25, 2017

Blind Date with a Book is Back!

Filed under: best books — rmlblog @ 8:11 pm

blind date with a book2Last year we introduced the “Blind Date with a Book” display at the library and it was a big hit so, of course, we have brought it back. The books this year again have all gotten an “A” rating on the blue slip we put in the back of the book. Most of this year’s dates are from 2014-2015 with some returns from last year.

The books are being covered so you won’t be judging the book by its cover and labeled with a brief description of what kind of “date” you might expect. Inside each book is a pink review slip. When you have read the book, fill out the slip and put it in our Blind Date Review box for a chance to win a prize.

Of course, you don’t have to finish a book you take — you can walk out on the date by just returning it to the library. We’ll be able to tell whether you’ve already read the book when you check it out if you have charge history on your account. This way you won’t get stuck with an old date.

January 2, 2017

Best Books of the Year 2016

Filed under: best books — rmlblog @ 7:30 pm

The “best books of the year” lists have again been published. The winner by a long shot is Underground Railroad by Colin Whitehead. It is a very long book so allow yourself plenty of time to read it.

I have made a booklist of the titles that have been put on at least 5 lists for fiction and 3 lists for nonfiction. Tell us what you think.

We will again be having our Book Pot Luck on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, this year on Feb. 4, at 11:30 am. Participants will be recommending their favorite books to each other.

dark-matterMy personal favorites this year were Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter, a sort-of science fiction book, but really a character-driven thriller and a book I read in pre-publication format and will be on my book discussion list next year, Will Schwalbe’s Books for Living.

The other favorites I had — at least as I rated them on Goodreads — can be divided into a few categories.

Books we read for book discussion: The Story Hour by Thirty Umrigar, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard, The Muralist by B. Shapiro, Best Boy by Eli Gottleib, Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.

Fantasy Books (my personal favorite genre): Mistborn : A Secret History and War of Kings, both by Brandon Sanderson; the Harry Potters I reread this year; The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett.

Classics: Night by Elie Wiesel and Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy.

And others: The Couple Next Door (the next Gone Girl) by Shari Lapena; Shrill by Lindy West; Carla Buckley books Deepest Secret and The Good Goodbye; John Lewis’s March series; Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.

And, of course, Louise Penny’s newest Three Pines mystery, The Great Reckoning. As always with this series, start with the first book, Still Life.still-life

I’d love to hear about your favorites for the year and consider joining us for the Book Pot Luck. Contact me by Jan. 20 with your recommendations so I can order copies for people to borrow that day.

November 17, 2016

Have a Great Ride with Audiobooks

Filed under: audiobooks — rmlblog @ 11:31 pm

A recent discussion on WBUR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook was about audio books, their history and the current increase in popularity. That reminded me that it was the time of year to remind people of the various ways to access audio books for those long car rides.

The SAILS system has a large, over 20,000, selection of audio books for all ages, on all topics, and varying lengths. For families there are books such as the Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings series that appeal to a wide age range. Many of the young adult titles– The Hunger Games or frank-beddorFrank Beddor’s Looking Glass Wars — are enjoyable for adults as well. There are classics — Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels, Just So Stories — that are good for all ages. To find the books in the catalog, just limit the search to Audio Books instead of Everywhere. Most of the titles will be on cd and most are unabridged.

Another option is the downloadable audios through OverDrive. These can be downloaded to an mp3 player or a smartphone and then accessed by bluetooth if you have it in your car. There are almost 3000 audio book titles in OverDrive and more if you use the Boston Public Library eCard.

For people without families, I recommend the books by Louise Penny, Spencer Quinn, Alexander McCall Smith and Patrick Tull as well as nonfiction titles such as Destiny of the Republic or A Walk in the Woods.

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


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.

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