Being a voracious reader with almost no topic boundaries I am an indiscriminate reader of books from any country in the world. It started many years ago with Russian and Spanish authors, before I branched out to include middle Europe, African and Asian writers, and in the last ten years Middle Eastern autobiographies and fiction.
Amazingly, I am drawn to the same sorts of ‘foreign’ as ‘American’ stories regardless of the author’s nationality: anything about the quest for freedom, education, family, and/or love keeps me engaged and invested in the plot. Turns out, these universal themes have persisted and prevailed over thousands of years, in fable, fiction and fact.
Along with comedy and music I believe books to be our greatest unifiers. We really aren’t that different although the details of our individual experiences can be staggeringly unique. On this, 2018 World Book Day (#worldbookday),do yourself a favor and pick up a book about someone in China, Ecuador, Iraq, Botswana, or one of the other 191 countries that make up humanity – you may be surprised at how much you have in common with someone on the other side of the world!
How serendipitous that I scored ALL of these books from my local library yesterday, which coincidentally was also the first day of National Library Week!
I grew up in a house full of books and was reading before I entered first grade. At age 7 I was given free rein to roam the reading rooms of Philadelphia’s Parkway Central Librarywhile my dad explored the microfiche reels for his aviation research. By 9 my sister and I were riding our bikes to the Ridley Park library to get our weekly reading stash, which we would devour during lazy summer afternoons after our chores were finished.
There were numerous trips to D.C. and the Smithsonian Institute’s National Air and Space Museum archives, where I helped my mom and dad research pre-WWII insignia (and once opened a drawer to find a logbook from Charles Lindbergh). I worked as a help-desk clerk at the Baltimore County Public Library during my first year of college. I even spent one year organizing bake sales, weekly Friday dances, and monthly Parent Night Out events to restock our local elementary school’s shelves with $12,000 of new books. If all of that weren’t enough, my momma was a librarian for close to 30 years. So when I say my love for libraries runs deep I am truly speaking from the heart.
Think about it. Anyone, of any age, color, sex, sexuality, income level, education level, or any other descriptor you care to identify with can access one of 119,487 US libraries and learn a new language, brush up on computer skills, watch a movie, take part in community activities, surf the web, vote, or even check out a book. For free. It’s really quite amazing!
Does your town have a library? How often do you visit ? If you haven’t been in awhile (or ever) take five minutes to check out what your library has to offer. Get a card. Prowl around. Discover all the great things just waiting for you to explore. I guarantee – you will not be disappointed.
A belated Happy New Year to one and all. My 2018 began just like my 2017 ended, with me driving thousands of miles to see loved ones spread far and wide. I’ve been wondering why I haven’t been as creative as I had hoped and then calculated between Thanksgiving and January 6th I drove just a tad over 7,000 miles. I guess that’s a good reason for not getting much done, huh? Thank god for rental cars with heated seats and satellite radio along with kids I adore who had hours of far-ranging playlists and podcasts which combined to make those miles a pleasure to drive.
On the downside, so much driving meant a lack of time for any substantive reading. I spent most of December lost in Manhattan Beachby Jennifer Egan, a story I really enjoyed and was sorry to finish. When I reached over for my next read I realized my bedside stash had dwindled to a crisis level. That’s why I was so excited by the nine books that Santa (aka my Momma) gave me for Christmas. I always say the only present I really want is to spend time with my family but I will never say no to the gift of a book.
After I finish the two library books I am currently reading I can begin to get lost in my newest set of 9 (past ‘nines’ can be found here). Have you read any of these books? Which would you recommend I read first? I’d love to know…
While the exact number escapes me I have read a LOT of books this year. I love our library system (believing it is one of the best ways our tax dollars are used) and typically check out 6-12 books each month, as well as buy or ‘inherit’ others, all of which total around 100 (give or take a few). Going forward, I’ve decided to track my reading to determine an exact number, details of which I will share with you this time next year.
As for 2017, I can truly say that the five books pictured above were my absolute favorite reads of the year. Each writer delivered a fresh perspective on love, loss, pain, yearning, and family. I came to care about the main characters, hating some and loving others, always curious to see what was in store for each. These books kept me reading late into the night in expectation of what would happen next and I was sorry when I finished the last page. Even more astonishing, these books have stuck with me as I continue to reflect on issues as varied as as rape, slavery, abortion, crime, and religion – none of them light topics but all treated with respect and curiosity through the author’s engaging, dramatic, and unique story-telling.
How about you? What were your favorite books of 2017? Are you looking forward to reading anything special in 2018? I’d love to know…
From the day my first child was born we read together every night. When our second child arrived, he was instantly included in our reading ritual. Our nightly routine began after bath-time, with me nestled between two sweet cuddly boys reading as many books as they wanted until all three of us were asleep. We read hundreds of books each year and many of those were on repeat for weeks at a time. I miss those days, and I miss having the opportunity to check out the latest in children’s literature. That’s why I was thrilled to read an advance copy of The Very, Very Long Dog byJulia Patton.
Bartelby is a very, very long sausage dog who lives in a bookstore and (just like me) loves to read. He has a group of loving friends who like to take him for his daily walks around town. Bartleby never knows what his back end is doing until he finds himself in trouble. His friends are always there to fix the problem, until one day they can’t. It is then that Bartleby realizes he is the problem. He becomes very depressed and refuses to leave the store. His friends love him so much they create a noisy solution to his problem, so Bartleby always knows where he starts, and ends.
I loved this warm story about a group of friends who accept each other no matter what. The illustrations are simple and sweet, utilizing pastel colors which are as warm as the story. It’s such a lovely story that would be well-suited for babies through age 6. The Very, Very Long Dog is available beginning December5, and I will be purchasing a copy to give as a gift to a special little girl in my life. I hope she enjoys the ‘tail’ of Bartleby and his loving friends as much as I did!
I spent the last two weeks helping my mom recover from some surgery complications. If you’ve ever spent time sitting bedside, wishing someone you love back to good health, you can empathize with my need to periodically escape with a good book. Beartown:A Novel, by Fredrik Backman, provided exactly the diversion I needed.
The book has been on my 2B or Not2B Readslist for quite some time, so when I saw it on the library shelf I felt like I had just won the book lottery. I got home only to find I needed to get to my mom’s side as quickly as possible. I threw some clothes and Beartown into my luggage, hoped a plane, and two nights later finally found time to start the first chapter, which consisted of two succinct sentences. “Late one evening toward the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barreled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead, and pulled the trigger. This is the story of how we got there.” I was instantly transported, and hooked.
This is the second book by Mr. Backman that I have read and thoroughly enjoyed (read my thoughts on the first, A Man Called Ove, here). He has a talent for creating fully realized, believable, and relatable characters. In Beartown, Backman has fashioned an entire town of characters whose intermingling backstories and current relationships play out against the pursuit of a national hockey championship and a tragic crime that impacts every character along the way.
This book is sure to make my ‘Best Books of 2017’ list, and I am guessing it will make many other ‘best of’ lists too. Have you read Bear Town? Did you like it? Will it make your best of list? I’d love to know… .
I have not been a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction since reading The Road (which still gives me occasional nightmares) so I was surprised to find myself engrossed in ‘Bannerless(Bannerless Saga #1)’, by Carrie Vaughn, from the very first page.
After finishing Bannerless I decided if I survive some world-altering event I hope to end up in a Coast Road-like society, where conservation is king, tolerance rules, and government is low-key and localized. Individuals must earn the right to breed and crimes are primarily crop surplus or ‘bannerless’ pregnancy related. That is until a murder occurs, and Enid of Haven (our protagonist) is charged with figuring out what happened and by whose hand. Bannerless alternates between a coming of age love story and whodunit tale while exploring the meaning of family, responsibility, and shared history.
Ms. Vaughn is categorized as a YA fiction writer. Is it wrong that this Grey Goddess still enjoyed her tale? I hope not, because there are more Bannerless books to come and I want to read them all.
How about you? Do you like post-apocalyptic fiction? What are you reading now? I just began The Driver(by Hart Hanson, which I am also enjoying) and would love to know what books are keeping you up and reading late into the night…
Even though fall doesn’t ‘officially’ begin until September 21st Labor Day always marks the beginning of autumn for me. I am ready to put summer behind and embrace the fall – for me the season of football, oversized sweaters, hearty meals eaten fireside, and lots of reading. Here are a few of the books I am looking forward to reading before the arrival of winter…